Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is…

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen Hank is one of my favorite people. I don’t know him well, but I’m getting there. At the end of most work days I stop and talk with him on my way out. We talk about politics and religion despite conventional wisdom that warns against it. He shares […]

July 07, 2017 by Mary van Balen
Categories: Contemplative Living, Contemplative Spirituality, Nature and spirituality, and Prayer. Tags: Grace, mystery, rain, and worry. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Rain—An Icon of Grace

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen Rain pelted the windows as I fell asleep one Friday night this spring. Thunder rumbled in the distance, occasionally exploding through the thick sky, rattling the window beside my bed. I’ve always loved thunder storms, especially at night when I have nothing else to do but listen and […]

May 05, 2017 by Mary van Balen 2 Comments
Categories: Nature and spirituality, Non-duality, Prayer, and Self Compassion. Tags: Grace, icon, and rain. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Holy Ground

Today’s post is by Trish Stefanik Reflecting on contemplative living, I am struck by how my understanding of “holiness” has changed over the years. Not surprisingly, stirred in the mixing bowl of religious populism and American myth, I was shaped by a notion of holiness that was something I could possess and, of course, feel […]

Radical Hospitality in the Woods

Today’s post is by Crystal Corman

It is easiest for me to connect with God when surrounded by nature’s beauty. I try to take in God’s gifts through the sights, smells, and sounds of the mountains, trees, or river. But most days of the year, I live in the middle of a city, surrounded by concrete, traffic exhaust, and the noise of urban living. This summer, I was surprisingly blessed with the opportunity to escape the urban jungle for an adventure in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.

This was my first trip to the Wild Goose Festival and my first trip to North Carolina. With the theme of “Living Liberation,” I anticipated inspiring speakers and artists. While I did witness some amazing presenters, musicians, and performers, my most memorable experience was an atmosphere of hospitality that infused the air.

Hospitality is a beautiful spiritual gift that is too often condensed to “coffee hour” at churches. During my time as staff at a campus ministry in Lincoln, NE, we used a Benedictine book called Radical Hospitality to encourage us in our ministry (Paraclete Press, 2011). This small book spoke of simple acts of kindness that seem radical in a world where we are taught to be suspicious of others out of self-protection or privacy. As someone who did not grow up in a city (I’m a farm girl), I find that the longer I live in the city, the less I look people in the eyes when navigating around others in pursuit of my end destination.

The campgrounds at Wild Goose felt like another world as people greeted each other warmly, paused to listen to questions, and seemed open to an encounter with anyone and everyone at the festival. It was as if people’s hearts were open to the fact that they would meet Jesus in each person they passed or met. I slowly felt my defenses soften, opening myself to be truly present and seek to see the image of God in those around me.