Praying via art is a multi-sensory way to pray with God. Visio Divina is a type of prayer that makes use of visuals — works of art, stained glass windows, icons, and even natural images.
We all need a spiritual practice that integrates our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. Visio Divina is a practice with long-lasting benefits that can increase your happiness and health. It’s been used in many different cultures for centuries and has been shown to have the following effects: decreased anxiety increased well-being, decreased mental illness, improved quality of life and mood, and enhanced self-esteem.
Visio Divina is a tool used in ancient times to tap into this spiritual realm to see what divine messages wait for us there. Visio Divina, sacred seeing can help you find peace in your life by reflecting on these messages with their healing powers. It will also help you make decisions based on what you see in your spiritual journey.
How Is Visio Divina Defined?
Visio Divina is a Latin phrase that translates as “divine seeing.” It is similar to the prayer form Lectio Divina (divine reading), except instead of Scripture, visual components assist you to focus your thoughts on prayer. In addition, it enables God to communicate directly into your heart via the image.
The practice of Visio Divina is a powerful spiritual exercise that helps you connect with God. It involves wearing “God-glasses”, putting on a lens or vision that reveals the truth and praying with images. You may choose sacred images, photos, paintings, or pictures from a wide variety of spiritual themes. For example, you may choose to pray using an image of a saint, a religious icon, or even a piece of contemporary art. The goal of the practice is to connect with God through your chosen image and its meaning.
This style of prayer has been practiced for centuries and is particularly popular in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities, where icons are frequently utilized in prayer. On the other hand, Visio Divina is gaining popularity among Protestant congregations as well.
The most fruitful prayer life results from a multisensory connection with God.
Each of us is wired uniquely. Some of us thrive on the written word, while others thrive on the spoken word, while others thrive on music, art, and movement. Each of these methods enables us to pray with God. While we may have a particular mode of prayer, the richest prayer life comes from experiencing God with all of your senses.
Personally, I’ve found Visio Divina to be a unique way to pray with God, allowing me to approach God in a way I would not have otherwise. If this is a new way of praying for you, I strongly encourage you to give it a try.
Visio Divina: How to Pray
1) Locate a Prayer Image Visio Divina accepts images of any type. You may incorporate images from your church – a religious painting, a stained glass window, or an icon – into your design. You can seek for artworks in art books or on museum websites. Historical religious paintings are excellent selections, and you can begin your prayer session with the relevant Scripture verse. Additionally, you can pray with religious pictures from different civilizations or with contemporary or abstract art. Visio Divina does not even require artwork. Take a walk outside and use a natural image.
2) Cleanse Your Heart in Preparation for Prayer Prior to beginning, choose your image and make it visible — either by physically being near it or by pulling up the image on your phone or computer. Perhaps you’d want to begin your prayer session with a scripture reading. If you’re utilizing a religious image, include the scripture that corresponds to it. Alternatively, you may pray a Scripture passage from the day’s lectionary readings or a personal favorite. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, clear your mind, and invite God to join you in this time of prayer. Invoke God to communicate with you through this image.
3) Allow Your Heart to Speak Through the Image Reopen your eyes and examine the image you’ve chosen. Allow your eyes to pause and focus on the area of the image to which they are initially drawn. For a minute or two, focus exclusively on that portion of the image. Then, while still viewing that portion of the image in your mind, close your eyes.
4) Consider the Entire Image Open your eyes and take in the entire sight. Consider the entire image and allow it to elicit a word, an emotion, or an image in your heart. What does God speak to your heart? What thoughts or concerns does this image elicit? What feelings are you experiencing? Continue gazing and reflecting for as long as necessary, then momentarily close your eyes and rest them.
5) Use the Image to Pray Raise your eyes. Respond to God when viewing the visual. Pray in response to the words, images, feelings, concerns, and thoughts that are currently on your mind. Continue to pray while gazing at the image. Then, briefly close and relax your eyes.
6) Take refuge and Ponder in God As you conclude your prayer period, open your eyes and gaze once more upon the image. As you ponder on this prayer experience, rest in God’s presence. Consider how you’re going to incorporate this into your life. You may choose to write about your experience in a journal.
If you are unfamiliar with this technique, you can practice it yourself, with a group, or with a solitary object—pair scripture with a painting or icon that allows you, the viewer to reflect on the text while gazing at the image.
Inviting the divine into our lives through the images we see can be a life-changing experience. It has roots in the ancient practice of Lectio Divina, which involves slow interaction with sacred texts and images to allow the holy words to rise into the consciousness. By praying and contemplating with a religious image, icon, or painting, we may encounter the divine and undergo a spiritual transformation by the experience. You will have a deeper, more intense relationship with God through each of these encounters.
As we age, we begin to experience changes physically and emotionally, and spiritually. For many people, this involves taking a spiritual journey.
We may find ourselves seeking more meaning and purpose in life as our loved ones pass away. We may feel more isolated as we move from a family of many to one of one. And we may even experience feelings of resentment and anger as we struggle with financial burdens and realize that our careers and lifestyles will never be the same.
This is natural, and it’s part of the human experience. What does this mean for us? How can we find peace as we age? And what can spirituality offer to help us through this journey? Read on to learn how meditation, mindfulness, prayer, and other spiritual practices can help you find peace as you grow older.
The Journey of Aging
Aging is a journey, not a destination. As we age, our bodies, minds, and spirits change. The physical changes are apparent: hair grayer, skin thinner, joints stiffer. But the emotional and spiritual changes are often less visible to those around us. The body may grow weaker, but the spirit grows stronger. Those who have found peace at the end of life are often more grateful for their blessings than resentful of what they don’t have or didn’t accomplish.
To be sure, there are challenges to aging that can seem impossible. For example, loneliness is common as friends move away or die; financial burdens can increase due to health care needs or other obligations; careers may come to an end as bodies slow down.
But many people find peace in their old age because they know it’s part of living a meaningful life. People who allow themselves time to process and reflect on these challenges may also find themselves better able to cope with them and even grow from them. They might ask themselves: What am I really grateful for? What do I want my legacy to be? Am I living out my values?
We can tap into this sense of peace by practicing spirituality in our everyday lives: meditation, prayer, mindfulness practices like yoga and tai chi (or even walking), journaling, or talking with friends. These activities help us reconnect with ourselves and others in new ways that lead us back to our true selves—and bring us closer to God.
How Spirituality Can Help Us through the Journey
As we age, our bodies change. We may experience physical pain, loneliness, and anger. We may find ourselves searching for meaning in life. This is all part of the human experience, but that doesn’t make it easy to deal with. Spirituality can provide a source of comfort and peace as we journey through these changes.
The first thing that we need to do is define what spirituality means to us as individuals. There are many different definitions of spirituality, but most scholars agree on a few basic concepts: the search for meaning or purpose in our lives; faith in something greater than ourselves; connection with nature and other living things, meaning, and purpose in their later years. There are different approaches to spirituality, and here are some strategies for creating a meaningful life as you grow older.
One approach to spirituality is to focus on your relationships with others. This might involve volunteering or participating in activities that promote fellowship and community, like church and church gatherings. Another option is to focus on your relationship with yourself. This could involve practices like prayer, meditation, or yoga, which help us connect with our inner selves.
Another essential aspect of spiritual growth is learning how to cope with the losses and changes that life brings. Whether you’re grieving a loved one’s death, dealing with an illness or disability of your own, or simply facing new challenges in work and relationships as we age, it’s essential to know how to deal with these transitions gracefully. An excellent way to do this is through spiritual direction, therapy, and support groups, which can help us process our feelings and find ways to cope.
Finally, it’s important to find ways to stay connected to the world around us. This could mean getting involved in your local community or simply spending time outside in nature. Connecting with the natural world can be incredibly healing and rejuvenating and help us feel more connected to something larger than ourselves.
Whatever approach we take, it’s important to remember that the spiritual journey is a lifelong process. There is no one right way to find meaning and purpose in life; what matters most is that we are authentic and true to ourselves. So don’t be afraid to explore different paths on your journey and stay open to new experiences and ways of thinking as you go. The world is a big place, and there’s always something new to learn!
As we get older, our lives start to feel more finite than they once did. When we were young, retirement seemed so far away, and it was an abstract concept. Now that you’ve retired or are nearing retirement age, we desire to spend more time on things that give us meaning and purpose in life: family, hobbies, volunteering at a charity organization, and so on.
When we focus on spiritual activities like meditation and prayer, we find more peace in our lives. These practices help us feel connected with something larger than ourselves- whether that’s God, the awesomeness of God, or simply the feeling of transcendence when meditating on nothingness (a state without thoughts).
Another key benefit of spirituality is its ability to provide comfort and peace during times when you are feeling low.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation: Meditation is a practice that dates back to the first century and has been adopted by many different cultures and religions. It can help you find peace and calm at any moment, no matter how chaotic or complex. When we meditate, we focus on our breath and clear our minds of distracting thoughts. This helps promote physical relaxation, emotional release, spiritual growth, and more!
Meditation and mindfulness can benefit you as you age in many ways. One way it’s beneficial is that meditation can help us become more present in the moment. This helps reduce stress and anxiety because we can focus on what is happening at this moment rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Meditation also helps us make better decisions because we can sit down and reflect before making a decision rather than being reactive.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is similar to meditation in that it teaches us how to focus on the present moment. We will find peace and happiness if we can learn to be present in each moment without judging or trying to change anything.
Mindfulness refers to being mindful of our bodies, environment, feelings, thoughts, and connections with others. Mindfulness helps us slow down and live life more fully by noticing how we feel about a situation without seeking a quick fix or immediate remedy. It also helps us get through difficult situations by noticing when we’re distracted from reality by our thoughts.
Prayer: Prayer is a very personal and deeply spiritual experience. It gives you time for personal reflection and connection with your higher power. In addition, prayer is one of the most important ways to find peace as we age because it allows us to feel grounded as we grow older.
Prayer may be in the form of meditation or conversation. It’s a way to communicate with the divine. It can be a simple conversation or petition, or it can be more formal and structured. Prayer is an opportunity to communicate with God, your higher power, angels, saints, ancestors, animals – anyone you believe in. Prayer is also an opportunity for self-reflection and contemplation.
Prayer has a way of calming our minds and providing a sense of peace even amid chaos or turmoil. Prayer can help you connect with your deepest desires and make them manifest.
The benefits of prayer include greater self-confidence, more peaceful relationships with others, better health-related outcomes (such as lower blood pressure), increased productivity at work or in the world around us because we are less stressed out, etc.
Spirituality can bring peace through the journey of aging. There are many ways to maintain a spiritual connection during this time, but one thing is for sure – you need not go it alone! We have resources available at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Stone Harbor, NJ, to help guide your prayer and meditation experience. And don’t forget about getting out there with others who are also on their journeys towards discovering what matters most when life seems so full of uncertainty.
Join us today in praying, meditating, worshipping, fellowship gathering, or just being relational with other people who are experiencing changes too!
I pray that you find peace as you navigate these sometimes-difficult transitions now and over the years ahead. Our journey through the aging process is a challenging one. However, with the help of spirituality, we can find peace and acceptance as we age.
Nowadays, people often do not take time to reflect on their faith. Instead, they’re rushing from one thing to the next without ever taking a second to stop and take in what’s going on around them, yet Christianity is a faith that begins in prayer. The Bible tells us to “Pray without ceasing.”
Contemplative prayer is a way to help us take the pause we need.
In this short space, I want to explore what it means to hold a consistent practice of contemplative prayer as a Christian. For those who may not know, contemplative prayer is a way of communicating with God in a way that focuses on wonder, awe, and mystery. Instead of asking for something or telling God how we feel, we focus on God and God’s presence. By doing this, we can come into the present moment and connect with the power of the Holy Spirit. This type of prayer leaves an imprint on our hearts and in our souls that helps us better discern God’s presence in our life –and become more aware of where the Spirit is leading.
Contemplative Prayer as a Christian Practice In Christianity, contemplative prayer and meditation is not a new or novel concept. In every era, some pray in a meditative manner. Our Desert Fathers and Mothers of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great in the West, and Pseudo-Dionysius and the Hesychasts in the East were the first to put contemplative prayer into practice.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux exemplified the Christian contemplative tradition in the Middle Ages. St. Hildegard, St. Mechtilde, Meister Eckhart, Ruysbroek, and Tauler were all Christian Contemplatist. Additionally, the author of The Imitation of Christ, Thomas Kempis, and fourteenth-century English mystics such as the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Walter Hilton, Richard Rolle, and Julian of Norwich, contributed to the Christian contemplative legacy.
Before and following the Reformation, the Carmelites of Saint Teresa, St. John of the Cross, and St. Therese of Lisieux, the French school of spiritual writers, and the Jesuits, particularly Fathers De Caussade and Lallemont, all engaged in what they referred to as “spiritual practices” in their daily lives. These techniques were also observed by Benedictines such as Dom Augustine Baker and Dom John Chapman, as well as modern Cistercians such as Dom Vital Lehodey and Thomas Merton.
Contemplative prayer is a way of communicating with God in a way that focuses on the awesome power of God with all the wonder of our hearts. It is about focusing on God alone and God’s presence in our life instead of asking for something or telling God how we feel. By doing this, our prayer leaves an imprint on our hearts and soul.
You might be wondering, “What exactly is contemplative prayer?” It is a Christian practice grounded in the belief that we are all made in God’s image and likeness. As such, we want to be as Godlike as possible. We want to live Holy lives. Contemplative prayer assists us in being in the present moment, seeing things as they really are, and jumping into the mystery of who God truly is.
Examples of contemplative prayer:
Meditation, sitting quietly, attentively waiting for the Spirit to speak
use your senses as prompts for prayer (e.g., textures, smells, tastes, sounds)
Let go of expectations and selfishness during prayer time
pray without words or one-word mantra
pray without ceasing
Contemplative prayer is a form of communication between you, God, and the Holy Spirit. You are listening to God, and God is communicating with you through the power of the Holy Spirit. You are resting in God’s Holy presence.
So often, when we pray, we are thinking about what we want or need from prayer. We are thinking about why we are praying instead of being present in the moment. Contemplative prayer helps us come into the present moment and see things from a whole new perspective. This type of communication is not easy–it takes practice.
One way that people start this practice is by setting aside sacred space—a place where you feel safe, quiet, and at peace. For example, it may be a space where you like to sit and read.
Another idea for a busy mind is writing down your prayers before you enter into contemplation, letting them go and allowing the space for the Holy Spirit to respond.
Another way to start is to practice contemplative prayer slowly by taking it a step at a time. Start with short moments of about five to ten minutes, then work your way up to sitting in God’s presence for twenty to thirty minutes. Eventually, the time will go by so quickly that even an hour will be simple and refreshing for your Spirit.
All of this helps your communication with the Divine become more meaningful–and more effective–in the future! You are deepening your relationship.
What is the Difference Between Contemplative Prayer and Other Types of Prayer?
Contemplative prayer is different from other types of prayer because you are resting in God’s presence with a focus on God’s great power and mystery. We notice our body, our breath, and all our senses. We submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit in a sacred space. In this type of prayer, you are less likely to ask for something or tell God how you feel. Instead, you focus on Him and His presence. This type of prayer is not only a way for us to communicate with God, but it’s also a way for us to be more present in the moment and have clarity in our everyday discernment.
Additional types of Christian Prayer
Blessing and Adoration is a form of prayer that praises God.
Prayer of Petition, which is most familiar, is a form of prayer in which we ask God for a particular need or direction. We bring our worries, concerns, and needs before the cross.
Prayer of Thanksgiving is a prayer of gratitude, recognizing and appreciating all of God’s gifts in our lives.
Corporate prayer is a type of prayer is where Christians come together to worship God through song, reading the Bible, and more. This type of Christian practice allows Christians to build community with one another while growing in their faith. (Though I argue that there is a deepening of community relationships when contemplation happens among you in small groups)
Intercessory prayer occurs when a person prays to God for someone else’s needs or desires. Intercessory prayers can be offered by individuals or groups–both of whom are praying for the same intention.
Reasons to Practice Contemplative Prayer “When he taught his disciples how to pray, Jesus told them: “Go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:6
Contemplative prayer is a unique and wonderful way to communicate with God. It’s not that we can’t talk to God any other way, but contemplative prayer is a special and unique moment for us and our Father in Heaven. So, what are some reasons why you should consider practicing contemplative prayer? Here are six:
Prayer becomes more intimate
Contemplative prayer helps us to recognize ourselves as God sees us
Contemplative prayer helps us to notice the world with Holy vision.
Prayer becomes less about getting what we want and more about giving to others
Contemplative prayer creates space for reflection and self-awareness
Prayer becomes less about feeling better and more about creating beauty in the world
How to Do Contemplative Prayer Contemplative prayer can be done in a variety of ways. Not everyone does it the same way, and that’s perfectly fine! However, some common ways to do contemplative prayer include:
Repetitive Prayer or Mantra Meditation: Repetitive prayer is when you pray the same thing over and over again, such as repeating the word Maranatha (the Aramaic word for Come Lord, Come). You can repeat this aloud or in silence.
Lectio Divina: Meditating on a passage from the Bible or a piece of your favorite worship song.
Visio Divina: Focus on an icon, painting, or another Holy object.
Contemplation Discernment: Focus on what God wants for you and ask God to show you the right path.
Conclusion Throughout, we see that prayer is not just something Christians do to ask for something or express their feelings. Prayer is also about communicating with God to hear God’s voice and feel God’s presence. Contemplative prayer is a way to come into the present moment and see things from a whole new perspective, a holy vision. This moves our hearts and souls in the direction of living Holy Lives.
They say the beach in which my room overlooks is known for its healing qualities. If I had any doubts when I first arrived they have all been alliviated now.
The word retreat in the Christian world conjurs up so many thoughts and memories. For some it draws us back to retreat houses, talks and quiet reflections, for others it’s the thought of monastaries and convents, a quiet rule of life with common worship and meals. As retreat houses, convents and monastaries close what are we to do and where are we to go as christians to restore, refresh and deepen our relationship with God in our secular world?
There are many types of retreats and various offerings one can find, if you are willing to search and/or travel. There are health and wellness retreats, spiritual retreats, contemplative retreats and more. There are even retreats centered around one particular intrest like music, the arts or religion. There are directed group retreats and solo self-directed retreats as well. There are retreats in cities and in rural areas.
If you have the discipline and clear intention you can retreat in just about any place in the world, away from where you are right now, but be careful not to confuse retreat with vacation. A vacation isn’t necessarily restorative or focused on the awesomeness of our God. How many times after coming home from time away have we uttered the words, “I need a vacation after my vacation just to recover from vacation.” No a retreat has a clear purpose and objective. It requires discipline. Even a silent retreat in a convent full of nuns requires discipline to adhere to a rule of life. It is not passive. I went on a silent retreat before becoming ordained. Unfortunately it was the last retreat I was on before now. I don’t normally like to go this long, but much like the world around us, COVID got in the way.
Having been so long and living through 2020 and most of 21, I was long over due to sit with God away from my usual surroundings with the clear intention of healing mind, body and spirit in and with the presence of God discerning the path ahead. I was long over due in allowing myself the time and space to release, heal and restore in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The obstacle I encountered was that all of my favorite nearby retreat houses closed in recent years and another had waiting list into the new year. Upon the advice of my spiritual director who has walked beside me for many years, this time with God could no longer wait so I set out to create a meaningful self directed, solo Christian retreat in a secular world.
I share this now with you because many of you have inquired to where I was going and what I was doing. After sharing the following with my son, he said jokingly, “Ma, it sounds like a spiritual rehab.” He’s not all that wrong, I tapped into my roots, my foundation and set out to create a mind, body, spirit christian retreat in which I have found to be restorative while deepening my relationship with Christ.
In addition to the two books I’ve read, Joan Chittister, The time is Now and God’s Voice Within: The Ignatian Way to Discover God’s Will by Father Mark E. Thibodeaux SJ, what follows are some, not all but some of the modalities I used during my retreat over the course of this week.
The Artist’s Way
Every day began with Morning pages.
In 2009 I had the spectacular blessing of sitting in class at Lincoln Center in New York City with Julia Cameron as my teacher. She is an author, artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker, composer, and journalist. Best known for her book The Artist’s Way (1992), she taught us about nurturing the divine creativity within and provided three tools that I utilized on my retreat this week. You too may find them useful in your day and or week. Below is a summary of the three and if you choose to learn more about Julia, The Artist’s Way, or any other of her works you may find her at the following link: https://juliacameronlive.com/
According to Julia’s book and website:
1) The bedrock tool of a creative recovery is a daily practice called Morning Pages.
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
2)The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.
The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it. Learn more about the Artist date at the following link: https://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/artists-dates/
3) Walking as Prayer
“When I wrote The Artist’s Way, I got all the way to week twelve and said, P.S. Walk. I have been teaching now for twenty years since the publication of the book, and I now realize that there are three basic tools, not two, and they are Morning Pages, Artist Dates, and Walks.”
“All large change is made through many small steps. Notice that word in there– “step.” Walking leads us a step at a time. Walking gives us a gentle path. We are talked to as we walk. We hear guidance. It comes from within us and from the world around us. Walking is a potent form of prayer.”
The Divine Office
Now empty of my own distractions I was preparred to move onto the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours, Prime-6:00 am, Terce-9:00am, Sext 12:00pm, None-3:00pm, Vespers 6:00pm, and Compline 9:00pm) I used the Roman Catholic App The Divine Office which can be downloaded at https://divineoffice.org/ I use this app alot and enjoy praying with people across the world. The readings do vary a bit from our Episcopal tradition, but I enjoy the prayers, chants and hymns that are embedded in the office.
Spiritual direction is an ancient practice in which one person helps another to listen for the voice of God in his or her life. The first known spiritual directors were the desert fathers and mothers, the fourth-century hermits have often been considered the first Christian monastics who lived in the Near Eastern desert and helped each other as they tried to live Jesus’s teachings. Spiritual direction has been a part of the Catholic and Anglican traditions for many centuries.
Spiritual Direction does not prescribe the “right way” to pray or live one’s faith. Instead, spiritual directors are trained and experienced in sacred conversation. Through attentive Holy listening, storytelling, reflection, conversation, prayer, or silence, a spiritual director helps a directee come to better understand God’s movements, presence, and callings in one’s own life. Hence deepening the relationship between the directed and God.
Some resources you may find useful in Spiritual Direction:
Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction. Cowley, 1992. A wise book on how to give others the gift of disinterested, loving attention.
Kenneth Leech, Soul Friend: An Invitation to Spiritual Direction. HarperSanFrancisco, 1992.
Anne Winchell Silver, Trustworthy Connections: Interpersonal Issues in Spiritual Direction. Cowley, 2003. This is one of the most practical books about the how-to of spiritual direction, addressing many of the issues and challenges that can arise with wisdom and clarity. (Ann was my teacher at General Theological Seminary)
The Healing Power of Water
I spent a good deal of time in the water, drinking water and gazing over the water in prayer.
Water is mentioned a total of 722 times in the Bible, more often than faith, hope, prayer, and worship. Genesis 1:2, “The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” Water is an essential component of life, it was created on the very first day.
In Revelation, water is mentioned again, and it is almost the last words of the Bible. Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.”
Water flows throughout the scripture, and this reminds us of its importance…both spiritually and physically.
“St. John Damascene summarized, “Water, then, is the most beautiful element and rich in usefulness and purifies from all filth, and not only from the filth of the body but from that of the soul, if it should have received the grace of the Spirit”. (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith– Book 2: Chapter 9). Water has the power to heal, as can be seen from the stories of Naaman – the Syrian cured from his leprosy in the waters of Jordan (2 Kings 5:1-14) and the annual miracles at Bethesda in Jerusalem (John 5:1-9). Water has the power to purify, to provide deliverance, and it can also destroy evil and enemies as in the stories of the Flood (Genesis 6:17) and the flight of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 14:1-15:21).
Christ of the Abyss–Cristo_degli_abissi 70 to 75% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. Roughly 70% of an adult’s body is made up of water, and about 85% of the adult brain is made up of water. Water is essential to life, and all living things need water to survive.”
In the waters of baptism, we are lovingly adopted by God into God’s family, and given God’s own life to share, and we are reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ. Holy Baptism, which is performed through the pouring of water or immersion in, marks our formal entry into the congregation and in our wider Church. Water, therefore, is a reminder of not only life but our life in Christ through the vows we share in our Baptismal Covenant. We are marked as Christ’s own forever.
Sound Bath Meditation
I read somewhere that a sound bath helps tune the nervous system just as one would tune a piano.
What a glorious meditative experience I had with Abra at Shift Studio in Ventnor, NJ. My words alone cannot do this experience nearly enough justice. Surely this will not be the last visit.It was thouroughly healing.
Many of you inquired about this method of meditation as I eagerly shared that I could not wait for this experience. The following is what I found on the web:
“Sound baths have nothing to do with a relaxing soak in the tub, and yet more psychiatrists, therapists, and other wellness experts are acknowledging the practice as ultra restorative and cleansing. A sound bath is a meditative experience where the individual or those in attendance are “bathed” in sound waves. These waves are produced by various sources, including healing instruments such as gongs, singing bowls, percussion, chimes, rattles, tuning forks, and even the human voice itself.
It may seem like sound baths are a New Age trend, but sound therapy is as old as time, dating back over 40,000 years. Ancient Greeks used flutes and lyres to treat digestion and mental health, Tibetans used singing bowls for over 2,000 years for meditation purposes, and Australian aboriginal tribes played the didgeridoo to heal the sick.
There’s a ton of research on the benefits of sound healing, which is why many health experts say sound baths are a promising tool. The practice can have a tremendous impact on the mind and body.
Most sound bath programs last 45 to 60 minutes. The sessions are led by a sound bath practitioner trained in how to use various instruments and use vibrations — gongs, chimes, tuning forks, singing bowls — all assist to facilitate deep meditation, relaxation and, healing.”
The following is a meditative piece with one of my favorite healing artists, Ashana. This piece has the addition of Piano by Thomas Barquee. You can imagine yoursef here giving yourself to God, having Jesus wrap his arms around you, loving you and holding you. Ashana uses the Crystal bowls and her voice to bring deep restorative peace. Close your eyes and enjoy 10 minutes of calm.
Prayer through Art
Just by taking a look around this blog site you can see the artwork that I produced all through the power of prayer. No plan, no insight, no thought, just prayer that gives life through color and reflection. I took time to pray doodle and create with the Holy Spirit this week. On a side note, there were times in my life in which I had no words, I couldn’t speak, prayer through art radiated the message that needed to be heard. It simply said what I couldn’t.
We generally think of prayer as something we read, say, or listen to. But prayer can also be a visual experience. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” Images (and all forms of visual arts) can often evoke rich nuance and meaning that cannot be replicated in words. Similarly, art can bring another dimension to prayer.
There are two main modes from which to approach prayer through art: meditating on art as a starting point for prayer and creating art as an expression of prayer. While they are in some ways opposites, they both use visual means to engage in and nurture prayer, reflection, and meditation.
Art has a long history within the Christian church. Paintings, tapestries, sculptures, friezes, stained glass, and other images and icons were some of the first ways the common people could understand the stories of Christianity. It was not until the 1450s that the printing press began to make the Bible accessible to those outside of the church, and even then the majority of people in Europe and the U.S. were not literate until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (and globally not until the mid-to-late twentieth century!). For thousands of years, oral and visual traditions were the primary means through which people were exposed to the Bible and the Christian faith. The result is a wealth of religious artworks in every style and media—a treasury from which we, today, can draw inspiration.
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
On Thursday evening I received a call from my son. I barely said hello as in his excitement he exclaimed, “God humbled me Ma’! God wanted to humble me. I swear.” I could tell that something big happened to him, something special, something memorable. “Slow down, breathe. What happened?” I said. “God was active in my life, God was active.” I could hear the tenderness in his voice as he began his story. I could tell he was moved more deeply as if he was spooked but at the same time at peace, a deep peace, that kind of peace you feel when you are brought to tears by an exuberant joy. “I missed the 5:06, and had to catch the next train when it came I jumped on, but it was an Express to New York. I had to get off in Woodbridge so I waited for the next train. I was cold, really cold, and just as the train was supposed to come, I heard the voice on the loudspeaker, the train was canceled. My phone was dead and I didn’t know what to do. Then out of nowhere, this old black man began to talk to me. I asked if he could call me a cab, so he dialed the number and the station no longer exists, so he offered me a ride to Linden.” He was excited, he had to share. As a mom I wanted to say, “Are you mad! What if something happened to you?” but as I priest, I took a deep breath, stayed still and I could hear something did happen to him, something big.
“I got into his car and we talked the whole time. He told me that when he was in college all of his friends had cars. They would pass him by with a beep and a wave. He took the bus to get to school from one end of New York to another. It was far. Well, one day he missed the bus. His friends drove by, beeped and waved like they always did and then there was this guy in a pick-up truck with a big dog. He stopped, waved him on in and gave him a ride to class. Mom, he said, “From that day on son, I promised to never let any one man go stranded. If ever there was someone stranded, I would pick them up and give them a ride.” Ma’ he knew me. He knew that’s what I do for all my friends, that’s what we should do and he did it for me. God was active in my life today. He wanted to humble me Ma’, humble me. I’ll never let anyone go stranded.”
In a world where we are building walls, social distancing and shutting out the other, Jesus engages the other in the story of the woman at the well. It’s not about quenching his physical thirst as a man or asking for a favor. The story is deeper, more lovely and beautiful as Jesus expresses his knowledge of her for all that she is, even as a Samaritan woman, he loved her without shame, without pretense, without expectation.
Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.
Excited about her encounter with Jesus, she rushed to the city to tell everyone she knew. God was active in her life, humbled her and she was known and to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.
In a world that at times, seems to lose its sanity, engulfed in fear, and stockpiling silly amounts of toilet paper, are we still enough to trust and know our encounters with our active God? Are we brave enough, to engage in a relationship with those who are seemingly unlike ourselves? Do we allow ourselves to be nourished, not by tap, well or bottle, but by the spirit of God that lives among us? The spirit that truly knows who we are, faults and all.
I keep wondering, what if I had a mom reaction and instilled my fears in my son, would I become an obstacle to his grace, or would I miss the blessing of his shared grace? He evangelized his mother. He trusted, had the courage and felt the call of God who nourished him and in turn nourished me. That’s evangelism, that’s God.
To be known is to be loved and to be loved ist to be known.
In this time of “social distancing” be intentional, be in a relationship, reach out and let another know how deeply they are loved and proclaim the Grace that God has given to you, to everyone. Engage, lovingly engage.
I am so very grateful to the man and to the God who loved my son.
When I was a mere 21 years of age, I lost a dear friend and mentor. I remember her brother sitting in a wheelchair alongside the family near the coffin. We were still in the middle of the AIDS crisis. Everyone knew he had the disease. He had the visible sores, on his hands, face, and arms. He did not have much time left in his flesh.
The line for the viewing was long, it wrapped around and outside the funeral parlor, my mentor was well-loved and touched many, many lives. As I stood slowly inching my way through the room, I saw person by person, walking by her brother, barely a nod, afraid to touch him, console him or acknowledge him as if their seeing him would somehow endanger themselves. They shied away, looked elsewhere and passed him by. They created boundaries around themselves of not only flesh but of the spirit. Our mourning grew sadder.
By my very nature, that is not who I am. I can’t pass you by, overlook you, or walk away. As I approached him, I hugged him, kissed him on the side of his cheek, and together holding hands we mourned and reminisced. I shared how deeply I loved his sister and shared my condolences. I remember the look in his eyes, the feel of his hand, his long beared as he gazed back at me. That moment was powerful for us both.
At the risk of being seen, I loved. At the risk of being unseen, he was loved.
The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”
What if Abram didn’t listen? What if Abram hid from God and buried himself in the busyness of his days? What if Abram was so full of fear that he refused to be seen by our creator? After all, it is risky to get up and go, to leave our place of comfort and go out into the darkness of the unknown. It is risky to trust, to give up control, to lay aside the presence of those we are familiar with, to change our routines, and to reach out to those we do not know. We risk the feeling of loss, of rejection, or of being alone, but when we sit refusing to see or to be seen, when we hideaway, and we say, not me God, not now God, I can’t do it, God, I’m too busy God, then we risk our spiritual lives. We risk not being born.
Like a seed planted in the garden, so is the life of our spirit. If we do not tend to the seed it will not flourish, but if we love the seed, give food to the soil, water the seed and pay attention to its needs; giving it shelter when it’s grown too cold, and providing it with light when darkness is too much, the seed will grow, it will be nourished, it will have endless potential to grow into everything God has intended it to become, and as it grows, as it flourishes, the essence of its being will nourish life along the way. Think of your favorite flower, the smell of a rose or a lily, and how your breath and step changes its pace as you preserve the moment of its grace in your presence. Think of the wind as it blows the pollen of a flower to reach the soil, or the bee or hummingbird that feeds on the nectar giving and sustaining life as it risks to be seen.
It was the week of Passover, people flocked to Jerusalem. The town swelled to a number several times its size. Jesus was teaching in the streets, performing miracles, drawing large crowds. He drew the attention of the Sanhedrin, who was the supreme council and tribunal of the Jews headed by a High Priest and having religious, civil, and criminal jurisdiction, they were not fond of Jesus. The Sanhedrin feared that Jesus was causing a rebellion, an uprising among the people.
Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, then goes in the cover of darkness, sneaks out at night, afraid to be seen by others, who may mock him, or ostracize him, or accuse him of betrayal to the council in which he served, to go and speak to Jesus. While dodging the risk of being seen by his community who knows him well, he also risks being seen by God who knows him best.
He sits before Jesus…
The Spiritual life of Nicodemus was not born here but it began here, it was conceived here. He knew the teachings and was well versed in Jewish law, but he had not yet been born by the spirit which breathes life into us all if we allow ourselves to see and be seen.
Any woman who has conceived a child and given birth knows the process does not happen overnight. The process is long, it’s arduous, it draws us out of our comfortable places into a vulnerable existence whereby everything changes, from our bodies to our souls, to our minds. Like being born from our mother’s womb so too is our spiritual life, our relationship with God. Being born again is not an instantaneous lightbulb moment but a journey of deepening witness allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, to be seen as we seek, to be drawn out of ourselves and into the complete care of our creator.
Here in our Gospel of John, Nicodemus shows up for the first time, like a seed deep in the soil, in the dark, but as we move through our Gospel, the spiritual life of Nicodemus is being fed, it’s being drawn out from the darkness and into the light. From seeing Jesus as a man in the flesh to seeing Jesus as the Savior, the Christ. Nicodemus stands up for Jesus in Chapter 7 against his own, he begins to believe. Then after Jesus is hung on the cross Nicodemus comes with a 100lbs of Myrrh in which to bury him. Born out of God’s brokenness on the cross, is the spiritual witness, the deepening faith, the love of Nicodemus, being born again and breathing new life into us all.
Nicodemus like Abram was drawn out from the comfortable place of his existence, where the boundaries were clear and defined by law, concrete, and into existence with the unlimited possibility that goes beyond the flesh and into the promise of immortal eternal life.
Our lectionary invites us to leave our comfort zones, to let go of the flesh, and see more deeply beyond the surface; to give up control, to open ourselves to new people, places and things, and to surrender our lives to the care of our almighty God.
We can do this in many ways; by being in the presence of God, through the active stillness of centering prayer allowing the Holy Spirit room to dwell among us, or we can do this through communal prayer and worship and by seeking God in everything and everyone. We can do this by being present to God and being in the presence of God with others, by acknowledging the dignity of every human being.
Take the risk, allow yourself to see, and be seen. Smile at someone, bless them, pray for them, hold a door and be kind, and most importantly, listen and be present to one another, You will see God, and God will see you.
All we have to do is make time for God, make God our priority and take the risk.
No, prayer in the car on the way to work is not enough, or while you are doing the laundry, not enough, be intentional, truly intentional and give God your time, your space, your presence. Allow yourself to truly be seen, to be known, to be touched, to grow.
There was a priest I knew who lived in Princeton. One evening he went to visit with a gentleman from his congregation. He had never been invited in until this day. As he approached the home and drove into the long drive, he took special notice to the meticulously taken care of lawn. It was a seven-bedroom estate, large, and beautiful.
In awe of his surroundings, the priest crossed the threshold, and the man led him to the living room. He sat on a chair that was tattered and worn and quickly noticed the silence. The home was nearly empty. This was the only furnished room. The priest was confused, the gentleman never missed a tithed, showed up on Sunday regularly and was always dressed in a suit and smiled at those he greeted.
The walls were bare, the space was silent, and the man began to weep before his priest.
According to Homer in Greek mythology, there are creatures, hideous monsters, half-bird, and half woman, referred to as Sirens. They lived on an island and lured sailors to their death. They would sing and by the power of their sweetness in their song, they stirred an illusion to every sailor who would hear, an illusion of beauty, the sailors couldn’t resist.
Our Gospel tells the story:
Jesus went out into the desert for forty days and forty nights. This is an image of a new Exodus where Israel spent 40 years before reaching the promised land, with Jesus as the new Israel. He would face a time of testing, temptation, and struggle.
Wherever in the bible we see the number 40, note the struggle and temptation. The number 40 represents the purification from sin. For instance, Noah and the flood, there were 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Moses spent 40 days on the Mount before he could be received in the presence of God and Elijah fleeing from Jezebel spent 40 days and nights in the desert preparing to meet God, a time of preparation and purification.
This is our Lenten season. So how do we prepare ourselves for our Lord?
Well, going back to our Greek myth and the story of the Sirens; Odysseus who was the King of the isle Ithica who wanted to hear what the fuss was all about so he ordered his men to tie him, tightly to the mast and not let him out. The men, knowing better and not wanting to fight temptation, took beeswax and put it in their ears. As they rowed by Odysseus heard the song and frantically tried to undo his ties, yelling at the men to realease him, but the men could not hear, and rowed on by.
The men who rowed with beeswax in their ears simply walked away from temptation, but Odysseus, wanting to hear, basically tasted temptation then couldn’t resist without the help of his mates.
And then there was Orpheus, a beautiful poet, and musician. He was considered a prophet of his time who learned to play the Lyre from the Greek God, Apollo. It is said that his music was so powerful, he could make the trees bend and the animals dance. As the Argonauts passed through the waters where the Sirens could be heard, he remembered his gift, he pulled out his Lyre and played the most beautiful song, drowning out the call of temptation. Filling his boat with all that is good, true and beautiful.
Jesus in the desert is tempted by the Devil. Like our Greek myth, he is tempted with the sin of Pleasure, by the Flesh, to satisfy his hunger.
“if you are the son of God then just change the stones into bread and fill your belly, eat your fill.” Jesus resists that temptation by saying “man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Jesus quotes scripture.
Then knowing Jesus quoted scripture, the devil levels up, he takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple and says,
“if you’re really the son of God then throw yourself down because ‘he will give his angels charge of you.”
Here the devil veiled himself with scripture, Psalm 91,
“God will give his angels charge of you and they will bear you up less you strike your foot against a stone.”
He tried to tempt Jesus with the sin of Pride. If you are who you say you are, then do this, prove it.
“the devil took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and all of their glory; and he says ‘I’ll give this to you if you just worship me.”
The devil knew Jesus was here for all the souls of humanity, so he tempted him with the sin of possessions and offered them up, in a way that would eliminate Jesus’ suffering and humiliation, via death on a cross, if he just turned his back on God.
Jesus replies, once again with scripture, “you should only worship the Lord your God and him alone shall you serve.”
We live in a world full of illusions, the temptation of the devil, the call of the sirens dress in glamour, glitz and beautiful sounds to satisfy our instant need of pleasure, to embolden our pride, our ego or to relish and clothe ourselves with material things. Each gives us an appearance of wellness or satisfaction but leaves us thirsting for the spirit of God who is the only power who can give us the fullness of life both here and the hereafter.
I opened with a story of a man who appeared to be wealthy, no one knew the depth of his suffering, his wounds or scars. He was too proud to ask for help before this day or admit to his failures. He had fallen into sin and darkness. He gave in to the flesh, cheated on his spouse, and drank to numb his pain. His son died of drug addiction, and though he owned a multi-million dollar business, he was spiritually bankrupt and had nothing. He lost everything in the hunt for the easier softer way.
The Christian life is not an easy life. It is filled with suffering and pain, obstacles and temptation, but when we are wise and aware of the devil’s tricks and tactics, how he hides in false prophets, quotes scripture, offers instant gratification, or the promise of goods, we have the tools to resist with the help of one another, through prayer, fasting, giving alms, and reconciliation.
Over the next 40 days, arm yourself with wisdom in the reading of our scriptures, arm yourself with prayer calling on God to walk with you and guide you, and give of yourself to another human being and to the church assisting one another on this journey through a Christian life.
Love, Lift, guide and support one another, for the mercy of God is Great and the Power of God is forever.
It is good to speak truth to power, even when that power is me.
Being new to my congregation and not yet officially starting until this coming Sunday, we didn’t host Shrove Tuesday, so I attended a nearby church. They were a warm and friendly congregation. As I entered the doorway I saw some familiar faces and felt right at home introducing myself and working my way around the room. They were warm and friendly. The spirit led me to the right place.
The evening turned out to be more than pancakes and sausage, more than just fellowship or meeting new people and introducing myself, more than Mardi Gras, it turned into a moment of reconciliation and healing. A couple, who has been together for forty years mustered up the courage to confront me, share their woundedness and offer their truth. I am grateful they did. If they hadn’t I would not know the hurt they and their community had suffered, and they would not know that I am them.
We chatted for some time and in the end, I believe we all left with a sense of hope, healing and the opportunity to repair a relationship even though we never met until this day. This only happened through Grace of God, their courage to confront and my willingness to receive them. It didn’t matter whether or not I was the one who inflicted the pain of their wounds, as our scripture says,
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
I am responsible to offer empathy, understanding, and bridge to healing. I left feeling their pain, but hopeful for renewal, not only for them but for all they and who they represented.
My friend Moe posted a video and a quote on Social Media today by Moira Rogers, “The two hardest things to say in life are hello for the first time and goodbye for the last time.” Moe went on to say,” In our life, we are blessed by those who are surrounding us. There are those out there placed specifically in our lives to make us the people we end up being today.”
When we are humble and let go of our ego; when we remember our mortality, we begin to correct our course and focus more deeply on the meaning of the cross and the sacrifice Jesus has made for us all. We open ourselves to the workings of God, to the people in our lives and the people we’ve yet to meet. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable and hear what the spirit is saying, especially when we have fallen short, kept silent or chosen the easier softer way.
Here on Ash Wednesday and through the Lenten season, we have the opportunity to correct the course, to turn and repent, learn, pray, and worship together, to be formed in a way that follows the teachings of Jesus.
Speak to me Lord, speak truth to me Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.
When our fast is recognized not of what we are depriving ourselves but what we are giving and shedding for the sake of all life and God’s creation, we truly come to understand that our Ashes are not a mark of who we are but whose we are and everything in our lives is meaningless without Him, Jesus Christ our Lord.
May this Ash Wednesday bring you deep introspection, the beginning of reconciliation, and lead you into a Holy Lenten Season building bridges and healing relationships. The relationships you have with God, with others and with all of God’s creation.
Have you ever had a dream in which you didn’t want to wake? Perhaps you wanted to sleep long enough to see the ending, to see what happens next. Perhaps you didn’t want to let go of the feeling or of the place. Perhaps there were people in your dream that you haven’t seen for years or who have passed on. People who made you feel loved, or safe, or empowered. People who by their very touch, or presence you knew were special, or magical, or connected to a higher power in some way, connected to God.
I had such a dream last night. My teacher, my PEER Leader, and mentor from High School appeared. She was as stunning as ever. She was the type of woman who never seemed to age. Well dressed, make up perfect, her hair lit golden in the sunlight as she smiled at me. She hugged me, brought me food, nourished me and then she talked about how she was going to design this new place of hers in the finest of materials. She was peaceful and endearing as she had always been. Wise, we exchanged conversation. Then I noticed my Joe, he was my protector, my friend, my contemplative guide who passed many years ago. He looked at me with a nod, and when I looked back toward my teacher she was gone. I didn’t want to wake. I wanted to hold on to her, to that moment, to that place. I wanted to see what happens next. I wanted to see the finished room adorned with everything she imagined. I wanted to feel her presence with me.
Tried as I might, I kept my eyes tightly shut, “No No, don’t wake! I want to stay here for a while.” But the sun shone through my window and my eyes defied my appeal and into the world here, I awoke, to fulfill God’s call, at the very least for another day. Somehow though, through the mystery of our Lord, her presence remains. I can see her eyes, smell her perfume and feel her touch.
Matthew 17:1-9Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
I understand why Peter didn’t want to leave the Mountain. How he wanted to hold that very special moment and those very special people. He himself must have felt special, being invited up with Jesus, being in the presence of God.
My first day at Seminary, as I was moving boxes in, I wore a T-shirt. It said, “God loves you, but I’m his favorite.” I can’t say I didn’t prepare them for who they were about to form. I wonder who on the mountain top would have worn such a shirt. Would it have been, Peter, James, or John, or would Jesus after being transfigured turn around like a superhero and glaring on his chest, ” My Father loves you, but I’m his favorite.” Thoughts like that make me chuckle.
Every day of our lives we climb mountains, sacred mountains, some are as small as hills, others as big as Mt. Tabor, the place in Israel historians point to where our Gospel story takes place, or bigger, the size of Everest. Sacred mountains of what appears as scarcity, or illness, or sacred mountains of achievement and success. Every day we journey forward with Christ by our side, interceding where he sees fit. Sometimes in ways that are fiercely notable, like when the disciples saw Moses and Elijah, or when they heard the voice of God or witnessed the very transfiguration before them. We know when we come across that special person, that gift, that spirit whose connection changes us in some way, significantly. At other times, we recognize the workings of the incarnate Christ, maybe after the fact or in subtle ways, like when Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am” and only Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” The others knew he was special, they knew he was connected, they just didn’t or couldn’t recognize him for who Jesus really was, but after this moment, they can see, recognize and know who was standing before them.
Thinking back, I can see those times, where I can say, “Oh, that was you, God. It was you who come to me on the side of the road, you who lifted from despair, you who guided my success and comforted me in my failure. You who fed me when I was hungry, nourished me when I was thirsty and comforted me when I fell.”
Can you see those times in your life? Can you see, hear and recognize the voice of God in those moments past and present? Will you allow yourself to be touched and unafraid as you move forward, off your mountain and into the Loving Grace of God?
I can see, now, the living Christ in my teacher who cared for every child she met like we were her own, the living Christ in my Joe who protected and guided me and the living Christ among us all who has the power to open us to the experience of God, the power of God and God’s good, good grace.
Yes, God loves you, and Yes, YOU, we are God’s Favorite. Allow God to awaken in us the Spirit of His Grace and the Power of His Love to walk down from the mountain and share our witness with those among us, Transforming the World, one disciple at a time.
At the Transfiguration, God, You showed Jesus in glory, a glimpse of what His disciples
would see in His risen life. Bless us in our humanity, with an awareness of Your presence, leading us to share in Your divine life even in our daily struggle.
Help us to deepen our knowledge of the Law and the Prophets, channels of Your grace throughout history, and signposts for our journey.Amen.