Wednesday Meditation Moment

It often helps to have words to guide our meditation. Use the Serenity Prayer as a spiritual practice today. Take time to breathe and receive from God at the end of each line.

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Meditation Moment- Salutation of the Dawn

Blessed with the experience of others who have walked this path of recovery we often find common ground in prayers, poems and meditations that have been helpful to others. Their experience can guide us. This poem is an adaptation of a poem “Salutation of the Dawn”, author unknown:

Look to this day! [Pause and observe the day you are in.]

For it is life, the very life of life. [Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for your precious life.]

In its brief course [Acknowledge that you have much to learn.]

Lie all the verities and realities of your existence: [Life offers many experiences; focus on one gratitude.]

The bliss of growth; [Thank God for your restoration.]

The glory of action; [Commit to do one next right step today.]

The splendor of achievement; [Ponder one right thing you did yesterday and give thanks.]

For yesterday is but a dream, [Commit to letting go.]

And tomorrow is only a vision; [Choose to not fret about future events.]

But today, well lived, makes every yesterday [Consider your day and choose to embrace it.]

a dream of happiness, [Happiness is possible. Look for it.]

And every tomorrow a vision of hope. [Find one thing to appreciate about your future.]

Meditation Moment- Set Aside Prayer

Within mutual aid societies there is a popular prayer called the “set aside” prayer. Start of your day with this:

“Dear God, please help me to set aside everything I think I know about my beliefs, God and myself, so I may have an open mind and a new experience. Please help me to see the truth about God’s power, my insanity and the promise for my restoration.”

Meditation Moment- Ezekiel 11:19 NIV

I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 11:19 NIV

Take a few minutes and imagine that God is patiently waiting to remove your heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. The flesh feels more - more joy, more pain. But it also fits perfectly and connects your body, mind and spirit.

Meditation Moment- Thank You

Some days my mind races too much to formulate words; one prayer that is always appropriate:

Thank You.

Thank You.

Thank You.

Amen

Combine this prayer with Centering Prayer and breathe in - Thank You. Breathe out - Thank You. Take the time you need to move from saying the words to feeling them.

Meditation Moment- Prayer for Protection and Safety

There are many prayers for protection and safety. Here is one you may want to use today. Do not rush prayer; breathe.

The light of God surrounds me,

The love of God enfolds me,

The power of God protects me,

The resene of God watches over me,

Wherever I am God is, and all is well.

Amen

Meditation Moment- Prayer of Loving-Kindness

This prayer of loving-kindness comes from the Buddhist tradition but has been adapted for this material:

Lord, may I be at peace.

Father, may my heart remain open.

Holy Spirit, guide me as I seek to know myself, experience healing, and draw near to you.

Grant that I might be a source of healing for others.

Even as I am grateful to those who support my healing.

Amen

Breathe slowly and pause at each line. Dare to hope that you can be peaceful, open, supported, healed and walk in conscious contact with God. Even better? Your healing makes it possible for you to be a source of healing for others! Gratitude abounds!

Meditation Moment- Healing, Guidance, Strength

Recovery can be such a frustrating and confusing process. Here is a prayer that you can use each day. This simple prayer is a way of admitting that we need God to guide us, heal us and strength us along the way. Pray and breathe. Give your body, mind and spirit time to soak this prayer in:

I pray that I receive the healing, the guidance, and the strength necessary for my journey today.

Gully Washers and Effervescence

Thanksgiving is now technically behind us, and that means we start looking at Christmas, right?


I could write something snarky about how we’ve all lost our way with the commercialization of Christmas, but who am I kidding? I love it all. I love the secular, the sacred, the lights, the handbells, the cheesy Christmas movies, the old standby Christmas songs, and even all the preparations surrounding the Christmas season. In our community, we have a few rituals around how we celebrate Christmas and I love them as much as I love the ones my family practices. I love Christmas. Mostly, I love the expecting, waiting and hoping that Christmas seems to awaken in me. As an adult, I am more focused on creating the experience of Christmas than hoping someone will make my Christmas merry and bright. I believe in Christmas. After reading Brene’ Brown’s book “Braving the Wilderness,” I have no guilt or shame about my love for the season. I no longer understand my passion as the generational expression awakened in me by my Christmas-loving, Santa-celebrating, and over-the-top light-loving mom. In fact, I am turning into a Christmas holiday celebrating zealot.

In chapter six, “Hold hands. With strangers,” Brene’ Brown describes in detail a key point that emerged from her research to help us cultivate and grow our belief in the inextricable human connection. This matters because this capacity for connection is so vital to our well-being, and the wellbeing of our communities. It is what Christmas does for us as a collective, in my opinion. Brown was shocked by the results, which were this: Show up for collective moments of joy and pain so we can actually bear witness to inextricable human connection. (p.120)

She entertained, illustrated and connected with her reader by providing examples of how she had experienced this showing up, which pretty much explains why I was unwilling to stand in the hallways at Scott Stadium during a recent downpour and legitimate gully washer at a recent UVA football game. At gametime, the seats were mostly empty but the entire stadium was filled with water! In raincoats, boots, ponchos and head gear, we were soaked within seconds of taking our seats. Pete suggested we go stand in the covered concession area. Maybe buy UVA apparel to change into that would at least give us dryer clothes? For like 15 seconds? I was having none of it. I cheered with the others in the stands, sang the good old song, and said to our neighbor a few seats down, “This is crazy, right?” What we were experiencing was collective effervescence. Brene’ says (p.130) that a French sociologist coined this term to describe a type of magic he witnessed during religious ceremonies. He says it is an experience of connection, communal emotion, and a “sensation of sacredness” that is what happens when we are willing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. And this feeds our soul.

Pete and I have been going to UVA games together for 44 years. UVA fans understand that the “effervescence” has been a lot of PAIN with an occasional side of joy. Our football team has lost a lot of games in 44 years. But our night in the rain was magical. To sit and stand and cheer and have water gather in nooks and crannies of our body was awesome. Our team lost that night, but we won another memory to cherish that was bigger than either of us individually or even the two of us as a couple. We need more of this in our lives folks, we just do. Christmas can be that if we are willing to be more intentional, aware and thoughtful in our Christmas expectations, waiting and hoping.

Letting go gives us balance

Over the past few weeks we’ve visited and revisited step 11 of the 12 steps of AA: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of his will and the power to carry that out.

It seems to me that the eleventh step takes a lot of pressure off of prayer and meditation. It’s clear and simple: we are simply improving our conscious contact with God, we acknowledge that our capacity to connect is limited by our gaps in understanding who he is, we ask only for the knowledge of his will and the power to carry that out.

It is assumed that to have the capacity to know and do the will of God is enough. It is more than enough. What else is there? This makes such perfect sense to me. Without big long lists of demands for God’s immediate action in the life and times of me, I am now given the time to meditate. To sit quietly. To be still and know that God is God and I am not. To, as Jesus did, draw away from the hustle and bustle of the world into solitude.

This is yet another blessing of letting go and letting God. It is a counter-weight to my natural tendency to codependently point out to God all that I think HE is missing!! Today, I wait more, expect more, and hope more.

Or, to be more specific, I expect differently. I have stopped demanding results and started trusting God with whoever and whatever my mind is concerned about. I’m aware that God is not obligated to DO anything about my concerns, but I love the practice of sharing them because I know he cares, not because I think he needs me to keep him informed.

December is a big month for waiting, expecting and hoping. I’m going to spend the rest of this month looking at the season of Advent - the four Sundays prior to Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve, a time of preparing for the coming of the Christ. I wonder if our recovery perspective might enrich our faith perspective on Christmas.

Striving, hoping, and waiting

You long for something you don’t have, so you commit murder. You are jealous for something you can’t get, so you struggle and fight. You don’t have because you don’t ask. You ask and don’t have because you ask with evil intentions, to waste it on your own cravings. James 4:2-3 CEB

When I was young, I tried to solve my prayer problems with hard work.

I continued to redouble my efforts because I was convinced that my evil intentions in prayer were the cause of my desert-like prayer experience. But I also began to question my own prayer posture. The more I read and studied, the less convinced I was that God’s greatest desire for me was to feed him a list of requests, let’s be honest - demands, for how he was to show up and work in the world.

I continued this elaborate ritual of prayer but all joy drained from the experience; even my school supplies could not comfort me.

In 1986 my brother got sober; to support him, I began to embrace the 12 steps. Step 11 blew me away. Step 11: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out.

What do you notice about this prayer? What is the objective of this step? What is promised? What is not promised? I thought prayer was about solving problems and feeling better. It was a relief to discover that prayer was possible and even sacred without solving a particular problem and even if I did not feel better as a result of my prayer efforts.

Hoping and Waiting

The eleventh step radically changed my perspective on prayer and meditation. I sorely needed a readjustment. Historically, I have proven time and again that I am capable of misinterpreting the scriptures.

“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door is opened. Matthew 7:7-8 CEB

Early on in my faith journey, I developed a system of praying that looked more like a strategic plan then sacred time spent with God. I organized my prayer requests in an elaborate system of checks and balances so that I would not forget to ask, seek, and knock so that I might receive and find.

It was tiring.

As much as I enjoyed the school supplies I used as my prayer tools and the structure of rigorous and daily asking and seeking, I felt something was missing.

Do you ever feel that something is missing when it comes to prayer?