Day 11: Singing

December 8, 2021

“Those who sing pray twice.” This quote is attributed to St. Augustine. What a marvelous sentiment! Especially for someone like me, who loves music.

From the early teenage years of my walk with God, the deeply meaningful lyrics of so many hymns have drawn me in. They have spoken to my heart and soul. At the Lutheran church of my childhood and teen years as well as the sawdust trail Revival hymns and gospel songs of my late teens and early 20’s, the greatly theological lyrics (paired with gorgeous, uplifting hymn tunes) have held me fast. They’ve been one of the major foundations, the underpinnings of my belief.

Fast forward a few years. Imagine how my heart sang when I discovered some spiritual writers on prayer (whom I respected very much) stating that singing was a marvelous way to pray!

During Epiphany and Lent 2021, I taught a weekly Bible study that was out of the ordinary – for me. Instead of focusing on a Bible passage, or book of the Bible, or Bible character, I focused on the familiar hymns of the Church. One excellent resource I used for this study had the wry name 28 Hymns to Sing Before You Die. Written by two lifelong Presbyterians, John M. Mulder and F. Morgan Roberts, this marvelous book delved into the history behind the hymn texts, and the history of the authors.

Eugene Peterson wrote the foreword of this book. I was as moved by his words as I was by the stories behind the hymns. Particularly this paragraph, in light of our Advent contemplative prayer focus: “Each of these hymns is an act of worship that brings us into an awareness and receptivity to the life of the Trinity – the operations of all the persons of the Trinity in a participatory way. But the conditions in which [the hymn texts] were composed and sung were more often than not pain and devastation, sickness and poverty. And yet, somehow beauty and elegance were distilled out of conditions of doubt and hopelessness.” [1]

Oh, my. Eugene Peterson has hit on exactly what I have been feeling all these years. I felt the deep emotions of the authors of these hymns, without knowing exactly what their circumstance were when writing. Over the years, I have wept over these hymn texts, and rejoiced, too.

Although many people today do enjoy modern worship songs – and I have found some I enjoy, too – I am thinking of the traditional hymns of the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. These hymn texts may have older or archaic wording, yet at the same time so theological. Giants of hymn texts, like Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley and Fanny Crosby come to mind.

I also love the written word. The words of hymns strike a balance between the dry, dusty theological tomes and the sometimes warm, sometimes striking experience of the heart. I pray you might consider these words from the marvelous hymn “He Leadeth Me, by Joseph H. Gilmore.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

God continues to hold my hand (and, your hand, too.)—”since God through Jordan leadeth me.” Until the end of our days; and finally as trusting children, we cross that river Jordan, too.

Dear Lord, thank You for such marvelous words. Thank You for such wonderful opportunities to sing in congregations, with choirs, and to hear anthems in worship. Thank You for those times when the line from a hymn came to mind, and expressed exactly what I wanted to say to You. And, thank You for the gift of these words, crafted out of pain and heartache, as well as joy and praise and the whole gamut of emotions. Thank You for such a treasure within our hymnbooks. May we never lose the wonder and the worship that comes from these prayers in song. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Mulder, John M. and Roberts, F. Morgan, 28 Hymns to Sing Before You Die (Cascade Books: Eugene, OR, 2014), xii.

Day 10: Music

December 7, 2021

Day 10: Music

Music makes my heart sing. Seriously.

I was classically trained as a pianist when I was a child. My family was the odd family in my neighborhood. My parents actually listened to classical music – and enjoyed it. My father was an excellent pianist, and played Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy (among others). So, I grew up hearing my father playing in the living room as I went to sleep on the second floor of our little brick house in Chicago. He would often leave the windows open, and give the neighbors a regular concert, almost every night.

I had older brothers and sisters, and they all were musical, as well. The music of band and orchestra instruments as well as piano filled the house. What a wonderful thing, to have a house full of music.

As I grew older, I found my way into the church – the Lutheran church. What a glorious thing, to have Johann Sebastian Bach as one of the greats of church music! I loved hearing the instrumental music of Bach played in the church. Our church had an excellent organist, and she would occasionally play organ recitals. (Sadly, the church only had a small choir of amateurs. So, very little vocal music of Bach.)

Intuitively, I deeply felt the soaring melodies, the magnificent polyphony, the glorious harmony of church music – even before I was well into high school. And, as I took more and more music classes and realized what it was I was hearing, my heart rejoiced as I opened my ears and took the music in as a prayer. Yes! I was only vaguely aware of praying as I listened, but in retrospect, I often found myself immersed in prayer as I would listen to church music. And, not always with lyrics. Sometimes (often!) instrumental, too.

I realize as I prepared to write this reflection that I could find next to no references that spoke of instrumental music. That is, music without lyrics. Just about every reference to music concerns vocal music or hymn singing. (Which is a whole separate topic, fully worthy of its own reflection!)

After checking out some twenty different books of prayer, contemplation and meditation, I finally found a short reference to music, in general, by one of my favorite authors on prayer: Tilden Edwards. “Beethoven once said…music is a fuller way to God than words….Such intrinsic sound qualities have a way of opening us deeper into God’s mystery, before which all our words fall short.” [1]

This is just a brief mention from Edwards, but such a sentiment! This is the way it was for me, even as a teenager. Then, as I got an undergraduate degree in church music, my appreciation of church music became so much more well-rounded.

Since I am intuitive, and feel things deeply, I think I understand what Edwards was saying about music and sound being part of God’s mystery. Prayer, contemplation and meditation can all take place for me as I listen. As I play, too. My finger skills and technical facility have gotten rusty with lack of practice and age, as well as the onset of arthritis. But, I still enjoy producing music on the piano and organ!

I know the music that delights my heart is not the music for everyone. And, that’s okay! Perhaps you can find some music that delights you, that makes your heart sing before God. I hope and pray you can.

Please, pray with me. Dear Lord, thank You for music. Thank You for the melody and harmony of so many pieces praising Your name. Thank You for the music that wordlessly invites people into Your presence, too. Help us to be able to come before Your presence, when we are singing, or when not. It is enough to simply be in Your presence. Thank You, dear Jesus.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Edwards, Tilden, Living in the Presence (Harper Collins: San Francisco, 1995), 34.

Day 8: Beholding

December 5, 2021

Icon – Jesus and children. Photo credit: Elizabeth Jones

Day 8: Beholding

When I took the course Introduction to Prayer my first year of seminary, I was introduced to many different types of prayer. Some of these I was familiar with. Others, not at all. Including, beholding. Or, as some who practice this type of prayer say, gazing.

I learned about this type of prayer while gazing at icons. In class, we took the opportunity to go down the hall to the chapel, where there was space to spread out and take the time to enter fully into the gazing (or beholding) experience. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Marjorie Thompson in her oh-so-helpful book Soul Feast gives some direction on contemplative prayer. She only introduces gazing or beholding, but what she says is a good starting point. “Simple objects or images can also be the focus of contemplative prayer. A single flower, leaf, or candle may become a pointer to divine presence. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, icons (images of Christ, Mary, and the saints) are a focus of contemplation.” [1] Thompson suggests Fr. Henri Nouwen’s book Behold the Beauty of the Lord as a helpful introduction to praying with icons.

I had an immersion experience with Nouwen’s book. (Seriously, that is what it felt like – being immersed in warm, gentle prayer.) I had never prayed with icons before, and our professor had several large icons of different types.  As the class was instructed, and as we read through Nouwen’s short book, we approached our chosen icon with reverence and gentleness. (At least, that is what I totally felt.) Out of several icons, I felt an openness, almost a beckoning from Andrew Rublev’s icon of Christ, the Savior of Zvenigorod. What an experience.

As I beheld this icon, I felt the damaged portions of the figure of Christ so deeply. Repeatedly, I thought of how our Lord Jesus can feel-with, can not only sympathize, but empathize with me (with us!), as imperfect, hurting, wounded humans. He comes alongside of us, sits with us as we behold the icon. Gazing, feeling His loving, caring, reaching-out presence.

And, all this I experienced from beholding. Amazing experience. I have also prayed in this way with a single flower floating in a simple glass bowl of water, and with a burning candle in a darkened room. But, none of these experiences were quite as moving as my several times of prayer with the Savior of Zvenigorod.

I even have a small icon. When I bought it at a Christian bookstore, I saw quite a number of different icons. At least twenty, most small, and a few larger. The icon of our Lord with children drew me, ad so I bought it. This icon has a special place in my apartment. I pray that you may consider praying in this way, or perhaps read Fr. Nouwen’s book Behold the Beauty of the Lord, to get an appreciation for beholding – gazing – in prayer.

Dear Lord, thank You for the marvelous ways individuals have found to come before You. So many different ways, from so many varied cultures and points of view. Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your nearness, Your gentleness, and Your approach-ability. Help us to seek You and find You, in all Your wondrous beauty. It’s in the marvelous name of our Savior we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Thompson, Marjorie, Soul Feast (Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, KY, 1995), 48-49.

Day 7: Contemplative Reading

December 4, 2021

Bible – still life, Van Gogh

I love contemplation. And, I really love reading. When I have done contemplative reading of the Bible, it seems to be especially gifted with Godly presence.

I have several books on prayer that I have used, and prayed through. They have been marvelous helps to me, in my journey with God through these different kinds of prayer, meditation and contemplation. One of my favorite go-to books for contemplative reading, lectio divina and Ignatian prayer is The Word is Very Near You, a not-so-recent book by Episcopal priest Fr. Martin L. Smith. As he introduces the whole idea of meditation on Scripture, he mentions the “image of feeding on Christ and taking in the nourishment of the life-giving word…the prophets had vision in which they were given books to eat.” [1]

I can just imagine Ezekiel having his vision of eating the scroll that tastes just like honey. And, Psalms 119 and 34 both talk about God’s word being even sweeter than honey. To my joy, I have experienced this! I’ve used Fr. Smith’s book on a regular basis, a large number of times over the past twenty years. As I have followed his step-by-step instructions, I have felt stories, parables and other (more visual) sections of the Bible come to life when I listened to his directions and read the Bible passages aloud. I have been blessed by Smith’s book and by his suggestions, countless times. (Yes, I am a fan-girl.)

By this time, I suspect you realize that I love Psalm 119, too. Every verse of this long, long psalm has a mention of God’s Word. Descriptions like “hiding Your word in my heart,” “I am a stranger on earth,” “my soul is weary with sorrow,” and “the earth is filled with Your love” – all poetic, and all so poignant. I can ruminate on any one of these verses for a long time!

Just knowing that God is present with me, as I am reading, can be a stunning realization. (Really and truly.) I hope and pray you can experience this sweetness of contemplative reading, too.

My sweet Lord, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the poetic descriptions and turns of phrase I find in the Scriptures – in both the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament. I experience You through Your Word so readily. I realize that different people experience You in different ways. Help all of us to truly be encouraged to pick up Your Word and read it on a regular basis. Thank You for the Bible.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Smith, Martin L., The Word Is Very Near You (Cowley Publications: Cambridge MA: 1989), 115-16.

Day 6: Compassion and Loving-Kindness

December 3, 2021

As I read today’s entry on my list of contemplative practices, I remembered that Compassion and Loving-Kindness are two foundational characteristics of God. Attributes of, or adjectives used in describing God. What an awesome thought, that this Tree of Contemplative Practices mentions us – you and me – with the same adjectives that describe God.

(Yes, I am going to geek out at this point, and talk about the Biblical text. I love sinking my teeth into the language and meaning behind the words.)

One of my wonderful go-to books on prayer, Prayer by Richard Foster, talks about compassion in prayer. We – you and I – are urged to show compassion in prayer, just as Jesus did. “Always! The Gospel writers frequently mention that Jesus was ‘filled with compassion’ for people.” [1] In both Hebrew and Aramaic, the root concept of compassion is inward parts. The King James Version calls this bowels of mercy. In other words, reaching down to the guts of a person! That is how much our contemplative practice is to reach down inside of us!

Psalm 103 mentions compassion as a Godly attribute. Verse 8: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” And, Foster equates God with a loving Father in verse 13: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” But, that is not the end of compassion, Not by a long shot!

Psalm 103 highlights loving-kindness, too. I just love the rich, multi-layered Hebrew word chesed, which is variously translated, but in this situation is loving-kindness. Verse 8 mentions the Godly hallmark of “abounding in love,” or, as I translate it word-for-word (with my poor Hebrew skills) “abundant-of loving-kindness.”  

Wow! Double wow! These are two Godly adjectives that I consider so far above me, so far above my pay-grade, that I cannot wrap my head around them. Yet, Richard Foster says that we are to practice these Godly attributes on a regular basis as we pray healing prayers with each other. This is the same way I prayed with people as a hospital chaplain, for years. (By the way, you don’t have to be a “professional Christian” to do this kind of praying.)

We have moved beyond interior-gazing and are now going outside of ourselves. Yes, this is contemplation, and yes, this is action-oriented. A way to practice compassion and loving-kindness in the wild. In the world.

Join me in prayer, will you? Dear God, thank You for the two awesome adjectives about You and Your work in the world. About You and Your relationship with Your creation, Your creatures. (That includes us.) Help me – help us to step out, step forth, and practice compassion and loving-kindness. Help us use these gifts with love, with caring, with action. In the kind, compassionate name of Jesus we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Foster, Richard, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (Harper: San Francisco, 1992), 208.

Day 5: Gratitude

December 2, 2021

Prayer and meditation mean a lot to me. I try to do one or both on a regular basis. Recovery principles also mean a lot to me. (Did you know that I have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Addiction, certified by the state of Illinois?) Helping people in recovery and their loved ones is also important to me.

When I came to the word “Gratitude,” the first thought that came to me was the program of recovery. It is so natural for people in recovery to be grateful – grateful for sobriety, yes. That is the first and primary thing! But after that sober realization, the person’s eyes are opened and all of life opens up. Life becomes possible to live again.

Looking at “Daily Reflections,” a daily meditation book from the Alcoholics Anonymous Foundation, I was struck by the reading for March 25th – “I am grateful not only for sobriety, but for the quality of life my sobriety has brought.” [1] Gratitude is truly a blessing, where peace and contentment become a blessed possibility for grateful people. That gratitude is so often a blessing from a Higher Power.

Yes, gratitude is wonderful for anyone in the recovery program. More than that, did you realize that gratitude is helpful for anyone? So many have negative behaviors, thinking and attitudes in their lives, minds and spirits. Relapse is simply going back to a behavior, way of thinking, habit or speech that you wish to leave behind. Gratitude is a excellent tool to help prevent relapse. Gratitude promotes freedom from relapse to addictive behaviors, negative thinking, harmful habits, hurtful way of speech, or whatever it is that you want to jettison.

How can we be grateful? you may ask. A simple way to start is by writing down a list of things you are grateful for. (And, once you start, you may not be able to stop!) If a whole long list is too daunting, why don’t you try for three things? What are you grateful for, today? Write down those three things, and then tomorrow you can add three more.

Try to stop the negativity tapes that play on “repeat” in your head. Focus on those positive things, and be sure to say “thank You” to God for them. Yes, I’ve kept gratitude lists, even through dark times and difficult patches in my life. These lists can be a lifesaver.   

That is all, one gratitude at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time.

Dear Lord, gracious God, I thank You for this excellent reminder to be grateful, today. And, with today’s meditation from Daily Reflections, I pray that we all may be richly blessed from You, so blessed we will overflow with gratitude, each day. One day at a time. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Daily Reflections (Alcoholics Anonymous Foundation, United States of America: 1990), 93.

Day 4: Meditation

December 1, 2021

Chicago Botanic Garden, Japanese island, photo credit Elizabeth Jones

Do you meditate?

Many people around the world meditate on a regular basis. Many of these people come from a variety of faith traditions. That is, vast numbers of people who practice meditation come from a faith tradition other than Christianity.

I did not know much about meditation when I was growing up. (I guess there were not too many Lutherans who were in the habit of regular meditation during the 1970’s, at least in my area.) By the time I really got interested about different types of prayer – which was during the late 1980’s – I found a number of books published about meditation and contemplation. And, these books came from a variety of different faith traditions.

If no one in your family or among your friends practices meditation, it might indeed seem different.  But, is meditation any more different than certain types of prayer that are practiced in many homes of devout Catholics in the Chicago area? Or, the types of prayer practiced by Orthodox acquaintances of mine around Chicago? This is an honest, sincere question. (I really would like to understand!)   

I love the simple definition given by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh: “Meditation is simply the practice of stopping and looking deeply.” [1] That means to me stopping and looking deeply – with no judgment.

A snap response might be: “Oh, that is easy!” But, is it? A non-judgmental, open, interested stop, with a deep gaze – this might indeed be a challenge, whatever your faith tradition!

Thich Nhat Hanh goes on to say, “With mindfulness and concentration you can direct your attention to what is there and have a deep look. You can begin to see the true nature of what is in front of you.” [2] Isn’t this a way of looking at things (and people) the way God must see them? At least, starting to see them with God’s eyes?

I have practiced the different ways of meditation and contemplation this monk suggests in this small book. Mind-opening, to say the least. I cannot meditate on a regular basis, because my mind is too wedded to the written word. (I really enjoy praying with Scripture! But, more on that, later.) However, when I do try to meditate, I receive rich rewards. God knows that this is not my preferred way of praying, and I believe God honors that, and understands.

Yes, I have meditated, a number of times. I have been refreshed! And, I deeply respect and honor Thich Nhat Hanh, and his practice of coming before the Holy. This slim, little book holds a valued place on my bookshelf devoted to books on prayer, contemplation and meditation.

Please, pray with me. Dear Holy One, thank You for many different understandings of You and how You are in the world. How You relate to individuals, as well as how You might be as different people approach You in different ways. Thank You for helping me to open myself to new experiences in prayer. Thank You especially for this little book How to Sit. Help me glean words of wisdom and ways of prayer and meditation from its pages. In Your divine Name I pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Nhat Hanh, Thich, How to Sit (Parallax Press: United States of America, 2014), 18.

[2] Ibid.

Day 3: Silence

November 30, 2021

Morton Grove Forest Preserves, Nov. 10, 2021, photo credit Elizabeth Jones

I used to shy away from silence, when I was young. I always had to be surrounded by people or by sound. And usually, either music or voices. White noise was okay, but I still felt alone. And, I deeply felt the aloneness. Gradually, I had to grow accustomed to silence. But, that was decades ago. Looking backward, I see myself then as immature. Only half-birthed, and such a young one.

When I was introduced to the book Living in the Presence by Tilden Edwards just a few months after starting seminary, I felt blown away. My professor in the course on Introduction to Prayer actually studied at the Shalem Institute with Edwards. The width, depth and breadth of Edwards’ knowledge about spiritual growth and formation blew me away, too.

Edwards said that we all “have a tendency to become very noisy inside to compensate for the silence outside.” His comfort level with silence fascinated me, and was something I wanted in my life. Sure, I had grown a bit since the constant need (desire for?) sound in my teens, and it continued through my 20’s and 30’s. Yet, at 40, I had some idea of how desperately far I still needed to go.

Edwards is just one of so many who references “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10) as part of the contemplative tradition. He said “Being still before God is the enduring stance of prayer, that which lasts when all the words and other sounds inside are exhausted.” [1]

Yes, I can sit in silence before God now. Sometimes I even crave that Godly silence, the silence so filled with the presence of the Almighty – containing the totality of the spectrum of sound, which includes silence. But, sometimes my comfort level ebbs and flows. Sometimes I do still crave some kind of music or voices, or water and rain sounds. And, that is okay, too. As long as I am communicating with God. That is what God truly wants, after all.

Would you join me in this sounding of prayer?

Dear God, thank You for sound. Thank You for the multiplicity of varieties of sound, from the whisper of the breeze to the crash of the ocean waves. Thank You for the beauty of voices singing and instruments playing. Thank You for silence, too, that deep, smooth pool of stillness, spreading across the psalmist’s awareness. Help us to know – truly know – that You are God. Amen.


[1] Edwards, Tilden, Living in the Presence (Harper Collins: San Francisco, 1995), 35.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )

Day 2: Quieting the mind

Missouri Botanic Garden, December 2019 – photo credit Elizabeth Jones

November 29, 2021

Day 2: Quieting the mind

It’s so difficult to hear anything in a crowded room full of people talking. Competing voices, sounds, all kinds of ruckus and noise. Do you want to turn down the sound level, like turning down the car radio?

Sure, sound can be that way in the external world. However, I am thinking of the internal world – the interior space within each of us. How can we clear away the sound, the noise, and even prepare our internal, interior space for prayer? Contemplation, or meditation? This effort is the first thing I seek. I am not always able to get there, it is true, but I try.

As a marvelous writer on prayer and spirituality said, “For too long we have been in a far country: a country of noise and hurry and crowds, a country of climb and push and shove, a country of frustration and fear and intimidation.” [1] Richard Foster is so right. We need to set aside all that clutter and noise inside our heads, and between our ears, too.

Quieting the mind for me has some options, for sure. My favorite ones right now are first, taking deep breaths, in and out. That slows my heart rate, encourages me to sit up, sit straight, and stretch. Stretch my arms, shoulders, do shoulder circles (forward and back), and swivel or pivot my head and neck.

If you feel some muscle or place in your body or torso that feels like it needs to be stretched, by all means do it! Your body will thank you for stretching. And, your mind and spirit will appreciate the physical invitation into the presence of God.

Sometimes it can be enough to quiet the mind. Sure, these different contemplative practices can be so meaningful! But sometimes – it can be enough to have some inner stillness, to center oneself. Advent especially is a time of preparation and stillness. Ask God. The response can be clear. Praise God.

Please, pray with me. Dear God, thank You for this deep-down desire to quiet the mind. Thank You for help to become still enough to hear from You. Being in Your presence is so worth it! Remind me – remind us of that truth, please. In Jesus’ name we pray.


[1] Foster, Richard, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (Harper: San Francisco, 1992), 1.


@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for the excellent image, the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )

Day 1: A sacred, personal space

Photo credit: Kevin Jones

November 28, 2021

Do you look at life from a glass-half-full perspective? Or, is your glass half-empty?

I try to go through life looking at things from a positive perspective. (That is, most of the time.) When situations and challenges rock my boat, I sometimes try to calm things down by praying. Sometimes with meditation and contemplation, too.

Except, sometimes is not often enough. Sometimes.

I was introduced to the Tree of Contemplative Practices through a prayer retreat . My ecumenical association, the Federation of Christian Ministries, sponsored a (much needed!) Zoom retreat earlier this month. This prayer tree, found on the website http://www.contemplativemind.org, immediately caught my attention. Yes, and my mind and spirit, too. I noticed that I had done or been involved in almost every contemplative and spiritual practice listed on this tree. My intention is to journal about the many practices, when and where in my life I had the opportunity to practice, and see whether at the end I have any more insight than I do right now. Which, admittedly, is not much. I journal in hopes of gaining some godly wisdom.

When I pray, or meditate, or contemplate, or whatever journaling I may do, I find it helpful to get into a quiet place. This may not be a whole separate room. No, a chair may be enough. Or, a desk in a corner. You could even put in earphones or whatever sound reducing device you prefer. I suggest quiet music helps, even silence, at times. I’ve meditated to the sound of waves, and of rain. I love to listen to Gregorian chant and baroque guitar or lute while journaling. Whatever calms you and causes your heart rate to slow. Take some slow, deep breaths, too, before you start. Whatever is helpful for you, for your soul and spirit, and for your heart.

Remember, God wants to get in touch with us. Up close and personal, if possible.

Please, pray with me. Dear God, thank You for this time of quiet. Help me – help us to come to You with open hearts and spirits. Thank You for meeting us when we turn to You. In this time of Advent, of preparation, draw us close – close to You. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )