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Showing posts from April, 2020

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day Ten: Boats & Centering Prayer

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Today we are going to be exploring the tenth spiritual lifestyle practice that is outlined by Fr. Richard Rohr in his book Just This.  

The topic this morning is what Rohr calls "Boats Floating Downstream and Centering Prayer."  Let me explain, albeit in a very round-about way.  Stick with me.  

Yesterday I went bike riding for the second day in a row.  The first day I went on a bike track that only had one semi-challenging hill, but yesterday I decided to take a ride that felt like it was uphill both ways.

I would love to say that while I was riding that I was able to put in my headphones, get a good pace going and then slide into a zen-like space in my head where my thoughts were free, my body energized and all was right with the world. 

Instead, I was bombarded by thoughts, like:

"This sucks."
"I'm tired."
"My butt hurts."
"My hamstrings are on fire."
"I think I'm in the wrong gear."
"This helmet is too hot."
"…

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day Nine: Practicing Awareness

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Today we are continuing our exploration of the twelve spiritual lifestyle practices that Fr. Richard Rohr outlined in his book Just This.  

This morning we're taking a close look at the spiritual practice he refers to as "Practicing Awareness."  

Fr. Richard asserts that awareness is the doorway that will lead us to a greater understanding of ourselves, others and ultimately God.  

But far too few of us are able to actually be aware in the sense that Fr. Richard believes is necessary to achieve this kind of understanding.  

We let ourselves get distracted, worried and obsessed with appearances, success, winning, losing... all of the things that keep us from truly seeing God in the world and in one another. 

Fr. Anthony de Mello, whose amazing little book Awareness has been a daily read for me over the past year and change, wrote a lot about this.  In fact, something he said has stuck with me for a long time:  
Most people don't live aware lives.  They live mechanical lives…

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day Eight: The Welcoming Prayer

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Today we are continuing our exploration of the twelve spiritual lifestyle practices that Fr. Richard Rohr outlined in his book Just This. 

The practice we'll be digging into today is what Fr. Richard simply calls "Welcoming Prayer."  

Rohr's mentor and friend, the late Fr. Thomas Keating (who singlehandedly was responsible for bringing ancient Christian practices like centering prayer back into the modern Church)  edited this prayer and popularized it. 

If you haven't read any Thomas Keating, you should.  I have two more of his books on the way right now to add to my morning routine.  

At any rate, Keating taught that this prayer was a lot like the Serenity Prayer that is so much a part of the journey for people who are trying to stay sober through Alcoholics Anonymous.  

This prayer allows you to admit that you are powerless in your addictions to things like power, control, safety, security, affirmation, success... any number of things that we are told we need in ord…

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day Seven: Standing Guard

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Today we are continuing our exploration of the twelve spiritual lifestyle practices that Fr. Richard Rohr outlined in his excellent little book, Just This. 

The topic of our conversation is what Fr. Richard calls "Standing Guard."  

The source for this particular practice comes from a short passage at the end of Paul's letter to the Philippians, which reads: 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7In essence, this particular practice has to do with prayer--namely, what it is, how we see it, and what happens to us when we enter into it earnestly and openly.  
Fr. Richard asserts that what Paul is saying here is that prayer is the opposite of worrying.  He juxtaposes anxiety and worry against "prayer and petition" as a way of contrasting the two. …

Third Sunday of Easter - "Our Hearts Were Burning!"

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Okay, it's time for some real talk about the Coronavirus Crisis.

First, I'm thinking that military school is a real option for my children.  I'm wondering if they can start now.

Second, and this connected to the first thing... I just feel like teachers aren't paid enough.  Like, they should make a million dollars a year.

And also---I wish there was a way that I could put an electronic sign in my house in a prominent place where we could display what day it is.  I think at least once a day someone in my house asks what day it is.  And at least once a day, I have to actually check before I answer.

Can I just say that the toilet paper that was in stock when I snagged a couple of packages is almost certainly one-ply.  I'm not going to go into a lot of details, but this doesn't really work for me, and it definitely doesn't work for my nine year-old boy.  Let's just say that we are currently not allowing him to touch anything in the house.

Our dog is exhausted.  T…

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day Five: Scanning For Malware

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We are continuing our exploration of the twelve spiritual lifestyle practices that are outlined by Fr. Richard Rohr in his book Just This.  Today we're talking about what he calls Scanning for Malware. 

I got some malware (evil software, essentially--a virus, if you will) on my computer not too long ago that drove me absolutely crazy.  Every single time I would do a search on Google, the malware would switch me over to Bing, which is Microsoft's search engine. 

Between you and me, I think Microsoft commissioned that malware. Dirty buggers. 

I had to purchase some anti-virus software for my computer, and the first thing I had to do was to run a scan of the whole thing.  Eventually I was able to get rid of the malware causing my search issues, but I also discovered that there were a few other viruses on my computer, and I got those cleaned up, too. 

In an hour or two, my computer was running better, more efficiently and I wasn't having to deal with Microsoft and their evil softw…

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day Four: Attending the Breath

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Today we are continuing our exploration of the twelve lifestyle disciplines that Fr. Richard Rohr outlines in his book Just This.  Today we're exploring what he calls Attending the Breath. 

Very nearly every religious tradition includes breath-prayers in their liturgies, meditative practices or worship. 

And by "breath-prayer" I mean the practice of deep breathing or at the very least a focus on the breath while one is praying, worshipping, meditating, etc.

When I was growing up, the fundamentalist Christian churches I  was a part of taught us to be very wary of things like meditation, deep breathing and the like.  They associated it with Eastern religions, New Age mysticism and ultimately cults, hippie communes and other assorted debauched things.

So it wasn't until much later in life that I began to understand the importance of paying attention to my breathing while I  prayed.  It was actually during a time of guided meditation when I was simply focused on breathing t…

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day Three: Noticing The Furies

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Today we are continuing our exploration of the twelve spiritual lifestyle practices that Fr. Richard Rohr outlines in his book Just This.  Today we're going to be taking a look at what he calls Noticing The Furies.

The Furies were deities found in Greek mythology that were tied to vengeance and retribution--and subsequently the word "fury" itself became connected with our understanding of passion, anger and rage.   

I learned early in my life that anger was one of my most effective defense mechanisms.  Some people go to silence when they are threatened.  Others may use tears to gain sympathy when they feel vulnerable.  I tend to blow up.  

Most of the stupid things I've done and said to hurt the people I love have come out of fits of rage.  Virtually all of the dumb decisions I've made in moments of reaction have all stemmed from anger.  

And yet, I still find myself falling back on it when I am threatened, feel afraid, vulnerable or small.  It makes me feel as thoug…

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day Two: Cultivating Heart Attention

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Today we are going to continue our exploration of the twelve spiritual lifestyle practices that are outlined by Fr. Richard Rohr in his excellent book Just This. 

Rohr calls the second of the twelve practices: Cultivating Heart Attention.  

I have a really hard time paying attention for any length of time.  It's something I've dealt with my whole life.  I  probably would have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder when I was a kid.  

I was what they referred to over and over again in my progress reports, a daydreamer.  

Honestly, I was bored.  I had a hard time focusing on one thing at a time, so my way out was to drift into my imagination where I could think about all kinds of things at once.

As time went by, I grew to hate myself for those kinds of episodes.  I wanted to be like everyone else---rather than some slack-jawed idiot who stared off into space, thinking about God-knows-what.  

Funny thing... I wish I could think like that again.  I would love to just sit quietly…

Developing Spiritual Lifestyle Practices - Day One: Beholding

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One of the most often asked questions I've been asked over the course of this Coronavirus Crisis is:  "What are you doing to stay motivated during all of this?"  

I absolutely don't mind the question, but I have come to realize that it's not the real question.  The real question that lies beneath the one people seem to be asking, is actually more like this:  

"You're a pastor.  You must have some kind of insight on how to find peace in all this.  What can I do to find peace?  What can I do to find some meaning in all of this? How do I keep from going all Jack Nicholson a la The Shining on the people I've been cooped up in the house with for the past month?"

I don't have a lot of pat answers because I'm feeling my way through this just like the rest of you.  But I'm working on some things that I am hoping will help me, so I thought I'd share.  

In his excellent little book Just This Fr. Richard Rohr identifies twelve lifestyle practic…