Skip to main content

downloading vs. streaming

I am a thinker. I like to sit in the quiet and contemplate. This is where I come up with ideas for just about everything I do in life including the writing and the talks that I give. This is how I find the energy and insight to walk with people in a creative and hopefully helpful way. Most of all, this is where I am able to make some sense of my life and find some direction for daily decisions. When I don't find the space to be quiet and dialogue with God and ponder the deep questions, I can feel quite empty and aimless, unable to offer much to anyone.

This past month was one of those times when I did not find a lot of space for pondering. It happens. And yet, I had talks to give and people to pray for and counsel and writing to do. The wisdom pail was often scraping at the bottom of the well, or so it felt to me. One of the times that I was expected to get up and say something to a group of people, I realised that I had nothing running through my head: no prepared thoughts and not even a memory of something I heard or thought about earlier. I was tired and felt like I couldn't concentrate. Nevertheless, I got up in front of the group when my turn came and stood there, willing to open my mouth and see what came out. I started with one sentence, a kind of lame repeat of something I had said 2 days earlier, but it was a start. And then it led to a thought that was relevant and fresh. Then I totally lost my train of thought for a moment, but after a wee pause, it came back and I started talking about church not being an event and suddenly I knew that I was saying something that was very important for me and everyone else to grasp. I was so glad I had not waited until I had a prepared speech in my head before I got up, because the insight came after I opened my mouth.

It is a bit like the difference between downloading and streaming. I prefer downloading because then I possess the information on my hard drive and can access it anytime I want, especially when I don't have access to an internet connection. It takes longer and uses up more energy and space, but then it is mine to do with as I please. I own it. Streaming means that one has to have a really good and consistent connection to the source. There is no time lag, no space taken up, and no energy spent getting it all together before it can be used. It can never really be called "mine," either. I just hit "play" and I trust that something will be there. It does not come from me, it is tapping directly into the source and it is using the source's resources instead of mine. It is a much riskier way of doing things, but so much less taxing on my system.

And so I believe that I am learning to stream in the spirit. I don't always have to have a deep well of resource material to draw from, or weeks of prepared thoughts and notes (though I still value that process and do it as much as I can). When the time comes that something is required of me, even though I have not had the benefit of lengthy preparation, if I am connected to God and willing to press play by opening my mouth and being available, he will always come through with something. I won't have time to edit and alter it, but that's not a bad thing. It never has to be "mine" first, as if the truth were something that could be latched onto and captured, to be used at my convenience. No, Truth is and always has been Him.

Connect. Press play. Watch. Listen. Learn.

This is Tea sitting in the sunny window right beside my desk, catching some rays, flicking her tail in excitement at the birds flitting by (photo taken April 1, 2009).

Comments

Shelley said…
thank God for both!

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

comedic timing

One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---
Moooooooo!!

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …