Sunday, February 28, 2010

Exciting news about The Art of Faith/Awakening Your Senses!

I'm writing to share some very exciting news and an invitation! First of all, I am delighted to share with you my wonderful news! I just received a contract with InterVarsity Press to publish The Art of Faith/Awakening Your Senses with co-author, Brent Bill. I am thrilled to work with such an exceptional company--one who publishes many of my favorite authors! The title of this book has not been settled but the contents will come from The Art of Faith workshop and the 30 Days experiments that Brent and I have been blogging about for the last several months. This book should be released sometime in 2011.

Second, mark your calendars for another 30 Days experiment beginning Monday, March 1st! This time, we will focus on the sense of hearing. As I've encouraged you before:

  • Put a note in your calendar each day for 30 days that reminds you to pay attention to what you hear.
  • Every day, isolate your sense of hearing and see how God speaks to you through the sounds of life bubbling up around you.
  • Keep a journal about what you discover.
  • Follow my blog and comment or write about your own adventures.
  • Join The Art of Faith on Facebook and share your experiences with other sensory pilgrims.

If you or someone you know would be interested in hosting The Art of Faith: Awakening Your Senses to the Wonder of God, please let me know. Brent and I would love to share this unique, engaging workshop that helps more of you experience more of God.

Warmly, Beth

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

30 Days of Touching

Day 29: Wind

A second snow storm hit today leaving it it's wake several more inches of frosty tundra. Now the winds are picking up. I can hear them howling outside my window. Winds may gust to 30 + mph. The house feels drafty from the temperature drop and blustery conditions. I don't mind snow and cold, except when it's windy.

Strong winds send a chill straight through me. Though invisible, a wind can feel as sharp as a slap across the face--and take your breath away, just the same. And speaking of touch, I can't touch the wind, but the wind touches me. With a mind of it's own, it can spin me around and send me in a direction I hadn't intended to go.

Jesus told Nicodemus that the Spirit moves like the wind--coming out of nowhere and returning from whence it came. In the wake of it's movement, dramatic things happen. People wake up to life, living breath breathed right into them. The Spirit turns them around--turns them toward Jesus. They take stock of their new orientation and gawk with wonder at how they ended up where they are.

So, the next time you are greeted with a stiff wind in your face, check in with it. It just might be the Spirit, ready to turn you around.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

30 Days of Touching

Day 28: Scrabble

Last night, David and I played a game of Scrabble. By the way, did I mention that I won? Yeh. It was a good night to stay home. We had about eight inches of fresh snow, so I made stew and beer bread and we decided to play a game. In principle, I love Scrabble because I love words. So, it sounded good. But about mid-way through I began to tire of it. It does drag on.

I have funny associations with Scrabble. I picture my dad neatly straightening the rows of tiles, his hands steady as an ox. I remember the time I spelled the word “sex” and got 78 points. The next day I proudly announced to one of my kid's and her friend, while playing another game of Scrabble with them, that I had “sex” yesterday—on the Scrabble board!*#....

As I think about playing this game, I realize it's a very tactile experience. I reached into the bag for the tiles, groped to find them and pull them out. I placed them on the trivet and rearranged them. I set them on the board and lined them up. Scrabble is a game of touching.

Playing Scrabble also mimics life. We reach into the bag of life and pull things out without knowing what we have at first. We learn to work with the “tiles” we’ve been given. Sometimes we can’t find a way to play. Sometimes the small plays add up most. Often, learning patience is the key—holding onto tiles until we have the best move. (Last night it was “quell” for 44 points!) Not taking the game too seriously.

Who would have thought Scrabble to be such a pointed metaphor of life! I am glad I played. And by the way, did I mention that I won?

Friday, February 5, 2010

30 Days of Touching

I thought I would share with you a wonderful prayer from a Celtic Psalter that expresses my desire for you and me as we awaken our senses to the wonder of God. The line in this prayer that relates particularly to "touching" is on my mind this morning. It reads, "That in the body of another and the intermingling of friendship, I may touch your beauty." I woke up early this morning, aware of David next to me, the one with whom I snuggled a good portion of the night. As we fell asleep last night, I was aware of his body--it's warmth, softness, aliveness felt in the rhthm of his breathing. Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, sleeping with my beloved is one of the sweetest pleasures of life.
Enjoy reading this lovely prayer and then pray it for yourself today!
Prayer for Awakening the Senses

That in the elements of earth, sea and sky
I may see your beauty,
That in wild winds, birdsong and silence
I may hear your beauty,
That in the body of another and the
intermingling of relationship
I may touch your beauty,
That in the moisture of the earth
and its flowering and fruiting
I may smell your beauty,
That in the flowing waters of springs
and streams
I may taste your beauty,
These things I look for this day, O God,
These things I look for.

J. Phillip Newell, Sounds of the Eternal, a Celtic Psalter

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

30 Days of Touching

Day 26: A Kindle or a Hard Copy?

The other day I was in a meeting when someone asked the question, “If you had your choice between a Kindle or a hard copy of a book, which would you choose.” Of the dozen or so people around the table, only one said the Kindle. Which would you choose?

Well, I don’t own a Kindle, so I don’t know what it is like to hold one in my hands. But I do know what it’s like to hold a book in my hands—to touch the spine, the cover, the pages as I turn them. I am a book person and getting my hands on a book is part of the experience of reading it.

For me, I am a book user. I don’t merely read a book, I dog-ear the pages where I stop and start. I underline, highlight and write notes in the margins. I work the pages of a book and make it my own. That’s why I love to hold a book.

Every day, I spend some time—from 15 minutes to several hours—reading books. I can’t imagine ever going electronic when it comes to what I read. I love to feel the touch of a book in my hand.

In many ways, reading a book is a spiritual experience and discipline, whether it’s my Bible or a novel. Sometimes I even call my books my friends. The authors are some of the people who have influenced my life the most.

The next time you read a book, take time to feel it between your fingers, the cover of it in your hands. Enjoy it as an experience of “touching” the thoughts of God communicated through the words of man.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

30 Days of Touching

Day 25: Massage

Do you like to have a massage? I happen to think that one of the finer pleasures of life is to have someone rub my body, knead my muscles and turn me into butter. Usually that somebody is David and when he gives me a good back rub—a really good one—I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven!

What is it about the sensation of having your body rubbed that is so wonderful? Maybe it’s the fact that when our muscles are tight, massage loosens them. Actually, I think mine melt. The pleasure of a massage is only half the benefit. The other half is how relaxed it makes you feel.

Questions for spiritual direction: What helps you loosen up and let go of the tightness and control inside you? What massages your heart for God and gets the blood flowing?

Monday, February 1, 2010

30 Days of Touching

Day 24: Juggling

Have you ever tried to juggle? I have—without success. I just don’t have the coordination to keep multiple balls in the air. I would imagine if I did, I would learn that juggling requires a very special touch—a light touch, as you catch one ball and throw it up before you catch another.

Though I don’t juggle balls, I do feel like I often juggle many other things. Today I felt that way. It was my first day as the part-time Spiritual Formation Director at White River Christian Church in Noblesville. In addition, I am also a consultant with The Indianapolis Center for Congregations and juggle the balls of writing and speaking.

Questions to ponder: How can I keep my touch light? How can I stay focused on the ball in my hand? How can I let go when I need to? Those are the questions on my mind tonight. Do you find yourself doing a lot of juggling? Maybe those are questions for you, too.