#Holy Leisure

Normal Worry

I’ll admit that I spend significant time worrying about whether or not my children are reaching their milestones. Is my toddler’s speech flawed? Is my baby’s weight on track? How long will this potty training really last?! This constant desire to be “normal” ironically starts to make me feel crazy. When I become overwhelmed by these concerns, I try to stop and spend some time centering myself in prayer. I envision placing my anxious heart in God’s gentle hands. I listen for God’s voice, reminding me that perfection does not exist on Earth and we have each been created to fulfill our own purposes. Comparing ourselves to others won’t help us live more intentionally. So, I will let the worries pass by like ships on the sea, and I will laugh and play with my boys while they know nothing of worry.

by CMM

 

 

 

Extreme Leisure

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As a young man, my Mom turned me on to the author Chaim Potok and his many books about Jewish life in America after World War II.  His main characters were drawn from his own New York neighborhood, consisting mostly of Hasidic Jews, a sect known for its austere and fierce orthodoxy.  During Shabbat, a non-Jew, a “Shabbos Goy,” was employed to turn on and off lights, do light house work and other “mitzvahs.” Hasidics couldn’t even drive during Shabbat, having instead to walk to synagogue.  Last Sunday as I was busying myself around the house, I reflected on this strict adherence to the 4th commandment and wondered what exactly “extreme leisure” might look like. Like silent meditation and contemplation, holy leisure is not as attractive as the pinwheels and bright lights of modern life. I pray for the willingness to be. With God.

by Andrew

Did Jesus Dance?

Dancing has never been my forte. Growing up, some of my friends took ballroom dancing lessons, something I never envied until I was an adult and my “station in life” required that I frequently attend black-tie fundraisers. I wouldn’t know a fox trot from a fox hole and it is quite evident when I am on the dance floor. Yet, there are times that I have let go and moved to music in my own fashion, much the way Elaine did on the Seinfeld TV series. I like to think people don’t notice how truly bad I am at this (or at least they are too kind to say anything!) and yet, I proceed. I wonder if Jesus danced? I would think that he did since he seemed to love a party. Just look at what he did at the wedding in Cana!  Music, dancing and parties are just more gifts from our loving God for all to enjoy.

by JAM

Finding Home

The past several months have been difficult for my furry friend, Egon. First, his companion, Lucy, a Ridge-back mix, died of old age. Next, we moved away from the only neighborhood he had ever known. About the time he was (grudgingly) settling in, my wife left for a two-week visit to Portland. The Home Owners Association was scheduled to fumigate our “manor” for termites. I had to move to a hotel. Egon had to move to Grandma’s for a couple of days. He likes Grandma and her pug, Monty. But, by this time he was pretty much “bonkers” from all the changes. When I returned home my neighbor came to the gate. “Your dog is loose.” “No, he’s at my mom’s house.”  We went out to look. Egon ran toward us, then laid panting at my feet. He had escaped, crossed six lanes of traffic on El Toro, and run a mile to come home. Our permanent home is with God.  Also, it is sometimes at the new place you didn’t know you liked.

by Nathaniel

The Mute Button

Did you ever wish you could press the mute button on the noise of life?  I love that little feature on my electronic devices. For a brief moment, there are no little noises, beeps, or prods disturbing the quiet. Many people tell me they wish they had a mute button for the bombarding thoughts that arise when they pray or at night when they are longing for rest; when they cannot stop thinking about what was said or felt that day, or the unfinished to-do list. To remedy this, what sages often call “monkey mind,” I practice contemplative prayer, sometimes called meditation or mindfulness.  It is a simple way to pray by sitting still and combining a centering prayer or sacred word with breathing. After being in the stillness for a short period of time each day, my soul is like a leaf floating in God’s ever-present lake of grace, heightening a calm awareness when I go back to my daily routine. I like to think of it as God’s original mute button, always ready and available no matter where I am.

by DC

For more about contemplative prayer:

http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/category/category/centering-prayer

Called By Name

Last week, I started my sixth school year as a teacher. Like my students, anxiety and excitement build as the first day arrives and I meet my new classes. Although it’s important to discuss class policies and procedures right away, I always feel a strong calling to kick off the year with something fun. I play a question game to get to know each student and I even offer a candy treat in exchange for their answers. By the end of class, I can call each student by name, which I believe sets an inviting and caring tone for the year we will spend together. In Isaiah 43, God tells us, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” I feel I am called to send this message to each one of my students so they remember they are unique, important and loved – not just by the God who formed them, but by all people who take special care to discover who they are.  I continue to pray for grace and memory muscle to carry on this first-day tradition every year!

by CMM

Ready To Fly

You would think that springtime nesting would long be gone and baby birds had flown away by now. Nope. There is a second family in an existing nest from March still sitting in the eaves at our house.  I have been mesmerized with these tiny creatures as I catch them in their daily routine, the mom feedings and daily visits, her readying them to spread their wings. I believe God sends me these incredible signs to remind me of my own task of releasing my sons over and over again, especially my last “baby bird” who is home for the summer. I need to give them roots, the foundation, then give them wings, to fly.  If they fall, I should not put out a net, for they will gain so much more by landing on their own ground, not some puffy landing that I have produced.  I look forward to watching these baby birds take flight and will hopefully witness it. If not, I will be very aware of the empty nest, just like my own, come September.

by Liz

Divine Coincidence

Monday was a big day on our planet. Literally, millions of people drove untold miles to view the total eclipse of the sun. The growing excitement was contagious! After the anticipation and waiting were finally over, I was fascinated not only with the phenomena itself (I watched it mainly on television since I live in Southern California) but also with the reactions of those who said it was a spiritual experience. There were tears, expressions of wonder, awe, beauty, and humility. Perhaps since we live in such tumultuous times, this event made people feel the joy of being alive and primally connected under the same sky. For a brief few moments, everyone was united in the happy surprise that such a cosmic event brings into the mundane. Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno, said it was a “divine coincidence” of science, a time when everyone experienced the glory of God’s creation first hand, making us feel both small and infinitely blessed. Afterward, on just another ordinary day in August, I prayed that this memory of unity could linger on forever.

by DC