During the past few days, I realized that my normal prayer practices were not working very well. When I went into meditation or silence, my brain filled up with anxiety. I’ve realized that I need a different set of practices in this time of crisis. Here are some practices that seem to be working for me. (And I’d like to know — what practices are working for you these days? -Please let me know!)
Bring in Spring. Fresh flowers from the yard brought inside.
Share the light. I keep a candle burning when I’m awake.
Meditate with others. My Headspace meditation app invites me to meditate with others beginning every 1/2 hour.
Daily prayer. Upper room colleagues are leading morning prayer each day at 11:00 a.m. (Central Time). We are using Facebook Live. Like our Upper Room Facebook page and tune in to pray with us.
Pray for others. I’m spending a little bit of time each day praying for others on The Upper Room Prayer Wall.
How to Pray for Others on The Upper Room Prayer Wall.
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.
We are all complex. I wish I were made of just one self — consistent, wise and loving — a self I should never wish to get rid of at any time or place, which would move graciously through my autobiography ‘trailing clouds of glory.’ … It is no use trying to reconcile the multitude of egos that compose me. I cannot fathom them myself. I ask myself questions that I cannot answer. I find my heart aching when I expected to find it rejoicing; tears flow from my eyes when my lips were formed to smile. I preach love … and peace, but I am conscious of antagonisms, and lo! I find myself brandishing a sword and making ready for battle.
I’ll be worship leader at an upcoming 5-day contemplative retreat on the theme of “God’s Welcome.” I hope you’ll join us as we explore the crucial theme of hospitality.
Here are the specifics:
God’s Welcome: A 5-Day Contemplative Retreat Date: October 16-21, 2016 Faculty: The Right Reverend Kee Sloan (Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama) and Dr. Amy Oden (Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University) Location: Camp McDowell, Nauvoo, AL Cost: $750 (room, board and tuition)
God’s Welcome is sponsored by the North Alabama and Alabama-West Florida Conferences of The United Methodist Church, The Academy for Spiritual Formation, and The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.
Join me in May at a retreat — a 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation — on the topic of the Psalms. I’ll be serving as the worship leader. For more information or to register, click here.
Psalms for Life: Praying Alone and Praying Together.
May 4-9, 2015
Camp Sumatanga, Alabama
Faculty: Roberta Bondi and Don Saliers
Roberta will focus on the many ways the Psalms can be used as a tool for Christian formation and prayer. For centuries, people have turned to the Psalms for solace, guidance, renewal, celebration and so much more. The 150 Psalms reflect a wide range of experience and expression. Roberta will guide the participants into a greater understanding of the Psalms and how to use the prayerbook of our forbearers to deepen our prayer life and our walk with God.
Don will focus on the use of the Psalms in corporate settings including worship and small groups. The Psalms are both personal expression and communal formation; Don’s lectures and worship leadership will explore this relationship in a number of ways, and invite us to bring our own lives and communities of care and ministry to the Psalms throughout the week.
An Amazing Opportunity!
I can’t say how awesome it will be! With Roberta and Don teaching us in the model of the Academy for Spiritual Formation. Incredible lectures, inspiring worship, times of silence and times of fellowship. All in a beautiful setting! I hope you will consider joining us for this amazing week!
The last several of summers, I’ve had the chance to help with SOULfeast, the Upper Room’s summer spiritual formation retreat. I’ll be there again this summer — July 13-17 at Lake Junaluska, NC. I’ll be leading worship and will be doing a workshop on photography. I hope you’ll consider joining me there.
Roberta Bondi, author, professor, and theologian, will serve as the Keynote Speaker for the week, and preachers, Rob Fuquay, Tim Bias, Candace Lewis, and Dana Trent, will lead us in spiritually rich worship each night.
Our theme for the week is “Living Psalms” — how the Psalms apply to our daily lives. There is still time to register and join us for this special event. Check it out.
This online retreat is co-sponsored by The Upper Room and BeADisciple.com. A gracious group of volunteer facilitators join me in leading the retreat. These facilitators are church leaders from all over the country. Both clergy and lay, they bring their love of Advent and Christmas, as well as open, compassionate hearts. I’m looking forward to sharing the season with them and with all those who sign up for the retreat.
Here are our facilitators:
Mark Babb — Jackson MI
Ginger Bennett — Biloxi, MI
Suzanne Elliott — Chambersburg, PA
Scott Endress — Houston, TX
Michael Henderson — Cayce, SC
Carol Kleber — Wantagh, NY
Lisa McGehee — Richmond, VA
Marcia Middleton — Albany, NY
Dawna Petersen — Bloomington, IN
Ingrid Quigley — San Jose, CA
Pam Wiggins — Porter, TX
Lorenza Williams, Jr. — Philadelphia, PA
Participants will receive daily encouragement and receive support from others on the journey. The class begins on November 28, 2010, the first Sunday of Advent, and continues until Epiphany, January 6, 2011. Participants should plan to login daily at a time of day which is convenient to their own schedules. A missed day may be made up the next, but the discipline of daily study will be valuable to the journey through Advent.
You won’t need a book — the book’s content is included in the retreat.
What if I did The Uncluttered Heart last year?
It’s up to you — the retreat may be just what you need for this year. The online retreat contains similar material you received last year, but by participating in the retreat, you’ll have the chance to be a part of a small group. If you long to be a part of a group and one is not available to you, then you may want to prayerfully consider joining the retreat.
What do I need in order to participate in the retreat?
A computer with an internet connection that you can access every day. (You’re not alone — technical assistance is available.)
What if the retreat is not for me?
No worries — the retreat may not be for everyone. I hope you will participate in The Uncluttered Heart by using the book and The Uncluttered Heart website. I’ll be posting daily content and sending text messages to remind you to connect with God throughout the days of Advent and Christmas.
Please let me know if you have other questions. I’m looking forward to spending Advent with you.
I loved the church bells in Italy. They reminded me of the Christian tradition of praying the hours. In a tiny village where we stayed, the bells sounded every hour between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. I didn’t need to wear a watch — after a short time, I relaxed into the comfortable rhythm of daily village life. As I heard the bells throughout the day they brought me back to the present moment — of waking, eating, resting, praying, praising, reflecting, preparing for sleep.
The 7:00 a.m. Bells
The village followed the rhythm of these hours. Before 7:00 a.m., the only sounds I could hear were the waves and the swallows. After 7:00, the people of the village began to move around — sweeping the sidewalks, opening up the cappuccino shops, the baker loading the station wagon with warm brioche (sweet pastries) to drive to the nearby towns. The children started their hikes up the hill to the school. Listen to the 7:00 a.m. bells:
The 5:00 p.m. bells
The village quieted down for a siesta around 2:00 p.m.. Most all of the restaurants and stores closed for a 3-hour rest. During those hours, the bells continued to ring, but quieter. (I settled down for a nap.) Around 4:00 p.m., the men of the village gathered in the square to play cards.
Then at 5:00 p.m. the siesta time came to an end with rousing peal from the bells. By 7:00 p.m., restaurants opened back up to serve dinner. Here is a recording of the 5:00 p.m. bells:
I miss the bells of Italy and their reminders to stay in the present. What are the reminders that bring you back from the future or the past? What helps you stay in the present moment?