An Invitation to Spiritual Practice from Ute

An Invitation to Spiritual Practice from Ute   

Dear members and friends of our beloved church community,
 
We are blessed by our shared commitment to each other and the promise of God's abiding presence no matter what our circumstances are at a given time. There is no doubt that the current Coronavirus pandemic has already turned our collective and individual lives up-side down. We are concerned about people's health, the growing social isolation, added pressures on families due to school closings and loss of income, and so much more. The effects have been myriad and are likely to need our response and attention for quite some time to come. I have been touched by the many prayers and reflections shared during on-line meetings, worship and lectio divina in recent days that have expressed care for others in need, far and wide. Such care is a crucial antidote to fear.
 
We are resilient and creative people who can work together to deal with these challenges with God's help. We have already had many conversations here at church (on-line) on how to keep us connected and to look for ways to collaborate with our wider community. We are also working on opportunities to learn and grow together through other creative avenues. You will receive further up-dates about such offerings through various e-mailings (or regular mail where needed) in the coming days. 
 
Moving forward, I would like to offer additional weekly spiritual resources and practices to help us stay grounded both in a basic sense of being held by a power far greater than ourselves and in our belonging for each other. 
 
Today, I will be introducing an adapted Loving Kindness Meditation. One of the
universal teachings of many faiths is the invitation to a deeper compassion. It binds us together and liberates us from the prison of internalized fear. This particular form of meditation is a gift of the Buddhist tradition. I will adapt it to our current circumstance. 
 
Step 1: Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit and keep your feet grounded if possible. Place a hand on your heart or belly and take a moment to get in touch with your own body. Breathe in and out naturally. Begin to repeat the following phrases (repeat each to yourself for at least 2 minutes before beginning to repeat the next phrase for the same time period.follow the same pattern through all phrases):
A.     May I be free from fear and anxiety.
B.     May I be healthy and strong.
C.     May I trust that I will be sustained.
D.     May I know how I can be an agent for love in this time.
 
Step 2: Now think of a person whom you love and know well. Take a moment to imagine their face or voice (connect in a way that works for you) and how their life is affected right now. Then say to them silently the same phrases, again repeating each for a period of time before moving on to the next.
A.     May you be free from fear and anxiety.
B.     May you be healthy and strong.
C.     May you trust that you will be sustained.
D.     May you know how you can be an agent for love in this time.
 
Step 3: Now think of a person you are aware of but do not know well. Perhaps it is someone from church, a care giver in a nursing home, or someone who has been laid off.. Now connect with them in your imagination and wonder how they may be feeling right now. Then repeat the same process as before:
A.     May you be free from fear and anxiety.
B.     May you be healthy and strong.
C.     May you trust that you will be sustained.
D.     May you know how you can be an agent for love in this time.
 
Step 4: Now think of someone with whom you are at odds or struggle to connect with. Perhaps a co-worker, "cranky" relative or a political "opponent" and again imagine what is happening in their life right now and how they might be feeling. Then repeat the same process:
A.     May you be free from fear and anxiety.
B.     May you be healthy and strong.
C.     May you trust that you will be sustained.
D.     May you know how you can be an agent for love in this time.
 
Close the process by praying the Lord's Prayer in whichever version most speaks to your heart.  May your practice be blessed! 
 
If you would like to experience this form of meditation in a live guided format (on-line via Zoom), please contact me via ute@camdenucc.org or call me at 236-4821. You will have the option of an on-line Loving Kindness meditation tomorrow, Friday, at 3:00 pm and again next Wednesday, March 25th at 11 am. Also consider joining in for the on-line Lectio Divina practice (working with scripture plus 20 minutes of complete silence) on Tuesday at 1:30 pm. (call or email me). You can also participate by phone toll free!
 
Please always also feel free to call me if you have a pastoral concern and would like me to listen and pray with you. My Cell# is 230-9068. May we all remember the words of Psalm 23 which we will also hear on Sunday: "God is my shepherd. I shall not want."
 
With great faith in God's and our sustaining love for each other and this world,
Ute
 
 

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