Join Me in an Online Advent Retreat

Fall in Nashville
Fall in Nashville (Scarritt-Bennett Center)

Help spread the word!

The Uncluttered Heart Online Retreat, Nov. 28, 2010 – Jan. 6, 2011
Cost: $40 – includes digital book, small group facilitation, online software

| Sign Up for the Retreat |

This online retreat is co-sponsored by The Upper Room and 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.

| Sign Up for the Retreat |


Will I need a book for the retreat?

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.


What If?

Collage of Busyness
Collage of Busyness

What if . . .

. . . I meditated as often as I checked my email?

. . . I talked with God as regularly as I posted a new Facebook status?

. . . My fingers longed to touch prayer beads instead of an iPhone?

. . . There was space in my heart, my soul, my spirit, that I did not try to fill?

It is in vain that you rise up early

and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

for [God] gives sleep to [the] beloved.

Psalm 127:2, NRSV

And so I post this . . . image, thoughts, and confession . . . on my blog, on Facebook, on Twitter. How strange. (Even crazy?)  God, help me disconnect … and reconnect with you. Amen.

Italian Lessons

Bells in Italy
Bells in Italy

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?

Learn More about Praying the Hours

Prayer Resouces

Spring time at Radnor Lake
Spring time at Radnor Lake

Some resources from my recent workshop on Prayer in Daily Life, United Methodist Womens Assembly, St. Louis, MO.


I hope you’ll consider joining me in July at SOULfeast, Lake Junaluska, NC. Learn more …

Upper Room Prayer Center

The Prayer Center is a resource for you — a place where you can request prayer and also volunteer to pray for others. I hope you’ll stop by and consider becoming a prayer volunteer. Stop by.


The Uncluttered Heart: Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas
by Beth A. Richardson

Child of the Light: Walking through Advent and Christmas by Beth A. Richardson

The Upper Room Worshipbook

Creating a Life with God by Daniel Wolpert

Leading a Life with God by Daniel Wolpert

UMW – God’s Rainbow

United Methodist Women worship in the Dome
United Methodist Women worship in the Dome

Today I taught two sessions at the United Methodist Women’s assembly — on Prayer in Our Daily Lives. There are thousands of women here in St. Louis! I have seen the women from around the world. The beauty of God’s creation showing through these beautiful people.

Today I saw …

  • Women — young and old.
  • Women standing on the corner protesting the wall in Gaza and women walking across the street wearing hats that looked like Hershey’s Kisses.
  • Women in heels, flip flops, and sensible shoes.
  • Women in blue jeans, in the garb of Fiji and in African dress.
  • Women of every color and hue, age and size …

All of us, sisters in faith. Thanks be to God for the opportunity to be in this place at this time. A holy place full of powerful mothers, sisters, and daughters of the faith.

We All See the Same Moon

We all see the same moon
We all see the same moon

The homeless men I cooked for last night …

The people in Haiti …

A small child full of wonder …

Jesus, Abraham, Mohammad, Buddha …

My dad, suffering from Alzheimer’s …

We all walk the the same earth, breathe the same air,

Drink the same water, feel the same hunger.

When others mourn, we all suffer.

We all see the same moon.

God, give us hearts of compassion. Amen.

Support Haiti

United Methodist Committee on Relief

Keep Backing Up

Advent Workshop, photo by Doug Hagler
Advent Workshop, photo by Doug Hagler

I’ve been “doing Advent” for several weeks — preaching, teaching, answering emails, posting comments on the website, leading workshops and Sunday school. Trying to unclutter my heart, despite having a bit too much to do.

The day I led an Advent retreat for colleagues at the General Board of Discipleship, I was sitting up front while my boss was introducing me. A photographer friend came up beside me and I moved back so she would have a better angle for her picture of my boss. In a few seconds, she moved. I moved back a bit farther.  She moved again, and I moved back a few more inches. Finally, I looked at her and she mouthed to me, “I’m trying to get a picture of YOU.” We both laughed. I stopped moving.

When I shared the story with a good friend of mine, she said, “I hope you are still backing up ten years from now.” And I think that was the perfect metaphor for the writer, the servant, the person I want to be. In ten years — or twenty years — I hope I’m still backing up.

(Join me for the rest of Advent and Christmas at The Uncluttered Heart.)