Episode 16 – It’s Apophatic, not Apathetic, Prayer

Shownotes Episode 16 – Apophatic prayer explained in a conversation with Dr. Laurie Mellinger.

LaurieMellinger

Laurie Mellinger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation and Christian Theology
Dean of Academic Programs
B.A. Millersville University; M.A.R. Evangelical School of Theology; Ph.D. The Catholic University of America


Get your spiffy guide to the ancient Christian prayer practice of praying using Scripture called Lectio Divina (latin for “sacred reading”). It’s the perfect go-to reference and resource to get started with the four movements of Lectio that lead us to praying without words and listening to God.

A donation of 50¢ or more will get you this essential Lectio Divina resource.
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Encountering and examining Apophatic (contemplative) Prayer

Conversation Notes

MINUTE 2:00 Apophatic not to be confused with apathetic

3:00

2 main ways of understanding God

Via Eminencia -The way of eminence

The highest of something we know as humans and elevating it. Power, strength “The most powerful”, omnipotent)

Via Negativa – The way of negation (Denying the limited or bad we can observe. God is Immortal (NOT mortal).

5:00

Katophatic (or cataphatic) vs. Apophatic Prayer

Katophatic  – What we can see and say in prayer.

Apophatic – We we cannot see and bri; and without our senses.

6:00 Meditation and how it relates to apophatic prayer

6:30 What is Lectio Divina

Reading scripture and prayer as we seek relationship with God

The four movements of this form of prayer.

12:00

Eastern vs. Western styles of Meditation

Experiencing vs. Word-driven forms

15:30

Contemplation 2 going definitions

1. To observe

2. Contemplative to look at with continued attention.

16:00

Contemplative vs. Discursive prayer

18:00

Breath prayer

21:00

Apophatic prayer as a way to pray without ceasing

22:00

Allowing God to be in every moment, even with every breath.

Laurie’s experience with the Jesus Prayer

Being carried along through pain knowing experiencing that God was with her.

Celebration of Discipline-Richard Foster

24:00

Prayer as a habit that changes you.

…Like holding hands as you walk…

25:00

What happens after the questions like: “I’m I allow to do this?”

The distractions and a flood of thoughts become the hardest part.

How to help that…

Examples: “eye floaters”, “balloons”

27:50

on being patience with yourself

28:00

Brian McClaren getting distracted and quoting from the dessert fathers.

28:30 Turning our face back to God

Patience

Persistence

Presence

29:30

The discipline of being attentive to God allows us to be more present and attentive with others as well. 

30:00

People crave presence and can even be (un)used to it.

31:00

Learning how to listen. Simone Weil.

Mindfulness

34:00

How we are over-stimulated. Children get overstimulated and need naps which means they get silence and solitude and lack of stimulation. Silence and solitude are restorative.

37:00

The demons we encounter in solitude or in the desert.

38:30

A clean and swept room, removed of clutter makes us more aware of new things that might be wrong.

39:00

New Testament Professor Douglas Buckwalter

41:00

Spiritual formation is not doing disciplines.

One kind of prayer isn’t better (per se), but God is forming and reform and transforms us back into the image of Christ. God must reform us. In God’s presence we will feel more loved and acceptance and he might put his finger on something to take care of.

Luke 11:24-26

24“When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25“And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26“Then it goes and takes alongseven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

43:30

on…The messy interior work needed to be more like Jesus.

Letting God dig around.

43:30

Helpful and practical advice for getting started with apophatic and contemplative prayer.

Practice reading the Bible and using the text to help you pray and wait.  (Lectio Divina)

“That waiting (in prayer) is the entry into apophatic prayer.”

Breath Prayer

Centering Prayer (using a word to focus)

“Be patience with yourself. Just do it and God will meet you there”

Using a candle to bring our attention back.

47:00

Good focus is ill-fitting at first until you commit to the process.

Leonard Sweet

(paraphrase) “If you are still counting the steps, you aren’t dancing yet. You are still learning to dance.”

47:30

Prayer can become flow.

48:30

Union with God – The traditional understand of the goal of apophatic prayer.

50:00

God invites us corporately and individually as human beings into that (triune) relational and our participation in that relationship is what I mean by union with God.”

Sensing the presence and love of God more fully, and more and more fully. This is union with God.

51:00

Western goal in Christianity is often understand (first) as Salvation in terms of Penal Atonement and payment for sin. It is a more judicial angle compared to what Eastern Christians do. It’s much more about relationship restored.

Episode 14: A chat with Ed Cyzewski

Episode 14: A chat with Ed Cyzewski

Shownotes for Episode 14: How-to pair wine and chocolate for a great party + a chat with author, Ed Cyzewski

BANANA CART?
(Your ears are not fooling you. In Columbus, Ohio at 9:30 pm a man rides a bike around and rings a bell as he sells frozen chocolate covered bananas. Too funny. And it sounds delicious, if not suspicious. That’s why I’m featuring chocolate in the wine segment today! Enjoy it. It’s bananas, after all.)


Want to try the practice of EXAMEN?

In this episode Ed and I chat about one of his favorite spiritual practices. It’s been very transforming for me too. It’s the practice of Examen (typically pronounced: EGGS-Aye-men).

This age old practice of reflection, mindfulness, and prayer to begin and end one’s day goes back ages in Christian History and is reflected in spirit throughout the bible. Like in David’s sentiments in the Psalms (like Psalm 119) and in Isaiah 26:9.

“My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you…”

So today I offer you my personal version of the Examen practice!

I call it “The Daily Sharpening Ritual”
–It’s the perfect way to supercharge and renew personal and spiritual awareness in your life.

It’s a simple but effective worksheet makes the practice easier to sustain. I hope you give it a try.
The practice takes just 3-5 minutes each morning and just before bed.
• You can see surprising changes in awareness in only 5 days.
(Simply print out 5 copies and follow-through for 5 days!)

Both EXAMEN-like worksheets below work like an Examen practice, but the 2nd one features prayer more fully in addition to reflection and mindfulness.

Check them out to see which one you like best. Print out both if you’d like:

SharpeningPRAYER• The SHARPENING Ritual 

• The SHARPENING Ritual
(PRAYER-centered VERSION)

(Enjoy these resources with my compliments…tipping what you can is optional.)


How we find spark:

We are in this together. As you listen and become part of what is happening here, it will be obvious that I spend a lot of time and a bit of money doing the show: website, paying for media hosting, producing it, editing, adding music, finding and speaking with guests, more editing, more research, and all the rest to bring you something of value in the Spark My Muse podcast.

Lots of heart, sweat and occasionally tears for your enjoyment and inspiration. You get to decide what that means and what it’s worth.

 

So, I invite you to just listen, read, and contribute what the episode is worth to you.

 

• If nothing, I apologize. Please, come back and listen again soon.

• If you think it’s worth one dollar, five dollars, twenty-five dollars, six hundred billion-gazillion dollars…you see where I’m going with this…, or offer something of equal value that is not monetary, simply contribute what it has been worth to you. HERE.

(or contact me here if it’s not monetary. Be creative!)
Thank you!
With Love,
~Lisa

 

WINE SEGMENT

 

MINUTE 2:30

Best tips for the tastiest pairing Party of chocolate and wine!

A how-to.

A chocolate and wine tasting party is so much fun.

• It’s ideal for groups of 3-12 people.

• Have each person bring some wine and provide samples of high quality chocolate and let the fun start!

It’s the acid:
One of the tasty things you can do is pair chocolate and wine. Both chocolate and wine have higher levels of acidity which makes them a naturally delicious match.

Well-paired wine and chocolate work together to make each one taste better. Delicious qualities come out in both the wine and the chocolate and even form a third taste. A careful selection is needed.

Here are some ideas of which wine to pair with which kinds of chocolate treats.

TIP 1

The most  important tip to remember is to keep the wine sweeter than the treat it’s pair with.

(If you don’t it can make the wine seem less tasty and flavorful or heighten its bitterness. yucky.)

TIP 2

Make sure you have high-quality chocolate. 

Many supermarketers have a premium chocolate section and you probably only need one bar of each kind or just a good quality box assortment. Baked good work as well and you can search online too.

TIP 3

Taste test the chocolate ahead of time: Pick out certain fruit flavors, determine the sweet and bitter components they have, check for nuttiness qualities and levels of acidity. If the chocolate has a creme center this will take on added complexity that might pair well with fruit-forward wines. 

TIP 4

A rule of thumb is that darker wines tend to pair better which darker chocolate and should be served first: More full-bodied, (heavier feeling in the mouth) dark and drier (not a sweet style) red wine pair well with the more bitter chocolates that have a higher cocoa %.

White wines tend to pair well with milk chocolate blends and chocolates that have sweeter and fruitier flavor notes.

TIP 5
Remember TIP #1 one …keep the wine SWEETER than the chocolate!

MAKING A MATCH
Pick your wines according to the flavors you’ve tasted in the chocolate,
 and ask your guests to bring a specific variety of wine.

Here are some specific ideas for the kinds of wine you may want to serve, but you can feel free to experiment and see if your palate prefers something different.

Bittersweet chocolate (70% to 100%): This chocolate type enters the bitter range with deep intensity. Good choices include Bordeaux wines (merlot, cab franc, cab save), Beaujolais, Shiraz, Port, Malbec.

Dark chocolate (50% to 70%): Pair this with more robust wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, off-dry chamborcin and Port. A Chianti can match well with chocolate around 65 percent cocoa content.

Milk chocolate: Try Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Muscat, and dessert wines. Champagne is also a natural match for milk chocolate. The crisp, dry flavour of the bubbly contrasts perfectly with the creaminess of a simple milk chocolate tablet. Be careful of the higher sugar levels in milk chocolate, as these may cancel out any fruitiness in dry red wines, leaving them tasting bitter.

White chocolate (which is really cocoa butter) : Match with Sherry, Muscato (a.k.a. Muscat) a fruity Chardonnay (un-oaked), These wines will pick up on the buttery, slightly oilier tones of the cocoa butter. Vidal Blanc, Niagra blends, catawba blends.

Champagne or sparkling wine goes well with all chocolate types. It is a variety that compliments many kinds of wines. Many fortified dessert wines work well across the chocolate spectrum as well because they tend to be sweeter.

PARTY TIP
To keep every one sharp and feeling well, Offer your guests some bread or light fare before you begin and keep the wine samples to just an ounce. 

HOW TO TASTE THE PAIR
1. Take take a small sip of wine and note the aromas and tastes. Some hosts offer guest a sheet to jot down their observations.

2. Then bite into the chocolate and note what it happening as you taste and eat it.

3. Then you sip the wine again and note the new flavor notes and changes that the chocolate brought to the wine. It’s amazing how much the taste of the wine will change according to what it is paired with.

4. Don’t rush through the pairing. 7-10 minutes per pairing is about right. Allow people to really luxuriate on the experience and talk about the flavors and taste combinations they are experiencing.

AMBIENCE TIP
This is not a consumption event, it’s a sensory group experience where enhanced awareness is key. Relax and take your time. Chocolate and wine are luxury items.

THE TAKEAWAY
It’s a great lesson for life too. The point isn’t to bulldoze through life and get it out of the way, but to really notice what is happening and take it all in deeply. Downshift to a better appreciation of encounters with others, with our surroundings, and ultimately with ourselves and to God who makes a home within us.

• Enjoy yourself and let me know of the pairings you came up with  (in the comments section) and how your pairing experimenting went, or what your plans are. I’d love to know. You can post pictures at the Spark My Muse Facebook page too.

Do you have questions? Leave them here, use the voice mail feature, or use the contact page and I’ll try to answer them in future episodes.

 


Sparking your Muse…
a chat with Ed Cyzewski

edc200_thumb

Visit Ed’s website.

 

 


Interview notes

11:00

Ed talks about his upcoming Christian Writer’s Survival Guide book

12:30

The practices of prayer and writing are connected in so many ways.

12:30

Contemplative prayer

Spiritual Direction

and how Ed is learning more about Holy Spirit and waiting on the Lord

14:30

From my experience…”Type A” or productive person’s view of prayer is active or proactive (maybe not involving much listening to God) (Lisa)

15:00

Apophatic prayer – God is found in the silence more than I thought (Lisa)

15:30

“The Creative process and prayer require us to enter with hands open”.

16:00

For both (writing and prayer), you can’t force the outcome…

16:15

Submit to the process.

Do the work.

17:00

“[A] general principle is to create space to allow inspiration and good writing to happen.”

Maybe (it can happen) in retreats or in different ways.

19:20

My favorite podcast Krista Tippet’s show On Being Onbeing.org (Lisa)

Pico Iyer-  (paraphrase) “So much information is coming in but we have less space to process it.” -Pico Iyer The Art of Stillness

20:15

Never a moment wasted because of technology…but at what cost?

21:00

(Ed) on not having times for his brain to slip into neutral..

21:30

Ed says walks helped clear his mind, and he had to detox and ween from media.

22:30

We have a loss of self and fear of quietness.

22:45

40 Day Ignatian retreat bringing a terrifying and alone sense after 2-weeks until she found God in the quiet.

24:00

Ed’s method for unplugging and creating space:

Relent technique-going offline after 5pm and weekends.

25:30

Leaving my phone in my car when I go for walk to eating out. (Lisa)
• I’ve experienced less anxiety (to my surprise).

27:00

(Ed’s sarcasm) College students in the 1990s would die all the time, every week, because they didn’t have cell phones. Funerals every week for the mobile phone-less.

27:30

In the 1980s my dad got collect calls from “pick me up”. (Lisa)

29:10

UK study showing that teens are more anxious because of tech and over-connectedness.

29:40

Maybe because the media (they are using) is socially consequential and not neutral: like watching tv or listening to radio. (Lisa)

32:00

From his upcoming book:

Allowing space to grow and learn. His spiritual practice of Examen.

The app he uses: Examine App

The practice helped him come up with writing topics.

33:30

The practice showed him the imbalance of his life.

 

35:10

Contemplative writer’s Facebook on group

37:00

Kirsten Oliphant

Andi Cumbo-Floyd

37:50

The group has lots of generosity there like a support group.

39:20

How Ed keeps a balance in mood and outlook when the stories he writes about are negative and make him angry.

How he uses a generous redemptive approach and giving his anger time to dispute so he can write with redemption in mind, inspired by Richard Rhor.

40:00

God wants to redeem everyone.

40:30

…Controversy and hit pieces build a quick blog audience…but the challenge is to be redemptive and to still confront in love when necessary…

41:00

“I’d rather be an Atheist than attend the Village Church” (his angry article)

42:40

Trying to encourage others to be redemptive and holding back if he can’t do it in a redemptive way. Waiting is important.

43:30

How we change. Example: Women in Ministry and how Ed’s mind changed.

44:20

“God is all about the long game.”

(It’s not helpful to create animosity)

44:50

(Lisa) “The power of heightening Empathy (to solve problems). Sharing stories helps.

The job of a person who is called to communicate for something bigger than themselves is to ask…

‘Am I able to show people something that they haven’t seen, but  then once they see they know it’s true. And they can’t unseen it’.”

“And to feel it too…what that (other) person is feeling.” -Ed

(If you’d like to have Ed back to discuss how writing can be “soul-killing” and what to do about it, please let us know and leave a comment! Was the show too long? Too short? Ed and I decided we are curious about this, so let us know.)

:)


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BREAKING NEWS:

Shane Claiborne is joining Spark My Muse as a guest this summer! WHOOP whoop !!!


Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

If you’ve listened to the show…
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Shownotes for Episode 13  Wine lovers have God to thank + guest Doug Jackson


First, I want to feature the book Doug and I wrote …

entitled Dog in the Gap because of a C.S. Lewis quote “Man and his dog close a gap in the universe”.

 

And there’s a BONUS EDITION with lots of goodies!
Read a sample here!


Will you fan the spark?

Inspired by how musician Amanda Palmer put it, “Don’t make people pay [for art]. Let them,” I am altering how Spark My Muse stays alive…from bottom to top (literally).

How does it work?

It’s up to you. I need at least $75 per episode to keep it solvent.
Every little bit helps!
So, I invite you to just listen, read, and give as you can.

 

Thank you! Enjoy the show!

With love,

~Lisa

WINE SEGMENT:

Who do we have to thank for wine?

God and the Church, actually.

Wine lovers in Western civilization have the Church in Europe (and the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire–which was neither holy nor Roman ) to thank for the large-scale production, the prevalence and the excellence of wine!

Why? 

Because liturgy involving wine for communion was central to Christian religious practice. Wine was ingested as the saving holy blood of Christ (and bread as the holy body of Christ), usually each and every day. The sacraments of Communion served as saving grace afforded to the Church.

As Roman Empire became officially a Christian Empire (circa 313 CE) many vineyards had to be planted, properly cultivated, and harvested. Grapes had to be made into a lot of to support the daily practice of communion throughout the Empire.

Communion served as wine was the norm among Christians world-wide until recently–in the era of pasteurization. To keep juice from grapes in a state were they would not ferment meant it had to be sufficiently boiled so the natural yeast would die. 

Vehemently opposed to alcohol, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician, dentist, and Methodist pastor from Vineyard, New Jersey, figured out the process in 1869 with Concord grapes. Most churches did not accept the switch as proper and stayed with wine.

The juice later became more popular during Victorian era because of prominent values of abstinence. A shift then began in the U.S. that made grape juice the main communion beverage (at least among certain Protestants sects).

Several hundred vineyards operating in Europe today can trace their history to monastic origins.

In the 9th-15th centuries almost 1,000 monasteries dotted Europe. They were centers of education, stability, and technical innovation. Monks and nuns could read and write–this was quite uncommon then.

Monasteries cared for the sick, helped the poor, created places of education, and invented Universities. They could not fund all this through donations. Surplus wine was sold to finance ministry work (and also beer, fruit brandies, and cheese, among many other things..even prayers and Salvation ..which–in hindsight–appears to have been a mistake ) .

So, basically, thank God (and many monks) for wine!


 

Sparking your muse

 Enjoy the fantastic chat with Doug Jackson!

Doug-Jackson

Douglas Jackson, D.Min.
Director of the Logsdon Seminary Graduate Program

Doug Jackson came to SCS in 2006, after serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, since 1993. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Jackson functions as a liaison between Logsdon Seminary and local churches in Corpus Christi. His areas of specialization include spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Dr. Jackson has published and presented several articles and essays in religious and literary venues, including articles and lectures on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis.
• D.Min. – Truett Seminary (2006)
• M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
• B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

His blog is here.


 

Interview / chat notes:

 

MIN 8:00
on Doug preparing for a his Fall class.

A resource he is using by NT Wright – “The new perspective on Paul”
The covenant people God has saved.

8:50
Reformers and the necessary correction in contemporary times.

9:00
Confronting individualism
and thoughts on human flourishing.

9:50
on the idea of being “spiritual but not religious”

10:30
on his work about CS Lewis

Mere Christianity

11:00
The importance of imagination for understanding that isn’t covered by rationalism.

12:30
on his Oxford lecture
Owen Barfield an influential life-long friend of CS Lewis

Another lecture on Walter Miller – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Apologetic self-proclaimed validity on the rational scheme of knowing.

“Scholarship is about knowing more and more about less and less so that eventually you know everything about nothing.”

14:30
James Sire

15:70
Malcolm Guite https://www.facebook.com/malcolm.guite
Chaplain of Gerton college and Cambridge
“Faith Hope and Poetry”

He covers the imagination as a way of knowing (an epistemology).

Holly Ordway
Houston Baptist University
“Not God’s Type”

Her 2-track movement toward conversion

18:00
Brainpickings.com Maria Popova (an admitted secular atheist on a continual spiritual search)

19:00
on Spiritual atheism

….if we come up with a system that covers everything (Christians and Atheists alike)…

“Humans are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable to a wasteful degree evolutionarily speaking…highly valuing the arts.” (Lisa)

Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monk and Abbot
Philip Lawrence, New Mexico
…slipping in and out of atheism….

21:30
HG Wells, and the fundamentalist reaction to him and others of his ilk.

on how science and religious circles have had an absolute unwillingness to be in one another presence and (have not wanted) to admit any weaknesses and (instead) just shout louder.

22:20

“The best apologetics can do is make Christianity credible and I don’t think it can make it inevitable.”

 

22:30 “Any belief in any ideal is still a leap of faith for anyone… like Justice, Love, Hope…” (Lisa)

23:30
on How people appeal to a standard outside themselves. (CS Lewis)

24:00
Theories of “survival behavior value” for Morality and Justice kicks the can. or it lands on simple absurdity and meaninglessness where suicide becomes a valid option.

25:00

Doug answering the question….”Is fundamentalism evolving”?

26:00
Richard Foster’s classic over 50 years old “Celebration of Discipline”

27:20
A story of a crucial pivot point for Doug.

28:20
How the psalmists had to cry out to God when the answers didn’t suffice any longer. For us, this is a return more than a departure.”

“I have gained the gift of being able to respect other traditions and admire things they bring us, but I talk to people across that spectrum that have that experience.”

29:30

“We go from trusting our denominational address or theology address to trusting Christ but it doesn’t mean an abandonment of it. Choosing a room in the same house to live in.”

30:10
Spiritual disciplines most meaningful to him:
On solitude and privacy (the difference). Henri Nouwen explains the difference.
 Henri Nouwen explains in “Out of Solitude” 

Doug: Solitude is for battle. Privacy is to be alone.

31:00
Demons come in our solitude (Desert Fathers). The outcome is awareness and purification.

32:00
Wanting “the listening heart” (what Solomon really asked God for).
on the importance of listening to God…

33:30
My Stockholm syndrome at parties. (Lisa)

34:00

“(My) Inability to be with people was driven by a failure to have a real self.”

34:30
“you are nearer to me than my own self.” Augustine

Doug realized:

“My real Self can’t be with people because it’s threatened by them, because they’re going to colonize my Self and going to make me into something I’m not. As opposed to having a real Self that can listen because God is protecting that Self.”

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck wrote
The way of Spiritual Direction (his director)
…Doug and I discuss Detachment and Holy Indifference…

39:00
St John of the Cross
(Exploring the spiritually obscured times and darker emotions.)

“the nada” (God is “no thing” the silence before God

40:00
…on staying in the problems and not panicking.

41:00
…on the crucial lesson from his mom that revealed his theology

44:30
(unknowing) Apophetic theology

“John of the Cross didn’t want that we should abandon the metaphors but move through them.”

45:00

“We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology.”

(which is terrifying but life-giving)

46:00
[GOOD NEWS]
Further exploration in a future episode of John of the Cross with Doug coming soon!


 

If you enjoyed the show please give it a stellar review on iTunes here!

Watch for new episodes each Hump Day (Wednesday).

Virtue in Blogging: Like or Dislike?

Virtue in Blogging: Like or Dislike?

The more stink and infighting I hear chirping on the blogosphere, the more I realize the internet is like The Ring (a la Lord of the Rings). It seems few can wield it’s power all that well. Good intentions can switch to division and vitriol.

This is not a new sort of problem. 

Have you ever acted differently in your car than you do face-to-face with people? I have. I first time I drove with my husband-to-be, the man truly surprised me. Hallmark placidity turned to zeal and strident use of a motor vehicle.

It’s a problem of the flawed human heart. It’s spiritual, not behavioral.

Something about the material confines of transport too often unleashes something worse than normal in our thoughts and behavior. The internet is the very same way.

Instead of road rage, we see web rage. Comment sections on many news stories, for instance, are filled with toxic language and malicious conjecture.

But, this is not the end of the story!

As we pull back and examine ourselves, we feel the call, even the duty, to do better. What may sustain that initial motivation and produce better actions and results is community committed to a higher way.

This is where The Spiritual Guidance for Bloggers Project enters the fray. It’s a spot where we agree to virtue over high blog traffic. It’s not just a place online to thumbs up “like”, but rather a community where we encourage each other to be more personally reflective as we encounter and broach challenging issues.

click for FB page

I ask you to be a part of the solution, not the problem of blogosphere rancor. Join at the Facebook community, where resources, support, and hopefully face-to-face gatherings will build better kinds of online interactions.

I’ll just bring up one more thing, and I ask that you would help me with your prayers and suggestions. I sense the entreaty to assemble a guided prayer retreat day for soul care for the weary blogger (essentially, for Creators & Communicators)

Maybe toward the end of August. I’m not certain what it would look like, or even if anyone would care to come, but I envision a consecrated time of rest, prayer, fraternity, silence, unplugging, renewal, and vision-casting. Will you help me figure it out?

(click for image attribution)
Reflections on Reflecting [or what happened with the Jesuits, part I]

Reflections on Reflecting [or what happened with the Jesuits, part I]

Aside from my utter confusion in my first Mass experience (stand up, sing this, say that, sit down, pass peace, say something else…all things a casual Evangelical finds alien), I was so very filled and fortified by my recent all- day retreat at the Jesuit Center‘s Guided Day of Prayer (which was Lenten themed).

It stood together in contrasts:

  • A quiet and calm place & my restless and weary soul
  • Freedom in the boundless love of God & the the intricate, foreign  formality and rule of Catholic liturgy and Holy Communion.
  • Muted joy of Lenten season & the bright love and goodness of my spiritual siblings
  • A banquet of food and refreshment & the observing of stark silence
  • A wide open day of prayer and reflection & the speed at which it passed

A scheduled day of silent prayer retreat is something you might not know you need until you get it. I sat in the beautiful chapel and wept off and on for over an hour, much to my own surprise.

I found it amazing how God can use a place and others to all at once pierce and convict my sullied heart of sin and obstinacy while also flooding it with his omnipresent love and overflowing grace. Let me tell you, it’s healing.

But let me be clear: It’s healing, not in an “I feel all better now” type of way. It was very much like the “undragoning” spoken of in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (I was Eustace Scrubb.) It smarts, but then too, it brings refreshment.

In the absence of noise and obligation you begin to hear, see, listen and perceive with keener clarity. In determined places and times of silence Reality becomes louder and more involved. Love becomes saturated in, through, and around you, the creaturely image-bearer of the Divine. You come again to the Center, the Real. Home.

Several analogies shared at guided portions brought me great insights. I’ll share those in soon in part II.

Many retreat centers offer space for a time of quiet and prayer for just a little money.  Here’s a directory to find one near you.

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