Be Active and Know

Today’s post is by Jeff Nelson To help him with his schoolwork, we’ve purchased several fidget cubes for our son. If you aren’t familiar with these, they are small six-sided objects, each side with a series of buttons to press, switches to click, balls to roll with your thumb, and so on. They were born […]

March 03, 2017 by Jeff Nelson
Categories: Body Prayer and Prayer. Tags: active, children, labyrinth, prayer, and presence. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

A Challenge to Everyday Life

We are all traveling somewhere, whether we regularly find ourselves at the airport, on a path through some untamed wilderness, or at the kitchen table. Life’s journey moves us from one place to another, and we are the unwitting (and sometimes unwilling) passengers.

Pause, Wash, Rinse and Drain

Today’s post is by Christine Berghoef. Growing up in an old farm house with limited kitchen upgrades, I used to question my mom and dad’s sanity in their choice to not install a dishwasher. Between my parents, me, and my three growing brothers who seemed to put down several meals between meals throughout any given […]

Every Moment Invites Us

Thomas Keating says that God’s presence is a gift, closer to us than breathing, than thinking, and even closer than consciousness itself. You don’t need a silent church pew or a remote holy isle to access it. God’s presence, love and grace, are already there waiting to greet you wherever you are. Pausing to notice your breath can be a great tool to remember this–you always have your breath with you.

Children, Chaos, and Contemplation

Today’s post is by Bryan Berghoef

There is never a dull moment at our house. My wife and I have four children—amid the flurry of homework assignments, birthday parties, sibling spats, and dinnertime squabbles—there’s a lot of constant noise and movement.

One of the delightful things about having young children is their unbridled enthusiasm and overwhelming energy. They are fully present, without a sense that there is anything else to be. They are fully in the moment. This is a gift of being a child, not being weighed down by thoughts of the future, or by a sense of responsibility, or worry. They are right here, right now.

The downside is that everything is so important, and when something doesn’t go their way, right now, it’s reason for complaining, crying, sometimes even—panic. Spilling milk really is something to cry over. A favorite toy breaking feels like the apocalypse. Even as I write this there is fighting in the sandbox. (Don’t worry – we have plenty of moments of calm and laughter as well in our household!)

I long as a parent to be able to maintain an inner calm amid all this outer chaos and confusion. I find that I very seldom am able to cultivate that on the spot. It is something I need to consciously develop in other moments, so that when the chaos comes, I have a reserve of calm from which to draw. It might be a daily time of prayer and silence, a quiet walk outside, Scripture reading, or some other practice.

The Energy of Emotion

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.

Contemplation of Nature’s Offerings

Today’s post is by Bryan Berghoef. Contemplation doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s incredibly simple. When I tell myself I’m entering into a contemplative space, it’s as if everything else sort of blurs around me, and the center focuses more sharply.

My physical surroundings become secondary to my inner state of mind and heart. Beatrice Bruteau confirms that “what interferes with our living a contemplative life is not the busy, noisy, confused, demanding, harassing world in which we must earn our living and care for our families. We like to blame this environment, but that is not really the source of the disquiet. Even if we could go to the country, have nothing much to do and no threats to our comfort, we would take our own noisiness with us.”

That said, our physical surroundings do matter. My family and I recently relocated from a busy urban neighborhood in Washington, DC, to a rural farm in Holland, Michigan. The differences in our physical surroundings are plenty–yet as Bruteau notes, peace requires more than a change in scenery.

There was much to love about the city and the neighborhood we left behind. Yet undeniably my wife and I have both felt and experienced a kind of inner calming since arriving in our peaceful location, situated on the edge of my in-law’s spacious flower farm.

The sheer expanse of sky that one experiences in wide open spaces tends to nurture an inner expansiveness through a sort of spiritual osmosis. Simply walking beneath this wide blue sky does its own sort of inner work on one’s soul. In this soft, subtle space, I find myself renewed and refreshed.