Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I recently listened to the Scientific American podcast, "60-second mind," about being so absorbed in an activity that one does not perceive another event.

In the article, "Inattentional Blindness Can Make You Not Perceive Event" the author explains how a study originated after a cop in hot pursuit of a criminal did not see a police brutality scene that was happening along the route of his fast-paced chase.  

Apparently in a study designed to recreate such an event, nearly 2/3 of the subjects did not see the "other" thing that was happening. Fascinating.

Does this "inattention" explain why suddenly last night I came upon a new staircase at the hospital?  I've been working there for 6 months and here was a shortcut that appeared out of nowhere!  Perhaps I had been, um, too preoccupied in my own fast-paced chase to see it?  Quite possible.

I wonder how this plays out in other areas of my life.  How am I not seeing opportunities for expansive ways to find the truth?  How am I blind to liberating perspectives? 

I pray for attention of perception and the grace to accept that what I do see.

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (Mark 4:24-25 NLT)

How are you experiencing any inattentional blindness in this moment?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Simple. Spirituality.

In Brian McLaren's recent book (Naked Spirituality: A Life With God in 12 Simple Words), the preface begins,

He was naked.
In broad daylight. In church.

McLaren goes on to tell the story of Francis of Assisi, who against his father's wishes had sold some merchandise to raise money for church.  Upon the accusation, Francis gave up everything, "I give you not only my money, but also my clothes."  And in his nakedness he "joined a long tradition of nakedness in the service of spirituality."

No, I'm not going to that extreme. (Yet.)

The book is about getting naked - it's about stripping away the "symbols and status" of religion, and McLaren does a great job at it.  With a focus on 12 words, I found ways to connect to my own innerlife and spiritual journey that at times has eluded me.  In the next few blogs, I'll reflect on how these words play out in fresh ways.


I pray for spiritual awakening and courage to allow myself to be authentic and "naked" before God.  Thanks, Francis, for the encouragement.

How are you spiritually naked in this moment?

Friday, June 17, 2011


In a hike this afternoon, I noticed this fern growing out of a rock. 

I'm reminded of how much sustenance a rock really can provide, even though it seems unlikely.  Aren't rocks just, you know, hard solid things from which nothing can grow?  

But the hopefulness of this fern inspired me.  It planted itself on that sturdy, ancient glacier-formed rock and made a home.  

Such grand faith!

For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? Psalm 18:31

I pray for rock-like faith in this moment. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Goodbye, Hello

I have found myself saying goodbye a lot recently.  

  • quit my day job at United Way
  • gave notice at Mission Hospital that July will be my last month to work PRN
  • will serve as acolyte for the last time at All Souls next Wednesday
  • began saying goodbye to Asheville-based friends with Last Coffee meetings or lunches
  • said goodbye (again) to my best friend of 21 years last weekend at her second memorial service
  • packed up for "storage until next year" all my family photo albums and memorabilia
  • gave away bags of clothes that don't "fit"
So now it's really sinking in.  If I wasn't planning on moving to Alexandria for a year of seminary, you might think that I was planning to end my life.  

However, I have also found myself saying hello a lot recently.
  • exploring new apartments and places to live
  • entertaining what kind of ministry I might find for field education
  • inspired by recent "pioneer minister" work of fresh expressions for church
  • intrigued by the strategic and organizational change that The Episcopal Church is making
  • e-meeting new friends-of-friends who live in Alexandria
  • planning visits of family and friends to our new digs, once we get moved in

I have this sense that to live fully alive means to embrace all the goodbyes and to live into the hellos - in every moment.  To welcome whatever comes up - be it tears, joy, laughter or sadness.  It's not all easy, it's not all happy, it's not all sweetness and light.  Life is both. 

I recently heard about Cynthia Bourgeault's "Welcoming Prayer" that has helped me be alive to this set of feelings.  Here is a short run-through of the prayer method. 

The Welcoming Prayer

  1. Focus and sink in — Feel the feeling. Don’t run away from it or fight it.
    Stay with this until you really experience a connection to the feeling or emotion on not just an emotional but also a physical level.
  2. Welcome — Affirm the rightness of where you are and acknowledge God’s presence in the moment by saying: “Welcome, [fear/anger/etc.].”
    Don’t just say this and move on. Repeat it and sit with the feeling until you experience a genuine sense that you welcome it, that you are not fighting against it.
  3. Let go — Say “God, I give you my [fear/anger/etc.],” or one of the other phrasings if you find it more meaningful.
    At this point, you can turn the feeling or emotion over to God and let it go. If you haven’t truly felt it and welcomed it in, you may still experience resistance here. Stay in the letting go, or turn back to the focus or welcome stages as appropriate.

How are you welcoming all your goodbyes and hellos in this moment?