Sunday, January 25, 2015

Finding Silence in My Heart with the Lord's Prayer

Praying the Lord's Prayer recently took on new meaning when I decided to say the prayer out loud at least twice instead of reading. 

Here is what happened:

     1. My own version of the prayer surfaced -
         "My father in heaven, Holy is your name.
           Help me bring a glimpse of heaven where I walk through my words and actions.
           Thank you for the food you will give me to eat,
            Forgive my sins as I forgive those who sin against me.
            Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.
            Keep me always focused on seeking you.
            Your kingdom is forever. Amen.

      2. I liked hearing the sound of my voice repeating the familiar and new words. I could feel the vibrations of the vocal chords in my throat.

      3. Repeating Jesus; words several times took me directly to the silence of my heart, where I rested for as long as I desired, inhaling God's presence until I was ready to continue with the remaining part of my prayer time.

Although I speak the words of the Lord's Prayer in church each Sunday, saying them in the quiet early morning at my desk with my warm, furry cat curled on my lap, has become a way for me to intimately interact, enter and remain in God's presence.

Next time you want to try something new, spend time with God saying your prayers. Listen to your voice. Feel the vibrations coming from your throat and become aware of your heart. Often, I repeat the Lord's Prayer several times. You may find, like I did, that entering into the space of God's presence may lead you to paraphrase the words, giving them new energy. God, can wok through your repetition to bring a personal expression of Jesus' words.

Finally, the Lord's Prayer involves being present. Jesus said, "Give us this day our daily bread." - not tomorrow's bread, but today's bread. We are guided how to respond to one day only, with forgiveness, avoiding temptation, seeking God, celebrating God's kingdom, and honoring God's power and glory

Spending time with the Lord's Prayer, repeating the words slowly, with sensory awareness can assist the descent to your heart, swollen with openness to receive what God wants to place in the morning and throughout the day.

                                     The heart is ready,
                                     Jesus is there,
                                     Go forth in the kingdom,
                                     Filled and prepared.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Word of the Week: Forgiveness

Forgiveness - grant pardon to an offense or offender.

Forgiveness can be one of the most difficult challenges we face. We are wronged. We wrong others.

Forgiveness is necessary for healthy living in body, mind and spirit. Not offering forgiveness can cause physical symptoms as well as harbor resentment and anger.

Jesus talks about forgiving others seventy times seven which means 490 times. I've also heard forgiveness explained like peeling an onion - there are layers to forgiving someone and takes time.

Forgiveness is often a "one way street." We forgive so we can be free of resentment and anger when the person who offended us may not offer reconciliation.

I am presently in the process of forgiving someone who recently wounded me greatly. Initially, I  was overwhelmed, numb, and couldn't event think about forgiveness. As time passed, I knew forgiveness was the only way to get rid of anger and feelings of betrayal about an injustice that was causing me physical symptoms and emotional discomfort.

How did I start to walk along a path leading to freedom and peace?

          1. I began by asking God to help me and give me strength. I knew forgiveness would not happen without God's leading and grounding.
          2. Letting God know about my desire to forgive this person gradually shifted the energy in my heart, slowly releasing anger and resentment, allowing room for quiet and comfort.

          3. Know Jesus forgave those who crucified him offered companionship as I walked through circumstances and emotions generated.

          4. Exercise regularly. Experiencing a wrong can create a lot of energy. Dissipating this energy through exercise helps relax the body, release tension and open the heart and mind. The water in the  pool at the Fishers Y continues to support my body as I released anger with each lap I swim.

Wondering how I would know when I had reached forgiveness was a question I frequently asked. Could I think about the incident with less anger? Did I have fewer flashbacks of what happened? Would my physical symptoms that developed afterwards go away?

Although I have not completely reached a place of peace , I know I am making progress, compared to where I was a month ago. My anger is reduced when I think about the person and what happened. Flashbacks occur with less frequency. I have stopped taking medication my doctor gave me because physical symptoms have gone away.

Inviting God into a desire for forgiveness, helped me feel like I was not alone on a difficult path.

Prayer: God, we try so hard to live with love for all we encounter, but sometimes we are wronged by others in various ways, and we wrong other. As you offer forgiveness so freely, strengthen and guide us when we need to forgive others, even when there is no possibility of reconciliation or acknowledgement. Amen.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New Year's Resolutions at the Post Office and With God

New Year's Day I went to the post office to mail a large envelope to Sarah, and a small package to Anna. The do-it-yourself kiosk in the lobby helped me accomplish my mission. Moving to the center counter to complete the address labels, I noticed another woman out of the corner of my eye.

"I'm starting the new year right paying all of my bills on the first of the month." she said with a big grin, applying the last stamp to a stack of envelopes.

"What a great idea!" I replied, wanting to offer encouragement.

She carried the pile to the other side of the room, slipped her payments through the slot and walked out achieving a resolution the first day of the year!

New Year's resolutions can offer challenge or loose steam by the end of January. Here are a few short questions that may re-energize your walk with God as 2015 begins.
      1.God's word for me today is __________________________________.
      2. I need to forgive __________________________________________.
      3. Help me bring joy to _______________________________________.
      4. I realize God is ___________________________________________.
      5. I see God ________________________________________________.
      6. My favorite place to experience God is _________________________.
      7. I know God loves me because ________________________________.
      8. I think of Jesus as _________________________________________.
      9. The greatest joy in my life with God is _________________________.
      10. God is challenging me to ___________________________________.
      11. An object that reminds me of God is __________________________.
      12. God calls me ____________________________________________.
      13. I call God _______________________________________________.
      14. My image of God is _______________________________________.
      15. I am in awe of God's ______________________________________.

Like the lady in the post office who began the new year with all of her bills paid by the first of the month, perhaps one of the questions will give additional insights or perspectives about the way God rests with you and leads you into service in the kingdom.

Prayer: God, sometimes it is hard to begin to think in new ways. Like the flowers need rain to grow and flourish, we, too, need new thoughts to deepen our time with you, to know you more clearly as we incorporate more and more of you in our lives. Guide and strengthen our pursuit of your presence. Amen.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Secret Garden

When I need a boost in the middle of winter or any other time of year, I go to my secret garden that blooms all year. I open the door entering a small room cold enough for a sweater or light jacket. I close the door tightly, so the cool temperatures can keep the flowers fresh, but chill me to the bone.

The room is filled with shades of color, and fragrance. Each flower is identified. I am familiar with a few flowers, others are more exotic.

"What color appeals to me?" I ask myself, basing my selection completely on color with no concern for smell or shape.

I take the stems to the counter where a lady wearing a forest green cooking apron gently puts the flowers on a piece of clear paper. She adds fern, then folds the paper from the bottom and on the sides with the same care as if she was wrapping a newborn baby. She ties two ribbons around the middle and seals her efforts with a sticker identifying the store.

While she is preparing my flowers, I notice a shelf close to the ceiling, running the length of the wall, holding a collection of baskets of various sizes, shapes and colors. I realize the baskets will hold a variety of sentiments representing the kaleidoscope of life; I envision a basket of flowers welcome a baby, bringing cheer to a hospital patient, expressing love, comfort beside a casket, celebrating a wedding as a flower girl holds it tight and walks down the aisle - and many more events and occasions.

"Who are these for?" she asked, interrupting my communion with the baskets.

"Me," I reply smiling.

I cradle the bouquet like Miss America, anticipating the beauty of Gods handiwork, gracing my kitchen table.