The Spiritual Practice of Giving – Prayerful Tuesday

Being, A Light  In The Darkness

Being, A Light
In The Darkness

I am one of many people who do not look forward to Thanksgiving or Christmas.  To me this time of the year represents the loss of way to many people I have cared about.  So I usually don’t do much celebration and what I do is forced and tiring.  Instead of celebrating the way most people do I have always used this time of year for reflection and giving to those in need.

All year round I practice the Spiritual Practice of giving, donating to those who are in need, but at this time of the year it takes on new meaning and helps with the depression I get every year. I practice this in many different ways; collecting food for the Food Bank, going through my closet and donating clothes I haven’t worn all year to Goodwill or the Salvation army, volunteer at a shelter, gather up grocery bags of food that includes dog food, blankets, caps, gloves and socks and hand them out to the homeless I encounter on the street. All of my giving is anonymous with no concern for what the gift is used for or any expectation of being repaid.  And, while I know my small efforts won’t change much doing something for someone else helps me remember how good my life is and that despite feeling depressed I actually have a life worth sharing.

This week’s Spiritual Practice is the Practice of Giving, of sharing from your abundance without strings attached, just giving out of the love you have of God, Christ, Holy Spirit, and all of humanity.  I would also like to recommend that this Spiritual Practice of Giving extend through the New Year.  Do something each week where you give to those who need it in some way; the food bank, shelters, or someone on the street.  Even if all you give is a welcome and a smile that acknowledges the humanity of all people that is more than some people will get all year.

May you find new ways to share your compassion for those in need, giving out of your abundant life to ensure others will have life.

Ruth Jewell, ©November 18, 2014

Visio Divina, a prayer – Prayerful Tuesday

sodiers in mist

Today is Veterans Day and I would like us to practice Visio Divina using the above pictures by David Bowie of the United Kingdom of Soldiers in the mist that touched me deeply.  Take a few moments to study the picture, breathing deeply and begin your Divine Reading. Think of Visio Divina like this–putting on God-glasses to see how an image illuminates Christ for you.

  1. Study the picture slowly, taking a first glance noting the colors or lack of color, people, places and things.  Remain with the image for one to two minutes. If you would like, jot down a few words about the image.
  2. Take a second, deeper, look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?
  3.  Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Offer that prayer to God.
  4. Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.

I offer the poem below as a testament to what I “heard and saw” within the photo and my heart; and as an offering to all who have served, fought, and died in conflicts across time and the globe.  Peace be unto all

a prayer

They walk
into the smoke
filled
mist

The wounded,
the dead,
the lost,
walking to their destiny

They fought
they gave their all
for love
of wife and child
of Parent and sibling

The mist is filled with voices
well done,
thank you,
I love you
I miss you

Each voice a prayer
to send them on their way
to let them know
they are not forgotten
they are loved
that all is OK
despite they suffering
despite their sacrifice

Poppy’s held
music plays
hearts send love
no you are not forgotten
you are always with us
in our hearts
in our souls
in the lives you died to protect
go to your rest
knowing we are
grateful for
the love you gave
the life you gave

We who remain
are blessed by
You who walk
yesterday, today and tomorrow
it is not good-by
it is only until we meet again

Ruth Jewell, ©November 11, 2014

Morning Prayer

The Broken Loaf

The Broken Loaf

Communion

Blessing

Holy Presence,
on a day of sharing,
a day of remembering,
a day of covenantal renewal
we ask your blessing on this feast we are to share.

A cup to drink, bread to eat,
the meal you have prepared.
We accept your invitation
to feast
to welcome
all who travel with us. .  . .

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Gratitude for a meal shared
and consumed in love.
We leave your table full,
blessed,
ready to work in the field,
arms bared,
heart full,
outward we go.

No barns necessary
for the bounty we have collected,
all shared,
poor,
rich alike.
With thanks we go forth,
we are enough,
we have enough,
with prayers
we will work
until all have enough.

Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©November 9, 2014

Morning Prayer

Let The Light Shine

Let The Light Shine

 

Let those whose hearts are chained with hate, fear and greed hear the call of love, courage and generosity. Let the light break the chain of hate for those whose are different, the chain of fear of having a point of view challenged, the chain of greed that locks all out of the heart and feeds hate and fear. Let the light shine and hearts open.    Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©November 7, 2014

Visio Divina – Life’s Entrances – Prayerful Tuesday

Entryway to . . .

Entryway to . . .

God has many ways to speak to us, through relationships, our experience, what we read and in the images we see every day.  Visio Divina, Latin for divine seeing, is praying with an image and listening for what God may say to us through that image.

  1. The above image is an entry, a rather nice entry but just an entrance to some place. Spend 2 or 3 minutes just gazing at the image. Does the picture raise any memories, good or bad? Does it look familiar to someplace you’ve been? Would you like to walk down this hallway? Jot down any words that come to you.
  2. Look deeper into the image is there movement, or do you see artwork? From this perspective where might you believe this entryway leads?  What lies at the end of the hallway? Who might you meet? Who would you like to see as you round the corner?
  3. Respond to the image in prayer. Does the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you like to offer a prayer of thanksgiving or intercession?  Is there someone who needs your forgiveness, or you need there’s waiting for you? Offer a silent prayer offering your sorrow, or giving your forgiveness.  Let God carry your hearts message.
  4. Sit quietly and find your quiet center. Breathe deeply; relax your shoulders, arms and legs.  Rest in this still moment and let God pray in you; remember God prays beyond words, in sighs and warming of the heart.

As you return to the present, let the prayers go with you throughout your day.

Peace and Blessings

Ruth Jewell, ©November 4, 2014

Shadows – All Hallows Eve, and All Saints Day

Do you ever wonder what happens to shadows?  I do, sometimes.  I mean where do they go when the sun goes away?  I have lots of shadows that follow me.  I know they are there even though it’s dark and I can’t see them.  It’s like the monsters under the bed. I know they are there even if I shine a light, I know, you see they skitter into the dark corners where the light never goes.

All Hallows Eve is the beginning of the time of year I have the most difficulty with.  These last two months of the year are thin times when memories and shadows come out of the woodwork of my mind. Yes I have shadows and whether good or bad they are there, a part of me, that follows me wherever I go, whatever I do. And I see more shadows every year and they make me sad for what is gone and what I will never see again.

Dad, 18 years old

Dad, 18 years old

There is the shadow that is my father, once tall and strong He carried my on his shoulders and let me snuggle with him in church, and showed me the beauty of the stars and the light show that is the Aurora Borealis. Dad was the one who said “Ruth, you can accomplish whatever you want all you have to do is dream and then go for it.”  He encouraged me, me his scarred and damaged child, to ride horses, plow a field, drive a farm truck when I was twelve, and hold puppies and kittens in arms with all the love I could give.  He taught me to count by having me feed weanling calves, and gave me a bull calf as pet.  In his eyes I could do anything and I could. Even when Dad became ill, and weak, I could still see his strong shadow standing beside him.  At his death his shadow faded into the wind and while wisps of him cling to my memory he has become a distant shadow.

Mom, 18 years old

Mom, 18 years old

Then there is the shadow of my mother.  A lion hearted woman, who fought for me with ever fiber of her being.  This was the woman who fearlessly took on the school board to make sure that I, her oldest daughter, would enter school at age 6. You see I had been badly injured the previous June and was still recovering and the school didn’t want to “deal” with a “disabled” child.  But I started school on time, all because my Mom had the heart of a lioness and you didn’t mess with Mama Lion.

The shadows have followed me, are following me, wherever I go as I travel this path that leads to whatever life will give me. Some are old friends, some not so friendly, but they are mine just the same.  Whenever I turn around I see them jump into those corners.  I see just a hint of them, small smudges of dark, and gray.  For many years I was afraid of the dark, the shadows that lurk there, but, not anymore.  Today I look for them as reminders of days past, friends cherished and lost, puppy hugs and kitten kisses.

Mom and Pippin, 1988

Mom and Pippin, 1988

Today I see them for what they are, memories, shadows that cannot hurt me unless I let them.  I no longer let the shadows rule over me, rather I let them watch as I face the life I have chosen and do what I feel to be right.  I am learning not to let them make me feel guilty for long ago actions that I cannot change and from which I learned much.  I will let the Shadows stay in the dark and I will light a candle to chase them into the corners. Jesus said no one hides their light under a bushel and He’s right.  To hide my light is to let the shadows rule and I’d rather I placed my light in the open to show me the way to go and to keep the dark, the shadows at bay.

Ruth Jewell, ©October 31, 2014

The Spiritual Gift of Slowing Down – Prayerful Tuesday

tree of life labyrinth

 

Last Friday I had foot surgery to correct arthritis damage to two toes.  I have had day surgeries before and in general they go well, just as this one did. But as I waited to be taken in to surgery I began to think of the consequences of my doing this. The benefits are easy to name, the primary ones are, being able to wear my shoes comfortably again and being able to walk without pain in my feet.  But there are also consequences and benefits I hadn’t considered.

For example, I wasn’t going to make an InterPlay group on Saturday that I really wanted to attend, and I wouldn’t be able to make it to church on Sunday.  In fact not until next Thursday will I be able to leave the house.

In addition to being stuck in the house my foot hurts, a lot, and because I can’t take the more popular pain killers, I have a pain medicine that, while it works well, has some drawbacks like extreme dizziness and fatigue. However, I have begun to see some real benefits, other than walking, that I hadn’t taken into consideration.

First of all I have to slow down, something I don’t often do, and think if what I want to do is really important and necessary.  I have been surprised at how much I do during the day that really is busy work. Simply letting go of those fussy details has been a great relief and I think I am going to continue with that. The things I am able to do right now have real importance, mean something to me, and are getting done better and with less effort.

I also have to say “no” to extra tasks when I am asked for “help.” Setting of boundaries has always been complicated for me.  I never want to “offend” anyone and so often take on tasks that I know I don’t have the time to do nor the energy and strength to do them. Saying no is one of the hardest things I am trying to learn.  I overextend myself all the time all because I can’t set boundaries and tell someone “no, not today.”

There are benefits of saying no such as more the time for meditation, and pausing to take the time for myself.  I don’t mean a short meditation I mean sitting down, which is all I can do anyway right now, for a couple of hours and meditating over a passage of scripture, or something I’ve just read.  Instead of worrying about what I can’t do I have been rediscovering the joy of what I can do in the moment, the return of silence and quiet peace.  Holding Suzie, my Chihuahua, in my lap I have been reconnecting with the Divine in art, literature and music and letting all of it wash over me and renew me.

I have also relearned the joy of receiving the generosity from others.  From hospital staff, to friends, to family, especially my beloved husband John, I have been graced with an amazing amount of love and care. These lovely people have helped me slow down and have given me the space to be right here, right now without feeling guilty.

I am grateful that I am not seriously handicapped or so ill I am unable to learn from this slow time. I am learning to accept with joy the gifts others give me and not feel embarrassed or feel I don’t deserve such grace. I know at some point I will grow impatient with being unable to do exactly what I want, but right now I am grateful for this time of rest and recovery.

Now I know I am not the only one out there who has difficulty in accepting gifts. Therefore, I offer this spiritual practice of saying “thank you” for the gifts you receive this week.  Simply say thank you, don’t elaborate, just accept.  Allow someone to do something for you, or do something for someone else and receive their gratitude with grace.  Recognize the joy of being in the moment and offer a thank you.  Offer your gratitude to the Holy for this time, this place, the people, creation that is the now.  Let the gifts of others to you renew your spirit and let the grace shine out from your heart to those around you.

May your week be filled with joy of gifts unforeseen, and may they bring you peace.

Ruth Jewell, ©October, 28, 2014

Pray Everywhere, Anytime

Prayer, A Light In The Darkness

Prayer, A Light In The Darkness

16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. –                                  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, (NRSV)

To pray always, without ceasing, seems like an impossible task.  Seeing God in every thing, every action we do, every moment of our lives opens doors of our hearts, and the Spirit of God moves in.  We don’t become Pollyanna’s seeing only the good in people.  We see the suffering and trials of those around us and in seeing God in their faces we open our hearts and let God’s compassion move us to be the arms and legs, the body, of the Holy Spirit.  We are motivated to give the solace, love, support to those who are in need just as Jesus did on the streets and fields of Judea.

The suffering of our communities, nation and world overwhelms, frightens us and as the troubles increase exponentially we ask does prayer really do any good. Offering a prayer for someone walking in the dark places of life, does let them know they aren’t alone, that someone, somewhere is keeping them in their hearts.  But even more important is the prayer that motivates us to be the Christ on the street, to offer food, and help find shelter.  To care for the sick and injured in even small ways that often are not seen in the mad rush to send massive aid.  In fact many times it is the small things we do that mean the most to the recipients.  Each act is an act of prayer, it is an offering, it is remembering to feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit the incarcerated, and give mercy to the stranger, which all God and Jesus asked us to do.

What does prayer do for us who offer the prayers, perform the actions of prayer?  Well prayer draws us r into the arms of God.  Prayer opens our hearts to the love God and our ears to the words of God calling us to be the Beings we are meant to be.  Below is a lovely video by Lisa Maria Cameron (www.whisperingstars.com ©2007)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQTvt7MC5Q0

As you listen to song and watch the pictures pass before you.  Let your hearts turn to prayer, where ever you are, you don’t even have stop what you are doing and offer a prayer for what lies closest in heart.  Listen; listen carefully in a moment of silence, and throughout your day, for words of encouragement from God.  Look into the faces of each person you meet and see the face of God.  Each of you, all of you, no matter what you do, or have done, is beloved by God.  Let your eyes be opened to love that shines in the eyes of each other, and ears be opened to the voice of God in the voice of the next person you meet.

May the peace of God be with you, now and forever more.

Ruth Jewell, ©October 20, 2014

‘Tis the Season to Duck and Cover

a quiet walk:

Some great advice for the quickly advancing holiday season

Originally posted on Irreverent Rev:

holy days-page-001 (1)

A Confusion of Holy Day Greetings

I’m bracing myself for the inevitable onslaught. I know it’s coming, just as it does every year. It begins the moment the first person utters those two simple, little words: “Happy Holidays!”

And then the sparks fly.

View original 334 more words

Gratitude for Home – Prayerful Tuesday

The From My Deck

The View From My Deck

 

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

I returned home yesterday from a week of traveling.  John and I joked that we could now give recommendations for 4 hotels and 4 different beds if anyone wanted such a thing.  It is not that we didn’t have fun,  the Turner Lecture’s in Yakima was very informative, with lots of insight and just plain good conversation, we loved visiting the Maryhill Museum and had a delightful time at the Maryhill winery (if you like winery’s this is one not to miss).  And, I couldn’t ask for a better end to the trip than the wedding of my beloved cousin Sally to the love of her life, Maggie.  However, I agree with Lin Yutang, home is best for a good rest.

When we returned home we were greeted with barks of joy and two wiggly furry bodies, screeches of mom and dad are home from two excited parrots and the inviting comfort of our own bed.  I am grateful for the comfort of my own bed, the steamy warmth of my own shower, and the cozy comfort of husband and dogs on the couch.  But most of all I am grateful for a silence that feeds a soul drained of its energy by activity and the presence of others who, while I love them all, are a bit needy.  Here at home I am grateful for being alone, but not lonely, for silence that speaks to me, and for rest that feeds me.

So today I am asking you to spend time each day in the coming week with, at least, one gratitude for home.  Every day offer up a prayer of gratitude for something about your home that you are grateful for and let your heart soar with thankfulness for that space you call home.

May your journeys always be so eventful that you are grateful for the return home.

Many Blessings

Ruth Jewell, ©October 14, 2014