A Prayer For Silence

As we move towards the end of our theme of silence, we offer this prayer that includes moments for silent reflection. These moments can be as long or short as you like, the lines can be repeated, edited, or even skipped. There are as many ways to work with this prayer as there are types of silence

FullSizeRenderDear Divine Spirit, 

Let me feel you in this silence.
(Pause)

Let me hear you in this silence.
(Pause)

Let me know you in this silence.
(Pause)

Let me be with you in this and all moments of silence.
(Pause)

Amen.

If you would like to share your own prayer, please feel free to submit it to us! Like all prayers on Searching Sophia’s Pockets, please feel free to edit and shape this prayer for use in your home or place of worship, and then share the experience with us!

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Mary’s New Tradition

By: Autumn Elizabeth

“All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Luke 2:18-19

We have reached the pinnacle.  Those of us who celebrate Christmas have prepared our hearts, our streets, our homes, and our churches for this very moment. Jesus, Emmanuel, Messiah, born again for us, and we are amazed. We tell it on mountains, sing it with the heavenly hosts, and proclaim it with the shepherds. We have a thousand and one traditions to celebrate this very moment.

But what about Mary? Luke writes, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  Why does Mary take this moment to herself? Why doesn’t she celebrate with the rest?

Many people may point out that she has just given birth and must be exhausted, or perhaps her reaction is simply of little consequence in the grand scheme.  But Luke makes no qualms about the importance of Mary. In fact, it is Luke who provides the basis for the classic understanding of the Virgin Mary. Luke gives Mary a voice to accept God’s totally insane plan for her to bring forth God’s child.  I believe Mary’s meditation is meant to be something more than a small sidebar for the manger madness. So what does her response to the shepherds tidings of great joy tell us? What does it mean for us now as we hear this good news again, in the midst of hubbub and chaos of the season?

In a meeting with some infinitely wise young people after the first Sunday in advent I asked the question, “what are you hopeful for this advent season?”. I was intent on inspiring these young people to think about hope and its implications as we waited for Christmas. After giving a very thoughtful yet unexpected answer, one youth return the question to me, “ What are you hopeful for this Advent season?”  I paused. I racked my brain for the right answer, one that would be profound and inspirational. Then I realized, I didn’t have that answer, or any answer for that matter.  I had been so busy rejoicing that I forgot to reflect.  Had I proffered one too many Merry Christmas’s without really thinking about what blessing I was sending forth?  I had somehow myself with so many Christmas traditions that I had ignored the still small voice of the baby Jesus.  I was so wrapped up in what I was supposed to be doing that I forgot to take time to reflect, and understand the joy I was professing.

To preach joy without feeling it, to teach faith without believing it, these are signs of hypocrisy and Jesus was no friend to the hypocrite. So perhaps on the night of his birth, Jesus’ mother was showing me a wise and daring way to avoid being hypocrites while more fully understanding and owning my own joy.

I have much to celebrate in the birth of Jesus, in the life of  Jesus, and the his death and resurrection, but before I celebrate outwardly, I must reflect inwardly. I like to think that Mary eventually joined in the wild manger birthday party, but first she reflected, and she prayed. Mary didn’t do what was traditional or easy, but she made sure that when she sang of the arrival of the Jesus her words would reflect a deep inner understanding of the gifts God gave the world through Jesus.

So on this still winter night, despite the rustling wrapping paper and the familiar chorus of carols, apart from all of the traditions of this season, may each of us find a moment of quiet where we can behold the many joys of this season, and this year, reflect upon them.

Straight Lines Move Around Me

Today we have another reaction to the DOMA decision by the United States Supreme Court. Brittany, a masculine-of-center lesbian poet with a background in psychology, shares her perspective on the events through poetry that sings like a hymn, uplifts like a prayer, and breathes like a meditation. The beauty of her words gives us all some wisdom and love upon which we can focus. 

straight lines move around me
unphased,
though in my heart
i feel so much has changed,
so much progress has been made
so much is left to attain
yet to stiff lines
this is another ordinary day
another hustle bustle
through which they must work,
while the air i breathe
has turned vibrant
vivid rainbow hues abound
cacophony has turned to music
my feet move lightly
bearing no heavy load,
my shoulders have dropped
the dead weight of despondency
as they rose so high
in pride with new purpose
turning to face forward
with unobstructed momentum
closer to making manifest
what,
as inherently right,
should not even have to happen

My Exploding Jesus

Today’s guest post is our second from Laura Beth Eschbacher, a freelance English teacher and translator living in Kleinbottwar, Germany. Today she shares with us a bit about meditation, Jesus and the multitude of ways we can see the Divine. 

Since my first yoga class in grade school, I’ve fostered a reverence for the idea of meditation. Truly peaceful and wise people always seemed to do it. Meditation meant self-knowledge, health, and fulfillment!

Too bad I never got the hang of it. I tried breathing consciously and reciting motivational catchphrases. I bought a giant yellow tapestry with an image of the Buddha and hung it over my bed, hoping it would remind me to be mindful. But I never set aside time to give mediation an honest try. It’s just an idea on my bucket list. Something I should do… someday…

But it worked one time. During the last few weeks of Lent last year, I joined an interfaith, but catholic-flavored prayer circle to swing myself back into belief after a few months of skipping church. One of the homework assignments was to choose a meditation from the list and try to spend time with Jesus.

I chose a scenario where you were supposed to imagine yourself a statue, a handmade creation of God. You couldn’t speak or move, but had to stand in Jesus’ workshop, and simply exist while he came in, inspected you, and looked at you lovingly. The point was to bare it all in front of Jesus and feel his acceptance.

But I felt violated. During the first few minutes, I kept thinking “why is this bearded guy with a robe walking in circles around me, staring at my body? I feel extremely uncomfortable and I don’t appreciate his inappropriate behavior. And why am I not allowed to speak?”

I felt restricted, being made of stone. A carpenter was eyeing me, and I couldn’t run away like you can when construction workers whistle at you on the street. Even worse, if I had imperfections, it was probably this craftsman’s fault. He and his father designed me, after all.

I felt agitated and frustrated. My mind screamed, “I want out! This isn’t helping me spiritually!”

In that exact moment, imagination-Jesus exploded. His body burst into music and a billion multicolored lights, swirling and forming beautiful patterns with the rhythm. I felt the lights whoosh past me in warm and cool breezes. My heart beat to the music, and I felt absolute freedom, absolute peace.

When the song ended I slowly came back to consciousness, sad to leave the cosmic particles and drumbeat behind. The feelings were still lingering in my heart as I returned to reality, and I thought, “Okay, what the hell just happened?”

When I look back, I think Sophia was reminding me that I don’t have to shove the Soul of the Universe into the Jesus cookie cutter. Perhaps God is the stars, the music and the forever-swirling of the cosmos. Perhaps God is Jesus and Buddha, heartbeats and light. Perhaps God particles are in all of us, little bits of the universe realizing itself and creating meaning. God could be so many things! Why imagine Her in just one way?

And if God can speak to me through a psychedelic acid-trip of a meditation attempt, then She can certainly speak to others in ways that I do not understand.

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?