Non-anxious Presence/ Or Less Anxious Presence
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea. Pantheon Books 1955.
Story: Our famous Jane from old school Dick and Jane loves her outreach ministry at her church, but sometimes there is chaos and sometimes people get upset at others and are “not Christian.” Maybe she should take a geographic cure and go to a more “Christian” church where people get along better.
Response: Former Bishop Maze teaches that if we do not engage in a ministry, we will not stay connected to our church. We discover the ministry God calls us to by learning about our gifts and then offering them to the ministry where the gifts seem to best fit. We follow the most quoted Buechner line about ministry. “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Then what happens?
We are humans. Church and all its ministries and groups are part of an organization that is “a hospital for sinners not a museum for saints.” We eventually are going to run into people problems and relationship difficulties, just like at home and work!
Anne Morrow Lindbergh describes our ideal or where we would like to be in all our relationships, waiting “choiceless” like the beach for the gifts from the sea.
Family Systems dynamics teach us that if in the midst of any conflict in a relationship with others, if we can maintain a state of having the least anxiety or be a non-anxious presence, we will make our best contribution to hold any tensions from growing and eventually solve the difficulty. I know of few who can remain non-anxious for it is not a human trait. Staying less anxious, however is a real possibility. If we can be the least anxious presence in any situation, we can keep the arteries in our body from tightening up that takes minutes, weeks off our lifespan. Our inner and outer presence will stay calmer and we become a vessel for the spirit to become a part of the relationship or situation or meeting or encounter or ministry.
Answer: So how do we become like the beach waiting for the gift from the sea as Lindbergh is describing? Easy? It involves spiritual disciplines. Prayer and meditation before, during, and after each ministry is a huge beginning. I am still in the process of trying to learn more from others about their many spiritual disciplines they follow, centering prayer, morning prayer, Yoga, following a rule of life, spiritual direction. worshipping together, study. There are many more. Our tradition, scripture, reason tell us that these disciplines are some of our many gifts from God to help us care for our souls and those of others.