Author Archives: Jeff

About Jeff

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

Big Picture Consideration #4: Beyond Words

One of the most important people in my life regularly undergoes a procedure that has the unfortunate side effect of really messing up certain parts of her brain chemistry.    One of the main areas impacted is the language part of the brain.

For a good week or two, she is very limited both in understanding and speaking.  Loving and supporting her has been a learning experience for me.  (To be clear: I have the easy part of the deal.)

I am a very word-oriented person.  It is one of my main ways of relating and of spending time with someone.  Recently, I was thinking about this learning process.  And realizing it mirrors the changes in my relationship with God.

A bunch of years ago, my main connection with God was through talking.  And sometimes listening.  So many of my practices now wordless.  I have developed this whole new list of ways to spend time with God.  It’s not different than the re-learning I have had to do with this special person: finding new ways to be together.

One of the best things I am learning is that words only get us so far.  In some ways, the spiritual activities were a little more chosen.  But the reality is that the new things I am learning to do, those not reliant on words, are some of my favorite things to do.

Exercise 40: Mirroring

Background: God knows everything about you.  And God loves you, thoroughly, utterly and irrevocably.  For the duration of today’s practice, please release your feelings and fears about God being angry about who you are or what you have done.  While those feelings may be rooted in reality they will not serve you in this practice, because whatever else God feels toward you, God’s love is not deniable or negotiable.

Today’s practice is inspired by the work of Richard Rohr and others who would have us contemplate God’s loving gaze on every part of us.

In this practice, we will begin by experiencing God’s gaze on our physical body.  We will then experience God’s gaze on our minds, and then in our heart.

After a time of experiencing God gazing down on us, and experiencing ourselves, mirroring this gaze back up on God, we will close by breathing out this accumulated Love on the world around us.

The Practice

1.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  Breathe deeply, filling and emptying the lungs as completely as possible.

2.  Inhale. With your breath, inhale the reality that God is love.

3.  With your next exhale, exhale the things you fear about what God might think or believe about you.

4.  For as many breaths as you need, feel God’s loving gaze falling on your body.  Perhaps it begins at your feet and works its way up.  Let God’s gaze stop in places you feel sore, tight, or hurt.

5.  For 3 more breaths, feel God’s loving gaze on the whole of your physical body.

6.  Now, experience God’s gaze on your mind.  Let it begin on your thoughts and beliefs.  Perhaps you will feel this as God’s view resting deeply within your head.

7.  God’s gaze also lands on your memories.  It is a loving and healing gaze.  As you continue to breathe deeply, feel God’s watching fix some of the brokenness of your past.

8.  God’s gaze will come down to your feelings.  Perhaps you will experience God’s gaze on your physical heart as God lovingly beholds the contents of your feelings.

9.  Continuing to breathe deeply, for 3 breaths, let God take in the whole of your brain and your heart.  Feel loved and healed.

10.  As you continue these deep inhales, see that God beholds you.  All of you.  In every moment.  As he is watching you, the whole of, watch God.  You have become a sort-of mirror, reflecting that loving gaze back up to God.

11.  Luxuriate in this.  Take as long as you would like.  Continue to be present to deep breaths.

12.  Just as a mirror turns back all of the light that is casting on it, you are turning back God’s gaze fully.  Yet, the mirror grows warm.  It keeps some of the heat where it is.  Let yourself grow warm with God’s love.

13.  As this heat increases, consider those you love the most.  And breathe out your love on them.

14.  Continuing to breathe deeply, widen the circle of those you are breathing out love on.  Include casual friends.

15.  Inhaling, and exhaling, reciving God’s love, you can know breathe your love on the whole of the human race.

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Exercise 39: Before you can be filled, you must be emptied.

Background:  This exercise was initially part of the December, 2018 Advent Campaign.

It is built on the idea that in order to fill ourselves up with the things we wish to have, we must first empty ourselves of the things we don’t want.

Visualizing God’s breath in us is an important prerequisite to this practice.  You can find an exercise more specifically focusing on this practice here.

 

 

The Exercise:

1.  Sit up, straight and comfortable.
2.  For the duration of your practice today, release yourself from your commitments.  Give yourself permission to engage this practice fully.  
3.  Take a deep, cleansing inhale.  Place your hand on your belly and do your best to feel it move; fill your lungs from the bottom, up.
4.  Exhale fully, from the bottom of the lungs through the top.
4.  With your next inhale, see that this in-breath is God breathing into you.  
5.  Exhale, fully.
6.  With your next inhale, remind yourself of God’s presence, breathing into you.
7.  Exhale, again.
8.  Inhale God’s breath into you.
9.  For these next few breaths, we will focus on the exhales.  With each breath we will be exhaling tension from our body.  Continue to breathe slowly and fully.
10.   remember that each inhale comes straight from God as we engage this.
11.  Inhale, God’s breath.
12.  Now, exhale.  But with your breath, exhale the tension from your feet and calves.  Blow it out through your mouth.
13.  As you inhale God’s breath, feel it filling your all the way down to your feet.
14.  As you exhale, breathe out the stress from your knees and thighs.
15.  Inhale a breath straight from God.   This breath is what makes you human.
16.  Exhale the tension from your lap and buttocks. 
17.  Inhale God’s breath into the space you have made.  Feel it travel downward from the lungs to the whole lower half of your body.
18.  Exhale the tension from your abdomen and lower back.
19.  Feel God breath out, and into you.
20.  Exhale the tension from your chest and upper back.
21.  Inhale a breath from God.  Feel the breath first fill your lungs.  Let that divine breath fill up the empty space you have made.
22.  Exhale the tension from your next and shoulders.
23.  Inhale and feel God’s breath fill you from toes to neck.
24.  Exhale the tension from your head.  Feel it leave your brow, jaw, and the base of your skull.  Exhale this stress with your breath.
25.  Now, as we begin to draw this exercise to a close, continue to draw God’s breath into the empty space you have created.  With this next inhale, feel that this oxygen that is spreading to every inch of you is carrying God’s love.
26.  Exhale stress and tension.
27.  Inhale, and see that God’s breath is filling up the empty space within you with the deepest Peace.
28.  Exhale your worries and concern.
29.  With this next inhale, bring God’s breath into the tips of your fingers and toes.  Draw it up to the top of your skull.  Feel it in all the places in between.  And know that this breath is peace.

Day 14

Today’s Exercise:

1)  Release yourself from any obligations, tasks, or duties for the duration of your practice.
2) Sit up straight, with your feet flat on the floor.
3) Breathe deeply in through the nose.  Try and fill up the belly.
4) Exhale thoroughly through the mouth.
5) Recall these practices you have engaged over these last two weeks as you continue to breathe deeply.
6) When you are ready, move on to today’s practice.
7) With your next inhale, say or think, “Who am I, God?”
8) With your next inhale, say or think, “Who are you, God?”
9) Devote most of your time to these two questions.
10) When you are ready, release those questions.  Sit for a time
11) Before you return to your daily tasks, make some decisions about whether you will continue to make a daily investment in building your spiritual practice.

Please leave comments about this exercise, or the campaign as a whole, in the space below.

Day 13 of the Solstice and Advent Campaign

With only one day remaining on this campaign, it would be a great time to share your biggest struggles and biggest victories from these last couple weeks.  Please leave them in the comment section below.

The audio of today’s meditation is here:

A transcript of that recording:

Today’s Exercise:

1) Create the darkest environment you are able to.
2) Sit with your feet flat on the floor and your back comfortably straight.
3) Make yourself aware of the shadows and darkness around you.  Inhale.
4) Exhale your knowledge of what the room would look like in the light.
5) Inhale the darkness with the air.  Remind yourself that darkness is not necessary the same as evil.  Darkness can be unknowing, mystery, and that which transcends words.
6) Exhale your easy explanations.
7) Inhale, and bring your mind to the short days of December.
8) Exhale, and bring your mind to the long nights of December.
9) Inhale, and bring to mind the time before God came into the world (perhaps that means the birth of Jesus.)
10) Exhale, and think about the time you have been waiting for God to show up.
11) Spend several more breaths now, as long as you can, in the mystery.  Breathe in the darkness with each breath.  Breathe out the light of false, shallow rationalizations and easy explanations.
12) When you are ready, turn on enough light that you can safely light the candle.
13) Light the candle.
14) Let your eyes settle on the tip of the flame inhale.
15) Keeping your eyes on the tip of the flame, exhale.
16) Make yourself aware of the way the candle illuminates the darkness.  Inhale.
17) Notice the ways the room that you are in is still dark.  Exhale.
18) Notice this illuminated darkness.  Breathe it in.
19) Breathe out the illuminated darkness.
20) Inhale, and bring to mind the slowly lengthening days of January.
21) Exhale, and bring to mind the gradually shortening nights of January.
22) Inhale the light of the candle: see this light as God’s entry into the world.
23) Exhale that light to the people you love most in the world.
24) Stare at the tip of the flame.  Breathe slowly and easily.  In through the nose and out through the mouth.  When your mind begins to wander, return it gently to the flame.  Notice the smoke, rising up.

Day 9 of the Solstice and Advent Campaign

Here is the audio track for today’s practice:

You can help in turning The Faith-ing Project into a fully functioning community.  You can do this in several ways:

  • Share your thoughts, feelings, and criticism below in the comments.
  • email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com to share something directly with the Project’s Director, to join our next email campaign, or to ask to be placed on the mailing list.
  • Access exclusive content and help The Faithing Project share spiritual practices with a world in desperate need.  Become a  Patron.
  • follow @faithingproject on twitter.

Day 7 of the Advent & Solstice Campaign

Today, many of us celebrate Christmas Eve.  Our lives ramp themselves up to a fever pitch.  Perhaps this is the busiest, and the most stressed we will be in this entire year.
Many of the things we do are good things.  Some of them are great things.   Tradition and culture pressure us to rush here and there.  Family and friends are hoping to see us.   More than a few of our tasks are duties, expectations that we don’t feel we can escape.
This all can leave precious little room for the most important things. The things that we know are best.

It’s not so different from the Jesus story: there was no room at the inn.  There should have been.  But there wasn’t.
As pressures mount, I hope that today’s practice makes some room in the inn that is within you.  This practice is partially rooted in the Genesis account, which states that God reached down into the earth.  When God breathed into that dirt,something happened which made that dirt the very first human.  Perhaps this is where we inherited God’s image.
I believe that God’s initial act of creation is an ongoing event.  With each breath, God breathes into us.
Today’s exercise might be easiest to access via an audio file.  Click here to listen to it.  Continue reading if you would rather approach this exercise in it’s written form.

I would love to hear how this is going!  And I know that others will benefit from this to!  Please leave a comment below.

Here is the audio version of today’s practice:

Today’s Exercise:

1.  Sit up, straight and comfortable.
2.  For the duration of your practice today, release yourself from your comitments.  Give yourself permission to engage this practice fully.
3.  Take a deep, cleansing inhale.  Place your hand on your belly and do your best to feel it move; fill your lungs from the bottom, up.
4.  Exhale fully, from the bottom of the lungs through the top.
4.  With your next inhale, see that this in-breath is God breathing into you.
5.  Exhale, fully.
6.  With your next inhale, remind yourself of God’s presence, breathing into you.
7.  Exhale, again.
8.  Inhale God’s breath into you.
9.  For these next few breaths, we will focus on the exhales.  With each breath we will be exhaling tension from our body.  Continue to breathe slowly and fully.
10.   remember that each inhale comes straight from God as we engage this.
11.  Inhale, God’s breath.
12.  Now, exhale.  But with your breath, exhale the tension from your feet and calves.  Blow it out through your mouth.
13.  As you inhale God’s breath, feel it filling your all the way down to your feet.
14.  As you exhale, breathe out the stress from your knees and thighs.
15.  Inhale a breath straight from God.   This breath is what makes you human.
16.  Exhale the tension from your lap and buttocks.
17.  Inhale God’s breath into the space you have made.  Feel it travel downward from the lungs to the whole lower half of your body.
18.  Exhale the tension from your abdomen and lower back.
19.  Feel God breath out, and into you.
20.  Exhale the tension from your chest and upper back.
21.  Inhale a breath from God.  Feel the breath first fill your lungs.  Let that divine breath fill up the empty space you have made.
22.  Exhale the tension from your next and shoulders.
23.  Inhale and feel God’s breath fill you from toes to neck.
24.  Exhale the tension from your head.  Feel it leave your brow, jaw, and the base of your skull.  Exhale this stress with your breath.
25.  Now, as we begin to draw this exercise to a close, continue to draw God’s breath into the empty space you have created.  With this next inhale, feel that this oxygen that is spreading to every inch of you is carrying God’s love.
26.  Exhale stress and tension.
27.  Inhale, and see that God’s breath is filling up the empty space within you with the deepest Peace.
28.  Exhale your worries and concern.
29.  With this next inhale, bring God’s breath into the tips of your fingers and toes.  Draw it up to the top of your skull.  Feel it in all the places in between.  And know that this breath is peace.