Loose Thread: Touching Moments

Today’s Loose thread is about moments that touched your soul this week.  

So tell us….What moment touched you this week?

Jenni: I recently moved to Shanghai to work as an intern before starting the school year as a teacher in the fall. Being an intern means all the non-fun parts of teaching- grading, power point making, grammar worksheets, etc. My only interaction with students occurs for one hour of tutoring with different students every day after school. Earlier this week during lunch break, I ran into a 5th grader I tutor. “Miss Taylor!” she shouted, and waved me over to watch her and her friend do tricks on the monkey bars. I cheered them on and clapped when they were done. As I walked away, I heard her friend ask, “who’s that?” “That’s my tutor, Miss Taylor!” my student said, in the excited, proud sort of way that warms your heart. It was a simple interaction, but it was enough to remind me why I teach and that boring office work won’t last forever.

Autumn: This week I went to a German beer festival with several friends. It was an amazing intergenerational experience of people from 16-80 singing songs and dancing together. The night ended with a series of group hugs. During one hug I was literally stuck in the center of a group of about 8 people. I couldn’t move and wasn’t even properly standing, I was being simultaneously supported and overwhelmed by my friends. I occurred to me after I freed myself and regain my breath, that that is what deep love is like, it is both totally overwhelming and totally supportive. 

How were you touched this week?

Loose Thread: Praise

Loose Threads are all about community conversation, so read and then share your thoughts.

What is your favorite quote that praises the Holy?

Jenni:

I like Autumn’s answer below- beautiful. A personal favorite of mine is a song I learned in church. Not sure who wrote it, but it’s called “Blessed Be Your Name.” Two of the verses say:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

I find myself humming this song all the time, especially in the bad times when it’s hard to be thankful. It’s worth a listen, especially the Newsboy’s version 🙂

Autumn: While there are a ton of great words in may holy scriptures that praise God for all the good things of this world, I think my favorite quote that shows great praise for everything that is holy comes from Robert Frost’s poem Birches.

It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
What are your favorite quotes praising the Holy?

Loose Thread: Hope

Loose Threads are an opportunity for us to talk as a community. This week we are discussing hope.

Where do you find hope in times of strife?

Autumn: In times of difficulty and struggle I often turn to prayer, both offering it and asking for it. Prayer is where I feel most connected to the network of love that we create with the Divine. When people tell me they are praying for me, I can almost physically feel the love they are sending. When I am faced with a tragedy about which I feel I can do nothing, like the bombings at the Boston Marathon, or the plight of the Rohingya people, I choose to pray as a way of connecting myself to those in need. Receiving and sending love through prayer gives me hope.

Jenni: Finding hope can be hard, especially when it feels like the world is falling apart. I lived with a family of three kids while in Peru, and I remember more than once walking through the door at night completely spent and upset about whatever had happened that day. Three pairs of loving chubby little arms would run up to me and tackle me to the ground with love, and hope would suddenly be easy to believe in again. That’s only one way of course, but kids with their unconditional love are a good way to remind yourself that there is still good in the world.

Loose Threads: Meditation

Loose Threads are a chance to share a conversation with the community. Here is this weeks question:

Are prayer and meditation the same thing? Do you pray? Do you meditate?

Jenni: I’ve never been trained in meditation, but I think of that one scene in the chick flick Eat, Pray, Love when Julia Roberts is trying to meditate and gets distracted thinking about decorations, and realizes only a minute or two have gone by. If that’s meditation, then it’s exactly like prayer. It’s sometimes so hard to focus, and five minutes can seem pretty heroic at times. While most of my praying is done in tiny spurts sent up to God telepathically (“Help!” “Thanks!” “Wow!” as Anne Lamott would say) when it’s time to get down to business and no emergencies are involved, I love to pray the Psalms out loud. Pick a good solid verse and say it over and over again. I think it’s a form of meditation, the repetition and focusing on the words until it gets deep in your gut, but it’s a great way to pray. I think that’s why I like old hymns so much as well, since the repetition lets the words and ideas sink into your soul a bit. So, back to Eat, Pray, Love and one of my favorite quotes on prayer and meditation:

Smile with face, smile with mind, smile with liver.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Autumn: I practice yoga and mediation often, and many people see meditation as the eastern version of prayer. The truth is that yoga and meditation do not mandate or exclude any religious tradition and Christians have been meditating for ages.  The ancient christian tradition of walking a labyrinth is a moving meditation, just like yoga. When I meditate, I am communing with God. I think of prayer as a conversation with God, and meditation as the listening portion of that conversation. I also pray the rosary, which could be seen as meditating on a certain few mantras, mainly the Hail Mary and Our Father. Basically, if I am doing a lot of the talking to God, I am probably not meditating, but if I am listening for the quiet whisper of Holy Wisdom, then I am probably meditating. For me, meditation is part of prayer. Meditation is one of man way i follow the command in first Thessalonians:

Pray without ceasing

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Now it is your turn…What do you think?

Loose Threads: Bible Passages

Loose Threads is a place were we all can discuss a topic and share wisdom. So here is today question:

What is your favorite Bible passage and why?

Jenni: :

To you O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.

Psalms 25: 1-2

This question was way harder than it should have been, but I finally picked this one because faith is hard. It’s not something I necessarily feel or understand all the time. This verse, for me, is like a deal with God. If I lift up my soul, if I pray and focus on him, I can trust him to come through. Verse 3 continues by saying, “no one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.” By doing my part, he will do his. By having faith even when it’s difficult and doesn’t make sense, by trusting him and putting my hope in him, he promises that I will not regret it. That’s something worth believing in.

Autumn:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

I love this passage because I believe I am loved by God, and that nothing can make God stop loving me. This passage not only confirms that, but challenges me to believe the same about every other person and creature. Even the people who make me angry, even the people who preach hate, even people who disagree with everything I believe–they are all loved by God no matter what. Sometimes this is unfathomable to me. How can a love exist that cannot be broken? However, this is the God I believe in–a love that is unbreakable, for me and for everyone else.

Now it is your turn!

Where do you find wisdom, love, …and lint in the bible?