My love shall never leave you: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.

Isaiah 54: 9-10

“My love shall never leave you” – the words of a God of unmeasured, unconditional and never-ending love.  Perhaps because of its immensity, we struggle to wrap our arms around this Love and to take it in – we hesitate to trust it fully.  Yet if we can do so, it makes all the difference because it changes how we respond to God, to ourselves and to others.  Abbe Henri de Tourville (1842-1903) in a letter of spiritual direction advises: “Accustom yourself to the wonderful thought that God loves you with a tenderness, a generosity, and an intimacy which surpasses all your dreams.  Give yourself up with joy to a loving confidence in God and have courage to believe firmly that God’s action towards you is a masterpiece of partiality and love.  Rest tranquilly in this abiding conviction.”  Good advice still for today!

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Spiritual Saltiness: An offering from Donnie Hawley

For everyone will be salted with fire. 
Salt is a good thing, but if salt has become insipid,
how can you season it again?
Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.

Mark 9:49-50

“Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”

What does Jesus mean by this?  Those of us who cook know that too little salt makes food somewhat tasteless and it becomes insipid, while too much salt will ruin the food and it becomes inedible.  Salt is a seasoning and a preservative.

Is Jesus trying to tell us that the right amount of spiritual saltiness is needed?  In our relationship with God and others, if our spiritual saltiness is insipid, the peace we seek will also be insipid and our relationships will not be preserved.

On the other hand, if our spiritual saltiness is over bearing, God and others whom we want to be in relationship with will be put off by the brine and the crusty residue that brine leaves.

The question we have to ask ourselves is how do we develop this balance of spiritual saltiness that leads to peace?

(c) 2018 Donnie Hawley

Let go and trust: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.

John 8: 46-47

It seems as social media and the internet expands, what we can really trust as truth diminishes.  However, of this we can be confident:  we can believe the truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus says and does.  And yet, so often we struggle to trust Jesus – to place our lives, circumstances and consequences solely in his hands.  Instead we impatiently take charge to try to make “something” happen – sometimes we are so impatient we will settle for “anything” we can make happen.  The closer we get to Palm Sunday our invitation may be to let go, to again trust Jesus’ truth and to join the procession of the followers to Jerusalem who trust and to put our lives in Jesus’ hands.

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

Setting my mind on surrender: An offering from Nancy Jagmin

Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.
Mark 8:31-33

I am very aware of some of the things I want to put behind me.  There are regrets, of course, which I want to resign to the past. However, this Lent, I am much more aware of the other things I want to put behind me:  the way I often think about my life in the present.  I fall into habitual ways of perceiving events that drive my priorities, and I’m not always happy with where those priorities take me.  Can ways of seeing the world which seem as comfortable as my own skin really be counter to God?  Does my desire to make things happen the way I want them (as Peter did) sometimes run counter to the divine?  Are my priorities really all that bad?  Maybe not, but I won’t know unless I surrender them to God. I ask for the grace to set my mind on that.

(c) 2018 Nancy Jagmin
SMI Board
HeartPaths DFW Faculty

Do not cause anyone to stumble – An offering from Rev. Lil Smith

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 (NIV)

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 11 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

I find some of the most compelling images are the selfless acts of competitive athletes: helping a competitor cross the finish line, stopping mid-race to render aid, carrying an injured player on the other team around the bases because she hit the ball out of the park and earned the run.

I find these acts so compelling not just because of the good that is being shared with the other, but because of the selfless act of giving up the dream of winning to be in service to another.

For it is in these moments my earthly dream is overshadowed by the kingdom-come dream God has for all of God’s children:  following the way of Christ.

May we be your followers today and help others who stumble.

(c) 2018 Rev. Lil Smith
Spiritual Director and Supervisor
Retreat House Spirituality Center

When God calls: An offering from Verlene Springer

So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Genesis 46:1-4

When God calls, it is specific to an individual and designed to fill what is needed, at that time, in God’s plan for the world. Like Moses, responses are often a variation of “are you sure you mean me, I stutter?” Or Ananias, “you must have made a mistake this time, God, that guy kills Christians!” It is always a free choice; the rich young ruler “sadly went on his own way.” The call often requires a response to something mysterious. Mary’s “yes” from just a girl changed the world forever. The call comes but the details, the how, often come later. Callings can begin subtlety as a strong desire, a persistent thought, or even a restless feeling of a need for change.  It can come through something someone says, something read, or even a movie or play. An open and attentive stance assists us to better hear God’s voice and be ready to drop our nets and follow Him.

(c) 2018 Verlene Springer

Focus on Our Faith – An Offering from Diane Clay

Armies may surround me,
   but I won’t be afraid;
war may break out,
   but I will trust You.
I ask only one thing, LORD:
Let me live in Your house
   every day of my life
to see how wonderful You are
   and to pray in your temple.
        Psalm 27:3-4 CEV
 
An image of Jesus “setting his face toward Jerusalem” came to me while meditating on these verses.  Jesus knew what awaited him upon his arrival, yet he resolutely continued the journey.  Just as many of us have verses of Scripture that strengthen us and give us hope in difficult times, surely Jesus recalled God’s love and promises as he neared certain death in Jerusalem.  Like Jesus, our focus should not center on our fears, but rather on our faith that God loves us, abides with us, and will never leave or fail us.
 
(c) 2018 Diane Clay
Spiritual Director
Contemplative
Grandmother Extraordinaire

You were bought with a price – An offering from Rev. Lil Smith

21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.[a] 22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. 24 In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters,[b] there remain with God.  1 Corinthians 7:21-24

I visited the Holy Land this time last year, and now, I  often envision Paul by the sea…in prison…at Caesarea.  What strikes me is that Paul is in chains.  Yet, Paul’s letters don’t sound like Paul is in chains.  Paul has freedom despite the chains.  Despite the chains, Paul is free.

Friends, this is the true freedom that is the gift of God.  It is not the false freedom the world wants to possess. True freedom, despite our circumstance in the world, allows us to take a deep breath and choose to follow the One who creates, the One who redeems, and the One who encourages.

Holy God, may we embrace this precious freedom that comes at such a price.  Send us the gift of your freedom and Holy Peace that sets us free…even when we live in the chains of the world.

(c) 2018 Rev. Lil Smith
Spiritual Director and Supervisor
Retreat House Spirituality Center

Invite freedom and healing – An offering from Rev. Lil Smith

Psalm 146:3-4

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

I retreat from a world in which leaders are disconnected from the body of their people.

I retreat from a world that anesthetizes pain and suffering.

I retreat to a place that I can befriend my pain and suffering.

I invite freedom and healing.

In this space, judgment of the world has no power over me.

In this space, I can find a deeper breath.

In this space, I feel more authentically the person God created me to be.

In this space, I praise you.

Oh God, lead us to the healing life of your Breath.  Free us from the plans of the world to place our hope and trust in you.  AMEN

(c) 2018 Rev. Lil Smith
Spiritual Director and Supervisor
Retreat House Spirituality Center

An offering from Bonnie: Guide me in your truth and teach me

Psalm 25:5

“Guide me in your truth and teach me,

For you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.”

bonni oden psalm 25

God speaks to each of us in a unique way.  He speaks to me with photography, what I call contemplative photography, or “seeing with the eyes of God”.  Thomas Keating says, “Each new awakening to God changes our relationship to ourselves and to everyone else, as well as to Him.”  Photography is generally seen as a tool for recording our lives: family events and travels. On the other hand, a contemplative photographic experience can take place anywhere, even as close as your own backyard.  It doesn’t matter what kind of equipment is used, whether a cell phone camera or an intricate camera.  A photograph is made special when the photographer discovers something special, by paying close attention to what is around her, to what God wants her to see.  For me, this is the joy of photography.  I am able to see the photograph God wants me to see at that moment, and by our joining together, the moment becomes holy.  And in that moment, I am reminded that all moments are holy.  I feel my spirit and my soul light up without any effort.  I feel as if my soul is suspended in God and I am at peace.  I view the world not just with my physical eyes, but with my spiritual eyes, which I call “seeing with the eyes of God.”

As a photographer, when I look at the world with the eyes of God, he shows me the divine at work in the hidden depth of things.  It is so easy to let ourselves be lulled into complacency by the ordinary in our lives, but with God’s grace I see the ordinary turn into the extraordinary through the lens of my camera.  This is the gift God has given to me.

What is the unique way God speaks to you?

(c) 2015 Bonnie Oden