Sunday, February 13, 2011

To Avoid Falling

We meet every Monday evening for centering and prayer with a group of older people. Rickey and I are the youngest members of the group at 58 and 61 respectively. Our liturgy for the evening has evolved to include three parts: centering for 20 minutes, reading and discussing short passages from Thomas Keating's "greatest hits" (we use excerpts from The Daily Reader), and intercessory prayer. Last week our intercessory list included the names of five elderly people who had fallen and hurt themselves. Just as we were wrapping things up, one of our members, a woman who is a physical therapist stopped us. She pulled back the coffee table and said, "I'm going to show you an ankle strengthening exercise which will help you prevent falls." We all obeyed, laughing and enjoying the simple exercises. Our prayer partner directed us to do these short exercises regularly for good results. There are no guarantees we won't fall, of course, but there is a good chance we'll be in better shape to avoid falling.

It seems to me that the practical direction for strengthening ankles was a pretty good example of how the prayer works. We center regularly, giving ourselves to God’s presence and action in our inmost being. That's the strengthening part. And I like that the ankle results, like prayer results, are mostly invisible. You can tell you are making progress because you aren’t falling as often. Grace in action--amazing!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Creation Spirituality @ Trinity UMC

I'm reposting the following from the website of Trinity United Methodist Church in Austin, TX, because it seems worthwhile for us to reflect on.

Trinity’s Statement Regarding Creation Spirituality
Trinity’s clergy support Creation Spirituality, a movement that draws on ancient spiritual traditions and contemporary science to awaken authentic mysticism, revitalize Christianity and Western culture, and promote social and ecological justice. Creation Spirituality teaches that God permeates all things and that humanity is created blessed, not tainted by original sin. In this paradigm, Christ is God’s liberating and reconciling energy, transforming individuals and society’s structures into conduits of compassion. As we embody God’s love, we become the Creation that God intends.
Creation Spirituality draws on the earliest traditions of the Hebrew Bible and has been celebrated under various names over the centuries, most notably by the Rhineland Christian mystics of medieval Europe. It is an eclectic tradition that honors women’s wisdom and the cosmologies of indigenous cultures around the planet. Creation Spirituality seeks to revitalize contemporary worship by asking what would happen if, instead of requiring artists to conform to established worship practices, Christian worship adapted to the creativity of artists.
Ten Principles of Creation Spirituality
  1. The universe is a blessing, that is, something God created and we experience as “very good.”
  2. Humans need to relate to the universe as a whole as we are a microcosm of that macrocosm.
  3. Everyone is a mystic, born full of wonder and capable of recovering it at any age and of not taking the awe and wonder of existence for granted.
  4. Everyone is a prophet, a ‘mystic in action’ who is called to interfere with what interrupts authentic life. We are called to the margins of the status quo to interrupt systems that marginalize other humans, creatures and our Mother, the Earth.
  5. Everyone is an artist. Art as meditation is a primary form of prayer for releasing our images and empowering the community and each of us. Art finds its fulfillment in ritual, the community’s art.
  6. Everyone and everything expresses divinity. All humans are all children of God; therefore, we have Divine blood in our veins and the Divine breath in our lungs; and the basic work of God is Compassion.
  7. Divinity is as much Mother as Father, as much Child as Parent, as much Godhead [mystery] as God [history], as much beyond all beings as in all beings.
  8. We experience the Divine in all things and all things are in the Divine. This mystical experience supplants the experience of the Divine as separate and unattainable.
  9. Humans have to dig and work at finding the deep self, the true self, the spirit self. This is the spiritual journey. It is not so much about “adding on” as it is “letting go.” If we do not undergo the spiritual journey, we live superficially out of fear or greed or addiction or someone else’s expectations of us.
  10. The spiritual journey is an ever-expanding spiral encompassing four paths: Via Positiva: Befriending Creation – wonder, delight, revelry. Via Negativa: Befriending Darkness – emptiness, sinking, suffering. Via Creativa: Befriending Our Sacredness – creating, awakening, birthing. Via Transformativa: Befriending New Creation – coming home, doing, justice.

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