“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” Psalm 34:11-13 NIVAt first, I quickly passed over familiar words and whispered to myself, “working on those things, Lord!”. The “listening”, watching my words and taking care to avoid exaggeration in my story telling. Then, followed the fresh attention-getter:
“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalm 34:14, (I Peter 3:11) NIVI’ve spent years memorizing verses on peace (especially when I need it!). The ones that remind me of Him being the ruler, captain and author of peace. The One who gifts peace to us. The One who reminds us to receive His peace.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shlall be on his shoulder: And he his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 KJV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIVSomehow, in the journey, I missed those simple 5 words in Psalm 34:14. “Seek peace and pursue it.” They are much more than just receiving the gift He offers. Rather, instruction for steps to be taken. An invitation and request for specific obedience. My part of the bigger picture. “Seek” means to search out, strive after or desire. An action and matter of the heart. Not simply waiting for Him to blanket my life’s moments with peace, but looking for places and ways to have my words, deeds and presence bring forth His peace. Always, by His enabling grace in my life. “Pursue” means to chase or run after. Words painting a picture of a measure of intensity. Requiring much more than occasional effort. Purposing, with committed energy and a goal in mind. . . peace. Not only for my personal benefit, but in my journey with others. This kind of peace is so much more than calm agreement or lack of tension. It actually means “completeness, soundness, welfare”. His heart for all of us. It's a remarkable privilege that we can join Him in “chasing after” such peace, especially on behalf of others. One commentary takes the challenge even further:
“Since nothing is more contrary to that love which never fails (which is the summary both of law and gospel, both of grace and glory) than strife and contention, which bring confusion and every evil work, we must “seek peace and pursue it”. We must show a peaceable disposition, study the things that make for peace, do nothing to break the peace and to make mischief. If peace seems to flee from us, we must pursue it; follow peace with all men, spare no pains, no expense, to preserve and recover peace; be willing to deny ourselves a great deal, both in honour and interest, for peace' sake.” Matthew HenryHow often in conversations am I focused on making sure my opinion is properly understood? Desiring to “win” if tension rises in the discussion. Focused on my thoughts, rather than truly seeking to understand the words of another. Allowing irritations to build, leading to a closed heart in relationships. Not setting His kind of peace as the goal. Not being quick to seek the “completeness, soundness and welfare” of another, by laying down my perceived “rights”. “My way” requires so much energy! Instead, if I fully trust that His way is best (even if it’s hard!), I can choose to “run after” His kind of peace. And in doing so, rest in watching His plans unfold. While gratefully embracing the amazing gift of peace He so graciously give to us, may we be “peace seekers” in all our ways. Ones who purpose to join Him in bringing peace to our homes, relationships, work places and life moments. By His enabling grace, wisdom and strength.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”Romans 12:18 NIV
Whether you are praying the stations of the day, in need of resources for rest, hoping to spark joy and find wonder, or simply want to enjoy beautiful prayers, poetry, and art - our digital downloads section has many options! Christine Sine's book Rest in the Moment is designed to help you find those pauses throughout the day. Praying through the hours or watches, you may find inspiration in our prayer cards set Prayers for the Day or Pause for the Day. You may find your curiosity piqued in the free poetry and art download Haiku Book of Hours. All this and more can be found in our shop!
[caption id="attachment_44098" align="aligncenter" width="401"] Red River Gum - PR Pomroy[/caption]
What delight comes to the one who follows God’s ways!
He won’t walk in step with the wicked,
nor share the sinner’s way,
nor be found sitting in the scorner’s seat.
His passion is to remain true to the Word of “I AM,”
meditating day and night on the true revelation of light.
He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree
Planted by God’s design,
deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss,
bearing fruit in every season of life.
He is never dry, never fainting,
ever blessed, ever prosperous.
When I think of a tree planted beside a stream, I think of this painting which stands in the corner of our living room. It depicts a very typical outback Australian scene, with an Australian red river gum prominently in the foreground.
Red river gums are common in Australia, especially in the dry interior and they form an iconic image of many on Australian painting. They always grow along the banks of water courses some of which dry up periodically and then are inundated with flooding waters. Red river gums are amazingly resilient and adaptable. They can withstand both drought and flood - being able to stand up to 9 months of emersion in the flood waters.
This tolerance is because of their extensive root system. In drought, they reach down, sometimes 30 to 40 feet, to the subterranean water systems below. Some of their roots also contain a spongy air-filled tissue that accumulates and transports oxygen in waterlogged soils.
Red river gums grow huge and can live up to 1,000 years. They often provide shelter from the heat for both animals and humans and one of my childhood delights was to come across a herd of kangaroos lounging in the shade under the canopy of one beautiful old and gigantic red river gum.
Their roots really do go down deep. They are resilient, they adapt and because of that they provide shelter and nutrition for other animals and often for people too. In the painting there is a group of aboriginals enjoying the shade of one of the trees in the background.[caption id="attachment_44099" align="aligncenter" width="488"] Heat damaged hydrangea[/caption]
My hydrangeas on the other hand, have shallow roots that probably remain in the top 6” of the soil. They do better in shade than in direct sun and as you can see, this one did not do well when the heat hit. Such a vivid contrast to the trees in my painting.
We all need deep root systems like the Australian red river gum. We need to be able to survive in times of drought as well as flood when we feel inundated by the world’s problems and the challenges of our own lives. In Australia, drought is often followed by flooding rains, as we have seen in this last year, so being able to survive in both situations is essential.
These last few years flooded all of us with downpour after downpour of rain and in its aftermath, we feel dried out as though we are in the middle of a drought.[caption id="attachment_44098" align="aligncenter" width="374"] Red River Gum - PR Pomroy[/caption]
So as I sit here today contemplating this painting, I wonder, “What helps build my root system so that it goes deep into the hidden sources of God’s water beneath me? What within me stores oxygen for those times when I feel flooded by the challenges both of my life and of our world and cannot find air to breathe?"
Three things come to mind that I do on a regular basis and you are probably sick and tired of me talking about them, though I feel we can never remind ourselves too often.
- Morning contemplative practices like breath prayers, and meditating on my contemplative garden. I never get tired of sitting in my sacred space in the early morning drinking in the presence of God in the stillness around me.
- My awe and wonder walks both around the garden and through the neighbourhood. Absorbing the beauty and wonder of God’s created world enables me to worship God with all my senses both growing deep roots and storing oxygen for those torrential rains.
- Regular retreats. Nothing is as soul renewing for me as the quarterly retreats that Tom and I take. Like most of us, I lead a busy life and the busyness alone can flood my soul with negative thoughts and emotions that dry me up inside. Without these retreats, I would not survive. Our last retreat to Anacortes was particularly renewing. Even though it rained most of the time, we still walked on the beach and around the town. The cold rainy wind was quite invigorating. (Check out this post to contemplate the wonder of rain).
I love to see the scriptures come to life as I examine them with real life examples from God’s created world to bring them into the real world, as I was able to do with Psalm 1 today. I love the imagery of a tree deeply rooted by a stream where it can grow down to the deep subterranean water sources. Whenever I see a red river gum on my trips to Australia, Psalm 1 comes to mind. It is such a wonderful connection that helps deepen my faith in surprising ways.
What about you? What have you seen, or heard, or touched or tasted this week that connects you to the imagery of the Psalms or other scriptures? In what ways has this experience strengthened your faith and your connection to God? How has it helped build resilience and adaptability in your life? What kinds of practices do you perform on a regular basis that encourage you to strengthen you faith in this way?
This week I am trying something different - I am sharing the meditation both as a video and as a written meditation. A few years ago when I created my Psalm 91 meditation garden and shared it as a video I asked if people would like to see more videos and the resounding answer was yes. I have not done as well at this as I hoped, and have mainly created short instagram reflection videos. Hopefully this year I can make these longer meditation videos a regular thing too. Please let me know what you think of it.
Want to experience more of the awe and wonder that God offers us? Check out the Gift of Wonder Online Retreat by Christine Sine. This retreat allows for 180 days of access for only $39.99 so you can move through the sessions at your own pace.
Explore what childlike characteristics shape us into the people God intends us to be. Be encouraged to develop fresh spiritual practices that engage all our senses and help us to live a new kind of spiritual life that embraces the wonder and joy that God intends for us. Embrace the gifts of Awe and Wonder; gifts that sustain us, practices that are relevant and important in these times. Whether the book, prayer cards, retreats, or supplemental handouts, you can find it all in our shop!
James Tissot[/caption] Just as the Magi journeyed to see Jesus, we too are on a journey to discover Him. Wondering what gifts you bring? Like the Magi we bring: Gold as a symbol of honoring Christ Gold to represent our being “from the earth’ And as valuable to God as gold. Frankincense to worship in the midst of our joys and sorrows Frankincense to remind us of the sweetness and grace of God Myrrh to recognize our pain and sorrow Myrrh to remind us of the suffering of Christ Who offers us eternal grace in God Now take a moment to breathe The aroma of God is all around you! Step closer to the candles and take a slow deep breath Feel the warmth and aroma on your face. Now slowly exhale. Did you feel the breath of God moving in you? When God created humans, life began. God INSPIRED life into humans By breathing into lifeless clay. That’s what inspiration is… To affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence To stimulate to action. Now breathe in again, this time more slowly. Allow yourself to be filled with the sweet scent of God’s breath in you. As you exhale slowly, Feel the grace of God flowing from you Out into the air and filling the world with the sweet scent of God’s grace love and inspiration! Remember as you breathe in difficult times In joyful times, At all times. It is God’s grace that fills you And is sent into the world by you. Breathe with God Breathe Grace. By Rev. Jeanne Smith [caption id="attachment_50815" align="alignleft" width="225"] Three Wise Men[/caption] [caption id="attachment_50818" align="alignleft" width="300"] Alma Thomas[/caption] ©lillylewin and freerangeworship.com
We all need the Wholeness of God…this resource includes reflections and activities for coping and thriving during the COVID-19 challenges in search of shalom as well as hope for restoration during and after this period of social distancing.
- Anderson, Hannah:All That's Good Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment
- Anderson, Keith: A Spirituality of Listening Living What We Hear
- Au, Wilkie and Noreen Cannon: The Discerning Heart Exploring the Christian Path
- Barton, Ruth Haley: Pursuing God's Will Together
- Breathnach, Sarah Ban: Simple Abundance 365 Days to a Balanced and Joyful Life
- Dawn, Marva: Joy in Divine Wisdom Practices of Discernment from Other Cultures and Christian Traditions
- de Caussade, Jean-Pierre: The Sacrament of the Present Moment
- Dougherty, Rose Mary: Discernment A Path To Spiritual Awakening
- Farnham, Suzanne G., Hull, Stephanie A., McLean, R. Taylor: Grounded in God and Listening Hearts
- Fendall, Wood, and Bishop: Practicing Discernment Together--Finding God's Way Forward in Decision Making
- Freeman, Emily P.: The Next Right Thing A Simple Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions
- Funk, Mary Margaret, OSB: Discernment Matters - Listening with the Ear of the Heart
- Glick , Sally Weaver: In Tune With God - The Art Of Congregational Discernment
- Jersak, Brad and Upton, Jason :Can You Hear Me Turning in to the God Who Speak
- Levoy, Gregg Michael: Callings - Finding and Following an Authentic Life
- Liebert, Elizabeth:The Way of Discernment - Spiritual Practices for Decision Making
- Fryling, Alice:The Art of Spiritual Listening - Responding to God's Voice Amid the Noise of Life
- Kelly, Thomas: A Testament of Devotion
- Morris, Danny E.: Discerning God's Will Together - A Spiritual Practice for the Church
- Morgan, Robert: The Red Sea Rules - 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times
- Mueller, Joan.:Faithful Listening - Discernment in Everyday Life
- Nouwen, Henri J.M.: The Wounded Healer and Discernment - Reading the Signs of Daily Life
- Palmer, Parker: Let Your Life Speak - Listening for the Voice of Vocation and A Hidden Wholeness - The Journey Toward An Undivided Life
- Robb, Susan: Called - Hearing and Responding to God's Voice
- Sire, James: The Universe Next Door ; and Habits of the Mind - Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling
- Smith, Gordon: The Voice of Jesus - Discernment Prayer and the Witness of the Spirit and <Listening to God in Times of Choice - The Art of Discerning God's Will
- Tozer, A.W.: God Still Speaks
- Wink, Walter: Engaging the Powers - Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination
For more books on The Art of Listening, check out this resource list.NOTE: As an Amazon Affiliate I receive a small amount for purchases made through appropriate links. Thank you for supporting Godspace in this way.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the keeper of the vineyard. My Father examines every branch in Me and cuts away those who do not bear fruit. He leaves those bearing fruit and carefully prunes them so that they will bear more fruit; (John 15: 1,2 The Voice)Pruning is done by God the master gardener. All it requires of us is that we stay close to Christ through regular times of prayer, meditation and scripture reading. It is primarily the strength of our spiritual disciplines that build resilience. [caption id="attachment_26598" align="aligncenter" width="548"] We need deep roots to anchor us[/caption]
Winter is a Time to Send Down Roots.Most of our fruit trees and berry bushes were planted in the autumn. Why you might wonder? Won't they die over the winter. No, but when there is no growth above ground all the energy goes into sending down roots that can go deep searching for water and anchoring the plant.
He is like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots beside the stream. It does not fear the heat or even drought. Its leaves stay green and its fruit is dependable, no matter what it faces. (Jeremiah 17:8 The Voice)Resilience requires deep spiritual roots that protect us during all seasons from floods and droughts and chaos. And a tree with deep roots bears more fruit. It is not just our scripture reading and prayer that send down roots. The practice of gratitude is one that has deepened my roots and revolutionized my life over the last few years. Noticing and thanking God for the good things God has done is at the heart of a resilient faith. [caption id="attachment_26599" align="aligncenter" width="528"] Maple Syrup Harvesting photo Jason Aki[/caption]
Winter Intensifies the SweetnessHave you ever wondered why maple syrup is harvested in winter? Evidently, as the weather cools, the concentration of sugar in each cell increases dramatically and the plasma membrane becomes more flexible. It’s as though it produces its own sugary antifreeze that embraces the precious cell contents and stops it freezing, keeping it safe until spring. This mechanism doesn't just operate in maple trees, it is an adaption that most winter hardy trees have. Without it their sap would freezes and branches would die. In our lives too during the hard winter seasons we often feel all that is sweet within us has withdrawn to some inner hidden place. We want it to flow and fill us again, without realizing that its very retraction is what keeps the goodness within us alive. If we let it flow too soon, we will not be able to withstand the winter blasts. Resilience grows in us as we slow down and enjoy the sweet sugary embrace of God's protective presence. [caption id="attachment_26600" align="aligncenter" width="576"] icy tree[/caption]
In Winter Buds And Fruit Wait Patiently.Deciduous trees, which includes many fruit trees like apples and pears, and berries like blueberries, set buds that contain next year’s leaves and flowers, in the autumn. They then go into a dormancy to await the warm spring weather to stir them into growth. An early warm spell followed by a sudden freeze can decimate a fruit crop because the leaves and flowers unfurl too soon and then freeze. How often I wonder do we force buds into bloom before their time? How often are we impatient to see growth when God is saying wait, there is another icy blast on the way? Yet resilience means accepting the season in which we find ourselves, even the icy winters when nothing seems to grow.
In Winter Trees Look After Themselves.As I reflect on how trees adapt to the icy blast of winter, I realize that more than anything they are used to taking care of themselves. They know the signs that winter is approaching and they do what they need to in order to survive. They are pretty good at self care and because of that are indeed resilient. It makes me aware however that we often ignore the signs of the changing seasons in our lives. We don't build the inner resources we need to adapt and we don't grow the resilience that will see us through. We want to keep growing and producing fruit all he time. So my question for you today is: What do you do for self care? How do you grow resilience in your life?
Celtic Prayer Cards include 10 prayers inspired by ancient Celtic saints like Patrick or contemporary Celtic writers like John O’Donohue. A short reflection on the back of each card will introduce you to the Celtic Christian tradition, along with prayers by Christine Sine and beautiful imagery crafted by Hilary Horn. Celtic Prayer Cards can be used year-round or incorporated into various holidays. Available in a single set of 10 cards, three sets, or to download.
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