Reflections

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Celebrating the Friendship of Women

I adore my husband and know I am blessed to count him as my closest friend.  Even with that gift in my life, I hunger for the friendship and support of other women. My dear friend Michelle lives in Vancouver now and with me in Seattle, we have to be intentional about spending time together and nurturing our friendship. We met almost three years ago at a church young-adult Christmas party that we were both just about to leave. Somehow we got onto the subjects of Walter Brueggemann, Denise Levertov, and Mary Oliver within the first few minutes of our conversation

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Becoming Fire

A story from the desert fathers: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire? Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity, we shall harness for God energies

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The Art of Savoring

The art of savoring is at the heart of the sacred art of living.  Savor this lovely reflection by Rose Marie Berger and may you be inspired to savor these days of summer. . . (from the July issue of Sojourners, an amazing progressive Christian magazine focused on peace and justice): I’ve had the joy of visiting a small Christian community in California where—amidst the hustle and flow of daily life—everything stops 10 minutes short of sunset. Gathering in the small yard between houses, with celebratory drinks in hand, all faces turn west toward the coastal foothills to savor the setting sun. Depending on

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Art-Making as Spiritual Practice

So much of the work I do is making a safe space for folks to remember the delights of creative expression and to explore and play with paint, markers, collage, poetry, movement, words, and sound. I always introduce the practice of art-making in the context of prayer, hoping to convince others that God can really be found in the playful and experimental places of our lives. I often need to remind people that in the Judeo-Christian tradition we actually believe we were created in the image of a Creator God. This molding of humans as creative beings imparts a profound

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Be a Blessing

I tend to listen to music while I am driving.  When I am at home I cherish silence and stillness, so I find car trips especially good times to explore new music.  It was a treat to listen to Trish Bruxvoort Colligan’s CD Splash! Bathtime and Bedtime Music for Grown-Up Girls (don’t you just love the title?)  Reading Trish’s blog Story Midwife (definitely worth a visit) I know I have found a kindred spirit and her singing voice is so lovely.  As often happens while listening to a new CD, I find a song that captivates me and I start

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Seattle Sunset

I couldn’t resist sharing this photo I just took. Today we hit record temps of 95 degrees (and no one has air conditioning in the Northwest because normal summer temps are 75)! So despite my sweltering, when I took my pooch out I had to revel for a few moments in the beauty of this sunset. Truly an icon for me. If you are in Seattle or another heat-wave stricken place, what do you do to stay cool? I find my creative energy positively wilts in this weather (except, I guess, for photography!).  -Christine Valters Paintner

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Into the Forest

        Lost Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, I have made this place around you. If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here. No two trees are the same to Raven. No two branches are the same to Wren. If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, You are surely lost. Stand still. The

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Nature as Icon Space

Sunrise over Georgia Strait, Sunshine Coast, BC I am up in British Columbia for a couple of days on the Sunshine Coast with a dear friend of mine. As I sit on the deck looking out over Georgia Strait to evergreen covered islands I am aware that nature is a holy text for me, an icon, a window to the divine presence at work in the world. Much as we might spend time gazing upon an icon or our beloved, so too is my gaze drawn to this most holy and splendid of sights. I can spend hours meditating with ocean

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Spontaneity and Limitations

Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter – like the river banks – forcing the spontaneity into various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.   – Rollo May The creative life requires this gentle tension between freedom and structure, or spontaneity and limitations as May says.  This is where a Rule of Life can be helpful, providing a gentle trellis of structure for our lives.  When approached with freedom and playfulness, boundaries can really help spark our creativity.  I find in my teaching, I need to introduce participants gently and slowly

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Creating Personal Altars

  I have an altar space in my prayer corner in our living room. It is set on top of a beautiful old secretary desk that is from my father’s family and so in the last century and a half has traveled from Latvia to Vienna to New York to Sacramento to San Francisco to Berkeley to Seattle (those last four just in the last ten years).  There is a secret compartment inside and when I first lifted it open I discovered a shipping document that had the seal of the Third Reich on it, quite a history it has.  Inside

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