How Much Time Do You Spend on the Porch? Wisdom From Barbara Brown Taylor

by Christine Sine
Enjoying the world of Mt Rainier

Enjoying the world of Mt Rainier

Here in Seattle we are enjoying glorious spring weather with lots of sunshine and warm days. The temptation to sit outside and just soak in the glory of God’s creation is overwhelming at times. Trying to work on my book Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray, seems like a total distraction, so I was delighted to come across this in Barbara Brown taylor’s book An Altar in the World. 

In the eyes of the world there is no payoff for sitting on the porch. A field full of weeds will not earn anyone’s respect. If you want to succeed in this life (whatever your “field” of endeavor) you must spray, you must plow, you must fertilize, you must plant. You must never turn back. Each year’s harvest must be bigger than the last. That is what the earth and her people ar for, right? Wrong god!!!!!! (exclamations mine)

In the eyes of the true God, the porch is imperative – not every now and then but on a regular basis. When the fields are at rest – when the shy deer from the woods graze the purple clover grown up between last year’s tomato plants, and Carolina chickadees hang upside down to pry seeds from the sunflowers that have taken over the vineyard – when the people who belong to this land walk through it with straw hats in their hands instead of hoes to discover that the wild blackberries water their mouths as surely as the imported grapes they worked so hard to protect from last year’s frost – this is not called “letting things go”; this is called “practicing Sabbath.” You have to wonder what makes humans beings so resistant to it. (p134)

She goes on to share this poem Welcoming Sabbath from Gates of Prayer

Our noisy day has now descended with the sun beyond our sight.

In the silence of our praying place we close the door upon the hectic joys and fears, the accomplishments and anguish of the wek we have left behind.

What was but moments ago the substance of our life has become memory; what we did must now be woven into what we are.

On this day we shall not do but be.

We are to walk the path of our humanity,, no longer ride unseeing through a world we do not touch and only vaguely sense.

No longer can we tear the world apart to make our fire. 

On this day heat and warmth and light must come from deep within ourselves.

So my question for all of us today is: Do you we have enough heat and warmth and light bubbling up from deep within ourselves to see us through the day?

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Jim Fisher May 16, 2012 - 10:50 am

Sometimes. I probably do it differently than most. When a friend calls or texts me with a prayer request, I stop whatever I am doing and look for a “porch” … a couch, a shady spot, a smooth rock by the creek … I dig deep, stoking the fire of empathy, listening, loving … and praying that the warmth that comes to my lips brings His light along with it, shining into the friend’s heart through her ears.

Sabbath … the porch … it is an imperative … every day.

Otherwise my entire day would seem pointless.

Jeff May 16, 2012 - 11:08 am

Thanks for your poetic and beautiful response, Jim. Your words flowed to weave a tapestry of liberation to embrace the gift of porch time Sabbath! God’s peace to you, brother!!

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