Spiritual Practice While Walking Lucky

While walking Lucky and trying not to be preoccupied with her, just looking around and trying to keep silent I happened upon

and

Even when I am not thinking about it, the pollen falls off the sunflower onto the leaf, the buds form, the bees work, the ants crawl along the underside of the leaf and over the petals, clouds roll past and all God asks is my attention and presence to Him. (Mind you, the sentences above are thinking, not just looking. I realize that.)

Pay attention. Still your inner chatter. Listen for His voice. In 1 Samuel 3: 10 it says, “The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.””

Frogs jump, crickets call, He leads me beside this man made pond, yet speaks to my soul, most times in spite of my chatter. If I am willing to quiet that chatter, His voice is especially impactful. The natural world unfolds without my input. For my inner being to grow my cooperation with God is essential.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God

Psalm 46:10a

An imperfect entry this. I just wanted to try to convey that God’s natural order goes on without my input. He has the power over that. The affairs of other people evolve without my input. He has the power there, also. He desires my attention, cooperation and presence in the affairs of my soul and spirit. He has given us free will and does not violate that. He asks the same from each of us. As Eli instructed Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:9, ask Him to speak to you and listen carefully!

Sue Monk Kidd

Many think her greatest writing is within some of the novels she has written and then allowed to be made into movies. I tend to think her self-revelatory book When the Heart Waits is her best EVER. Reviewing a few pages while writing a recent blog entry pulled me in again to her masterful discussion of how she stumbled upon the power of prayer in unmoving silence.

“Why couldn’t I pray? Why? I stood by the doors, watching the fog, everything in me hushed and unmoving. All at once I caught my reflection in the glass. I saw my posture silhouetted against the darkness. And it came to me in one of those grace-ful moments – I was seeing myself at prayer. I was praying. My still heart, my silence, the very posture of waiting against a backdrop of darkness was my prayer.”

She goes on to explain that she saw into the interior posture of prayer. “Such interior postures are themselves the prayers that transform, heal and yield the answers in our waiting.”

If you have followed my journey you perhaps remember me writing about Richard Rohr relating a lesson he was given on prayer from Fr. William McNamara. “Just look.” Not saying or doing anything, just look and let God open your heart and mind and soul. “Just look.” That is one powerful exercise. Try this for yourself. Practice it on random Wednesdays or when you take a walk. Just invite God to lead you. He will show up if we cut off the faucet of verbage.

Remember the old childhood song about stop, look and listen? We could use more of that in our Christian lives! Stop all the usual chatter in your brain. Look around you for evidence of God. Listen for the still small voice of the Spirit.

From the Inside Out

Inside Out © 1988 		Molly Lin Dutina		


I want to live from the inside out,
always within the center-down silence.
Having to struggle to get back 
is not the direction I choose.

Teach me, Lord, and help me 
know how to grow 
from the peaceful
sanctuary within.

Show me please where 
to refresh our love.
Give me attitudes that will unravel me
from the sin which so easily entangles.

Make me one with You, Lord,
so I will know 
how to be close 
to all that is around me.

Help me, Father,
and be glorified in my life.

Sue Monk Kidd says “This prayer isn’t about talking and doing and thinking. It’s about postures. Postures of the spirit…. Such interior postures are themselves the prayers that transform, heal and yield the answers in our waiting.”

The still point from which we live our lives. How do reach your still point. What does it take for your creativity from the Spirit to flow forth from you? Have you practiced that lately? Are you willing to do that this day? This week?

Soul of My Soul

Sometime after 1985 I read a book by Catherine de Hueck Doherty. Chapter 15 covered The Great Pool of Silence. “The silence of love, coming from a pure heart, will examine with wisdom all that is said to me, and this love will determine my response.” That is an incredible challenge to someone like me who tends to respond immediately off the top of her head! “In this holy silence, we learn discernment.”

When we moved I let go many of the books I owned. I kept a copy of her Soul of my Soul.

She wrote, “The silence is the silence of love. My heart is silent, and thus there is created an inner space where I weigh my words…. Into this great pool of silence can be thrown all sorts of words.. The silence of love, coming from a pure heart, will examine with wisdom all that is said (by me and) to me, and this love will determine my response. Years ago I copied her thoughts into a cross stitched saying for my laundry room. “The great pool of silence is the laundry room of the Spirit.” That is still in a box somewhere. Hopefully I held on to it! The great pool of silence. Have you been there lately?

Have you wondered the value of silence? Have you tried to enter the pool of silence? It is very difficult in our age of constant bombardment by TV, smart phone, computers, radio, etc. When you do set aside time to try entering silence you can be discouraged by being flooded with thoughts. Even after years of practice it can be difficult to enter into silence. I do not believe it is impossible though. I think it is well worth our efforts and we should endeavor to do it with the help of God.

There have been many tomes written about the value of silence. I will not try to quote them all here. If you are interested I have learned much from the writer John Main Word into Silence, The Way of Unknowing and others titles. Also Sue Monk Kidd in When the Heart Waits Chapter 6, “Concentrated Stillness.”

“How do we fashion an environment in which we become stripped and stilled, in which the ego patterns of a lifetime begin to move away from the center and our innermost spiritual life is reconstellated?”

Kidd continued “I’ve been impressed with the emphasis that Quakers place on the concept of Christ as one who teaches us from within, of the Holy Spirit as the Inward Guide. What would happen if we took this seriously? What if we turned to the Inward Guide to lead us through our waiting?

There was an old cereal advertisement that said, “Hey, Mikey! You like it!” This might be your response if you are willing to try this sort of prayer, centering silence, asking the Lord Almighty to cleanse you in the pool of silence. Oh Lord, unless you wash us we cannot be clean.

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part [of my heart] You will make me know wisdom.

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:6-7 AMP

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

In returning and rest you shall be saved;

    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

But you refused

Isaiah 30:15 NRSV

Ordinary

What a powerful sermon! I became aware of this church in Harlem because the brother of a friend sings there. Eventually I signed up for notifications when a sermon is posted on You Tube. This one was terrific. Brandon Cobb speaking about Ordinary People.

He speaks for a little over 20 minutes. Seriously, this is food for thought!

44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:44-47

What a Relief!

We have been suffering the extreme heat along with the rest of the nation. This morning the sky is pouring rain. Not drizzle but downpour. I guess one of those clouds finally decided to bless our sod and the yards of our neighbors.

I have spent quite a bit of time consuming Mark Buchanan’s book “The Holy Wild.” It was so meaty I decided to savor it. Then it got lost in the shuffle. I finally determined to finish the book. What a blessing. The subtitle is “Trusting in the Character of God.”

Here is the publisher blurb to draw you in:

“Our perception of God makes a difference in every crevice of our character, from our inner anxieties to our public conversations. It determines whether we’re trusting or suspicious, whether we’re happy or discontent – and whether or not we can rely on God matters mightily on the day of our death. Mark Buchanan’s third book continues his penetrating exploration of the God we worship. Bravely and honestly, he poses the direst question of human existence: Can God be trusted?

“It’s life drunk deeply, lived to the hilt—where we walk with the God who is surprising, dangerous, and mysterious. It’s the terrain where God doesn’t make sense out of our disasters and our boredom, but keeps meeting us in the thick of them.

“But unless we trust in His character, we’ll never venture in. We will sit at the stream all day, dying of thirst, but not daring to drink. To follow God is to drink and drink from the stream, even if it means—especially if it means—getting swallowed up.

“Let Mark Buchanan show you the entrance to the Holy Wild, where you can live face-to-face with the beautiful, dangerous God of creation.”

The idea of “unless we trust in His character we will sit at the stream all day, dying of thirst, but not daring to drink” really pulled me in. I have had many prayer experiences with the image of the stream of Living Water.

37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

John 7:37-38

There is a river in Psalm 46 whose streams make glad the city of God. I believe that includes the citizens. Do you simply sit by the stream or do you dare drink from it? Have you asked the Lord to help you slip your feet into the stream, then your lower body and perhaps your entire self? Have you been for a swim in this holy stream? Have you allowed the Lord to wash you in this holy water from Him? Soak in it?

If not, why not try this during your next quiet time? He has promised there is a river of living water flowing in your heart, i.e., the depths of your being. Are you willing to accept His gift?

What if our yard or the neighbors new sod across the street refused to accept this blessed downpour this morning? What if their sod said, “No thanks. I don’t trust that water. Give me water from the ch-ch-chuk rotating sprinkler any ole’ time. Not that downpour stuff that occurs so unreliably.”

Unlike rain from the sky the river of Living Water runs continuously within us as we stay joined to , abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives the water, not the clouds or weather systems.

What are you waiting for? If your soul is dry and thirsty now is the time to drink deeply from His eternal source.

Prayer Warrior?

She said, “I am very thankful for your insights. I have so much to learn. Don’t we all, I suppose? I would love for you to teach me more about prayer and how you came to be the prayer warrior you are. It has never come easily to me, and I know having more time in prayer with the Lord would dramatically grow my faith. If you’re willing, maybe we can figure out how you could best teach me?”

That was one email that sat me down hard. I feel as if at age 70 I am just now learning the prayer life. So I thought about her request. Prayer warrior is someone willing to pray for others. That simple.

The very first thing that comes to mind is just talk to God. Define a request and then let’s go together to Him and discuss it. In Scripture it says

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

Mark 10:51a

Jesus likes me to be specific. Not to the point of dictating to Him what He SHOULD do in any given situation, but rather, what I am asking. Good communication is based upon truth.

Take delight in the Lord,

    and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

If I take delight in Him, He will put His desires in my heart. When I pray for those desires, how can I go wrong?

I find that so many people are at a loss for words when it comes to speaking to God, or even speaking their heart to anyone. Years ago, one woman told me repeatedly, “You always give me the words.” I do not believe you have to be a “word smith” to pray well, but you do need to be able to express what your heart desires. Otherwise, how will you know when your prayer is answered?

When I pray for others I try to practice my best listening skills. Then say back to the person what I think they said, “Is this how you want me to pray?”

How did I become a prayer warrior? Well it was certainly gradual! I read the New Testament believing the passage that “God is no respecter of persons.” Acts 10:34 in various translations says, “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.'” Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to people in the book of Acts after His resurrection and ascension. He would give it to me for the asking. So I believed and asked. Romans 2:11 reads “for God does not show favoritism or partiality.” If the anointing of the Holy Spirit could be given 2,000 years ago, it can be given today. He gave to me in various ways at various times.

Then the Old Testament passages about giving a word to others in due season.

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,

    to know the word that sustains the weary.

He wakens me morning by morning,

    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

Isaiah 50:4 NIV

Listen carefully. Pray accordingly. Not adding my editorial. Just praying.

Perhaps one of the strongest lessons I have had is to “Leave it at the altar.” When we pray for others we are to leave our requests at the altar and walk away. We were not designed to carry the burdens of the world on our shoulders. If you are ever to be an effective intercessor you must learn how to release those burdens to God….and leave them there. If the Holy Spirit intends for you to pray about this again, you will know. He is neither vague or ineffective in His promptings. The point is to not walk about worrying about the prayer concern. Just pray and release the concern to God.

Those are my thoughts for now. Hopefully they inspire and assist in your prayer journey.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints

Ephesians 6:13,18 KJV

Having done all, stand.

Cincinnati Art Museum

We found humor at the museum this week. At the display of artworks from the Monuments Men of World War 2, pieces that were reclaimed from Nazi Germany, we found this portrayal of the Madonna and Child.

Now my ignorance and humor will shine. I saw the artist’s name and thought Fra – thinking to myself fraulein, young woman. How like a woman to be the only one I’ve ever seen to paint a pouting Jesus! Well I stand corrected. Fra stood for Friar. The artist was Friar Fillipo Lippi, an Italian painter and Carmelite priest.

But really, have you ever seen a painting of a pouting Jesus? Likely a rendition of a 2 year old Savior.

In another exhibit of contemporary “Paintings of the ’80s” we found this from a huge donation from the Shore’s collection. Bob and I are not usually drawn to dots and splashes of color. We let our imagination run wild in this exhibit and had great, raucous fun!

My first impression? “Oh, their rubber band ball burst!” Naughty me. Here is the actual museum description.

What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I am so grateful to have a husband who keeps track of these fun things to experience!

Locally Sourced Locally Made

My husband reads the newspaper daily. He finds all sorts of things in Cincinnati to do and see and taste! A few months ago he read about a local cheese company. We tried several times to visit and never seemed to arrive there at times or days they were open. We recently made a concerted effort and were able taste and enjoy!

Urban Stead Cheese company is located on Woodburn Avenue in Cincinnati. We had seen their truck traveling to Highland County to get fresh milk for their endeavors.

For details about obtaining the milk, testing and transporting it see https://www.urbansteadcheese.com/

Here is a photo similar to the charcuterie board we ordered, though ours was smaller. Wish I had taken a photo. Frankly, we were so pleased by it’s appearance that neither one of us thought to snap a photo! We simply began tasting and savoring.

In urban lingo street cred means credibility, reputation, acceptance and respect. Urban Stead has made their logo “Street Ched” to emphasize their production of Cheddar cheese.

One of the most unusual things for me was their “Quark.” This is a German type of cream cheese.

Another logo is “Cheddar for the better.” It was not an inexpensive date, but so tasty! And yes, we bought some cheese to take home.

My Home and Black Plastic Bags

I know I have written so much lately about building our house, moving in, getting settled. One day in a parking lot this observation drew me up short.

Observation: Her life was contained in black plastic bags within her car.

There is a glib saying going around about “that is a first world problem.”

Miriam Webster defines that as a “usually minor or trivial problem or annoyance experienced by people in relatively affluent or privileged circumstances especially as contrasted with problems of greater social significance facing people in poor and underdeveloped parts of the world. In terms of first world problems, the biggest one is probably a cracked phone screen.— Ben Sin”

Likely to the woman living out of the plastic bags in her car this seemed like more than a first world problem. Homelessness in America is a big deal. We ought to be able to solve it. Though I do not have a clue as to how.

Some of my husband’s relatives live in Oakland, California. Each time we visit we are shocked by how the homeless encampments have grown as well as the controversy surrounding them. America has got to do better.

Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing, food, childcare, health care, and education. Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities. Often it is housing, which absorbs a high proportion of income that must be dropped. If you are poor, you are essentially an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets.

https://nationalhomeless.org/about-homelessness/

Some of the other reasons listed at that site are lack of employment opportunities, decline in available public assistance, decline in affordable healthcare, domestic violence, mental illness and addiction.

Approximately 650,000  Americans are homeless on any given night of which:

  • 140,000 are kids under 18
  • 57,000 are Vets
  • 60,000 are college students
  • 4 million homeless kids attend our public schools.

We each need to donate to National Coalition for the Homeless or buy a t-shirt from ChariTEES and wear it , make National Coalition for the Homeless your AmazonSmile donation choice, or DO something.

Billy Graham wrote,”You’re probably thinking of Jesus’ words in John 12:8: “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” His words were directed at Judas (who would soon betray Him), admonishing him because he was more interested in getting money for himself than in serving Jesus.” https://billygraham.org/answer/is-it-true-that-jesus-said-we-will-always-have-poverty-in-the-world/

Father, I pray You will not let us be content to be like Judas. Help us to see Your love and concern for the poor. Help us to make a difference on Your behalf. Amen.