A Call to Pray

Good Evening, God

I was stopped by a thought while going upstairs to pray. First, I must send out a CALL TO PRAY! And encourage others to share this CALL TO PRAY. Why my sense of urgency? Perhaps it started while I was reading the book, A Dissenter in the House of God, by Alvin Rosenfeld.. It’s a moving account of a holocaust surviver’s journey from walling off unbearable memories into the world of pain and compassion. I was touched by the power of prayer, even on a man not yet able to forgive You, God.

Then just a few days ago in rummaging through one of my bookcases I came across a book I bought years ago: Mary’s Message to the World. And that put me in mind of how — before the bloodshed in former Yugoslavia — Mary had appeared over and over to children. And her message was always, PRAY!

I’m smiling, God. No, I haven’t had a visitation by Mary. But, I do hear the call . . . PRAY!!!! Indeed, I am on my way to do just that. I will be doing Centering Prayer. My intention will be to sit in silence while consenting to Your presence and action within me. What happens is only between You and my Inner Self. It is rather amazing that my bossy conscious mind will make time for this. She is just going on trust and as much love as she can muster.

I feel so very strongly that You, God, welcome all our attempts to pray — silence, formalized words, and just plain cries for help. You seem to want us — to want You. And maybe that is at the heart of prayer. . . wanting to be closer to You.

Posted in Centering Prayer, connecting, Prayer, praying, Praying for our enemies, Praying together extemporaneously, the JOY of praying together

The Comfort of Being Together

 Tobias Baumgaertner took this photo in 2019 at the St. Kilda penguin sanctuary across from Melbourne

Good Evening, God

The penguin on the right is an older widowed female. The penguin on the left is a young widowed male. While the other penguins are eating and wandering around, these two stand together for hours — just being together — and looking at the lights of Melbourne.

Oh, my. Oh my! I am feeling as if these two small penguins have more “Heart” than I have. And, perhaps, they do! I am beginning to realize that maybe humans lack some of the simple virtues of so-called “lesser animals.”

It makes me think of how I used to believe that You had made a mistake, God, in letting humans out loose with such a thin human layer. Certainly, my human layer was not thick enough to keep the occasional BURST OF RAGE inside! Looking back, I can see that I was simply BLAMING YOU for my failures to build up a stronger cortex. That is bad enough.

But, the real pain arrived the other day, when I realized – our human brains are too big for our hearts to manage! Sigh, let me make that personal. My Mind is too big for my Heart to manage. It can talk faster than my moral compass can calculate.

The penguins are — for me — a needed lesson in humility. And they are also an encouragement to value more highly the simple things of the heart.

Posted in Being Together, Caring, caring for the widows and orphans, comfort, connecting, developing helpful definitions of love, Faithfulness, LOVE, the gift of persistent love

Entering My Local Library

Good Afternoon, God

It was just a couple of days ago that I was able to enter my local library — AFTER an absence of TEN MONTHS. It may sound silly, God, but it was a chicken skin moment. I felt like I was entering “sacred space”. The Library is one of the last COMMONS that we have in our culture. Maybe the last non-commercial commons?

I use that term — Commons — but I’m pretty sure some folks have no idea what the term refers to. Well, having read the definition in Wikipedia I can see that I didn’t understand much beyond the 15th century English usage. At that time it referred to pasture or forest land that was shared by all the people in the village or surrounding area. However, this land was “enclosed” (fenced in for a private owner) by parliamentary acts starting in the 16th century. These acts of Inclosure were often enforced by violence. One of the argument was that private “owners” could maximize the yield. But, obviously, it was the wealthy who had the connections to create these parliamentary enclosures. By the 19th century about the only commons left were difficult to access pastures or forests.

So, here is my local library . . . an intellectual commons . . . accessible to all. And the librarians have been entrusted to select a wide variety of viewpoints — while attempting to refrain from material that proselytizes. Not that we (I’m a retired librarian) do it perfectly. But, that is our intent. And, perhaps, our sacred calling?

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Posted in a new view of Commons, Caring, connecting, Guardians and Protectors, responsibility

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.

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Posted in Faith, Faithfulness, friends, LOVE, Personal Power, relationships, The Power of Naming, The Power of the Spoken Word

A New Thing

Morning Light

Good Evening, God

Sunrise does seem to lend itself to Newness. And I am in deep need of Newness. The phrase came from our church’s Stewardship campaign. We are using the verse from Isaiah 43:18-19:
“Do not remember the former things,
Or ponder the things of the past.
“Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even put a road in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

My heart is worn down from the fear, anger and hate of these last few years. Now, God, I accept responsibility for my participation. I have been fast to judge. I have condemned without hearing. And I have enjoyed the feeling of “being RIGHT”. Not just right, but “better than those I judged as WRONG”. This is painful to acknowledge.

Back in April I felt You urging me to pray for 10 minutes a day for those who have despitefully used me. Only, since no-one was despitefully using me, I decided I would pray for someone despitefully using the PLANET. It took months, God! Months! But, what happened was that I lost my knee-jerk hatred. The filter that had instantly taken the “other side” lost its power. And, I moved on to praying for other people. . . slowly coming to see . . . that I could detest what they were doing without despising them.

I found myself really praying for them. Praying as if they were friends. Praying for the healing of their heart wounds. And I began to understand a bit more of what You meant when you told us to “Overcome Evil with Good.”

How appropriate to be writing about this on Martin Luther King Day. What a shining example, God, You have given us of the power of praying for those who despitefully use us. Plus huge heaps of love and forgiveness.

Posted in a prayer for healing, connecting, developing helpful definitions of love, Forgiving, LOVE, opportunities to forgive myself, Prayer, praying, Praying for our enemies, The daily details of love

New Every Morning

Good Evening, God

When I feel down or discouraged . . . imagining some dire future . . . I console myself by remembering the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. If ever a person suffered at the hands of others, it was Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of sexual attack, put in prison . . . the story goes on. Yet, You used him, God, to save many thousands from starvation — including his own family.

When he reveals himself to his brothers, he is able to say, “You meant it for evil. God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20.

My perspective is very narrow . . .even going back in history as best I can . . . I cannot even begin to know the multiple layers that comprise reality. But, I keep forgetting that. Indeed, it came to me recently that I had our human problem backward. I used to think that the trouble was that we were only Slow Learners, or Non Learners. Now I know, for myself at least, that my problem is that I am a FAST FORGETTER. How many times do I relearn the same basic truth? Too many to remember!

So, I take great comfort in the verses in Lamentations 3:22-23 that talk about Your great love . . . that Your mercies never fail. Indeed, Your mercies are new every morning. Thank YOU!

Posted in connecting, Forgiven!, Forgiving, Good News!, LOVE, Mercies, Perspective, perspectives, renewing, web of life

Exercising Lovingkindness

My wonderful husband of 61 years

Good Morning, God

Yes, I’m up early. The Worries of the World had me in a funk. So, I got up and did my first Centering Prayer. After that I read a page from my hardcopy book by Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Devine. I read a lovely story about a man who sent her an email about his “near death” experience. He said he had met Jesus and was able to ask one question. He asked, “What’s the purpose of life?” And Jesus told him that “Love was the only true reason for life: to experience the power of love.”

That was a Word that helped her out of her funk. And this morning it helped me out of mine.

It also reminded me of a blog I had written a few days ago but had not been able to save or publish. In that blog I was remembering how, God, years ago I had been angry at You for sending us out into Life with a Human Layer of our brain that was TOO THIN. My basic reptilian brain was always bursting forth through it! With FLARES of Judgment, and Anger and Hate.

It didn’t ever occur to me that it was MY JOB to thicken up that Human Layer by how I thought, and how I lived. ME? ME, RESPONSIBLE FOR ME??? I mean, of course, I knew that exercise affected my body. But, it never occurred to me that acts of kindness might also affect me.

This idea, God, feel like a revelation. I’m sitting here smiling. Because, I have a wonderful husband on whom to lavish acts of lovingkindness. In truth, God, given my somewhat hyper nature, getting better at being kind and loving in the daily specifics of our life together, is the real challenge for me.

Will exercising lovingkindness more purposefully, actually thicken up my cortex? My human layer as I call it? YES! This is a “truth” that goes beyond facts.

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Posted in connecting, creativity in loving service, developing helpful definitions of love, LOVE, Lovingkindness, personal responsibility, Personal Responsibilty, taking time to focus, The daily details of love, the gift of persistent love

REJOICE!

light behind a cloud seen on a walk with my husband

Good Evening, God

I hear, FEAR NOT . . . reverberating in my mind. But, then a much more positive message from the Welcoming Prayer came into my Heart. I let go of my desire for security, affection and control, and embrace this moment as it is.

My moments are so easy to embrace! Why do I leave the Present, and focus on situations that are pending. Situations that I have no power or control over. Hmmm. I forget that I am the one who chooses what my mind focuses on. Me! No one is forcing me to focus on dark possibilities.

Fear and Worry do not keep Dark Things from happening. But, they do keep me shut down and unlit.

Furthermore, God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO YOU. How good it that! It was by TRUSTING You that Saint Paul was able to praise You from the inside of a jail after having been severely beaten. (Acts 16:25-) That TRUST and FAITH in You is how Paul was able to urge us all to REJOICE IN THE LORD, AND AGAN, I SAY REJOICE. (Philippians 4:3)

So, I am realizing, that it is not nearly enough to say FEAR NOT! It is far more nourishing to plant positive and hopeful verses in our Hearts! And REJOICE in YOU.

Posted in connecting, Faith, hope, Hope as a gift from God, JOY, rejoicing, simple joys of daily life, the joy of sharing, Trusting God

On the Road to Growing Up

Good Evening, God

I promised You I’d write every day for 60 minutes . . . only to forget completely about that promise today. It was not a good day. I got caught up in being a victim. A horrible thing to be. And a worse thing to get stuck in. And at the end of the day I had taken enough steps out of victimhood to remember my promise to You.

At first, I thought, really God, I’m tired! You will understand that I need my sleep. Off I went to bed. Only, after a few minutes I thought. . . maybe You,God, know best? And my mind was RUNNING and so I thought that I would “trust” You and keep my promise. I just finished my 60 minutes. And, I wrote out a lot of STUFF that had just been swirling around in my head. I feel much better. And honoring a commitment to myself feels great!

Writing Therapy, who knew? But, it makes sense for me. I joke about how I don’t know what I’m thinking until I hear myself SAY IT OUT LOUD. Of course, writing is the first step. I then have to READ what I wrote. And rewrite it and edit it.

But, I am happy about having chosen keeping a promise to myself and to You, over sleep. I keep promises fairly well . . . Nope! YOU ARE NOT METICULOUS.

Sigh, there is that word again. I am not sure if it is my Nature or my False Self that is horrified of becoming meticulous. Now I’m hearing, Not totally meticulous all the time. Just becoming a person who has the capacity to act meticulously in appropriate areas.

Oh dear. I feel it coming. A major Growth Prompt.

Posted in connecting

Judge NOT. . .part one

Judge not that you be not judged Matthew 7:1 ESV

Good Morning, God

Judge not, that you be not judged. Matthew 7:1 ESV

I woke up this morning, with these words in my heart. And I prayed for the courage to share them. Why? Because, just in sharing them I will be judged. So, let me first make it clear that I am, by nature, Chief among the Judgers. And I have spent the vast majority of this presidency JUDGING FEROCIOUSLY.

Then in April of 2020 it came to me that I should take the command to pray for those who despitefully use me, literally. So, I set aside 10 minutes a day to pray for those who I saw as despitefully using (if not me) the planet. Praying for someone I judged. . . day after day . . . is something I don’t think I had done before. It was — imperceptibly — affecting me.

First, I began to see that I shared some of the very qualities that I detested in that person. Hmm. . . my Shadow Sides began to present themselves to me. This was not easy. It was, in fact, painful. But, as I started slowly seeing a bit more of myself, I began to experience a deep compassion for myself and for all of us human beings. Oh! What fools we mortals be!

Then, I was led to add five more minutes to my prayer time — bringing the total up to fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes a day to pray . . . but, for what and for whom? Well, God, my prayer topics seemed to keep on broadening. My perspective kept on expanding. And it kept on including ME! These words of Jesus came to me: “whosoever shall say [to his brother] thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

YIKES! That seemed a trifle harsh, God! But, then I considered the level of discourse that has grown out of this kind of name calling and hatred. And surely, we are, right now, experiencing “the Fires of Hell”.

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Posted in a matter of scale, a prayer for healing, Anger, being together in a compassionate presence, Compassion, complexity, connecting, hate, living by every word that comes from God, Prayer, praying, Praying for our enemies, self care as self compassion and humility

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