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A Community Examen

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Our last two Practice gatherings have focused on community, specifically the practices of spiritual direction and listening groups. Community is an essential element of following Jesus. Jesus did not invite us into a solitary journey, this road was always intended to be walked together. This week, we would love to invite you to make room to reflect on your spiritual practices of community in the presence of God.

A spiritual practice is any intentional activity that cultivates deeper communion with God’s presence in our everyday lives. Spiritual practices may help us grow in awareness of God’s loving presence. They may help us develop ears to better hear God’s voice or help us to surrender obstacles to deeper communion with God.

Spiritual practices of community are simply disciplines that directly involve other people to cultivate deeper communion with God. A few examples of these practices might be spiritual friendships, spiritual direction, small groups (including practice tables and listening groups), and spiritual mentors. In this Examen, we will reflect on our spiritual practices of community in prayer. Let’s hold our experiences of community in God’s presence and listen for anything the Holy Spirit
might reveal to us this week.

You can download an print a copy of this Examen here.

Step 1: Acknowledging God’s presence
Settle into a comfortable space without distractions. Take a deep breath. Wherever you are in this moment, you are in God’s loving presence. Take another deep breath. Remember that God is closer than the air you breathe.

For the next few moments, invite God to speak. Hold your hands open as a sign of your willingness to receive from God. Express your desire to listen. You may use your own words or echo the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.”

Step 2: Review your spiritual practices of community in gratitude
Now, remaining in God’s loving presence, consider your spiritual practices of community. In this season, what spiritual practices of community have you experienced? How have you experienced the presence of God in relationship in this season? Consider both the community you have intentionally engaged as a spiritual practice, and the community that you did not seek intentionally but God brought to you. Name these experiences, you may even choose to write them down.

Take a moment now to thank God for these experiences. You may write a prayer of gratitude in the space below.

Step 3: Examine your spiritual practices of community with God
Consider the spiritual practices of community you identified a moment ago. Take a moment to examine your experiences of spiritual community with the following questions in mind. Listen for anything the Holy Spirit may be calling to your attention.

How have you experienced God drawing you into His life of love through practices of community?

How have spiritual practices of community fallen short, disappointed you, or failed to invite you in God’s life of love?

Step 4: Respond
Is there a particular experience that stands out from your examination? Was there a strong emotion, positive or negative, that stands out? Is there one experience you feel the Holy Spirit is drawing you toward, one you are being invited to hold a little longer in God’s loving presence?

Use this time to respond to God. Is there anything you want to say to God about this experience, anything you would like to ask? Speak to God, and listen for God’s response.

Step 5: Looking forward
In our final movement, let’s turn our attention forward. As you consider engaging spiritual practices of community in the future, what emotions arise? Do you sense an invitation from God? Close your time in prayer by holding your future practices in God’s loving presence.

11.19.17 The Mercy of God

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Last night, we rested firmly in the mercy of our good God. The opening liturgy led us deep into the Kyrie Eleison. This ancient prayer is based on those in the Gospels who cried out to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy.” I was reminded that Frederica Mathewes-Green taught us the Biblical cry for mercy is a prayer for healing.

Then our very own Ashlee Eiland led us with a teaching on God’s great mercy and our invitation to respond by letting go of selfishness, pride, and superiority in order to truly forgive one another. She guided us through four steps of forgiveness: naming the offense, seeing our own sin, experiencing God’s great mercy, and seeing the offender as God sees him or her. Then Lori led us in the practice of centering prayer as a way to rest in God’s presence before we turned to the table, the ultimate picture of God’s loving mercy.

Have a listen to the full teaching and practice.

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to pray the be-loved breath prayer and allow it to lead us into a time of centering prayer. As we rest firmly in God’s presence, the love and mercy of God takes root deep in our souls.

11.5.17 Human Sinfulness

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Last night, our community was blessed with the gentle guidance of Phileena Heuertz as we continued our journey through the themes of Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. This week, we entered into a reflection on our sinfulness. While most of us would rather not engage our personal sin, it is an incredibly important part of our journey. If we are not in touch with the depth of our personal sinfulness, we will not be able to grasp the great depth of God’s personal love for us.

Phileena’s wise teaching helped us move beyond a shame-based view of sin into a vulnerability-based model. God does not require us to be cleaned up in order to be loved. We are loved us just as we are, and God demonstrated love in an extravagant gesture of self-giving, self-emptying love on the cross. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

If we are going to be formed into the people God created us to be, we must move beyond sin as bad things we do and begin to identify the desires behind the activity. Phileena shared the Ignatian perspective of sin as disordered desires, and she incorporated the teaching of Thomas Keating and Henri Nouwen as a helpful way to identify our disordered desires. (You’ll want to listen to the podcast to get the full teaching.)

We were then led in a new practice for our community, welcoming prayer. Welcoming prayer is a practice that invites God’s healing presence into the ordinary activity of daily life. Phileena helped us practice this discipline as a way of growing in our ability to identify the disordered desires that lead to sin and welcoming God’s loving, healing presence into our disordered desires.

Kingdom Practices
Phileena beautifully shared that love is the foundation of our whole journey. So let’s continue to practice the “be-loved” breath prayer at least 15 minutes a day.

In addition to the breath prayer, let’s also be intentional about noticing this week.
Let’s notice when we find ourselves emotionally triggered, and in our noticing, let’s be curious about what is behind the emotion. Is there a disordered desire at the root of the emotion, and if so, will you pause and practice the welcoming prayer Phileena shared with us?

Additional Resource
Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Action
Pilgrimage of the Soul by Phileena Heuertz
Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heuertz

9.17.17 Created in Love

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It was wonderful to be together again last night to kick off the next season of The Practice. For the majority of this year, we will be walking through the themes of Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. Ignatian spirituality has had a significant influence on The Practice from the beginning, so we are really excited to dive in more intentionally this year.

I cannot think of anyone I would rather have launch us into this season than Father Michael. Last night, he introduced us to the themes of the Spiritual Exercises. The Exercises begin, Father Michael explained, with an understanding that we are loved simply because we are God’s children. I find it so interesting that Ignatius would wait to guide someone through the Exercises until they had an abiding sense of their belovedness.

Father Michael then led us in a practice to help us rest in God’s love. We began with a reflection on the sign of the cross, and then practiced a simple breath prayer, “be-loved.”

Kingdom Practice
Because this foundation of being grounded in our belovedness was so important to Ignatius, we want to really sink into this prayer. Our kingdom practice for the entire journey through the first movement of the Spiritual Exercises will be to pray the simple breath prayer Father Michael taught us last night. As you inhale, “be,” and as you exhale, “loved.” As we journey through this first movement of the Spiritual Exercises, let’s commit to practicing this prayer at least fifteen minutes each day.

If you would find it helpful to begin your daily prayer time with the reflection Father Michael led last night, you can find it here.

 

Additional Resources
Putting on the Heart of Christ by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ
The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien, SJ
Inner Compass by Margaret Silf

A Super Bowl Practice

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The Super Bowl can give rise to any number of experiences and emotions: joy, loneliness, jealousy, fun, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. As we look forward to big game, let’s consider making these simple practices a part of our day.

Preparing for the game:
1. Spend a few minutes thinking about your plans for Sunday. In light of our worship experience on 1/29, is there a way you may be tempted to question your sense of belovedness? Maybe because of the commercials, the game itself, the people you’ll be interacting with, the people you won’t be? Spend a few moments praying the breath prayer, “God of Love, I belong to you.”

2. When we are grounded in our identity as God’s beloved children, we are free to reach out and help others experience their belovedness. Is there a person you can intentionally treat as a beloved child of God on Sunday? How can you tangibly share God’s love?

During the game:
1. Pay attention to your emotions, especially during the moments you anticipated being challenged. If you begin to notice your belovedness being called into question, recite the breath prayer, “God of Love, I belong to you.” The beauty of this is you can do it anytime, anywhere, even while the game goes on!

2. Look for an opportunity to intentionally treat another person as God’s beloved child. This might be what you thought of as you prepared for the game or some way the Holy Spirit leads you in the moment.

August at The Practice

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August update

Hey friends, we are so excited to come back together in the Chapel this month!

On August 7th and 14th, we will gather for the sake of our broken and beautiful world…learning to align our lives with God’s Movement of healing, peace, and the flourishing of all. Or, as we often say around The Practice: There is a grand river flowing toward the redemption and restoration of all things, and Christ invites us to swim WITH IT for the sake of the world. Will you say yes? Will you learn to swim with us?

AUGUST 7th: Prayer for the World With Images.  After a deep dive into our opening liturgy (with special guest artist/pastor Melissa Greene), Kellye Fabian will lead an extended time of prayer for the world using provocative and beautiful images. If you’ve experienced this before, you know how powerful it can be to connect our eyes with our hearts as we pray. Kellye will invite us to engage some of the world’s most pressing needs, of course, and then celebrate a few ways that God is already bringing hope and healing. Finally, we will bring these prayers to the Lord’s Table and end the night with Eucharist and worship.

AUGUST 14th: A Theology and Practice of “The Other”. On the second week, we’re thrilled to learn from Michael Rudzena, the pastor at Trinity Grace Tribeca (where our pal David Gungor leads worship).  Michael is brilliant, kind, and currently writing a book on a Theology of The Other. Jesus was very clear that our love for God is directly tied to our love for each other, so how do we learn to love our neighbor? What if this neighbor offends or frightens or disgusts us? How do we find and honor the image of God in our friends, strangers, enemies, and even ourselves?  I can’t think of a better topic to explore right now.

Kellye / Melissa / Michael

Kellye / Melissa / Michael

 

[AUGUST 21st – NO GATHERING]


AUGUST 28st: Practice Community Retreat
. Please join us at Bellarmine Retreat House for a day of prayer, teaching, solitude, and practice. Fr Michael Sparough, Joan Kelly, and Gail Donahue are partnering with us to create a whole day of holy space. Registration will open on August 7th. Space is limited, so please stay tuned!

Fr Michael at Bellarmine

Fr Michael at Bellarmine

 

In every way this month, may God’s Kingdom come and Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, Sunday 24, 2016: A Liturgy of Vocation

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Last night we took a journey through the whole arc of God’s work in the world, seeing the ways that God’s work parallels our own vocations (which, of course, go beyond what we might think of as “work” to include the whole of who we are in the world – both inside and outside a 9-to-5).

We began with Creation, where the ideal of our being in the world was laid out. Humanity was made to have dominion, to be rulers over God’s creation, wisely stewarding it, filling it, subduing it, forming it so that all things were more and more in rhythm with God’s eternal rhythms.

If you’re like me, those very words “subdue”, “rulers”, “dominion”, have negative, not positive, connotations. It is virtually impossible even to imagine a world in which humanity might exercise dominion over creation in a way that aligns with God’s purposes. It is impossible to imagine a world absent The Fall.

Where God’s plans for humanity called for a harmonious existence with both creation and Creator, the Fall left us naked and afraid, dissonant. Our vocations, rather than making beautiful music out of God’s creation, became “contested”, discordant.

God identifies the results of this discord – pain in our labors, both inside and outside the home, and enmity in our relationships. What was a calling to make beautiful things out of God’s creation turned to dust.

We paused in the midst of this discord last night, allowing the effect of The Fall on our own sense of being in the world to linger. The pain and disconnection we experience on a daily basis was artfully drawn out with a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 1. Instead of a purpose harmonious with the eternal music of God, our vocations have become “utterly boring”. “Nothing changes”, life is just “the same old thing” over and over and over again. Judging by the number of people who stood in resonance with those feelings, I’d say we as a community are well acquainted with the ways our vocations have become contested, how The Fall has marred the good gift God gave.

But that, of course, is not the end of the story. The Bible speaks of a future filled with life and healing, a future that is – despite the effects of the Fall – breaking in to the present even as we speak. The Bible speaks of Redemption.

Katie generously shared her story with us – actually, let’s call it what it is, she PREACHED – calling our attention to the fact that our vocation is not found in this or that perfect job, fully aligned with our deepest passions. Rather, our vocation is to love and to develop the fruit of the Spirit, something we might do wherever we might find ourselves. The ‘how’ of our being in the world, Katie reminded us, matters just as much as the ‘what’. We can bear fruit in any number of scenarios. Listen to Katie’s beautiful words here.

And this, of course, is the grand vision of vocation that Jenna and John led us through these past three weeks. Our vocation is not limited to the paid work we do. It is not defined by how much we make, how much recognition we get, or how much passion we feel. Our vocation is not what we are, but how we are. How we do our jobs, yes, but also how we parent our kids, love our friends, interact with those whose paths we cross, shop, even (dare I say it?) drive.

Redemption is the ultimate truth of our vocations. God offers us healing, healing from the boring, painful, disconnected vocations we experience, vocations which might seem like our only option. He offers us an alternative, a life connected with his deep purposes in the world wherever we find ourselves. He makes beautiful things out of the dust of our lives.

Blessings,

Curtis Miller and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, November 8, 2015: Seven Practices for Sabbath

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As a master’s student, married to another master’s student, I often feel a little bit out of control, like my time is never really my own. I’m always working in service to the next paper, class, professor or class assignment, all the while hoping that if I finally complete my next obligation; maybe, just maybe then I’ll be free to read a book that isn’t required on my syllabus.

Last night Rabbi Moffic shared a phrase that has crept into my weary bones and whispered hope,

“Practicing Sabbath is an act of freedom, for a free person has control over their time.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like a free person when I look at my schedule, I feel like a prisoner, to my education, to my work, to my endless list of things I should get on top of. If anything, I’ve bought into a belief that working harder will one day make me free. I’d never stopped to consider that choosing to practice Sabbath in spite of my to do list, declared my status as a free person in Christ. When we start with freedom, the rest of our week is transformed. I like how Rabbi Moffic put it, “Many of us will find that we can accomplish so much more in 6 days, than we ever could in 7.” I was therefore so grateful, for Rabbi Moffic as he led us through practices for Sabbath Keeping.

The night began with the words of a beautiful prayer from The Roman Missal that I truly believe encapsulates the desire of our Tribe and why we gather every week. As Sunday is not the main event, I hope and pray that each of us could take these words into the rest of our week and make them our prayer each morning–

Father, pour out your Spirit upon you people,
And grant us a new vision of your glory,
A new experience of your power,
A new faithfulness to your Word,
And a new dedication to your service,
That your love may grow among us,
And your kingdom come,
We ask all this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

It was also such a wonderful gift to have Troy Hatfield and his talented friends Adam and Marie lead us in worship last night – in particular I loved singing new and different words to the tune of ‘Come thou font,’ such a beautiful collision of formation and innovation being held in the same space. I’m so familiar with the tune, yet as we sang different words, they stood out fresher, deeper and more penetrating as I wrapped my mind around them. In particular I loved the verse;

Let us sing for joy and gladness,
Seeing what our God has done.
Praise the one redeeming glory,
Praise the One who makes us one.

It truly felt to me that we were gathering and worshiping as one, around the One, Jesus Christ who unites and guides us all. We moved through our traditional liturgy together, praying for the world, confessing our sins, receiving assurance, and passing the peace of Christ to one another.

It was then that Rabbi Moffic got up to lead us deeper into how to practice a rhythm of Sabbath. As always, his perspective is so incredibly valuable, his familiarity and insight into Sabbath is so rich and flows out of the fact that he and his community are people who have made Sabbath a priority and who are reaping the beautiful benefits that God intended. You can listen to Rabbi Moffic’s message through our podcast or by clicking here below –

After casting a beautiful vision for what Sabbath is and why we should practice it (Sabbath is Heaven. Sabbath is Freedom. Sabbath is Rest.) Rabbi Moffic led us through seven practical ideas of how we can set Sabbath apart in our practice as separate and holy from the rest of our week:

  • Take a walk
  • Savor a special meal
  • Spend time with someone you love
  • Study the Bible
  • Light candles
  • Turn off your cell phone
  • Take a nap

These suggestions are so simple and so practical, yet require so much intentionality to implement. I need to truly believe that I am free from my burden of work in order to exercise freedom and take a walk. Even if our practice begins small, I still believe this rhythm is a powerful practice of heaven, freedom and rest in our faith.

During our practice time we asked each of you to reflect upon the following question:

What are the rhythms & practices I can use to set apart my time of Sabbath as a holy space with God?

How did that journaling time go for you? What practices came to mind? Will you set Sabbath apart through study of God’s word? Through taking a walk? Through investing in those you love?

As I ponder the question, I feel led to try and resist working on homework on the Sabbath. So simple, yet such an act of freedom, heaven, and rest in my student schedule. I hope that each of you can identify something similar that helps you enter deeper into a rhythm of Sabbath.

We ended our time, as we always do. Gathered around Christ’s table for communion and ending with a benediction that sends us back out into the world in light of all we’ve received and learned.

I hope that you may find the courage to taste freedom, heaven, and rest this week. Own and declare the freedom available to you in Christ by practicing a rhythm of Sabbath and may you find that you can accomplish so much more in 6 days, than in 7 by aligning with the rhythm of your Maker.

Peace of Christ be with you,

Jenna and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, November 1, 2015: An Embodied Examen

By | Rhythm, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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My fiancee, Katie, and I entered last night’s the Practice gathering and happened to sit next to Eric, who along with Jenna led us all on October 25 in exploring the intersection of brain science and spirituality. Eric asked Katie and me how long we’ve attended the Practice, and I realized it was about this time last year that we first started coming.

Back then, finding an ecumenical space dedicated to exploring the contemplative heritage of our own Christian tradition was nothing less than an answer to prayer. Now, almost a year into this journey with the Practice, my appreciation for these “sacred rhythms” has only deepened. Not only do we get to explore this rich heritage of Christian practices, but we all get to do it together. I’ve found more and more comfort in the way we journey together as a community when we gather, which is by using the sacred Christian “language” of the church known as the liturgy.

Our opening liturgy last night focused on seeking God and his fruits of justice and peace.

Jenna’s reading of Psalm 34 helped us call to mind the beauty of pursuing God, of seeking the Beloved and finding deliverance in him. Jason led us in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love…” St. Francis is something of a personal hero of mine because of his counterintuitively simple life. And he was so embodied and fully present that he saw the Kingdom of God in all that he saw–the healthy and lepers, the sun and moon, the sparrows and wolves, everything within the Church walls and everything without.

Doesn’t your soul thirst for such a holistic awareness?

Fr. Michael Sparough, a Jesuit priest, returned to the Practice last night to speak with us about embodied spirituality. You can listen to Fr. Michael’s message and our practice of embodiment by subscribing to the Practice podcast or by clicking the link below.

Fr. Michael led us in a practice and prayer of “the Examen,” a prayer nearly five centuries old that draws our attention to how God is speaking to us through our own experiences. This prayer, unlike much of the prayer I learned growing up, assumes that we are embodied creatures.

To be embodied means that our spiritual lives are lived out through our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. Fr. Michael began our time together by having us remove our shoes to remember that the Practice space, like all gatherings of God’s people, is holy ground. Fr. Michael led us through several physical postures and poses, e.g., palms down versus hands out, face downward versus face upward, crossing our arms versus spreading our arms in open receptivity. Through this exploration we began to sense how our body both reflects and directs our inward postures toward God. Fr. Michael showed us the importance of praying with our bodies what we were praying with our hearts.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been taught by some Christians that the body is evil. Or maybe you progressed to the point of thinking the body is “okay” but still more of a spiritual liability than a spiritual gift. But Fr. Michael reminded us that we are fully embodied creations, meaning our bodies are gifts we are called to also bring to the work God is doing in our lives of seeking justice and peace and the Kingdom of God.

Where does this positive emphasis on the body come from? The larger context is taking the Incarnation seriously, Fr. Michael said. If we believe God not only dwelt among us but became fully human and like us in all things but sin as Jesus Christ, then we cannot divorce the physical from the spiritual. Our bodies are a good gift from God. It does matter what we do with our bodies, whether that’s related to diet, exercise, rest, self-care, or any of the ways we practice abuse or neglect toward ourselves. The physical and spiritual are inherently linked.

The Examen helps us see this integrated wholeness and inherent goodness. The practice is a reflection on one’s day and how God was speaking during that day. But the practice starts positively, not negatively. Though it does have us call to mind the ways we failed to respond to God’s voice throughout the day, it first has us approach God with a spirit of gratitude. Fr. Michael articulated this powerfully: As gently as feeling a light fall on your face, so gently does God’s grace fall on us. We first recall that we are “bathed in the light of the Lord’s love.” If we start from this place of connection with God, we can then progress to reflecting on our experiences throughout the day and the ways we responded–or failed to respond–to God’s prompting in our daily lives.

Last, Aaron invited all of us to commit 10-20 minutes a day in practicing the Examen and reflecting on God speaking to us through our individual daily experiences. Would you commit with me to doing that? I know that such honest reflection is difficult and, at times, downright unattractive. But I also know that doing so allows us to “taste and see” with our whole beings, bodies and all, God’s goodness in our lives. Let’s choose to taste the goodness of God. Let’s practice the Examen together.

Peace and all good things,

Sam & The Practice Team

Today’s Sunday Reflection comes to us from Practice Tribe member Samuel Ogles, a gifted writer, & assistant editor and marketer for the Church Law and Tax Team at Christianity Today. He is a dedicated ecumenical Christian shaped by his current tradition of Catholicism as well as his Evangelical upbringing – you can read more of his gifted insights here.

Sunday Reflections, October 25, 2015 : Brain Science & Spirituality

By | Rhythm, Uncategorized | One Comment

 

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As the parent of a soon-to-be-three-year-old, I’m well versed in the universe of picture books. A current bedtime favorite is House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle.   In it, Hermit Crab moves into a new, bigger shell and proceeds to make friends before in the end discovering that he has outgrown his new shell and needs to find another, bigger one.

It’s easy to think Jesus is like Hermit Crab. He is God, and when he came to earth he took on a “shell” of humanity, a shell that he outgrew sometime around Easter and left behind forever. Now, he’s back to being God again, without any of the pesky, physical, visceral trappings of humanity. This way of seeing Jesus, which is probably my default setting, is disastrous.

Last night, Eric and Jenna led us through a thought-provoking discussion of embodied spirituality, the intersections of brain science and spiritual practices. Then, Eric gave flesh to that discussion, leading us through a moving experience of what embodied spirituality actually means. But I was struck, too, by the way Jesus’ embodiedness wove its way throughout our time together.

We began by singing for Jesus to ‘speak’, we listened to the powerful voice of Sharon Irving sing the powerful plea for Jesus to ‘walk with me’. Through our Journey, Trials, Sorrows, Troubles, Jesus ‘walk’.

Please, walk.

Is it enough for Jesus to be a disembodied God when we’re in Troubles, Sorrows, Trials? Or do we lose something essential if we don’t know the embodied Jesus, the one who is truly, viscerally, really there, walking?

Eric’s words say we do lose something. As he told us, our brains can get stuck in a rut of telling us something is true when it’s patently false. Maybe this is unsurprising, since we live in a fallen world. But the message of hope Eric brought was that even though this is the case, it’s not the end of the story. Our brains – our fallen, mixed up, messed up brains – can actually be re-wired. They can be saved, healed, made whole.

How? When we engage with spiritual practices in our daily rhythms, we are opening ourselves up to the physical touch of the physical Jesus. God is touching our brains, rewiring them to be more in line with the truth: the truth about him, and the truth about us. Take a listen through our podcast or here below for more.

And then, the practice.   Eric walked us through a visualization that drove home the tangible, visceral, real-ness of Jesus. Jesus was, literally, speaking with us. He was, literally, walking with us through our Troubles, Sorrows, Trials. The many less-than-dry eyes testified to the real power at work in the Chapel last night. Jesus was there, not as a disembodied force, but as a real person. And that real person had real things to say to us.

I thought afterwards about why that experience was so moving for so many. Why was visualizing Jesus sitting, hugging, talking so powerful? Wouldn’t we all agree that Jesus is ‘with us’ always? What made this special?

Maybe we ‘believe’ that Jesus is always with us, but we mean the disembodied Jesus, Jesus as some sort of benign, ethereal presence vaguely smiling down at us. And maybe that’s fine most of the time. But I know for me, and maybe this is true for you too, the vaguely smiling Jesus floating around somewhere above me and to the right doesn’t cut it in the face of real pain. Because that pain is real; it’s physical; it hurts. And floating-somewhere-up-there Jesus doesn’t have a response beyond churchy platitudes.

But when I visualize Jesus sitting right there, hugging me, walking with me, watching my pain with me and then telling me the truth about it…that’s different.   I need a physical Jesus who can physically comfort my physical hurts, a visceral Jesus to soothe my visceral pain, a real Jesus to walk with me through real life. Thank God that’s the Jesus we have.

There was something extra beautiful about Communion last night, coming on the heels (I just accidently typed ‘heals’, maybe that’s better) of such an experience. Because there on the table were the physical, visceral, messy reminders of just how far our God went to be able to understand, to comfort, to heal our pain. God took on a body, a real body, then allowed it to be broken so we could be made whole. It’s easy for that real body to get lost, hazy, but communion grounds it back in reality.

And so, I thought it was fitting that almost the very last words of our liturgy last night came from a classic hymn, sung by the church for centuries, “I am His, and He is mine.” We are embodied creatures, loved, held, comforted by an embodied Jesus.

Grace and Peace to you,

Curtis & The Practice Team

 

resources

Recommended Reading

We have a wide variety of excellent books to recommend for any of you who want to dive deeper into the conversation around brain science, embodiment, and spiritual practices. We have included the book ‘Brain Lock’ that Eric mentioned in connection to his recovery from OCD as well as an excellent Christian perspective by Curt Thompson who integrates brain science with spiritual practices. We also have to point out the book “Outsmarting Yourself” by Karl Lehman for any of you who particularly resonated with how your past pain invades your present reality, and how to invite Christ into the healing process. Finally, the book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ is an excellent resource when it comes to integrating what we feel in our bodies with our emotions, and spiritual growth.

Recommended Next Steps

Eric Connor mentioned during the night his involvement in creating a ‘Spin Therapy’ class. For those of you who are interested, here are the details of the upcoming classes:

  • Upcoming Spin Therapy ClassesSaturday, November 21, 10:30am & Saturday December 12, 10:30am.

    Combining aerobic exercise, Christian worship music, and purposeful guided visualization, this 60-minute cycling class seeks to create an immersive experience focused on generating insight and a deeper connection to God. Designed from recent research about neuroscience & physiology, this class is unlike anything you’ve experienced.

    • For more info or to register for a class contact shemafit@gmail.com
    • $5 per person
    • Happening at 410 E. Main Street, Barrington, IL