Thursday, August 17, 2023

7:25 prayer from 3 years ago....

Today this prayer came up in my memories.

It is one of many prayers I wrote during the "C-season" when connecting with people in person wasn't possible and attempting to connect in new and different ways on social media and other ways was the go-to.

7:25 came about because the first three letters of the acronym at the church I was serving were "S.A.L.". The fourth was "T.".  SAL means 'salt' in Spanish, so it worked as 7 was S, 2 was A, and 5 was L.

S.A.L.T. stands for Serve, Accept, Love, and Teach-- the heart beat of the church I served at the time.

The thought of the 7:25 prayers was that anyone was invited to post a prayer and/or for all to join in as community to pray at that time, twice a day. It was a way to connect virtually and through the cosmos.

I don't if it became a daily routine for anyone, other than myself. I do know that it took through this past first year of my family leave of absence to stop looking at the time at 7:25. It was pretty ingrained in me to pray at that time of day.

Here is the prayer that came up in my memory today.  It is a prayer that is as applicable today as it was then. We aren't in the same life situation as we were then, yet these words still ring true.

"7:25 p.m. prayer-- May we all become who we are created to be. May this season allow us time to reflect, to heal, to grow, to be and do-- in ways that we could not before. May we encourage one another. May we be love and light, offering spaces of grace to one another. May we be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Amen. Pastor Debra 8/16/20"

As I reflect on this prayer, I wonder.... did I, did we make the most of the season of liminal space and life turned upside down? Was it truly a time of reflection, of healing, of growth?

I know that for me personally, I experienced multiple transformations and changes as I adapted in my leading, teaching, and preaching. I also experienced growth and transformation in my spiritual journey. 

Did we as a whole become more encouraging to and for one another in our world? Do we now offer more love, light, and spaces of grace because of what we went through and experienced? Were we more part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

Where are we now in comparison to where we were?

These are questions for reflection that we can only answer within our selves and within our communities.  

If we see areas of possible needed healing, growth, love, light, and grace... it's not too late. These are still possible.

The prayer of 8/16/20 remains a prayer for today. May it be so.


Rev. Deb

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Psalm 62--lectio divina reflections

I decided to read some Scripture this morning-- or rather to allow it to read me. Lectio divina, sacred reading, is a reading method that resonates with me.  

It is a spiritual practice that I float in and out of. Having just finished Daniel Wolpert's chapter (chapter 2) in Creating a Life with God on it, I decided it would be a good time to dive in.

A few notes from Wolpert before I share from my lectio reading:

  • "...allow the words to sink down into the depths of your being." (52)
  • "The Word of God becomes real and alive and active in you right here, right now." (54)
  • "Prayer is not a product; it is a relationship." (56)

Looking through Nan Merrill's Psalms for Praying, I landed on Psalm 62 and these two verses (6-7):

For You alone my soul waits in silence;
my hope is from the Beloved.
Enfolding me with strength and steadfast love,
My faith shall remain firm.
In the Silence rests my freedom and my guidance;
for You are the Heart of my heart,
You speak to me in the Silence.

As I reflected, these words "enfolding me with strength and steadfast love" stood out to me. 

This brings to mind my spiritual practice of spending time in a hammock, of being. When I am in a hammock I am enclosed, enfolded, almost as if I am in a cocoon. I am able to to rest in that space, knowing I am held. 

The time strengthens me, refreshes me, renews me.

During the days and months of the pandemic, I spent much time in a hammock.  It was healing. It was transformational. 

It helped me be still. It allowed me rest. I waited in the silence and was reminded of love as I regained strength and hope.

I have been missing hammock time and the reading this morning reminded me of the benefits of this spiritual practice for me.

Hammock time was and is a time of freedom and guidance for me. It is a spiritual practice go-to when I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed, uncertain, tired, seeking connection with the Creator, and/or any other thing.

I truly sense the enfolding of the Spirit in that space.

Where (when, how) do you sense the enfolding love, hope, and strength of the Beloved?

Hammock time isn't the sole time for me, but it is what came up in this morning's reading of Psalm 62.

It is good to listen. 

May the listening bring forth fruit.

So be it.

And, may the adventurous journey continue!

Rev. Deb

June 2022 hammock back yard

Sunday, July 30, 2023

FUMSDRL National Gathering at the Ignatius House in Sandy Springs, GA

Last week I attended the National Gathering for FUMSDRL (Fellowship of United Methodist Spiritual Directors and Retreat Leaders) also known as Hearts on Fire at the Ignatius House in Sandy Springs, GA. It was the first time in 5 years that we have met in person because of the "C-season".  Last year's gathering was a wonderful time online with Carrie Newcomer and I am grateful to have attended it.

It was my first time to be at the Ignatius House and my first time to hear Daniel Wolpert. 

The theme for this year: "Hearts on Fire for a World on Fire: Spiritual Direction and Social Transformation

From the FUMSDRL website: 

Hearts On Fire for a World on Fire: Spiritual Direction and Social Transformation

To say that the world is in a powerful time of upheaval and transformation has almost become cliché at this point, yet it is true. The multiple crises of climate change, social unrest, the rise of fear and totalitarianism, all press upon us and strain our physical, emotional and spiritual health. 

At such times we see an increased interest in the spiritual life and in new forms of spiritual community. These moments also call for spiritual companionship and spiritual direction. As directors we can and do serve as agents of social transformation, sitting with individuals and groups as we listen for the movement of the Spirit.

Come join us for this time of retreat where together we will reflect upon Spiritual Direction and Social Transformation. This will be a time to gather with colleagues, spend time in prayer, renew our spirits and come to a deeper understanding as to how we engage the principalities and powers in our work as directors.

Leader: Rev. Daniel Wolpert

Daniel Wolpert, a healer and student of the spiritual life, has taught and led retreats in the fields of psychology, integrative medicine, and spiritual formation in numerous settings over the past 30 years. Co-founder and Executive Director of the Minnesota Institute of Contemplation and Healing, a Spiritual Director, and Presbyterian pastor, he is also the author of several books and multiple articles on spiritual life, leadership, and healing. 

Leader: Rev. Daniel Wolpert headshot

The time apart, along with the time with colleagues, the speaker, time on the grounds of the retreat center, and some time around Atlanta on Friday--- all of it was just what I needed last week.

On Friday, I found myself seeing most things through the lenses of social transformation and systems-- from coffee at the Refuge (I had first heard about their truck when I had been to Atlanta with the Episcopal Latino Training I took--ELMC in 2019), to the art at the High Museum, to biscuits at the Bomb Biscuit Atlanta where a slogan on the apron (and the name of a cookbook) is "still we rise", to the Carter Center.... so many connection points to social transformation.

At some point, I will share more in reflection.

Right now, I will share photos-- photos from the retreat center and photos from the adventure time on Friday that also connected to social transformation.

Time apart is holy time. It's a time to focus, to listen, to set aside some of the normal daily activities for a different set of daily activities. I am very grateful for the time apart, the teaching, the conversations, the worship, etc. 

Continuing on the adventurous journey of life and seeking to make a difference in the systems within my reach.


Some photos of the Ignatius House and my adventures around Atlanta: (I took more photos at the Ignatius House during a hike, but they are in a different location-- will add when I get to them)

Additional photos of Ignatius House:

What Will It Take To Bring Hope?

This post showed up in my memories today.

It is from two years ago.

My spiritual director asked me a question: "what is needed for you to have hope?" I took that question and edited it to "What will it take to bring hope?" That question stuck with me, as good questions do.

I saw some yellow flowers growing in the asphalt and that inspired me to write a haiku. They showed me hope.

the question was asked:
'what will it take to bring hope'?
the answer will come
DD 7/30/21

Original photo:

Two years have gone by. The question still resonates.  What WILL it take to bring hope?

Yet, there is so much more hope these days. And, oh, so much more healing. Hope and healing go hand in hand. At least they do in my life and experience.

Hope has come in the form of sunrises and sunsets, time apart, silence and solitude, time in the woods, time on the bike, time in conversations, time observing art, time in hammocks, and so much more. 

Hope has come by walking with others, by listening, by sharing, by being the me I was created to be.

The answer continues to come.... hope is not done. Hope comes in many forms and continues to make its way into my life, offering healing and wholeness.

My spiritual director was asking me two years ago what it would take to bring hope back into my life again. 

Two years ago, in a post about Haikus, I wrote this about the question:

"What I DO know is that writing Haikus brings me joy, healing, and hope.  And I guess that answers the question my spiritual director asked my yesterday, at least in part.  She asked 'what is needed for me to have hope?'  I wrote a Haiku based on that and changed the wording a bit after seeing bright yellow flowers growing in asphalt.  Ultimately what is needed for me to have hope is for me to continue the spiritual practices that draw me into relationship with the One who created me, the One who loves me, and the One who knows me best.  Then I can live out my calling to live, love, and lead like Jesus."

I still write Haikus, but not as frequently as I was. It's not a primary spiritual practice in the moment. I did, however, write one last week at the retreat I attended. As I was sitting there under the tree canopy during the reflection time, a Haiku came to me.

What I wrote that morning about writing the Haiku: "It has been a while since a Haiku has come from me. In the quiet reflection time now, these words vacate as I reflect on the morning session."


Old growth tree forest
Your canopy reaches high
Beckoning me nigh
DD, 7/18/23
Ignatius House

As I have refilled with hope, it is my desire that I bring hope to others. And I think I am doing that. By walking life with others, by sharing, by listening, by being the me I was created to be.

Hope and healing go hand in hand. 

It was a good reminder today for me to see this haiku and question from my spiritual director from two years ago. 

Continuing the adventurous journey of life, 


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Christ the King Retreat Center-- 9 years later

The first in-person board meeting I attended for FUMSDRL/Hearts on Fire was in Buffalo, MN at the Christ the King Retreat Center. 

The following year I attended my first National Gathering and Retreat there. 

Meeting people in person after having only heard their voices on the phone,  reconnecting with some I had met through a 5 Day Academy in TN, and meeting new people..... there are so many memories from Buffalo, MN-- both from the board meeting and the Gathering. 

One memory came up today. As I read the words I wrote nine years ago, I thought to myself: 'I wrote that?!' :) And, it didn't go unnoticed that my writing was based on contemplative photography, a spiritual practice that has long given me life.

There was beauty all around the campus of the retreat center and photos near the lake were a go-to. This was a spot found near steps.

This is what I wrote on this day nine years ago on July 25, 2014: 

"When faced with an overgrown path between yourself and a destination, look closely for the hidden worn path of travelers gone before and follow their steps.  If no such step or opening exists, it may be time to forge the path for others.~d"

Today, as I read those words, I wrote this: 
"The hidden worn path..... forging a path for others....
Words I wrote 9 years ago at the end of a retreat. I am grateful for the many whom I follow and walk with along life's path."

I began a deeper journey somewhere around 2007 when I felt the call to "be still" and to learn to listen. 

The journey continues. 

Debra/Rev. Deb

P.S. I found a post I wrote last year on July 27, 2022 spurred on by this post and photo above. You can check it out here: A reflection on paths, spurred by quotes and memories

Monday, July 3, 2023

Labyrinth time at Hinton Center

After a 3 mile walk at the Chatuge Dam Trail with Riley's niece and her husband, I went by the Hinton Center to see if the gift shop was open. I wanted to get some more "Rev. Nevertheless She Leads" stickers. 

Alas, it was closed. I stopped by the office and gave my name, number, and what I was looking for.

Then I stopped by the labyrinth for a prayer walk. I never know what to expect when I enter a labyrinth. Today's journey was book-ended by two songs.

As I entered the labyrinth, the Keith Green song create in me a clean heart from Psalm 51 came to mind. I sang it all the way to the center. I threw out the sticks that had fallen on the path. I heard birds chirping and singing and an owl hooting.

Lyrics to Keith Green's song: 

Create in me a clean heart, oh GodAnd renew a right spirit within meCreate in me a clean heart, oh GodAnd renew a right spirit within me

Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh LordAnd take not Thy holy spirit from meRestore unto me the joy of Thy salvationAnd renew a right spirit within me

As I left the center, Spirit of the Living God was what accompanied me out. 


Spirit of the Living God 
fall afresh on me (repeat 1st two lines)
melt me, mold me, fill me, use me

I stopped to look at thecross and the stones on the way out. The angel caught my attention,  as did the words in the stones. 

Making time for the prayer walk was as good for me as the walk and talk with Riley's niece and her husband. 

Good stuff! 

Rev. Deb