Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Want To PrayThe Hours? Try Outlook!

Dear Urban Abbey, Loretta Goodwin joined us this passed weekend for our annual retreat and blessed us by incorporating beautiful poetry into the morning prayer service she led. We were fascinated by her explanation of her modern means for keeping the hours and we asked her to share her experience with you. Given the poetry she read we highly recommend the book Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day. We can all benefit from a rhythmic practice of keeping the hours.  Much thanks to Loretta for enhancing our understanding of how we can keep the hours.--

I attended the Urban Abbey retreat at Shrine Mont this past weekend, and it was wonderful to be welcomed as a guest into this community. The program for the weekend focused on watching a BBC production called "The Monastery"- available on YouTube, and well worth the watching, and follow-up discussion.  The program invited us to think about what relevance the Benedictine Rules of living have for today's world, and as we watched 5 ordinary men enter and live with a community of monks at Worth Abbey in England for 40 days and 40 nights, our thinking was challenged regarding what it meant to live in community, and how the rules promoted spiritual development and growth.  

During one of the follow-up discussions we engaged in, as we tackled the tough questions of how it was possible to incorporate the Rule into our daily lives, I shared what I try and do on a daily basis.  It's not about following all the Rules, and it's not always fool-proof, but it is a start towards pausing throughout the day, and reminding myself of God's presence.  Based on the recommendation of a friend, a while ago I read Macrina Wiederkehr's book, Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day.  Rather than focus on the historical text of the hours, this book provides one with poetic reflection material on the spirit of the hours.  Faced with many options to read at the seven sacred pauses (Matins, Morning Prayer, Third Hour of the Day, Sixth Hour, Ninth Hour, Evensong, Compline), I have chosen a few texts that have special meaning for me, that resonate deeply with something I have felt, or experienced.  I have then entered these texts into my Outlook calendar, at 7am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 7pm, and 9pm, which causes me to receive automatic alerts at specified times during the day (and let me be clear - I am focused on Morning Prayer through Compline!  Engaging in Matins? I'm not there yet).   

Thus I begin my day with a text from the awakening hour, "Set the clock of your heart for dawn's arrival. Taste the joy of being awake," followed by one of Macrina's sacred songs that reminds me to "breathe in the rays of dawn, raise high the chalice of your life."  I also love reading Mary Oliver's poem, The Summer Day, at the start of each day, and will soon explore acquiring another poem I just learned about while attending the Sunday morning service with St. Anne's at Shrine Mont, by John O'Donahue, called The Morning Blessings.  

As the day progresses, my calendar alerts me to the passing of the  hours, and provides the appropriate text. Admittedly, sometimes, due to work, I can't  take a few moments to silently contemplate and reflect, and listen for God's word, but the mere reminder serves to alert me to God's presence throughout the day.  I invite you to try it out!

Loretta Goodwin

Friday, November 5, 2010

Urban Abbey Retreat

Dear Urban Abbey Members and Friends:

This weekend is the annual Urban Abbey winter retreat at Shrine Mont. One of our members asked for the schedule of events so that those who were not able to attend could pray for those on retreat. The schedule is below. We invite you all to pray for those on retreat. They ask us to pray specifically for the following three things...
1) Safety for all participants while traveling and while there.
2) That we, as a community, will grow in our understanding and desire
to be a community that offers Christ in this world.
3) That God's presence will be experienced throughout the weekend,
both for those at Shrinemont and the part of our community who will
not be able to join us.

“Living in Community” Urban Abbey Retreat
Shrine Mont, Nov. 5 – 7, 2010
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind." (Phil. 2-1-2)
Friday, Nov 5
7:00 p.m. Boardroom, Virginia House: Introductions/Gathering Activity
7:15 – 7:30 p.m. Overview of “The Monastery”
7:30 – 8:30 p.m. “The Monastery,” Part I
8:45 – 9:30 p.m. Portlock: Small Group Discussions
9:30 p.m. Compline
Saturday, Nov 6
7:30 a.m. Portlock: Morning Prayer
9:00 – 9:45 a.m. Boardroom, Virginia House: Lectio Divina
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. “The Monastery,” Part II
11:15 a.m. – Noon Portlock: Small Group Discussions
5:00 p.m. Portlock: Porching
6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Boardroom, Virginia House: “The Monastery,” Part III
7:45 – 8:30 p.m. Portlock: Small Group Discussions
8:45 p.m. Campfire, with TaizĂ© & S’Mores
Sunday, Nov 7
9:00 a.m. Cathedral Shrine – worship with St. Anne’s of Reston
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Portlock: “Living in Community”
11:30 a.m. Closing Prayer
Depart in Peace

[posted for Laurie & Angela by George]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Voting and Praying

Dear Urban Abbey Members and Friends: Below is today’s meditation from Steve Garnaas-Holmes. I did vote yesterday, but I was struck by the wonderful images of prayer and its power. The part that resonated most with me is in the middle of his reflection, “When you pray you yourself change—which changes the world.” For me this is an excellent reminder as I am with other people that the only person I can hope to change is me…and that I need to respect others where they are in their lives and walk with God.

What are your thoughts on Pastor Steve’s meditation? Shalom and many blessings, George

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you

Yesterday your vote went into a pile, became a number, and got added up and compared to another pile. And then it disappeared. It's over. But when you pray your prayer goes into God, and is treasured forever.

When you vote, you are trying to influence an outcome. When you pray you let go of outcomes and become open to God's inflowing grace.

When you vote, you try to get someone or something else to change. When you pray you yourself change—which changes the world.

When you vote and lose, nothing comes of it. You lost. When you pray for something that has not come yet, as when you pray for peace, or justice for the poor, your prayer vibrates in harmony with the delight of God, which is the energy of the world, and transforms the world.

Your vote may or may not have an effect but your prayer always has an effect. You are a nerve cell of God. When you pray you deepen the world's awareness.

It was good that you voted yesterday. Now pray, and exercise some real power.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day

Dear Urban Abbey Members and Friends: Following is a reflection on All Saints Day by Rev Steve Garnaas-Holmes. I found this a really wonderful and affirming meditation…I felt compelled to share this with you.

I plan to spend some more quiet time letting God speak to me through this meditation. I think this meditation would lent itself well to using a Lectio Divina type approach.

Shalom and many blessings, George

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

You are God's holy saint,
chosen and blessed,
given sacred gifts,
invested with divine powers.
You were born to radiate the glory of God,
to fulfill God's deepest desires,
to complete God's delight.
You are given an extraordinary heart
for love, if only you discover it.
All that you do
has hidden in it this holy purpose,
this infinite potential.

You are not unusual among saints,
neither more nor less sanctified than any of them.
They are all people who have lives,
who wake up and make choices,
who do chores and forget things
and do not understand their place
in the splendor of the heavens.
This is not an excuse.

You were born to be holy.
This is not a burden,
not a duty, a command or an obligation,
not a threat or a trap.
It is a gift.
Let it be a wonder,
a mystery to ponder,
so that in your hands
it becomes a gift,
and you join the great choir
singing the magnificence of this life
and the One who gives it.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light