Thank You

Just wanted to place a final posting to our 40 days of contemplative ways blog postings to thank everyone for your participation and your wonderful encouraging comments, some posted and some not. I also wanted to thank my posting friends for their openness and generosity of spirit in sharing their contemplative ways with us. I so appreciate who they each are to me and how they have touched my life as well as yours by their writings.

It is my hope that you go away from this great start in the year with a new practice that brings you closer to your sense of the presence of God. Bless each of you as you go forward in the year 2012, with the assurance of God’s extravagant love in your life. Allow the assurance of that love to move you through the doors of opportunity in this year.

God’s Peace and Blessings to you all.

 

 

Sustaining the Contemplative Practice of Lectio Devina

We have come to the end of our 40 days Postings. Our last posting is very appropriate in that it addresses the question of how to keep going with what we have started. You have met the now famous Brent Unrau from his former post on labyrinths as a contemplative practice. Here Brent is talking about his personal experience with lectio devina and how he integrates this into his busy every day life. I hope you will be encouraged to find a way to continue what you have started in these 40 days.

 

Sustaining the Contemplative Practice of Lectio Devina

By Brent Unrau

Wild horses could not drag me out of bed at for a 6 a.m. 90  minute solitary observing of a lectio divina time, yet for the past six weeks I have found myself looking forward to and drinking in the the rich experience of attending a small lectico divina group that gathers at Small Ritual Coffee Society in White Rock, Wednesdays from 6-7:30 a.m., my busiest counselling day of the week.

More and more I am convinced that I cannot follow the contemplative disciplines well alone, that I need a group context to support and sustain them.  What a treat to exchanges early morning hugs, find our seats, grab our needed coffees or teas, open up our various translations with expectant smiles and wait to hear which scriptures we get to focus on.  I love the rhythm of the four questions, with 15-20 minutes silence between each question, silence alone is so different from intentional silence supported as a group.

  1. What word or phrase does God want to reveal to you this morning, what catches your attention that you may need to hear this morning, that you feel invited to  slow down and focus on ( silence)?
  2. To what purpose is that phrase or word being underlined and illuminated to you or for you (silence)?
  3. What changes do you feel asked to make in light of these fresh revelations and truths (silence)?
  4. What might it look like to live out (incarnate) and express this in your daily life (silence)?

As hints of dawn begin to emerge space is giving for open sharing.  It’s as though each of us is a specific instrument, designed in unique ways to resonate with the vibrating tones of the notes and music.  We gather to warm up and pay attention to the sheet music in front of us, wondering what the Holy Spirit Conductor may want to reveal.  We drink in the moods, cadences and meaning of the score through the particular givenness (limits, range, design) of our instrumentation. But we do it together, leaning into what each instrument has to say, what stuck them at they listened to the same piece of music(scripture) and how they say it through the tone and feel of their voice.  What sweet wonder to hear and value what each person adds to the conversation, building the moment, revealing the deeper glory and meaning of the music, hearing the vast potential and beauty of the score through this early morning rag tag practice symphony. With gratitude and playful joy we depart to our individual daily challenges and routines, humming the fresh comforting tune of the music under our breath allowing it to resound in and through us and then around us out into our needy world.

 

 

Music as a Contemplative Exercise

I have known Donelda for approximately 20 years. We first knew each other as we shared counselling training classes. Since that time we have shared lots of meaningful spiritual growth discussions, silent retreats, as well as had fun holiday times together. I value Donelda’s friendship and so admire her sensitivity to God’s voice within her. I can attest to the fact that this is indeed one of her ways of being contemplative with God.

Donelda Seymour has worked with children and their families as a Teacher and a Counsellor for over 25 years. Her formal training is in the areas of volunteer management, teaching, counselling, biblical studies, Samuel’s Mantle and spiritual direction. She is currently working full time as a counsellor in the education system and is developing a part-time practice in supporting people’s personal growth through spiritual direction and pastoral care and training. She has a keen interest in all things creative and likes to dabble in art, music, photography and theatre. I am so glad to introduce you to my friend, Donelda.

 

Using Music as a Contemplative Exercise

by Donelda Seymour

I was born in a family where music was almost always playing somewhere in the house. Whether it was my Mom humming and singing or my Dad listening to records, or my uncle playing the guitar, or me practicing one of my instruments, there was music on somewhere. Perhaps that is why I find that I often connect in a deeper way with God through music than through many other mediums. Although I do love using such things as Lectio Divina, the Prayer of Examen, Prayer Beads and Old Liturgical prayers from Julian of Norwich, or the Celtic Daily Prayer Book, or daily prayers on the website “Sacred Space”, Mediating using Art or getting out into nature and listening to God, even still, it is music that somehow speaks most powerfully to the “deep calling unto deep” part that longs to be centered in the presence of God.

Now I am of the opinion that “Contemplative practices” can basically be almost any vehicle that will help us attune ourselves to that “holy of holies” in our hearts. Although most people think of “quiet” or even “silence” when they think of contemplative practices, I believe from my own experience that a variety of vehicles can be used, one of which is music. I love the diversity that God has given us in this wonderful gift, and the fact that we can enjoy his presence through a variety of “sounds”. I will give an example. Take the piece by Tim Hughes – “Beauty Of Your Peace” from the album When Silence Falls.

Your voice has stilled the raging storms
The wind and waves bow down before
Your still small voice brings hope to all
Who wait on You, we’ll wait for You
To lead us to the place where You’ll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease
Take from our souls the strain and stress
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Your peace
The beauty of Your peace
Bright skies will soon be overhead
We’ll enter in to Heaven’s rest
There’ll be no death, there’ll be no pain
The things of old will pass away
You’ll lead us to the place where You’ll restore our souls
And all our earthly strivings come to cease

 

I have often played this when I become aware that I have a lot on my mind and there is somewhat of a “storm” raging inside in terms of the cares I may be carrying for others. I light a candle, sit in my favourite chair in the living room, turn this tune on in my itunes collection, and put it on repeat. Then I sit back and I listen to the words and allow the song to wash over me. The first time, I may sing along or I may imagine singing it in my head as a prayer. As I listen again the second time, I offer up my imagination as a meeting place for God to meet with me.  He and I enter into the song together. As I do, I find that He takes from my soul all the strain and stress I have been carrying, and I become more at peace as “all my earthly strivings come to cease”, and the beauty of His peace really does begin to fill my heart, and soul. Sometimes, I will go into intercession for some of the things that have come up-willfully giving them over to him and in exchange, receiving His peace and then moving back into a quieter contemplative place, where once again, I am just resting in his presence and drinking in his peace.  When I have listened to the song a few times, I shut it off and sit in that peace. I find that the song is a “jumping off point” for me. Sometimes I am left in silence and just enjoy that place with Him. Sometimes I move into gratitude for His peace and His presence and all He is and has done for me. Sometimes, I am moved to get my journal and write to Him, or listen to his words to me, and write them down, and then enter into conversation with Him. I never know where it will go when I start, but I always encounter God in the midst of this and come into a deeper place of awareness. I usually end up sitting in a place of rest, or lying on the floor imagining myself at His feet.

Sometimes, I may look up the words to the song before hand, and then sit and read over a phrase from the song at the end of my listening, particularly if there is one part that God seemed to highlight for me. This then will become a prayer or a phrase that I repeat to myself, and use as a prayer exercise. Sometimes, I will stick with a song or the phrase or word from a song for a longer period of time, and just use that as a point of meditation and prayer. I often wake up in the morning, or throughout the night with a particular worship song on my mind, and often it is an invitation from God to focus on a particular truth within the song, and it becomes my place of meeting with him. I will get up and find that song, and then use it as a meeting place with God, to enter into a “contemplative” place.

If there is a piece of music that is more instrumental and does not have words, then I will play the song, and just rest in God’s presence and focus on Him. Sometimes I may get an impression, or a picture in my head, and God will speak to me about things on his heart, or I will notice an emotion, emerging from the music, or a sense or feeling, or some kind of response that may not have “words”, and I will bring that to God and try to go with it, where He leads me. Sometimes, there are tears, sometimes laughter or worship and praise that rises up, or revelation and insight, or just a deep sense of gratitude – one never quite knows where God will lead. I just appreciate that the music calls to the deeper place, and it becomes a doorway into my own cathedral where I meet God.

In the Christmas season, I have listened to “Breath of Heaven” off of the Humble King Album-Christmas around the World by Vineyard. I love this song as I it is like a Lectio Divina exercise where one would read about the journey of Mary before the birth of Christ. In fact at times I have taken a piece like this and combined it with a reading of scripture that fits with the theme of the song. Like the Magnificat in D by Bach, this piece allows us to enter into the experience of Mary, and in a way, enter too into the experience of making our hearts ready, to be open to what God is birthing in us. The words and melody are a prayer to God. It is a supplication. For His Breath to breathe on us, and much like the Jesus prayer- with it’s Lord have mercy on me a sinner- this theme echoes in the chorus of “Help me be strong, help me…” you can hear the cry for God’s mercy. I find this piece a wonderful piece to enter into in preparation for Christmas or a time of waiting:

 

Breath of heaven

I have traveled much moonless night
Cold and weary, with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father, you have come
And chosen me now
To carry your son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now

Chorus:
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Light up my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy

Breath of heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

(Chorus)
(Chorus)

Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven

Another song I have been using is the song “Intimacy” by Johnathan David Hesler on either the album – Long Story Short – or – Walk through the Walls. This is a great song to focus on the aspect of God’s wooing of us, and the fact that he has made us for intimacy with Him. The mood of the song is somewhat haunting, and evocative of a dream. I find that it helps me to focus on drawing closer to God, and realizing more deeply that intimacy is calling all of us!

 

Intimacy

These hands you made to hold yours, my love
These feet you shaped to walk with you in our garden
These eyes you placed to gaze upon your face
These lips you formed to kiss my beloved

I was made, I was made for intimacy

These ears you made to hear your rhythm of love
This voice you placed to sing songs of grace
This hair you wove, you numbered every strand
This gaze you love, it captures you with a glance

Intimacy is what I need, intimacy is calling me”

Jen Johnson has just released a beautiful song through Bethel Music, which you can check out on Vevo, called “Come to me”. http://www.vevo.com/watch/bethel-music/come-to-me/USWFE1190113   (You may need to join to check this out – but it’s free!)  This is presently my new favourite tune, as she sings it as though God is singing it right to the listener-heart to heart.  Grab a chair, sit back, get into a contemplative posture, and open your heart to hear what God may speak to you through it. Like Lectio Divina – where scripture is repeated and pondered on a few times, try playing this song over a few times, and see if there is a phrase, or a portion of the song that God highlights for you. You may want to write out the phrase in your journal, after you have listened. You can spend time resting in His invitation to you. Then you may want to pray with it, or say it, or sing it back to God, changing the words as a response back to Him. For instance, where the song says- “Come to me, I’m all you need”, you may find yourself responding back to God – “I come to you, you’re all I need.”  You can check out different genres of music on Youtube, Vevo, Myspace, or even sites like “Rockin with the cross” where you can play examples and get chord charts to play various tunes yourself. You can try some homegrown music from local grassroots websites and you may find some real gems like – https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/interiorcastle

I have very eclectic taste – from Gregorian chant to Rock n Roll, and I realize that some of these tunes may not be very “contemplative” for some, but it’s fun to check various pieces out to see what speaks to you. There are so many great pieces of music out there to choose from. Here are some of my current favourites – Ana Vandas – “My Name” from the All I thought I knew- Album. Bruce Cockburn-“Lord of the Starfeilds”, Van Morrison -“Be Thou my vision”, Chris Tomlin -“My Beloved”, Josh Young -“Beautiful (you take me away), Brian Doerksen-”Creation Calls”, or “Song for the Bride”. Vineyard Music-“I love your Presence”, FFH -“Where you are”, The Priests -“Panis Angelicus”, or “Pie Jesu”, Hidegard Von Bingen’s spiritual songs on Sequentia -“Voice of the Blood” album-in latin), John Michael Talbot -“Aima Christi”, Alberto and Kimberly Rivera -“Awaken” or “Ruah”, ISA -“Beautiful” (soft acoustic), Graham Ord -“Chill Album”(instrumental), Laura Woodley -“Home Album”, Sons of Korah -“Redemption songs (all songs acoustic based on the psalms). Bach -“Magnificat in D” “Shane and Shane -“Awaken Me”, Misty Edwards -“I am yours”, Gungo r-“Beautiful Things”, Chris Tomlin -“Me Beloved Mine, I His”, Tim Hughes – “The beauty of your peace”, Rita Springer -“Just to know”, The Wildings -“Fall on Me”… just to name a few. 

I’d love to hear about some of the pieces of music that have touched others. How does God meet you in the cathedral of your heart?  Whatever the song may be, may you enjoy entering into the savoring of His lovely presence.

 

 

The Prayer of Rest or Quiet

Murray Dueck received his Bachelor of Religious Education from Columbia Bible College. He was an Associate Pastor at Valley Christian Fellowship for seven years. During that time he planted a youth church called God Rock, developed its home group structure, and did itinerant ministry. Murray also oversaw the prophetic ministry in the church during those years, mentoring and discipling prophetic people. Since that time Murray and his wife began Samuel’s Mantle, a training program to help people hear God’s voice. For those of you who have heard Murray speak, you will experience how much the presence of God in his life means to him. Murray currently is writing, doing itinerant work, and teaching Samuel’s Mantle. He is the author of ‘If This Were A Dream, What Would It Mean?’, (great book but currently out of print- but you can receive the training from this book). His newest book is called, “Keepers of the Presence”. The book’s goal is to become your roadmap to developing your unique gift of spiritual sensitivity so you can steward the presence of God wherever you go! I have just ordered a copy for myself and can’t wait to read it. Murray has generously donated a book for someone who writes about their experience of using the contemplative way he has posted. You can review Samuel’s Mantle’s great training and order his new book at www.samuelsmantle.com. I am pleased to introduce you to someone whose teaching has impacted my spiritual journey in such a positive way, Murray Dueck. Enjoy his posting!

The Prayer of Rest or Quiet

By Murray Dueck

I have been asked by Lynda to write a short blog about one of my favorite forms of contemplative prayer.  There are lots of methods of interacting with God, maybe as many as there are people, but my favorite is the Orthodox method, handed down by the desert fathers. Technically this prayer would be known as hesychasm, the prayer of rest or quiet.  But it comes to us today maybe better known as “The Jesus prayer.”

Many of you know this little prayer “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me.”  And there are a few variations, including a very short one “Lord, mercy.”  And I am going to assume here if you are reading this blog you know all about breathing, attention, repeating the prayer, etc…so I am going to focus on an aspect of the orthodox model that often gets over looked.  This aspect is the factor of where in our being the orthodox fathers would like us to say our prayer from – our nous. (aka Our inner man), which dwells in our heart.  In the Orthodox view it is our heart that steers the ship of our being, (and I think we would agree with that as we are to Watch over our heart with all diligence, for from it flows the spring of life (Prov 4:23).  However in our heart, in the orthodox view is the core of our being – our ‘nous.’ We would equate the nous with the ‘inner man’ however the concept is a bit of a difficult concept to grasp, and I must admit I am still struggling with it. But here is the definition given out of the philokalia (a five volume collection of the writings of the desert fathers from approx the 4th  to the fifteenth century).

Intellect – nous – the highest faculty in man, through which – provided it is purified – he knows God or the inner apprehension of spiritual perception. Unlike the dianoia, the intellect does not function by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition or simple cognition. The intellect dwells in the depths of the soul. It constitutes the innermost aspect of the heart. The intellect (nous) is the organ of contemplation, the eye of the heart.

Yes, that paragraph is confusing.  But to be honest those who are drawn to contemplation have been working with this spiritual perception for quite a long time now.  We just have not always made a clear distinction between the “dianoia” our reasoning faculty, and our “nous” our inner man – as places in our being to function out of.  To be aware of this “shift” from one to the other let us try a few different things.  I do not expect all of these activations to work for everyone, but hopefully one of these examples will work for you.  First off I want you to think of something administrative that you need to do. Take thirty seconds and spend a few minutes planning your next meeting, think through your to-do list, etc…(so quit reading right now and plan!)….after thirty seconds or so….point with your finger where in your being these thoughts are occurring – and most likely you have pointed at your head.  Which I am sure is not a shock. Now let’s try part two of this same exercise. This time I want you to try (I think people coming from different church cultures may need a few different examples for this to make sense, so keep in mind there are more examples below) focusing on our ‘inner man.’  I want you to take thirty seconds and speak God’s word over your life. Just quietly, internally, begin with “My beloved, you belong to me, I love you and…” just let it flow for awhile. (quit reading …now and just go for it)….when you are done  (and don’t read further until you are!) point with your finger where in your being you were experiencing that conversation.  Was it in your head, or did you point to your heart (where your nous/ inner man is)? (and test it afterward with scripture, confirmation, bounce it off other people, fruit of the Spirit, inner witness, etc.)

Let us try this another way as that last exercise may have been a bit weird for some of you: I want you to pray for someone, someone you really love, that you hope the best for and care about.  Pray for them for thirty seconds (again, no peeking)…and point with your finger to where you were experiencing that prayer. More than likely your finger went to your chest – as you have discovered something going on in your inner man.

It may be good before we move on to application to think of a few other ways we experience this (to make sure we include everyone).  Have you ever been in church during an open mic time – and you just knew it was your turn to go up front and speak– but you didn’t want to go up? What part of you was arguing?  If you could point with your finger where were those argumentative thoughts happening in your being? Now where did you feel the tug of the Lord drawing you to go up front and speak?  Most likely in the inner most man – in the heart or chest.  This is not as strange an experience as it may seem.  When you have made a big decision in your life and you had to wrestle it through you probably needed to come to peace in your heart.  Even though your mind was throwing out all kinds of options in regards to your situation it was in the inner man you needed to find that rest. For the orthodox contemplatives – it is from this place they pray.

Here is an extract from the Philokalia written by Callistus Patriarch of Constantinople around 1360 AD.

If you wish to pray as you ought, imitate the dulcimer player; bending his head a little and inclining his ear to the strings, he strikes the strings, skillfully, and enjoys the melody he draws from their harmonious notes.

Is this example clear to you? The dulcimer is the heart; (where the nous is), the strings– the feelings, the hammer- remembrance of God; the player—the mind. By remembrance of God and of Divine things the mind draws holy feelings from the God-fearing heart, then ineffable sweetness fills the soul, and the mind, which is pure, is lit up by Divine illuminations.

The Dulcimer player perceives and hears nothing but the melody he enjoys. So the mind, during active prayer, descends into the depths of the heart with sobriety and con no longer listen to aught but God.  All his inner being speaks to God with the voice of David: “My soul followeth hard after thee.”

The heart, in this model of prayer, as we practiced pointing our finger earlier – is the focal point of the contemplatives attention.

Here is another example that may be helpful, taken from the Russian Orthodox classic “The Way of the Pilgrim.”  In this book the pilgrim has just figured out what Callistus was talking about – and experiences this:

When about three weeks had passed I felt a pain in my heart, and then a most delightful warmth, as well as consolation and peace. This aroused me still more and more and spurred me on to give great care to the saying of the prayer so that all my thoughts were taken up with it and I felt a very great joy. From this time I began to have from time to time a number of different feelings in my heart and mind. Sometimes my heart would feel as though it were bubbling with joy; such lightness, freedom, and consolation were in it. Sometimes I felt a burning love for Jesus Christ and for all God’s creatures. Sometimes my eyes brimmed over with tears of thankfulness to God, who was so merciful to me, a wretched sinner. Sometimes my understanding, which had been so stupid before, was given so much light that I could easily grasp and dwell upon matters of which, up to now, I had not been able to even to think of at all. Sometimes that sense of a warm gladness in my heart spread throughout my whole being and I was deeply moved as the fact of the presence of God everywhere was brought home to me. Sometimes by calling upon the name of Jesus I was overwhelmed with bliss, and now I knew he meaning of the words “The Kingdom of God is within you”.

How to Practice the Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox Way

Here are the steps to this model of prayer.  And again it is another style, and don’t feel constrained by it.  But for me, it has revolutionized my life. What ‘Pilgrim’ describes above is the true fruit of this prayer and I would recommend to all of you who are interested this wonderful little book  “The Way of the Pilgrim” as a great starting point to practice the Jesus prayer from an Orthodox perspective.

  1. Find the place of the heart, as described above
  2. From this place love the Lord your God with all your heart
  3. From this same place say your prayer – focus the words of your prayer not from your head, but from your heart (The classic Orthodox model being “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!”)
  4. If you wish, when you feel the presence of the Lord stop saying the prayer and just be with God – and if your mind wanders begin again

 

The Examen of Consciousness

I met Christopher Chiu at a pre-requisite course for Spiritual Directors taking Soulstream training. We were paired up in a great soulcare group for the year where we tasted the many contemplative ways together. Chris was a delight to know and I loved the traditional food he brought to our monthly potlucks together. Chris is married and is a father of 3 young girls. He has worked more then 13 years in the food industry. He has a Masters of Christian Studies from Regent College and loves anything to do with Christian theology, biblical studies and spirituality. He is a partner of Soulstream. He is a Spiritual Director who trained under Fr. Elton Fernandes, SJ. As a spiritual director, he leads people through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. He also leads a contemplative group at his home church at Tenth Church in Vancouver. Chris considers home to be his monastery – it is his sanctuary but it is also the place where he does his battles with God and himself. I am pleased to introduce my friend Chris’ contribution to your practice of contemplative ways!

 

The Examen of Consciousness

by Christopher Chiu

The Examen (or the Examen of Consciousness to be specific) is an ancient prayer method practiced by many throughout the history of the Church.  Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, adopted this practice into his Spiritual Exercises.

Jesuits are supposed to pray this prayer twice a day. Ignatius thought the Examen was a gift that came directly from God and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible.

I have been practicing almost daily the Examen for over two years.  This prayer, together with the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, has literally changed my life.  Through this practice, I have not only found my core calling in life but also discovered what Margaret Silf called an “inner compass” for navigating my journey with God.  For the Examen helps me notice the inner movements within my soul: Am I moving towards God or away from God in my actions, thoughts and decisions?  Through repeated practices over time one can discover patterns that are crucial to map out where one is growing and where one needs growth.  For example, in my prayer I discovered a pattern of feeling inadequate and wanting to procrastinate when performing important tasks.  This, I slowly discovered, indicated my lack of security in the love of Christ which limited my capacity to serve God and others.  This “unfreedom” was keeping me from becoming fully the person that Christ has created me to be.  I also discovered a pattern of feeling fully alive when I helped people to gain a better understanding of a concept or reality.  This makes me want to further develop my gift of teaching and seek out opportunities to teach.  I believe we become more godly when we are more fully human.  And we are more fully human when we are fully alive.

We begin the Examen by being present to ourselves.  We find a relaxed position (e.g. sitting, walking, standing). We notice our body, our breathing and our environment.  When we are fully present, we remind ourselves that we are in God’s loving presence.  He is here to meet us.  He does not condemn us.  Rather, his compassionate love embraces us.

We give thanks to God for one specific thing.  We can thank him for the weather, for our families, friends, or jobs. Then we ask for God’s grace to help us notice and understand how he has been coming to us (through our experience of the events) during the day and how our soul has responded.

Now we begin to go through the period of time lived since our last Examen.  If we practice the Examen daily, it will be the last 24 hours of our lived experience.  It may be helpful to go through the events hour by hour.  Pay special attention to the events that have stirred us emotionally.  How did I react to those events?  Did any events cause us to fear and anxiety, anger, to fall into sin or to move away from God.  Ignatius calls all these negative inner movements desolation.  Stay in those events.  Ask Jesus to show you the significance behind each of these negative movements within the soul.  Do they tell you something about who you are at the moment?  If so prompted, repent and ask for God’s forgiveness and help.

Then, we pay close attention to the events that made us joyful, peaceful, feel fully alive, or drawn close to God.  Ignatius calls these positive inner movements consolation.  Stay in those events.  Again, ask Jesus to show you the significance behind each of these movements.  Do they tell you something about who you are?  Do they tell you something about who God is?  Give thanks to God for these movements of consolation.

One normally can go through the Examen in about 15 minutes.  Do not worry if you do not right away receive any insight from God about the significance of these positive or negative movements.  God may show you in due time as you continue to journey with him.  Do not fall into the temptation of doing a self analysis.  The insight gained from the Examen is a gift from God –  not the result of a self-analysis.

Over time, patterns of desolation and consolation will emerge.  They are the “inner compass” pointing you to the directions where you are still bound by “unfreedom” (or sin) –  these are the places in which God, in his grace, wants to meet you – and where you can be most alive in God.

 

 

 

Being, Not Striving

Gwen is a happily married woman of 40 years, the mom of four sons and a grandmother who loves her role! I met Gwen through our SoulStream spiritual direction training and we made a superb connection together. We also did some listening prayer together which was another connecting experience. We have even found a longtime friend in common. Gwen has been involved in Youth with a Mission with her husband for almost 40 years and with all of the above has found time to receive a Bachelor of Education from UBC and a Master’s of Ministry with SSU. As part of her studies she wrote an 89-day devotional for the students of her program. She loves writing and is a prolific journaller. I am happy to introduce my friend Gwen and her thoughtful posting on Being, not Striving.

 

Being, Not Striving

By Gwen Neufled

 

For a person like me, the eldest of seven siblings and a worrier, the aspiration to a more contemplative life-style presents daily challenges. I sit down in a prayerful posture, seeking to concentrate on the face of Jesus, striving to just BE with Him.

 

 

 
Striving

That may be the crux of the matter for me. Contemplation is NOT about striving.

Still I strive to bring my concentration back to center in the midst of remembering all the things clamoring to be done and people needing to be attended to. I remind myself of the need to trust that ‘everything belongs’. I feel Him smiling at my efforts. I feel Him giving me hints about how to deal with the demands of daily life. I feel His gentleness and I meditate again on His loving kindness. I’m no mystic. But I am falling deeper and deeper into Love.

 

 

« Previous Entries

line
footer
Copyright Lynda Chalmers
This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.