Posted in Different Books, Uncategorized

The Soul of Desire

Recently I was able to read an advance copy of the new book by Curt Thompson, M.D. “The Soul of Desire: Discovering the Neuroscience of Longing, Beauty, & Community“. Having read and enjoyed Thompson’s previous books, I was excited to read his most recent contribution. As a Christian we believe there are unseen realms beyond the physical world that we are most familiar with. But we also do not seek a “spiritual realm” connection that is separate from the embodied existence we (and Jesus) share. Instead, we seek a greater understanding of how God has created us and woven our existence together as physical/spiritual beings. Because of this, we can gain much from modern studies of neuroscience as they relate to our relationships.

Thompson has already written much on the neurology of interpersonal relationships, attunement, integration, and secure attachments. In his previous books, he has explored (among other things) how telling our stories can be redemptive/healing/formative, how “being known” by each other and by God is something our souls are hungry for, and how unhealthy shame can keep us from one another and from God.

In this most recent book, he brings some of this same knowledge back in fresh ways, while also giving practical insight into how healing comes to the dis-integrated relationships and situations we often find ourselves in. Dr. Thompson does a great job of being honest about our brokenness (both as society/culture, and as individuals), and yet highlighting how God’s desire is to bring beauty and New Creation; not just after we’ve been healed, but as part of the healing and redemptive process.

Thompson highlights how much of the relational pain/isolation we currently experience is connected to the unmet core “Desires” we see reflected in infants/children, and our common responses to those continued desires being met in unhealthy ways as we grow. I’m over-simplifying, but he emphasizes there are 4 primary desires we all have: to be seen, to be soothed, to be safe, and to be secure. He explores how the insights of IPNB (Interpersonal Neurobiology) offer us fresh understanding not only as we seek greater relational intimacy between one another, but also as we seek to draw closer to a God who invites us to know Him even as we are known and loved by Him. He returns over and over again to Psalm 27 (especially verse 4) in confessing what we’ve been created to truly seek.

Thompson spends a lot of time in this book, highlighting specific experiences of healing and redemption that have happened in the context of what he calls “Confessional Communities”. He talks also about four foundational questions we are asked by God – not for information, but toward transformation. As we read his accounts, we hear whispers similar to those of John Wesley’s heart as he developed Methods of Classes and Bands, inviting people to experience the vulnerability of confession and forgiveness in the context of secure & Divinely loving relationships. He does not offer a cookie cutter “program” in response to all of the research he presents here, but he does present inspiring truth and invites his readers to imagine (along with/in the presence of a curious God) what might happen if we pursued these things together in healthy/integrating ways.

This is not an easy book to simply say “read this with a group”. It may be best individually, or with close friend/”Band” at first. There are awkward and vulnerable moments throughout the book that may make small groups or book clubs uneasy. But I definitely recommend the book for mature/discerning audiences, and believe the truths it points toward can offer new paths for healing and wholeness in our relationships and in our communities – in ways that proclaim the gospel message our world definitely needs to see and hear.

Posted in Spoken Word

eye wonder

(Click here to listen.)

Another sun rises
And we should not be surprised when it seems to burst through the lies
That there is no light worth seeing
With every ounce of our being we silently applaud the darkness fleeing
As the world of shadows becomes the world of forms
For a moment, the storms have ceased, and increased our awareness of
This present moment. That something new might foment.
And here, I wonder.
Although we remember the thunder of days past, will we let them cast a shadow
Or will we allow the light to shine
This doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye toward what was, but we shift our focus
To what can be. That we might see, and our eyes might wonder.
Eye wonder.
As blinders are torn asunder we begin to see a bit more clearly
So much in our world we’ve nearly let go by, without batting an eye
And it’s not that we must more strongly try, but that we may simply need to let hurry die.
To hear the cry of golden beams of sunshine lighting up the trees
The one who sees holds treasures for a moment, not to possess or to employ, but to enjoy
Eye wonder.
The brightest greens of springtime grass, the winds that pass gently
Carrying seeds to furthest corners, even the mourners who profess their sadness deep
There is beauty there in keep – steeping slowly in the humanity we’ve usually passed by
We’re invited to let our eye – wonder.
Drawn in by realizing that light shines even here, we’re set free from fear to hear
Voices we’ve previously cast aside
Eyes and Ears opened wide to allow our fellow man to confide
That they’ve missed out on beauty too.
In different ways than you. And I wonder.
Will you hear their stories? Will we pause from seeking glories at the expense of every other
Slowing down to join our sister and brother
Realizing they’re not so different as they seemed in the darkness
And the starkness of this, eye wonder, speaks to the blunder of those who cannot see
Proclaiming the light is broken. Not just a token moment from which we easily move on
But a dawn, an arrival of sight in ways we’ve needed to recover
To see the value of “the other”, the beauty we discover when we realize what the light reveals
How it heals what has been scarred, and as those marred find themselves restored
We find that we’ve too long ignored, as we’ve looked for sources to plunder
But here is eye wonder.
Reminding us that’s it not always about what we can take, for goodness’ sake
We must live as those awake – not only to what can be – but to what is
That we would not miss the sacredness of this. present. Moment.
Walk slowly, with eyes fully open, continue hoping – but also look them in the eye
Seek the why, instead of assuming you know the story. Know that glory comes more fully
When it’s shared. When we’ve dared to cross the aisle, to walk the extra mile
In their shoes. They often didn’t choose their path, and the aftermath of such a finding
Becomes a blinding light inviting new things to be
And then – I wonder what wondering eyes might see.

Posted in Different Scriptures, Spoken Word

1 Peter 2:9-12

The problem with finding you’re “chosen”
It makes you wonder who was not
And for this early new “people”
They needed reminded, a lot

It wasn’t that they didn’t have family
Each one had a mom and a dad
But following Jesus made each one let go
Of identities they previously had

Set free from what used to give them
Their bearings among so many others
It was good to remind them they now had
A plethora of sisters and brothers

This wasn’t some new way of being
That God just decided to try
This was what He’d been doing
Since Abraham and Moses came by

To be part of God’s “chosen people”
Even living far off among strangers
Gave important and real identity
As they worshipped the king from a manger

So now as a people shown mercy
Live as people from light marvelous
Turn away from the dark desires of flesh
Be encouraged, that you’re one with us.

Though they malign you as “different”
I assure you “different” is good
It sets you apart as one who is living
As God’s own royal priesthood.