Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree, Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes. Some have got broken… But, for the time being, here we all are. In the meantime. There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair, irregular verbs to learn; the Time Being to redeem from insignificance. The happy morning is over.The happy morning is over. After boxing up Christmas and Epiphany, yes, I felt like that. But rather than deny it, I sat with that phrase for some time. The next morning, unable to sleep, I arose at 5:00 a.m. and waited and watched for the dayspring, the first light of dawn to appear. It did and in fact, it was a happy morning! I remembered, I saw, I felt that there is always the Good News! In the season of Epiphany, the “Time Being” has been redeemed from insignificance! The Christian Church proclaims that the manifestation of God in Jesus came, has come, and will come again. A new light is present in the world. There is another star for us to follow. The happy morning is just beginning. Epiphany is the season of more daylight. I look forward to these longer days and shorter nights. But in the midst of winter, I do not follow the star of Bethlehem. Instead, I look each day for the daystar to appear. How faithful our sun is in making its journey north again! I am not a sun worshipper but I am a sun appreciator. It serves as a wonderful metaphor for the light of Christ coming into the world, every day, in every human heart. Yes, the light might be burning low or buried deep within the angry, grieving and wounded hearts of some, but the divine spark is there waiting in all hearts to be uncovered and revealed. The gift of Christmas is to receive the light of Christ. The gift of Epiphany is to manifest or reveal that light, Christ’s light, to others. Today I found myself returning to a favorite hymn text written by Charles Wesley. It has become a part of my morning meditation. Christ, whose glory fills the skies, Christ the true, the only Light, Sun of Righteousness, arise, Triumph o’er the shades of night; Dayspring from on high, be near; Daystar, in my heart appear. Dark and cheerless is the morn Unaccompanied by Thee; Joyless is the day’s return Till Thy mercy’s beams I see; Till they inward light impart, Glad my eyes and warm my heart. Visit, then, this soul of mine; Pierce the gloom of sin and grief; Fill me, Radiancy Divine; Scatter all my unbelief; More and more Thyself display, Shining to the perfect day. Charles Wesley, 1740 This text is an invitation for us to look for the moments of joy and gladness in each day. On cloudy days, when the sun is hidden, I know it is there. As with the sun, so it is with the Spirit of Christ. Trust, as I have discovered, is simply knowing that even though I do not see the sun nor Christ, they are both present. My sacred duty this year is to see Christ manifest in myself, in other human beings, in creation; and to manifest Christ to the world. It sounds simple but for me it is not always easy. On some days I have to dive more deeply into my heart, my soul space to experience “radiancy divine.” My daily mantra or breath prayer is “Presence, I am present.” Does praying it make it so? Not from a divine point of view, but from my human point of view, yes indeed. Becoming aware of God’s often unseen presence is as the Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hahn, has said “not a matter of faith but a matter of practice.” By practicing, I mean praying-- in the light and in the dark, in times of joy and in time of grief, in times of faith and in time of fear, in times of love and in time of anger. That IS how we to stay connected to Christ. I am grateful that I heard the call to return to praying Charles Wesley’s hymn text for the rest of the season. Christ’s glory does indeed fill the skies and “warm our hearts” when we are open. This season I am also focusing on one line that Marianne Williamson wrote in her poem called, “A Return to Joy.” It is, “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” I pray that Christ’s glory will be revealed to you this holy season and that “warming your hearts” you too will manifest Christ’s Good News to others. May it be so. Amen.
“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.
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