A Retreat on Centering Prayer

Good Evening, God!

This week I am blessed to be going to a Centering Prayer Retreat at Saint Anthony’s Retreat House in the Kalihi Valley.  I’m being trained to be a presenter.  But, as they say:  To teach is to learn twice.  And today I realized that the goal of Centering is to keep returning to You — after being distracted by thoughts and feelings, memories and emotions, etc.  The goal isn’t a blank mind or even a mind clear of thoughts.  It is the gentle effort of returning to our “sacred word” which is a symbol of our intention  to open ourselves to You.

I also realized that my Conscious Mind is not designed to comprehend or understand WHAT You are doing in my innermost being.  This, is of course, exactly opposite of all of my years of schooling.  In school, our conscious mind is trained to retain and make sense of data.  But, when I center my conscious mind is clueless.  And, I confess, also irritated.  My conscious (Western educated) mind feels left out and somehow undervalued.

But, upon prayer and reflection, I can see that BALANCE is being restored.  Or should I say, You are rebalancing me.  So that I can more fully appreciate what the parts hidden from my conscious mind are doing.  Appreciate how my Body is a Self Regulating System of great complexity.  Appreciate how much goes on in my innermost being . . .

All of this is humbling for my Conscious Mind which is infatuated with being Queen of the Hill . . . so to speak.  Well, it just never occurred to my Conscious Mind that I need to appreciate and respect my Body, Heart and Unconscious.

Hmm.  I suspect that the dominate elites in a country are very much like my conscious mind.  Unaware. Unappreciative. And without Respect.

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Posted in being a Slow Learner, being together in a compassionate presence, breathing in Your Spirit, Centering Prayer, Cherishing our Bodies, respect, setting my life in context, Silence, Stillness

Dick Tracy and Me

Good Evening, God!

I remember reading the comics as a young child and loving Dick Tracy’s 2-way wrist radio.  WOW!  I thought that idea went back to the 1930s. But, while Dick Tracy started then, the 2-way wrist radio debuted in January of 1946.  I would have been 7 and an instant fan.  Who didn’t think that was the best thing ever!  But by 1964 when it was updated to a 2-way TV I was busy with babies and forgot about the comics.  Our grandson was one of the first to get an iWatch . . . but it passed me by.

Until the iWatch 4 came out and a dear friend regaled me with what it could do . . . showing me her old iWatch 3 to illustrate.  Ah . . .I was hooked!  It arrived and she helped me put on the band and gave me basic instructions.  Since then I’ve called Apple for more help and I am sure there is still a lot to learn.

But, one of the features that delighted me the most was how — when I went swimming — it recorded the distance I swam breast stroke, crawl, backstroke and mixed.  Oh my!  What’s next?

The Smithsonian had an article about 10 inventions that were inspired by science fiction.  One of the inventors quoted Jules Verne, saying “Anything that one man can imagine, another man can make real.”

That quote would make me happier if science fiction were not quite so apocalyptic.  I wish authors were creating stories about HOW we might deal with the rising oceans . . . floods of refugees . . . and the unintended consequences of so many things.

We need help, God.  And perhaps, we need to imagine together before we can work together.

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Posted in Creating, hope, Hope as a gift from God, imagining

God’s Treasures

Good Evening, God!

I went to a marvelous workshop this weekend.  It was on Prophecy. . . on hearing You — believing that You are still speaking.  And our presenter, Wayne Drain, actually had us “pray and listen” and then venture forth to offer an encouraging word to our fellow participants.  As he said about many churches — they BELIEVE the STUFF . . . they just don’t DO the STUFF.

The STUFF being the signs and wonders that caused the early church to expand so rapidly and so far.  I’m supposed to have the spiritual gift of encouragement.  And I do love to encourage folks.  But, being put in a group of three and then told to pray about what “word” You might want me to give them — that was scary!  But the two with me received my brief words happily.  Good of them!

What was more fun was picturing a person in the room we had a word for.  That was much easier and felt more as if You did indeed have a hand in it.  It felt good and it felt like a nudge from You to share more kindness and encouragement.

But, the point that made the biggest impression on me was when Pastor Drain talked about searching for Treasures!  His church has teams that pray over clues about the person You might want them to share with.  Then they go off on a Treasure Hunt to find that person and say “we think you might be the treasure we are looking for!

Pastor Drain believes that You see us — each one of us — as a Treasure!  I just about cried. . . not so much because I feel like a treasure.  But, because it hit me that really is how You see us!

Now, if only we could see each other – and yes ourselves — as Treasures. . . .

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Posted in encourage and comfort, Expand my Heart, experimentation, Faith, Hearing, Prophecy: a Supernatural Gift of Encouragement, Prophetic Voices, responding to "nudges", responding to God's Spirit

Jesus Don’t Like UGLY

Good Evening, God!

Thank You!  Oprah summed up this hate laced political season in four little words.  Jesus don’t like ugly.  I watched her short statement 5 or six times and I believe with all my heart that it is a true statement!  She was referring to a racist robocall  (of which there have been too many) about Stacey Abrams who was running for governor of Georgia. But, it is true in every aspect of our lives.

I must confess . . . at first it did not occur to me that I might have some ugly in me.  But, it didn’t take long before I realized that hating the purveyors of hate . . . is ugly too.

Jesus clearly tells us to BLESS BLESS and do not curse.  And, when I make myself think and pray about it — it is clear.  Folks stirring up hate surely do need Your Blessing.

Golly, God!  Hate is on a continuum . . . and judging is on that continuum.  I’m not talking about making thoughtful decisions.  I’m talking about a knee jerk tendency to “judge and find wanting” that I have noticed in myself.  Hmm.  Judging and hating both keep us from hearing one another.  Hearing with respect.

It is coming to me, God, that hearing with respect is a pretty good definition of love.

 

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Posted in hate, Hearing, judging, listening, LOVE, respect

Guidance Systems Old and New

Good Evening, God!

This is is a photo our dear friend Martha-Lee took on her recent cruise around the islands.  It is a lovely photo but I wanted it for the lighthouse.  Not that long ago lighthouses were important navigational aids.  They weren’t just to warn ships that they were close to land. Each lighthouse had a distinctive set of flashing lights that told the sailors just where the lighthouse was.

I thought about that has Martha-Lee and I had just used Google Maps as a navigational device on our way from Whole Foods (picking up sandwiches) back to an evening  workshop at Koolau.  Normally, I wouldn’t need navigational help.  But, the backup on the Pali meant that we wanted to find a faster way back.  Martha-Lee who had lived in Kailua suggested we take the Quarry Road.  But, it had been many years since then and as she said . . . .it looked different.  Well, different it was!  And I was happy to depend on Google Maps as we turned on to the saddle road and then briefly onto the H3 highway.

Being on the H3 caused her a certain about of distress but as the driver I was confident that the lovely voice of “the Google Girl” would get us there.  And, sure enough, we got off at exit 11 — just a few hundred feet from the left turn into Koolau.

Times have changed.  And they have changed rapidly.  Or rather, they ARE changing rapidly.  This means that the old cultural “lighthouses” have seen a mushrooming of new navigational “helpers”.  Some really are helpful.  But, many others are not.  It requires a spirit of discernment to decide which navigational devices we will depend on.

We have so many options . . . but that means making so many more choices.  And that means much more personal responsibility is required as we design a good and meaningful life.  I think about I Corinthians 13:13  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  These still act as useful lighthouses as we navigate our lives.

 

 

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Posted in Light, LOVE, Meaning, Personal Responsibilty, perspectives, responsibility, self care as maintenance

The Joy of Beauty

Good Evening, God!

Thank You!  Thank You for so much beauty! This is a hibiscus belonging to my spiritual director.  I think she was puzzled as to why I was taking its photo.  She sees theses every day.  Hibiscus are Evanescent . . . .only lasting for a day. . . but maybe even more delightful due their short lives.  It is easy to see outwardly expressed beauty.  Inner beauty requires eyes that truly see.

Last night I went to a training session on how to be a Listener . . . a good listener.  The purpose was so that those of us being trained could go back to our congregations and discern what concerns them.  The presenter was the head of FaithAction and her inner beauty shown out.  And that beauty was accompanied by JOY.  She was a delightful presenter.  I wanted to hear her.  Joy and enthusiasm radiated from her.  Hmm.  I wonder.  Just how are inner beauty, joy and enthusiasm intertwined?

The concerns that she is looking for are ones that can be broken down into actionable issues. Issues that we – or our governments – can actually do something about.  And even better she is looking for issues that are not divisive.  She wants to bring the various faith based groups together to get things done!  SO SENSIBLE!

How I wished our congress and other organizations would focus on things like that!  Working together on what we all agree on.  Things like infrastructure, job training, affordable housing.  Hmm.

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Posted in beauty, blooming, Enthusiasm, Faith, JOY

Swimming with the little fish

15-mullet-migrationGood Evening, God!

This morning  I swam in the midst of a school of little fish and it was magical.  Hundreds and hundreds of fish in one school that wheeled and turned as one.  I turned with them. How could I not?  Their “oneness” was enchanting!

How I wished I had an underwater camera with me!  But it really needed a video to capture their joyful dance.  Even that wouldn’t capture what it was like being in the midst of them. . . fish on all sides of me.  Well, not above me, that’s true.  But swimming in their midst I could feel myself becoming one with them.

Being with.  For some time now I have been aware that when I am with a person there is a “Being With-ness” that goes far beyond words.  Something “MORE” is going on.  I cannot put it into words because it is beyond words.  And I can’t even say if it is more basic than words or if it is “above” words.

But, this morning as I sat chatting with my spiritual director she talked about how — in Centering — there is a time when we release words and even thoughts and enter into Your Presence.  And I thought about that as I was turning joyfully with the school of little fish.

That sense of “being with” the fish . . . of becoming more . . . made me hold on to that as a close analogy to what she meant about being with You.  For me, it is a visual image of spiritual reality.  And I hold it dear.  Thank You.

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Posted in Being ENJOYED by God, Being With, Belonging to each other, Centering Prayer, connecting, gratitude, JOY, web of life

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chatting and sometimes, listening

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chatting and sometimes, listening

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Since 1958 articles by members & guests offer news about activities, history, Sacred Dance practices, profiles of Sacred Dancers, choreography, images & illustrations.

Victoria Paulsen

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