Archive for Friday Blog

Visio Divina and Eyeglass Repair

The practice of Visio Divina offered me new ways of seeing, through God’s grace and eyeglass repair. It was another chance to see the spirit of God and to laugh out loud in the way that God speaks to me and encourages me to see in a new way.

A Gift of Centering Prayer

This past fall I was immersed in two months of study and practice in Centering Prayer, an invitation to sacred surrender and holy receptivity to God’s Presence through regular, intentional periods of silence, in solitude and in community.

The ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC, of which I am a part, had invited Fr. Carl Arico of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. to take us through a time of renewal. He had introduced Centering Prayer to the community 25 years ago, and many attribute this experience to the church’s depth of commitment to the inward journey in relation to its outward journey of discipleship.

The Gift

I’d like to share a story with you from my life that speaks about how God uses us and gives us a unique mission, no matter what we have to give. This story has had a life of its own and has been published in books, told in sermons, and shared with students.

The story speaks of how our mere presence can enhance and heal the world through even the tiniest of moments. Sometimes our gift to the world is just a matter of showing up. Sometimes, our gift to the world is our story and knowing that it can offer hope to others.

Minding the Gaps

Each season offers gifts all its own. January’s spare beauty seems fitting after the extravagance of the holidays. Trees have shed every outer expression of the living sap within. Icy streams conceal mottled fish resting below. Snow blankets the fields’ ridges, gullies, and rocks. Winter, in her unparalleled way, changes the view. What was once hidden under canopies of green is now revealed, while the things once readily apparent are now veiled.

Winter is a welcome arrival in the cycle of each year, but I sometimes feel frightened during the winter seasons of my life when “spare beauty” actually seems barren and desolate. I wonder where the vitality has gone. I fret; maybe the inner sap is no longer flowing and the creative stream has dried up. Does my life still hold meaning when I feel stuck and frustrated, my efforts coming to naught?

Prayer Circles for Peace

“I am a cosmic citizen, a planetary being who lives in the Americas in the United States.” This was a line shared by a teacher I had one summer. It sure blows open any narrow attachment to a certain country or geographical place and calls forth a whole new perspective on who I am related to and where I belong. This ties in so well with what I have been learning (and thus teaching) in my own life–the interconnectedness of all.

For years I have been quoting a line from Thomas Merton: “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.” As I grow in the contemplative life, I continue to notice and experience the truth of these words–unity with others and the earth. In fact, now I am praying the question: How do we live out of this interconnectedness, especially as I notice that I often act, think and live as though I am separate, independent and self-sufficient?

Seeing When It’s Not Pretty

It is his feet I notice first. My mind right away says, homeless. It is uncomfortable to see, but something in me says don’t turn away, stay with your feelings, don’t opt out.

I am on the Metro early this November morning on my way to catch an Amtrak train from DC to NC to lead a retreat. The train is business day pack-full. I am standing and practically hovering over a slumped, trying-to-slumber figure—a man or woman, I can’t immediately tell.

The feet and ankles are unrecognizable, so grossly swollen and riddled with marks resembling rotten wood. I think these must be crazy tights, but no, the toenails tell otherwise.

This is not easy to write and I imagine for you not easy to read. But please stay with me.

When Earth and Heaven Meet

We gathered mid-morning in the backyard of our host. The sun was already up and warmed us as we sat on the lush green lawn. The autumn air was cool while its gentle breeze reminded us of the dryness typical of the high desert plains of Denver. We began by lighting a candle and burning a braid of sweet grass, a gift from a dear friend who joined us from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Before our smudging ceremony, she told us that the sweet grass is known to the Ojibway Indians as “Mother Earth’s hair,” and it became our connection to the holiness of the ground on which we sat.

Grace in the Struggle

Today’s post is by Carl McColman I have a confession to make. I’m a natural-born kicker and a screamer. “Some people embrace the spiritual life with grace and ease,” my first spiritual director, Lin Ludy, told me one day in the mid-1980s. “Others, however, are dragged into heaven kicking and screaming. You, Carl, are a […]

In the Garden

Lately my thoughts have turned to letting go and being afraid, the prompts for two spiritual journey writing groups. I struggle with these, not because I haven’t been afraid or haven’t let go but because each time I think of possible topics—traveling to Guinea to start a refuge school, starting my own business, taking my weavings to galleries, traveling abroad alone, being pregnant—there no energy rises around the fear I once had. When I consider our children going to college or my release of things I once loved like West African drumming or my professional work, I feel nothing. I can’t go there now. They just don’t resonate with me today. Or yesterday. Or the day before.

The Grace of Noticing

I don’t have a cell phone.

I have been meaning to get one, over the years, but still have not done so. I know I will – I am not against the motion of technology, and I imagine I will enjoy many an app and ways to ease communication. I imagine, too, the relief of not having to field disbelieving, even angry, expressions and remarks to my not having a smartphone. But for now, I enjoy cultivating the art of noticing.

Just this week walking to and from the Metro I notice a lavish rose flowering in a lot more suited for weeds. I stop to admire the humor and creativity on a signboard outside a coffee shop: an artistic rendering of the Peanuts character Linus hugging a pumpkin and the invitation, “Welcome Great Pumpkin Chai!” Later I see a bundled beauty of a baby in a stroller at peace and oblivious to the urban sights and sounds teeming around her. In the little patch of green in front of an apartment building, a dog leaps and without fanfare (on his part – I am amazed) catches a flying red Frisbee mid-air. I definitely would have missed this moment if I were looking down at a screen.

Then there is the October sun, situated low in the sky and more apt to be blinding this time of year. I have gotten caught, frozen, more than once in its inescapable glare. I take the opportunity to be grateful to simply bask in the light, as if it is God’s Presence manifest in all-embracing radiance. I take the time to feel that from head to toe to heart.