[caption id="attachment_6713" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Praying together"][/caption] Many of you know that I am working on a new book on prayer: Return to Your Senses - Reimagining How We Pray, that hopefully will be available in September. When I worked in Africa I was impressed with how Africans wove their prayers through every part of life. Everything had a spiritual dimension to it. Every experience was a way to encounter and interact with God. It was this same spirituality weaving through all of life that first drew me to Celtic Christianity. When I returned to Western culture I went hunting for this same kind of spirituality. Everyone I spoke to referred me to Brother Lawrence's book Practicing the Presence of God. How sad I thought that the only book anyone can think of that talks about how to interact with God in the ordinary mundane acts of life is 400 years old. Since then I have come across a number of books that address prayer and spirituality in this way. Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World was a particularly delightful find. In the introduction to her book she talks about people who call themselves spiritual but not religious.
They know there is more to life than what meets the eye. They have drawn close to this "More" in nature, in love, in art, in grief. They would be happy for someone to teach them how to spend more time in the presence of this deeper reality, but when they visit the places where such knowledge is supposed to be found, they often find the rituals hollow and the language antique. (xvi)My post last week What Is Prayer elicited a lot of helpful interaction in this type of prayer which so many of us hunger for but don't know how to grasp. It is very difficult for us to take our rituals and formulae and turn them into relationships of love. I think that we often misunderstand what contemplative prayer is all about too which doesn't help us to move closer to the loving heart of God. Contemplative prayer is not necessarily about sitting in a quiet place but about finding a quiet presence in the midst of life’s distractions. Cultivating that is often challenging but always very rewarding. Consider Brother Lawrence . He entered into the presence of God while washing the dishes – something that I am sure was very noisy with lots of distractions. So my question this morning is - How Do We Learn to Pray? How do we learn to move beyond rituals to relationship? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas and if you have any books to recommend on the subject would love to know about them.
Labyrinth in Lavender – Lets Celebrate World Labyrinth Day
Yesterday I posted this gorgeous photo on facebook Thanks to my good friend Patty Doty, I found out that this marvellous lavender labyrinth is in Kastellaun Germany. I love labyrinths and as many of you know we construct one each year for our Celtic retreat on Camano Island in August and a couple of years ago even had participants making their own finger labyrinths. I have also blogged about the significance of labyrinths here and still hanker after the labyrinth that Craig Goodwin created out of his backyard vegetable garden. Going online this morning to do some research on labyrinths for my upcoming book I discovered that the Labyrinth Society celebrates World Labyrinth Day on the first Saturday of May - which just happens to be next Saturday so it seemed a good time to post again about labyrinths. I have not posted resources to help one explore and create one's own labyrinth and thought that this was a good time to do that. Here is the list provided by the Labyrinth Society, though these are not specifically Christian.
- Find a labyrinth
- Download a finger labyrinth
- Walk a virtual labyrinth
- Make a 7 circuit labyrinth
- Make a Chartres labyrinth
- Activities for kids
Pear and Raspberry Bread – A Delicious Alternative to Banana Bread
I have fallen in love with pear and raspberry bread which is a favourite in Australia at coffee shops for morning and afternoon coffee. It is one of my fond memories of visits with my Mum. I have been thinking about making this with some pears I have that are a little beyond fresh use. It is usually served toasted with butter (yum) though it is always good plain too. I prefer it to banana bread though I have never found it offered here in the U.S. This recipe is adapted from the one I found at bestrecipes.com.au INGREDIENTS: - 3 cup whole grain or wheat flour - 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder - 1 teaspoon baking soda - 1/3 cup brown sugar - 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional) - 1 egg - 1/2 cup canola oil 1/2 cup applesauce - 1/2 cup milk - 1 pear, peeled and chopped - 1/2 cup raspberries, do not thaw if using frozen METHOD: 1. Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F 2. Sift flour, baking powder, soda. Stir in sugar and nuts 3. beat egg and oil together. Add to mixture, stir in milk, add pear and raspberries and gently sir into mixture until just combined 4. bake in a greased loaf tin for about 60 minutes, until golden brown. Leave in tin to cool
[caption id="attachment_6583" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Earth touches heaver - photo by Coe Hutchison"][/caption] Here is my round up of facebook prayers from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy! ----------------------------------------------------- God we give you thanks and praise this morning your love is unfailing in unanticipated circumstances, Your faithfulness endures in unexpected places, Your mercy is unlimited in undeserved ways. ---------------------------------- May we remember always The love of God casts out fear The life of God conquers death The glory of God fills our world May we remember and give thanks. ----------------------------------- Let the light of God shine into your soul, And fill you with life. Let the love of God shine through your life, And fill others with the life of God ----------------------------------- Let all earth rejoice and praise the One who is Lord of Lord Let the trees shout and the lions roar Let the birds sing and the elephants trumpet Glory to the creator of all life. ------------------------------------- Jesus may we today see your glory in unexpected faces Hidden treasure in the face of strangers, Glimmers of newness in the struggles of loved ones, Life emerging where there has been death. ---------------------------------------- For the beauty of the earth we thank you O God, For the abundance of the garden we thank you O Christ, For the flourishing of friendship we thank you O Spirit, For the abundance of life we give you thanks today, Thanks to the three in One, the One in three. --------------------------------------- Let us look and see the wonder, Resurrection exploding around us, In sunshine and blossom and springtime emerging, Christ is risen and is everywhere present in our world. --------------------------------------- May the beauty of God's creation seep into your soul, May it fill you with love and peace, And radiate from your heart into this world God loves. --------------------------------------- Lord Jesus Christ your majestic name fills the earth You glory is reflected in all creation Your love is expressed in every act of caring May we rest secure in the wonder of your risen life. ---------------------------------------
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Salvation in the Neighbourhood – Creative Ideas from the Parish Collective.
The Inhabit conference which the entire MSA team attended this last weekend was one of the best conferences I have been at for a long time. So many creative and committed Christians gathered in one place inspiring each other with how they have seen their neighbourhoods transformed. Many of us are being stretched in our faith and life practices as we grapple with what it means to be the shalom of God in our communities. I have been following with great interest the continuing conversations and story sharing that is occurring on the Inhabit Connect facebook group too. To encouraging to hear about the ways that God is planting mustard seeds that are growing and producing fruit. I particularly enjoyed this video by Paul Sparks this morning. Do listen to the whole video - the end of the interview is particularly inspiring. salvation-in-the-neighborhood-2 And this is a great article by Craig Goodwin over in Spokane - hope to have him over for a conversation at the Mustard Seed House some time Wendell-Berry-the-inhabit-conference-community-gardens-and-the-kingdom-of-god This one is very close to my heart as I strongly believe that we need to encourage our urban centres to become more self sustaining. it is an inspiring and imaginative way to use an old warehouse in Chicago A-former-chicago-meatpacking-plant-becomes-a-self-sustaining-vertical-farm A great website worth exploring - the work of Candy Chang an artist, designer, and urban planner who explores making cities more comfortable and contemplative places. And finally a story about a church helping to develop a grocery co-op in an impoverished community. [vimeo http://vimeo.com/40861525] Learning to be the presence of God is part of what salvation is all about. God desires wholeness not just for us as individuals but for the entire human race as a community. And people like those who attended the Inhabit conference are busy planting seeds and light beacons that are quietly transforming our world.
Its almost time for the spirituality of Gardening Seminar May 5th at the Mustard Seed House and with the beautiful weather we have had in Seattle the garden is thriving - Register Now This year's Spirituality of Gardening seminar at the Mustard Seed House will be held May 5th. This year we have special discounts for students and alumni wanting to gain new spiritual insights and share gardening advice. It would be a great opportunity to check out the Mustard Seed garden, interact with our growing garden community and hear about the developments at the Mustard Seed Village. Join in discussions about connections between community, spirituality and gardening. Explore the wonderful ways that God and God's story are revealed through the rhythms of planting, growing and harvesting. Spiritual insights, practical advice for organic backyard gardeners and time for reflection will all enrich and deepen our faith. Come prepared to get your hands dirty as we will spend some time in the garden or in the greenhouse if the weather is inclement. Register HERE today before all the spots are filled!
[caption id="attachment_20005" align="aligncenter" width="449"] Archbishop Tutu at the COP17 "We Have Faith: Act Now for Climate Justice" Rally on 27 Nov 2011 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Kristen Opalinski/LUCSA)[/caption] I posted this prayer from Desmond Tutu's An African Prayer Book on the Light for the Journey Facebook page . It was so popular that I thought I would post it here too. Victory is Ours Goodness is stronger than evil; Love is stronger than hate; Light is stronger than darkness; Life is stronger than death; Victory is ours through Him who loves us. Jane Hessdorfer informed us that John Bell wrote music to create a song from the words I first found this version with music only. The MP3 can be purchased at GIA Publications The words for the song are: Goodness is stronger than evil, Love is stronger than hate; Light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death; Victory is ours, Victory is ours through God who loves us. Victory is ours, Victory is ours through God who loves us. Music by John Bell GIA (c) 1996 Iona Community And much to my delight later found this delightful rendition of the song. NOTE: As an Amazon Associate I receive a small amount for purchases made through appropriate links.
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