Short Spiritual Practices - Day 10
During the worship service yesterday, we reminded ourselves of the importance to just stop and listen to the abundance of blessings around us. If you are like me (Rev. Gail) you rush, rush, rush! Go, go! Do, do! Rob Fennell suggests that we take this day to start doing the opposite. How about a few quiet minutes in the presence of the One who made you and loves you, and give thanks for that. Right now is a good time, just because it is now.
Stand tall, or sit tall, with both feet firmly planted on the ground.
Take a slow, warm breath in through your nose.
Breath slowly out through your mouth.
Repeat this, taking another slow, warm breath in and exhale slowly, then smile.
Close your eyes.
Recall that the presence and love of the Source of Life is all around you.
Raise your arms slowly to about shoulder height, palms facing upwards.
Give thanks to God for the beauty of the day, for the gift of creation, and for the wonderful sense of God's presence with you.
Breathe again, slowly in and out.
Lower your arms to your sides.
Breathe quietly for a few more minutes - don't rush away quite yet.
Enjoy this moment of being in the presence of the Holy One.
Short Spiritual Practices - Day 9
Believe or not, one of my (Rev. Gail) favorite things to do at the cottage is to sit in the screened in porch and watch a thunderstorm on the lake. At home, I like to sit on our front porch. Rob Fennell asks: "is rain a nuisance or a blessing to you?" Many of us hurry to get out of the rain, or ensure that we have an umbrella, or a coat with a hood to stay dry.
What about if we tried another approach for a change?
The next time it is a rainy day, just this once, go right out into the open wetness of it all and turn your face upwards. Forget the umbrella or hood - just enjoy the rain.
Be like a child again.
At Grace's summer camp on water, the children laughed and shrieked with delight at they played with water balloons in the rain on their last day.
For a brief moment, allow the rain to run over your cheeks, your eyes, gently soak into your hair.
And, if this is really too much for you - sit and watch intentionally from the safety of your porch, balcony, or window as the rain gently soaks the earth, and forms wet drops on the grass and flowers around you.
Consider how rain can be the briefest reminder of God's desire to bless you. In this simple, natural action, remember God's blessing on you as a child of God, and the receive the grace of the Source of Life.
Turn a grateful heart to the one who made you and loved you.
Adapted from a resource by Rob Fennell, and used with permission
Short Spiritual Practices - Day 8
I (Rev. Gail) am very blessed to be surrounded by woodland at our cottage . I often go for a walk through them in the mornings or evenings, making sounds to scare off the bears! Sometimes I admit that I take the intricate design of the forest for granted. Rob Fennell reminds us that in this wide world it is often the small and unnoticed things that bring us great wonder. Today, I invite you to reflect on how every little thing in the universe - even you and I - have a design and a purpose.
Take some time today, or this week to have a walk in a forest.
Look around you carefully and intentionally notice the hidden purpose of each little thing.
Look at the forest floor, the bark of the trees, and the canopy above you - each has its purpose and role to play in the forest.
Find an evergreen seed cone (or any seed or leaf) and pick it up - turn it over slowly in your hands.
What do you notice about its texture and design?
What does it smell like?
Take it apart - lovingly and without hurry, noticing how each piece is part of a design. Each piece plays its role in the seed's purpose of speaking new life.
Now remember: each bit of you has its role in fulfilling your purpose.
You are wonderfully made!
Take a moment to give God thanks - with or without words - and reflect on what your purpose might be today!
Adapted from a resource from Dr Rob Fennell, and used with permission
Short Spiritual Practices - Day 7
Many of you have heard me (Rev. Gail) say before that one of my favorite things to do at the cottage is to lie on the dock and look at the stars at night; it simply fills me with awe! Rob Fennell reminds us that one of the deficits that we often develop is a shortage of wonder in our lives. Lists, tasks, roles, and rules make things regimented. Today, I invite you to take time to get lost in the wonder of God's world.
If you live in a place where there is enough darkness to see the stars - take a look at them tonight. You might be able to do this from inside your home if getting out is not an option; or use a photo, turn off the lights, and use your imagination.
As you look at (or imagine) the expanse of night sky, breathe in the vastness of this awesome creation.
Remind yourself that each distant star is a roaring ball of fire that signals the power and light of the Divine, Source of Life.
Focus on one group of stars, and marvel at the brilliance of them, and the uniqueness of them.
Remind yourself that you are part of this vast creation. In the midst of this vast, wondrous universe, God knows you, remembers you, and loves you.
Theologian St Augustine once said "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us." Repeat this statement to yourself as a mantra a few times: 'in the midst of this vastness, God knows me and loves me.'
Before you leave, give thanks to God, the Divine Creator.
Peace, Rev. Gail
Adapted from a resource by Rob Fennell , and used with permission
Short Spiritual Practices - Day 6
As I (Rev. Gail) write this from the cottage - I truly do realize how blessed I am to be near the water. On these hot and humid days, there is nothing more relaxing than going for a swim, or kayaking in the water.
Rob Fennell reminds us that being in or on the water can present us with a surprisingly wonderful opportunity to be aware of God's caring presence.
While I have been at the cottage, I (Rev. Gail) have found this spiritual practice very grounding.
If you can, go to a place that is near a body of water - a pool, a lake, a river.
Look out at the water for a few minutes, then take some time to slowly step into the water - you don't need to go deep.
Wade into it, allowing the water to refresh your feet.
Standing, or perhaps if you are more adventurous, floating in the water, take a slow deep breath inward, and bring to mind the gift of water.
Take another deep breath and dwell on the thought that from the waters of creation, God called forth all life ... including you!
In a third deep breath, remind yourself that from the waters of baptism, Jesus arose, blessing those around him.
When you have felt refreshed and blessed by the water, both in body and in soul, arise from it and be ready to be a blessing to others.
Give thanks to God for this moment, and ask for wisdom and courage to reach to others with joy and love.
Adapted from a resource by Rob Fennell, and used with permission
Short Spiritual Practices - Day 5
When I (Rev. Gail) grew up, I remember that Monday was always a wash day in our house. My Mother didn't have an automatic washing machine until much later in life, so I have strong memories of her standing behind a twin tub that was attached to the kitchen sink by hose. We always hoped it would be good breezy weather because all our laundry went out on the line; on rainy days (and it rained a lot in England) the laundry would all hang in the garage since there was no automatic dryer.
The smell of fresh laundry always brings back this vivid memory to me.
But perhaps you don't like doing laundry. It's amazing how many people don't like this ordinary, repetitive, and somewhat essential task.
Maybe there is a way that you could look at this somewhat mundane task as a blessing today?
As you lift, carry, hang or fold your laundry today - consider the simple goodness of having all that you need.
Consider how blessed you are to have clothes to keep you warm.
Consider how blessed you are to be able to wash and wear clean clothes.
Perhaps, like me, you can be grateful for the blessings of fond memories that the smell of fresh laundry brings you.
As you touch the various items, give thanks quietly in your spirit for each item - reflect on how it provides for you - clean bed sheets, clean towels, clean clothes.
It's easy to get into the trap of always wanting more, but as you fold your laundry, consider how you are blessed with "enough", and what that means to you.
Let the simple, repetitive task of caring for your clothes today be a reminder that the Creator cares for you, and wants you to have enough.
Each Wednesday we send out an inspirational message.