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Recently, I've not felt God's presnece much. But then again I have frequently not taken the time to pay attention. I just ran across this prayer today when I was looking for something else. I think it's something I needed to hear today:

"Days pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing. Let there be moments when your Presence, like lightning, illumines the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns, unconsumed. And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder, 'How filled with awe is this place and we did not know it.'"

--from My Grandfather's Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Taize

Aug. 28th, 2005 12:31 pm
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This past Friday, the United Church of Chapel Hill had their regular Evening Prayer in the tradition of Taize (based on the worship at the monastery at Taize in France.) This is the second service that I have been at where I am helping coordinate the music. We are still working on some of the details...how long to let the chants go on, how to signal when we are going to stop.... Overall, things went really well. In particular, the last chant Christus Resurrexit was glorious. The congregational singing, the cantor parts and the flute all came together to make something wonderful.

Retreat

Aug. 20th, 2005 11:39 am
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A few weeks ago, I went on what I had planned as a silent retreat. Things didn't go quite as I had hoped. At the same time, I did succeed in doing what I intended to do -- reconnecting with God. I guess it just goes to show that even when things don't go as planned, it doesn't mean that good can't come out of it.

When I first got there, I I got a nice chunk of silence because the couple that run the retreat center had to leave for the afternoon/evening shortly after I got there, leaving me there on my own with the dog (who doesn't talk much). I spent time wandering around, sitting, listening....being. It took a while to get settled in, but after I did -- when my body and brain stopped wanting to get up and do something -- I was able to finally just sit and enjoy the silence. My goal for the time I was there was to reconnect with God. I feel like I started to make some progress on that by simply allowing myself to stop and listen. For so much of the past few months, whenever I try to sit down for some quiet time with God, 30 seconds after I sit down, I suddenly think of something that I need to get done, or just have trouble staying still in one place. For that afternoon I didn't have anything that I needed to do or anywhere I needed to be -- and I wasn't at home, so my mind couldn't come up with things that I could pretend I needed to do -- all I had to do was be in the presence of God. I had time and space to be in the presence of God, to spend time with the Word...re-exploring Lectio Divina...resting in God.

The next day, I didn't have the luxury of as many hours of uninterrupted quiet, because there was more going on around me. I did some planned work out with John, cutting trees around the new site for the new cabin. Afterwards, I was feeling a little bit under the weather, and things were a little busier and less quiet than they had been the night before. While I did get some chunks of silence, it was only in smaller blocks than I had hoped for. In that time, I discovered two things 1) that I was letting my expectations of what the retreat should be like get in the way of my relaxation and enjoyment of the retreat, but that 2) I was able to stand in the presence of God anyway, even when I wasn't feeling well, and when I was frustrated.

Although I ended up deciding to end the retreat early, I still got what I came for, even if I didn't get it quite the way that I had planned. I did rediscover that connection with God. Moreover, I also reminded myself that I could find that connection even in less than optimal conditions -- something that I wouldn't have found if the retreat had gone exactly as planned (as a silent retreat.) While I would like to try again for a true multi-day silent retreat, I know looking back that this was what I needed at this time and thank God for it.

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