SACRAMENTAL EATING

Lenten Practice: Holy Attention
Daily Act: Eat mindfully and slowly. Savor each bite. Notice the texture, color, and taste of your food, and consider where it comes from. Give thanks for the nourishment that is yours this day.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“AWAKEN ME TO YOUR PRESENCE IN AND THROUGH ALL CREATION.”

A Mindfulness Meal Meditation
By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation.
When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament.”
-Wendell Berry

We bless this act of eating. The blessing is for us- to see what is already sacred and life-giving- to approach this meal as sacrament. May we savor. May we be awake enough to feel the textures and linger in each taste. May we slow our pace enough to notice the holy in each bite- a communion.

Silence

We are mindful of all those in our world who do not have access to food, or who live in places where nutritious food is hard to find. While food is a basic human right, we are aware of how food has also become a justice issue and a matter of privilege. We are prayerful for those who hunger. We recommit ourselves in each act of eating to the cause of abolishing poverty in our own neighborhoods and across the globe.

Silence

We consider the devastation to our earth that has been caused by a food culture of separation and convenience. May we make wise choices as we consider the sources of our food and do our best to support, with our hands and wallets, the options most aligned with the thriving of all life. With the food before us now, we ponder the origins of the ingredients and consider the parts of the earth that have been gathered, and the people who gathered them, placed here at our table. What field? What plant? Whose hands? How did the sun warm and the rain nourish and the soil sustain?

Silence

We realize our absolute interconnectedness with all life knowing that what physically sustains us comes from the earth. My welfare resides in your welfare. Our very life depends on this complex system of lives of which we are a part. We are in awe and grateful to be alive on this planet. The act of eating humbles us. Each breath- sacred life. Each bite- sacred life.

Silence

We focus on hope- knowing that each day we have the opportunity to impact the earth and our local communities in positive, life-giving ways. We pause in reverence for this gift of LIFE that is ours this day. We pray that we will be wise stewards of our bodies and all the other bodies that share this sacred space as neighbors. May we live in ways that contribute to wholeness for all the earth, which leads to wholeness for ourselves.

Silence

Amen.

Holy Curiosity

Lenten Practice: Holy Attention
Daily Act: See the mystery of God in another person. (Talk to that person!)
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“AWAKEN ME TO YOUR PRESENCE IN AND THROUGH ALL CREATION.”

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

One of my favorite mystic texts is from the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. He describes an experience of being in the middle of a city, surrounded by people, and suddenly seeing- really seeing– the divine life within each one. “There is no way of telling people,” he writes, “that they are all walking around shining like the sun… The gate of heaven is everywhere.”

In spiritual direction training, I am learning that every person is the mystery of God before me. Essential to companioning someone else in the spiritual life is the cultivation of a holy curiosity toward others. This includes releasing a critical gaze and avoiding the temptation to fix. The role of a spiritual director is simply to notice, in love, God’s movement within another life.

Though I am learning this specific discipline (spiritual direction), this wisdom permeates every encounter with others, known and unknown. I am still a novice at noticing the God-life within other people, but the goodness that grows from this way of seeing is so heart-satisfying that I crave more. In the words of Thomas Merton, it is like “waking from a dream of separateness”.

The phrase holy curiosity stirs challenge and wonder within me. It does not imply a general gaze at others honoring them as sacred (though that is also a meaningful practice!). Holy curiosity implies investment in relationship. It is about seeing God in another life by discovering who they are in their particularities. Barbara Brown Taylor describes this type of encounter:

“What we have most in common is not religion, but humanity. I learned this from my religion, which also teaches me that encountering another human being is as close to God as I may ever get- in the eye-to-eye thing, the person-to-person thing- which is where God’s Beloved has promised to show up. Paradoxically, the point is not to see him. The point is to see the person standing right in front of me, who has no substitute, who can never be replaced, whose heart holds things for which there is no language, whose life is an unsolved mystery. The moment I turn that person into a character in my own story, the encounter is over. I have stopped being a human being and have become a fiction writer instead.” (p.102, An Altar In The World)

This practice is not always easy. It can take time to cultivate holy curiosity toward others, and great effort when it comes to people we struggle to love. It can be most challenging, and maybe most important, to be holy curious about those who are least like you.

In a world that often feels fractured by political and religious polarization, what healing could it bring if we really began to see the mystery of God within every person?

And perhaps it is healing also to realize this God-mystery resides within you as well.

There is no way of telling you that you are walking around shining like the sun.

Let’s awaken from this “dream of separateness” together and move toward one another in love.

“The wisdom of the Desert Fathers includes the wisdom that the hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self… It may be the only real spiritual discipline there is.” (p.93, Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar In The World)

Did I Miss God Today?

Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Spend time with the prayer of examen and record in a journal/reflect on your responses to the questions for reflection below.

Questions for Reflection
1. Where have I been cooperative in God’s vision of shalom?
2. Where have I been complicit in a lack of peace in this world?
3. Looking back over my life, what are my priorities?
4. Where do my passions mirror the passion of Christ?

Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“SEARCH MY HEART AND MAKE IT ONE WITH YOURS.”

Today’s blog is by Dustin Davis, who wrote this while reflecting on his practice with the Prayer of Examen. Dustin lives in Los Angeles, California and is a member of the Community of Christ Spiritual Formation Team.

What has your experience with this practice been this week? How does the examen increase your awareness of God’s presence?

Did I Miss God today?
by Dustin Davis

I woke up today and immediately turned on the TV, filling my day with noise. Did I miss God when I didn’t take time to notice how after a night of sleep my chest was moving up and down, slowly and deeply, breathing in life-giving air? I jumped in the shower and began mapping out my day in my head instead of pausing to watch the sun rise, taking it for granted. Did I miss God then?

On my way into work the traffic was thick as usual, but I didn’t mind because the radio was keeping my ears full and my mind distracted. At a stop light a man was asking for money. Anything will help his sign said, and God bless. I managed a smile when he came to my car, but I kept my window rolled up. I quickly looked away in my own embarrassment and shame. The light turned green, and traffic moved forward. Did I miss God?

At work I’m hounded by questions all day. It’s the nature of my job, but it’s my choice how to respond. Sometimes people have problems that I can help with. Other times I feel like people are just pushing their responsibilities on me, because they don’t want to deal with them. Some questions I think are just flat out dumb. I wonder how some people have made it so far in life, and I might even exchange a mean-spirited joke with my boss once the person has left. Did I miss an opportunity to be humbled? To be compassionate? When I write people off, dismiss them, not take the time to hear them, do I miss God?

When the sacred becomes routine, do I miss God? I often take out the recycling in my office. I believe in recycling on two levels: one, as a way re-use and be less wasteful, two, as a statement about the importance of sacredness of creation. The act of recycling is influenced by my faith. It’s a sacred act. But what happens when I don’t pause to remember why it’s sacred in the first place?

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up some things for dinner. It wasn’t until I had already packed my grocery bag, swiped my card, signed the screen and finally said thank you that I even looked at the woman helping me. By then she was already helping the person behind me. Did I miss God in her?

It’s only from a position of looking back on my day that I can ask the question, Did I miss God today? After going through my day I can see that God certainly was there in every moment just as God is in this moment now. For that I am thankful. But a new question emerges. Why do I see God only in reflecting on the day instead of in the moment?

As I go to bed a prayer passes from my lips to settle in my heart- I will see God tomorrow.