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Posts Tagged ‘living simply’

It is that time of year when holiday busy-ness is past and too soon in the day the light fades to black. Like many others I know, the winter months are some of the most difficult for me to navigate. There seem to be fewer distractions to keep my thoughts focused on my outward life and my inner life seems to curl up and hibernate. I am not a big fan of television land. I am not a mall walker or a phone talker. I am impatient with puzzles and bouts of creativity are short lived. I do find I can lose myself in books but I am not convinced that endless fantasy diving is, after all, good for what ails me. It does help the transition from day to night and even keeps me company in the middle of the night, but like I said, I am not convinced this is an entirely healthy way to traverse the season.

In an effort to break with my routine, I am sitting in a local coffee shop, Photo on 1-20-15 at 10.57 AMeven though I have already had my daily ration of caffeine. Many of my clergy colleagues use local cafes for casual meet ups with parishioners and friends. There are certain benefits to getting out into the community, to hold audience in a public place, to capture a bit of energy from others. I have no particular designs on connecting with anyone I might know. I do not announce that I am here or send out FB invites. I just sit and sip.

For about the hundredth time (probably more) I open my photo files and think, “Today I will put these in some order, delete the duplicates, discard anything that is out of focus, rename the images. I will put like with like, tag the faces of my grandsons so I can find them easier. I will think about making albums. I will.Christ Be My Light on the lake

I am lost from the start. I pull up images from the summer months; a time and a place that fills me with light and gives me an odd sense of being grounded. Some places are like that. I sit and sip      and linger. quiet reflection on the dockI  remember the sounds of the lake, water stroking  the shoreline, wind in the branches of the birch, the  thrum of a hummingbird at the feeder. I recall the  spot along the path where the fragrance of sun warmed pine needles stops me in my tracks and I wonder for a moment if this isn’t the most marvelous smell, ever.July 11 2009 026

When is the last time you stood barefoot on the earth and felt your own pulse in your feet? Did you notice the way your toes grip the soil as if they could root themselves where you stand? Everyone needs a place to feel connected with the earth, even if it is just a postage stamp of grass in a park. Can you remember a time when you simply stood barefoot on the earth?

trinity of pond lilliesI cannot see the long stalks of the water lilies buried  in the silt and mud of the lake bottom. Hidden are the  turtles, frogs and fish that weave between the green  shoots. I can only close my eyes and feel the drifting  of the boat.

Summer days are expansive, long and lingering, compared to the days of winter. My photos remind me of a certain awareness I had while storing up what I would need for my self imposed hibernation. I am nearly half way through it. As I click through a few more images I take another sip of my tea, look about and notice the seats are filling up around me. Where has the morning gone? I am breathing a bit more freely and feeling lighter. I am. It’s time to go home. The photo project will have to wait for another day.

time to reflect boat on dock

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A practice room in Phillips Music Hall becomes a temporary sacred place of refuge.

Earlier this month, the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church gathered on the campus of Gordon College for it’s Annual Conference; a three day gathering of clergy and laity, for a time of holy listening, worship, legislation and learning.

Central to the work of the church is the practice of prayer. It is a privilege to work with the many gifted individuals who serve on the Spiritual Formation Initiative; a dedicated group that focuses on and coordinates conference wide spiritual formation events, throughout the year. One of our contributions is providing resources for the Prayer Room which is made available for individuals to engage in prayer, meditation, quiet reflection and exploration of various spiritual disciplines.  This year conference goers were able to read about and experience a ritual of anointing with oil.

anointing is an ancient practice of setting something apart as sacred using fragrant oils and prayer.

Anointing is an ancient practice of setting something apart as sacred using fragrant oils and prayer.

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Coloring mandalas is a way to relax the mind for deeper meditation and listening.This was completed by an anonymous visitor to the Prayer Room.

A  number of small worship altars were placed around the room to inspire the use of simple objects and images to create personal  ‘sacred spaces of rest’ in the home.

A floating candle in a pair of inverted bowls add light and interesting reflective surfaces to an already serene view.

I  A floating candle in a pair of inverted bowls add light and interesting reflective surfaces to an already serene view.

A simple cloth and candle draws your attention to stop awhile and pray.

A simple cloth and candle draws your attention to stop awhile and pray.

Icons are another way of experiencing deep prayer as one is invited into the scriptural story written in the form of an icon. A beautiful blue plate on a stand makes a striking background for this icon of  the Pantocrator.

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Natural materials, bits of colored cloth draped as a foundation for your altar, other items such as a cross, a journal, scripture, stones, or anything that evokes and encourages you to prayer are things to try. The important thing to remember is that we are all called to a life of prayer. We can live a sacramental life in the home when we establish a set apart place for worship and allow it to invite us to rest awhile and Be with God.IMG_0583

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We all order our daily lives based on a variety of imposed expectations and demands from family members and work schedules, as well as personal preferences and civil calendars. We set our alarms, follow well established routines for grooming, eating, commuting, exercising, working, and resting. We are more than creatures of habit. We respond to the necessary rhythms of life imposed by external demands and internal desires because we are created to be relational. Relationships depend on regular nurturing and are most healthy when we are dependable and intentional about maintaining them.

A Rule is like a trellis, giving support and shape to a growing spiritual life.

Relationships are fragile. We guard those that are most precious to us and neglect those that don’t seem important enough to invest our time and energy in. We are in relationship with ourselves, with those we share our life with and most importantly, we are in relationship with God and God’s creation.

Throughout the centuries, religious communities have lived under a Rule in order to foster a Christ-like rhythm of living simply and sacramentally, in community and in the world. Have you ever considered creating a personal Rule of Life? How would you begin? What sort of things should you take into account?

This is an invitation to YOU to intentionally shape and grow your relationship with God and self, in order to strengthen and honor your relationships with Mother Earth and others. The idea of writing a Rule of Life may seem daunting. I will guide us through a simple but serious process of  discernment and sythesis using a workbook created by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE). Sermon reflections derived from their Rule of Life can be read on their website: www.SSJE.org/monasticwisdom.

Developing a Rule of Life can be found on its own page by clicking the link here or in the header. I look forward to revising my own Rule and helping you write your own. Let me know how you are doing with it.

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