Spiritual Practice of Intention – Prayerful Tuesday

Empty Tomb Free Biblical Images from www.goodnewsunlimited.com
Empty Tomb
From Free Biblical Images, http://www.goodnewsunlimited.com

1After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” – Matthew 28:1-10

We are now in the season of Easter, yes I said “season,” which is comprised of the weeks from Easter Sunday to Pentecost.  This is a time of reflection on what it means to be a Christian and the significance of living a life of God’s people out in the world. Easter season is a time for all of us who are the church to focus on how we are witnesses of the resurrection in our daily lives. In the light of the Easter Season the weekly spiritual practices will focus on how we express the light of the resurrection to those we live and work with and those we meet in our goings and comings.

To begin this series of Spiritual Practices I would like to start with the Spiritual Practice of Intention.  The practice of intention focuses on how you are “being” in the now, this very moment.  Your intentions come from your own understanding of what is important to you in our ever changing world.  When you reflect and meditate on what matters to you, what is most important to your inner self you learn to act out of that intention.  Your commitment to, and actions in, the world around you will begin to reflect what you value most, and what lies within your heart. I am not talking about setting goals rather I am suggesting that you search your heart for what you value most.  What is important about the spiritual practice of intention is you do not want to search for peace, stop thinking, or discover some enlightened thought. Rather you are looking to set an intention, discover what it is that you value most and then do you best to live into that intention as you go about your daily life.

For the practice I would like to suggest you take some time this week and contemplate what matters most to you.  Two or Three times this week set aside 15 to 20 minutes to sit in silence, and explore your inner dreams, wishes, and desires.  What is most important to you? Do you value peace, justice, or mercy, or something else?  Contemplate how you might express that value in the coming weeks of living your daily life. Let yourself rest in the silence and in the voice of your heart offer up a prayer to the Divine asking for guidance and giving gratitude for the grace God has given you.

May the Eternal give you guidance and show you how to live as a child of the Everlasting. Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©March 29, 2016

I Choose . . .

Microsoft ClipArt
Microsoft ClipArt

 

For the past two years I have been wrestling with how my ministry would be expressed in the world.  This discernment journey has taken me “around the block” and back again many times and during this past summer I had finally made my decision, I choose not to be ordained in my denomination of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I choose not to be a pastor, or a chaplain, or even a spiritual director. I choose to be something else, what that something is has only just begun to take shape.

This may seem inconsequential to most of you but for me it has been a difficult decision.  I graduated in 2013 with my Masters of Divinity (MDiv.) degree and it was with the intention of being ordained, primarily because I believed that is what one did when one received an MDiv. But you see it wasn’t my intention when I entered the School of Theology and Ministry (STM) at Seattle University in 2007.  At that time I just wanted to be better informed in order to conduct Labyrinth retreats with more meaning.  What happened as I progressed through my degree programs of Spiritual Transformation and MDiv I discovered I had talent and passion for learning and I wanted to share what I learned with others. And the truth of the matter is as an ordained pastor I would not be able to share all that I learned simply by the constraints of the job.  I actually would have a greater voice if I wasn’t ordained.

So I chose to be a scholar, a learner of faith with the purpose of spreading what I learn back in to the world.  This is important because we aren’t 1st century people; we live in the 21st century. That means we have a perspective on our faith that those living in the 1st and 2nd and 3rd centuries did not have. We have a history of being, or not being, people of God, just as the Jewish people of the 1st century had a history of being, or not being, a people of God.  We have had our moments of living as God asked and we have had our moments when we have forgotten God, just as the Jewish people had and have. It is the task of the scholar to educate the people of God of their past and how can we do that if no one studies it?

In the last two years I have become interested in how our Christian faith is connected to our Jewish roots and to our younger sibling in the faith Islam and that interest has led me into the differences in how we read Holy Scripture as compared to our 1st to 3rd century faith ancestors, and the differences are striking. Those differences in perspective has shown me it is important for people to understand what the writings of Paul, Gospel Writers, Jewish Prophets, and Muslim Writers actually wanted their listeners to know, what was the message they were transmitting and how does that message resonate with us today.  All those authors wrote and spoke was revolutionary in their time and I want to recover, at least for myself, that revolutionary message.  I want to know what they wrote that was specific to their time and not relevant in the 21st century and what part of their message guides us forward into our own future. And, I want to share that news, that revolutionary news. I have no illusions that I am going to be another Marcus Borg, or a John Caputo, or anyone else who is way more learned in theology than I will ever be.  But I can read what they have learned and pass it on to those who will listen.

You see scholars are often, well nearly always, not thought of as being relevant to world.  When anyone envisions a scholar it is as a stuffy old man or woman who is a bit rumpled and surrounded by books and papers.  It is someone who is absent minded and lost in the past, with no idea about what is going on in the world today.  But that is not who learners/scholars are.

Scholars are connected to the world by stories, and threads of the past that live in the present and the future.  The old quotation “if we don’t remember the past we are doomed to repeat it,” has never had more meaning than in today’s world.  We are currently reliving a past history where the disadvantaged and those who are different from us are forgotten and made the objects of hate and fear.  It is the role of the scholar to remind the people of who they are, and whose they are.  It was the role of the prophets in Jewish History, it was the role of John the Baptist, and it was the role of Jesus of Nazareth and Muhammad.  All of them called to their people to see each other, everyone, as themselves.  Today we have and had  people like President Carter, Desmond Tutu, and Martin Luther King who have called to us to remember and just like those who went before us too many are not listening.

I will never be an exalted a scholar like Desmond Tutu, or Elisabeth Johnson, Sallie McFague or Elisabeth Schüssler Florenza.  But in my small part maybe I can pass on their learning’s to someone who will become exalted. That is enough for me. As the saying goes I am a very small fish in a very large pond and I am happy with that. To give back what I have been blessed to receive is more than enough.

There are many others like me out there, people who read, and study waiting for the opportunity to pass on what they have discovered beyond academics or a very small circle of friends. What each has is a nugget of truth and bit wisdom that needs to be heard. This choice is not prestigious, very few scholars make it to super star status and I am grateful for that.  But the time has come for the telling of the past mistakes and success’. To help everyone remember that the eyes of the other are your eyes and to harm or denigrate the other is to harm and denigrate yourself. Scholars have a role to play in the world that is greater than writing dusty tomes that will be read by only a few.  The past is relevant to the present and the future and it is important that we remember that.  I would like to add my very small part to that story. To offer a tiny bit of knowledge that just might help someone else see the world differently.

My choice, my decision, my path not the easiest of routes to take, and it wasn’t an easy choice but I choose to be a learner, a scholar, a passer on of knowledge.

My prayer for all of you to listen with open mind and heart to what the teaching says, it just might change your life.

Ruth Jewell, ©December 15, 2015

Prayerful Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Into the Wilderness
Into the Wilderness

Into the Wilderness

An old Hebrew root for wilderness means “to speak,” {dabar – meaning “to speak” is a primitive root of midbar – meaning wilderness, a place where you can hear G-d speak}.  Those who traveled into the wilderness were outsiders, minorities, women and Judean peasants and they were the ones that heard G-d speak.  All too often we believe we have to be on the “inside” to hear G-d’s voice, we must “do it the right way” in order for G-d to notice us and accept us.  Yet that isn’t the way I’ve observed G-d work.  It is the outsider, the minority, the woman, the one who seems to be doing it all wrong that is called by G‑d.

How often do feel as if you are on the outside?  Might G-d be calling to you, inviting you into the wilderness, to hear the voice of the Creator? Today I invite to take this moment and breathe deeply.  Breathe out your burdens, worries, your cares and the responsibilities that weigh on you.  Sit in stillness and open up to G-d’s voice.  G-d will take your concerns and tend to them while you rest in G-d’s loving kindness and grade.  Breathe in G-d’s presence and love for you.  Remain still for 5 or 10 minutes in your inner silence and breathe the breath of G-d.

My prayer for you this day is that the stillness of this moment will remain within your heart all day letting you see G-d’s grace and blessings in all of the days tasks.

The Peace of G-d be upon you.

Ruth Jewell, September 10, 2013

 

More than Enough

 

Suzie
Suzie

Matthew 25: 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Saturday John and I welcomed a new family member into our home.  A small stray dog rescued by the Sonoma County Animal Shelter.  She is a 5-year-old Chihuahua who is also completely blind.  For someone she was simply a throw away life, to John, me and my cousin, who brought her up from California, she is a delight; sweet-tempered and loving.

As John and I prepared for her arrival I began to reflect on how privileged I am.  How privileged all of us are.  We have enough to eat, nice clothes to wear, clean drinking water, and warm homes that shelter us.  We are, for the most part, healthy and able to get around without assistance. In general we all have friends who welcome us, even if we do not have family.   We have all been well-educated, never experiencing or having very little experience of being prevented from learning, or doing whatever we choose to do.

We walk our streets without fear of being shot by snipers, or being killed by daily shelling or in the crossfire of combatants.  We know where our children are and have no fear about sending them to school or leaving them alone.  We can shop for anything in the world; shoes, clothes, and food in quantities the rest of the world finds totally amazing. We think nothing of ordering from Amazon a new electronic gadget or, in my case, books of every kind.  Do you realize the poorest of us in Snohomish and King Country has more than those that live in Darfur?  The poorest in this country would be considered wealthy by many in third world countries.

Right now our government is deciding whether to intervene in Syria and my honest prayer is “please let’s not do this.”  But the issue of this intervention is way more complicated than just not wanting to because I am “tired of war” and “I don’t want to open a new front that will suck more of our much needed funds away.”  I am not the one being shelled, I am not the one being poisoned, and I am not the one in the cross-hairs.  My heart goes out to those caught in a war zone and am frustrated because there is so little I can do to help except send my prayers.

I realize I am embarrassed by my riches.  What makes me worth more than those in Syria, or homeless of Nicklesville Tent City, or refugees in Darfur?  So my prayers this week have been extremely troubled.  How do I make a difference?  How do I help the poorest in this country and the rest of the world?  How do I follow in the steps of the one I choose to follow?  I am afraid, uncertain, confused, and unsure. I am overwhelmed by the enormity of what the heart of my heart calls me to do.  My prayers and my small offerings seem inadequate.  But that is what I have to offer.  There is a line from a poem by John Phillip Newell that I practically like, “Be strong and let your heart take courage.”  That is what I am trying to do. I can’t do a lot but my little bit just might be helpful.

Adopting Suzie, one of G-d’s children thrown to the side of the road, is a small thing. And in all that I have been blessed with I have more than enough to live my life. Sharing out of what I have been blessed with only adds to my riches in a new way.  Therefore, I vow to give out of all I’ve been blessed with by doing many small things and maybe if we all did small things they would add up to a collective big thing.   All we have to do is everyday give a small thing out of our great abundance and maybe, just maybe, we might change the world.  For me one of those small things is to never stop praying because it may seem inadequate at the time but calling out to G-D in heartfelt sincerity and surrender is never a waste of my time and leads me to actions that benefit others.  Life is full of choices and I choose to be more giving of the blessings I’ve received.

In the short-term none of what I do may change how the homeless are treated, whether injustices are set right, or whether or not we go to war.  In the long-term it will be only G-d who will remember how a lost heart was pointed to a better path. My small offering will be just one more strand strengthening the ever-growing fabric of life.  I find that to be amazing and astounding and more than enough to keep me going.

Ruth Jewell, ©September 9, 2013

Prayerful Tuesday, August 20, 2013

She Danced
She Danced

Luke 13: 11-13 11.And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12.When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ 13.When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. (NRSV)

She Danced

She entered, bent over
bound by pain
all she could see
was the ground at her feet

“Come to me” He said
“I will set you free”
She stood, straight and tall
a smile on her face

With a cry of joy
She danced

Ruth Jewell ©August 19, 2013

Today‘s prayer is to look up from your smart phone, iPad® or tablet and look around you. Reach your arms to the sky, feeling the warm sun on your face. Offer the following prayer Celtic prayer by John Phillip Newell (Celtic Treasure, Daily scriptures and Prayer, Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005) or one of your own to celebrate the joy of being able to dance:

The blessings of heaven,
the blessings of earth,
the blessings of sea and of sky.
On those we love this day
and on every human family
the gifts of heaven,
the gifts of earth,
the gifts of sea and sky.

May your day be a blessed one and may you be a prayer to all you meet.

Ruth Jewell

Beguine Again and Prayerful Tuesday

Beguine Again

There are four of us and we have decided to begin an online spiritual community. We come from different social backgrounds and different religious traditions, but none of those matters. What does matter is we wish to share our spiritual experiences with others, to offer prayers, participate in studies and to “do good works,” just as women of the late Middle Ages did in their communities. So we have formed a community of Beguines.

Beguines were a community of Christian Lay women in the 13th and 16th centuries. They lived in semi-monastic communities but did not formal religious vows. They joined the communities to devote themselves to a life of prayer and good works without taking vows. They supported themselves with manual labor or teaching children and lived in their own dwellings. Each Beguine was bound to the community by the same goals in life, similar pursuits and a community of prayer, study and worship. These women often had families that they cared for and they lived among those they wanted to help.

The four of us, Michelle, Terri, Denise and Ruth, have decided to begin this experiment to see where it leads us. So you will see postings from each of us from to time and I will be offering a Prayer or Spiritual practice every Tuesday. We would love to have you join us. Wander over to the blog: http://cloakedmonk.com/ and see what we have posted each day. Add your comments and let us know what your needs are.

Below is my first offering for our community:

Prayerful Tuesday
August 13, 2013

Morning Stillness
Morning Stillness

A Moment of Stillness

Stop whatever you are doing for 5 minutes. If you can go outside and find a place to rest in the shade, if you can’t step outside sit next to a window. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet firmly placed on the ground or floor. Now take a deep breath, and slowly let it out. Take another deep breath and slowly let it out. Sit for a few minutes and pay attention to your breathing. When you are ready finish stretch your arms up and reach for the Sky. Breathe deeply again and offer the following prayer as you return to your routine:

Great Spirit I am grateful for this moment
of stillness in my busy day.
May the blessings of this moment
stay with me throughout all of my encounters
as I go about my life this week. Amen

Offered by Ruth Jewell

The Hardest Task

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier
Morning Scripture Psalm 33:12-22

G-d fashioned me from the heart of the SPIRIT,
and all creation with me.
I cannot see the immensity around me,
only the little shelf I stand on do my eyes perceive.

I think my knowledge is so great,
that I no longer need G-d.
Yet all that I am is because of G-d.
All the strength in my arms
is worthless; all the knowledge
of my mind takes me nowhere.
I stand like a child on the side of a mountain
but see only trees, not knowing
much more lies beyond the next bend

I say “I see the mountain,”
I say “I understand,” yet much lays hidden
in caves so deep I cannot imagine.
I think I am so smart,
yet G-d knows how much is still to learn.

My hope for success has no future
without the G- d of creation.
Only the LORD of all
can grace me with life and vision.
Only when I open the ears of my heart
to the SPIRIT within and around me
will I find what my heart seeks.

I hear the voice of the Ancient of Days calling:
“Trust in the LORD, and rest in the SPIRIT.
Only then will your door to life and hope
open wide and your path made smooth.
Our hearts together will beat as one
and they will sing with joy.
The sound of lute and harp
will resound in our ears
and the taste of sweet celestial honey
will delight our mouths.”

All I have to do is trust, to rest, to give to G-d.
Why or why is that so hard?

Let your steadfast love, O LORD,
be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Ruth Jewell ©August 9, 2013