WEEKLY PRAYER: EVELYN UNDERHILL

This week’s prayer is from Evelyn Underhill, a twentieth-century English writer, theologian, and mystic. “Enter and irradiate every situation and every relationship,” she pleads. We pray:

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Give me, O Lord, I beseech you, courage to pray
for light and to endure the light here,
where I am on this world of yours,
which should reflect your beauty but which we
have spoiled and exploited.
Cast your radiance on the dark places,
those crimes and stupidities I like to ignore and gloss over.
Show up my pretensions, my poor little claims and
achievements, my childish assumptions of importance,
my mock heroism.
Take me out of the confused half-light in which I live.
Enter and irradiate every situation and every relationship.
Show me my opportunities, the raw material of love,
of sacrifice, or holiness, lying at my feet,
disguised under homely appearance
and only seen as it truly is, in your light.

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FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! Please enjoy this round-up of posts that Prasanta Verma and I have gathered for you. This week, there are some wonderful words about self-care, lament, grace, faith, and facing the blank page. Be blessed.

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Today was a Crying Day: A Lament via Deb Vaughn (because God hears us when we cry)

What Does Self-Care Look Like in a Time of Crisis? via April Yamasaki (finding rhythms of self-care and grace from God)

Can We Do All Things Through Christ When Life Feels Impossible? via Ed Cyzewski (feeling overwhelmed and sorrowful can be an opportunity to take a step in faith)

In This Fraught Racial Moment, We Need a Refresher on Human Depravity via Tish Harrison Warren (confronting the sin of racism and accepting God’s radical grace)

The Power of Blessing—with a Prodigal, a Neighbor, an Enemy, the World—plus a gift via Judy Douglass (can we bless one another, even in times of conflict and anger?)

The Cold Open: Facing the Blank Page via William Kenower (what do you do when you sit down to write and…you’ve got nothing?)

A New Book for the Contemplative Community: Recital of Love by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

This year, I’ll be featuring some new or recent books about once a month. These are books that I think will particularly speak to you, and I’m happy to highlight them as resources for our contemplative community.

Yesterday, the writer and Christian contemplative Keren Dibbens-Wyatt came out with a new book, Recital of Love: Sacred Receivings. Faced with a chronic illness, Keren turned to contemplation and prayer and found God speaking words into her heart. Her new book is a collection of these “seeings.”

Keren records her seeings in beautiful language that’s perhaps best described as prose poetry. These seeings are God’s words to us, as received by Keren, and they sing of God’s wonder, grace, creativity, and constant presence in the world. They really spoke to my heart, and I think they will delight yours as well.

In the excerpt below, we’re invited to marvel at the vastness of God, as if we were being given a tour of one tiny room of a universe too immense to ever fully see — but not too immense to fully love. Enjoy this passage from Keren’s book.

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Beyondness

There is much, so much more to be said than can ever be said. Words are inadequate for most of what needs to be poured out from my heart to the world. And so, I do not only speak, but sing, and the flowers and birds add colour and harmony. For I am speaking out an endless stream of universes and laughing worlds into existence. Chains of constellations form from the breath expelled from my nostrils! You truly have no concept or words for the wonder and vastness that I am, nor for the longings in my heart, or the love I harbour, even for the tiniest harvest mouse.

I am beyond all knowing. Do not fence me in, therefore, with your words and ideas, but stretch out with your heart-mind and sense instead, with your feelings, the vibrations of compassion and creation that echo through all of time and space, that resound in your own one tiny life.

By all means, chase my glory, watch my ways, gaze at my goodness, know my presence in the stillness of the waiting heron and the swish of a goldfish’s tail. But do not expect, no, never expect to see more than a glimmer of the whole, more than a flicker of light, more than the furthest edge of the universes of my being. You can only catch a trail of stardust, as you gape in open-mouthed awe at my Love and my Being.

You will return home, but for now you are crammed in the rock cleft with Moses as your guide, and you will only sense my passing, unable to comprehend it.

Yet, do not be dismayed! There is enough in this one moment to keep your minds and hearts busy for all eternity, if you truly love me. Think, ponder, write and paint, sculpt and garden, love and worship, sing and compose, set my wonders into stone and colour and rhyme, do these things with my blessing. But do them knowing that all you have seen is the smallest corner of the hem of my trailing robe, galaxies caught up in the stitching, or that what you capture in your words, or your gleaning of imagery is minuscule, and so small a part of who I am.

Because I exist wholly and holy throughout all creation, every quark knows my name. I may be found under the tiniest pebble, or beneath the lark’s tongue. But if you spy me there, do not imagine for one moment that I am wholly discovered. You could live a thousand years and not see. Gaze instead at my reflection, given within your own heart, and sing with it of my love—for here is where we begin our journey back to unity.

     Selah.

Recital of Love by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt
Copyright © 2020 by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt
Used by permission of Paraclete Press

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Keren Dibbens-Wyatt is a contemplative in the Christian tradition. She writes to encourage others, to know the Lord more intimately, and to share the poetic ponderings of her heart. She lives in southeast England with her husband.

WEEKLY PRAYER: ST. GREGORY THE GREAT

This week’s prayer is from Saint Gregory the Great, whose feast day was September 3. Saint Gregory was a sixth-century bishop, pope, and church reformer.

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O God, the Protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our Ruler and Guide we may so pass through things temporal that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake our Lord. Amen.

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FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to the first of this fall’s Friday Favorites!

Each week, Prasanta Verma and I bring you a collection of posts, articles, and podcasts. They include poetry, personal essays, spiritual formation, and articles on the craft of writing. We hope they’ll give you nourishment for these times.

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Rest Is Resistance to a Do-It-All Culture via Grace P. Cho (we rest because we have limits and because we can trust God with all that needs to get done)

Intended for Joy via Emily Polis Gibson (“if all this is made for joy, then maybe so am I…”)

Marlena Graves: The Dangers of Money, Power, and Influence via Julia Walsh (on the Messy Jesus Business podcast, Marlena Graves discusses the message of her recent book)

Mary Oliver: Listening to the World via On Being (Krista Tippett talks with Oliver about replenishment, words, poetry, and the natural world)

Some Trees, Too via Andy Eaton (a poem)

Imagination, Creativity and Spirituality (They Go Together Well) via Carl McColman (cultivating the sacred imagination)

Validate Your Idea to Produce Your Best Project via Ann Kroeker (valuable writing advice for the beginning of your project)

WEEKLY PRAYER: Thomas à Kempis

The Contemplative Writer is back after our summer hiatus! We hope you are keeping well and whole in what are truly challenging times. Our goal is to continue offering resources that help us pray, write, and live.

We begin with a prayer from Thomas à Kempis, author of one of the most popular devotional treatises of the late Middle Ages, the Imitation of Christ (ca. 1390-1400). This is a prayer for friends, those wonderful people who see us and love us anyway, the people for whom we’d do anything and who we’ll love until the end.

 

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Almighty, everlasting God, have mercy on your servants our friends. Keep them continually under your protection, and direct them according to your gracious favor in the way of everlasting salvation; that they may desire such things as please you, and with all their strength perform the same. And forasmuch as they trust in your mercy, vouchsafe, O Lord, graciously to assist them with your heavenly help, that they may ever diligently serve you, and by no temptations be separated from you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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WEEKLY PRAYER

Today’s prayer comes from the Book of Common Prayer, collect 24.

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Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory
and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the
earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service
of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in
truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of
him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus
Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Friday Favorites is back after a break of several weeks. We hope you are keeping well and sane. This week, Prasanta Verma and I have some beautiful posts, podcasts, and videos for you. They include thoughts on navigating the pandemic in our spiritual and writing lives, suffering and the church, and the ancient spiritual practice of remembering our death. We hope these words bless you this week. Be well!

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Ask A Spiritual Director via Kimberly Pelletier and Samuel Ogles (Pandemic Series Part 2: How do I deal with people who think differently than me about this pandemic?)

Reading Hope in Trying Times with Barbara Brown Taylor via Writing for Your Life (thoughts on the pandemic, online experiences, and books)

Memento Mori: Memento Vivere via Raymond (Randy) Blacketer (remembering our death so that we can remember to live)

The Tender Way via Marlena Graves (God doesn’t cause our suffering, but uses it to change us)

Can the Church View Disabled Bodies as Jesus’ Body? via Amy Kenny (it’s time for the church to start treating people with disabilities as full members of the body of Christ)

Writing the Pandemic: Your Morning Walk with Sophfronia, May 1, 2020 via Sophfronia Scott (taking small steps in our writing lives during this time)

 

 

 

WEEKLY PRAYER: ST. ANSELM

Today’s prayer comes from St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033/4 – 1109). Let’s pray with him for all who are afflicted and distressed.

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We bring before Thee, O Lord, the troubles and perils of people and nations, the sighing of prisoners and captives, the sorrows of the bereaved, the necessities of strangers, the helplessness of the weak, the despondency of the weary, the failing powers of the aged.

O Lord, draw near to each; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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WEEKLY PRAYER: CATHERINE OF SIENA

Wednesday, April 29, is the Feast Day of St. Catherine of Siena, a Dominican laywoman, mystic, mentor of popes, and church reformer. Her prayers and spiritual writings continue to inspire us today.

For our prayers this week, I’m featuring two recent videos in my series, “The Prayers of St. Catherine of Siena.” Each is a burst of encouragement and hope that we need during this time.

In the following prayer, St. Catherine asks God for help in responding to our neighbors with love and generosity–perfect for this time of pandemic:

 

 

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And in our second prayer, Catherine reflects on how God has given us his own nature, which is fire:

 


I hope these prayers bless you this week!