Spiritual Exercises: Week 1 [Day 6]

Today’s readings are two of my favs– Psalms 8 and 139.

From Psalm 8: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned them with glory and honor.” (TNIV)

From Psalm 139: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (TNIV)

Every time I read these verses, I am overwhelmed again with just how much God loves every human being, just how much God loves me. Even so, knowing in my head and believing in my heart are two different things.

My prayer today is this: Gentle God, help me to receive your love. Amen.

Peace for your journey…

Spiritual Exercises: Week 1 [Day 5]

Today’s reading is called “The Courage to Accept Acceptance.” (The line comes from Tillich.) (Author: Peter Van Breeman, SJ) So much truth in such a short article! Here are a few “gems.”

“Acceptance means that the people with whom I live give me a feeling of self-respect, a feeling that I am worthwhile. They are happy that I am who I am. Acceptance means that I am welcome to be myself.”

“Acceptance is an unveiling.” (Don’t you love that? An “unveiling!”) “Every one of us is born with many potentialities. But unless they are drawn out by the warm touch of another’s accpetance they will remain dormant. Acceptance liberates everything that is in me. Only when I am loved in that deep sense of complete acceptance can I become myself.”

Acceptance means accepting ALL of a person, even her shadows (the author uses the words “defects”…)

“I am accepted by God as I am–as I am, not as I should be.” (That one’s hard.)

“It is one thing to know I am accepted an quite another to realize it.” “It takes a long time to believe that I am accepted by God as I am.” (No kidding!)

“It is fairly easy to believe in God’s love in general (I preach it every week!), but it is very difficult to believe in God’s love for me personally.” (Very true.)

“Self-acceptance is an act of faith. When God loves me, I must accept myself as well. I cannot be more demanding than God, can I?”

And here’s my favorite:

“God’s love is infinite. We can never grasp it, never get hold of it, much less control it. The only thing we can do is jump into its bottomless depth.” (And that is sometimes soooooo difficult!)

A quote from Irenaeus (2nd c guy) in today’s Common Prayer reading fits well with these quotes: “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.”


Peace for your journey….

Spiritual Exercises: Week 1 [Day 4]

Here’s a paragraph from one of the helps on Week 1 of the Exercises…

“The first and most important point is to begin this journey with great hope and confidence. God is never outdone in generosity. So, if we make even a small change in our weekly pattern, that is a tremendous opening for God to work in us. One way to affirm this hope and confidence is to express it for just a brief instant, each morning, at the same time each day — as I’m finding my slippers, or as I’m brushing my teeth, or while I’m pouring that first cup of coffee — “I know you are with me today, Lord.”

Because I’m not completely comfortable with “Lord” language, I tweaked it a little to “Holy One, I know you are with me today.” I say it each morning as I’m pouring my coffee. So simple…and yet so powerful.

Today I launch into reflections on adolescence and young adulthood. It could be interesting trying to find God in THOSE places!

Peace for your journey…

Spiritual Exercise #1 [Day 3]

I couldn’t start until I bought a new journal. I probably have 75 wire notebooks around the house, but I really needed a new journal for this. Really. So I went to Border’s and bought one, the one on sale, of course. It’s not all that pretty, but it’s thick….and already has a few pages filled.

Week 1 is titled: Our Life Story–The Memories that Have Shaped Us

Here’s the assignment: Put together a mental “photo album” of scenes from your past and find God in them. From the guide: “With every picture in my story, there is a grace offered to me as I look for God’s presence there.”

I spent Friday, Saturday, and today thinking about childhood scenes, will spend tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday reflecting on scenes from adolescence and young adulthood, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday thinking about the rest of adulthood. (This first week is a little longer. I couldn’t wait until Monday to start…not after I bought the new journal!)

I like the discipline of reflecting on scenes from my past and finding God in them. Some of the scenes I have to think about for a while, you know, the sad or painful ones. With others it’s easier.

A happy scene–me playing a chord organ my mom bought me when I was in the fourth grade. I loved that chord organ! (You play the melody with the right hand, and chord buttons with the left.) I learned how to read music AND learned how much I loved making music playing that instrument. I still meet God most deeply and surely in music. A definite grace.

Another music scene…In second grade, we were rehearsing for the Christmas program. You know that big leap in “Silent Night” when you sing “heavenly peace?” Our music teacher told us not to “slide” from the lower note to the higher one, that it was more musical to sing it cleanly. Wow! I still work hard not to “scoop” or “slide” when I sing…because that teacher taught us that making music was a beautiful thing, a thing that takes great skill and care. Another grace.

A final scene–this one comes from my preschool days. Until I started kindergarten, I stayed with Mrs. Carpenter, a woman who kept children in her home. One day–I’m not sure why–but I screamed in another child’s ear. Mrs. Carpenter came right up to me and screamed in mine. Then she asked, “Did you like my screaming in your ear?” Now, you need to know that I adored Mrs. Carpenter. I couldn’t fathom why she would do such a thing to me! But when she asked me if I liked her sreaming in my ear, I had to say no. “And neither does ‘Janie'” (or whoever it was). It was a painful lesson, but a powerful one. In that exchange, I began learning how my actions affected other people. I began what moral developmentalists call “perspective taking.” I was able to begin to imagine what other people might be feeling or thinking. A very important life lesson in “loving my neighborh.” A definite grace.

So far, it’s been a good exercise, finding God in any random scene from my past. Kind of cool.

Okay. There’s tons more I want to say, but I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Peace for your journey….

Spiritual Exercises: Getting Started

So…I visited my spiritual director last week. Once a quarter I drive up to the monastery in Beech Grove, IN, hang with the sisters for a couple of days, and, while I’m there, make a quick trip into Indy to talk with my spiritual director about, well, spiritual things.

Felicity and I started working together during Women Touched by Grace, the program for women pastors in which I participated from 2008-2010. Felicity and I were assigned to work together by the luck of the draw, but it ended up being a good fit…so good a fit, that I’ve decided to continue working with her, seeing her the four times a year.

When I met with Felicity last week, I asked about how we might structure our time and conversations. One of the things I love about Felicity is that she’s Quaker…which means that sitting in silence is really a cool thing to do. But still…our conversations are supposed to be focused on my spiritual disciplines (or at least my attempts at getting some!). So, I wondered if there was something that might help focus our conversations on that.

Felicity suggested that I try the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. I don’t know a whole lot about the Exercises. Here’s what I do know. Ignatius is the guy who started the Jesuits. He lived in something like the 16th c. (around the time of the Reformation). The Exercises were written to be done in a 30 day retreat, an exercise a day (I think). The 30 day retreat includes many meetings (weekly? daily?) with a spiritual director. It’s supposed to be VERY intense.

Because few people have 30 straight days to give to a retreat, some folks at Creighton University (a Jesuit university) designed a 34-week “real life” retreat. Each exercise lasts a week and is designed to be done in the midst of living your life.

Felicity’s suggestion was that I do the exercises as they’re outlined on the Creighton U website, then check in with her every week by email. (“They don’t have to be long emails!” she said.)

I started last Friday (two days ago). Don’t know how the journey will be, but I thought I might share some of it with you.

If you’ve ever done the exercises, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

If you want to see what I’m following, you can visit the website:

Peace for your journey…