We are a monastery without walls, a group of individuals committed to a rule of life and a vibrant spiritual community. The Urban Abbey is located in Arlington, Virginia at St. George's Episcopal Church.
Dear Urban Abbey Members and Friends: One of the Lenten disciplines I have attempted to take on this Lent is a Lectio Divina-style contemplation of various prayers. I have recently been reflecting on our Abbey’s Rule of Life. Here are some of my reflections. With the intention of drawing closer to God,… -- I have to be conscious in my desire to do this and try to subjugate my will to God’s. I will with God’s help… -- I cannot do this alone or under my own power; I need to look to a higher Power to underpin my efforts. Pray daily, guided by the Book of Common Payer or another Christian format,… -- To develop a strong personal relationship with God, I must feed that relationship. Just as with a close friend, I need to talk with God daily about my hopes, fears, frustrations, joys, and adoration. …and worship regularly in community,… -- I need also to maintain bonds and support of the community by sharing worship with them regularly. Study scripture and pursue a specifically selected spiritual activity annually,… -- To be close to God and try to be aware of God’s will (call) in my life, I need to do my homework and study sacred writing ( scripture, writings by theologians, books) to have more knowledge of what God is about. I need to be intentional in doing this. Serve others,… -- I need to remember that Christ was a servant-leader; my highest calling is to imitate Him in serving and being present for others. …share the tasks of the Urban Abbey Community,… -- To keep our Abbey Community strong and able to serve its members and the wider community, I must do my part and be an active participant. …and be mindful of God in my daily work, and… -- I need to try to be present in each moment of my day, remembering that I am God’s agent and doing whatever task I’m about to serve and glorify God. Show fellowship with a welcoming heart, seeking Christ in everyone I meet,… -- Fellowship and hospitality are the hallmarks of abbeys of old. I am called to extend that to those I meet in the course of my day; I need to remember that each person – rich, poor, good, bad – bears Christ in them and welcome them as I would Christ. …offering comfort and celebration… -- I not only need to offer fellowship and hospitality, but I need to try to meet each person where they are at the moment, whether it is to listen, to offer comfort and support in time of trouble, to rejoice with the person in times of joy. What does our common Rule of Life mean to you? How do you approach it each day? I invite your thoughts and reflections. Shalom and many blessings, George
I was 'blown away' by the imagery of God's presence in Steve's poem below and wanted to share it with you. What an exquisite thought that each one of us is a 'beautiful garment' for our God. What a delight God must take in each one of us, with all our flaws an foibles, that God would 'wear' us and use us in that way to project grace, love, reconciliation to others.
This certainly gives me a renewed sense of purpose and call to be present in each moment of my day. What does this poem say to you?
Shalom and many blessings, George ______________________________________ Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you.
The weaver of heaven looks out upon her world and wants to walk among her dear humans unnoticed for she knows how alarmed they can be
So she weaves a beautiful garment for herself and when she is finished naked and eager she puts you on and you fit perfectly
And you walk out into the world and hardly anyone not even you yourself recognizes
But every movement is actually her every breath is really her and even when you stumble she is beautiful in you
Pastor Steve ______________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes Unfolding Light www.unfoldinglight.net
Dear Abbey Members and Friends: My week to provide a reflection was last week, but I just got overwhelmed and didn’t get to it. Tonight as I read through Steve’s offering for Lent, it struck me as exceedingly important. In fact, it was a way of looking at Lent that I hadn’t done before; but, it makes so much sense…and how in keeping with the way God would want us to approach Him. As Steve so wonderfully put it, “the point of Lent is to… become more fully connected with God and others through love.” I’m going to give it a try!
I wish you all a blessed and holy Lent. Shalom and many blessings, George _____________________________________________________ Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Lent is a season of repentance, marked by the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As a form of fasting, people often went without rich foods during Lent, so on the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, they would use up all their milk, butter and eggs by making “fat” foods,” like pancakes. Hence today is sometimes known as “Fat Tuesday” or “Pancake Day.”
We often pick something to “give up” for Lent. I don't plan to give up milk and eggs. But I do intend to fast, and to do without sweets, snacks and unnecessary food, and to avoid eating in a hurry or standing up or while doing something else. The point is not to deprive myself, or make my life uncomfortable. The point is to be mindful. How much do I eat without needing to, just out of habit or “because it's there?” How much do I eat without even thinking, without enjoying, without appreciating? By eating mindfully during Lent I don't expect to be miserable. I expect to enjoy my food even more.
The reason for repentance is God's judgment. If you think God's judgment is condemnation and punishment, then I suppose Lent should be pure misery. But God's judgment is simply the loving truth about us. So Lent is a time to become more mindful, to see ourselves more clearly, to and to realign ourselves with God's love. Fasting is a practice that helps us expose and transcend our usual desires and attachments, and focus beyond ourselves and our immediate wants. But fasting goes along with prayer and almsgiving. Fasting without mindfulness and generosity is not a real fast. The point is not to improve self-discipline, but to deepen our love.
So besides “giving up” something, observe Lent by committing to a deeper practice of prayer or sharing. While I'm fasting, I'll be writing letters on behalf of the poor through Bread for the World, and on behalf of prisoners of conscience through Amnesty International. The point of Lent is to move beyond our self-contained-ness and become more fully connected with God and others in love.Choose a way to observe Lent that helps you become more mindful, and more in harmony with God's love for you and for others. You will likely experience in it a rebirth that will prepare you well for the miracle of Easter. And you'll enjoy those Easter eggs all the more.
Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve _____________________ Steve Garnaas-Holmes Unfolding Light www.unfoldinglight.net
Does your daily life resemble a high-wire artist trying to bicycle across a canyon while blindfolded? Where do you find balance in your life? How do you establish and maintain a healthy relationship with your family and with God?
Join Sister Charlotte Lee, O.S.B., and Katherine Frick, Obl.S.B for a day of reflection on “Balance and Stability Walking Through Life with God”.
Where: St. George’s Episcopal Church, Arlington Virginia (Virginia. Square. Metro) When: Saturday, March 26th 9:30 AM- 3:30 PM Cost: $10 covers lunch, Scholarships are available RSVP: Please RSVP by Tuesday, March 22nd to Scherrone Dunhamn, Scherrone1 at verizon dot net (Or email email@example.com for more information.)
Welcome to the Urban Abbey Blog. We are a community of individuals in northern Virginia in the United States committed to following a Benedictine-inspired Rule of Life.
We are not a residential community. Abbey members seek to live out their vows in the everyday aspects of their lives. Thus, we consider ourselves to be a monastery without walls.
Listening Groups are a central feature of our Abbey community. In these contemplative prayer groups we practice a form of group spiritual direction and listen to God for each other.
While we are associated with St. George's Episcopal Church in Arlington, Virginia, membership in the Abbey is open to anyone willing to commit to our Rule of Life. Please check our website if you are interested in learning more about the Urban Abbey or our programs.
Our Rule of Life
All Abbey members commit to a Rule of Life. Our Rule is:
With the intention of drawing closer to God, I will with God’s help:
* Pray daily, guided by the Book of Common Prayer or another Christian format, and worship regularly in community; * Study scripture, and pursue a specifically selected spiritual formation activity annually; * Serve others, share the tasks of the Urban Abbey Community, and be mindful of God in my daily work; and * Show fellowship with a welcoming heart, seeking Christ in everyone I meet, offering comfort and celebration.