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.

Day 11: A Visualization

Visualizations often work best as as an audio file.  My reccomendation is that you listen to the following:

If you prefer to read, you can view the transcript of the audio below.  One way to approach this is to read a paragraph at a time, and then envision what is described.

The aim of today’s visualization is to explore all the gifts that have been given to you.  We will build a sense of gratitude by exploring the many amazing things we have recieved and given to and  from others.

 

Imagine you are sitting in a warm room.  There is a window behind you. It is frosted with cold and snow is falling gently onto a white landscape.  You have nowhere to go. On an end table next to you is a mug of something warm and sweet. Imagine your favorite drink in there.  Pick it up. Take a sip. It warms, on the way down.

Now, turn your attention to your surroundings.  On your lap is a stereotypical Christmas stocking.  It is filled with small, wrapped boxes. There is a stack of gifts on thje floor next to you.  These are also nicely wrapped in bright colors. they are decked out with ribbons and gift tags, too.     

Begin, as you should, with the stocking.   Notice how garishly your name is written down it’s length. The stocking is filled with some of your favorite things.  The mere fact that these favorites exist, is of course, a gift. Opening these little packages will be the first step in becoming aware of how much we have to be thankful for.

The first little box you pull out of the stocking is about the size of a lip balm container.  When you tear through the paper and open the box, this scent gently wafts out of it. This gift is your favorite smell.  It fills the room, just strong enough to bolster you up. Take a slow and deep breath, and breathe in your favorite smell.

Take the next small box out.    Unwrap the bright paper. See that inside is a bite of your favorite food.  Impossibly, it is just the temperature it should be, even though it has been sitting there in the stocking.  Take a bite, now. Relish how the thing tastes. Feel the texture between your tongue and teeth. Put this box aside: it is magical.  If you would like, you could return to it in a few minutes. You will find that the box has replenished itself. Another bite will be here, waiting for you.

The next small box brings you about half way into the stocking.  It is a disk-shaped box. When you open it, your favorite sound comes out of it.  Perhaps it is a song you forgot you loved. Maybe it is a type of music or a just a few perfect notes, platyed softly.  Perhaps it is the laughter of someone you love very much. Whenever you close the box, the sound goes away. Put the box off to the side.  Put the cover on, if you wish. You can fill the room with this sound, at just the right volume, whenever you wanting it.

In the toe of the stocking is an envelope.  Pull it out. See that it has been sealed with wax.  You can break that seal, if you want. This is a letter inside from someone you love very much.  Perhaps you have not seen them in some time. Maybe it has some words that you would really like to hear from them.  In a moment, it will be time to dig into the larger gifts. But now, you can spend a moment with the things you pulled out of the stocking.  Will you read the letter? Unleash the sound again? Perhaps take another bite of your favorite food? Spend a few minutes now with these wonderful gifts.

If you want some more time with those gifts, pause this recording.

There is a stirring in the house now.  And there are some chairs, in front of you:   There might be 3. I am not really sure. In a few minutes you will have some company.  But for now, it is time to take a look at the first gift.

This rectangle is wrapped in a forest green.  As you peel away the paper you see it is the kind of  box sized for a folded shirt. When you take the top off the box you see that this gift is the gift of the friends and coworkers who have stood beside you.   Let the memories wash over you, of the people in your life now, and from years past. Consider the ways that they have helped you grow, the things they have taught you, the good times you have had.  As you recieve this gift you might bring to mind a friend from the past, and a colleauge from the present.

The next box is bright red.  It is a cube. Wrapped in tissue paper.  Untie the giant bow, and rip into the paper.  Open the top of the box, and know that inside are your gifts and talents.  The things you are good at are in here. The natural talent you were born with.  The discipline you harnessed to leverage this into something bigger. As you recieve this gift, name a thing that you are good at.

There is laughter coming with footsteps down the stairs.  There are people who are coming for presents in a few minutes.  But right now is still your time.

The next gift is wrapped in Newspaper.  It is, I think, the comic strips from a Sunday paper, filled with bright colors.  Rip away the newspaper and get into the box beneath. This is the gifts of those that have looked up to you.  Children, nephews, nieces, students of every sort. People who looked up to you. People who learned from you.  There are people who knew you for years, and there are people who watched you for just a few minutes. Being their  inspiration brought you gifts. As you recieve this gift, think about someone who has learned from you.

Your visitors are just outside the door.  It sounds like about 3 people. You are starting to develop a feeling about who it is.

 

The last of the gifts on the left of your chair is wrapped in irridiscent paper.  The shine dances on the present.. It seems a shame to rip this paper; you open it gently along the seems where it was taped.

The rectangle box might have once held shoes.  Ease the lid off the box. And find, inside, the gift of those who you learned from.  Parent-figures and literal parents, models of who to be and how to be;grandparents, uncles, aunts, mentors,  people who taught you to think, and to feel, people who taught you practical things, people who taught you theoretical things.  This box bears the gift of the people who poured their lives into you. Spend a moment, now, and drink this in.

 

The dear friends smile as they walk into the room.  It is perhaps 3 people. Their is a comofrtable seat for each of them.  These are the most important people in your life.

Perhaps they were there all along.  Maybe they just appeared. Whatever it is, their is now a stack of gifts to the right of your chair.  These are not gifts for you.

Bring the first gift to your first friend.  See them in your mind’s eye. Hand them the gift.  Enjoy them enjoying this present, which is all the things this friend has recieved from you.  

When you are ready, turn your attention to your next friend.  See the clothes they would be wearing on a day like this. Grab the next present from the stack.  Hug them, if you would like. As they open up this present, appreciate all the things you have been able to share with them.

Though the recording is going to stop here, you can continue this for as long as you wish.  Deliver these gifts to all of the people who arrived. Then Feel free to extend this visualization, enjoying the night with these friends.

Day 6/7:Lectio I

Sorry for the confusing title above.

It seems that I have a little trouble with advanced math skills like counting.  I had listed 2 days in a row as day 5.  Therefore, the first Lectio Divina practice is actually day 7.  However, it is listed on the emails as day 6.  Sorry about that!

Here is the message from Lectio:

Hello-

I hope you can bear with me.  This is going to seem like a lot.  It really isn’t though.  This could be the best practice yet.  
There are a category of Spiritual Exercises around reading and writing.  One of the most well known is Lectio Divina.  We will look at a few different forms of Lectio, over the next three days.  One way to approach Lectio is described in the next section.  A natural question, when we think about reading practice is “OK.  Just what am I going to be reading?”  Traditionally, this practice would be applied to the Christian Bible.  There are exciting applications outside of the bible, too, though.
I have curated a list of readings in 4 categories.  Each category has 3 readings.  Therefore, you could stay inside “New Testament Bible Readings” for all 3 days.  You could even keep at the same reading all 3 days; my sense is that you would get something new each day.  However, I hope that you will push yourself out of your comfort zone and try a few different categories.  
To be clear: This list that follows will appear on each of the next 3 days, though the background remarks before it will vary.  Before you begin today’s exercise, you should choose which selection you are going to go with today.  You won”t need to read it in detail yet.  For now, it’s enough that you have chosen one.
One thing to consider, as you decide which reading to choose is how clear the theme of ‘Thanksgiving’ is in the reading.  I chose these reading specifically because they do have a connection with the topic.  However, how direct and obvious that connection is will vary.  The 3rd category– Modern Poems– is probably the most subtle connection to the topic of thanksgiving.

Category 1: Hebrew Scriptures (AKA Old Testament) 
 

1 Chronicles 16
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+16&version=NIV

Psalm 100

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+100&version=NIV

Genesis 2
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+2&version=NIV

Category 2: New Testament
1 Thessalonions 5
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+5&version=NIV

Luke 1
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=NIV

Luke 22
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke+22&version=NIV

Category 3: Some contemporary Poets
The Copper Beech by Maria Howe
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48561/the-copper-beech-56d229e5d8134

The Lanyard by Billy Collins

http://poetry-fromthehart.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-lanyard-billy-collins.html

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html

Category 4: Mostly Secular Prose on Thankfulness

Ted Talk on Thankfulness
https://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude/transcript

(Note: This link should bring you to both the streaming video and the transcript.  You might watch the video once, for the initial run through,  After this, it is strongly recomended that you focus on the written transcript.)

Brene Brown on thankfulness:
https://www.eomega.org/article/gratitude-is-the-key-to-a-joyful-life

9 ways to cultivate thankfulness:
https://www.unstuck.com/gratitude/

 

Today’s Exercise:
1. Take a dew deep breaths: in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Try and fill the lungs thoroughly on the inhale.  Try and empty them completely on the exhale.
2. Consider the idea of thankfulness.  If prayer is meaningful, say a little prayer that God might speak to you about thankfulness through the passage you are about to read.  If praying is not your thing, state your intention to learn something new through the reading.
3.  Read the passage all the way through.  Be aware of sections that seem extra meaningful to you, phrases or sentences which trigger an emotional reaction or seem to be something new.
4.  If you get to the end of the passage and nothing jumps out at you, read it again, continuing to look for something impactful,
5.  If something did jump out at you, spend some time focusing on that phrase.  Turn it into a breath prayer, as we did the first few days of this campaign.  Assign the first half of the phrase to your exhale.  Assign the second half of the phrase to your inhale.
6.  Now, meditate on this phrase: the first half with you exhale, the second half with your inhale. Let this take a significant portion (perhaps half) of the total time you had set aside for your practice today.
7.  When you are ready, release these words.  Take a few cleansing breaths.
8.  Consider if you have learned or experienced anything new about gratitude through today’s practice.

Exercise 34: The Examen with multiple questions

Background:  St Ignatius pioneered The Examen in the 1500’s.  This is a method of reflecting on the day, and considering where we find our consolations (places it easy to see God’s work) and desolations (places where it is more difficult to see God at work.)

One of my favorite things about this practice is the ways that it helps me to put my life in perspective.  Sometimes, I am feeling quite stressed out.  My sense is that there are many things that are weighing me down.  What I discover is that I have many more consolations than desolations; I have much more to be thankful about than I do to worry about.  Sometimes, this process even helps me to recognize that the things I initially thought were desolations are actually consolations:  When my initial instinct is to think God isn’t there at all, I actually find God waiting there for me to catch up and find he was waiting there all along!

Today’s Exercise:
1. Take a dew deep breaths: in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Try and fill the lungs thoroughly on the inhale.  Try and empty them completely on the exhale.
2.  When you have released your ordinary concerns, turn your mind back toward the last 24 hours.  Think first about what came most recently.  Relive these experiences.  Try and engage your sense memory, and think about the sights and sounds and tastes and smells.  Bring your memory further back.  Don’t rush through considering all the details, until you find yourself wherever you were at this time, 24 hours ago.
3.  Consider your desolations by exploring these questions about this time period you just brought back to your mind.  Take your time as you explore each of them:

  • When were you least able to give and receive love?
  • Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so difficult.
  • Relive the feelings without trying to change or fix it in any way.
  • Take deep breaths and let God’s love fill you just as you are.

4.  Now, consider your consolations by considering these questions:

  • If you could relive one moment, which one would it be?
  • When were you most able to give and receive love today?
  • Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so good.
  • Breathe in the gratitude you felt and receive life again from that moment.

5.  At the bare minimum, try and hold your gratitude for the consolation.  Consider, if you can, the desolation.  Is there any way that made the positive part better?  Is there any sort of gratitude you can find for even the difficult events…  perhaps for the growth they make possible in you?  Perhaps that you had the resources to withstand this difficult time?  If this feeling is not there, don’t force it or shame yourself; as a human being, this is simply where we are sometimes.

Day 4: Examen 1

My hope, through these two weeks that we are spending together is two-fold.  The first is that we might build up our sense of thanksgiving.  The second is that we might explore some spiritual practices which can be useful in all kind of circumstances, through the holiday season and beyond.
We began with breath-prayers.  Breath prayers occur in every religious tradition.  It’s a rather arbitrary designation on my part.  The thing these practices have in common is mostly a focus on the breath.
As we move in to day 4, we are switching gears.  Over these next few we will take a look at practices which give us reason to reflect over our day.  Inevitably, these practices result in remind us of the things it would be easy to take for granted.
For the most part, during this phase, we will be focused on a practice called The Examen.  This practice was popularized by Ignatius in the 1400s.  We will approach The Examen from a few different directions, building on complexity as we go.
The Examen asks us to see our day in terms of consolations and desolations.  Consalations, for him, places it is easy to see God at work.  Desolations are places where it is more difficult to.  I think this is a relevant exercise for people uncomfortable with the idea of God.  One way to sidestep the question of God, in the midst of all this, is to consider Consolations the things it is easy to be thankful for.  Desolations are the things it is difficult to feel thankful for.
In todays Examen, we will break the last 24 hours into 4 distinct ‘chunks.’

Today’s Exercise:
1.  Create your quiet and safe space.  You might wish to light a candle or eat a peace of chocolate.
2.  Place your feet flat on the floor.  Breathe slowly and calmly.
3.  Spend a moment thinking about the last 6 hours.  Do the mental subtraction to determine just when this chunk of time started.  In your mind, review the things that happened during this time.
4.  Sit with your feelings about this chunk of time for a moment.
5.  Consider your desolations during this time.  What was the most difficult part of these 6 hours.  Why?  Sit with your feelings of this time.
6.  Where were your consolations during this time?  Allow yourself to re-experience these good memories.
7.  Spend a moment in thanksgiving for this time.  It is probably obvious why you might be thankful for your consolations.  Is there anything you can find in your desolations to be thankful for?
8.  Take a deep, cleansing breath.
9.  Consider the 6 hours prior to this time.  This chunk of time ends 12 hours before now.  In your mind, go over the events of this chunk of time.
10.  Sit with your feelings about this chunk of time.
11.  Explore your desolations.  Don’t run away from the difficulties.  Feel it in your body and mind.
12.  Move on to your consolations from this time.
13.  Spend a moment in thanksgiving for this part of your day.
14.  Take a single, cleansing breath.
15.  Consider the chunk of time between 12 and 18 hours ago.  Review, in your mind what occurred then.  Do not rush through it.  Go back to that time.  Rediscover the tastes and the smells.  Even if you were sleeping for most of it, think back to that sleep.
16.  Name your desolations from this time.  Be firm but kind with yourself.  Work at not ignoring the difficult partys.
17.  Consider your consolations.  Relive these.
18.  Spend a moment in gratitude for this time.
19.  Breathe.
20.  Go back in your mind, and review the time 18-24 hours ago.  Try and relive as much as you can.  Think about the clothes you were wearing, the people you interacted with.
21.  Hold your desolations from this time in open hands.  Go over them carefully.
22.  Consider your consaltions from this time.  Be equally carefully to work through these.
23.  Spend a moment in thanksgiving for this chunk of time.
24.  Bring all the consolations to mind from these last 24 hours.
25.  Spend a moment offering up a final prayer or thought of thankfulness.
26.  Consider the last 24 hours.  Explore whether you still feel the way about it you did when you began.
27.  Return to the world when you are ready.

Day 3: Loving-Kindness

If you would like to recieve these spiritual exercises as a daily email, please email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com.

Todays exercise follows; please comment below on how this experience went for you.

This exercise is expressed in 2 different formats: The first is a traiditonal Budhist approach.  The second is an Irish (Gallic) Christian formulation.

Exercise 1: Buddhist Loving-Kindness Meditation
1.  Create a calm, and quiet space; turn off your phone and do your best to assure yourself of uninterupted time.
2. For the duration of this exercise, give yourself permission to be free of the duties and obligations that you normally submit yourself to.
3.  For a minute or two, simply breathe: in through the nose, and out through the mouth,
4.  Think of a person you feel gratitude for.  (Choose, more or less randomly, a single person to focus on.  Don’t worry, you will have an opportunity to focus on others shortly.)
5. Inhale and  bring their appearance to your mind.  Try and hear their voice, and even smell their unique smell.  Feel, as best you can, their presence.  Exhale.
6.  For the duration of a breath, allow yourself to experience whatever feelings this person stirs within you at this moment.
7. With your next inhale, think to this person ‘May you be free from suffering.’
8. Exhale.
9.  With your next inhale, think to this person ‘May you be healthy.’
10. Exhale.
11.  With your next inhale, think ‘May you be happy.’
12.  Exhale.
13.  With your next inhale, think ‘May you find peace and joy.’
14. Exhale.
15.  For the next breath, rejoice in the thought that your friend would be experiencing all these.
16.  If there is more time you had set aside for your spiritual practice, you might move on to another person you feel grateful for.  If you are having trouble choosing, consider these questions:
Who are you grateful for in your home?  Who are you grateful for in your school or workplace?  Who are you thankful for in your social circles?  Who are you thankful for from your past?  Who are you thankful for in your present?  Are there people who took on a role of parent, sibling, boss, coworker, lover, friend, coach, leader, follower that you are thankful for?  People who shaped you personally, professionally, or spiritually?
Whoever you choose, the phrases to focus on are these:
May you be free from suffering.
May you be healthy.
May you be happy.
May you find peace and joy.
17.  When you are ready to conclude today’s practice, take a single, cleansing breath.
18.  Now, with your inhale, think this for yourself: May I be free from suffering.
19.  Exhale.
20.  With your inhale: May I be healthy.
21.  Exhale.
22.  With your inhale: May I be happy.
23.  Exhale.
24.  Inhale, think: May I find peace and joy.

Exercise 2: A Gallic-Christian Practice.
1.  Create a calm, and quiet space; turn off your phone and do your best to assure yourself of uninterupted time.
2. For the duration of this exercise, give yourself permission to be free of the duties and obligations that you normally submit yourself to.
3.  For a minute or two, simply breathe: in through the nose, and out through the mouth,
4.  Think of a person you feel gratitude for.  (Choose, more or less randomly, a single person to focus on.  Don’t worry, you will have an opportunity to focus on others shortly.)
5. Inhale and  bring their appearance to your mind.  Try and hear their voice, and even smell their unique smell.  Feel, as best you can, their presence.  Exhale.
6.  For the duration of a breath, allow yourself to experience whatever feelings this person stirs within you at this moment.
7. With your next inhale, think to this person ‘May the road rise up to meat you.’
8. Exhale.
9.  With your next inhale, think to this person ‘May the wind be always at your back.’
10. Exhale.
11.  With your next inhale, think ‘May the sun shine warm on your face.’
12.  Exhale.
13.  With your next inhale, think ‘May the rains fall softly on your fields’
14. Exhale.
15.  With the next inhale, think ‘May God hold you in the palm of his hand.’
15.  For the next breath, rejoice in the thought that your friend would be experiencing all these.
16.  If there is more time you had set aside for your spiritual practice, you might move on to another person you feel grateful for.  If you are having trouble choosing, consider these questions:
Who are you grateful for in your home?  Who are you grateful for in your school or workplace?  Who are you thankful for in your social circles?  Who are you thankful for from your past?  Who are you thankful for in your present?  Are there people who took on a role of parent, sibling, boss, coworker, lover, friend, coach, leader, follower that you are thankful for?  People who shaped you personally, professionally, or spiritually?
Whoever you choose, the phrases to focus on are these:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

17.  When you are ready to conclude today’s practice, take a single, cleansing breath.
18.  Now, with your inhale, think this for yourself: May the roads rise up to meet me..
19.  Exhale.
20.  With your inhale: May the winds always be at my back.
21.  Exhale.
22.  With your inhale: May the sun shine warm upon my face.
23.  Exhale.
24.  Inhale, think: May the rains fall soft upon my fields.
25.  Exhale.
26 Inhale, think, ‘May God hold me in the palm of his hand.’

 

 

Thankfulness: Day 2

Below, please find the text from today’s email.

I hope that you will take this opportunity to share what your experience was like of this practice.

Hello.
Yesterday we laid the ground work.  Today we enter into practices of Thanksgiving.  Today’s practice is a very general one, proclaiming positivity and thankfulness.  It comes from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.  He originally shared this practice as a walking meditation.  It is described here as a sitting one but engaging this while taking a stroll comes highly recommended.
Today’s practice is a stark contrast to yesterday’s: it is deceptively simple.  Just a few steps.
I would like to encourage you to decide, in advance, just how long you are going to engage your practice.  I am learning that when I sit until I am ready to get up, inevitably I end my practice before any real growth happens.  When I have committed to myself a length of time (perhaps between 10 and 30 minutes) I work my way through  my discomfort.  This, I think, is where the real growth happens.
Tomorrow’s email will feature the last of our breath prayers.  After that, we will continue to explore grattitude and thankfulness through different contemplative lenses.
Wishing you peace & joy,
Jeff

Spiritual Exercise:
1.  Breathe calmly, in through the nose and out from the mouth.
2.  After a few cleansing breaths– and when you are ready– with the next inhale, think, “Yes!  Yes!   Yes!”
3.  With the next exhale, think, “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”
4.  Continue this pattern through the time you alotted for your spiritual practice today: “Yes, yes, yes” with the inhale and “Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!”
5.  As your time near is it’s end, release the words and enjoy a time of wordless relaxation.  You might experience this as union with God; you might use it as a time of reflections on the things you might be thankful for.

Periodically, through out your day, you might re-enter this practice for a breath or two.

Thankfulness: Day 1

Here is the audio file from Day 1 of the Thankfulness Email Campaign:

If you would like to receive a daily email, featuring exercises intended to build gratitude and thankfulness, email otherjeffcampbell7@gmail.com

If you prefer a written description to the audio file:

Hi.  And Welcome to the faith-ing project.  This is the first of our exercise of grattitude-building email campaign.  Most of of the exercises over the next couple weeks will be simply written down.  Today is special for a couple of reasons.

The first is that there is a lot of material to contend with.  It can feel a little clunky to handle this much information written down.

The second is that today is really intended to lay the ground work.  The idea is that today gets us to the doorway of grattitude. Tomorrow, we can go inside.

A little prep work is necessary because some times there are some things we have to work through.  If you are anything like me, it might be that you are tempted to wait, before you feel ready to be greatful  . The struggles and stresses of life can sometimes steal all of our attention. But the truth is, those stresses will always be there.  It is simply not realistic to expect that we are going to get past these things. I suspect that the best we can do is to recognize the world is a multi-faceted place, filled with lots of different experiences.  If there is a better recognition of the different kinds of things that life is full of than Eccliastes 3, I don’t know where that is.

Today’s exercises is, in short, an attempt to really grapple with a part of this chapter of the bible… So,

 

With no further ado, let’s begin.

Find a calm space.  Dim the lights, turn off your phone, and try and make sure you wont be disturbed for the duration of the time you have set aside for this spiritual practice.

 

Place your feet flat on the floor.

 

Release your stresses and obligations.

Breathe deeply.  In through the nose….

Out through your mouth.

 

And, again.  Filling up your lungs beginning at the bottom, filling them, all the way up.

Exhaling them, thoroughly, and with the next breath, on the inhale, focusing on the words:

 

There is a time for everything,

As you exhale, considering this:

   There is  a season for every activity under the heavens:

As you inhale, consider that there is a

2     a time to be born

As you exhale, realize that there is a time to die,

 

With your next inhale, hold the words There is

   a time to plant

With your exhale: there is a time to uproot,

 

Inhale: There is     a time to kill

Exhale: There is a time to heal,

 

Inhale: There is a time to tear down

Exhale: There is a time to build,

 

Inhale: There is a time to weep

Exhale: There is  a time to laugh,

 

Inhale: There is a time to mourn

Exhale: there is a time to dance,

 

Inhale: There is a time to scatter stones

Exhale: There is a time to gather them,

 

Inhale: There is a time to embrace

Exhale: There is a time to refrain from embracing

   

Inhale: There is    a time to search

Exhale: There is a time to give up,

 

Inhale: There is a time to keep

Exhale: There is a time to throw away

   

Inhale: There is a time to tear

Exhale: There is a time to mend

 

Inhale: There is a time to be silent

Exhale: There is a time to speak

 

Inhale: There is a time to love

Exhale: There is a time to hate

 

Inhale: There is a time for war

Exhale: There is a time for peace

Now, continue these slow, peaceful breaths.  And spend a moment consider that there is a time to be thankful, even as we continue to struggle with whatever we struggle with.

 

And as this audio file comes to an end, move into a time of thankfulness for all the rich and varied experiences available to us.  

This is Jeff from the Faith-ing Project.  Thanks for joining us today!

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