Scripture Meditation: How to Restore Your Soul

 

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.”
Psalm 23:2-3a

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Meditation

Seasons of weariness are coming. There’s no guarantee that God will shield us from hard times, from weakness, and from souls that desperately need restoration. While we can anticipate draining, difficult seasons, we are assured that God will restore us.

Are we prepared to receive the restoration that comes from God?

Restoration may look like stopping, lying down, and seeking places of peace and stillness. Perhaps we will resist God’s restoration to the point that he will “make” us lie down.

Finding God’s rest takes faith, trusting that God can lead us and sustain us, especially when we stop trying to maintain control. May we have eyes to see the gentle hand of God leading us to restoration.

 

Reflection

Why have you resisted restoration?

When has your soul grown weary lately?

What does it look like to trust God with restoring your soul today?

 

 

Featured Contemplative Book: Immortal Diamond

Week Four: Love

Immortal Diamond by RohrI used to speak of God being apart from myself, but Richard Rohr has helped me look at scripture with new eyes. For instance, Paul writes:

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Colossians 3:2-3, NRSV

Our lives are hidden in Christ? In other words, after all of the times I’ve asked God to “show up,” I’ve missed the fact that I’m hidden in Christ. This divine union forms the backbone of Rohr’s writing.

The presence of God we seek and even fear losing because of our imperfections has been among us all along. Even as we reach out for God, God is already holding us. When we fear we are falling away, we are already being held.

May we find comfort today in the loving embrace of God.

Here is the final list of quotes from Immortal Diamond this month.

*****

“It is almost impossible to fall in love with majesty, power, or perfection. These make us fearful and codependent, but seldom truly loving. On some level, love can only happen between equals, and vulnerability levels the playing field. What Christians believe is that God somehow became our equal when he became the human “Jesus,” a name that is, without doubt, the vulnerable name for God.”

*****

“Your False Self is how you define yourself outside of love, relationship, or divine union. After you have spent many years laboriously building this separate self, with all its labels and preoccupations, you are very attached to it. And why wouldn’t you be? It’s what you know and all you know. To move beyond it will always feel like losing or dying…”

*****

“Longing for God and longing for our True Self are the same longing. And the mystics would say that it is God who is even doing the longing in us and through us…”

*****

“The Risen Christ is the standing icon of humanity in its final and full destiny. He is the pledge and guarantee of what God will do with all of our crucifixions. At last, we can meaningfully live with hope. It is no longer an absurd or tragic universe. Our hurts now become the home for our greatest hopes.”

*****

 

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Even as we reach out for God, God is already holding us.

Week 4 Featured book April 25 2016

 

Friday Favorites for Prayer and Writing

Each Friday I share some of my favorite finds related to praying or writing. If I think it could help you pray or write better, then I’ll include it below.

Do you have someone else’s article or post to share? Join the Contemplative Writers Facebook group, comment on today’s post on my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (@edcyzewski) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

Letting Myself Be Known by Nicole Walters

How Even the Busiest People Find Time to Pray by Rev. James Martin

Community Lectio Divina via Abbey of the Arts (@abbeyofthearts)

 

Looking for more recommendations? Check out our Prayer Resources page.

Scripture Meditation: You Are a Beloved Gift from God

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:11

 

Meditation

bible-1440953-1279x852Spirituality and holiness are gifts from God. Existence alone is a gift. From the mud that shaped us to the breath that God breathed into our lungs, we are beloved creations of God. God isn’t done creating us either.

As we seek to live in the wholehearted freedom of God’s Kingdom, we can’t “create” our own clean hearts. Breaking us free from sin and guiding us into a life of love and service is a creative act of God.

The harder I work to create a clean heart, the more likely I am to judge others and, most importantly, to fail. A clean heart and right spirit received from God as a pure gift is humbling and effective.

Those who recognize the depths of God’s mercy live with gratitude and generosity, recognizing that all people are either in need of this gift. May God’s creativity reshape our lives and shape a right spirit for others.

Reflection

Do you imagine God giving you a gift of a clean heart or demanding a clean heart from you?

What does it look like to trust God to create a clean heart in you?

Meditate on this today: I am a beloved gift from God.

 

 

Scripture Meditation: Trusting God to Care for Our Souls

 

“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; my God I put my trust in you; . . .”
Psalm 25:1

Meditation

I bible-1440953-1279x852have long wondered what it means to “lift up my soul” to God, but I recently read one suggestion that “lifting up” our souls to God is a surrender. Lifting up my soul is a handing over of control to God.

A weary soul is consumed with the cares of this world, distracted by entertainment and greed, or caught up in pleasing others. Perhaps we “lift up” our souls to others each day as we hope they’ll notice us, affirm us, or meet a deep need.

Trust is no small matter. Is God worthy of our trust? Will God show up if we lift up our souls to him?

The practice of contemplation opens our souls to the presence of God. It’s a lifting of our souls to God, inviting him to care for us and our souls. Over time, we will learn to place greater trust in God, but we must begin by lifting up our souls in faith and expectation.

 

Reflection

How is your soul today?

Are you lifting up your soul to something or someone other than God?

What does it look like to trust God with your soul

 

 

 

 

Featured Contemplative Book: Immortal Diamond

Immortal Diamond by RohrWeek Two: The Struggle with the False Self

Who am I?

This is a foundational question that we’ll forever struggle with in prayer and writing until we finally confront it. There may be no better tool for answering this question than Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond: The Search for our True Self.

This is the book that saved my soul, or at least saved me from myself.

The false self won’t be silenced easily. In fact, I have found that the false self is so hard to fight because living into your true self in God’s love requires doing LESS. So much of religion is about doing more or doing something differently. Rohr’s wisdom about the true self appears to be counterintuitive at first.

 

“Your True Self is who you are, and always have been in God . . . The great surprise and irony is that “you,” or who you think you are, have nothing to do with its original creation or its demise. It’s sort of disempowering and utterly empowering at the same time, isn’t it? All you can do is nurture it.”

* * * * *

“The soul, the True Self, has everything, and so it does not require any particular thing. When you have all things, you do not have to protect any one thing. True Self can love and let go. The False Self cannot do this.”

* * * * *

“Remember, please remember, you do not (you must not!) fear, attack, or hate the False Self. That would only continue a negative and arrogant death energy, and it is delusional and counterproductive anyway. It would be trying to “drive out the devil by the prince of devils,” as Jesus puts it. In the great economy of grace, all is used and transformed, and nothing is wasted. God uses your various False Selves to lead you beyond them.”

* * * * *

“What the ego (the False Self) hates and fears more than anything else is change. It will think up a thousand other things to be concerned about or be moralistic about—anything rather than giving up “who I think I am” and “who I need to be to look good.”

 

Finding your true self in God’s love is largely a matter of practicing the presence of God rather than trying to do any one thing better. If we let God define who we are, we’ll start to recognize the times when the false sense begins to whisper lies to us.

Once we learn to rest in Christ, we’ll begin to recognize when the imposter of the false self emerges.

Learn more about Immortal Diamond today.

 

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Get our latest blog posts delivered to your inbox or sign up for the weekly contemplative email and receive a free eBook: The Contemplative Writer.

 

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Do less Contemplative Writer

 

 

Scripture Meditation: A Love That Stays When We Fail

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Psalm 103:8 NRSV

Meditation

bible-1440953-1279x852How does God respond to our unfaithfulness and failures? By standing by us and continuing to love us.

Do we believe God is still loving us while we fail and struggle?

I can believe that God still loves someone else who fails or falls into sin, but that’s much harder for my own sins. I’m far more likely to imagine a God who is fed up with me. I should know better by now and this time I’ve just gone too far. 

A God who abounds in love can’t help but be steadfast, standing by people who are unfaithful and fail. How else can God transform us than remaining by our sides with his grace and mercy when we are at our lowest points?

 

Personal Reflection

When did you fail today?

Imagine God reaching out to you right now in love despite that failure.

Take a moment to sit with the idea that God is “abounding in love.”

 

 

Announcing The Contemplative Writer: Soul Care and Spiritual Practices for Writers

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Where does your identity come from?

I’m going to guess that anyone attracted to a site called The Contemplative Writer looks to their faith and their writing as important parts of their identities. Writing is extremely fulfilling and can serve others, but it will fail anyone who looks to it as as an identity.

The foundational principle for everything that follows at The Contemplative Writer is this: Your identity is determined by God’s love for you, and you’ll only find that identity by caring for your soul. While there are many ways to care for your soul, the goal of this website is to lay a strong foundation of Christian contemplative spiritual practices so that you can pray and write with a healthy, well-grounded soul.

Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation says that he focuses on 80% contemplation in order to guide 20% of his action. Our actions (or writing) will be rooted in love and purpose when they are grounded in an identity established by God through our contemplation.

For those of us who write, our identities can be particularly fragile. While anyone can benefit from this website in the weeks and months to come, writers of faith will especially benefit from the practices and mindsets presented in daily posts and weekly newsletters.

If your identity is dictated by outside voices and circumstances, there’s every reason to believe that your soul will suffer and your actions will veer in any number of wrong turns. At the contemplative writer the content I share each day follows Rohr’s 80/20 approach: 80% guiding contemplation and 20% guiding writing practice. If we can use the tools of Christian spirituality to help you connect with God and to care for your soul, I believe we’ll be in a much healthier place for our writing.

Each week you’ll find the following brief blog posts (100-300 words) to aid your contemplative journey:

  • Monday: Quotes from a book of the month on contemplative prayer.
  • Tuesday: Scripture meditation.
  • Wednesday: Featured article or book on contemplative prayer or writing practices.
  • Thursday: Contemplative profile or history.
  • Friday: A list of prayer or writing links.
  • Saturday: Guest writers and spiritual directors (coming soon)

Each month you can also expect a weekly newsletter that will soon be adapted into a podcast as well.

Finally, a small disclaimer…

I have not set up this website because I am the most accomplished or knowledgable contemplative Christian. I do not view myself as an expert. I am merely someone who has immersed himself in Christianity since my youth, and the contemplative prayer practices I started learning in the early 2000’s have been the most important, formative, and longest-lasting aspects of my faith. The more I lean into contemplative prayer, the more essential it becomes for my faith and my calling as a writer.

I set up this website because I wanted to immerse myself in contemplative prayer while also sharing my journey with others. I hope that this new venture helps you find space to meet with God, guidance for the road ahead, and rest for your soul as you create and bless others. I’ll share some simple ways you can keep in touch and support us below.

Thank you for visiting!

Ed

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Scripture Meditation: The Earth Is Full of God’s Love

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Today’s Scripture Reading

“The earth, O LORD, is full of your love; instruct me in your statutes.”
Psalm 119:64

Meditation

When I think of the world these days, I can very easily focus on the anger, fear, and violence that seems to run unchecked sometimes. Today’s Psalm reminds us that God is not only present, but God’s love fills our world.

If I believe in God, do I believe in a loving, merciful God who wants nothing more than for me to pray? Or do I let my imagination create images of an angry, violent, and petty God who is waiting for me to finally mess up enough to justify banishing me from his presence forever?

As you approach God in prayer today, consider that God’s love is abundantly present throughout our world. What if experiencing God’s love is made possibly by overcoming the barriers to it?

Personal Reflection

What keeps me from experiencing God’s abundant love?