WATER’s Contemplative Prayer/Meditation group gathers on the first or second Monday of each month. All are welcome in the office or by phone. Visit our Contemplative Prayer/Meditation page for more details.
After each session, the meditation and its corresponding audio can be found here. Come back often for our latest meditations, as well as a large collection of our past contemplative prayer sessions.
“The Journey Towards Justice” with Janet Bohren
The poem Janet Bohren shared was by George R. Pasley, a poet and pastor at Ketchikan Presbyterian Church (http://goo.gl/DncPB9) in Alaska. To read more of his poetry, visit his personal Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/george.pasley/notes
“The Journey Towards Justice” by George R. Pasley
The journey towards justice
Is not so much a road or even a trail
But a trace through the desert
Marked by frustration and sorrow
And the greatest temptations along its way
Are the inclination to presume you have arrived
And the temptation to despair,
Thinking you never shall.
It is a pilgrimage with many
Who disagree about much,
Scorned by more who speak the same language
But fail to understand,
And feared by scores more
Who tremble at the hands of change.
It leaves scars upon body and soul,
Tests the strong and inspires the weak,
Features a strong cadence and a checkered history
In which every saint has a record of question
And every drummer an tendency
To lose step with the beat.
It will break your heart
Shame your family
Shock your neighbors
Wreak havoc on nations
And nap until its legions despair.
But it is as stubborn as dandelion
As tart as wild berry
As slippery as catfish
Aggressive as a junkyard dog
And the lesson if history is
It never is over
Never put down
Never finally abandoned
By always the maker the shaper AND the finisher
Of purpose, of destiny, of history’s trek.
August 21, 2014
Contemplative Prayer with Judy Bond
“What sets one Southern town apart from another, or from a Northern town or hamlet, or city high-rise? The answer must be the experience shared between the unknowing majority (it) and the knowing minority (you). All of childhood’s unanswered questions must finally be passed back to the town and answered there. Heroes and bogey men, values and dislikes, are first encountered and labeled in that early environment. In later years they change faces, places and maybe races, tactics, intensities and goals, but beneath those penetrable masks they wear forever the stocking-capped faces of childhood.”
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York, NY: Bantam, 1971. pp. 15-16.
“Come and Listen” with Cheryl Nichols
Contemplative Prayer/Meditation with Cathy Jaskey
The search —
for God —
is strenuous and unending.
We need good companions
in order to persevere in it.
In good company,
in a community of conviction,
the quest never loses its
or its savor.
-Kaye Ashe, OP
“Being with Beauty” with Phoebe Knopf
“Mountain Beauty: Timeless and Deep Over the Millennia” with Janet L. Bohren
“The Inexorable Refinement of Time” by Joan Chittister
from For Everything a Season
Plutarch wrote, “Time is the wisest of all counselors.”
The truth is that time is all we really have to work with in life.
It is time that forms us.
Time shapes and sears and bends us to the breaking point.
Time heals and resolves and forms the scar tissue that makes the defeats of life vague memory and the triumphs of life more possible.
Whatever we make of ourselves, we will have made it by the durability we bring to the passage of time.
In adulthood the vibrancy of youth must really shine in us if we are to be happy;
in middle age the accumulation of love must shine in us if we are to be effective;
in old age the residue of experience the Sabbath heart, must shine in us if we are able to be full of soul and ripe with calm.
We must come to understand that God gives over every life to the inexorable refinement of time to see how we shall respond to its elements and what, having borne them, we shall bring to its final form and color in the end.
The season is now. The time is ours.”
“Water…the Beauty, the Power, the Strength of It” with Sr. Hope Bauerlin
“The Waterfall” for May Swenson by Mary Oliver
(New and Selected Poems. Vol. 1. Boston: Beacon, 1992. pp. 19-20).
For all the said, I could not see the waterfall until I came and saw the water falling, its lace legs and its womanly arms sheeting down, while something howled like thunder, over the rocks, all day and all night – unspooling like ribbons made of snow, or god’s white hair. At any distance it fell without a break or seam, and slowly, a simple preponderance – a fall of flowers – and truly it seemed surprised by the unexpected kindness of the air and light-hearted to be flying at last. Gravity is a fact everybody knows about. It is always underfoot, like a summons, gravel-backed and mossy, in every beetled basin – and imagination – that striver, that third eye – can do a lot but hardly everything. The white, scrolled wings of the tumbling water I never could have imagined. And maybe there will be, after all, some slack and perfectly balanced blind and rough peace, finally, in the deep and green and utterly motionless pools after all that falling?
“Swing Low” with Mary E. Hunt
“Swing Low” by Jane Schaberg
After hours bent over Merkabah and Hekhalot texts and rabbinic and biblical materials over the apocrypha and various translations I expect/ I would like/ I hope for/ dream of a death with the horses of fire coming the chariots of fire over Detroit or wherever it happens highway, hospice, sidewalk, classroom, my own bed at home me lifted up light as an old child my thin nightgown, my bones, my flesh and hair on fire great iron hooves pounding on the air and clouds Rappahannock if he precedes me come back from the dead, one of them his soft eyes, his chest muscles bulging mane and tail ablaze burning but not burnt reins of light or no reins joyful recognition of horse, rider, driver if there is one burning but not burnt. -Jane Schaberg
For more information on Jane, click here.
For a sample of her marvelous scholarship and writing see “Mary Magdalene: the Origins and Futures of Christianity.”
“Faithfulness” with Mary E. Hunt
See the poem “Faithfulness” by Nicola Slee in The Book of Mary
“To Know the Dark” with Geralyn McDowell
To Dance with God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration by Gertrude Mueller Nelson
“It is Advent, and, along with nature, we are a people waiting. Far out of the south, the winter light becomes thin and milky. The days grow shorter and colder and the nights long. Try as we may, we cannot fully dismiss the fundamental feelings that lie deep at our roots, a mixture of feelings dark and sweet.”
“To Know the Dark” by Wendell Berry
from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
“One Minute for Peace” with Mary E. Hunt
“One Minute for Peace” is a project of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group located in Philadelphia (www.afsc.org). They have been doing peace work for nine decades. They received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 along with the British Quakers for their post-war efforts to fed and care for people in Europe, especially children.
Their current project, “One Minute for Peace,” is a graphic way to think about how much of our common money, U.S. tax money, goes to war, defense, and nuclear weapons.The wonderful ribbon-like flyer that they have produced shows the percentages of the 2013 national budget that go toward various aspects of our common life. Note that 57% of all tax revenue goes toward military purposes. Food and Agriculture, Transportation, Labor, Science, Energy and Environment each get 3% or less. The federal government spends 4 % on International Affairs, 5% on Health, 5.5% on Housing and Community, 6% on Government costs, 6% on Education, and 5% on Veteran’s Benefits. The rest goes to the military.
AFSC figures that the U.S. spends $1.2 million every minute on defense-related things. They want to raise just one minute’s worth for peace. Imagine that while we meditate for 20 minutes, $24 million will be spent on the military. They quote President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a Republican and a general: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” Let this harsh and, if I may say so, grim reality ground our quiet time together.
“Practice Awareness” with Mary E. Hunt
Susan Nelson was a feminist theologian who finished her too-short career at Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, CA at the age of 63 in 2010. She was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and taught at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary before going to Claremont where she finished her service as academic dean.
Nelson wrote numerous articles and two books: Beyond Servanthood: Christianity and the Liberation of Women (Rowman and Littlefield, 1989) and Healing the Broken Heart: Sin, Alienation, and the Gift of Grace (Chalice, 1997), among other works. In Spring 2009, what had been diagnosed as a brain tumor worsened and she was soon to come to the end of her earthly life. She spoke at a worship service at CST that Fall, offering the community a moving reflection on life’s beauty and fragility.
When asked what her “last lecture” might be, she responded:
“…practice awareness—watch yourselves breathe—every day, find at least one thing to be thankful for—tell others what they mean to you—forgive—laugh—and practice the discipline of taking nothing for granted—or perhaps better said, the discipline of forgiving yourselves for all the ways you will take life for granted and receive it anyway. Grace and peace be upon you.”
from Susan Nelson: The Life and Influence of a Feminist Theologian, by Rev. John Zingaro, self-published, 2012, pp. 274
“Light Bearers” with Cynthia Tootle
We are light bearers, stewards
of a truth that insists on being
shared despite doubt or fear or
imagined limitations. We spread
the flame by teaching or by growing
still, by daring to be outrageous
and dancing beneath the full moon,
or by holding a friend in need
and taking part in life’s normal
routines. This is our message –
there is hope encoded in each
cell, each loving thought, each
time we reach out to one another.
There’s truth that won’t be stopped
by toppling buildings, snipers’
bullets, war clouds on the horizon,
or the inner storms of grief, despair
and insecurity. We are the peace we’ve
been seeking, the peace that stretches
beyond the mind’s need for form or
understanding, the peace for which
each human heart longs. Now is
the time for the light bearers to
offer up the truth of who
and what we really are.
– – Danna Faulds
“More About Names” with Janis Roihl
The focus of the meditation was: “I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1. We proved that naming is an endless and varied process, each one having a very different take on the matter.
“Our Cloud of Witnesses: A Meditation on Our Mentors in Faith” with Cheryl Nichols
“Therefore, we for our part are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses. Let us lay aside every encumbrance which clings to us and persevere in running the race.” (Letter to the Hebrews 12:1)
“…A communion of holy persons from whom we have inherited a faith strong enough, versatile enough and deep enough to shape our lives and direct our decisions.” (Chittister, Joan. “Communion of Saints….” In Search of Belief. Ligouri: Liguori Publications, 1999.)
“These days Lifting myself up Like a heavy weight, Old camel getting to her knees I think of my mother And the inexhaustible flame That kept her alive Until she died… …Mother be with me. …Thinking of you The old camel gets to her knees, Stands up, Moves forward slowly Into the new day. If you taught me one thing It was never to fail life.” (From “August Third” by May Sarton, Collected poems, 1930-1993. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993.)
“The Power to Name” with Geralyn McDowell
The power to name. So much springs from the question: Who has that power? ~ Geralyn McDowell
“Affirming Healing on All Levels . . .” with Cynthia Tootle
“Does Godde Fit Your Image?: Why I Never Brawl Out Waitress” with Janis Roihl
Faith with Mary E. Hunt
Contemplative Prayer/Meditation with Mary E. Hunt
“Children and Peace” with Mary E. Hunt
Given the situation is Israel/Palestine/West Bank, this meditation is especially welcome. We forget that wars have their most long-lasting impacts on children who live for the rest of their lives with the images and experiences of war. For their sake, if not also for our own, it must stop.
While the piece I will read is written out of that experience I think it can be generalized to the many places where war persists. And, it can be a warning not to engage in such actions ever again. I found this through Friends of Sabeel, a solidary group that supports Palestinians in their struggles. I went there many years ago and still recall the faces and places of what was then the second intifada or uprising.
As we now hold our breath during the ceasefire of another such war, let us pray:
“We pray… for the children, that the children may live, that they may have children of their own and that it will go on – this great blossoming that is meant to go on and on – we pray for peace, in their name. that they would have a world worth being born into, a future worth dreaming about, that they might become, in their own time, all that our race might come to be, – that they might have that chance – we pray for peace, in their name.” (from “Praying for Peace” ed. Michael Hare Duke)
“Mindful Eating” with Mary E. Hunt “Mindful Eating”
Eating is something we do virtually every day. In fact, we do it several times a day at the table, maybe even more times standing up, on the run, snacking, stopping for tea. Rarely do we eat with attention to the eating itself. We dine at times—gathering with friends/family for a special meal.
We celebrate lots of occasions with food—birthday cake, Halloween candy, and Christmas Stollen come to mind. But often even those are consumed with little attention to the eating. Many traditions have meditative customs around food. Fasting is one such custom; fasting can be a way to experience the food via its absence. Another one is meditative eating as in “food for thought.”
I first experienced this thirty years ago at the Chapel House retreat center at Colgate University where every meal was taken in silence so as to heighten and enhance the experience of the food. There are many versions of this approach, including eating without any light to focus solely on the food and on eating. The Buddhist tradition of mindfulness includes eating with complete attention to the food.
So, tonight we each have a piece of fruit—just one—in front of us. Let us take time to look at it, admire it, thank it, and eat it. Our contemplative time will be spent reflecting on food and the act of eating, something so common that we do it several times a day without thinking the least bit about it. Perhaps after our time together eating will take on a new importance in our lives. Observe your fruit, admire it, give thanks for it, and eat it in silence.
Two sources of interest on this topic are:
Gordinier, Jeff. “Mindful Eating as Food for Thought.” 7 Feb. 2012. The New York Times. (http://goo.gl/sZb2nQ)
Linn, Denise and Meadow Linn. The Mystic Cookbook: The Secret Alchemy of Food. New York: Hay House, 2012.
“What I Have Learned So Far” with Cheryl Nichols
“What I Have Learned So Far” by Mary Oliver
Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world? Because, properly attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion. Can one be passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so. All summations have a beginning, all effect has a story, all kindness begins with the sown seed. Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of light is the crossroads of–indolence, or action. Be ignited, or be gone. (Oliver, Mary. New and Selected Poems: Volume Two. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005)
Contemplative Prayer / Meditation with Janis Roihl
Pick a photo from a collage or a wide selection, one that speaks to you, and use it for your meditation.
“Tea with the Goddesses” with Cynthia Tootle
Thanks to Cynthia Tootle for leading our most recent mediation on the theme of Goddesses. It was a powerful evening with four Goddesses to focus on and rich experiences of contemplation. Some of the material came from Cynthia’s forthcoming book, DIALOGUE WITH THE GODDESS, which will be out soon. Watch this space for more information.Cynthia Tootle offers a prayer book, a wise guide, a conversation, and beautiful images to nurture relationships with the Goddess in her many splendors. Savor this offering with all of the richness it entails.
“The First Day of Your Life” with Barbara Cullom
As a young person during the 1960s in the USA, I absorbed the mantras of that time. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” promised a lifetime of “first days” – an open vista of new possibilities. Then came the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s, The New Millennium and so on. As time wore on, my optimism from the ’60s faded. The last days of the rest of my life seemed to be hanging on with their “same old same old.”
And then this past Friday, I retired. And the rest of my life shines in front of me. What kept me from seeing each new morning as “the first day”? What makes it possible for me to see that “first day” now? Earlier this year I came across the first image that has been shared with you. I immediately sent it to my 27 year old daughter, Meg, seeing her as that person, enveloped in light, striding forward into each “first day.”
Now I am looking at my own shining future. To me it looks like the road of light in the second picture. So I offer you the opportunity now to look at your life right now. And to pray about it. Do you find “first days” in your life in the present? Do you want to find first days? Is there a particular “definition” of such first days that you have in your heart/soul/mind? Does your heart or spirit have a different or broader definition? Can you walk with this luminous woman for a while? Who is she? And how might it change you if you did? Can you walk the path of light? How might you pray about “the first day of the rest of your life”?
Brigit Ritual with Dr. Mary Condren
The first day of February is Brigit’s Day, a major feast of the Celtic year. Brigit inherited the name and characteristics of the goddess, Brigit, whose feast was at Imbolc, February 1st. She was said to “breathe life into the mouth of the dead winter.” She is an ancient role model for women today. The Brigit Ritual at WATER was hosted by non other than Dr. Mary Condren, Ireland’s leading expert on Brigit.