In light of the dismay and fear many are sensing this week, we wanted to share a few brief remarks from Shalem leaders in the wake of Tuesday’s election results. Margaret Benefiel: In my wrestling with the election results, I sense we will certainly need to seek deep contemplative grounding to live faithfully through these next […]
Today’s post is by Scott Landis I just dropped her off at the airport. I drove away with tears in my eyes as I felt that deep sense of pain that comes each time we say goodbye. Why is it so hard? Why does love come with such a painful flipside? But this time, as […]
Today’s post is by Jeff Nelson It’s different for everyone, yet all know this experience. A woman driving home after receiving good news at work finds an uplifting song on the radio that speaks to her newfound joy. A man back from a hard visit with his mother in the nursing home starts his Spotify […]
I was delighted to see I had a view of the pond. Through brightly colored leaves, I caught a glimpse of water shimmering below. Ah, the pond! Still water, reflecting clouds and sun, holding leaves aloft – oranges and yellows, sky blue, greyish white and dark green.
Today’s post is by Savannah Kate Coffey “Whatever comes, the great sacrament of life will remain faithful to us, blessing us always with visible signs of invisible grace.” ~John O’Donohue The Bless the Space between Us The days of 2014 are waning and I am venturing a guess that we all began this year somewhere […]
The plane sped quickly down the runway, and we were flying. It was a full flight, and I wondered about what was happening with all the other individuals seated about me in the cabin. Were they coming, or going? Filled with hope about a new venture? Regretful about something that had already passed? We all sat strapped in, facing forward, regardless of our inner state.
Today’s post is by Lois A. Lindbloom
This is a season of grieving for me and throughout the college town in which I live. Jennifer, a beloved campus pastor, died at the age of 47. She was wife, mother of two young children, daughter, sister, friend to neighbors and colleagues, active supporter of children’s activities and concerns for the care of the world in addition to having a listening ear, prophetic voice, and liturgical grace on the campus. A year and a half ago she learned that an aggressive, cancerous tumor had established itself in her brain. That is what took her from us.
A few days before her death, I saw a health care provider in our community. Through her own tears of grief she asked, “Do you know Jennifer?” “Yes, she and I and two other women have been in a small group together for more than nine years, a spiritual direction group. We meet for three hours once a month.” Then the tears rolled for both of us.
Toward the end of her life Jennifer lost her ability to speak. In our last meeting less than three weeks before she passed, her remaining word was “ya.” She understood everything we were saying and offered her one word at appropriate times. Our moments of silence together that day were some of the most profound I have ever experienced. It seemed as though the rest of us were joining her in the silence that now was the only option available to her.
Today’s post is by Savannah Kate Coffey.
I sometimes sit by the ocean in the evening light when the air is soft and the clouds are pinky-orange. The youngest children have gone to bed. The sandcastles of this day are giving way to the fresh grainy canvas of tomorrow. Lovers walk holding hands. Vacationing families, freshly showered, gather in their white shirts and khakis for the yearly photo. There are a few gritty shore fishermen, beer in hand, hoping for a gift from the sea.
It occurs to me as I sit there how like the sandy shore our emotional lives can be. Often, seemingly out of nowhere, we are hit with wave after wave of emotion. It may be boredom and listlessness one minute, or longing and passion the next. Anger, sadness, loneliness, joy, love, elation, and disappointment all break upon the shores of our spirit sometimes relentlessly. Our emotions are a great gift, but I imagine there are times when we all wish we didn’t feel the way we do, or when it is simply difficult to balance the energy coursing through us. It is easy to understand wanting relief from painful emotions, but even the more desirable ones can be strong and overwhelming. I sometimes feel relieved on those days when the waves of feeling have been mild and the water warm.
The physicists have taught us that all matter is simply energy condensed into form. A baby is a beautiful example of the energy of desire becoming life and breath. Although we know physiologically how the process works, it all begins with energetic presence. We are learning there is “an energetic continuum running through all creation.” (Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, p. 45) French Jesuit philosopher and biologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote that our suffering is actually potential energy that can be consciously offered to God as a gift. The energy of our pain becomes part of the “ascending force of the world,” fuel for the transformation of fear to love. This understanding also keeps us close to our elemental humanity, knowing that even our “failures” and setbacks are the instruments of grace on our behalf, enriching the soil of our lives from which we grow strong and beautiful.
By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog. You can see more of her writing at blessedjourneyblog.com. About a year ago I started to […]
By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog and is one of the social media coordinators for the Shalem Institute Facebook page. I realize […]