Since May when I created the Displaced Pilgrim, I have been a bit discouraged with my writing and reading habits. This disillusionment with myself has led to a seeming dearth of meaningful reflection and a stagnation of the heart. In this perceived state, it is like I am incapable of connecting empathetically and compassionately to others. As I reflect upon my 2016 and coupled with this sense of vapidness, I feel like the light of Christ has slowly been extinguishing within me like the sun slowly fading and drifting below the horizon line — purples and reds morphing into a grayer and darker black.
Yet, when I allow this common refrain to captivate my soul, I forget all that God has done in and through me. I forget that while I seem to existentially displaced, I am yet another pilgrim on his or her way. I allow some feeling, or lack thereof, to dictate a reality quite different than the one reflected in the stories of this meager blog — many stories I don’t stylistically love but recognize an effusive Grace which captivated me.
So reticently, and with a feeling of absence which I am sure is a function of melodrama, a false sense of self, and a twisted view of God’s grace, I give you the top 3 articles from the last 7 months of writing here at the DP.
Thank you to the 742 unique visitors my little blog has received and the 1731 views you all have given to one of my 16 posts. May God bless you with a peace which overcomes the fear of the world and overwhelm you with Christ’s love and grace. May we, when the sun sets to reveal the darkness of the cosmos and our small fading light within it, realize the light will be peeking back up soon to reveal who we truly are — God’s beloved sons and daughters filled with the splendor of the Christ.
1. How Arab Culture Reminded Me to be More Like Jesus
Extreme hospitality is normative in Arab culture and is not strictly confined to Muslims in the region. Over the past year or so, I have been convicted by the likes of Wendell Berry, Restoration Anglican Church, the gospels, my experience at the Glen Workshop, etc. that to live hospitably is very much a characteristic of living like Jesus. But, I have been reluctant to take heed to the promptings of the Spirit; I have made excuses – I am an introvert! I can’t handle hosting people after dealing with middle school students all day! My apartment is messing and smelly. I am a single male – no one wants to eat food I prepare! While I think there are shreds of truth in all of these excuses, none of them are indicative of trusting a loving God to sustain me while I complete the work he has called me to do.
2. Ahmed’s Story — How Gratitude Alters Reality
I sat on the floor cushions in Ahmed’s majlis – the front room of an Arabic house used to entertain guests – with a woman from South Africa and her Canadian husband who is native to the middle east. A purple curtain demarcated the room from the front door. The dilapidated, yellow walls shine a little bit brighter than normal today since Ahmed pulled aside the drapes which hung over the two windows and allowed the sun to infuse brilliance into that which was fading. It even seemed to make the mold, which was growing where the paint had chipped in the humid winter, shimmer.
Ahmed swung his erect left leg – injured from a motorcycle accident in 2008 – around and used his hands to push himself up. He hobbled to the fan and pointed it towards his sweating guests. Summer in the desert without AC is a brutal…
I feel as if I have two options in my life. I can use this hour of free time to “avoid feeling” as Lauren says, and choose baseball tweets and deadening TV shows; I can fill my schedule up to the brim with “righteous” activities that make me feel and look good – for a moment –, but in the end, I numb myself to the world and people around me, and what I hate the most, I fail to emotionally and spiritually connect to those in my life who hurt and are in need of a touch of God’s grace.
But, I often forget that I have another option to choose from. I can choose loneliness. I can choose to sit in the loneliness, a loneliness I used to sit in so well, a loneliness which taught me empathy, a loneliness that taught me how to love God, a loneliness that taught me how to be loved by God; this is a loneliness that hurt like hell, a loneliness that casted me into despair, a loneliness that made my insides churn to such an extent I would have to flee my everyday life on occasion. But, in sitting with this loneliness, and asking what it has for me, I learned who I was in Christ and who I was to be in this world.