- what situation in your life comes to mind when you think of this saying?
- what frightens you or turns you off about these words?
- what encourages or excites you about these words?
- how does this saying speak to you?
Spiritual Practice: Making connections
Paul Tillich defined sin as separation. Indeed, we live lives separated in many ways: separated from parts of ourselves, separated from other people, separated from creation, separated from God. One definition of spirituality is "the art of making connections." This week, let your daily activities remind you to make connections.
For example, when you cross a bridge let it remind you to build a bridge to connect you with another person.
Or, if you see a spider's web, let it remind you that web of life that connects you with everything.
What other things do you encounter that speak a reminder for you to connect with other people?
The prayer of St. Francis is a beautiful piece to use in meditation. Sit quietly and slowly repeat the words, letting them wash over you. When you come to the end, repeat them again.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
It is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
—Prayer of St. Francis
The nation is observing Native American awareness this month. In our church we had a Native American presentation on the United Methodist Church’s Act of Repentance. I wrote this spiritual practice with this in mind and now share it here with you.
Listening involves attention, being present, and hospitality. It is a highly valued skill among many people, including Native Americans. Listening involves “hearing the message,” which may come by word, but more often by direct insight. During this week practice listening
to yourself--listen especially to the sounds of your heart and your breathing. What do the sounds tell you about the sacredness of life?
to other people--listen not only to the words; listen also to the feeling and the desires of another. What do you learn about the other person and about yourself?
to creation--pay attention to creation. What sound do you most associate with what you see and feel? What is the message of the parts of creation you encountered this week?
Peace and Blessings!
This week’s practice occurs in three parts each day, morning, mid-day and evening.
Greet each morning this week with an action or a word that opens you to receive life as the gift it is. Your word could be as simple as “Thank you for the gift of this new day.”
Pause at noon to think of the work you have done, the connections with other people you have experienced, and one thing that has especially made you feel alive in the morning.
At the close of the day, pray this prayer:
Thank you for every blessing of life.
Now grant me (us) a restful night;
and when the time comes a peaceful death.
Peace and Blessings!
Zacchaeus is a model of a person who makes amends.
After meeting Jesus he said that if he had defrauded anyone, he would pay them back four times the amount. Luke 19:1-10.
Zacchaeus committed himself to take a brave step.
He wanted to live in community,
he wanted to living peacefully, in harmony, in community.
He was willing to make himself vulnerable
for the sake of his Jesus-inspired vision of what was possible.
Twelve step programs devote two steps to the process of making amends. Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. And, step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
These two steps make up the spiritual practice I am recommending for this week.
Peace and Blessings
This week’s spiritual practice is a breathing meditation. As you quiet yourself, follow your breath and then begin to say these words. As much as possible feel yourself offering acceptance to yourself.
On the in breath I am aware of disappointment in myself.
On the out breath I lovingly accept this part of myself.
On the in breath I let this disappointment go.
On the out breath I watch it leave.
On the in breath this present moment
On the out breath is the only moment.
Peace and Blessings,
During this week use these words to affirm a friendly universe. Sit quietly and slowly repeat these words, letting them wash over you. When you come to the end, repeat them again.
I believe that hope is stronger than despair,
truth will outlive deceit,
kindness is more powerful than apathy,
forgiveness is stronger than hatred,
peace will swallow up suspicion and war,
joy will triumph over misery,
and love will transcend decay and death.
Life is a wonderful thing. Open yourself to the marvels of the world that surrounds you. Engage with life. Don't be afraid of making mistakes and always allow yourself to change your mind when new evidence presents itself. Open your heart to give and to receive. Become a person whose life has meaning. Love others. Love yourself. Live gratefully.
Mary Johnson author of An Unquenchable Thirst
Do at least one thing every day this week that you do because it makes you aware that you are engaging in life. Keep a list of the things you do. At the end of the week do something to celebrate life.
Peace and Blessings,
Today’s gospel includes this saying: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
Each day this week sit quietly. When you have quieted yourself, repeat this saying at least three times. Then quickly write down your first answer to each of the following questions. Your answers may be the same each day or different.
At the end of the week review what happened during your daily meditations. If you have something to share, drop me a note or briefly tell me when you see me.
Peace and Blessings,
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