Category Archives: Lent

Exercise 60: To Begin a Journey

This practice originally appeared in the book Contemplating Lent.

An Audio version of this practice is available below:

Background: Visualizations are journeys that begin with the words written by someone else.  Often, these words are not much more than a setting.  The most successful experiences I have had with visualizations are the times I accessed some child-like imagination and playfulness and allowed myself to go beyond where those written words would have taken me if I had just stuck with the script.  Like most spiritual practices, it is wise to begin a visualization by reading through the entire description to get a big picture about what, specifically, is going to happen.  After that first read through, I will then engage the practice.

After reading through the whole thing, I recommend rereading a few sentences, then picturing what they describe.  Taking the suggestions about sensory input is a very important part of the process.  Do not rush through experiencing the temperatures, textures, tastes, and sounds of these words.   If your imagination takes you some where new, continue to ask yourself what it feels, smells, and sounds like where you are.

This visualization is written in a narrative format.

Today’s visualization is rooted in the fact that Jesus’ baptism occurred just before his time in the desert.  Great journeys are often begun in a ritual such as this one.  I hope that today’s visualization commemorates the beginning of your Lenten journey.

 

The Exercise:

Find yourself sitting at a table on the shore of a beautiful lake.  It is almost uncomfortably warm.  But a gentle breeze comes in carrying dampness and cooling it to a nearly perfect temperature.  The sky is so very blue.  If you would like, loved ones are nearby.  They do not have to be.

            You get up and look to the stone staircase.  This lead down and into the lake.  Over and around these steps is an elaborate gate, a sort of trellis.  Vines and flowers are woven into it.  The grass is soft under your bare feet.  You walk to the gate and open it. 

            The first several steps are above the water line.  The stones are smooth, but much firmer than the grass.  At the third step you find yourself ankle deep.  The water is only a bit of a shock.

            On the fourth step you look up to meet the gaze of a kind teacher.  It might be someone you know.  It could be Jesus.  The person might not be alive now.  And yet, they are here with you.  The teacher smiles.  You smile.  You are knee deep, now, in the refreshing water.

            When you are chest deep, you are next to the teacher.  The teacher’s arms are firm.  You trust them as you lean back and are, lowered all the way into the water.  There is some fear.  It is unnatural to be underwater, trusting in another.  The teacher, of course, lifts you back up. 

            “This is my wonderful child.  I am well pleased in them.”  Where are those words coming from?  You cannot be sure.

            This strange lake does not get deeper than this.  You are not meant to go back out the gate you came in, today.  Walk across the lake.  The teacher will come with you while you are in the water.  He might speak to you.  You might hear the words the teacher says. 

            This is the beginning of an adventure.  You will return to this shore you set out from.  But not today.  Eventually you reach that far end of the lake.  What waits for you there?  Will the teacher come with you?  Continue this visualization if you wish.

Contemplating Lent (1)

 

Exercise 57: In God’s Womb

Background:  Much of my spiritual growth over these last few years has been around opening my mind to the reality of the divine feminine.  I suppose it was one of those, “When-the-student-is ready,-the-teacher-appears” things, that Phileena Heuertz’s Mindful Silence was so impactful to me.  In particular, she talks about a period in her life that she found it helpful to see herself as within God’s womb.

If you had asked me about being in God’s womb even a year before that, I would have found some made up reason to be uncomfortable with it.  The reality is that I had not truly made peace with the fact that both men and women are made in God’s image.

The exercise below was inspired by Ms. Heuertz’s experiences as portrayed in that book.  If you are going to read only one book about the contemplative path, it should be that one.  If you are going to read more than one book about the contemplative path, you ought to think about picking up one of mine.  🙂

On the subject, this exercise will appear in the soon-to-be-released Contemplating Lent.  Stay tuned for more details.

The Exercise

  1. Close your eyes.  Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Take 3 deep breaths.  Try to fully empty your lungs with the exhales and fully inflate your lungs with the inhales.
  3. Imagine yourself dwelling in the womb of God.  It is a place that is safe, comfortable, and warm.
  4. Feel all your needs for food and oxygen being met through a cord that reaches into your body through your navel.  Know that you are protected in this place.
  5. Continue those deep breaths.  Luxuriate in the way you are being nourished and prepared for what is next.
  6. Take all the time that you need.
  7. God is within you.  Know that this is true.  Take a deep breath.
  8. Live in the paradox that even as you are in God, God is in you.
  9. God may be small, now.  But a divine spark is within.  See this spark as a child in a womb.
  10. Know that you are nourishing this God-spark.  It is growing strong and healthy in the dark mystery within you.
  11. As you continue to breathe deeply, and hold to the image that you are in God’s womb, cultivate this idea that God is also in your womb.
  12. Sit in this comfortable paradox, this warm, nourishing safe reality for as long as you need, today.

Contemplating Lent (1)