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.

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

Sacred Restraint

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A Radical Love

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Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Engage in an act of generosity today. Buy someone a cup of coffee, send a note or gift to someone you think could use it, or make time in your day to spend with someone who could use your gift of time and presence. Dwell in the experience of self-emptying for the sake of another.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“OPEN ME TO RECEIVE MORE OF YOU.”

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

The closer I grow to Christ
The more I feel
A radical love
On fire within me
Aching for release

How do I explain?
It is wholeness
It is salvation
It is justice

It is fulfillment
And emptying

What might happen
If I let this radical love
Lose on the world?

Where might it lead?
What might if ask of me?
How might it change me?

The more I get to know
The One I claim to follow
The more I see how
My wholeness is linked
With the well-being of all
The more I see how
The deepest dream within me
Is Shalom

Maybe this is what Lent is for
Attention to this radical love
Which is
Christ alive deep within you
With a heart on fire for
Something new

I am beginning to understand
In that space beyond words
What it means
That I must lose my life
To find it

REMINDER: March 1, 2015 is the registration deadline for our upcoming Lenten Retreat with Presiding Evangelist, David Brock. The theme is INTO THE WILDERNESS (March 13-15). If you are seeking a deeper exploration of the season of Lent in your life and yearn to grow closer with God, we would love to share this experience with you! Email khmclaughlin@cofchrist.org if you have any questions.

Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.  March 13-15, 2015 Click here to register!

Notification: Call Sent. Please Respond

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I’m generally opposed to the idea that people should have the ability to contact me 24 hours a day via a small mobile device that seems to have the potential to take over my life. I’ve watched it happen to other people, and I refuse to let it happen to me. I don’t keep my phone with me all the time. I don’t always remember to charge it. I don’t always pay attention to notifications I get.

I like my freedom. I like my solitude. I strongly believe that the only one that should have 24/7 access to me is me…and God.

If God was the only one that could call me on my phone would I still forget to keep it with me? Would I forget to charge it properly? Would I silence or ignore calls? Would I continue to let the phone beep at me without acknowledging it? Would I shut it off?

The truth? Yup. Sometimes I have done that.

Do you know when you’ve received a call? Is there a notification requiring a response? How do you know? What does the caller want? What’s the message?

What does it mean to get a call? Is there really a call just for you? Maybe it’s a wrong number or a telemarketer?

Let me help you get clear for a moment. You are getting a call. Right now. Pick up. Respond. And listen closely.

Acknowledging your call is different than engaging your passion. Passion is something you do. Your call is who you are, and who you are becoming. Your call is about how your “youness” can support, heal, inspire, reconcile, and minister to others. It is about how being you enriches the life and experience of every creature you cross paths with. Passion is important but can lack depth and meaning unless we also work to understand and engage our vocation, or our calling. While passions can change or evolve over time. Our call does not. Our call is us in the fullness of who we are meant to become. Our call is something we move into, not something we create.

So forget for a moment about what you are meant to do. As a friend of mine said a couple weeks back, “Too much doing just leads to a bunch of  do do.” Instead, consider for a moment what aspects of yourself you are called to develop and share with others. Consider who you ARE.

Did you miss the call the last time it came in? It’s okay. One of the miraculous gifts of God is that persistent beeping. You can be sure it will continue until you acknowledge someone is trying to reach you.

 Photo Credit: http://deerkram.blogspot.com

Getting Over Yourself: The Challenge in Becoming

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Photo by Jim Doty (www.jimdoty.com)

My grandmother once told me that the universe speaks in threes. I was never quite sure what she meant by that, but can’t deny that it contributed to a personal practice I have of reading any book, poem, blog, or passage that crosses my path three times by synchronicity.

Twice during the past week, Philippians 4:13 has been quoted or read within earshot. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

And then this Tuesday, a student in my class quoted it as a scripture she has set her spiritual principles on.

That made three.

I was suddenly reminded of a passing conversation I had last month with my teenage son. Most of our good talks happen when we are outside traversing the length of our local recreational trail together. On this particular, “Walk and Talk” the topic was fear. To be specific, the question was,“What prevents you from engaging your gifts to their full capacity?”

In other words, “What fear keeps you from coming into the fullness of who you really are?”

If each of us has a purpose, and has been granted gifts to use in the name of bettering the world, why would we choose not to embrace them?

Maybe we fear failure.

Maybe what we fear is actually even deeper than that?

Here is a quote from Marrianne Williamson that I really love:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Is there something preventing you from being the brilliant, talented, fabulous person you were meant to be? Are you afraid to apply to a program or new job? Are you not feeling motivated to spend time developing your talent to the next level?

What are you afraid will happen if you go for it?

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Perhaps it is helpful to know we are not alone while we get down to business with the often difficult, frightening work of becoming.