FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Thank you for joining us for Friday Favorites! Each week, Prasanta Verma and I round up our favorite links related to prayer, spirituality, and writing. We hope it will enrich your life and help you to find the best the web has to offer.

Read, enjoy, and be blessed.

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We Are Free to Learn Slow by Tasha Jun (a beautifully liberating message — we are free to move at the pace God has given us)

How to Stop Work From Taking Over Your Life by Sheridan Voysey (discover “sacred inefficiency” and why your weekend is about more than recharging for the week ahead)

A Prayer for Those Who Feel Awkward in Social Situations via Douglas Kaine McKelvey (Who me? I don’t need this prayer. *Runs and hides*)

A Rough and Ready Primer on Traditional Publishing via Andi Cumbo-Floyd (helpful info for writers wanting to go the traditional publishing route)

Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper via Nature (his advice is transferable to other subjects– and, well, it’s Cormac McCarthy)

“Emergency Poet” opens literary “pharmacy” to support mental wellbeing via Keele University (literary “first aid” as a way of bringing the therapeutic benefits of poetry to the local community. “Yes” to more poetry!)

 

WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer before writing or studying from St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274):

*****

Ineffable Creator,
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
have established three hierarchies of angels,
have arrayed them in marvelous order
above the fiery heavens
and have marshaled the regions
of the universe with such artful skill,

You are proclaimed
the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin
raised high above all things.

Pour forth a ray of Your brightness
into the darkened places of my mind;
disperse from my soul
the twofold darkness
into which I was born:
sin and ignorance.

(Source)

 

Friday Favorites for Prayer and Writing

Thank you for joining us for Friday Favorites! Each week, Prasanta Verma and I round up our favorite links related to prayer, spirituality, and writing. We hope it will enrich your life and help you to find the best the web has to offer.

Read, enjoy, and be blessed.

***

The Lord is My Everything: Psalm 23 in the Letter E via April Yamasaki (a paraphrase of a beloved psalm focused on the letter E… and other versions with different letters of the alphabet; what a neat exercise!)

How do we say goodbye? via The Red Hand Files (on regret, the past, and the privilege of saying goodbye)

Place and Pilgrimage via Lisa Colón DeLay (on this Spark My Muse podcast episode, Lisa and I talk about the resurgence of pilgrimage and a special event we’re planning for June 2020)

The Wonder Years Gathering (heads-up on two conferences in 2020 focusing on Christian spiritual formation for midlife women)

Self-Help for Fellow Refugees via Li-Young Lee (heart-stopping poetry)

The Hyphen Affair via Seth Maxon (why grammar nerds keep getting so furious with the Associated Press)

7 Common Mistakes in First-Time Memoir via Jessi Rita Hoffman (writing advice from a developmental book editor)

 

Friday Favorites for Prayer and Writing

Welcome to Friday Favorites! Each week, Prasanta Verma and I round up links that really struck us and that we’d like to share with you. We hope they will add to your writing and spiritual life. Without further ado…

Prasanta’s picks —

Postmarked via Shawn Smucker and Jen Pollock Michel (it began as a Twitter conversation but developed into a series of letters between two writers, navigating the terrain of creative work and family life)

How to Write Compelling Articles That Get Read and Shared via Nicole Bianchi (5 steps to crafting compelling articles)

“Birthday Poem for Roma Cady MacPherson Wilson 2 January 2019, aetatis suae XV” via Anthony Madrid (a stunning poem in Curator Magazine)

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Lisa’s picks —

Rhythms That Return Us to Ourselves via Marlena Graves (returning to “our senses,” or to the rhythms that once sustained and can still sustain us)

On Feeling Afraid and Finding the Edge via Kelly Chripczuk (on the subtle sway of fear)

Year of Pilgrimage – to be a pilgrim in Britain’s Green and Pleasant Land via Bess Twiston Davies (the year 2020 has been decreed the “Year of Cathedrals and Pilgrimages” by the Association of English Cathedrals. Read about the continuing popularity of the practice of pilgrimage!)

 

 

 

 

 

Long Night of Struggle: A Post via Prasanta Verma

Today’s post is by Prasanta Verma, a member of The Contemplative Writer team.

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“It is clear we must embrace struggle. Every living thing conforms to it. Everything in nature grows and struggles in its own way, establishing its own identity, insisting on it at all cost, against all resistance. We can be sure of very little, but the need to court struggle is a surety that will not leave us.” – Rainer Marie Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet

No one can see the internal dialogue while I sit at my desk and gaze out the window or while I sit at a coffee shop, quietly sipping a cup of coffee, while others bustle about, my laptop on the table with an empty screen facing me.

“I have this deadline—and the article isn’t coming together.”
“How should I rearrange these particular paragraphs?”
“I’m too distracted.”
“This is digging up too much emotion.”
“Can I even do this? Why did I say yes?”
“Why didn’t they accept my submission?”
“What do I even write about?”

Based on what I have read from other writers, I believe I am not the only one who has said the above; I am sure you could add your own statements to the list.

For many of us, we are sure to encounter a season of struggle in our writing at one time or another. Maybe we even find ourselves in longer seasons of dry spells, struggling to put something of value and beauty onto the page.

Perhaps the struggle is against a deadline. Perhaps a struggle ensues in seeking the exact word or phrase, or the overarching purpose and length of a particular piece. Perhaps the struggle arises from within—a struggle with ourselves—of willpower or motivation or something else.

If struggle is inevitable, how can the writer “embrace struggle” as Rilke describes it? Must we?

I came across something recently that gave me some hope in those times of struggling and digging.

In Luke 5, Jesus was speaking to a crowd of people near the Sea of Galilee. He spotted two boats on the shore, climbed into Simon’s boat, and continued speaking to the crowd from the boat. After he finished speaking to the crowd, Jesus told Simon to go into the lake and do some fishing.

Trouble was, Simon had been fishing all night long, and had come up empty, and was even cleaning his nets. He says, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” (Luke 5:5, NIV). He pretty much says, “Been there, done that, Jesus.”Furthermore, it is not just any place in the water that Jesus is asking Simon to fish: he tells him to fish in a deep part of the lake (Luke 5:4).

Jesus asks Simon to take the nets he’d just cleaned, and go out try again. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually tired after I’ve been out fishing all night! (I’m joking, of course; I have never been fishing all night.)

Presumably, experienced fishermen already know where the fish bite, when to fish, what parts of the lake are best, etc. I wonder if it felt somewhat insulting to be told where to fish and to go out again.

I can’t say I blame Simon. When Jesus, a carpenter and not a fisherman, tells them to go out again and drop their nets in the deep part of a lake, it must have sounded like a strange, fruitless, and unnecessary request.

Sometimes, writing (or service, or a job, or ministry, or some other activity requiring long-term diligent focus and attention) can feel like a long night of fishing with no catch. Maybe it can feel fruitless.

Yet, Simon and the others, already tired from the long night of fishing, do what Jesus asked: “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5).

When they pulled up their nets, the nets were overflowing with such an abundance of fish they had to summon the other boat to come and assist them.

I do not know how long the particular obedience has been for each one of us. I do not know how many times we have dipped down our nets and come up empty-handed.

Rilke says, “embrace struggle”, and “everything in nature grows and struggles…establishing its own identity.” If the need for struggle is a “surety”, instead of fighting these seasons, viewing them as blockages, perhaps we are meant to embrace them. Perhaps the struggle is part of the formula needed to forge our own identity, the part that takes us to a deeper, truer level while also resulting in an astonishingly abundant net. Perhaps the growth occurs as we struggle; that one cannot occur without the other.

This little passage reminds me that no matter how many long nights have yielded nothing, that words and hope-filled stories are swimming and breathing underneath. A treasure is stirring in the deep, waiting for its time to surface. The next net pulled up may contain tender morsels of light and love for a reader who needs them.

***

Prasanta Verma is a writer, poet, and artist. Born under an Asian sun, raised in the Appalachian foothills, Prasanta currently lives in the Midwest, is a mom of three, and also coaches high school debate. You can find her on Twitter @ pathoftreasure, Instagram prasanta_v_writer, and at her website: https://pathoftreasure.wordpress.com/.

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Thank you for joining us for Friday Favorites! Each week, Prasanta Verma and I round up our favorite links related to prayer, spirituality, and writing. We hope it will enrich your life and help you to find the best the web has to offer.

Read, enjoy, and be blessed.

***

Lisa’s picks–

Breaking My Podcast Addiction via Julia Roller (social media addiction? who…me?)

Why We Must Seek God’s Presence in the Ordinary via Catherine McNeil (an invitation to see God in the ordinary moments of our days)

8 Prayers from John Chrysostom that get right to God’s heart via Kathleen N. Hattrup (little reminders that we are always in the presence of the Father)

 

Prasanta’s picks–

Recognizing Eternal Moments in Narrative Nonfiction via Kent Meyers (a craft essay on tracking down eternal moments in our writing)

The 2019 Madeleine L’Engle Conference — Walking on Water (coming up on Saturday, November 16)

Poetry from Kristin George Bagdanov (inspiring poetry from a finalist in the Omnidawn Chapbook Contest)

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome back to Friday Favorites. Each week, Prasanta Verma and I share our favorite links on prayer, writing, and spirituality.

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 (@LisaKDeam) to nominate your favorite articles, blog posts, and books by Thursday at noon each week.

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Lisa’s picks —

Rewriting and Renaming the Silence via Cara Meredith (finding God–and oneself–in silence)

Pastoral prayer for the anniversay of 9/11 via Jill Duffield (a prayer to help us as we remember a difficult time)

Thought For the Day via Pádraig Ó Tuama  (a short and lovely audio about sleeplessness, prayer, and welcoming the dark)

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Prasanta’s picks —

Curiosity, Creativity, Productivity: Three Pillars to Building Your Best Writing Life via Ann Kroeker (part one of a series)

The Business of Being a Spiritual Writer via Writing for Your Life and Patricia Raybon (a helpful video webinar on writers, agents, priorities, and more)

Arise, Stone via Christopher Warner (a poem in Image Journal)

 

 

 

Friday Favorites for Prayer and Writing

Welcome to Friday Favorites, our weekly round-up of great reads and audios on the web. This fall, Prasanta Verma joins The Contemplative Writer, and she’ll be helping me bring you a selection of links to enrich your prayer and writing life.

Prasanta will be focusing on the writerly side of things, and she’ll also be making you aware of upcoming conferences of note. Prasanta is an accomplished poet and writer; find her bio here.

*****

Lisa’s links

Prayer as Mystery via Macrina Wiederkehr (calling on the Divine in times of trouble)

Changing Our Posture by Practicing Gratitude via Grace P. Cho (slowing down our minds and our hearts to remember, recount, and recognize…)

How Thomas Keating Gently Introduced Me to Centering Prayer via Ed Cyzewksi (discovering the gentleness of God in prayer)

 

*****

Prasanta’s links

Three Poems by St. Augustine via the Englewood Review of Books

Breathe Christian Writers Conference (encourages and equips writers to tell their stories; includes writers who have been featured here on Friday Favorites and is coming up on Oct. 18-19 in Grand Rapids, MI)

The Habit Podcast: Mark Meynell (this episode explores the writer’s responsibility in a culture of cynicism and contempt)

 

*****

Recommended Newsletters

 

We won’t always include this section, but this week, both Lisa and Prasanta have author newsletters to recommend. Consider subscribing to the following —

Charity Singleton Craig’s monthly newsletter (full of writerly thoughts and resources)

Hope Notes via Tina Osterhouse (a weekly letter with encouragement for your soul)

*****

How to Pray Through Interruptions

“The kingdom of self is heavily defended territory.” – Eugene Peterson

I usually think that whatever I’m doing is soooooo important. I have my schedule. I guard my time. I’ve made my plans. Woe to the person who decides to burst in on them!

I especially worry about being interrupted when I’m working — which means writing, thinking, dreaming. Writing is often how I pray. It’s when I sort through my ideas about God and praise him in the best way I know how.

Except when it’s not the best way.

In the mid fourteenth century, an Augustinian canon named Walter Hilton wrote a treatise addressed to a wealthy layman. The recipient of this treatise loved God and seemed to feel guilty that he was not a monk or a priest. Hilton’s response is wonderfully down to earth. Embrace the life you have, he says. And that means embrace interruptions.

A contemplative quality of life is fair and fruitful, and therefore it is appropriate to have it always in your desire. But you shall be in actual practice of the active life most of the time, for it is both necessary and expedient.

 

Therefore, if you are interrupted in your devotions by your children, employees, or even by any of your neighbors, whether for their need or simply because they have come to you sincerely and in good faith, do not be angry with them, or heavy handed, or worried — as if God would be angry with you that you have left him for some other thing — for this is inappropriate, and misunderstands God’s purposes.*

Hilton is believed to have lived as a hermit for a time, but he seems to know how things work for those leading the active life. He knows that the second you try to pray, your children need you. The moment you find some blessed peace and quiet, your neighbor comes around wanting you to take her to a doctor’s appointment. And on and on . . .

How often have I gotten angry about these kinds of interruptions? Or worse, how often have I told my children, “Just a minute — I’ll be right with you,” never taking my eyes from the computer screen?

In Hilton’s advice I find a gentle reproof. Do not be heavy handed, Hilton says. Don’t be so worried! And I find a spirituality of interruption. This spirituality assures me that I don’t leave my devotions when I take my children into my arms. This interruption is my devotion. I don’t leave my work when I assist someone. The neighbor who needs me is my work. This spirituality is, frankly, a challenge. It doesn’t come naturally.

I’ve seen other thoughtful people wrestling with this idea. A post by Ken Chitwood explores those moments when someone, perhaps someone unknown, is “thrust into our hectic schedule.” He calls these moments momentary vocations — they are God’s invitation to join him in caring for the world. They are our job for the next hour or the day. “Momentary vocation” is a lovely term for interruption, isn’t it? God puts these interruptions, er, vocations, right under our noses, if we’re not too busy building our kingdoms to notice them.

I’m coming to believe that God has written these interruptions into my schedule, as immovable and sacred as fixed-hour prayer. I imagine God adding them to my calendar when I’m not looking. “Won’t she be surprised!”

Yes, she usually is.

We all need times of sustained and focused prayer. But Hilton has helped me look at the problem of interruptions from a different angle. When people approach us in need, perhaps they are not interrupting our prayer or devotions — they are teaching us a different kind of prayer.

Be blessed in your momentary vocations today.

*****

*Toward a Perfect Love: The Spiritual Counsel of Walter Hilton, trans. David L. Jeffrey (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1985), p. 18.

This post was originally published on my website, lisadeam.com.

FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! (To tell you the truth, every day feels a little like Friday right now since summer is here, my girls are out of school, and I don’t have to go to work at my day job at the school–every day a Friday is not a bad thing.)

This week, I have a great round-up of posts and podcasts about prayer, place, silence, life, and writing. It’s summer–read/listen to them by the pool or beneath your favorite tree.

And be blessed.

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For the Love of God and Place via Marlena Graves (ask the Lord how you can seek welfare in this place)

Examen Recordings via The Gravity Center (guided evening examen from Gravity retreats–a great resource!)

Rich Lewis | What to do in the Silence — The Centering Prayer Episode via Matthew Brough (on the Spirituality for Ordinary People Podcast, Matthew Brough interviews Rich Lewis on the practice of centering prayer)

Praying with the Power of Paradox via Julia Walsh (perhaps mystery is not a threat, but an awesome place to pray)

How Will You Live Your One Life? via Michelle De Rusha (on living the ordinary, unseen moments of life)

10 Ways the World is Getting Better via Leslie Leyland Fields (the news is often grim…but are there ways the world is actually getting better?)

Jane Friedman on the Business of Being a Writer (Jane Friedman talks publishing and debunks myths on The Creative Nonfiction Podcast)

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Next week, Friday Favorites will take a break while I am at a Writers’ Retreat led by Andi Cumbo-Floyd, Shawn Smucker, and Kelly Chripczuk. I’ll be leading a workshop/craft talk entitled “Write For the Market or Write For Yourself?” Will any of you be at the retreat?

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