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Christmas House

It is that time of year again when many of us who are deep in the midst of cold and snow hunker down and cozy in for a period of reflection and silence.

There is something that is so hauntingly beautiful and quiet about the way the snow falls from the sky, silently blanketing everything in pure white.  A new beginning of sorts that beckons us to become more silent as well.  Each year I find after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year’s my soul often seeks out silence and reflection to think about what the year ahead may bring.

A friend offered this beautiful piece on her Facebook page and it was one of those pieces that caused me to stop scrolling and sit to think more about the space beyond prayer and the moment when one truly dissolves into the silence…

As my prayer become more attentive and inward
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen
– which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.
~ Søren Kierkegaard

If you are interested in cultivating more silence in your life, sign up for my free 40 Days of Silence offering here.

May this New Year hold the possibilities of new beginnings and new discoveries that await you in the silence that invites you home.

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The Work of Christmas

 

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman- a mystical, prophetic preacher active in the civil rights movement who studied with Rufus Jones and joined the Wider Quaker Fellowship in the 1960s.

Black Fire: African American Quakers on Spirituality and Human Rights

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Angels are waiting…

pink-flowers

I had a friend recently who was headed to do hard things.  And as I gave her a hug I whispered in her ear

“The angels are already waiting for you there.  You are not alone.”

It wasn’t me whispering, rather, it was me being willing to be a vessel.

When I make space for silence in my life so I can hear those little whispers, when I make space to be a vessel I am given opportunity after opportunity to show up, to share the ministry of presence, to be who and what that person needs in the moment.

Perhaps our only work is to be willing to be silent long enough to be given our instructions on how in that moment to be a vessel for love.

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We have been hearing a lot of bad news in the world lately, and with all that is happening it is easy to find ourselves despairing at the state of the world. It certainly seems that there is a fair share of darkness that has been dominating lately.  I wanted to offer a little light, and the reminder that things are not always what they seem.

The other day I was presenting on my favorite topic to a group of college students, the “Art of Deep Listening”.  I always begin the presentation the same way, by asking the group to share the last time that they felt deeply listened to.  It is interesting to see the themes emerge and hear people share their stories of feeling loved through listening.  According to my informal poll, it seems that mothers and best friends are the best listeners.

One of the young woman shared about how the night before as she had been stressing about finals, and overwhelmed with everything she had to do her roommate deeply listened.  She never told her that she was overreacting, she didn’t tell her to suck it up, or try to show her all that she did had under control, or share with her all of her solutions.  Instead, she listened generously, shared her presence for as long as it was needed, and then, she made her a waffle for breakfast that morning.

And sure enough, after a good night of sleep, feeling heard and understood the world seemed a lot more manageable, and whatever was looming large the night before seemed to fall into place, at least a little bit.  But the kind act of being provided for, of being nurtured and cared about “fixed” what was “broken”.  Her roommate knew a secret that we too often forget… sometimes things aren’t meant to be fixed, or changed in that moment, it is in these small acts of kindness, of nurturing that we heal each other.  It is in these small acts of compassion that we remind each other that the world can be a safe place.  It is in offering a safe space to be that healing can happen.

When we can offer a soft place to land for those we love, when we can share with one another our  little acts of love, we light up the world.

And we could all use a little more light in the world.

 

 

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The Monk Manifesto

Summer 2015

Summer 2015

It has been a long time since I have found myself in front of the computer to write a blog post. I have been embarking on a creative journey lately, one that has been all-consuming, and much different than I had expected.

Christmas Eve my partner and I found out that I was pregnant. It has been an amazing gift, but it has been difficult. I have been sick most of my pregnancy, and I have been learning a lot about my limitations. My world has gotten a lot smaller than I am used to and I have had to learn how to be better at saying no. With just a little over a week left I am coming out of the fog and starting to feel better and more myself with each passing day. With all of this focus on my physical body and all of its changes, and the physical changes in the house, creating a nursery and getting all of the essentials ready for the new arrival I am realizing that I am craving more of the sacred. I am craving more time to go within and to spend some time pondering what all these changes mean. And as I was thinking about how to delve more deeply into living with intention and where to even begin after being so externally focused on all of my to do lists and “things to get done before the baby arrives” this beautiful piece came across my newsfeed today on Facebook and I have been thinking about it ever since.  And since I have been so focused on doing, it feels like shifting into a different gear to focus on being- albeit a welcome one and this feels like just the place to start.

The Monk Manifesto: Seven Principles for Living with Deep Intention:

Monk Manifesto: A public expression of your commitment to live a compassionate, contemplative, and creative life.

The Monk Manifesto-

I commit to finding moments each day for silence and solitude, to make space for another voice to be heard, and to resist a culture of noise and constant stimulation.

I commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. I recognize that when I make space inside my heart for the unclaimed parts of myself, I cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.

I commit to cultivating community by finding kindred spirits along the path, soul friends with whom I can share my deepest longings, and mentors who can offer guidance and wisdom for the journey.

I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy asceticism by discerning my use of energy and things, letting go of what does not help nature to flourish.

I commit to bringing myself fully present to the work I do, whether paid or unpaid, holding a heart of gratitude for the ability to express my gifts in the world in meaningful ways.

I commit to rhythms of rest and renewal through the regular practice of Sabbath and resist a culture of busyness that measures my worth by what I do.

I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations.

Christine Valters Painter

It brings me great peace to be reminded that I will always be given what I need when I ask for it, to know that if I choose to walk a more contemplative path it is always one step away.

It brings me great peace to know that there are seasons in my life that allow for different focuses, but that a deep and meaningful life is always waiting in every season and in all ways, and that both doing and being have their place.

It brings me great peace to be reminded that as long as I am living deeply in the midst of life there will be treasures to unearth, love to be found, and joy to be had.

It brings me great peace to know that the path that I have chosen for my spiritual journey allows for detours, for exploration, for compassion with myself.

It brings me great peace to be reminded that as I embark on this shift in identity, in this life-changing journey, that I can choose to do this with compassion, with creativity and contemplation.

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Flower4

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”

The Once and Future King

T.H. White

This beautiful quote was found in this blog post by Parker Palmer.

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On becoming silent…

IMG_9576
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays it is nice to carve some time out for silence, for stillness.

A little time and space to absorb all that has happened. The love, the sharing, the gifts, the time together, the warm hugs and all of the other emotions too the emptiness that we sometimes feel of those who aren’t beside us, who can’t be with us for various reasons, the excitements, the disappointments and everything else.

So often it feels like it jumps from Thanksgiving to Christmas and right into New Years. So when New Year’s Eve comes along it feels like hurry up and make a resolution, hurry up and decide what is going to be most important for you over the next year, have a resolution tied up and neatly bundled and ready to go, but I have decided that I prefer a little time and space with my resolutions.

I have been reading what my blogger friends have written about their resolutions, intentions, their decisions not to make intentions, choosing words to represent the year etc. and when I read this from Amy at My Path With Stars Bestrewn I knew that was just what I was looking for.

Become silent, and wait
within your heart to feel
the next step
choreographed by Love,
then close your eyes and
surrender to the hold of
grace. Let yourself lean
into the music of stillness
dancing. . .

~Kate Mullane Robertson

So as this 1st day of the brand New Year draws to a close I offer you this prayer:

I wish for you
the ability to “surrender to the hold of grace”,
silence that fills and nourishes,
joy that overflows and sustains you,
the ability to ride the waves of grief when they come,
the ability to learn from mistakes and let them go,
and the opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments.

May you enter into this New Year bringing only what you need from the previous year,
may you trust in the abiding love that surrounds you now and always,
and may this year be filled with wonder and delight.

P.S. Don’t forget, like Pastor Carson so beautifully reminds us: Renewal Can Happen Every Day

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