When the World Seems So Broken

Birds

These mornings, when the world seems so broken,
I skip the news and social media.

Instead, I go outside and contemplate the sky …
Morning dawning in the firmament.

I watch the creatures around me
Doing creaturely things:
Hopping, flying, walking, breathing.

I am, in my little life,
Part of a great, still-beautiful world.

I breathe myself into union
with the One who is never broken.

 

Resilience: Healing Practices

Friends, I hope you will consider joining me in this online event at the end of September. I’ll be leading worship for the retreat. We will open with prayer at 5:00 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday, September 30 and we’ll close with prayer at noon (CDT) on Saturday, October 2nd. Join us as we create spaces to heal.

Resilience: Healing Practices for Mind, Body, and Spirit

In March 2020, everything changed. As we reflect on the last 18 months, we find ourselves in a new and unfamiliar place. The world has changed. Our work has changed. Our families have changed. We have changed. These have been months filled with trauma for people all over the world.

Now we begin the task of finding our way in this changed world, of healing from our individual and collective trauma. How do we do this? 

You’re invited to join The Upper Room as we create space to listen together as we find our way. Our virtual event will include storytelling, time for personal reflection and conversation, guided spiritual practice, and worship. This time of gathering offers spaciousness—time for reflection and interaction, a fresh array of spiritual practices to help with healing from trauma, and an introduction to spiritual tools you can use in your own healing journey or the healing journey through which you lead others. 

Speakers and workshop leaders include Rev. Sidwell Mokgothu, Rev. Trevor Hudson, Rev. Dr. Amy Steele, Rev. Dr. Ron Bell, Rev. Kimberly Orr, Kara Lassen Oliver, Rev. Beth A. Richardson, and more. 

Learn more or register today for early bird pricing.

Online Academy Day Apart

I hope you’ll consider joining me. I’ll be leading worship for Courageous Curiosity: Cultivating an Antiracist Spirituality. An Online Academy Day Apart with Lucretia Berry and Ben Boswell. August 27, 2021. Learn more and sign up.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” -James Baldwin

“Why is it that Christianity seems impotent to deal radically—and therefore effectively—with the issues of discrimination and injustice on the basis of race, religion and national origin?” -Howard Thurman

Join us for this online Academy Day Apart retreat with Lucretia Berry, author, speaker and founder of Brownicity – Many Hues, One Humanity (brownicity.com) and Ben Boswell, Academy alum, pastor, and creator of a nine-week spiritual formation curriculum with the working title What Does it Mean to Be White? (slated for publication by Upper Room Books in July 2022). We will engage the deep soul work of antiracism supported by the resources of community, silence, worship, and embodied spiritual practice.

Space is limited. The registration deadline is August 15, 2021.

Retreat Rates:
$75 full registration rate
$125 full rate + sponsor another participant
$40 student rate

Join us!


A Message from a Rabbit

Each morning and evening
The dog and I walk together
Up or down the road.
We startle a rabbit
Somewhere along the way.

The rabbit bounds away into the woods.
JJ wants to follow it.
I fumble for my camera.

The rabbit says to me:
Slow down. Stay alert.
There are treasures nearby
If only you will pay attention.

Be present right now.
Stop multitasking.
Take five deep breaths
And say a prayer of gratitude.

This moment
Every moment
Is a gift.

Let My Worries Be Prayer

When I wake up in the middle of the night
Weighed down by news of illness, hate or war
Let my worries be prayer

That beloved one in the hospital
Let her be free from pain
Hold him if he is afraid
Thank you for all those working to comfort, care, and heal

So many signs and sounds of war
Send wisdom to the leaders of the world
Protect the vulnerable who sit or live or walk in harm’s way

Hatred and fear divide us
Friends, families, communities torn apart
Heal us, hold us
Help us see that we are more alike than different

When I wake up in the middle of the night
Weighed down by news of illness, hate or war
Let my fretfulness be time with you
Let my fears be intercessions
Let my worries be prayer

Old Friends and New

a quote from Sarah Parsons about Lent beginning in the wilderness

Years ago when I was editor of The Upper Room’s website, I began collecting my favorite quotes from Upper Room Books and sharing them in the “Seasonal Reflections” emails. These quotes and their authors became friends I relied on when I hit difficult stretches of life.

It was so satisfying to pick out a selection of these “friends” to include in the pages of Walking in the Wilderness. And I was able to add some new favorite quotes and authors from more recent Upper Room publications.

I hope that you also learn to feel that these faithful friends are waiting to share their wisdom with you when you hit life’s difficult seasons.

Here are just a few …

We are invited simply to be with God. … Crawling up in the lap of Love, resting our head against Love’s breast, and taking comfort in that slow, steady heartbeat of grace that says, This is where you belong.
-Roger Owens, What We Need Is Here

God, collect our tears … And pour them back on us as life-giving water!
-Safiyah Fosua, The Africana Worship Book: Year B

Dear God, help us to see that we are more more than our scars.
-Michael W. Waters, Freestyle

Faithfulness is consecration in overalls.
-Evelyn Underhill, Writings of Evelyn Underhill

All things come and all things go over and over again.
-John S. Mogabgab, Weavings

Grief is such a messy thing.
-Roberta C. Bondi, Wild Things

| Purchase the book. | Join the eCourse with a 50% discount. |

Lenten Practice

“I never aspired to write a book for the Lenten season. I have always been so much more attracted to the softness of the season of Advent. In fact, I may have been heard to say, ‘I will never write a book about Lent.’ But here I am, writing a book for Lent, this season of wandering in the wilderness.”
-Introduction to Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent

As I was considering my Lenten discipline this year, I decided to read my book in a different way. I’m finding that way to be creating a collage each day. This practice is keeping me grounded, letting me hear these words as if they were spoken to me.

Each day’s entry in Walking in the Wilderness includes a quote from an Upper Room author, a scripture reading, a reflection and prayer from me, and a word to carry in one’s heart through the day. As I tear apart the pages of the book, different elements speak to me and arrange themselves on a page.

I offer to you some of these pages. May the Holy One guide you through these days.

| Purchase the book. | Join the eCourse with a 50% discount. |

Walking in the Wilderness

More and more in these days of social, political, religious, and spiritual upheaval, I find myself feeling that I have entered an era of exile, wilderness. … I’m not sure exactly when we arrived here. It might have been around the time that the 24/7 news cycle really got going. … Or when our earth began to groan and we could no longer ignore the effects of climate change. … Or when the global crises of rampant xenophobia and overt racism made us cry out. Or when the pandemic arrived.
-From the introduction to Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent. Print book or eCourse.

It was over a year ago that I turned in the manuscript for Walking in the Wilderness. I had no idea that by the time Lent 2021 arrived, we would be walking through such a perilous desert.

The path we are traveling is lonely, difficult, heartbreaking. We do not know from day to day what new challenges or disasters that we will hear on the news or confront in our lives. So many of us are stretched to the limit, barely able to keep up with life. And, yet, like the Hebrew people wandering in the wilderness, when we look up, we see that we are not alone. We are a community stuck in the desert together. And the Holy One is traveling with us. Watch for the signs of God’s guidance — the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Listen for God’s presence in a the quiet of the evening, in a scripture verse or song that brings you to tears, in the voice of a stranger or the laugh of a child. Remember and remind yourself each day that you are God’s beloved. And you are not alone.

I invite you to travel with me through the days of Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 17. Gather a group of soul friends and study the book together. Or join us in an online course.

God makes a way for us through the desert. We are beloved. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God during Lent: Print book or eCourse.