Off The Hook

We try so hard, don’t we? When spiritual development becomes a passion we sometimes work at it to the point of exhaustion, excluding all spontaneity of spirit. That’s why I’m letting myself off the hook today, and invite you to join me if so moved.

In her book, In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Prayer and Reflection, Jan Richardson suggests with Thomas Moore that we let ourselves “get sleepy” once in a while, because it is in the latent spaces in-between when we let go, that spirit can then plant seeds that can germinate. Moore suggests that “…awareness, wisdom, and soulfulness do not arrive solely through perpetually vigilant consciousness.”

So today, let yourself off the hook and let spirit do her work.

Blessing

May you grow sleepy
enough
to find the gap where God lives.
May your soul find its waking
there.

Jan Richardson In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Prayer and Reflection

Photo Credit Fish Hook: http://clipart-library.com/clipart/yikdE9EiE.htm

Photo Credit Person Floating: Esther Lui for NPR

Making Friends With Boredom

 

 

“In navigating the changes, in wrestling with boredom, in confronting our restlessness, in learning to pay attention to what is before us rather than forever moving on to something or someplace that looks more appealing, we come to know regions of our souls that we could never enter otherwise.

Where do you find sources of stability?

What do you learn in committing to something—a place, a person, a way of life—over the long haul?”

In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson

 

 

Photo Credit:  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/6-scientific-benefits-of-being-bored-a6839306.html

 

Breathe

water-softening

 

Blessing

When the well goes dry, listen.
Sit by it, your ear pressed to its rim.
Hear the empty and the hollow of it.
Let be. Let be.
When finally you hear your breath
echo back to you,
let this sound be your first prayer.
Where there is breath,
there is water somewhere.
Breathe.

Jan Richardson
In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection & Prayer

 

Photo Credit: http://www.zdrillerteam.com/is-your-water-well-going-dry-5-common-warning-signs/

A Blessing For This Time Of Wrestling

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May this blessing from Jan Richardson console us as we wrestle with so much these days.

Jacob’s Blessing

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. —Genesis 32:24

If this blessing were easy, anyone could claim it.
As it is, I am here to tell you that it will take some work.
This is the blessing that visits you
in the struggling,
in the wrestling,
in the striving.

This is the blessing that comes
after you have left everything behind,
after you have stepped out,
after you have crossed into that realm
beyond every landmark you have known.

This is the blessing that takes all night to find.
It’s not that this blessing is so difficult,
as if it were not filled with grace
or with the love that lives in every line.
It’s simply that it requires you to want it,
to ask for it, to place yourself in its path.

It demands that you stand to meet it when it arrives,
that you stretch yourself in ways
you didn’t know you could move,
that you agree to not give up.

So when this blessing comes,
borne in the hands of the difficult angel who has chosen you, do not let go. Give yourself into its grip.
It will wound you, but I tell you there will come a day
when what felt to you like limping
was something more like dancing
as you moved into the cadence
of your new and blessed name.

Jan Richardson in The Cure For Sorrow: A Book Of Blessings In Times Of Grief

 

 

Wedding Patience With Longing

The reflections of Jan Richardson always delight and enrich me. This piece I meditated on today seems particularly apt nourishment for us now.

Richardson reflects on Hildegard von Bingen’s work, Scivias, in which the mystic personifies virtues. “Longing stands next to Patience,” says Hildegard, and Richardson reflects, “Yes, and I am wedged in between them. How do Patience and Longing live together in you?”

A question for us to ponder as well.

“Longing stands next to Patience”

Longing would sometimes like to be assigned a different spot.
Would like to be less near this one who approaches everything with such equanimity. Would like some distance from the measured way that Patience marks time,
holds herself with such politeness toward its passing.
Patience knows this about Longing. Accepts it, even loves it about her.
This makes Longing crazy.
Patience has not told her she has some envy of Longing’s perfect ache
or that she thinks it must be an art to hold oneself
so perpetually poised toward the horizon.
For her part, Longing has not confessed that there are days
she finds Patience restful. Soothing. A relief.
Meanwhile, by little and by little,
so slowly its appearance will startle them both,
a horizon is drawing near.

Blessing

May Longing and Patience teach you by turns:
not just the fire but the tending of it,
not just the well but the digging;
not just the vision but the enduring it asks,
by day and by darkness drawing us on.

In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection and Prayer by Jan L. Richardson

Photo Credit: https://everydaypower.com/patience-quotes/

WAITING PRACTICE

Lynn Schooler DAWN

 

I come to you on  my knees this early January morning huddled in a heap of conflicting emotions over the prospect of war between the United States and Iran.

The Reality…

Continuous War Sabers

 

The Prayer….

Rough Translations by Jan Richardson

Hoping against hope, he believed.
—Romans 4:18

Hope nonetheless.
Hope despite.
Hope regardless.
Hope still.

Hope where we had ceased to hope.
Hope amid what threatens hope.
Hope with those who feed our hope.
Hope beyond what we had hoped.

Hope that draws us past our limits.
Hope that defies expectations.
Hope that questions what we have known.
Hope that makes a way where there is none.

Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come.

by Jan Richardson from Women’s Christmas Retreat

 

 

Photo Credit:  https://www.facebook.com/lynn.schooler

I am grateful to Lynn Schooler for permission to use this exquisite photo experience of today’s dawn in Juneau Alaska.  You have a rich experience awaiting you at his facebook page.  Thank you, Lynn.

“Marked By The Burning”

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At the beginning of this season of Lent we are reminded by Matthew’s Jesus that “unless [we] change and become like little children, [we] will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 18:2

With little children what you see is what you get. They are open, trusting and straightforward. If there is a proverbial elephant in the room they will point it out and “call it by its true name.” (Thich Nhat Hanh). If we are called to emulate this quality then surely, now is an apt time to do it. We must get to the truth of our identity, know ourselves as flawed, but renewed and reclaimed in our flaws. We are changed.

Gandhi said that we should “be the change we want to see in the world.” By changing attitudes and behaviors that kill spirit to ones that give life to it, we become antidotes for the evil dominating our world. This Lent the enduring question for me will be, “What gives me life?”

Breathing in life
I celebrate life.

Breathing out negativity
I release its hold on me.

Breathing in life
I send it I to the world.

Breathing out negativity
I release its hold on the world.

May it be so. Amen.

Now this from Jan Richardson

Blessing the Dust
For Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze

in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
http://paintedprayerbook.com/2016/02/08/ash-wednesday-a-blessing-in-the-ashes/

Waiting

nude in the desert framed

 

I came upon this blessing in a moment of empathy for a friend who is enduring the death of her husband.  A Gift for you, Mary Lou, and for all of us who grieve loss. I am reminded of a line from Call the Midwives, “We just go on living until we are alive again.”  May we endure together.

 

The Art of Enduring
For Holy Saturday

Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. —Psalm 31: 2
This blessing
can wait
as long as you can.

Longer.

This blessing
began eons ago
and knows the art
of enduring.

This blessing
has passed
through ages
and generations,
witnessed the turning
of centuries,
weathered the spiraling
of history.

This blessing
is in no rush.
This blessing
will plant itself
by your door.

This blessing
will keep vigil
and chant prayers.

This blessing
will bring a friend
for company.

This blessing
will pack a lunch
and a thermos
of coffee.

This blessing
will bide
its sweet time

until it hears
the beginning
of breath,
the stirring
of limbs,
the stretching,
reaching,
rising

of what had lain
dead within you
and is ready
to return.

Ann Richardson in Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings

 

 

 

Blessing When the World Is Ending by Jan Richardson

Jan Richardson’s blessing comforts me in this painful time marked by hate and violence; I hope it comforts you as well.

 

Blessing When the World is Ending by Jan Richardson

Look, the world
is always ending
somewhere.

Somewhere
the sun has come
crashing down.

Somewhere
it has gone
completely dark.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the gun
the knife
the fist.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the slammed door
the shattered hope.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone
the television
the hospital room.

Somewhere
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.

But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.

It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.

This blessing
will not fix you
will not mend you
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.

It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins
again.