More on my Prayer Bell

Good Day God,

It began with a simple command. Go get your biggest bell. Ring it every day at noon. And pray for World Peace. That was back in early February. And here I am in mid May still ringing my bell and praying for World Peace. Only it has expanded.

I do pray for World Peace — but I very soon began to add all sorts of other prayers. Praying for something that I have in the “not quite impossible” category — is extremely freeing. Sinus conditions,
Mom and her baby still “inside”, office packing up due to retirements, continued good health for all family members, and all of us (especially me) to get better at making adjustments.

This has introduced “structure” into my life. I have jokingly claimed the title of Queen of Random, but there is considerable truth in that claim. This gives me a welcome focal point in which to gather my prayer energy. Without this time (with its alarm going off to remind me) I was just being carried through my day on a steady flow of duties, details and detritus.

Another thing I really enjoy about this is Praying Out Loud. Ringing the bell sets the stage for SOUND. Need I confess that I am an extrovert who loves talking? So, it never even occurred to me that I could pray silently. I ring the bell and pray, ring it again and pray some more, and so on. I am fully in the realm of sound! Somehow my body loves reverberating with the bell and with the spoken words.

In fact, I enjoy this time so much — this welcomed break in my day — I decided to do it at 9:00 a.m. 12:00 noon, 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Those are set with alarms — but I do find myself praying both at the beginning of my day and end. It is a lovely way to STOP and interrupt my daily activities and tasks and consciously connect with the Creator of ALL. It is a pause that refreshes.


Posted in acknowledging my need for prayer, connecting, God's Time, JOY, Prayer, simple joys of daily life, Structure, taking time to focus, time

A Planet of Prodigal Children

Good Day, God

Many years ago, it came to me that we (all humans) were prodigals — which I just learned means wasteful. In this story which Jesus tells the prodigal was a younger son who asked for his “share” of his inheritance and set off to a far land and wasted it all. Reduced to feeding pigs (a horrible fate for him culturally) he resolves to go home and be a servant in his fathers house. Only to have his father run toward him — rejoicing that he was “found” and alive. And the father restored him to once again being a beloved son. I was feeling very much like the prodigal child myself then. I had just recently “become” a “Believer” in You, God as loving Father and in Your Love! Alas, I did not become even a bit aware of all that I did not know!

In wanting to write this blog I would have been happier if I could have found an image of a Mother embracing her child . . . even a mother animal with her young would better convey the incredible love and compassionate heart that You have. Alas, our culture has encourage dominance — by the male of our species — thus limiting You to Father. I had no idea how that culture had affected me until a month of so ago.

One day — just to vary the routine — I began to pray Our Mother, who art . . . . and found to my stunned amazement that my image of You as a Mother was dramatically different from my image of You as a Father. Of course, God, my images are just that . . . my images. Still, I had no idea they were so DIFFERENT.

You as Father — were content to stay up in Heaven — You as Mother materialized inside me! And then activated everything all around me! Not only that, but You were eager to be ASKED for HELP. Apparently, our “asking” is somehow much more important than I realized. Your LOVE and FORGIVENESS washed through me. Along with a deepening realization that I NEEDED all of that.

This morning I read a piece by Garrison Keillor in which he talked about how on Sunday his church preached the risen Lord while the Unitarian church down the street heard a sermon on recycling. But how despite this difference “we get along very nicely — and why? Because we’re older than we were. The pride of possession of the Truth diminishes; the urge to share the sunshine succeeds it.”

So here I am God delighting in the sunshine. Becoming oh so slowly more aware of the MYSTERY of Life — and Death — humbled . . . or slowly embracing humility. A wasteful child upon a beautiful planet. Grateful . . . and happy to be here now.

Posted in Attention Limits, awareness, Awe, connecting, humility, Humility or Needing Help!, LOVE, Mothers, Mothers and Fathers, self care as self compassion and humility, The Endless Flow of God's Love, the gift of persistent love



What am I doing buying a book about a boy with a faster brain when I am an 83 year old woman? Perhaps I don’t have ADD — anymore than anyone born in this culture does. But, I do tend to have a fast brain and I am very easily distracted.

My cultural influence: I was born just a year after Superman! I would listen avidly to the stories where one of the key values was speed. So I grew up with “faster than a speeding bullet” as my guide. Sigh. It has taken me decades to realize that You, God are the Creator of Time — and my job is to use it wisely.

Peter Shankman is writing in this book about how to to reframe this particular quality into a gift. He tells about how he was sent home from school every day with a note. . . every day . . . and often sent to the Principal. He loved cracking jokes and making his classmates laugh. But, his teachers found it disruptive! So, he really wants to help kids with ADD or ADHD or any nonneuroqtypical kid have a positive view of themselves. And more importantly, he wants them to be better able to USE their gifts.

I bought Peterʻs first book, Faster Than Normal several years ago and I loved it. As someone who is easily distracted I identified. I love how Peter copes when a book deadline looms. He books a flight to Tokyo and back — and writes all the way there and then back. How tempting I find that idea!

Hmm. While I am waiting for his children’s book to arrive, I think I’ll go back and reread his fist one! Oh, and I’ll listen to a few more of his podcasts, too.

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Posted in connecting, God's Time, Needed Repair Time, recovery time, taking time to focus, time, Wanting a protected time

Transitions and Being Transformed

Good Morning, God

I read that Lent is a Time of Transitioning from ordinary time into Holy Time. No wonder we devote 40 days to Lent. But this goal is ever with us. Actually several goals . . . the big goal is to be transformed. . . as St. Paul says in Romans 12:2 . . . but I hope small moments of transitioning help.

Every time I center I feel as if that is what I am attempting to do — to shift from my ordinary time into Holy Time. Ah, but my monkey mind is hard to quiet. And that is one of many reasons why I love making an early morning pilgrimage to watch the Sun Rise. Often the Sun Rise transports me into Holy Time — straight into AWE!

Sun Rise and Sun Set are times when I can SEE a transition taking place. During the day I don’t really notice where the sun is — from one moment to the next. AHAAA BUT SUNRISE!!!! Sunrise this morning was at 6:48 and this photo was taken at 6:22 a.m. HST. I had already missed a fair bit . . . but I kept on trying to capture the glorious images. This last one was taken at 7:00 a.m. And rainclouds were coming up from behind us — pouring down just as we drove away.

Photos are no better than words at capturing reality. This morning I was beholding the Heavenly Host — right here — right now. It was a transforming experience.

I will not stay transformed . . . but I feel a little enlarged and perhaps a bit cleaner . . . certainly I have more room for HOPE in me now.

Posted in a hand up, connecting, Glorious, Heavenly Host, Heavens declare the Glory of God, hope, Transitioning, Transitions

Pondering HOPE

Good Morning, God

This is a photo of an almost full moon. I chose the Moon instead of the Sun as an image in order to indicate the weakness of my image of hope. My view of hope was of a given. . . probably given by a willful fairy . . . maybe mostly at my christening. It is taking Brene Brown’s book Atlas of the Heart to jolt me into a New View of Hope — an enlarged view.

She says that “Hope is a way of thinking — a cognitive process.” A WHAT? If that is so, then Hope is something we humans can develop! It isn’t fixed. It is a “Growth” application, so to speak.

Brene goes on to quote researcher C. R. Snyder saying that Hope is made up of a “trilogy of Goals, Pathways, and Agency.”

We have goals — we know where we want to go
We can see pathways toward our goals
We believe in ourselves — we can do this!

But even though “we need hope like we need air” — we cannot give it to someone. “Hope is a function of struggle — we develop hope not during the easy or comfortable times but through adversity and discomfort.”

So, God, I am sitting here amazed at this brand new understanding of hope — a brand new and vastly encouraging view of hope.

And as I sit here — pondering how I might strengthen my Hope App — I think of Nick Winter and his spiral of success. In his book, The Motivation Hacker he talks about how he built habits by starting very small — and slowly building a spiral of success. YES! That feels like the way I want to begin.

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Posted in connecting, growing toward up, hope, the essential nature of hope, the Growth Mindset, The Power of Naming

Ring a Bell for World Peace

Good Evening, God

I was ruminating after my Centering Prayer — pondering Hope. Wondering if Hope was something one could enlarge? My understanding of Hope was meager. Hope was in You and Hope was from You. But that Hope was something I could work with and enlarge? Really?

But I liked the idea. And in musing to myself, I clearly thought, “But I could never hope for World Peace!”

BANG! Into my mind came a CLEAR COMMAND — go find the biggest bell you have in your home and RING IT! And as you do that HOPE and PRAY for World Peace! Do it at noon every day — and Hope and Pray for one minute.

So…..I did it. And I thought, who am I to determine that ANYTHING is too impossible to hope for?

All things are possible to You, God. And so I have set my alarm to go off two minutes before noon. I thought I would feel silly. But, actually, I feel as if I am doing something hopeful. It feels good!

Posted in connecting, Expand my Heart, healing, health, hope, Hope as a gift from God, interactions, Optimism

New Every Morning — My Views on Health

Good Morning, God!

The idea came to me this morning, God, why don’t I share my view of Health? I’m smiling. I didn’t even know I had a View. But, having heard the suggestion, I have gathered up a few points that might be said to be a framework.

The first point goes back to Viktor Frankl’s observations on one of the long term survivors in a Nazi prison camp. When asked how he had survived, the man replied: The purpose of this camp is to strip us of all control — so I make a point to control what little I can. It is basically IN and OUT. ON and OFF. So when I can eat or drink — I do it. When I can release anything OUT, I do so. And when I can REST/SLEEP — that is be OFF, I do it. THIS MAN EXERCISED HIS POWER TO CHOOSE.

Taking control of what we can! WOW! That is such a clear focus. A focus on CHOOSING. Choosing within such tiny limits — but still exercising our right and responsibility as a human to CHOOSE.

That is such a wise use of energy! And Energy is my second point. I now see Energy as right up there with Time as factors that I am able to “control” — how to I use/focus my Energy and my Time. Energy is different from Time in that Energy is something I can generate more of. Generating Energy?

The first thing I noticed with Energy was how I was squandering it! Worry and anxiety over my wonderful husband’s health resulted in a slow hemorrhaging of energy. I must say, God that my batteries were down to DEPLEATED before I actually noticed what was happening. I thought worry was a given. But, it isn’t. I simply had a BAD IMAGE of the future in my heart. Basically, putting us both completely in Your Hands and believing that You could USE EVERYTHING — helped me substitute a more hopeful image. An image in which we could make choices. And some of those choices could be helpful. And I realized that I was free to research and read and experiment. Choosing HOPE is ENERGIZING!

Well, THERE! That is a beginning! CHOICE. ENERGY. HOPE.

I hope I will continue on as I am interested in finding out what else my View of Health consists of.

Posted in choices, Energy, health, hope, the essential nature of hope, trust, Trusting God

Pay Attention!

Good Evening, God

Pay Attention
Be Astonished
Tell about it

These are Mary Olivers guidelines. And what a marvelous job she did of all three. A few days ago I was surprised to find the injunction to pay attention in the book Gravity and Grace by Simone Weil. Poet and Saint!

I like to think that I pay attention. Kit and I have been going down to the marina to watch the sun rise . . . more often to just to enjoy the light entering the world. And on one occasion to watch a stingray glide by. We are definitely paying attention.

Truly, God, Your world is filled with magical things — waiting for us to pay attention. But, the other day, as I missed our regular turn going to church, it occurred to me that it is all too easy to fall into ruts. That afternoon, while praying, I thought I would vary Our Father, by starting with Our Mother. . .

I was astounded at the power of the impact of that one change of word! I must confess, God, that when I name You as Father, You seem quite content to “stay up in heaven”. Not so, when I changed Your gender! You as Mother were immediately IN ME! In every cell and deeply concerned/ interested in every detail of my life — my very being.

Oh my goodness! Is this just how I perceive the genders? Or did I accidentally open the door to a more “intimate” connection with You? I certainly do not want to go back. It isn’t so much that my cognitive understanding changed. I have “believed” for some time that You were “Willing; Wanting; and WAITING” to be invited in to every nook and corner of my being. But what happened here was a flood of FEELING. It wasn’t that You wanted. It was that You WERE!!!

Feelings are so vivid and compelling.

So, I am sharing.

Posted in Attention, Feeling our feelings, gender universes, LOVE, Mothers, Mothers and Fathers, Prayer, praying, The Endless Flow of God's Love

Moved by the Spirit

American singer Mahalia Jackson (1911 – 1972) sings at the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, August 28, 1963. Sitting at lower right is Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) and his wife Coretta Scott King, between them is activist Whitney Young (1921 – 1971). (Photo by Bob Parent/Getty Images)

Good Evening, God

I just wanted to share a bit of back story about Martin Luther King Jr. and his I HAVE A DREAM speech. Apparently, King had decided to downplay his identity as a preacher and try to get across some serious political points. The speech had been worked on by a number of advisors and after the first several paragraphs it clearly it wasn’t going well.

At that point, his close friend and gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson yelled out: Tell them about the Dream, Martin. TELL THEM ABOUT THE DREAM! She was sitting down at the time. She wasn’t at the microphone as she is shown in this photo. But her voice carried! And he heard her!

He turned and looked at her — pushed his prepared text aside — grabbed ahold of the podium — and opened up to the flow of the Spirit. THAT great extemporaneous speech just flowed out . . . and into history.

I wanted to share that little factoid, God, because I think it is important to realize that we have Mahalia Jackson to thank for that speech. She was open to Your Spirit. And she SPOKE OUT! Her voice seemed to set Martin Luther King Jr. FREE — free to share what was in his heart. She was an encourager . . . actually, she was an exhorter! Thanks be, to her, and to YOU.

I just thought this was worth reposting . . .
Posted in connecting

Meaning as an Essential Nutrient for Health

Good Day, God

While chatting with my wonderful husband, Kit, about how his older brother had died in his early 80’s while he, Kit was still alive at 88, I commented that church goers statistically live longer than non-church goers. I think by church goers it was referring to people with an active faith community.

But, as I said the words, it hit me! Having a sense of Meaning — helps us withstand the vicissitudes of life. And that reminded me of Fr. Rohr’s summation on meaning:
A trust in inner coherence itself. “It all means something!” (Faith)
A trust that this coherence is positive and going somewhere good. (Hope)
A trust that this coherence includes me and even defines me. (Love)

When I look at this image of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh which has a photo of galaxies superimposed on it — I feel full of faith, hope and love. Perhaps, because the heavens do declare the Glory of God. Maybe because like this reminds me of the creative gifts we all have been given.

But health? Ah yes . . . when I awake in the middle of the night. . . filled with regrets of things done and left undone. . . I turn toward these beliefs. I can repent and ask to be forgiven. I can ask for enough love and compassion to forgive myself. I am, in short in a loving and meaningful universe.

Yes, I am in the same world as everyone else. A world of injustice, cruelty and pain. A world filled with creatures like me who have been given free will. Sigh . . . You have put this world into our hands . . . . People ask — how can God allow this. Well, God, as You know, I have also yelled at You: HOW CAN YOU ALLOW THIS.

When I pause to listen, I hear words out of scripture like
Pray for those in authority over you.
Pray for those who despitefully use you.
Bless bless, and do not curse.ove

Sigh — a big sad sigh. And I ask You — how will that help? And I seem to hear, It will help YOU. Praying for people isn’t about You changing them. It is about YOU changing ME! Alas my work seems to be — not about changing others but about changing ME. And even then, it is more about my praying the Welcoming Prayer. Welcoming Your Indwelling Spirit and opening to whatever YOU might want to help with.

And, I have noticed that there is nothing “magic” about prayer. Changing requires my full consent — even into my unconscious — and my slow hard work of cooperation. Dang! But, learning to value slow — instead of my former almost idolatry of fast — is helping.

So, I press on . . . with Hope and Faith and Love.

Posted in Centering Prayer, Choosing Meaning, connecting, Faith, health, hope, LOVE, Meaning, Prayer, resiliency, small meaningful moments, The daily details of love, the gift of persistent love, Welcoming, Welcoming Prayer

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chatting and sometimes, listening

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chatting and sometimes, listening

Sacred Dance Guild Journal

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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