Another Prayer for New Beginnings

As we embark on THE YEAR OF PRAYER, we wanted to offer this prayer for our new journey and all the other new journeys starting this time of year. We have offered prayers before for new beginnings, but because we are all constantly beginning again, we offer this one as well.

sun

Dear Spirit of Creation,

Here I am again. Starting over, beginning anew. Each new journey is different, and each new journey leaves many possible paths untraveled.

Let me be reminded of why I chose this new beginning, let me bask in the hope of this new start.

I ask that this new start be filled with fresh ideas and steady support, with the excitement of newness and the wisdom of experience.

Spirit of Ever-Renewing Creation, create with me this new beginning and let it be blessed and a blessing for others.

Amen

Like all the prayers on this site, this prayer is just a beginning, so everyone is welcome to modify it, customize it, and re-create to better fit their own journey and beliefs. If you would like to share you re-creations, we welcome you to do so in the comment section, or to submit your reworking of this prayer or your own prayer.   

Advertisements

Inspiration in Unlikely Places

By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

Paper, Interfaith, Inspiration, WordsCopy rooms tend to be soul-sucking places. You can often find a teacher or office worker there, eyes glazed over, listening to the monotonous whirls and gasps of the machine and probably stapling in the same rhythm. The fluorescent lights flicker, the walls are bare, and you are sure this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse.

But while the machine sucks the soul and the school year gets long and never ending, there are still a few coworkers trying their best to inspire their students. I found a pile of hopeful homework left next to the copy machine. There they were, 150 neatly piled copies of a commencement address given by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon in 2005.

This is obviously a famous enough speech, especially since it made it to the reading list of 10th graders in Shanghai, China, but I had never read it before. I had come to the copy room to make my own monstrous load of dead tree handouts and decided to read it while I waited for the machine to stop its weird mechanical noises of death.

I was not disappointed.

For those who are not familiar, the speech is a rather abrupt and depressing affair beginning with a fish and water analogy and spiraling down into the dark and monotonous truth of adult life. He describes the long hours at work, the struggle to get through a grocery line, only to get home, sleep, and get up the next day to do it all over again.

At first, it made me sad. Really, really sad.

I’m 26, and most of the time feel like I’m play-acting at the whole adult thing. That weird, giggly joy of stepping into your own apartment for the first time, or getting a paycheck that the 15 year old me would never have dreamed of, or laughing at myself in the mirror because my business suit looks exactly like a costume I had to wear for a children’s play a long, long time ago. It’s all a big game.

But then you get used to it all, the joy disappears, and it becomes the exact repetitive monster David Foster Wallace describes. The rat race is real, my friends. I became doubly sad realizing that as a 10th grader I would have waved aside this prophecy as a rant from a man who clearly had nothing better to do in his life. Now, it felt as if he had been watching me in the grocery store.

There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel. He leaves his listeners with a challenge to think of others as possibly being more important than yourself, and adjusting your lens with which you see the world. Small yet powerful words.

So there I was, in the copy room, completely engrossed in reading this speech and having a small existential crisis of examining what my adulthood has become. I decided that today is a good day to change and start seeing things in a different way. I snuck a copy from the pile and it is now in my desk, next to notes from students I read when I am feeling uninspired. I gave those a read as well, and suddenly life is feeling new again. Inspiration brings joy, energy, and much needed passion.

My prayer:

Thanks God, for inspiration found in unlikely places, and the pure joy of literature and the power of words. Thank you that the cliche “it’s never too late to change” is true. Thank you for a reminder to look above and around and even upside down, to shake up the world like a snow globe and stand to the side, rather than the center. Help me bring meaning to even the dullest of moments and joy in fluorescent-lighted rooms. Help me to pass on inspiration to others who need it, just as it was given to me today.

Amen.

Seeking Submissions: Inspiration

Prague, Stained Glass, Church, BeautyThis month at Searching Sophia’s Pockets, we are focusing on the theme of INSPIRATION. Inspiration relates to everyone’s spiritual journey, and it also relates to our thoughts on holy texts, our creative journeys and much more. So look deeply and tell us what has inspired your spiritual journey and how you draw inspiration from your spiritual experiences.

If you are lacking some inspiration for your submission, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. Who do you look up to as inspiring spiritual leaders? Why?
  2. What inspires you about your faith?
  3. How might creativity, inspiration and faith be linked?
  4. Where do you find spiritual inspiration in your daily life?
  5. What are you uninspired to do?

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

The Searching Sophia’s Pockets Team

The Ritual Of The Top Ten

We would be remiss to end this month of exploring the ever-evolving ritual of the “Top Ten”. As 2014 comes to an end we all want to look back at what the year has held. We have selected ten posts, not because they are the best, or the most popular, but because they have represented some important moments from 2014. Even though we have only selected ten, we have been honored by every post and every comment. We hope each of you has found lots of wisdom, love …and even a little lint on your spiritual journey this year. Happy reading and Happy New Year!

  1. A Prayer for New Beginnings— A prayer for anyone starting a new journey
  2. Millennials Strike Back with Professions of Love— A post from Jenni Taylor about the value of Millennials
  3. Ferguson: We Are Praying— A spiritual reaction to the racism in Ferguson and across the USA
  4. Fear Vs Self Worth— A post about bullying by a former Miss Arab America and a notMyKid volunteer
  5. The Choice of Leaving Syria–A post about one woman’s choice to leave her home in Syria.
  6. For the Love of ElephantsJenni Taylor thoughts on justice for all of God’s creatures 
  7. It’s Your Church Too— Patrick Cousins,a campus minister at Saint Louis University, writes about LGBTQ justice
  8. Secular Spirituality: Is That a Thing?–Hailey Kaufman’s eloquent post on atheism and spirituality
  9. Strength To Endure–a reflection on sexism and strength after the shootings in Santa Barbara by Autumn Elizabeth 
  10. Fear and Hunger for Justice–Hafsa Mansoor writes about fear and justice as a Muslim

The Truth about Strength

By: Jenni Taylor

There are easy truths that take no strength at all to believe.

These are the truths about yourself, the ones that start as a germ of an idea and worm their way into very official-looking file cabinets and folders filled with examples, proofs, quotes, and graphs.These are the truths that may have started with a mistake, an imperfection, or a failure. They are often truths that began as someone else’s words, and those words became tattoos etched on skin.They are easy.

It’s easy to look in the mirror and be critical, self-deprecating, and mean. It’s easy to put on the blinders and only see faults, shouting, “This is me! I am ugly! I am worthless! I am unloved! I will never change!” It’s easy to open those file folders and prove how right you are about how wrong you were made.

It is much, much harder to speak the truths that take strength to believe. Strength you might not be sure you have anymore. Strength, and a little faith (about the size of a mustard seed is usually enough) to see what else is there.

“I am a runner.” This is a fact. I run. The days when the endorphins kick in and I’m on top of the world, I can shout out this truth complete with fist pumps. But there are days, many days, when
I am slow. I am tired. Everything hurts. There are mornings when I creak out of bed and can’t manage to stand up straight, and saying I am a runner sounds like a hilarious joke in my ears. But I
say it, and I do it, and no matter what I feel, it is true.

Some truths require belief and action. “I am a writer” is only true if I write, and I have the strength to do so. Others require nothing but belief, and can rock the ground under my feet if I actually hold them tight.

“I am important.”

“I am beautiful.”

“I am loved.”

The truths get harder. Identities are easy to lose in the face of circumstance. We spend years in high school and college building up our personality tests telling us that we are good at something,until the real world hits and we realize we might not be that good after all.

But who we are doesn’t go away. So, today I pray for the strength to believe the truths about myself- the truths that bring life, hope, healing, and return to strength once again.

On Being Awake

awake

By: Jenni Taylor

I want to be awake. Those neurons are firing in my brain, and I want to know the intricacy of each. I run and feel my heart pound and never want to forget how each beat is a gift. I breathe in that qi, that breath of life, that beautiful oxygen filling my belly and my back all the way down to my toes and I know my body is more amazing than I will ever be able to understand.

I want to feel amazed. I want to tell my students to draw pink trees or purple trees or green trees if they like but only if they want it to be green and not because they have to. I want to stop for that moment at night when I’m alone on the pavement looking at the sparkling city lights and feel that I am part of something so big and so beautiful and realize it’s not lonely at all, just quiet. It’s the quiet that comes before taking a leap of faith, and I wrap it around my heart like a promise.

I want to live bravely. I want to sing to the Chicago south side soulful church beat I grew up with, and stylize my oohs and ahhs with loud obnoxious ecstasy. I want to bravely learn to love myself on the days when all I see are flaws. I’d rather my heart be two sizes too big with enough room for tears instead of two sizes too small with no room for love.

I want to be wise. I want to embody Sophia, the wise woman, every day. I want to grow wrinkles that tell stories and laugh lines that show a life well lived. I want to ask the right questions, even if the right answers are hard to find.

I want so many things. It’s my time to get out of bed and live my life awake.

My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant, total amazement. -Meg Ryan as Patricia in Joe Versus the Volcano

Awaken Your Spirit

100_1392

Welcome to Awakenings month!

In many parts of the world, plants are beginning to bloom, birds are chirping, everything is coming alive.

So in the spirit of this enlivening sense of the earth’s reawakening, we invite you to submit your posts on this month’s theme of Awakenings.

We would love to see your photos, lists of things that awaken your spirit, or posts about how your have been awakened on your spiritual journey!

Of course, we are also accepting posts for next month’s theme of strength too!

Hope to hear from you all soon!

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

Autumn and Jenni

P.S. A few days ago we marked the one year anniversary of Searching Sophia’s Pockets! Thanks for taking this journey with us!

 

Beginning to Doubt

I’m a doubting Thomas,
I’ll take your promise,
Though I know nothing’s safe.
Oh me of little faith.
–Nickle Creek

Sometimes, it is not easy to live a life of uncertainty, a life of faith.

A few days ago, I got another rejection from a magazine that I had hoped would publish a piece of fiction I wrote, a piece I really believed in, a piece I really thought was good. But now I am beginning to doubt. I am beginning to doubt myself, my calling, my talent and even my faith.

I feel most in-tuned with God when I am writing creatively.  Most of my work as a Christian is tied to my work writing and editing for this very site. So when I start to doubt my writing, I begin to doubt everything.

Faith, like creativity, cannot be proven. I may never know if the God I believe in is real, just as I may never be able to empirically evaluate my talent as a writer or editor.  And just like faith, it doesn’t matter how many times someone else tells me that I am good, or that God exists, if I can’t believe it for myself.

So, one big rejection and I am beginning to doubt it all. Yet, I know as both a writer and a Christian, doubt is as essential as faith. I might even go so far as to say doubt is essential to faith. There are no sweeping comebacks if we don’t fall down.

I think to make sure I am sane, I have to doubt. If I am to continually believe in things that cannot be proven, I think a bit of doubt and perspective might help me decide what I want to believe in, and what might just be too far-fetched.

But the most important thing about my doubt is that I don’t leave it there. I work through the doubt, in my faith, in my writing. Will Donnelly recently asked “What if we were to see it [doubt] as the fire-starter it is?” Indeed, I know that doubt can move me to better places as well as bitter ones.

My goal has never been to have unwavering faith, or constant inspiration. I want my doubt to move me. I want to work through my doubt to something greater. I want to have enough faith in my path, in my God, in myself to keep going with my doubts until the universe stops sending me rejections and rings with a resounding yes.

I often wonder what kind of example of faith I can be, when I question so much. Yet, I know that this is the only way to be an example of what I believe–to be myself, and live my life as I feel called, no matter how ridiculous I look or feel. I must share my doubts, when I have them, and my strength when it finds me.

But for now, it’s just me, here with my doubts and my determination. Just a doubting Thomas, with just a little faith–but that’s just enough to get me to somewhere good.

 

A Prayer for New Beginnings

By: Autumn Elizabeth

As we explore beginnings, I wanted to offer this prayer for all of us who are starting new journeys. This prayer is my beginning, so everyone is welcome to modify it, customize it, and re-create to better fit their own journey and beliefs. If you would like to share you re-creations, we welcome you to do so in the comment section, or to submit your own prayer.   

Dear Spirit of Creation,

As I journey towards new places, new visions, and new dreams,
I ask that you go with me, and help me discover the beauty of this world.

I ask that you remain with me even when I question or doubt my new direction.
I ask that  together we carve out the trail that is best for me, in this place, in this time.

Help me to find my strength when I stumble or fall,
and help me to empower others as they journey along their own paths.

Assist me in seeing the help others have provided for me,
and help me to provide assistance to those I meet.

Spirit of Universal Creation, create with me a path of wisdom
and help me share love along my way.

Amen


Please feel free to use this and any of our content in services, prayer groups etc., just remember to link it back to us! 

Beginning My Life as a Christian Writer

Today’s post comes from Emily Hornburg, a Chicago native who moved down to small town Missouri to work as a youth minister. Her post talks about how she began writing about her spiritualty, and how she began to see writing, even creating, in a new way. You can read more of her writing on her website, Love Woke Me Up This Morning, or  follow her on Twitter @LoveWokeMeUp 

When I was in high school, I gathered up the guts to show a friend of mine my writing. (Who in fact, is one of the founders of this site.) I hate showing people my writing because I never know how it’s going to go over. Receiving criticism from a stranger is much better than from a friend whom you see every single day.

She handed it back to me and said she liked it. However… whenever I talked about faith it was stiff.

It was fake.

Forced.

It just wasn’t good.

I knew this about my story long before I showed it to her. It was a truth I didn’t want to face. But wasn’t that what I was supposed to do? I was a good Christian girl and I was given the gift for writing. Therefore, I had to talk about God and Jesus in my stories!

Then my friend told me something, which has stuck with me ever since… and it’s nearly ten years later. I don’ t have to mention God in my writing for people to see where my heart is. Who I am and what I stand for and believe will shine through without having to mention the name or word “God.” That was a new beginning for me.

From then on, I’ve noticed this in all that I create. Whether it’s writing a story or a blog post, singing a song, or performing a role on stage. Because here’s the thing:  creating in itself is an innately holy act.

The very first words of the Bible are that “God created.” The beginnings of our world came to be because God was creative. He made something. He made it beautiful and honest and true.

Which is really what creating is about. It’s about being true and sharing the story.  Even if it’s just our side. It’s about reflecting who we are, and by reflecting who we are we are also showing who God is. Because he is the one who created us and gave us these minds with those ideas and these hands with those skills and that voice with that heart.

Creating, by simply being itself, is the beginning of something holy.