Living Words

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A Still Center

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This Week’s Lenten Practice: Centering Prayer
Daily Act: Practice Centering Prayer
Weekly Prayer Phrase:

I DWELL IN YOU AS THE SOURCE OF ALL LIFE. 

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

The blessing is this:
That you may rest into God’s presence
That a still center will open within you
As a reservoir in movement times
As the source of movement when it calls

That the center will be
Deep
Vast
Unceasing
Sturdy
Accessible
Reliable

That when you feel clumsy
Or awkward
Or unsteady
Or uncertain

It will hold fast within you
As courage
As strength

That it will be the word you speak
That you didn’t know you had to share

That it will be a surprise reserve
The “more” sometimes required
When everything else feels emptied

That it will be the constant flow beneath your surface
A well that never runs dry

That it will beckon you inward
To discover how you are called to live

That it will be the place
Where you find
The One
Who is the source
Of your life

Centering Prayer
(From the Community of Christ Guide for Lent)

Centering prayer simply uses breath and a prayer word to stay focused on God’s presence. The intent of this prayer is to spend time with God, seeking no answers but merely connection to the Divine. It is called centering prayer because one’s attention is gathered in and centered on being open to and receiving God. During Lent, centering prayer helps us dwell more deeply in the mystery of God.

Sit in relaxed, comfortable, but erect posture with feet on the floor, eyes closed, hands open in your lap. Gently enter a time of prayer with the expectation and permission to be guided by the Holy Spirit in this practice of opening and receiving.

Use your breath to create a sense of peace and letting go into God. Breathe deeply, slowly, calmly, allowing the deep breaths to release you of tension throughout your body.

Focus on breathing God in, breathing all else out until you feel calm and centered. Be aware that God is present and that you are in this space intending to love and be loved by God.

Listen for a word or phrase that comes to you, expressing the desire of your heart. Repeat it silently to yourself in rhythm with your breathing.

As you become distracted—and you will—bring yourself back to that centered place by using your breath and your prayer word. Let go of the thoughts that pull you away. Merely note them and let them go.

Continue in this pattern of focus and breathe for about 20 minutes, though you may want to begin with 5–10 minutes and increase your time with practice. Set a timer so you will not have to check the time.

When the time of prayer has elapsed, offer a prayer of thanks to God, take several more breaths, and gently return your awareness to your surroundings. Trust the time spent with God will continue to bless you deep within as you move through your day.

This week’s Lenten Practice: Holy Attention

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Reconciliation

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Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Reflect on your life and consider relationships in need of reconciliation. Is there a reconciling action you are invited to make today?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“SEARCH MY HEART AND MAKE IT ONE WITH YOURS.”

Today’s reflection was written a while ago when I was struggling with a strained relationship. I believe it is important to be honest about these relationship fractures in our lives. The possibilities for peace we pray for are sometimes waiting to be realized in our own families and communities, where lasting peace begins. Pay attention this day to how the deep in you calls you toward reconciliation.

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

I want to stay angry
To live in the feeling of being wronged
Until all is made right again
I want people to know that I take
What they say seriously
That words have power
And demand caution when being used
In destruction purposes

I want to stay hurt
Dwell in this river of self-pity
To satisfy my own self righteousness
To avoid the painstaking
Slow work of reconciliation

So of course I am resistant to the ways
The solitude moves me to love
To the Spirit promptings within
That gently urge me to get over myself
And move along
The compassion that comes
And sweeps away these sorrow crumbs
Cleaning me out
Restoration
To begin again and again

In one moment, I resist
In the next, I relent

Our yearnings are for unity
So this separation we’re in
Is a form of self-sabotage

I am reminded
In love
That angry words are attached
To bodies with faces and hearts
And minds and stories
Other humans
Imperfect like me
With their own muddled
Union yearnings

Sometimes to be a disciple
Is to swallow pride
However sharp as it goes down
And to demonstrate the
Radical Christ love
That is the point anyway

What is deepest within me sings
Forgiveness

Thick are our protective layers
But not impenetrable
All is redeemable

When people are bound
By this communal thread
A vulnerability
Even a meanness
Can be a pathway in
If one has courage and strength enough
To follow it
If one can pass through their own
Swells of self-righteousness
Like moving under the waves
To avoid drifting back to shallow shore
Sometimes we have to hold our breath
And be submerged to go further in

Could it be that our raw, aching sharing
Was actually a love feast
Placed on the table before us?
A taste of the sweetness beyond niceties
A craving for authenticity
A taste that may take time to acquire
And appreciate

Like God
Something we can’t just know all at once
We sip at the mystery

In this prayerful pause
I notice I am
Moving into the day with
A softening, opening heart

So it is in the peaceable kin-dom
Loving confrontation has a holy purpose
So that loving does not enable the defenses
But opens wide
The real

This is the hardest love task
To name the hurts
And journey together
In love
Into a deeper way of being

It is not avoidance
And it is not anger either
It is something deeper
Call it grace
Call it forgiveness
Call it reconciliation
Call it life in Christ

Be patient with one another, for creating sacred community is arduous and even painful. But it is to loving community such as this that each is called. Be courageous and visionary, believing in the power of just a few vibrant witnesses to transform the world. Be assured that love will overcome the voices of fear, division, and deceit.

-Doctrine & Covenants Section 161

Formed by Each Other

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Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Reflect on your life and consider the people who have helped you grow in your faith. Write a letter of gratitude to a person who has been formative to you.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“SEARCH MY HEART AND MAKE IT ONE WITH YOURS.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

The soul is a pliable substance
We are formed by each other
Into holy shapes
Over time

If I were to begin to express
My abounding gratitude
For the many other souls
Who have participated
In shaping my own
It might go something like this:

Thank you for seeing me
Really seeing me
For taking a risk on the worth
And potential
You thought you saw
For investing yourself
So whole-heartedly
In the life of another
With no guarantee
Of anything in return

Thank you for awakening
Gifts lying dormant
And tending them
To fullest life in me

Thank you for the ways
You assured me
In each moment of doubt
Affirming my questions
As faithful
The questions themselves
Pathways into the future
I could not yet see
But could somehow still trust

Each word a shaping
Each moment a molding
Not into your likeness
But into the shape of the One
Shaping you
Shaping us

Thank you for what you never
Said out-loud
But lived
Which I noticed
Which I admired
Which I desired to live
Which spoke louder
Than anything
Anyone
Has
Ever
Said

“You hold precious lives in your hands. Be gentle and gracious with one another.”
Doctrine & Covenants Section 162

Where to Find God

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Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Seek God’s presence in each part of your day. At the end of every task, conversation, or experience, ask the question, “How was God present?”
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“SEARCH MY HEART AND MAKE IT ONE WITH YOURS.” 

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This is where I will meet you
Says Divine Love:

In the wonder you feel
As you watch the icicles
Melting outside your window

In the gentle touch of another
When you are in need
And the comfort it brings

In the sunlight that
Turns to gold
Everything in its path
Which catches your breath
And awakens delight in you

In the conversation
That moves you closer to connection
With another person
In whom I also reside

In each moment you slow down
To notice the beauty around you
And let it fill your Spirit
In a strengthening way

In the hope that rises up in you
In the midst of encompassing despair

In the injustice anger that
Finally prompts your trembling voice
To speak out for what is right

In the darkness
In the light
In the sorrow
And in depth of joy

In the details
Seemingly insignificant
Which are the composition
Of the whole of your life

If you yearn to see me
Be prepared to meet me anywhere

It may not be
The earthquake you expect
Or the fire

It may be the silence
It may be the least expected place
It may be every place

When you ask
Where are you?
Wherever you are
I will answer
Here

(1 Kings 10:11-13)

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