This email exploration is focused on three interconnected ideas: Transitions, Deconstruction, and Liminal Space. These three ideas grow increasingly specific and increasingly complex. Over these next three emails we will consider each of them.
Transitions happen every day, of course. Compared to deconstruction or liminal space, they are fairly straight foreward. Nonetheless, they are not easy. The transitions that we are hoping for in life are not the ones we notice much. Generally speaking, the transitions which cause us stress bring with them a host of unwanted emotions.
This is why we are beginning with 2 different forms of The Welcoming Prayer. There are many forces which conspire to “teach” us to live in denial of the feelings we carry. We hope that ignoring these feelings makes them go away. The reality is that the opposite is true: Naming and owning them can go a long way toward evaporating many of our most intense and unwanted feelings.
Thanks for joining The Faith-ing Project’s September Email Exploration. You probably know that this time around, the focus is on building a spiritual practice through times of transition, deconstruction and liminal spaces. These emails will launch every other day at 5 PM US Eastern Standard Time.
They will consist of 3 parts. This introductory section will introduce ideas relevant to building a spiritual practice of related to the topics of transition, deconstruction and liminal space.
The middle section will consist of the day’s suggested spiritual practice.
The bottom section will feature announcement and updates about other exciting events, generally those related to The Faith-ing Project.
Many of the positive outcomes connected to a spiritual practice will come up when they are practiced at least once a day. On the “off days” when no email arrives, it is highly recommended that you give a second try to the most recent spiritual practice.
It’s exciting to have you on this journey! Thanks for taking it with us. There are lots of ways to connect with me and I love hearing from participants. If you would like to share observations, please reply to this email, click the links at the bottom of this page, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: This prayer become popular in the centering prayer movement. It was originally written by Mary Mrozowski. It is a method of recognizing, then releasing difficult emotions.
This is an important place to begin during times of transition. It is inevitable that lots of feelings, many difficult to manage, pop up in the midst of change. For this reason, our next exercise will be a similiar practice, designed to identify and welcome the feelings that pop up for us.
It is always advisable to read through the practice before beginning them. Notice that on step 5 today you will have a choice to make about the specific words that you use. Choosing which one you are going to use in advance will be helpful.
- Create a safe, quiet environment for yourself. Turn down your phone and consider lighting a candle.
- Breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Take a mental inventory of where you are, right now. List the feelings you are experiencing. Do your best to engage this with a nonjudgemental attitude. Your feelings are neither good nor bad. They simply are.
- Choose the feeling which seems to be the most impactful. Think, or say “Welcome ___________” (E.G. ‘Welcome, Fear. Welcome, sadness. Welcome, anxiety. Etc.)
- Say, or think, ‘I let go of my desire to change this feeling.’ or ‘I let go of my ___________’ or ‘God, I give you my _____________’
- Progress on to the next emotion, repeating steps 4 and 5.
- When you have worked through these emotions, spend a moment doing a mental inventory, assessing whether you feel differently.
The exercise to be introduced Wednesday is an alternative Welcoming Prayer. It is exercise 36-B. If you would like to try it in advance of that email you can find it here.
Did you know that the Faith-ing Project is more than just a web page describing spiritual practices? In addition to four books, a facebook page, and regular email explorations, on the webstie, you can find tips for building your spiritual practice, audio files of many spiritual practices, links to influential and thought provoking sites, and more!
Perhaps some of the broad strokes of my journey will sound a bit like yours.
The first faith comittment I made was awfully focused on the personal nature of God. The creator of the universe has a human-ness, even a gender.
There were very good things about looking at it this way.
During the time I drifted away from Evangelical Christianity, it was easy to see the very bad things about looking at things this way. Like many people, I call this stage my deconstruction.
This was the time I fell in love with contemplative practices. This is the time I rediscovered meditation. Many of these practices helped me get in touch with God’s transcendence. I suspect they were suppressed by modern Evangelical Christianity precisely for that reason: they did not fit well with this picture of God as fellow human.
This fueled my resentment. It motivated me to develop a robust spiritual practice. The most obvious intuitions this practice fed were intuitions about God’s otherness, God’s distance, God’s hugeness.
But it put, I hope, on a path forward truth. I began to get reminders: God is both here and there, human an other, transcendent and immanent.
The point at which I began to trust these ideas again, that I orvercame my prejudice against these ideas, is the point at which I went from deconstruction to the early stages of reconstruction. (I think. Maybe in time I will see this differently.)
My time embracing contemplative practices has prepared me for this sort of non-dualistic, both/and thinking. A simple way to think about is perhaps this: in Evangelical Christianity I proclaimed my belief in a personal God. During my deconstruction I interacted with I God I saw as impersonal. Now, I think I would say that God is transpersonal.
And so, this corner of the Faith-ing Project is devoted to practices that some of us might do well to refresh ourselves in. This area includes prompts for word-based prayers and journaling, lenses to read scripture through, and other traditions to consider. To explore these traditions, click here.