April 6th to 12th: “Set Your Hearts”

Reading: Making All Things New: Part 3 “Set Your Hearts”

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 2: 22-23

As we draw near to the end of our Lenten journey, Henri wisely guides us to bring all that we have reflected on into the every day of our lives.  So that our hearts can speak to the heart of Jesus every day.  So that He can make things new in us each day.

In order to do this we develop a “spiritual discipline … the concentrated effort to create some inner and out space in our lives…” (p68).  Henri urges us towards two disciplines of prayer:  solitude and community.

1) “Without solitude, it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.  Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and him alone.”
a) When you think about setting aside regular times of solitude to be with God, what kind of resistance comes up in you (or used to)?
b) Do you find yourself afraid of the inner chaos that can erupt in such times of solitude?
c) Are you among those who have discovered the joy and healing that comes from time alone with God?  What is your daily time of solitude like?  Please share your journey with us, so that others who are just starting out with the discipline of solitude can be encouraged.

2)  “Solitude is not a spontaneous response to an occupied and preoccupied life… therefore we must begin by carefully planning some solitude” (p71).
a) If you ready to move forward in your spiritual life, begin now by planning regular times of solitude with God.  Even if you need to start with ten minutes a day.  Plan it.  Schedule it in.  Protect that time.  You are invited to share with us your commitment, so you have a sense of accountability.
b) What can you do right now to prepare a place where you can easily go for your time of solitude?
c) For those who are a little more experienced in this discipline, is there a specific Psalm, or word of Scripture that you have found to quiet your heart and focus your attention on God?
d) What are some of the other forms of solitude that you have found helpful in focusing your attention on God?

The second discipline Henri refers to is the discipline of community – “the effort to create a free and empty space among people where together we can practice true obedience.  Through the discipline of community we prevent ourselves from clinging to each other in fear and loneliness, and clear free space to listen to the liberating voice of God” (p 80-81).

1)  “Community is grounded in God, who calls us together, and not in the attractiveness of people to each other” (p83).
a) Consider the community you are in right now, marriage, friendship, family, religious life etc.  You may feel at the moment that you are not mutually compatible.  But ask God why He has called you together, ask Him what your true identity as a community is.
b) To help with question a), Henri invites us to hear the word of Scripture together in a communal silence (see page 85).  No debating, discussing, sharing or arguing.  Just a quiet listening together.  An attentiveness to each other, and an awareness of the caring presence of God.
c) Please share some other disciplines of community that you have found that help your community (marriage, friendship, family, religious life etc.) “be an act of true obedience … responsive to the way we have heard God’s voice in our midst” (p88).

Again, there is much to reflect upon in this chapter, and I look forward to hearing from each of you.

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43 Responses to April 6th to 12th: “Set Your Hearts”

  1. Bruce and Barbara says:

    I am not uncomfortable with solitude and have experienced a closeness with God in solitude. However, by nature, I am gregarious and more often seek out crowds, or at least the company of others.

    For some time I have gone on an almost annual silent retreat, spending 72 hours listening to talks, tapes, and to the sounds of silence. It is a very special time in my year. For me, not talking is a difficult task, but on retreat, I succeed. In the silence, I come to a better place with God. While not hearing his voice audibly, I sense his will for me. I often decide on retreat to set aside real quiet time after I return from retreat, but alas, I lack the discipline.

    All of the worries and concerns of life crowd out the silence with thoughts of my day, my week, and the upcoming things that will take preparation and multiple steps to accomplish. I should start anew, shooting for ten minutes daily (I takes five at least to just stop the focus on what I want to think about!) and have the habit in place before this August’s retreat. I know God speaks to us in a whisper, and we cannot hear clearly amidst the noise.

    –Bruce

    • Donna says:

      Sometimes the best way to center oneself is spend some time in Scripture. Begin to consider God’s word, contemplate its message, then in the solitude that comes, listen. For me, spending time in God’s word is the beginning step. The Spirit creates a hunger and thirst for more. The discipline at first is hard but is truly discipline, liken any other task we decide necessary for living – and making time for that. God will grow the desire for more.

      • Bruce and Barbara says:

        Thank you, Donna. I do know that reading scripture (and saying it aloud) really does help me center. So often, I neglect to do this, though. It is great to remind one another of the easily found benefits.
        Blessings,
        Bruce

    • kathy salem ma says:

      I relate with everything you said. Gregarious by nature but I actually love the freedom from spoken language afforded during a silent retreat. I try to do a silent sit each morning and although the rest of my morning prayer routine goes pretty well- as long as I start it within minutes of waking- my silent sit gets thrown by the wayside far too easily. I am up to 13 minutes at this point~ heading to 20 minutes as my goal. I light my candle. Sit comfortably. Set my timer and ask for help~ simply, Come Holy Spirit. I concentrate on my breathing and try to gently dismiss all the random thoughts that almost immediately invade my quiet. It’s not pretty but I am trying and I believe for now that’s OK.
      My greatest desire is for my life to become my prayer. Blessings!

  2. Lata Hall says:

    As much I have limited time to write, yet I feel I need to stay connected with you all from UK, where we are with our daughter and her family. I see all around me in Northampton, loneliness, people hurrying every where, shouting, cars roaring away at speed which is not right at all. Almost as if every one is in some one’s way. I have been receiving love and peace from you all and I felt so much joy in being part of This Holy spirit communion we have created. It was so good to attend a very old fashioned Church service in a church where the pews are wearing, yet, solid, just that we know the someone had sat there. Old fashioned hymns, which we do need to sing at times to stay connected with our Saints who are in heaven. It was a joy to sing ‘ Lift High the Cross…’. Once upon a time that church could hold a few 100’s, today we were around 50+, three small children. Everything was beautiful for my family, yet many of the faces we have seen every year had gone home to be with their Lord. The one person we left behind was our son-in-law, who has no belief system as he has no desire to participate in this part of family life. His family has no belief system either. Getting children baptized was an excuse to have a party. I saw his face it was full of fears and worries, he is always worried about his job, money……, How much I wanted to say, let us just bow down and give all this to the Lord. He has always provided and He will always provide.’ But I can only pray for Him and one day the Lord will be able to open the door of his heart. It has been my experience with many a male members of my family. Brynn dearest Friend, you are doing a wonderful job and all of you dear friends, thank you for being a part of my life. I am very Blessed indeed by the Lord through you all. Lata

  3. Kathleen says:

    My goal each morning is to spend quiet time with God: in his word, reading Henri or others, praying. I’ve not developed a time of silence, doing nothing but being with God though. Since reading this chapter I’m trying to spend at least five minutes each morning. As soon as I get up, I light a candle in the bathroom (a place where I’m not disrupted) and try to just focus on Him. My mind wants to wander. I need to get scriptures to focus on. I want to grow in my relationship with my Savior and with others so I can experience community with Him in the center as well.

  4. Patty Wheeler says:

    This is my first time using/following a blog. I feel that I have been slogging through through rather than blogging. Processing all of the wonderful thoughts and comments and then trying to comment on them through this medium has not been natural for me. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed the reading and processing of all of it.

    I am going to attempt to join by posting rather just by being a silent reader.
    I have been doing contemplative prayer for years. I have used Thomas Keating’s books and find them a great help. I am awful at contemplative prayer. I do not get better with time. But I continue to be called to do it. I think that God wants me to show up. I don’t think he cares that I have a mind that continuously wonders and needs to be brought back time after time.
    Henri Nouwen said the same of his silent prayer, in Gracias, I think. He said it was his “mixed up, jumbled up…. hour every morning”. That is not a direct quote.
    So, I keep doing it every morning. I think that is what matters. It matters that we show up and that we don’t give up.

    • Jacqueline says:

      Patty, thanks for the encouraging reminder, “It matters that we show up and that we don’t give up.” I don’t feel I have gotten better with time either, but he is still calling us and for that grace we can be thankful

      • kathy salem ma says:

        “It matters that we show up and that we don’t give up.”
        I so agree~ I am not a very disciplined person by nature. So showing up every day and giving myself over to this prayer time committment is huge. I am so very grateful.

  5. Sharon K. Hall says:

    I appreciated your candid post, Patty. I also have tried to do contemplative prayer for years, off and on. Studied several books, got a timer, sat in a comfortable chair, feet comfortably placed on the floor, began with my mantra word, for 20 minutes. The reason I wanted to do this so much was because I wanted to quiet my own talk and really listen to God speaking to me. Also one of the books I read, the author said that through the use of contemplative prayer, he discovered that his habit of worrying too much got a lot less. But I have had such a hard time “keeping with it.” Your last sentence, “It matters that we show up and that we don’t give up.” is comforting. I have managed to keep showing up in prayer but have discovered that the most comfortable posture for me is laying on the couch, under a crocheted afghan my mother-in-law made and which our cat, Bei Ling, likes to perch on top of me. For some strange reason, this situation is very conducive to praying and that’s the spot I go to at different times during the day (the cat always follows me there really without fail), even if my husband is home, it’s still like my own little praying closet and I can “tune out” every distraction of TV or phone, etc. Somewhere in the Bible, I think it is in the Old Testament, one of the people lay down with a rock under his head, was it Jacob? so I like to think that other people have thought of this praying while laying down too and found it to be an easier way to keep at a praying discipline. I feel better about myself for being able to keep to a discipline at any rate than feeling guilty for not taking time to pray sitting in my chair with the timer.

    • Doris says:

      I first learned about Contemplative Prayer through Henri’s books. Then along came my pastor who further talked about it and I thought what a good idea. I love contemplative prayer – I read a scripture, pray and then am silent allowing God to talk to me inwardly. God comes with His Spirit into my being and there is peace. I do my contemplative prayer at night before bed – contemplative prayer has changed me as a person, how I think, how I view life and people. There is an inner peace and love. I could not live without God being there in my life, being on the pathway. Through contemplative prayer I have learned service, love and helping those who need someone to care. Thank you to God and all those who share their thoughts.

      • Johnny McConnell says:

        Thank you, you ladies are helping a 73 year old boy keep at trying to be a contemplative prayer. Johnny

  6. Connie says:

    But ask God why He has called you together, ask Him what your true identity as a community is.~ Yes, this is a tough question. Why has God chosen to put us together with the people He has chosen us to go through life with? And better yet, why do we continually try to change it or not accept it? Lord, hear our prayers, help us to accept each other as you have accepted us. Help us to love and lift each other up. Help us to use you, as our perfect example, help us, forgive us, lead us in all righteousness.

  7. mary says:

    I live in community with twelve women and fifteen children with ten babies under 5 months. The women found themselves pregnant and without support from the father of the baby or from their families. The Well of Mercy began three years ago to help single women avoid the cycle of poverty as each has chosen life for her unborn child. One of the goals of this mission is to help each woman know how God views them, and once she tastes this unconditional love, she will only choose for HIS will in her life. Then, her life begins the metanoia experience. We live in community, and come from the invitation of Our Lord, to heal our past wounds, live in the present to better engage our future. Living in community we get to witness the best and the worst of each of us. We come to recognize the Spirit of God as we engage in the daily disciplines of chores, shared meals, the day care co-op, and during our weekly prayer meeting. The women come from four different countries, a mixed social status, and individual stories riddled with extreme pain. As each opens her vulnerable side, a caring presence of God appears, and by HIS wounds we begin to heal. The community has gone from a hoarding sense of limited-ness to an engaging sense of helping each carry her cross. Each woman begins to feel the abundant graces of Our God.
    At The Well, we see the “truth, beauty, and love” of our Lord. We become “windows of the mystery of our God.”
    The Well of Mercy is for the woman at the Well who meets Jesus and is forever changed. She brings the message to the town, so for those that come to visit at The Well, we pray that they too meet Jesus as they volunteer …and they too are forever changed.

  8. JSue says:

    Sharon: I too find solitude easier to come by when lying down. I was encouraged not to feel guilty in this practice when I read The Book of Marjory Kemp. She too prayed lying down — even in Church!

  9. Marianne says:

    I’m going to try for more regular times of personal solitude. I can tell you how unpopular this notion is with the world! I have 1 place I normally sit to read and do my morning readings. I can try for a little bit more unstructured time.

    We belong to several good communities – one is Camp Kuriakos. The purpose of the camp is for us to practice living in community and it’s wonderful. We specifically introduced our children to as many instances of Christian Community as we could. I believe that once you get a taste for it, you go looking at subsequent times in your life.

    I must say, I cannot comprehend how a community is supposed to observe solitude. When we go to church, there is not 5 seconds where there is silence. There is always some response expected – or someone is talking or it’s time to stand or sit, sing or say something again. Sometimes when the scriptures are read, I feel I want to just close my eyes and stay there a little while longer. We have gotten so far away from silence.

    I agree that making Spiritual Community is a discipline and one is enriched by being part of a Christian Community. It’s always surprising how much forgiveness and grace there exists between believers.

    • Doris says:

      If we are looking for solitude in the church, we will not find it. We must find that time to be alone with God in our home – close the door, shut off the computers, silence the music and listen to that inner voice. Read the scripture and pray and then just be silent and ask God to speak. I had a hard time with this, not knowing how to listen to the voice within. But with many thanks to God I found that inner space in the morning before my husband wakes and I talk to God. At first it was a jumble of voices, but now as peace pervades within me I hear the voice and I know what He wants. All of me, not just a part. Hope you find that peace and solitude – keep working at by praying and reading the scripture – you will find it.

      • Marianne says:

        Why should we not find solitude in church?

        • Barbara says:

          Church is a time of worship and a time to build community. It’s purpose is the anthisis of of solitude. Church is a time for me to sing praise and hear the word of God as spoken through the preacher. It is also where I build my Christian community. From church I find the people who enrich my life and support me during the week. I have gathered a group of women who meet for Bible fellowship once a week. We study the scripture, spend 20 minutes in silence in the church, and regroup to share what was revealed in our silence. It has changed my life. So I don’t find solitude in Sunday worship but I do find those who seek solitude in community.

  10. Ruth says:

    After going through a difficult season, my family moved to a different part of the States. On the way, my brother unexpectedly died in another part of our country. After his funeral, we finally settled and I began waking up in the middle of the night every night. At first I fought it, asking God to help me get back to sleep because I had to work! Finally, I just got a cup of tea and asked The Lord “is there something you want?” I began sitting in solitude without an agenda for the first time in my Christian walk. Then it came–a love so powerful it was like a tidal wave washing over me. God began to tell me over and over again how much He loved me and how He just wanted me to be with Him. The healing I began to experience was amazing.

    Things changed…I began sleeping through the night again, but I began walking early in the morning when Spring arrived. There I found God speaking His words of love again to me and I even would dance with Him on my walk.

    I’m in a different home now and I have a time (about an hour) every morning set aside for reading Scriptures, praying, reflecting, listening. I started reading through the Bible again during this time a couple of years ago when I was traveling 85% of the time for work. Sometimes I have to do a “brain dump” before my time because my mind is “on” as soon as I’m up. I just recently went through a time of feeling extremely anxious during the night; this Lenten journey helped me to get to a place of rest by asking yet again, “what do you desire Lord?” when I would feel anxious.

    You’d think I’d learn by now!! After all, I’ve known Him for almost 55 years and I’m 62 years old! My point is that there will be different seasons in our lives and we will need to adjust our time/place of solitude to fit those seasons. But never give them up!! Show up!! I am so grateful Jesus never gives up on me and He always shows up, whether or not I recognize him.

    Finally, fellow brothers and sisters, here’s a poem I’ve found particularly meaningful:

    Come away from rush and hurry
    Marva J. Dawn

    Come away from rush and hurry
    to the stillness of God’s peace;
    from our vain ambition’s worry,
    come to Christ and find release.
    Come away from noise and clamor,
    life’s demands and frenzied pace;
    come to join the people gathered
    here to seek and find God’s face.

    In the pastures of God’s goodness
    we lie down to rest our soul.
    From the waters of his mercy
    we drink deeply, are made whole.
    At the table of his presence
    all his saints are richly fed.
    With the oil of his anointing
    into service we are led.

    Come, then, children, with your burdens –
    life’s confusions, fears, and pain.
    Leave them at the cross of Jesus;
    take instead his kingdom’s reign.
    Bring your thirsts, for he will quench them –
    he alone will satisfy.
    All our longings find attainment
    when to self we gladly die.

  11. Donna says:

    The study this week is extremely rich. On pg. 86 […the discipline of community always points us beyond the boundaries of race, sex, nationality, character, age, and always reveals to us who we are before God and for each other.] Such unity and such revelation. I won’t always like the me God reveals, but to share the extravagant love of God with other imperfect people struggling to become more like Christ is community. This certainly is a discipline of heart, mind and soul.

    Another of the many great thoughts on the practice of listening together in silence: [words function more as walls than gates, more as ways to keep distance than to come close.] As noted in the reading, too often we try to use words to connect with each other, sometimes pride takes control. I experience this practice of listening together for God’s voice as I just listen to (or read) what other believers share. Just listening without commentary can be difficult.

    One other quote from the reading on the disciplines of solitude and community: [Both disciplines belong together, precisely because the space within us and the space among us are the same place.] (pg.90)

    I share a Scripture from Ephesians (4:1-6) that to me speaks to the unity of spiritual community:
    [ Paul speaking: I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. ]

    Thanks for the sharing this week…for all who have been to me “windows constantly offering each other new views on the mystery of god’s presence in our lives.” (pg.87)

    • Sharon says:

      Donna,

      I agree with you …it was rich. Filled with much to consider. And I had difficulty with the community part even though I have been a part of a faith community all my life. Thanks for sharing the excerpts and especially Paul’s exhortation. That helped me understand it better! Blessed by this community.

  12. Kathy says:

    I live in south Orange County, California where the culture is GO, DO, and by all means SAY SOMETHING! Being busy is what is affirmed and accepted. A “contemplative” lifestyle is challenging to cultivate even amongst sincere Christians I am surrounded with in my church. Since reading Henri’s (as well as some Merton and Keating) books in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I have had bouts of some attempts at silence & solitude (interspersed with great busyness). This kind of relationship with the Lord rang true to my heart (maybe because I also lean towards introversion). It wasn’t until my 31 year old daughter was in a coma on life support, after a horrible car accident, that I was thrown into a rigorous curriculum of silence, solitude and waiting.

    I would not leave her side. When she was moved from the main hospital to a sub-acute hospital, they did not allow anyone to stay the night at bedsides…so I would leave the hospital at the latest time possible and return first thing in the morning. And I would sit and wait. And wait. Hardly a prayer but “Lord Jesus, have mercy”. When I wasn’t helping the nurse assistants with her bathing and other therapeutic moments….I would just sit there and wait. People would ask me what did I do all day every day and I would tell them that I would just sit there. Sometimes I would look out the window, sometimes I would look at her, sometimes I would look at the floor…but I knew Jesus was beside me, beside her. And yes, friends and family would come and lay hands on her and sing worship songs over her and pray their best prayers. And then they would leave and I would sit and wait. I have to say though, looking back, that it was a silent, prayerful waiting. Many hours I was alone in that room with my daughter. It became my prayer closet, my schoolroom. The Holy Spirit was teaching me and I could be nothing but His student.

    4-1/2 years later, she is now driving and still working very hard at overcoming her cognitive changes since acquiring this traumatic brain injury. She just moved out last November after living with us after the hospitalizations. After her leaving, I am left with a deeper relationship with Jesus while all the more finding myself sitting…waiting…breathing…knowing Jesus is right by my side. I have moments of inspirational prayers and journal writing, but mostly it is silence. He knows me. He hears me. He loves me. And in the silence, I am beginning to hear heaven more and in that, I am being healed.

    • Donna says:

      Powerfull testimony! Thanks for sharing! God uses all times to grow us spiritually if we let Him, and your words demonstrate learning great discipline through a incredibly difficult time.

    • kathy salem ma says:

      Thank you~”I am beginning to hear heaven more and in that, I am being healed.”
      For this I pray. Amen

  13. Sharon K. Hall says:

    Appreciated the sharing, the spiritual direction is strong. Thanks JSue for the book recommendation– amazon.com is sending The Book of Margory Kemp and I look forward to reading it. Feeling like I’m coming closer to God, reading all your experiences is extraordinary testament to His faithfulness in providing for His children’s needs.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    In the last year of my life, I have been on a journey referred to as “the dark
    Night of the soul.” One of the things revealed to me is that I spend countless
    Words on my prayers and requests to God but that God longs to simply be
    with Me in the same room…. He says no words are necessary, He has examined
    my heart already and knows everything about me …..and still, He places his hand
    of blessing on my head. This is too glorious, too wonderful to know.
    And so, I have grown in my contentment to just BE with him so that now I set aside
    30 minutes each morning, training myself to stop my incessant thinking.
    I begin with the Suscipe Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola. I will also begin adding
    The Daily Examen to my routine. Both can be googled. The practice of these
    brought with it the ability to find peace in any situation and the secret of
    contentment that the apostle Paul discovered for himself.
    Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon
    the throne and unto the Lamb forever and ever. Amen!

    • kathy salem ma says:

      “Be with” no words necessary- “Oneness” – “Divine Intimacy”- Silence~
      Please God send Your Spirit. I so desire connection with You!

  15. Marianne says:

    Kathy, your three statements are possibly the Alpha and the Omega for me . If all Christian churches truly embraced these statements, would we be judging each other, making up the list of who is included in the “who-so-ever may come?” Would people avoid churches because they felt “not good enough” if we really truly embraced “He knows me. He hears me. He loves me.” Blessings on your day.

  16. kathy salem ma says:

    “He knows me. He hears me. He loves me.” Love the simplicity. Jesus, my Friend and Brother- Great God of Mystery, my Creator- Holy Spirit, Sanctifier bless me with awareness of your constant presence. I am accepted and I am loved. All will be well! Thank You!

  17. kathy salem ma says:

    Just finished catching up ~ reading all the blogs and doing my reflecting. Thank you all so very much.
    Sometimes I feel very ingenuine. Like none of any of this makes sense. I actually feel physically scared and have to tell myself not to question. I quess those moments are the dark night of my soul.
    Part of the difficulty lies in my reality. I belong to a wonderful grace- filled church community in Boston called the Paulist Center.
    Sadly though, none of my most important people; my husband, my children, my extended family, or except for one friend- my friends, share my ultimate goal. It’s like I’m speaking a different language and I’m some stupid Pollyanna.
    My stongest desire, my ultimate goal is to live my life completing God’s will for me. Being the me God means me to be. I am flawed and I ask for help all the time. I can be a very bad example of someone living according to God’s plan. I want my life to be an example that praises God in my actions. I feel so dissappointed at times that I fall so short and that I am not a good disciple.
    On a retreat two summers ago in Maine, Richard Rohr shared this poem and I loved it. I would like to share it with all of you, now.
    The Way It Is by William Stafford
    There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change.
    But it doesn’t change.
    People wonder about what you are pursuing.
    You have to explain about the thread.
    But it’s hard for others to see.
    While you hold it you can’t get lost.
    Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die;
    And you suffer and get old.
    Nothing you do can stop times unfolding.
    You don’t ever let go of the thread.

    For me that thread is Faith~ a fragile gift. Fragile yet strong enough to get me through my most scary moments. Moments when doubt flickers and I’m silly enough to try to let my mind fathom the unfathomable. I have a God that loves me and accepts me exactly as I am. A God willing to get me through any craziness my rational mind dishes up. I do not have to explain to myself or anyone else I just have to KNOW and be grateful for this greatest of gifts. My gift is Faith~ thank you God of All. Thank You! My desire above all else is, as Henri calls it, is to be a “wounded healer”. As Rohr so elegantly states it, only transformed people can transform people. I want God to use me. I want to be transformed.

  18. Sharon says:

    After years of praying and not just being, I have a disciplined prayer/visiting with God time. Like many of you, I read Henry’s books, Mother Teresa, Fr. Rohlhieser, Teresa of Avila, Merton, Dallas Willard and others. It has been a journey that has included many tears and joys. I truly desire to be with Jesus. I also read Psalms often and I journal. It is amazing how sometimes His Spirit speaks to me through His word after I pray and journal. He speaks directly to my heart so intimately. I often wake early 3 or 4 in the morning and spend time praying, writing, journaling, and meditating. I have found that if I am in a place that I can’t quiet my thoughts, I will meditate on Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.” After saying this a few times and breathing slowly, His Spirit brings my mind that peace and I can rest with Him. I am so blessed with my relationship and love being with Him. This has not always been this way, so I know that it takes time and cultivating.

    The tough part for me would be the community part. I really liked the idea of the communal silence. I enjoy worship and mass and listening to the sermon, but tough to think about hearing God in the community part. Many times He speaks to me in what the priest or pastor is saying. I teach Sunday school with my daughter and we do mission trips as a family. I guess it is outside of that….that I struggle. We pray opening in my home, and we pray for others and their needs and we talk about spiritual needs and how God is moving in our lives. I guess I would like to be more aware of the Spirit in my relationships and conversations outside my home.

    Two years ago we had a situation where our family was hurt by someone from our church. I know that we are all sinners. We have forgiven that person. This person was a good friend, part of the church leadership, and we trusted this friend and she betrayed us. We are no longer friends. Our church handled it well and helped both parties in a loving, Godly way. So I guess I am having trouble with trusting again…with new people. I don’t want to get involved with that community as much as I use to. So I am seeking other places where fellow believers are. And frankly this Lenten study has been a safe haven for me to risk again and engage in a community. So I am very grateful for the time and study and challenging questions with those who desire to know Him better.

    Being with God alone, by my self, on my terms comes easy for me …now. What is challenging is the community part. I was a little bit confused with what Henry was saying with regards to community, so I will reread and pray about it. Again, so grateful for this community.

  19. Doris says:

    When I contemplate it is time to be alone with my Lord. To speak the thoughts from my heart,giving all of my life to the one who died at Calvary. The season of Lent, a time to remember what Jesus did for all – dying on the cross for our sin. We must bow down and confess our sin. It is what our Lord asks for. So as I sit and contemplate my thoughts I too realize my imperfections. I long for nothing more then to walk with Jesus. His grace is suffice. He has wrapped his arms of love around me (all of us). Could we ask for more. I ask the Lord to search my heart. Contemplation in silence God speaks to my (our) hearts. I love the peace, the stillness of the moment being with Jesus. Thank you Lord.

  20. Brynn Lawrence says:

    Thank you all for sharing so deeply and so full of love and encouragement.

    Quite times in God’s presence have been the highlights of my life for many many years. My experience is paradoxical though… I love these times so much, and I know that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that brings real fruit in every area of my life…. yet my efficient self often resists entering in to these times.

    I tend to feel “freer” on a Saturday morning, to linger in God’s presence. I’ll journal, read the Word, listen to worship music. Just sit with Him and listen, or take time to pray for specific needs in my life or in the life of others. I always feel deeply joyful after these times with Jesus. Although lingering on a Saturday is wonderful, I know, as Henri reminds us, that daily time with Jesus is essential.

    In terms of the communal silence that Henri invites us to, one particular example comes to mind for me. The church I grew up in had a morning and an evening service each Sunday. The evening service, although still structured, purposely had more flexibility to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Often our pastor would, after a time of worship, invite those who wished to, to come to the front and just spend some time kneeling before God. Many times this is when I gave God my full “yes” anew. There may have been some quiet music playing in the background, but overall it was a communal time of silence before God. Each heart speaking to God, yet together at the same time. It was very powerful.

    I also really want to integrate a time of communal silence, or listening to the Word, in my marriage. I can see how that would be so powerful and foundation building.

    Hope you all have a wonderful day!

  21. Ray Glennon says:

    Thanks to each of you for sharing your sharing your stories and your insights. I have been following along but I have not posted as actively as I have in past discussions. This is probably because I have allowed the “worry” that Henri warns us against to overwhelm the truth that, like Jesus, I am the beloved child of the Father.

    Making All Things New has touched me (and convicted me) more deeply than any of Henri’s other books with the exception of The Return of the Prodigal Son–a book that changed my life. Yesterday I spent several hours re-reading the Introduction and the first three chapters again. Henri is talking about me when he writes, “I have written this book…for…the people who “know” the story of Christ and who have a deep desire to let this knowledge descend from their minds into their hearts.” (p.14) And I am certainly one of the “worrying people” whose life is both filled and unfulfilled. (p. 23) Henri asks, “What would happen if we stopped worrying?…The tragedy is that we are indeed caught in a web of false expectations and contrived needs…. The prevent the Spirit of God from breathing freely in us and thus renewing our lives.”

    Looking back to the Advent book discussion on Life of the Beloved, our worrying can prevent us from hearing the words “You are my beloved” that God speaks into our lives every day–whether we hear it or not. For me the sense of being unfulfilled has been particularly difficult recently because my current work situation has not been particularly challenging, interesting, or rewarding–even though I know that I am well regarded by my colleagues. Why might that be the case? Henri’s comment, “…the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can, indeed, present a great temptation, but their seductive quality comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unloveable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap is self-rejection. I am constantly surprised how easily I give in to this temptation.” (emphasis mine). Henri then writes, “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved.’ Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.”

    And how can we hear this sacred voice? Our reading this week provides the answer that I have been seeking–if I have the needed discipline. Henri writes, “A spiritual life requires human effort… A spiritual life without discipline is impossible. Discipline is the other side of discipleship.” For me Making All Things New is a prescription for living the life of the Beloved. This magnificent little book describes how we can say “…an unceasing ‘Yes” to the truth of (our) Belovedness.” My prayer this afternoon is that each of us on this Lenten journey together may have the determination “…to live obedient lives, that is of unceasing prayer–‘unceasing’ not because of the many prayers we say but because of our alertness to the unceasing prayer of God’s Spirit within and among us.” I, for one, need to recommit my self to “faithfulness to the discipline” (of prayer).

    Thanks for bearing with this lengthy reflection.

    Ray
    Twitter: @RayGlennon

  22. Dorene Kilburn says:

    Coming to the end of another week I have again been blessed by the openness of all of you, as you’ve shared your spiritual journey…it brings me close to tears in this moment. A lot of years went by—over 60—before I began to understand the value of time spent alone with God and developing a friendship with Jesus.
    In a corner of my bedroom there is an antique rocker and on a corner shelf above it is a small sculpted angel. This is my place of solitude, prayer and reflection. I cannot begin my day without spending time there, and I start with a mantra that begins,
    “Breathing in the peace of Jesus and letting go of stress and fear…” I am still learning to focus totally on the message that still small voice might have for me. Plans for the day all too often interrupt my waiting upon the Lord. With time, I have come to understand that my very best friend is Jesus. I’m trying to end the day with the Prayer of Examen, but I haven’t quite succeeded in making that a daily discipline. I am very fortunate to be a part of a faith community that is encouraging its members to immerse themselves in spiritual disciplines in order discern God’s will for his people and become the kind of disciples who will commit themselves to following Christ in his mission of love and peace. Thank you, everyone, for helping me on my spiritual journey, as you have shared your thoughts on Henri’s writings.

  23. Ann says:

    For many years, and until recently, I suffered sever and chronic insomnia. For too many reasons to go into, here, I dreaded even being in my bed. The moment I would get there, the anxiety and grief would begin–and worsen as the night would wear on. It was only when I began to spend time alone with God, at night and in my bed, that this affliction slowly dissolved and vanished. Now, I look forward to this precious time, time to speak to God, to open my heart to Him, to thank Him for everything–including the hardships and emotional suffering, some of it seemingly intractable. My bed is a private refuge at the end of the day, at which to meet God. A place where I feel safe and loved by Him in a way I never felt before. I believe this is because He is filled with a kind of joy only God could know, and that this joy occurs on the occasion of His creation coming to Him in love.

    Regarding the subject of community, over the past year I have been blessed to meet some truly special souls through a small weekly gathering I ran for our small town’s recreation department. Never could I have guessed what God’s Plan was for me, in this regard. And while it is sectarian in nature, nothing about it has been sectarian! We have come to discover that the majority of us are lovers of God, most of us Christian, and several of us devoted readers of Fr. Henri’s profoundly beautiful books and teachings, despite being very different from one another. This community has been growing and so has the quiet love we feel in its midst. The love of God working in our lives. Now, out of this, some of us are discussing the formation of a church community of artists, as we face unique challenges in co-creating with God that are awkward to share with people who are not artists. We are not “elitists” by any stretch of the imagination, just everyday souls who feel a special responsibility to God when we pick up an instrument, a paintbrush, or a pen. (Art is not just about the ego.) And we find comfort in the company of one another. Now, we are beginning to trust that we can also share this comfort to include our God, Who is the Source of all that we do creatively.

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