Posted by: Mark Nielsen | July 21, 2009

Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

I think my soul is getting an overhaul this summer. It was due.

I put it in these terms because I also have some house and car maintenance issues to deal with, stuff I hate doing and always delay for far too long. I’m an “if it ain’t broke…” kind of guy, and nothing is broke, or at least not broke enough that it’s squeaking, or leaking, or slipping (in the case of tires well past their prime).

But still, it needs to get fixed, same as me.

I had forgotten some of the ways that I leak, or the old broken places that refuse to heal properly, so they’re stronger than before. So I go for a simple walk in the woods, and God gently breaks my heart again (now given the opportunity finally), and I know I gotta get into the shop before I fall apart on Him and my loved ones one more time. Take my physical and mental health more seriously. Stop abusing this good heart, start using these strong hands, as I “do justice, love mercy, walk humbly”.

Also, as an experiment (and because I was called upon to do it), I’m on a fast: no television or movies for the rest of July, maybe longer. See how it re-orients one’s priorities and vision. Better instead to read, or do the chores, whatever it takes to build some muscle by giving away all the time, love and energy that I’m much too tempted to hoard, to expend on myself, or to waste by wallowing in my wounds.

I’m working on a layman’s sermon I get to deliver at church in two or three weeks. Or should I say the sermon is working on me. As are the Quakers. And the Swiss Mennonites. And Mercy Corps. And the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. And St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bonaventure, …all these powerful yet humble guides who keep bringing me along on this tricky, narrow path to holiness, to taking up a cross and getting down to work on something eternal, a path toward freedom from anxiety, which leads past mere hope toward blessed assurance and peace.

Let my purpose be fixed. Let me be broken and made whole again, each day.


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