Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
One of the gifts of being part of the Spiritual Care Network team is that ever so often I have the opportunity to gather with a group of clergy and talk about how I am caring for myself spiritually and how we can assist others in spiritual care. These meetings and conversations are rich and nurturing and although I usually go in wondering how I am going to make up for the lost time I find myself refreshed just by being in the room.
Today was one of those days - I had the opportunity to be “Rudolf” as I drove the carpool from Horseshoe Bay to the conference office.
The reality was that most of us were a bit flippant, cheeky and a little sassy throughout the day but we forgave one another (after all it is the week before Christmas and the stress level in the room and car was at times palpable).
And yet this brassy little group found themselves in deep conversation on our way home when the questions were asked. “What is spiritual practice?” “What counts as spiritual practice?” “Am I wrong that I don’t understand shopping as spiritual practice?” “Is that my egoic-self?” “Is there a difference between being nourished and spiritual practice?” We pondered the differences between extroverted and introverted spirituality throughout the day. But we also wondered what makes it spiritual practice?
For myself I think it’s about intention. In the conversation I recognized that I consider yoga (most of the time) spiritual practice but not kick boxing. I often say skiing is one of my practices and yet I wouldn’t say that about dragon boating. I love all of these sports - each of them nurture me and yet when I breath deeply and meditate in yoga - I intentionally connect with The Holy and yet in kickboxing... well..... If I’m honest I just want to ‘kick-butt’ (please don’t judge me). When I ski I am almost always in awe and yet when I dragon boat the moments of awe are an added bonus if they occur.
For me practice involves intention. It is not that these other things don’t nourish. But if I fail to be intentional in my connecting with the holy I am sure to notice every once and a while that it has been a very long time since I talked with my God other than in a leadership role. That’s just what I have discovered within myself. I would love to hear what spiritual practice means for you. What does it look like? How do you know it’s a spiritual practice? (I encourage you to share with us your practices).
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
“Wait for the Lord, Be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 “Christian practice can be summed up by the word patience. In the New Testament patience means waiting for God for any length of time, not going away, and not giving in to boredom or discouragement.”
The Advent season is filled with words of waiting and patience. It is often hard to understand the concept of waiting that is unless we are in the midst of a struggle, waiting for an answer, a result, or a resolution.
What does it mean to wait on God? How are you waiting on or with God in your life? How does it make a difference in your life to turn to God the peace-maker in a time of waiting?
God of peace and life
God who waits alongside us in our journeys
fill us with your hope, peace, joy and love this Advent season.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen - Anthem
Take some time to meditate on the following question.
Where are the dark places for you? Dark places may be places of struggle, but they also may be places of transformation - Although we will talk about looking for the light or finding the light I want to remind us and acknowledge that darkness is not always evil it is often a place of growth. For me darkness has been both a friend offering comfort, and transformation as well an enemy bearing fearful uncertainty, masking unknown threats.
Now take a moment to meditate - placing the light of the Holy in those dark places.
Do you see the light breaking through the cracks in your life? If yes what difference does it make? If no what do you think will help bring light into those places?
God of darkness and light
meet us in the places where we try to be someone we are not
Open us up to see you in our imperfections, in our wrestlings, in the cracks in our character and lives.
Let the light break in. Amen.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Here’s a story my grandpa, a rabbi, used to tell me:
Shlemiel, the town fool, caught sight of something lying on the road. It glinted and twinkled in the light. “Aha!” he chuckled. “What have we here? Someone has lost something precious.”
He picked it up. It was a mirror. When he looked at it and saw his face, he threw it down again. “Yuck!” he exclaimed. “No wonder they threw it away. it’s so ugly!”
When I grew up, I learned to obverse side of the mirror joke.
A young boy, who lived in a poor and remote village of Nazi-occupied Crete, found in the middle of the road the broken pieces of a mirror that had come off a Wehrmacht motorbike.
Having nothing much to play with, the boy tried to put all the pieces together, and when he couldn’t, shaped the biggest of the fragments into a mirror, round and smooth, the size of a watch face. He invested a little game: reflecting the sunlight into the remotest and unlikeliest nooks and crannies he could find. In time, as he grew up, it dawned on him that this game was a metaphor for what he wanted to do with his life - to reflect the light into the furthest reaches of this globe.
Today, Alexander Papaderos’ peace institute is known the world over.
So it could be, I suspect, for each one of us. We have a choice. We can pick up the fragments that make up our lives and, seeing our own faces, our own brokenness, throw down the pieces. Give up on making any sense of them.
Or little by little, we can shape those fragments into something. Something that somehow, somewhere reflects the light. Acknowledging, of course that we are not the light. Still less the source of the light. But willing nevertheless, to reflect it - love, care, understanding, peace into the darkest places of our lives of the world.
The Christmas presence.
But where can the impulse to do this come from?
Light of life, teach us to be aware
Help us to see the places where we can be reflecting your light
in the world.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Monday, December 6th - Ninth Day of Advent
Mary and Elizabeth
Mary and Elizabeth
two strong women
carried two strong men
Mary and Elizabeth
two hospitable women
with wombs wide, full
of grace and conversion
Mary and Elizabeth
two loving women,
blessing one another
with the grace of affection,
strength of communion
Mary and Elizabeth
did they know the dance
within their wombs
might change a hurting heart,
transform a languished life
Mary and Elizabeth,
two holy women
wombs gestating goodness,
sources of nurturing grace
yeast for every inner birthing
- Joyce Rupp
Holy wisdom, God of hope
What are you birthing within me?
What hope do you have for my life?
Open my awareness to your holy presence within my life.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Reaching for Rainbows
I keep reaching for rainbows...
Thinking one God’s morning
I will wake up with rainbow ribbons in my hair,
With hurts painted over in hues that only angel wings could brush,
Black obliterated, chaos hurled beyond the rainbow and my vision,
The world created in a myriad of colors:
The hungry fed, The dying held,
The maimed walking, The angry stroked,
The violent calmed, The oppressed freed,
The oppressors changed,
And every tear wiped away.
I keep reaching for rainbows,
But instead of colors in our storm,
Gray and black infiltrate, dirtying the sky,
And I hear human voices wailing in the darkness,
the never-ending darkness....
Just the same I know the promise of the rainbow.
I keep thinking I’ll turn a corner one day
And find a litany of rainbows flung across the sky,
Hosannaing back and forth
Through all the ages and Out into eternity forever amen!
Every tear wiped away -
It’s a promise - When we become rainbows to each other.
Holy Mystery, we live in Hope
Hope for a world of peace, joy and love
We Long to see your kindom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Help us to see the promise signs you give us each and every day of our lives. Transform us that we may become signs of your hope and love for one another this advent season.
A time of Sacred Conversation will be held for all to participate in at 2:00pm at Squamish United Church. Come with your questions and stories of faith.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I thought I would share a day with you that was a turning point in spiritual practice for me. This is a quote from a clergy "spiritual practice' blog that I am involved in.
I am finally getting to the post I wanted to give yesterday. And that is a piece of the story. I know I won't shock most of you when I explain my day started with prep for an important meeting at 6am and ended with book study at 9pm. All day I was thinking oh no I have to do a spiritual practice. Oh no I have to blog...oh no I am going to fail at this already. And then I remembered the sermon I preached just a couple days before.
I spoke on reverence and gratitude (it was thanksgiving after all). I found a beautiful reflection by Joyce Rupp which included a quote from Merton and so I preached "We experience deep gratitude as we take notice of that which is beyond us. With Merton on this thanksgiving day “I am going to put aside my ‘when it happens’ and my ‘if only this could be’ and my ‘when things get better’ and my ‘as soon as I have this.’ I am going to harvest what I now have, gather all the many gifts that are already mine. I am going to observe what has been placed in the granary of my heart and marvel at the abundance. I will stand before this heap of blessings and take a long, grateful look. I will say farewell to my ‘when’ and be thankful for what is."
And so I discovered in the clutter of my day that I perhaps might refocus some of the activities I already had in my schedule. As I rushed into my Yoga class I discovered this was exactly the spiritual practice I needed for the day. Just like when people come to me after a sermon and say "Where you speaking to me today?" I sometimes think the same thing of my Yoga instructor. She began class with meditation (she never begins class with meditation). She asked us first to ground ourselves. Be aware of our breath and then let go of the clutter, the rush, the things we can't accomplish.... Within two minutes I felt my squeezing in of Yoga was somehow Devine intervention. I found myself in a place of releasing the dissatisfaction, and embracing the abundance I already have.
I know that this isn't what I had desired to do. I wanted to pick up something new - be a superstar spiritual practicer instead I found myself in gratitude for what I already have. Namaste. Karen