Uncluttered Heart Daily Posts


For those of you looking for The Uncluttered Heart … The emails and texts are no longer available. But the content is here. Blessings on your Advent season! – Beth P.S. The book is available in print, EPub, and Kindle formats.

Week One of Advent
First Sunday of Advent – Read reflection.
Monday, Advent Week One – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Advent Week One – Read reflection.
Wednesday, Advent Week One – Read reflection.
Thursday, Advent Week One – Read reflection.
Friday, Advent Week One – Read reflection.
Saturday, Advent Week One – Read reflection.

Week Two of Advent
Sunday, Advent Week Two – Read reflection.
Monday, Advent Week Two – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Advent Week Two – Read reflection.
Wednesday, Advent Week Two – Read reflection.
Thursday, Advent Week Two – Read reflection.
Friday, Advent Week Two – Read reflection.
Saturday, Advent Week Two – Read reflection.

Week Three of Advent
Sunday, Advent Week Three – Read reflection.
Monday, Advent Week Three – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Advent Week Three – Read reflection.
Wednesday, Advent Week Three – Read reflection.
Thursday, Advent Week Three – Read reflection.
Friday, Advent Week Three – Read reflection.
Saturday, Advent Week Three – Read reflection.

Week Four of Advent
Sunday, Advent Week Four – Read reflection.
Monday, Advent Week Four – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Advent Week Four – Read reflection.
Wednesday, Advent Week Four – Read reflection.
Thursday, Advent Week Four – Read reflection.
Friday, Advent Week Four – Read reflection.
Christmas Eve – Read reflection.
Christmas Day – Read reflection.

2nd Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
3rd Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
4th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
5th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
6th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
7th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
8th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
9th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
10th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
11th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.
12th Day of Christmas – Read reflection.

Don Beisswenger – Presente

Since he passed away on Monday, I’ve been thinking with gratitude about the many ways that Don Beisswenger shaped my life. I moved to Tennessee the fall of 1979 after having grown up in my dad’s churches in Oklahoma. Edgehill was the first church I actually chose to join on my own. Don and Joyce Beisswenger were in that church and I’m blessed for it.

I was a disillusioned, impassioned young adult wanting to change the world. I attended a program at Don and Joyce’s house and learned about “liberation theology.” “There is hope for the church,” I thought, and ended up at Vanderbilt Divinity School working on my M.Div. (I signed up for the course on Contemporary Theology and waited in vain for the unit on liberation theology to come along.)

I marched all over town protesting with activists like Don and Hogan Yancey, telling the story of the U.S. War in El Salvador and the martyring of Bishop Oscar Romero. I went to Washington, DC, slept in a church with activists from Jonah House, and stood with others to block the entrance to the Pentagon on the Feast of the Holy Innocents — commemorating the slaughter of the male Hebrew children by King Herod.

Don was in charge of Field Education while I was a Vanderbilt. I interned with social justice groups. And then, needing one more field education unit, I served for a summer with Alive Now Magazine at The Upper Room. I found my vocation during that summer of Field Education. Since I had figured out what I wanted to do — be an editor — I got tired of doing school work. One Sunday, Don mentioned to me, “Hey, Beth, Y’know, the faculty has approved your graduation, pending the completion of your incomplete. I went home from church and finished the paper that day.

But Don’s influence didn’t end there. It was about that time that he and Joyce bought the Cheatham County land that became Penuel Ridge Retreat Center. I count myself fortunate to have been included in the small group of 8-10 of us who walked the land and listened for God’s purpose for that place. I became a part of the “core team” who discerned that the land would become an interfaith place of solitude and retreat, rooted in social action.

For a number of years, then, I lived next door at the retreat center. Don and I built decks together, worked on projects like the construction of The Well, led and attended retreats, walked the trails, and stood around looking at the tractor when it wouldn’t start. (In fact, my mind’s eye sees him sitting on the tractor, that wry smile on his face.)

In 2004, Don served a six-month federal prison term at the age of 73 for his non-violent protest. His book, Locked Up: Letters and Papers of a Prisoner of Conscience was published by The Upper Room. (It’s on my goals, Don, but I still haven’t gotten arrested for a matter of conscience. I’ll keep working on that one.)

Don Beisswenger has joined the communion of saints. Thank you, my friend, for all the ways you influenced, changed, nurtured, and enriched my life. You are present in this world through all of us who were shaped by you.

Easter Blessing

Bless this day
When light returns,
Love astounds,
Life prevails.

Bless the grieving,
The lonely,
The hungry.
Hope is reborn.

Bless the young ones
And the old.
Bless the enemies
And those despised.

Bless this world,
Gripped by violence.
Peace returns.

God makes a way
Where there was no way.
Christ has risen.
Alleluia.

From my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings. Copyright © 2016 by Beth A. Richardson.

The Place of Our Brokenness

Here in this season of Lent, we are so aware of brokenness in our world, in society, in our relationships, in our selves. And that’s the amazing thing about God’s presence in the world. God transforms the brokenness that we all have … even Christ’s brokenness on the cross.

God, the Great Transformer, the Great Healer, weaves us back together so that the place of our wound, the place of our brokenness becomes the place of our greatest strength.

Watch Video.

Feast of the Holy Innocents

A few days ago I held a baby in my arms. I felt my heart shaped and molded into a vessel of love and compassion. I imagined the birth of the Holy Child, the softening of hardened hearts, the world transformed by Christ’s coming.

And then … I remembered the world in which we live: the homeless, the poor, the sick, the vulnerable ones who barely have enough to survive. I remembered those with power, whose hearts never seem to soften.

And today we observe The Feast of the Holy Innocents. When King Herod ordered the murder of all the children in Bethlehem so that he could hold on to his power.

When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much grieving.
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she did not want to be comforted,
because they were no more.
Matthew 2:16–18

I don’t know what to do with this story, with this world, with the situation in which we find ourselves. I seek wisdom and hope in the midst of it all; and I turn wise ones in various traditions (see the readings below). Where do you turn? What do you pray for? What are you reading?

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of [their] own heart?
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Gulag Archipelago

Rather than original sin, there’s original soft spot. The messy stuff that we see in ourselves and that we perceive in the world as violence and cruelty and fear is not the result of some basic badness but of the fact that we have such a tender, vulnerable, warm heart of bodhichitta [a felt need to replace others’ suffering with bliss], which we instinctively protect so that nothing will touch it.
– Pema Chödrön
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. When they force you to go one mile, go with them two. Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.”
-Jesus, Matthew 5:38-41, CEB

I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight… I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

Holy Eve

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:  to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

– Luke 2:8-11, NRSV

Blessings and love to all on this Holy Eve.

Our Strength, Our Hope

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art.
-Charles Wesley
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Jesus, Child of God, you are our strength, our hope, our comfort, and our consolation. You are, indeed, the hope of the world. Send your strength and healing to every broken place, every despondent heart.

From Child of the Light by Beth A. Richardson. © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books.

Photo: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland.

Blessed Is the One

If Jesus
Was entering
Nashville today
Would the crowds wave
Dogwood branches?

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
– Matthew 21:8-9

A Message from the Trees

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I walk outside
And look up at the tree
In my front yard.

Its branches, bare.
Leaves, long shed,
Were raked and carried
To the backyard months ago.

But I see buds growing in the branches,
Promising life that will return
In its season.

What message for me, for us,
In these months of fear and challenge?

That though we have lost
Hopes and dreams …
That though our plans,
Swept up,
Now lie in the bottom of dust bins …

We are alive, growing,
Dormant, but still grounded in earthy hope.

Step outside and look toward the sky.
Life and hope and promise
Are growing in hidden places,
Preparing to break forth
In beauty and strength.

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