And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
As Jesus went alone to the mountain to pray, we know that prayer is a very important spiritual practice that allows us to quiet ourselves and listen to God in these sacred moments. Deep prayer and spiritual contemplation change us and help us to know the heart of God better.
We invite you to come regularly and rest here finding a place of beauty, refreshment, solace, and quiet moments in the art, poetry, writings and music selections.
May you encounter God daily in Sacred Moments -- both ordinary and extraordinary.
British theologian N.T. Wright writes that as humans we were “designed to find our purpose and meaning not simply in ourselves…but in one another.” But how do we develop community and live together in our ever-changing society that promotes individualism and isolation? May we find the answer in exploring what it means to live in a community of faith and truly belong.
And it was good.
The Hebrew scriptures begin with two beautiful creation stories. In the first, each forming, each filling, God declares good, good, good, and very good. The first thing God names “not good” comes in the second story, that the man is alone. (Genesis 2:18) So God creates a helpmate for Adam because it is not good for a human to be alone.
In the May 2023 U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory, Dr. Vivek Murthy declared a public health crisis of loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection. While loneliness might not seem to be in his purview, Dr. Murthy points to the alarming mental, physical and societal health impacts of this epidemic as comparable to smoking, obesity, and substance abuse.
We Need Connection
It is not good for a human to be alone. We know it isn’t good. We know we need connection, yet two competing forces seem to be always be at work in us: love and fear. Fear causes us to look inward, engenders separation, and tells us that we must protect ourselves, put ourselves first, store up for ourselves, show everyone how confident, strong, and smart we are. When we are in fear, we feel less than ourselves, we feel a shrinking, our world gets smaller, we run on empty. Love, on the other hand, fills us, expands us, gives us a sense of abundance and generosity, wills us to seek the good of others. When love is in us, we feel more ourselves. We experience a sense of meaning and connection. These two forces, fear and love, vie for our attention. Loneliness and isolation are born of fear. Connection and belonging are born of love. Intrinsically, we struggle between the competing needs of self-protection and interdependence. The greatest gift we can give ourselves, and the world, is to shift our attention, shift our motivation, even a little bit at a time, to heed less the inner voice of fear and isolation, to listen more for the inner voice of love and connection.
Do Something Kind for Another
We cannot survive without love and connection. Ironically, the most surefire way to feel better ourselves, is to do something kind for someone else. I watched to an interview with the Dalai Lama recently. Whatever question he was asked, his answer to any problem in the self, was that we need to show compassion, in large or small ways, to another. Seeing the common humanity and need for happiness in another person, doing something kind for someone else, dispels fear and fills us with love. It connects us and creates community. Kindness to one another can happen anytime anywhere from anyone to anyone. The medicine we give ends up being the medicine we need.
You'll Be Glad You Stayed
When we let down our guard enough to help and allow ourselves to be helped, to provide for others and ask for what we need, to ask for forgiveness and offer it, to really listen and to honestly tell our truths, we enter into community, and become most fully ourselves— we belong. Communities can be formed almost anywhere,by anyone—likely and unlikely. Neighboring takes many forms. Belonging to a community can be difficult and messy and exasperating, and it is almost always worth the trouble. Sometimes it would be easier to walk away,
to go back home, to isolate, but if you stick around, what happens when people are vulnerable and honest and forgiving is just one of the most beautiful things you will ever experience, and you will be glad you stayed… right where you belong.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
And you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
1 Corinthians 3:23
We are many, but in Christ we are all one body. Each one is a part of that body, and each part belongs to all the other parts.
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