Meditation Monday – The Post That Almost Wasn’t

by Christine Sine
Goldie on the bed

by Christine Sine

Last week I had great intentions of writing a post about rhythms and seasons which was very much in keeping with our current theme of Seasonal Spirituality. As I mentioned to our writers when I first suggested this, some of us are heading into summer, others towards winter and many of us have spiritual practices that are specific to and reflective of the season. What sustains you in summer, or in winter? Is it the opportunity to slow down and participate in a spiritual retreat? Is it pilgrimage? I am very envious of Lilly Lewin heading to Iona on pilgrimage again in August and would love to make pilgrimage more a part of my own summer rhythm. For those heading into winter, perhaps it is cosy evenings curled up by the fire with a good book. What spiritual practices nurture you as you endeavor to live out a  wholehearted commitment to Christ? How do the seasons impact these? I know that for Tom and me summer spirituality often revolves around hospitality. These are just some of the thoughts that come to my mind as I think of this topic?  What comes to your mind?

Over the next few weeks I became obsessed with the idea of seasonal spirituality. But what kinds of seasons I wondered? There are so many different ways that we can define the months and seasons of the year. There are the liturgical seasons, the meteorological seasons, the lunar seasons, seasons to celebrate diversity, as well as other more subtle seasons like school seasons, seasons of work and rest, seasons of life. Our current topic of Seasonal Spirituality opens up so many possibilities and  I hope you find the idea of being creative with our spiritual practices as interesting as I do.

This topic came out of my recognition that church leaders rarely provide us with spiritual practices that are relevant to the season. Several years ago I started asking pastors, “How do you prepare your congregations for the spirituality of the summer – for that season of the year when people stop coming to church and express instead a spirituality of summer vacations, of hiking and biking and swimming?  Church leaders often complain  because people don’t come to church over the summer or when the weather gets cold and rainy in the winter, but rarely help them recognize the spirituality of the ordinary activities in which they engage.

Over the last several years I have discovered the spirituality of walking in the rain in winter, and walking barefoot in summer. I have enjoyed the spirituality of play in both these seasons and of going on pilgrimage as well.

This last week however, I experienced another rhythm that called for different spiritual practices – I contracted COVID. Five days in quarantine, with fortunately very mild symptoms and another 5 wearing masks all the time. Cancelling lunch dates and optometry appointments. Forgoing walking the neighbourhood, and doing my morning exercises. Hardest of all cancelling our vacation on Mayne Island in Canada with close friends we have not seen since before the pandemic.

Illness is a season that shapes all of our lives as we all found out during the days of COVID lockdown. I am reminded that the marriage vows state “in sickness and in health”, recognizing that both these seasons will come to all of us. What kinds of spiritual practices sustain you through times of illness? For me it is just giving myself permission to rest and take time to heal. Reading the psalms and a good book, walking around the garden without feeling compelled to work in it. Letting go of expectations and resting in the presence of God with the confidence that nothing more is necessary. Our dog Goldie seemed to know exactly what to do. She jumped on our bed, something she is rarely allowed to do and took a few more naps.  I soon realized I needed to learn from her. So this post almost didn’t happen, but after a couple of days of rest I felt much revived and able to write again.

I am reminded as I write this that relaxation is often one of the spiritual practices of summer and I realize in the season of illness that the same practice is necessary.

Relax in the presence of God,
Let the peace of Christ wash over.
Listen to the Spirit encouraging you
To slow down and rest.
Let go your expectations.
Give your body time to heal.
Enjoy the companionship of God.
Confident that nothing more is necessary
(c) Christine Sine 2023

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scotsirishpadre June 12, 2023 - 7:22 am

Oh Christine, I am so glad that your symptoms are mild. Well done Goldie for being a sabbath rest mentor ♥️

The season we are in is a challenging one. I did not renew my contract with the church and we have been traveling back and forth to Minnesota to care for my dad. We will head from Alabama towards Minnesota today and expect to arrive on Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon I will be signing the paperwork to have my dad placed into hospice care. His heart is slowing down and instead of going to the ER every fortnight, he will be receiving comfort care in his apartment.

This is a liminal place for us that we have experienced before with our mothers… God is present with us and will be an ever present help for us and for dad.

Blessings to you and Tom and Goldie as your recovery continues.

Christine Sine June 13, 2023 - 8:59 am

Thanks for the update Michael. Transition times like this are challenging. You might draw comfort from these words that a friend sent this morning from Richard Rohr which I found very helpful “Everything that happens is potentially sacred if we allow it to be. Once we can accept that God is in all circumstances, and that God can and will use even bad situations for good, then everything becomes an occasion for good and an occasion for God.
Our task is to find the good, the true, and the beautiful in everything—even, and most especially, in the problematic. The bad is never strong enough to counteract the good. We can most easily learn this through some form of contemplative practice. In contemplation we learn to trust our Vital Center over all the passing snags of emotions and obsessive thinking. Once we deepen contact with our strong and loving soul, which is also the Indwelling Spirit, we are no longer pulled to and fro with every passing feeling. This is the peace that Jesus gives, a peace that nothing else can give, and that no one can take from us (see John 14:27).”

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