Today, I went into the woods cool shadows covered me soft breezes kissed me my footsteps muffled by last year’s leaves I breathe deeply scents of leaf, violet, and damp earth surround me robin, finch, and woodpecker serenade me rabbit, doe, and fox walk beside me. I walked in the woods today creation sang her glory life in all her splendor surrounded me The Creator held me in her arms
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
You probably are thinking the heat has gotten to my brain, or maybe it’s the pain pills for my back pain. But, on one of the recent warm summer days I picked up a book of poetry and it opened up to one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost. So in all this heat we’ve been having here in the Northwest I thought this might make for a peaceful, cool meditation using either Lectio Divina with the poem or Visio Divina with the photograph, or do both.
Lectio Divina with Poetry, using poetry to hear God in the silence
Choose either a single verse or the whole poem portion you wish to focus your meditation on.
Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent, focus for a few moments on your breathing.
Read the chosen text through, slowly and gently. Listen to yourself read, let yourself to savor each word and phrase.
Read the text a second time. What words or phrases stick out for you? Remember God speaks to us in silence and in our listening. The words that pop out do so for a reason, pay attention to them.
Read the text a third time. Are there any other words that speak to you?
Sit now in silence, letting the words you have heard, speak to you and for you in your prayer, your conversation with God. What images, ideas, words spring forward? Or maybe all of them are present in mediation. Sit with those insights as you experience the presence of God. Give your insights to God. Do the insights give you new meaning or transformation of your actions, or prayer life?
Now rest in God’s arms. Let God’s presence give you comfort. Do you feel the pull to return to your meditations? Then begin again. If not close with a prayer of gratitude for the time you have spent in God’s presence and the insights you have received.
Visio Divina with a Photograph
Study the picture slowly, taking a first glance noting the colors, 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.
Take a second, deeper, look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the photo? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?
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 your thoughts as prayer to God.
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.
May the presence of the Holy Spirit blow through your heart cooling your spirit and giving you new strength.
For the last three weeks I have been in constant pain due to a pinched nerve in my back. This fussy nerve has been bothering me for a long time but I refused to listen to it. So now it is fighting back to get the attention it thinks it deserves. I have never been in so much pain before. It hurts to lie down, stand up and sit and that my friends are pretty much every possible position there is. But, I am not asking for sympathy, prayers yes, sympathy no because I got myself here by not listening to my body.
It is always easier to give someone else advice than to take that advice ourselves about taking care of the temple God has graced us with. Whether we are doing our busy lives or praying we often forget the clay vessel we are embodied with to the detriment of our health and well being both spiritually and physically.
I understand the forgetting the body when we are making a living, I certainly forgot. After all we are only trying to make a living, feed our family, keep a shelter over our heads and clothes on our backs. We don’t feed the body with good food rather we go for the quick easy meal of junk food, which is high in fat, calories and low in what we need to be healthy. We don’t get enough sleep because a job needs to be done and “I, just don’t have the time to rest until it’s finished.” Stress takes its toll with worry about how we will survive if we lose our job, or add a new family member, or move to new community. We forget to take the time to talk to God, to listen to God, to offer prayers of gratitude and concern to the one, and only, who can relieve our pain and suffering.
The ironic thing is we remember our bodies when they break down, and we remember our spiritual life when we are running on empty to the next event in our lives. That is what has happened to me. I forgot to care for my body, I refused to listen and I am paying for it now. But more than that I forgot that caring for my body, caring for my spirit is a prayer practice.
It is important to care for what has been given us the best way we can. Even when we are given bodies that aren’t perfect, and whose is, we are called by God to care for this vessel as long as we are here enfleshed in this life. In order to care for this body given me I must repent and make changes to how I view my body. It isn’t an object to worship, but it is a house of prayer. Good food, exercise, rest and listening are my four healthy habits that will make my house stronger. My physical house and my spiritual house.
My prayer for all of you this week is take a moment out of your day to sit in silence and offer God your gratitude, take a brisk walk and feel the breath of God on your face, rest in God, letting the healing touch of the Holy Spirit renew your soul and eat with gusto food rich in love and low in Cholesterol.
Last night was the Autumnal Equinox. The Sun crossed that imaginary line in the sky called the celestial equator from north to south. Spring begins in the southern hemisphere and fall officially begins here in the north. I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling ‘fall’ for some time now. The nights are cooler, the air has that dried leaf smell to it and the light, well, just looks different, fallish you might say. But with all things human we have to have a point in space and time that defines what we already know to be. We humans can be silly.
While summer is my favorite time I have to admit fall has its good points. There is nothing like taking a walk in the park, leaves crunching beneath my feet, red gold above my head and a blue sky the color of which you only see in fall. This is the time of year I make a pilgrimage into our neighborhood park, Yost Park, and find a quiet corner to sit and pray with nature. A thank you prayer for a lovely summer, a pray of gratitude that I am able to experience the joys, and beauty of all the seasons. I reflect on the past summer and all of the joy and sorrow it brought. As I gaze at the now flaming trees amongst the dark evergreens I allow memory’s to surface of past falls, and allow myself to sink into that deep connection to nature that comes only from giving me permission to feel the creative life of the surrounding world now slowing into slumber. I often remember past fall walks with my father. We used to walk through our fields that were once green and bursting with life but now covered in a sleepy haze the ground began to enter its winter sleep.
Fall is a good time for reflection, a time to take stock, a time to remember, and a time for rest. So for this week’s prayer practice I would like to offer you a Prayer of Examen with nature. Being outside and experiencing the smells and sights of the natural world often triggers memories of past walks by yourself or with others. It gives the experience of the Examen a very immediate and fresh sense, allowing the old memories to open a deeper connection to the creator in today’s moment.
Prayer of Examen with Nature:
Take 30 minutes, or more if you like, and go for a walk outside. Find a quiet place where you may sit without interruption. Note: leave your cell phone at home.
Let this time be just between you and God. In whatever way is most comfortable for you ask the Holy Spirit to guide your memories through your imagination.
As you sit allow a memory to surface of an experience from the past summer or from a previous year where you felt deeply connected with nature and creation.
In your imagination, visit your memory, recall details such as colors, smells, and sounds, even tasted. Take your time in remembering the details. If you have your journal with you may want to write them down.
Walk through your memory, turning it around and viewing it from different angles. Are you with someone, or alone? Where was it? Was it a joyful memory or one that tugs at the heart with sadness? Not all fall memories are happy ones and those that cause us grief can be just as meaningful as the joyful one. Linger with your memory; let it soak in.
When you feel you have spent sufficient time with your meditation notice how you feel at this moment and offer any gratitude that arises. Express thankfulness to God in the way that is most natural for you. You may want to express your gratitude for the part of nature you have spent this time, recognizing the part it played in your imagination.
You may wish to write your insights in your journal or just what you did or did not notice in your memory for later reflection.
May your time of reflection and rest in your quiet corner of creation help shape how you see and experience nature in the coming days and years. May all creation bless you with rest and healing.
Ah summer, filled with hot days and warm nights, homemade popsicles and fresh fruit. On hot days I love to amble over to Yost Park and walk under the tall trees in the cool shade. I don’t want to exert myself too much; I might after all get too warm. Therefore today as our spiritual practice for the week I offer a verse from the Psalms. I present you with the Psalmists simple practice of walking with G-d.
Psalm 116:9 I shall walk before the Lord in the lands of the living. – The Jewish Study Bible, Tanakh Translation May your warm summer days be filled with a gentle walk with the Lord.