Tools For Prayer – 5 Ways to Pray the Psalms by Alex Tang
[caption id="attachment_5227" align="alignnone" width="207"] praying the psalms[/caption] The following post was sent to me by Alex Tang in Malaysia. Alex is a physician who blogs at Random Musings from a Doctor where this post first appeared. I thought that it was a great sample of some of the many ways that we can use the psalms to pray. I have particularly enjoyed rewriting the psalms in my own language and have added one at the end of the post that I thought you might enjoy. It is actually a compilation of several scriptures which is usually the way that I tend to write this kind of prayer - after all there are no rules to follow here ____________________________________________________________________________ May I suggest five ways we can pray the Psalms. 1. Say them out loud One effective way to pray the Psalms is to read them out loud. Many of the Psalms are meant to be read in public assembly. Reading out loud not only helps you to proclaim the psalms, it also enables you to hear it. Speaking and listen are important aspect of prayers. 2. Use them as a jumping off platform As you read the psalms, read it slowly and use the words, phrases, sentences as a platform to launch into your own prayers. After you have finished, then go back to where you left of and continue reading. Again launch off as you felt let to pray around the words or theme in the psalms. For example in Psalm 23:3, when you read “he restores my soul…” you might want to pray about your spiritual life, your present struggles and appeal for his intervention. 3. Paraphrase them Rewrite the psalms in your own words. When you paraphrase the psalm, you are interacting with you seek to understand the main points and to express it your way. It also helps to paraphrase in your own language if English is not your first language. 4. Memorise them Memorising parts or whole psalms are another way to pray them. Repeat the psalms you have memorized continually and he begin to understand what St.Paul means when he asks us to praying unceasingly. Using memorized portion or whole of the psalms in your prayer is useful when you do not know what to say when you pray. Sometimes you will find that the psalmist can express your needs better than you can say it. 5. Let them talk to you Use the spiritual discipline of lectio divina to read the psalms during your prayer and let the psalms speak to you. Lectio divina or spiritual reading involves reading, meditating, praying and contemplating. These four movements help us to listen to the psalms and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us. These are some of the ways you can pray the psalms.
God I am weary, storm tossed and not comforted Filled with the pain of TV images and broken lives I cannot forget tsunamis in Asia, hurricanes in New Orleans Droughts and AIDS in Africa, war in Iraq Then I remember your compassion Your unfailing love that is never shaken Your covenant of peace that is always with us I remember love and faithfulness go before you Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne God in the midst of pain you comfort me I stand secure because you are with me Your faithfulness springs forth from the earth Your righteousness looks down from heaven Praise to God on high
[caption id="attachment_5219" align="alignnone" width="300"] Children in midst of labyrinth - Celtic retreat[/caption] The labyrinth is another tool for prayer that I found really helpful in the last few years. I talk about their use in my recent book Return to Our Senses. We always set one up for our annual Celtic prayer retreat and it is particularly popular amongst the children. Last year we also made finger labyrinths which were a great hit amongst both adults and children. Labyrinths have become extremely popular in the last few years amongst Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds. I have written about them before such as Are We Walking A Maze or a Labyrinth?. However, I don't think that I have ever really given a full description of the labyrinth so thought that I would do so here. this description was put together by Maryellen Young as a brochure for the labyrinth at St Albans church in Edmonds. ABOUT THE LABYRINTH A labyrinth is a pattern with a purpose. They offer a chance to take “time out” from our busy lives, to leave schedules and stress behind. Walking a labyrinth is a gift we give to ourselves. The labyrinth walk is popular with a growing number of people because of its simplicity and the ability to approach its paths on your own terms. SYMBOL The labyrinth represents our passage through time and experience. Its many turns reflect the journey of life, which involves changes of direction, transition, some uncertainty but also discovery and achievement. Different from a maze (which has dead ends and false passages), the labyrinth has a singe path that leads unerringly to the center. It shows us that no time or effort is ever wasted; if we stay the course, every step however circuitous, however many turns, however distant it seems, takes us closer to our goal. The two most common types are Chartres and Classic 7, however there are many variations. Labyrinths are described by the number of circuits or paths they contain. HISTORY Labyrinths are found in many cultures dating back as much as 3,500 years. Labyrinth walking is a form of meditation that has been practiced by nearly every religious tradition since ancient times. There is no one “Christian” labyrinth pattern. Faith communities throughout the ages have utilized labyrinths of various dimensions, materials, colors, and shapes. Theologians of different periods have utilized the pattern to emphasize beliefs that were most relevant to their time. -- USE People walk the labyrinth as a tool to enhance prayer, contemplation, meditation and/or personal growth. There is no “required way” to walk the labyrinth. Thinking is not required to walk a labyrinth. At the same time, one must remain alert to stay on the path. This combination of reduced mental activity and heightened awareness makes the labyrinth ideal for walking meditation or prayer. The turns of the labyrinth are thought to balance the two hemispheres of the brain, resulting in physical and emotional healing. As reaching the center is assured, walking the labyrinth is more about the journey than the destination, about being rather than doing, integrating body and mind, psyche and spirit into one harmonious whole. The labyrinth meets each person where they are and helps them to take the next step on their spiritual path. Because it is so personal, it is a spiritual practice that can be enjoyed by everyone. THE WALK A “typical” labyrinth experience involves preparing yourself at the threshold, following the single path to the center (releasing), spending time in the center for as long as you like (receiving), following the same pathway from the center out, crossing the threshold (returning), and then responding to the experience. There is no single “right” way to pray a labyrinth. Praying in whatever way helps you connect with God during the labyrinth encounter is the “right” way and serves as the best guide possible. Journaling before or after the walk may help provide focus and insights. Feel free to walk around other people if their pace is different or if they stop. It’s okay for other people to move around you. Some find it helpful to stop at each turn. The path can be a two-way street. Do what comes naturally when you meet someone else, just as you would if you were walking on a narrow sidewalk. Walking around the outside of the labyrinth before or after the walk may be helpful. Approaches to the walk may include:
- Intentional walks--where you address a specific intention, issue or concern as you walk
- Intercessory walks--offering prayer for people or needs
- Meditative walks--meditating on a specific word or passage or prayer
- Conversation--having a conversation with God
- Walking in a relaxed, peaceful state, temporarily releasing concerns, being open and peaceful
[caption id="attachment_5214" align="alignnone" width="300"] Making prayer beads at the Celtic retreat[/caption] Prayer beads are a tool for prayer that many protestants are both unfamiliar with and a little skeptical of. I only came across them a couple of years ago when a friend at church started holding classes on how to make and use them. I must confess that I do not use them often as they remind me too much of the worry beads that my Greek uncle used to incessantly run between his fingers. However, I have many friends who use them on a regular basis and find them a great aid to meditation. Also, we had the kids make them at our recent Celtic retreat and there were lots of questions raised about how to use them. Prayer beads are also known as the Anglican rosary or Christian prayer beads. It consists of a loop of 33 strung beads which are used as a focus for prayer. This particular way of using prayer beads was developed in the mid-1980s by Lynn Bauman in the United States participating in a study group dealing with methods of prayer. The beads have since been adopted or adapted by many other denominations. They blend the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope and the Roman Catholic Rosary. The use of prayer beads helps to brings the user into contemplative or meditative prayer—really thinking about and being mindful of praying, of being in the presence of God—by use of mind, body, and spirit. The touching of the fingers on each successive bead is an aid in keeping our mind from wandering, and the rhythm of the prayers leads us more readily into stillness. The prayer beads are made up of twenty-eight beads divided into four groups of seven called weeks. In the Judeo-Christian tradition the number seven represents spiritual perfection and completion. Between each week is a single bead, called a cruciform bead as the four beads form a cross. The invitatory bead between the cross and the wheel of beads brings the total to thirty-three, the number of years in Jesus’ earthly life. Praying with the beads To begin, hold the Cross and say the prayer you have assigned to it, then move to the Invitatory Bead. Then enter the circle of the prayer with the first Cruciform Bead, moving to the right, go through the first set of seven beads to the next Cruciform bead, continuing around the circle, saying the prayers for each bead. It is suggested that you pray around the circle of the beads three times (which signifies the Trinity) in an unhurried pace, allowing the repetition to become a sort of lullaby of love and praise that enables your mind to rest and your heart to become quiet and still. Praying through the beads three times and adding the crucifix at the beginning or the end, brings the total to one hundred, which is the total of the Orthodox Rosary. A period of silence should follow the prayer, for a time of reflection and listening. Listening is an important part of all prayer. Begin praying the Anglican Prayer Beads by selecting the prayers you wish to use for the cross and each bead. Practice them until it is clear which prayer goes with which bead, and as far as possible commit the prayers to memory. Find a quiet spot and allow your body and mind to become restful and still. After a time of silence, begin praying the prayer beads at an unhurried, intentional pace. Complete the circle of the beads three times. When you have completed the round of the prayer beads, you should end with a period of silence. This silence allows you to center your being in an extended period of silence. It also invites reflection and listening after you have invoked the Name and Presence of God. Here is a beautiful Celtic prayer created by Sister Brigit-Carol, S.D. that you might like to try: The Cross In the Name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. The Invitatory O God make speed to save me (us), O Lord make haste to help me (us), Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. The Cruciforms Be the eye of God dwelling with me, The foot of Christ in guidance with me, The shower of the Spirit pouring on me, Richly and generously The Weeks Pray each phrase on a separate bead. I bow before the Father who made me, I bow before the Son who saved me, I bow before the Spirit who guides me, In love and adoration. I praise the Name of the one on high. I bow before thee Sacred Three, The ever One, the Trinity. For more information on prayer beads and a selection of great prayers to pray with them click here.
Tools for Prayer – Collecting Rocks
[caption id="attachment_33818" align="alignleft" width="2288"] Collecting rocks - a path to remembrance[/caption] Have you ever noticed how often the Israelites collected rocks to build cairns as memorials to significant events in their history? Joseph built one after his encounter with God. The whole nation of Israel built one after they crossed the Jordan. Memorials, reminders, places to come and encounter God I am also a collector of rocks. As a child I loved to gather specimens when we went on long road treks over the summer holidays. And in Australia there are some wonderful rocks to collect - sapphire chips, small pieces of opal, agates, and even flecks of gold. But in the last few years it is not these semi precious stones that have caught my attention. Now like the Israelites I gather rocks that mark significant events - and I give them names as memorials to remind me of my encounters with God. I have a serpentine rock picked up on the beach on the island of Iona where Columba is supposed to have come ashore. I call it my rock of faithfulness because when I hold it in my hand I am reminded of all the faithful people like Columba who have gone before me. [caption id="attachment_33820" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Fossilized Shell[/caption] I also have a limestone rock from the South coast of Australia. It has the fossil of a shell in it. This I call my rock of endurance. Look at it I am reminded that this shell comes from a creature that lived thousands of years ago. It has endured because it was transformed into the limestone rock. Another in my collection is a rock that I picked up on Camano Island. Limpets cling tightly to it reminding me always of the need to cling closely to God. [caption id="attachment_33821" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Malachite from backyard[/caption] I even have a rock that I picked up in our backyard - a beautiful specimen of malachite - unexpected because this is not a native rock to the Pacific NW. I call it my rock of unexpected surprises because it reminds me that God often comes to us in unexpected and unanticipated ways. Probably the rock I have held in my hand most frequently is the one I call my rock of remembrance. It is streaked with veins of dark and light intertwined in an intricate pattern. It is a constant reminder to me that the dark and light sides of life are woven together inextricably. They cannot be separated or the rock would crumble into nothing. Collecting rocks has become an important part of my prayer life, because each time I hold them in my hand I am reminded of some aspect of my faith journey and I find myself praying in gratitude, in repentance or just in sheer joy at the faithfulness of God. You may not want to collect rocks as I do, but I think that the collection of objects that help root our prayers in the faithfulness of God in journey can be important signposts that lead us onward towards the heart of God. Whatever you collect keep these objects in the place where you pray. Pick them up when you are about to pray. Use them to focus your prayers and to build your faith. Remembering the acts of God in our past is one important way that we connect to the acts of God in the present and learn to trust in hope for the promises of God in the future.
The Transforming Power of Lectio Divina: A Deeper Look at the Four Movements – Christine Valters Paintner
[caption id="attachment_5198" align="alignnone" width="300"] Tools for prayer[/caption] This morning's post in the series Tools For Prayer - comes from Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE. Christine is the online Abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery offering online classes and other resources to integrate contemplative practice and creative expression. She is the author of several books including her two newest-- The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom (Ave Maria Press) and Lectio Divina—The Sacred Art: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer (SkyLight Paths). _____________________________________________________________________________ When I first was introduced to the practice of lectio divina many years ago, I felt an opening inside of me, as if I was being met right where I was. I discovered in this ancient way of praying a mirror of my own inner movements and longing for contemplative depth. I felt supported in a way of savoring life and listening deeply for the voice of Spirit moving through sacred texts and the world. Lectio divina has four movements or stages to it which invite us into a place of savoring life and our experience and to discover God’s invitation to us in the midst of that savoring. Shimmering The first movement is to read the sacred text and listen for a word that shimmers or catches my attention. I do this as I sit to pray each morning with my scripture reading, but also as I move through the day I find that there are moments that shimmer forth: a friend offers me an unexpected insight, I gaze upon my sweetly sleeping dog, I go for a long walk and find the gathering of crows cawing stirs something in my heart, my husband reaches for my hand and in that moment I feel so deeply loved. We all have these shimmering moments calling to us each day if we pay attention. Through lectio, I cultivate the capacity to notice these and honor them as important, as sacred. Savoring The second movement is reflection which involves taking what shimmers into my heart and allowing it to unfold in my imagination. I savor the images, feelings, and memories which arise. Our lives are so rushed, that savoring can become a counter-cultural practice. In my morning prayer I make space to just notice what experience is rising up in me, and in my daily life I become attentive to those experiences which stir strong feelings or trigger an unexpected memory. Perhaps I am driving in my car and a song comes on the radio which carries me back in time to a moment from my past and I am filled with emotion. Lectio cultivates my ability to make space to allow the fullness of my experience. Rather than holding back my tears and judging them, I let them flow and in the process discover a moment of healing and grace. Summoning The third movement is about responding to our prayer and listening for God’s invitation in this moment. In my morning practice I sit and wait as the word that shimmers and the images, feelings, and memories which have unfolded in my prayer begin to yield a sense of God’s longing for my life. In my daily life I notice when my heart is touched by an encounter and I sense that God is summoning me into something new through this very moment. I can’t know what that new thing is just yet, it is often more of an intuition. Sometimes it happens after I teach a class and I have expressed something in a new way and I surprise myself by my own words or a student asks a probing question which breaks open the subject in ways I hadn’t considered. These are moments of divine invitation and lectio helps me to respond. Stilling The fourth movement is about going more deeply into a space of rest and stillness. In my morning prayer I simply sit in silence for several minutes, basking in the experience of being rather than doing and feeling full of gratitude for this gift. As I move through my day I am touched by the moments of stillness I find in the midst of life’s busyness. I go for a walk and come upon a radiant dahlia blooming and I am stopped in my tracks, breathing in for just a moment the beauty of dahlias. I am sitting with someone who is sharing her deepest struggles and both of our eyes become wet with tears and we simply pause for a few moments to rest into the silence which holds us both. Lectio and Life After almost twenty years of practicing lectio divina, I see the world differently. Each moment and thing has the potential to become a vehicle for revelation. Lectio divina has changed my life. Instead of being something I practice for twenty minutes each morning it has become a way I experience and move through the world. Instead of feeling bound to a particular structure and sequence of steps, I discover that each movement of lectio has its own gift and rhythm and I open my heart to when it will be revealed in my day. The practice of a spiritual discipline is about more than the minutes we spend doing it, but how it overflows into the whole of life. We might ask ourselves, is my vision changed because of this practice? If not, how might I let its gift be unleashed into each moment?
Tools for Prayer – Increase Your Awareness of Our Hurting World
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="461"] Hunger at home - Crisis in America[/caption] This afternoon I found out that ABC news plans to dedicate it programming tomorrow to “Hunger at Home: Crisis in America” It precipitated my writing of this post which I had planned to add as a later addition to the series on Tools for Prayer. One important item in our prayer toolkit is knowledge of our hurting world. Not knowledge for the sake of knowledge but knowledge that equips us to respond. Becoming aware of the needs in our world can lead us into a deeper understanding of the ache in God's heart for our hurting friends and neighbours. It can also connect us to our own self-centred indifference that often makes us complacent when God wants us to be involved. And it can stimulate us to respond to situations that we once felt indifferent to. It is easy to feel complacent and ignore the brokenness of our world when we don't know what is happening. There are of course many ways to stay informed, some of which can overwhelm us with the pain and hurt that surrounds us. I find that it is better to listen than to watch, at least in the initial stages of a disaster. The mind numbing images we see on TV and the internet of starving children, war torn countries and flooded rivers may do more to inoculate us against pain than they do to prompt us to prayer and action. It is also easy to let what we see and hear wash over us without really attending or planning to act. Both of these responses are passive and rarely lead to action. Our awareness of the world's pain should make us respond at many levels. And just as our prayers need to be upward, inward and outward, so do our responses to the needs we read about.
- We need to listen with the active intention of doing something. I find it helps to keep a piece of paper or my prayer journal with me as I listen to the news. I write down the 1 or 2 items that most disturb my equilibrium and make them the focus for my prayer.
- We need to listen with the intent to find out where God is already at work. Sometimes, as with the NPR program on Tomato slavery yesterday, I do more research on the issue - not specifically to learn more about the depths of the problem, but to learn about how others are already responding. Recognizing that God is already at work bringing comfort, support and provision is all the encouragement and motivation we need to get involved.
- We need to listen to the heart of God in the midst of the pain. Sometimes my response to the news is to sit quietly before God imagining how God feels about the tragedy I have become aware of. At times I feel that God allows me to glimpse the deep pain and agony that is at the very heart of the eternal One's being. It is a pain that is so deep it aches with every broken person in our world and grieves with every lost and damaged soul.
- We need to listen for places that we have contributed to the tragedy we are hearing about. Decisions about how to dress, what to eat and where to spend our money can all have unintended consequences. Sometimes listening at this level calls us to prayers of repentance and inner changes that transform the way we view our world and the ways we interact with it.
- We need to listen together with friends. This kind of listening often provides good fuel for a group meeting that not only prays together but that also holds members accountable to their intended responses. Once we have shared what we plan to do with someone else it is harder to back down from our intentions.
- Write a short prayer that you can recite throughout the day or week that addresses the issue. I have found that using the psalms is often helpful here. Rewording them to fit the situation I am reading about is often a very effective form of prayer.
- Email or phone someone you know either personally or because they are an advocate in this area who is already responding to the issue. Encourage them and make them aware of your supportiveness.
- Donate to an organization that is involved. I heard about the programming tomorrow from my involvement with Bread for the World, one of the organizations that we support on a regular basis.
- Consider ways to volunteer as part of your response.
- Consider a career change - this is obviously a very radical response to news but for some of us it is God's intention - an active outward prayer that flows from our hearts and into God's world.
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Tools for Prayer – Moving Beyond Chronic Randomness to Intentionality
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="240"] Godspace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms of Life[/caption] When I wrote my book Godspace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms of Life, I talked about the need for all of us to move beyond chronic randomness to a more intentional pattern of prayer that draws us closer to God, to God's purposes and the needs of our world. This exercise resulted in the writing of Light for the Journey and though I have moved away from using this pattern over the last couple of years as I reread the section in Godspace this morning I realized how much I too need to refocus my daily time with God to in intentional ways that draw me closer to the God I love and the world I ache for. So I thought that you too might appreciate this excerpt from Godspace.
Since I recognized the power of regular restorative practices, I have worked hard to develop a pattern that connects my daily spiritual observances to the rhythm of my life. I wrote down the characteristics of my faith that needed reinforcing and divided them into seven themes—one for each day of the week. These now form focal points for my daily devotions. To sharpen my focus I purchased a loose-leaf notebook and divided it into seven sections—one for each day of the week. Each section begins with Scriptures that reflect my theme. To these I added ideas and quotes from my Bible and other spiritual books or from the Sunday sermon. I read these verses and quotes first thing in the morning. They make good meditation points. Then as I read the newspaper I write down prayer points that connect to that day’s theme and use these as a focus for my prayer time. I devised questions that encourage me to incorporate this theme into my day’s activities. Monday, I focus on God the Creator, creativity, and the call to be stewards of God’s creation. Sometimes I start the day by reflecting on how God is revealed in creation through the rhythm of the day and year or through the beauty and majesty of all created things. On occasion I meditate on God’s creativity expressed in the rich diversity and incredible complexity of life around me and contemplate the creativity I see in human endeavors such as fashion or architectural design. I use this as a launching point to think about my life and how God could use my creativity in the coming day. My questions for the day are either “In what ways am I called to steward God’s creation today?” or “How will my actions today glorify God’s creative work in the world?” I focus my prayers on those impacted by environmental disasters, on creation care ministries, and on those engaged in creative arts. As a result, I find myself praying for farmers and landscape gardeners, for fashion designers and environmentalists—people I was hardly aware of before. Tuesday, I focus on Christ our Savior and what it means to bear his image into the world. I reflect on ways that I can model Christ to others and think about how those around me reveal Christ to me. I pray for those who seek to be an incarnation of Christ to people who live in poverty, despair, or oppression—particularly for situations I have read about in the newspaper during the week. I ask, “How can Christ-in-me show forth his love and compassion in my actions today?” and “In what ways do the faces of my family, friends, and those I pass in the street reflect the image of God?” Asking these questions has totally changed my attitude toward work and my community. Grocery shopping is no longer just to buy food; it is an opportunity to interact with people for whom God cares and Christ died. Wednesday, I focus on the Holy Spirit and my need to be equipped as God’s servant. Sometimes I start the day by reading my mission statement—”To be a voice for those who have no voice and bring glimpses of God’s shalom kingdom into people’s lives.” I ask, “How can I live this out in my life today?” or “How do I need to be better equipped to be God’s voice for the voiceless?” Then I strategize about practical ways in which I can apply my ideas. I pray for places in which I can see the Holy Spirit at work, places where there are indications of renewal like the emerging postmodern church movement. Thursday, I turn my focus toward community. I think about what it means to be part of God’s worldwide community and how that oneness can be expressed through hospitality and compassionate care to others. I reflect on God’s international community and pray for those who suffer from hunger, poverty, disease, or injustice. Sometimes I ask myself, “What do I plan to do today that will help build God’s community?” I also ask, “How will I help draw others into God’s community today?” Sometimes I focus on a far more difficult question: “In what ways do I discriminate against others who are part of God’s community?” I pray for those who suffer from AIDS and other devastating diseases, for those who are persecuted because of their faith, and for those who are discriminated against because of race, color, age, disabilities, or gender. This has made me very aware of the diversity of the human race. It has also opened my eyes to the rich variety of ways God reveals himself through different cultures. Friday, not surprisingly, is my day to reflect on the cross of Christ and the wholeness God brings through restoration and reconciliation. Sometimes I pray about where I still need to be restored, or I ask God’s forgiveness for the obstacles that keep me from a whole-hearted commitment to Christ. I like to ask, “In what ways do I need to lay down my life today and intentionally embrace the life of Christ?” Sometimes I ask more difficult questions: “Are there areas of sin that I need to confess or people I need to be reconciled to?” I pray for countries torn apart by conflict and war and for those I know who work in ministries of reconciliation and peacemaking. Saturday, I reflect on God’s kingdom and the “cloud of witnesses” who have gone before me. I love to read stories about followers of Christ who dared to be different and lived as citizens of God’s kingdom. I gain confidence as I connect my own sense of purpose to the wonderful examples of Christians who have lived valiantly over the last two thousand years. My questions revolve around my call to be a witness. I ask, “How can I live today as a testimony to God?” I pray for missionaries and mission organizations I am involved in that reflect glimpses of God’s shalom kingdom. Sunday is a day to celebrate the resurrection and the new life we receive through salvation. I rejoice in being a new creation in Christ and focus on the wonder of that new life. My questions are “What am I most grateful for this week?” and “What have I accomplished this week that reflects my new life in Christ and bears the seal of God’s approval?” This exercise has greatly enriched my spiritual life and intentionally enabled me to integrate my daily routines with my Christian faith. I am amazed at the joy this has brought me. For example, focusing on God’s creativity made me realize that I too could be creative. I started writing poetry, something that would never have occurred to me before. I wrote the following poem one morning while reflecting on God’s beauty as revealed in the rising sun. I awake this day to the joy of life A sudden sunrise, a royal pageant, Red and gold splashed across the sky Like the daybreak of your light It penetrates the darkest gloom God-in-me vibrant colors shining through. Sometimes black clouds obscure your brightness Roaring thunder, jagged lightning Clinging sin lances through my soul It waits for the deluge of your grace The cleansing rain that purifies my life Forgiving love, embracing care God-in-me muted colors waiting patiently. I have also tried to connect these themes to my other daily activities. I love to walk, and I constantly look for creative ways to use my spiritual themes in my daily walks. Monday, I focus on my enjoyment of God’s creation. There is a lake five minutes from our home with a three-mile walking track around it where I love to go to soak in the beauty of God’s creation. Sometimes Tom and I walk around our neighborhood admiring the gardens. We are reminded that the first responsibility God entrusted to humans was to steward creation and make it flourish. Our walks encourage us to pray for all who are involved in creation care. Tuesday as I walk I think about how the face of Christ is reflected in the countenances of people I pass. Wednesday, I like to walk the neighborhood, asking God’s Spirit to open my eyes so that I can discern the needs and dreams of my community.
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