Week Eight: Celebration.

Since this past week was my ‘birthday week,’ I thought it would be a good time to put into practice the spiritual discipline of Celebration. When I think of the word ‘celebrate,’ my mind immediately wanders back to an old VHS about Disney World I used to watch as a kid; Mickey and his friends, as well as a bunch of kids dressed in colorful clothes, would all sing, “Celebrate good times, come on!” Believe it or not, I found the video:

The above video might make you smile, or it may even be a little obnoxious (for me, it’s a combination of both). But what might Celebration as a ‘spiritual discipline’ look like?
Adele Calhoun, in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, writes the following about the discipline:
Desire: to take joyful, passionate pleasure in God and the radically glorious nature of God’s people, Word, world and purposes
Definition: Celebration is a way of engaging in actions that orient the spirit toward worship, praise and thanksgiving. Delighting in all the attentions and never-changing presence of the Trinity fuels celebration
Practice Includes: Identifying and pursuing those things that bring the heart deep gladness and reveling in them before the Lord. This may include time spent with others, sharing meals, working, serving, worshiping, laughing, listening to music, dancing and so on.”
(pg. 28)
*  *  *  *  *
I caught snippets of celebration this week, feeling completely blown away at how loved I felt by my friends and family. By each of their kind actions, I felt God’s love for me extended through them. I sensed the reality of Zephaniah 3:17, that 
“He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, 
he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Here’s some moments where celebration made me feel loved by others and, in turn, made me feel the love of the Lord:
  • Enjoying some yummy dessert with dear gals on Sunday night, pondering some of the best parts of the year, as well as expectations for the future.
  • Waking up to a suite full of balloons, thanks to my lovely and kind suitemates who blew up all THIRTY-SEVEN of them with their lungs (and not a machine!).

  • Those same suitemates making me chocolate-covered strawberries and tea, as well as getting each of us fun clown wigs. It’s amazing how much joy came into our hearts simply by laughing about these fun wigs! When we tried talking about serious matters, it wouldn’t last long due to the hilarity on our heads.

  • Getting absolutely surprised by an outpouring of joy and of love at a party planned by my friend, Petek. Complete with pizza, cake, candy, and a monkey piñata, it was a real bash. Swinging at that monkey gave me so many laughs that I could barely keep swinging! 

  • Receiving 20 different envelopes from back home filled with silly surprises from my besties, Gianna and Amy.
  • Opening a birthday package from my family, filled with treats and love.
  • Cherishing every card and letter and FaceTime chat from family and friends.

*  *  *  *  *
Apart from my birthday, I delighted in a couple other moments during the week:
  • The joy I spotted on a two-year-old’s face when she played with the leaves of a plant outside a coffee shop. I don’t know what made her so joyful about touching a plant (especially since it was pretty much dead considering winter chilliness), but she was laughing up a storm! I couldn’t help but smile, admiring how she was celebrating the simple joys around her.
  • Spotting the sunrise reflection upon my bedroom wall. Even though I gazed at it for a few moments, snapped a photo, then fell back asleep – it was a moment of sweetness. It added the gift of celebration to my morning – the blessed awareness that the morning was not a drudgery but a gift to be celebrated.

*  *  *  *  *
So, can the simple act of celebrating life be a spiritual practice? Though it may not be the same as sitting alone in a room on a silent retreat or fasting from a certain food for Lent, I’d argue that the practice of Celebration is just as important. I firmly believe that as we humans celebrate the blessings God has given us – especially in the form of cherished friends and family – we participate in practicing the joy He has placed in our hearts, the joy that ought to lead us closer to His heart.

This past week as I celebrated the gift of life, I was repeatedly drawn back to thankfulness to the Lord for His faithfulness. I pray that as I continue living into this spiritual discipline, that all the joy may only and ever be glorifying to Him.

As Adele Calhoun concludes her chapter on Celebration:
“Celebrate the God who celebrates you.”

I pray that you, my friend, feel celebrated this week by God.
And maybe even put on a party hat.


Twenty-three has been a sweet year, filled more with what’s felt like moments than days and weeks and months. Here’s some of the moments I remember:

  • Starting my birthday last year with my dear friend Shannon, as well as my college-pals-and-still-pals Jeremy and Jami, on a Rhode Island adventure. I remember feeling so cold on the coast (it was a 20 degree day) that all we could do was take photos and then run into the nearest warm building. That day was filled with yummy tea, many laughs, and more laughs…and a Mike’s Pastry Lobster Tail (the only thing resembling seafood I’ll eat!). 
  • Beginning and processing through and finishing my first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Beverly Hospital. During those eleven summer weeks, I learned how to take care of myself while diving into an intensive ministry setting. I discovered a deep love for chaplaincy work – for holding frail hands, sitting next to tired bodies, praying earnest prayers. I experienced an interfaith ministry context for the first time and had the privilege of learning from the perspectives of my fellow colleagues. As a chaplain, I learned to work hard without looking for a shortcut, to wake up early and arrive to work early, and to take the time I need to create margin in my life for processing.
  • Spending a solid month at home with my family and dear friends, resting and drinking in the beauty of broken routines and sleep-in mornings. I also got to host my sweet friend Shannon at my home for a week, experiencing the sites of my home city with fresh eyes and with wonder anew. I loved introducing Chicago-style pizza to her, as well as the architecture that makes Chicago unique. She and I also fulfilled a bucket list item of singing karaoke at a restaurant!
  • Traveling to Michigan with my childhood & adulthood pals: Gianna, Amy, and Lonna. We chose to not camp this year due to a previous traumatizing experience with violent & unforgiving mosquitoes. It was a treat to stay overnight in an Air BnB, even if my air mattress chose to deflate beyond repair on our second night. I loved simply sitting with these friends on the beach; though we were sitting on towels, I remember my fingers and toes resting in the cold sand.
  • Having the opportunity to travel home in October to celebrate the life of my Uncle Tim. I can’t express how meaningful it was to me to be with my cousins and aunts and uncles as we honored the years we’ve spent with him and the ways we will carry on his memory.
  • Visiting with my parents in Massachusetts during their week-long visit here. Even though our accommodations were a wee bit frightful and my car was having engine issues, we enjoyed our simply being together. Though our travel & sightseeing plans fell through, we had the best of fun seeing three different movies at the local theater – all enjoying a different one most.
  • Completing my first puzzle (thanks, Gianna, for the Christmas gift!). I loved sitting across the table from my dad as we tried to put the Beauty and the Beast puzzle together, trying to group colors and pictures together. I got a real thrill out of seeing it filling in before my eyes. Especially since I’ve been a puzzle cynic for years, my faith in puzzles was renewed! Thanks, Mom, for getting it framed (and for the corner you completed).
  • Taking some relational risks. I’ve noticed that in this past year, I’ve been much more intentional about friendships – particularly in investing all of me, even when I know I’ll only be in seminary for a little while longer. I was reminded by a dear friend, just last week, that in God’s timing, even one moment can have the weight of eternal impact – so why limit Him to days and weeks and months? I’m going to press into my relationships deeper and deeper, knowing the moment-maker God has placed me here for this season.
  • Beginning a regular exercise routine for my all-around health. Going with friends has made working out an adventure; even the sauna has become a space for sacred conversations. As I continue to move deeper into adulthood, I’m choosing daily to invest in a healthy present for a healthy future.
  • Taking a class at Harvard Divinity School with Shannon this spring. This class – The Sacramental Imagination – has helped me to discover a kind of learning that has captivated me. I love the interplay between theology and literature and culture; I love growing in my admiration of the Eucharist and all it represents.
  • Becoming sort-of a movie buff. This past year, I’ve seen gobs of movies in theaters (thanks, $5 Tuesdays at AMC). I’ve loved entering into various stories for two hours, enjoying the art of directors and producers and actors. And I’ve loved enjoying these stories with dear friends and family. 
  • Making further strides in realizing deep in my heart how loved I am by God – how knowing how much He loves me allows me to see how much He loves others (thanks, Henri Nouwen).
  • Getting offered and accepting my first job to begin in September 2018 (I’ll fill in more details in the near future).

This past year has been heart-warming, joy-producing, and oh-so-sweet. I’m looking forward to another year of walking with Jesus day-by-day, moment-by-moment.

    Week Seven: Examen.

    This week, I very acutely realized that I was cranky. After a Nor’easter (a fierce New England storm) knocked out our power on campus – not once but twice – I had had enough.  The darkness of the power outage did not bother me so much as the lack of heat in my bedroom.  Even though I bundled up in my blankets like a hibernating bear in winter, I woke up freezing cold with a sore throat and a sour attitude. Though hot coffee seemed to warm my throat and my perspective, I still felt some residual annoyance at having to deal with the interruption of a power outage.

    I had no idea that my spiritual discipline of Examen would be so appropriate and challenging for this week when I did not feel like being particularly attuned to God’s presence and grace.

    So, what is Examen?

    According to our now much familiar friend Adele Calhoun, here’s the skinny:

    Desire: to reflect on where I was most and least present to God’s love in my day.

    Definition: The examen is a practice for discerning the voice and activity of God within the flow of the day. It is a vehicle that creates deeper awareness of God-given desires in one’s life.

    Practice Includes: a regular time of coming into the presence of God to ask two questions (possible ways of asking the questions are below)

    • For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful?
    • When did I give and receive the most love today? When did I give and receive the least love today?
    • What was the most life-giving part of my day? What was the most life-thwarting part of my day?
    • When today did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, others and myself? When today did I have the least sense of connection?”
    (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, pg. 58)
    *  *  *  *  *

    Though I had intended to go through these questions each night before bedtime, I more so integrated them throughout the day. I especially sought to look for where my heart was at, as well as my attitude, at given moments. In doing this, I realized that my crankiness at the power outage was more a reflection of my choosing not to see the ways God was revealing His presence to me in some sweet ways:

    During the power outage, my suitemates and I delighted at the shadow of a
    bouquet of baby’s breath flowers, caused by a phone flashlight. It was a moment of
    pause and of beauty in an otherwise chaotic night.

    I saw evidence of God’s presence on Wednesday, March 7, on my sister’s would-be birthday.
    I bought this bouquet of flowers from Trader Joe’s in honor of her.
    Though the day was a teary one for me, I was astonished when three hidden white lilies suddenly
    bloomed in all their brilliance. They reminded me that even in the long winters, spring is coming.

    Towards the end of my Examen practice, I used the ‘Pray as you go’ iPhone app (it’s wonderful) to go through one of their guided Examen Prayer practices. Through this practice, I became aware of how God had been present to me throughout the week (even when I was cranky) through His love and His graciousness. I felt His love among my fellow students this week as we crammed into a cold classroom to work on homework. I felt His love through a friend who paid for me to have a yummy Mexican food meal. I felt His love through another friend who gave me money to buy some cute & quirky thrift store finds. I felt His love when on the phone with my family, realizing how well they care for me. I felt His love when a Trader Joe’s employee gave me a free bouquet of flowers since it’s my birthday week.

    And more than anything, I felt His love this morning at church when I received The Eucharist and reflected once again on Jesus being ‘God with us.’

    *  *  *  *  *

    If you’re interested in practicing this spiritual discipline, here’s a collection of guided Examen prayers from Pray as you go:

    *  *  *  *  *
    I hope you find some pause in your week – some time when you can notice and perceive the movements of your heart and the movements of the Spirit.

    Week Six: Self-Care.

    During this season of Lent, a time when I’m especially drawn to thinking about the incarnated suffering of Christ, I’ve also thought of the way I view my own body. I’ve realized that for much of my Christian life, I’ve somewhat functioned as a gnostic – believing that while my spirit can be good (because of Christ’s redemption), my body ought to be tolerated at best. I’ve never really thought of my body as something to rejoice in. However, as I’ve contemplated how Jesus came to earth – how He literally became human and did His ministry as one of us – I’ve realized that God cares more about my body than I seemed to realize.

    Thus, I decided to delve into valuing the body this past week during my spiritual discipline practice of ‘self-care.’

    Here’s how Adele Calhoun describes this discipline:

    Desire: to value myself as my heavenly Father values me.

    Definition: Self-care honors God by nurturing and protecting the limits and desires of the body, mind, and spirit.

    Practice Includes:

    • living in a way that honors your body as a living temple for God’s presence
    • exercising and eating sensibly
    • observing appropriate boundaries
    • resting and keeping the sabbath
    • giving and receiving love
    • thanking God for the way he has designed you
    • encouraging rather than neglecting yourself
    • recognizing and practicing my spiritual gifts
    • choosing healthy rather than unhealthy friendships”
    (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, pg. 80)
    I love what she writes about the practice:

    “God inhabits our bodies, delighting in every inch of us. Every eccentricity and peculiarity is received. Every longing and self-destructive habit is known. God knows us through and through and still wants to make his home inside of us. The fact that the Holy Spirit wants to abide in us is one way we know how infinitely precious and beloved we are. We are God’s own prized possessions. Prized possessions are something you take care of” (pg. 81).

    *  *  *  *  *

    This week, I sought to give God glory with my body, even in small ways. However, I still struggled with this practice, especially because I can still very much feel that self-care is selfish. Thankfully, author Parker Palmer speaks to this concern when he writes,

    “Self-care in never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others” (pg. 81).

    So, here’s some of what I did:

    • I ate healthful foods for my meals and snacks (for the most part). Instead of filling up on my usual go-tos (like desserts and…more desserts), I was extra conscious that what I ate would fuel me instead of only satisfying my sugar tooth cravings.
    • I went to the gym to exercise four different times, realizing that getting my body moving is part of taking care of my body and my mind. Each time I exercised, I was struck by how much even a half-hour of sweating could make me more energetic and focused.
    • I was more mindful of when I needed alone time to recharge after a busy day. Even though I was mindful, I largely failed at having this kind of restorative time alone. 
    • I tidied up my room so I could have a cleaner and more livable space. (Side note: exercising more produces much more dirty laundry)
    • I looked into the mirror and considered the truth that I am made in God’s image – that my being made in God’s image is what gives me utter value and what invites me to see others as His dear children. 
    • I bought myself a stuffed bunny, simply because it made gave me joy during a stressful week.
    • I lay down outside on the grass during a 60 degree day, allowing my skin to soak up the sun and my hands to play with the winter-worn grass.
    • I drank lots and lots of water.
    • I bought myself some flowers (the hydrangeas below) to brighten up my room.

    I think learning self-care is a dynamic process, especially learning how to glorify God through it. Also, it’s probably different for each person since we are each beautifully and individually made. 

    I love this song by Audrey Assad called “Humble” because it reminds me that Jesus came to be one of us, a human who felt pain, but still gave His life to redeem us.
    *  *  *  *  *

    When you think about your own body, do you view it as God’s prized possession? Or instead as useless? Or maybe somewhere in between? Because we are made in God’s very image, He values our very physicality. Because we are made in His image, He invites us to delight in how He’s made us – not in a selfish way, but in a way that gives Him glory. So, what does that look like for you? 

    As you think about your own body, I pray that you know how very loved you are by God.

    Week Five: Welcoming Prayer.

    It’s Week Five of practicing a new spiritual discipline, something Adele Calhoun calls ‘Welcoming Prayer.’ And let me tell you, this has been a sweet and dear practice.

    Stained glass at a local Anglican church.
    To me, it’s a reminder of the precious moment Mary said “Welcome, Jesus, welcome.”

    So, overview:

    Desire: to welcome Jesus into every part of my life, body, circumstances and relationships

    Definition: Welcoming prayer is a way to detach from my need to be secure, liked and in control, and attach to the presence of Jesus instead.”

    (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, pg. 287).

    Additionally, she describes that a ‘welcoming prayer’ can be as simple as uttering, “Welcome, Jesus, welcome” (pg. 287).

    So that’s just what I decided to do – pray, “Welcome, Jesus, welcome” at various times throughout my day. It was a prayer I was aware of throughout the week, and whenever I felt nervous or lonely or confused or stressed, it bubbled forth from my heart: “Welcome, Jesus, welcome.”

    Though three simple words, they bent my heart towards deeper and fuller attention of Jesus’ presence in my life. Here’s some specific moments I prayed this prayer:

    • When I was nervous merging onto the highway: Welcome, Jesus, welcome
    • When I was about to hop on the treadmill to exercise: Welcome, Jesus, welcome
    • When I opened up my homework to read: Welcome, Jesus, welcome
    • When I was getting ready for bed: Welcome, Jesus, welcome
    *  *  *  *  *

    I was shocked (and not so shocked) to notice that as I kept my attention focused on practicing this prayer, my focus was repeatedly turned towards Jesus – how His presence could be so tangibly felt if only I chose to be aware of Him. Usually when I am nervous or lonely or confused or stressed, my first thought is to sink deeper into those feelings instead of asking Jesus to be present to me in the midst of them.
    By choosing to welcome Him into some of the most mundane moments, I started to taste the fruit Calhoun talks about:
    • “Increases awareness of triggers and the things that drive and control you
    • Ability to let go of the agenda and risk on God
    • Surrender of control
    • Growing awareness of the presence of Christ in the events of your life
    • Growing emotional health”
    (pg. 287)
    As much as I try to manipulate and clutch control onto many of my life circumstances, and as strangely comforting it is to nurture my fears instead of to surrender them, I know that Jesus invites me to taste the freedom He freely offers.

    I’m reminded of Matthew 11. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30, NRSV)

    *  *  *  *  *

    What are some ways you may invite Jesus into your life, even in the smallest and seemingly insignificant moments? Perhaps you could welcome Him before you write an email for work, before bedtime, during work, even while installing a light bulb? No moment is too simple to invite His presence into your life.

    Week Four: Silence (Again).

    Welp, as promised in last week’s post, I’ve sought to practice the spiritual discipline of silence this week…again.

    While I had a good dose of resolve heading into this week, practicing silence was much more difficult than I had anticipated. And honestly, more times than not, I ran from it again and again; this tendency in me was quite confusing. I had a long week of school, filled with class lectures and studying and driving and conversations. Shouldn’t I be craving silence in the midst of all the noise? I thought so.

    But on Thursday afternoon, I decided I would try one of Adele Calhoun’s suggested activities for practicing silence: setting a timer for just ten minutes and allowing the self to be present in the silence (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, pg. 123). I thought this would be easy enough, so after putting my phone on ‘do not disturb mode,’ I set my iPhone timer for exactly 10:00. Then I was silent. I was even a good girl and turned off my ambient-noise-providing room fan.

    First, I sat in my comfy reading chair. I moved my legs back and forth, thinking about what I should be thinking about. Then I picked up one of my teddy bears (yes, more than one reside with me), and I admired how soft and comfy he was to hold. Then I got up from my chair and started pacing. To be honest, I even checked my timer again to see how long I had to wait in the silence. Then I paced again until the timer sounded. Silence over. I was disappointed with my lack of being present. Couldn’t I be simply present?

    I’ve been living off a diet of noise for so long that craving silence just doesn’t happen very often for me. Apparently when I am drawn towards introversion, I prefer noisy solitude (seems like an oxymoron, huh?). I like my noise. I like to set up the false dichotomy that noise and activity mean significance, while silence means insignificance. When I’m alone in my room, instead of being present, I think about what other things I could be participating in. Perhaps I could be studying or having a thoughtful conversation with a friend or watching “When Calls the Heart” (new fave Netflix show thanks to my friend, Jami), or taking a nap or listening to an audiobook. Even when I’m doing something that isn’t productive already, silence seems even more unproductive than that. However, I sense that something’s wrong with my diet. Even though silence is not yet ‘mouth-watering’ to me, I want to want to want silence.

    I have a growing suspicion that silence is much more productive than I’d like to think, that distraction is just what the enemy of my soul would want me to live in (a sentiment I read this past week in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters). 

    I long to taste the fruit Calhoun writes about:

    • “being attentive to the voice of Jesus
    • having freedom from negative habits of speech (deception, gossip, impulsive chatter, small talk, impression management, the need to express your opinion or critique)
    • freedom from addictions to noise or sound (radio, TV, phone, iPod, etc.)
    • receiving quiet from the chaos and the noise in your life
    • having deeper intimacy with God
    • growing in self-awareness as the silence invites the subconscious to move into deeper levels of knowing
    • developing increased listening skills” 
    (Calhoun, pg. 121)
    *  *  *  *  *

    As I sit with these past two weeks of ‘practicing’ silence, I pray that my appetite increases for moments when I can simply rest in the silence. The lyrics to Will Reagan’s song “In the Quiet” have been circulating in my mind, reminding me that even when I’m afraid of silence being a void, God is there. 

    “In the quiet, I know You are there.”

    [Also, I know it’s a little ironic that I’m sharing a song with you when I’m writing about silence. 
    But may it touch you like it has touched me.]

    *  *  *  *  *
    Day-by-day, I pray I can make simple steps to live into silence, even if that means entering into the seeming cavern of ‘insignificance’ and ‘unproductiveness.’ I pray that I can trust that God will meet me in the silence, even when it frightens me. I pray, too, that you will be encouraged to turn the noise off once in awhile, even if your inner self is chaotic, knowing that Christ’s love will meet you in that chaos.

    Week Three: Silence.

    This week, I chose to practice the spiritual discipline of silence, though I did not do very well at it.  Let’s just say that I realized how *radically* tied I am to any kind of noise – from my Spotify playlists to the whirring sound of the fan in my room.  Goodness, I’m even writing this blog to background music!

    A photo I took of a lone dandelion this past autumn.
    Here’s how Adele Calhoun describes silence as a spiritual discipline:
    Desire: to free myself from the addiction to and distraction of noise so I can be totally present to the Lord; to open myself to God in the place beyond words
    Definition: Silence is a regenerative practice of attending and listening to God in quiet, without interruption and noise.  Silence provides freedom from speaking as well as listening to words or music. (Reading is also listening to words.)
    Practice Includes: 
    • Setting a period of time in which you don’t speak but isolate yourself from sounds (other than perhaps the sounds of nature)
    • Driving or commuting without the radio or CD player turned on
    • Leaving the TV off; spending time in silence with God alone
    • Exercising without attending to noise; listening to God
    • Having personal retreats of silence”
    (Calhoun, pg. 121)

    This week, even if I wasn’t consciously choosing to listen to noise, it seemed to follow me everywhere I went. It’s absolutely rare (and a little bit creepy) for a coffee shop to not have music.  And workouts seem to lose a lot of their luster when no music is playing in a gym.  And to be fair, I did my fair share of pursuing noise throughout the week.  While I was alert to pursuing the spiritual discipline of silence, I became acutely aware of how little silence I have in my daily routine.  In fact, I have a separate music playlist for many of my daily activities:  getting ready in the morning, doing my devotions (my ‘quiet time’ with the Lord), working on homework, exercising at the gym, driving in my car, and even falling asleep at bedtime.  Each playlist is well-curated to best fit each activity, and if I can’t access my music, I’ll often substitute with other background noise.

    Each time I tried to sit in silence, I couldn’t do it for very long.  For example, on Wednesday I was sitting in the prayer chapel doing some journaling.  After a while of listening to music, I decided to turn it off.  After a few seconds of silence, I’m pretty sure I said aloud, “NOPE,” then turned the music back on. 

    *  *  *  *  *
    Why am I in love with noise?  
    Even though I’d like to say that I don’t know the answer to this question, I know at the core of my being that I’m afraid of silence.  Solitude I can do just fine.  Stick me in a room alone with a good book, a relaxing album of classical music, a sweet-smelling candle, a comfortable reading chair, and a tasty cup of tea, and I’ll be content for hours.  Take away the book and the music and watch me panic.
    Why am I afraid of silence?

    At this point in my life, it’s scary to be face-to-face with a void of noise.  All the things I’ve used to distract my mind are gone, and then it’s an onslaught of fears and worries and concerns and anxieties.  When it’s silent, I no longer sense the benefits of solitude.  Instead, I start to feel lonely.
    What would it take to invite God into the silence?

    I want to know, too. Therefore, instead of moving on to another spiritual discipline next week, I’ve chosen to focus on silence again next week – consciously inviting God into the silence I most fear.
    *  *  *  *  *
    I like (in theory, not yet in practice) what Henri Nouwen has to say about loneliness as it’s on its way to solitude:

    “This difficult road [from silence] is the road of conversion, the conversion from loneliness into solitude.  Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude.  To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.  This requires not only courage but also a strong faith” (from Seeds of Hope, pg. 61-62).

    {Oh, how I want to lean into loneliness so that it becomes fruitful solitude, 
    a solitude that nestles me closer to Jesus}
    *  *  *  *  *
    So, in summary, this week was much more about awareness of my lack of silence than it was about making headway in practicing silence.  As I’ve realized how very little I allow silence in my life, I have a deepening desire to cultivate spaces of time – no matter how short they may be – to be silent. 
    Stay tuned for next week, probably an even more difficult week, as I ask the Lord to help me turn my awareness of silence into the actual practice of silence.
    I pray that in this week ahead, you also might glimpse the stillness that the Lord is drawing you into. That even though it may be difficult to see the attractiveness of silence, that it can be a channel for you to undistractedly know how loved you are by God.