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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Nourish

Photo by John Salzarulo
Welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday and a special group of friends blogging each month about our spiritual journeys. Today we are sharing over at Ramona's Pleasures from the Page about her 2017 One Little Word, "Nourish."

As I typically do when thinking about a specific word, I went to my dictionary and found this:
1.   provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.
2.   keep (a feeling or belief) in one's mind, typically for a long time.
I've connected with these thoughts on several levels recently. First, I've been considering a new, somewhat mind-boggling (at least for someone who had low fat eating drilled into me for so many years) new perspective on nourishing my body. I've been listening to the Keto for Women Show podcasts by Shawn Mynar on my phone for the last month. (Just open your podcast app and type in Keto for Women). They're well-worth considering. I love her tagline: Empowering women to take charge of their health and happiness. So much wonderful information on the many issues we face in light of what the world wants to nourish us with--images of skinny models, advertisements for medicines with so many side-effects it's ridiculous, and a constant push to over-exercise and under eat in order to be accepted. I like this idea of thinking about what goes into my body as nourishing it, but even more as healing it. 

A few weeks ago, I participated in a yoga training that required my body function well for six days from 6am to 9pm with very little down time and lots of interaction with others. I needed my quiet. I needed more rest. My body managed to keep up reasonably well, but I came away with a deeper knowing that I must maintain balance. So I continue to learn. Continue to move forward. 

So, I come to definition #2: To keep (a feeling or belief) in one's mind, typically for a long time. 
We can nourish all kinds of feelings, good ones and not so good. It's a good question to ponder. What feelings/belief am I nurturing? 

I've been reading a book called Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina by Thelma Hall. This quote stood out to me today. The author is quoting Thomas Merton's reply to a Sufi friend who had asked him how he prayed.
Now you ask about my method of meditation. Strictly speaking I have a very simple way of prayer. It is centered entirely on attention to the presence of God and to his will and his love. That is to say that it is centered on faith by which alone we can know the presence of God. One might say this gives my (prayer) the character described by the prophet as "being before God as if you saw him." Yet it does not mean imagining anything or conceiving a precise image of God, for to my mind this would be a kind of idolatry. n the contrary, it is a matter of adoring him as all...There is in my heart this great thirst to recognize totally the nothingness of all that is not God. My prayer is a kind of praise rising up out of the center of Nothingness and Silence...It is not "thinking about" anything, but a direct seeking of the face of the invisible, which cannot be found unless we become lost in him who is invisible.
What a beautiful way to nourish the spirit and the soul and the body.
             
Eat something wonderful to nourish your body.
                         
                         Read great words to nourish your mind.
                                         
                                           Center your attention on the presence of God to nourish your spirit.










Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pondering: Contemplation

Photo by Jon Sullivan

from Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina
by Thelma Hall

Contemplation is a strange new land, where everything natural to us seems to be turned upside down--where we learn a new language (silence), a new way of being (not to do but simply to be), where our thoughts and concepts, our imagination, senses and feelings are abandoned for faith in what is unseen and unfelt, where God's seeming absence (to our senses) is his presence, and his silence (to our ordinary perception) is his speech. It is entering the unknown, letting go of everything familiar we would cling to for security, and discovering that in being "wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too" (Revelations 3:17) (which grace reveals to us and which we fear to acknowledge--much less accept--in ourselves) lies the potential for all our hope and joy, because to know our true selves is to know we are loved by God beyond all measure.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Pondering: Good Intentions

Photo by Tom Woodward


from Disciplinary Treatises: (4) The Communion of the Body by Scott Cairns included in At the Still Point by Sarah Arthur

...Like us all, the saved
need saving mostly from themselves, and so
they make progress, if at all, by dying

to what they can, acquiescing to this
new pressure, new wind, new breath that would fill
them with something better than their own

good intentions...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Spiritual Journey Thursday: New Beginnings

Once a month I blog with a group of friends about our spiritual journey. Today's topic is New Beginnings, hosted by Julianne at To Read To Write To Be.




I've been inundated by grandchildren this week! Spending time with each one, watching old movies with the older two, keeping them busy with lots of activities, and watching them grow and engage with the world in new ways. They are such fun. There is always something new to enjoy. You never know what they are going to convince you to do--like walking over the dinosaur bones. And I jumped off the high dive for the first time in my life. Grands!


August brings a new beginning for me with my yoga business. I will be moving to a new location and stepping into a new business model. So many things to think about. So many things to do. I'll share more as I move forward, but I do appreciate you keeping me in your thoughts and prayers as I make this transition. It feels right and exciting.

In my spiritual journey, I am always asking, "Lord, what are you saying to me?" I'm always trying to learn to listen better, be more aware of God's presence with me, find that still, small voice speaking more clearly. In the busy-ness of the day, I often realize I've forgotten to pay attention. I love that he doesn't mind me starting over again and again.

Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet who understood the dilemma, but he also understood his God. Here's what he said: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

May you know new beginnings each morning and the great faithfulness of the Lord.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Poetry Friday: Gone with the Grands


Happy Poetry Friday! Linda hosts the Roundup at A Word Edgewise.

from "Little Gidding," The Four Quartets
by T. S. Eliot

W shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heart, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pondering: Prayer

Photo by Guillaume Paumier, CC_BY.

from Divina Commedia (I) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

     Far off the noises of the world retreat;
     The loud vociferations of the street
     Become an undistinguishable roar.
So, as I enter here from day to day,
     And leave my burden at this minister gate,
     Kneeling in prayer, and not ashamed to pray,
The tumult of the time disconsolate
     To inarticulate murmurs dies away,
     While the eternal ages was and wait.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pondering: My Mother's Life




My mother died on Sunday. If you know anything about my journey with her, you know it has  been rocky for most of my life. She lived from a deeply wounded place. I know she loved Jesus, but she never knew how to take his grace into her heart and allow it to bring healing or change.  I know she loved me, and I loved her, too.

After a long period of estrangement, she had a stroke, and she needed me. Somehow we found common ground over books. I read aloud to her every week for close to ten years. We read every Mrs. Polifax novel ever written, along with many more. In the last year, she was unable to keep her attention on a book for more than a minute or two, so we had short visits filled with Facebook pictures of her great-grandchildren or just sitting. There is sadness, sometimes for what could have been and wasn't, but there is also peace in knowing she understands now all that she could not understand here.

I wrote this several years ago as I was making my way toward peace with her.

Mother's Lessons

She taught me gin rummy and badminton,
to make Chef Boyardee Pizza
with a crust ten-cent thin.
She taught me to make my bed
before I was out of it, to clean my room,
to fry chicken in a pan of Crisco,
to practice piano, to listen.
She taught me that homework came before play,
that a "B" was never your best,
that a hairbrush was not meant to collect hair.
She taught me justice, but without
mercy that makes it redemptive.
She taught me to be truthful, but
she meant her version, and it was seldom
spoken in love. She taught me
that getting your own way hurts
the ones close to you. She taught me
silence is not golden when it shuts people out.
She taught me that touch is tender, not tenuous.
She taught me family comes first.
She taught me to give, but gifts
with strings make one feel bought.
She taught me that kindness is
more important than the appearance of kindness.
She taught me when bitterness takes root,
you can lose your best friend.
She taught me God’s love--
without it I might not have survived hers.
She taught me to be a mother.
Sometimes knowing
what not to do is the best lesson.
Today I sat beside her bed and read.
I held her withered hand in mine
and kissed her wrinkled brow, because
I know what it means to need those things.
She taught me that.

© Doraine Bennett 2012


There is a strange feeling of having no more connection to my past, other than memories. A sense that the continuum from past to future has altered and there is only what lies ahead--my children, my grandchildren. A dear friend said, "It is the passing of a generation and this is worth noting and mourning." Indeed.

My nephew sang this song at the service.



And one verse shared by the pastor:

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV)

I am profoundly grateful that death is not the end.