Here on Godspace, we absolutely love podcasts! We enjoy listening to them, promoting them, and even being part of them!
Serenity and Health – Dr. Donna Chacko
Dr. Donna Chacko is a fellow writer for Godspace and founder of Serenity and Health. You may remember the recent post, Finding Serenity and Health During a Pandemic, which includes details about her free stress reduction program during this pandemic.
Earthkeepers: A Circlewood Podcast
“The Earthkeepers Podcast promotes global connection among ecological-minded people who believe that earth care is an integral part of spiritual life. Through conversations about topics like ecology, climate change, gardening, farming, social enterprise, theology, environmental justice, outdoor recreation, conservation and community development, we aim to inspire a movement of ordinary earthkeepers who will help heal the world.”
Medium Talk Podcast – Holland Christian Schools
I just did an interview with Bryant Russ for Holland Christian Schools on awe and wonder. I was particularly impressed with this other episode he told me about on outdoor school. Enjoy!
“Take a peak inside–or should it be outside?–the HC Forest School program. Listen to students, parents, teachers and administrators describe the vision behind Forest School and the transformation we’re seeing in these kids!”
I have lived with uncertainty for so long. I never know how much energy the next day will bring, whether I will be able to speak, to move out of bed, to get dressed, to self-propel my wheelchair, to feed myself, to listen to a friend, to prioritise playing with paint and print and photos.
I am better than I used to be at accepting the temporary limits my body imposes, and at adapting to the limits that might shift at any moment of the day, imposing rest, or demanding a complete cessation of everything in the collapse which a seizure brings. But sadly, I must confess I am not a patient person. My inner perfectionist stamps her foot, my inner critic screams venomously about my inadequacies, my inner taskmistress ominously cracks her whip. My neglected artist child gears up for a full-on tantrum. And yet, I know that the counterbalance to this internal self-punishment is to look out – up or down, it doesn’t matter – and flex my rejoicing muscles. For there is always something to be grateful for in my present, something praiseworthy will always be right in front of me. God is always in my details. Presence is always assured, and this moment of connection with thanksgiving is always certain and concrete.
The most accessible way for me to reconnect with the Giver is through my contemplative photography practice acts of daily seeing. It reminds me where I am rooted, not just through its subject matter, which often focuses on what I see as the glory in the things others overlook, but also through my breath, through my technical precision or experimentation, through my attentiveness to waiting to receive the moment to press the shutter, through a deliberate openness to Thy Will be done in this moment.
The images I receive in this way often reflect my interest in obscurity, in layers, in essences, in what is unclear, in Wabi Sabi, in ‘through a glass darkly’. Out of my contemplation of these themes, many of the photos I offer up as contemplative tools for others use distinct distortion techniques (like using macro or zoom lenses, distancing or foreshortening, removing context, and using strange angles). I suspect I do this in order to make the everyday unrecognisable, in order to re-appreciate the beauty and the mystery of what is before me, in order to encourage the looker to take time to see beyond the surface. I’m not trying to hide the Godhead in mystique, but for each image to create a pause long enough to show off the God who is so much more than I ordinarily perceive. I know my images often frustrate those whose first instinct is to ask ‘what is it?’ Yet I have found that when I ask this question, my need for such certainty, clarity, control and order normally ensures I miss the point of so much that resides in God’s Kingdom.
Still, I don’t underestimate the acute discomfort that can come when I look at something and I don’t know what I’m supposed to think. I can feel my whole body tense and revolt in response to the brain’s panic when it can’t recognise, name, catalogue, or signify what is in front of me. I feel stupid. I feel left out of the ‘inner circle’, the cognoscenti, those who must surely understand everything. I can experience a deeply painful heart-longing for direction from the artist: what was ‘intended’ when they made this image? Did they think of how it might feel to not ‘get it’? Very quickly, such a lack of understanding or clarity can bring me to a lonely place, making me feel utterly isolated in my confusion.
So often I find cry out to the Great Artist for the same kind of direction. I feel I am so poor at discernment, and even though I try to practice listening more intently through the making of a weekly sabbath lectio collage, hearing a single ‘word’ with clarity from amongst my complicated brain chatter is more than challenging. And even if I am able to distill out a word or phrase to mull over visually as well as prayerfully during the week that follows, I frequently find myself journalling to ask God, ‘Which direction should I face? Which of the hundred ideas I have before breakfast should I follow? And what about the hundred ideas I had yesterday? And the day before that?…’
As a result, I can feel rudderless. I can feel abandoned. Thus I have to remember again: I am powerless. What God is inviting me to do is to let go of my driven attempts at forcing the pace from my own willpower: God is calling for me to let go deliberately and completely. In letting go, I notice that the zeitgeist of anxiety around COVID-19 has crept under my bedroom door and is infecting me, reigniting those depressive tendencies in me that wait to rear up at the slightest provocation. And yet: I am shielded and privileged and white and prosperous (in practically every relative sense); I am able to read and write; and I own technology which allows me to access this virtual space here at Godspace, which means access to a gifted, loving, generous community who provide me with a safe place to speak what is on my heart. As I let go of all this, I can hear my heart whisper: What of all those who are voiceless in any or all of these ways? How do I help them to be heard?
Perhaps resisting asking ‘what is it?’ of an image seems a strange place to start living out the values of the Beatitudes, but something in me is definite that practicing glimpsing and acknowledging the presence of the Holy in the midst of an unrecognisable mess might just provide the smallest of openings for the Spirit to slide in – and then, God knows, anything might happen. And so if I listen to that urge, rather than following the desire to impose what I define as order and ‘the answer’, I might get close to obeying the commission I sense God is asking me to fulfill: making an epiphany of the ordinary – showing the messy, dirty, unlovely ordinary as belovedly sacred again – wherever and whenever I look.
We look with uncertainty
beyond the old choices for
to a softer, more permeable aliveness
which is every moment
at the brink of death;
for something new is being born in us
if we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway,
awaiting that which comes…
daring to be human creatures,
vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love.
‘we look with uncertainty’
All images by Kate Kennington Steer, used with permission.
I’m looking for a few folks who might be willing to help me launch our new book. 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change will be released by Fortress Press on September 1, 2020, I could really use your help getting the word out. Email me if you’re interested.
With COVID-19 putting the breaks on our ability to tour in support of its release, we’re hoping that you and a few other friends might help us spread the word out.
2020s Foresight is designed to enable you to anticipate and creatively respond to the turbulent 2020s… by creating your best lives, communities and churches… for this decade of accelerating change!
Just contact me and I’ll gladly send you more info about our launch plan, and you’ll receive a personal invite to our Zoom launch kick-off parties. Or you can visit the book’s Facebook page to see how you can get involved. Or if you wish, you can just help promo. Feel free to use any of the images on this page and here are a few things that would be really helpful:
1. Buy it on Amazon on September 1st, sharing images of the book online
2. When the book arrives, post a picture of you holding it on social media
3. Read it, & post a 5 star review on Amazon, if you find it worthy… say a few nice things in any case
BTW… If you decide to read the book with a few friends, let me know… either myself or my co-author, Dwight Friesen may be able to Zoom into your group and join your conversation. It is designed to be a study book with questions at the end of each chapter. We would value your feedback.
Please help us spread the word about this timely and vital book. Here are some images that can be shared:
For more images and information about 2020s Foresight, check out newchangemakers.com.
by Christine Sine
When I was a kid, my parents used to take me and my three brothers on long summer treks. We had a big Ford Falcon station wagon behind which we pulled a small caravan. It was so small in fact that we called it “the pimple”. However, it was perfect for the many adventurous trips we made across the dry and dusty roads of the Australian outback.
On one occasion, we were barreling along at a pretty good pace when we noticed someone standing in the middle of the road waving his hands. We pulled off beside him a little hesitantly as there were no other cars in sight and probably no one else would pass that way for another hour or two. “I’m not drunk and I’m not crazy”, he exclaimed, “but what way was I going?” He had pulled off at right angles to the road to have a stretch break and could not remember which direction he had come from. He had failed to take notice of the distinguishing features of this seemingly featureless plain that could help him move forward in the right direction.
Stop, Look, Listen.
I felt a bit like that this week and I know that many of you do too. We feel as though we have pulled off at right angles to the road of life and are not sure how to find direction. And how do we find direction when the landscape around us looks so unfamiliar that we don’t know where we are heading?
My initial response was to get busy and move ahead on one of the many ideas and projects swirling round in my brain. Then I felt God nudge me. Stop, look, listen, do some discernment before you move forward. So I have pulled out a new journal that I will use specifically for this time of discernment, and hunted for my two favourite books on discernment: Discernment by Henri Nouwen and The Way of Discernment by Elizabeth Liebert. They will, I know, provide wonderful guides over the next few weeks and I am excited by where this will lead.
I think that many of us are trying to discern what the future holds. There seems to be so much darkness in our world at the moment and many of us are finding it hard to see the path ahead. “We are always on a journey from darkness into light”, says John O’Donohue in Anam Cara, which reminds me that seeds germinate in darkness and I think that the darkness of these days is fertile ground for new seeds to emerge. That thought was reinforced this morning by a quote from Mo Thomas, “Never ever underestimate the raw power contained in a single seed of Christ’s love.”
Periodic times of introspection and discernment are good for our souls, and so I wait to see what seeds God is germinating in me. I thought that you might like to share in some of this discernment process with me and I plan to blog about it over the next few weeks.
Know Where You Are Coming From.
First, like that man by the side of the road, I realize that I need to know where I am coming from before I think about where I am heading to. We could not point him in the right direction without knowing where his journey began.
As well as the books I plan to read during this time, I will look back over my old journals and also reflect on two important questions I have framed:
Firstly, “What are the beliefs that give you a sense of stability and assurance as you look to the future?”
This question in particular has become an important focus over the last few days. I want to start with God’s overall purpose for me and for our world. “May the hallowing of God’s name echo through the universe”, that wonderful phrase from the New Zealand Moari Lord’s Prayer, has been echoing in my mind. My deepest desire is that all that I am and all that I do will contribute to the hallowing of God’s name until it echoes through the universe. This is the ground on which I want to build my future.
At this stage that means that each discernment session I hold will begin with the hallowing of God’s name and a drawing in of knowledge of the holiness of God.
My second question: “What are the unique gifts you bring to the world?” is one that I talked about with my life coach three years ago. It provided the foundation out of which I wrote The Gift of Wonder and has fueled my ongoing journey into the wonderment of God and of our world. I am excited about where it might take me in the future.
Last week, I posted this question on Facebook and added another, “How would you describe me and my ministry”? I have added all the responses to my journal and as I walk through the process outlined by Elizabeth Liebert in The Way of Discernment, I know that they will provide important insights.
What Helps You Find Direction?
I am not ashamed to admit that I need lots of help in a process like this. Not only have I pulled out my favourite books on discernment but I have also pulled out my favourite tools: my finger labyrinth – so good to use when I am struggling with a challenging question, and my doodling tools – not hard, as all that it requires is some blank paper and a few coloured pens.
My first doodle, photographed above, has stunned me with its clarity – the image that emerged shows a heart and a womb clearly, at least to me, a very appropriate place for my journey to begin. A place from which God’s love flows and a place in which God’s seeds germinate. That’s probably enough to keep me thinking for the rest of the year.
I am also recruiting a couple of “soul friends” to help me on the journey. There is no better person to help us move forward in the way that God wants us to than a close friend who knows where we are coming from and has no pretensions about where we might be able to go in the future.
So I begin and this quote from Henri Nouwen starts me on the journey:
Discernment is a discipline and practice that requires us to cultivate trust, love, faith, hope and courage. We cannot see with perfect clarity what lies ahead. And we cannot see the Holy Spirit within us. In fact, we have no tangible evidence that the Holy Spirit has made a home in us. Accepting and daring to put our trust in this possibility is a matter of faith…. To be born of the Spirit is to step into a freedom that we never imagined before. It is to trust that the Spirit knows us better than we know ourselves, and that we can therefore relinquish our smaller identities to become someone who is beyond our own understanding. We now accept that the mystery of God which once seemed outside and beyond us, has made a home within us. (Discernment)
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by Christine Sine
Once again I am posting the weekly contemplative service with Taizé style music from St Andrews Episcopal church in Seattle. Contemplative services like this are good for our souls and for our spirits. They bring us peace and I think also healing during times like this. I so appreciate St Andrews for giving me permission to post these on Godspace as I know that many of you find them nourishing and enriching.
A contemplative service for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost. Carrie Grace Littauer, Prayer Leader, with music by Kester Limner and Andy Myers.
Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-710-756 with additional notes below.
“In God Alone My Soul” – By J. Berthier — copyright 1991, all rights reserved by GIA/Les Presses de Taizé.
“Aber du Weisst” – Adapted from a prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, music by Taizé Copyright and all rights reserved by GIA/Les Presses de Taizé.
“Kristus din Ande” – Copyright and all rights reserved by GIA/Les Presses de Taizé . “Kyrie for the Pandemic” – Arrangement and prayers by Kester Limner, shared under the Creative Commons License, Attribution (CC-BY).
“O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” – Public domain hymn, arrangement by Kester Limner, shared under the Creative Commons License, Attribution (CC-BY).
We are delighted to announce that our physical store is now open again! After a season of only downloadable products, we have decided to start selling copies of books and prayer cards! We so appreciate those of you who have helped keep Godspace and the vital resources it provides alive by purchasing our downloadable cards and books but if you are like us, you probably prefer to hold something in your hand when you pray so we are delighted to be able to make these prayer cards available once more. Some of you have told me that you use them for spiritual direction and grief counselling, so necessary at a time like this so I hope that this will help expand the tools you have available.
Prayer Cards on Sale!
For the month of August, our prayer cards are on sale! One set of cards is $9.99 and 3 sets are $24.99!
Celtic Prayer Cards: Each set contains 10 prayers inspired by ancient Celtic saints or contemporary Celtic writers. A short reflection on the back of each card will introduce you to the Celtic Christian tradition.
Advent Prayer Cards: This set of 12 cards will help you reflect on the Advent and Christmas story. They begin with Celtic Advent including 6 for Advent, 1 for Christmas Eve, 4 for the Christmas season and 1 for the Eve of Epiphany.
Please note: Shipping could take up to two weeks.
What are the things that you treasure about your life? Make a List and thank Jesus for these things.
What things do you treasure or value about your relationship with Jesus/God?
What things about the Kingdom of God?
In Matthew 13, Jesus uses many parables to describe the Kingdom of God…some of them we like, and others like the Wheat and the Weeds and the parable of the fish net are more uncomfortable because we don’t like the thought of good fish and bad fish and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Sometimes we need to remember that the people who were originally listening to Jesus tell these stories were oppressed people who might actually get excited about the bad fish being thrown away or the weeds being burned because it meant that the bad guys, the Romans, would get their due! It also helps to ask the Holy Spirit to highlight and teach us what God’s word is for us today…and consider what Jesus wants us to hear and notice for our lives right now! READ the verses below and listen to the Holy Spirit
Parable of the Hidden Treasure, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, 1630, © Collection Esterházy, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
MATTHEW 13: 44-52 NIV “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied. He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
MATTHEW 13: 44-52 THE MESSAGE “God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field. “Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.
47-50 “Or, God’s kingdom is like a fishnet cast into the sea, catching all kinds of fish. When it is full, it is hauled onto the beach. The good fish are picked out and put in a tub; those unfit to eat are thrown away. That’s how it will be when the curtain comes down on history. The angels will come and cull the bad fish and throw them in the garbage. There will be a lot of desperate complaining, but it won’t do any good.” Jesus asked, “Are you starting to get a handle on all this?” They answered, “Yes.” He said, “Then you see how every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.”
MATTHEW 13:44-52 The Passion Translation “Heaven’s kingdom realm can be illustrated like this: “A person discovered that there was hidden treasure in a field. Upon finding it, he hid it again. Because of uncovering such treasure, he was overjoyed and sold all that he possessed to buy the entire field just so he could have the treasure. “Heaven’s kingdom realm is also like a jewel merchant in search of rare pearls. When he discovered one very precious and exquisite pearl, he immediately gave up all he had in exchange for it.”
“Again, heaven’s kingdom realm is like a fisherman who casts his large net into the lake, catching an assortment of different kinds of fish. When the net was filled, the fishermen hauled it up on the shore, and they all sat down to sort out their catch. They collected the good fish in baskets and threw the bad away. And so it will be at the close of the age. The messengers will come and separate the evil from among the godly and throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will experience great sorrow, pain, and anguish. Now do you understand all this?
“Yes,” they replied. He responded, “Every scholar of the Scriptures, who is instructed in the ways of heaven’s kingdom realm, is like a wealthy home owner with his house filled with treasures both new and old. And he knows how and when to bring them out to show others.”
James Tissot, The Hidden Treasure, 1886–1894. Watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Brooklyn Museum.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER and Journal from this week: Feel free to use these passages and respond in writing, art, collage, or poetry to the Gospel passage some time this week. Don’t let the amount of questions make you crazy…pick a couple that speak to you
What is God speaking to you about TODAY as you read these passages? Take time to read them again, use different translations to hear it in fresh ways.
What do you notice that you haven’t noticed before?
READ the TWEET from Pope Francis:
Pope Francis tweeted this on Sunday…What do you think about his definition of the kingdom of Heaven?
What is the opposite of a dull life to you?
How can you let the Kingdom of Heaven be a treasure that renews every day?
How can you truly live out the kingdom of heaven now? What would that look like?
What are some of the NEW treasures you have discovered about Jesus and his kingdom ? You might have grown up thinking about the Kingdom or Jesus in one way and now are seeing things in a new way.
READ the Quote by Jonathan Pennington:
“The biblical idea of the kingdom of God is not abstract, oppressive, or irrelevant. Rather, the message of God’s kingdom is that God promises to bring his liberating and life-giving reign from heaven to earth. God will do this through a messiah, one anointed as a ruler with absolute power, not an elected official. The purpose of this ruler, however, is not to oppress or concentrate power upon himself but rather to be the conduit of blessing, peace, and justice in the world.” Jonathan T. Pennington.