There Is a Field

I’ve just returned from my second weekend intensive in spiritual director training with The Haden Institute. I’m grateful for time apart to learn, to be fed, to not be in charge of something, but, instead, to be fed spiritually.

There is a sacred space at the intensive that is just for creative expression and processing. I painted this piece in response to a Rumi quote that was shared in our morning meditation.

Out beyond the ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing there is a field. I will meet you there.
-Rumi

A Blessing for Those Who Wait

For those who wait
In despair,
In grief,
In sorrow.
You are comfort.
You are strength.

For those who wait
In the paths of storms,
In detention camps,
In hospice rooms.
You are comfort.
You are strength.

For those who wait
In tender hope,
In tear-streaked sadness,
In fearful anticipation.
You are comfort.
You are strength.

Bless, Loving Healer,
All those who wait.
You are comfort.
You are strength.

We drove over to Western North Carolina yesterday for a weekend retreat. Driving east were caravans of utility trucks getting into place to respond to the damage of Hurricane Florence. The retreat center where we are staying is filled with residents, employees, and families of employees from a retirement center in Charleston, South Carolina.

This day, I think of those throughout the world who are waiting — for the arrival of a storm, those watching the “drip, drip, drip” of chemotherapy. I pray for those who wait by the hospice bed of a loved one, for children and families in detention camps on our southern border, for families waiting for results of medical tests, for all who wait in fear and sadness and grief.

Prayer for the Pilgrims

I leave today for a retreat in Alabama, the first of eight weeks over the next two years. (This is the first session of a 2-Year Academy for Spiritual Formation, a program of The Upper Room.)

I will be leading daily prayer, one of my favorite things. Prayers upon waking and before sleeping. And a service of Eucharist before dinner.

We will be on this journey of faith, of hope, of drinking deeply of the gifts of the spirit, of the gifts of community, prayer, learning, and liturgy.

For all of us who travel, for those who labor to care for us on retreat, for all who tend the tasks at home so that we can be away. For all who long for retreat but do not have the resources to set apart time in their lives for such a journey. Bless all who are setting out on journeys of any kind throughout the world. Travel with each one. Amen.

Drink Deep

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
-Psalm 63:1, NRSV

Drink deep
with eyes
with ears
with nose
with mouth
with hands
with heart.

I sip coffee, dark and smooth with a hint of cinnamon.

The wrens scold me as they carry food to their young the bird box on the front porch.

I lie in the lawn chair and watch clouds form, transform, and disappear.

I stack a smooth river stone to the pile on top of the bridge over Cave Creek.

The river roars in the canyon below. Its sounds lift my spirits, my heart.

I walk to the river at dusk and watch the ouzel hopping from rock to rock, stopping to preening its feathers before roosting for the night.

I smell the cool, earthy moisture by the river and the hot dustiness in the kitchen.

Vivid memories inhabit me. I breath them in with gratitude. In this place, I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

Drink deep from the present moment. The living, healing Spirit lives here.

The Unwinding

How strange and wonderful that I can wake up in the hot, humid south and go to sleep in the cool mountains of Colorado.

Today is my first full day of seven here in this beautiful place.

I took two naps after lunch and then walked down by the river to see what was blooming and what I’ve missed in my two-year absence.

I stopped to visit with my favorite wildflower. The shooting star by the river was still there, yellowing and dying back so that it can bloom again next spring.

What comfort to find this place of stability in a world that is ever-changing and often feels out of control.

Now I need to unwind, to let go of the chatter, to be let myself be fully present to this time of rest.

Dear Doughnut Fairy

Dear Doughnut Fairy,

I don’t know who you are, but I wanted to thank you for this amazing gift you left for me this morning with the security guard.

The guard was so responsible. He did not eat the doughnut, but, instead, called me to come get it.

I am so grateful to know that Good Still Exists in this crazy world of ours. And yes, there ARE STILL Magical Doughnut Fairies spreading joy and doughnuts throughout the universe.

Yours, ever-so-gratefully,

Beth

Facing Loneliness

The writings of Henri Nouwen have been filling my meditation and challenging me to consider how we can spiritually survive our journey today.

“Our culture has become most sophisticated in the avoidance of pain, not only our physical pain but our emotional and mental pain as well. … When we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no television to watch or no record to play, and when we are left all alone by ourselves we are brought so close to the revelation of our basic human aloneness and are so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of loneliness that we will do anything to get busy again.”
-Henri J. M. Nouwen
Reaching Out (first published 1975)

Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love — unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.
-Henri Nouwen
With Open Hands (first published 1972)

When I put down my phone,
When I turn off the news,
When I take a break from the Netflix show I am binging,
When I try to get quiet inside,

My hands twitch towards my pocket or bag
As I try to find that smooth device that keeps me tethered to …

What is it I’m yearning to be tethered to:
Reality? Busyness? The avoidance of pain or fear?
What is it that I’m seeking to fill up the emptiness inside of me?

They say God created us with a God-shaped hole inside of us.
And then I put everything I can into that place
So that I don’t have to feel lonely or anxious or empty.

God is calling me to reclaim the disciplines that I have forgotten.
For me, they are sabbath, silence, and breathing.

What are the disciplines to which you’re being called?