Desert Day 41: Be Still, My Restless Soul …

Something stirred from deep within. I felt it knocking, begging to be acknowledged and released. I could not put a name to it, but something felt awakened after a long period of dormancy. In truth, this gnawing sensation had been building for more than a year, but on the levee that day, I grappled with this powerful presence at work in me. I had no words for the hunger that was asking me for more. All I could do was attempt to be still and acknowledge its existence. Continue reading “Desert Day 41: Be Still, My Restless Soul …”

Desert Day 34: Holy Absence …

But there is this too. Respite. Rest. Letting the desert be the desert, without feeling compelled to bulldoze our way through it.

I think of a long stretch when I found myself in a soul struggle that had caught me entirely by surprise. Consumed by the wrestling and working and searching, I felt exhausted. After a time, my spiritual director, Maru, gave me this phrase: holy absence.

There are times, she said, sometimes seasons, for removing ourselves from the struggle. Time for sabbath. Time for rest. Continue reading “Desert Day 34: Holy Absence …”

Desert Day 15: Stop Worrying …

So I tell you to stop worrying about what you will eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or gather the harvest into barns. Yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single hour to your life by worrying? 
— Matthew 6:25-27

Jesus does not respond to our worry-filled way of living by saying that we should not be so busy with worldly affairs. He does not try to pull us away from the many events, activities, and people that make up our lives. He does not tell us that what we do is unimportant, valueless, or useless. Nor does he suggest that we should withdraw from our involvements and live quiet, restful lives removed from the struggles of the world. Continue reading “Desert Day 15: Stop Worrying …”

Desert Day 04: The Conscious Effort Real Love Requires …

Whether you think about the mind from the perspective of Western psychology or Eastern spirituality or common sense, it’s clear that the mind is wired to find order. Habits make us feel safe. Judgments of those who are different than us make us feel protected. The stories we tell ourselves, really, are part of the armor we build to keep this order intact. A traumatic thing, be it big or small, happens to us, and then might come with us for the rest of our lives. We see our story as something that keeps us safe. But it also limits us. And we have many, many stories. These stories impact the ways we understand and experience love. Continue reading “Desert Day 04: The Conscious Effort Real Love Requires …”

All-Surrounding Grace …

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.
— Denise Levertov from Prayers for Healing Continue reading “All-Surrounding Grace …”

Winter Has A Gift To Give …

Winter here is a demanding season—and not everyone appreciates the discipline. It is a season when death’s victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy. And yet the rigors of winter, like the diminishments of autumn, are accompanied by amazing gifts. Continue reading “Winter Has A Gift To Give …”

Advent Day 14: Comfort and Joy …

They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
One nation shall not raise the sword against
another nation;
nor shall they train for war again.
— Isaiah 2:4

While external clutter is rather easily cured with a big waste basket and a donation bag, internal clutter is a more difficult matter. During the holidays, relatives can sometimes seem hard-wired to cause us hardship, co-workers can more readily get on our nerves, and our stress levels can elevate completely out of control. Unlike cleaning our closets, we can’t collect our stress and donate it to someone else. Our stress is our own, and we have to deal with it. We live in a stress-filled world and can only do what we can to manage stress. We want to be constructive with our stress, “beating our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks.” We want to quit “training for war” and use the energy of our stress for peace. Continue reading “Advent Day 14: Comfort and Joy …”

A Day of Rest …

Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.
— Mark Buchanan from The Holy Wild

Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life. Continue reading “A Day of Rest …”

Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention …

  1. I commit to finding moments each day for silence and solitude, to make space for another voice to be heard, and to resist a culture of noise and constant stimulation.
  2. I commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. I recognize that when I make space inside my heart for the unclaimed parts of myself, I cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.
  3. I commit to cultivating community by finding kindred spirits along the path, soul friends with whom I can share my deepest longings, and mentors who can offer guidance and wisdom for the journey.
  4. I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy asceticism by discerning my use of energy and things, letting go of what does not help nature to flourish.
  5. I commit to bringing myself fully present to the work I do, whether paid or unpaid, holding a heart of gratitude for the ability to express my gifts in the world in meaningful ways.
  6. I commit to rhythms of rest and renewal through the regular practice of Sabbath and resist a culture of busyness that measures my worth by what I do.
  7. I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations.

Continue reading “Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention …”