Thirty Years

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Thirty years ago today I joined the staff of The Upper Room as assistant editor of Alive Now magazine. I was awarded the generous, extravagant, unheard-of salary of $15,000 per year, after which I went out and bought a car.

How can I adequately express my gratitude for these years of formation, of shaping and nurturing my being?

To my Saints, living and passed on to the eternal, I give great thanks. To Mary Ruth, John, Rueben, Hoyt, Laura, Moses, Joyce, Henri, Dorothy, Julian, Hildegard, Dietrich, and so many more. To Deen, Stephen, Marjorie, Michael, Janice, Judy, Bill, Don, Jerry, Trevor, Vance, Flora, and too many to name.

For retreats and prayer times. For brainstorming sessions and staff training. For laughter and tears. For parties and chapel services. For writing and editing and copy sessions. For print resources and for digital expressions. For immersion in creativity, undergirding our passion to help people grow in their relationships with God.

I see myself 30 years ago, and then I look at myself today. I write and talk and think — and don’t remember how I learned the things I know. I know many ways to prayer. I know the wisdom of Christian mystics. I know the ever-increasing hungers for sacred ways of living. I have stayed in this place and been gifted with a culture that values and embraces and teaches these things.

This thirty years — my post-graduate work in Christian spirituality. My Ph.D. in the Christian Life. My apprenticeship in growing closer to God.

In the words of Dag Hammarskj√∂ld: “For all that has been — Thanks. For all that will be — Yes.”

The Uncluttered Heart

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Blessings to you, friends, as we have begun another Advent season. In case you are looking for The Uncluttered Heart, I wanted to direct you to its new home.

I am grateful for the chance to share the Advent journey with you through The Uncluttered Heart.

Update: To sign up to receive The Uncluttered Heart via email, choose: “Get updates about My Quiet Spaces” on the My Quiet Spaces email list.

Blessings and Love,
Beth

Slogging through Grief

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Yesterday I sent the last issue of Alive Now to the production department. Its publication date is March/April 2017. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proofreading, getting final sign-offs, sending corrections to the designer. Each task has brought me one step closer to the end of this publication that has been like a dear friend and mentor to me.

I’m grieving, heart-sick. In this one year, I’ve closed two beloved publications: Weavings and Alive Now. These two resources have been a part of my life for over 30 years. It’s like losing best friends. Alive Now was the place of my first published writing. In the Alive Now office under the care of Mary Ruth Coffman, I fell in love with words, with editing, with the spiritual life. Mary Ruth, John Mogabgab (editor of Weavings), and many others mentored and guided me on this path, setting the course of my career as an editor, writer, leader, mystic.

I will be a part of shaping what is next for The Upper Room as we seek to serve these audiences in new ways. But right now, I’m too heart-sick to think about that. I guess it’s like trying to replace a beloved pet with a new puppy or kitten. I’m just not finished with the grieving part.

Many of you are also grieving the closing of these two publications. I’ve been hearing from you. I have a request: If you have been touched by one or both of these publications, please help us as we discern the future.

  1. Fill out a survey for Alive Now and/or Weavings, telling us a bit about yourself and your needs.
  2. Join our email list (at the links above) so that we can keep in touch and we can let you know when we have new resources available.
  3. Tell us your stories about Alive Now and Weavings — how we met and how you have used the publication.

Thank you for being a part of our journey. Please help us share the word about our research and continue to pray for us as we develop new resources for those who are hungry for a sacred way of living.

Seeds of Hope

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It’s not fair of me
To tell you (or anyone)
How to feel.
We all must find our own ways
Through these days.

But let me share that
This morning,
Seeds of hope were planted in me.

In The Upper Room chapel
Where a Shawnee man
(Talk about the long view)
Called me back to the Circle
That begins and ends with the Creator.
The Circle that always contains hope.

In a reception with six people
From a L’Arche community
Where I witnessed selfless love,
Where I sensed a larger perspective
Than the tunnel vision in my brain,
And where I saw God’s beloved gifts.
There I met one who told me
What day of the week I was born on
When I shared with him my date of birth.

May these seeds of hope be nurtured,
Taking hold, sprouting, and growing.

Shawnee Traveling Song

I am walking upon the earth
with people who love me
on the circle of Creator
I will always be home
I will always be loved.
I will be with Creator.

– Fred A. Shaw / Neeake
© 1987 Fred Shaw / Neeake, Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band

Sunrise

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I watch the sky this morning
Wondering what the sunrise will bring.
A hint of pink
And then, gone.
Oh, so you will tease me
This day.

From the kitchen window
I see a splash of color.
Rosy clouds floating beyond the trees.
Your beauty is such a mystery to me.

In the car, on the way to work,
I have nearly forgotten you.
And then I see in my rearview mirror
A glow, a brilliant gold ball
Shining through clouds above the horizon.
Ahead of me, in the west, the pink returns
And then clouds fill with dazzling white light.

Sunrise, you remind me
That each new day is a mystery, a gift.
May I never forget to see you.
May I never forget to watch for you
With wondering, awestruck eyes.

God’s Welcome

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Last week we gathered
As United Methodists,
As Episcopalians,
As clergy and lay,
As people with different opinions
On the politics of the day,
And we considered “God’s welcome.”

We listened and laughed,
Prayed and praised,
Wondered and worshiped,
Sat in silence together.

We welcomed guests
From Bolivia.
Our words translated
From English to Spanish,
From Spanish to English.
We communicated with smiles,
With gestures,
With love.

We broke bread together
Around tables in the dining hall
And in the beauty of St. Francis Chapel.
One loaf, one cup, one body of Christ.

We talked and listened and wrestled
About difficult things.
About topics
That often leave us divided, broken.
Yet we remained one people
Even in diversity.

Willing to admit
“I might be wrong.”
“You might be wrong.”
“It’s ok to think or believe differently.”
We are still one body,
Welcomed with love
Into the heart of God.

Reflections on a rich week at a 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation. The topic, “God’s Welcome.” The location, Camp McDowell, the camp of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. The Faculty: Amy Oden and Kee Sloan. We gathered and were richly blessed.