May We Never Forget

Some of this post, including the poem I have posted before as we remember the lives lost candlesand those who survived the horrific events of September 11, 2001 when the United States was deliberately attacked by terrorists, has been previously shared. I share these thoughts (with some updating) as they continue to ring true. Today people across the country and beyond are remembering and giving honor to the lives that were lost through the terrible tragedy of the terrorist attacks that caused the Twin Towers to fall. We remember the rescue workers how gave their lives so that others might live. We remember the families that continue to grieve the death of their loved ones. We remember our own experiences of that fateful day the emotions that these memories stir within us. We remember…

13 years later, for some the pain is just as raw as the day the towers fell, the Pentagon burned, and one final plane crashed to the ground unable to reach its destination of destruction. 13 years later we continue to struggle with acts of violence and the fear of terrorism. Our nations leaders and leaders across the globe are debating how to respond when horrific acts of violence and terrorism occur. Our leaders are seeking to understand what the moral obligation might need to be in response to conflicts in Syria, between Israel and Palestine, Russia and Yugoslavia, ISIS in Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other parts of the world that are experiencing unrest and people are being slaughtered . I am glad that I am not one of the leaders being asked to make these kinds of decisions, as there are no clear answers to the multitude of questions.  All I can do is pray and encourage others to join me in prayer..

My prayers are for peace, for the end of violence and bloodshed. My prayers are for God’s wisdom and the assurance of God’s love. As I continue to reflect today, I am drawn back to a poem that I wrote in 2010. I have shared it before, but I believe it is important to share it again. May we never forget, but may we also find hope and ways to move forward through our grief that we might find ways of being love and light to one another…

The Towers Fell

Remembering September 11, 2001

By Michael Landon ©2010
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
We lost our sense of security
We lost our sense of safety
We lost so much
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
People, young and old, created in the image of God, died that day
People, black, white, brown, colors of all our world’s races, created in the image of God, died that day
People, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist and all forms of belief and disbelief – those seeking to know, follow, hide or run from or ignore the image of God, died that day
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
Our world became much smaller
Our world became much scarier
Our world became much more confusing
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
Neighbors reached out to neighbor
Strangers reached out to strangers
Nations reached out to our Nation
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
Before they fell, God was present
While they fell, God was present
God is present still
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
What have we learned?
What have we changed?
What are we becoming?
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
People died
God wept
God continues to weep
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust

 

I continue to pray and hold you in the healing light of God’s love…

Michael

From Out of the Silence…

100_0762It has been a while since I last posted on this blog. It has been a long winter, spring and summer… Just before Christmas, I had a major fall due to the fact that my legs refused to hold me up. Since then, I have not been able to stand or walk, and have become wheelchair bound. There has been a great deal of grief and adjustments as my family and I figure out how to live in a new way. It is amazing how many things must be done differently when you don’t have the use of your legs. However, we are adapting… we’ve taken off doors so the wheelchair could fit, made major changes to the bathroom, and have had to rethink how things are stored in the kitchen so that I can reach them when needed – especially when home alone.

With every adjustment and change brought a new wave of grief. The toughest has been the not knowing if this will be permanent or not. This new twist in my journey has invited me to spend a great deal of time in reflection, prayer and discernment. However, I recently became aware that once I lost the use of my legs, I had stopped writing; I had stopped all creative means of expression. I recognized that this was one of my “poor” coping patterns in grief… becoming silent, withdrawing into myself and shutting the world out – it was just too painful to face or feel.

As with most sources of grief, it comes when we least expect it, and it comes without asking first if it is okay to bring this loss into your life. I find that these times can be a crossroad of opportunities, as we have many choice of how to respond to our grief. Once I recognized (with help from family and friends) that I was in a cocooning mode, I knew I needed to make some changes. The first was allowing creativity back into my life. On one sleepless night, I laid on my bed tossing and turning – hoping I would fall asleep. When sleep wouldn’t come, the first thought that came to me was, “I have not used my water colors for over a year, it’s time to paint again.” Once the door to creative expression was opened, I found that I was beginning to write again, to gather ideas of things to write about. Then came the tough part – actually doing it and living it.

Sometime this summer while I was praying, God placed the word “authenticity” on my heart. I was struck by the power of that word, and was reminded how I wrote in my book, Grieving Hearts in Worship, about the importance of being authentic – bringing our whole being to God in worship and prayer. Being authentic is learning to embrace the fullness of who we are – including those areas that are broken, or wounded, or in need of healing or releasing. I realized that when I lost my the use of my legs, I stopped being authentic, I stopped embracing myself. This led me to ponder anew on the fullness of who I am, who God created me to be. In response, I wrote the following poem:

AUTHENTICITY

© Michael Landon 2014

Authenticity

Truth held

Listening deep within

Truth lived

Trust

Authenticity

God within

Sacred path traveled

Holy creation

Live

Authenticity

Divine truth

Creative wholeness within

Peaceful love

Strength

Authenticity

Bold courage

Dreams secrets revealed

Fears removed

Hope

Authenticity

Deep truths

Open, accepting, embracing

Life lived

Freedom

I am continuing to sift through the pieces of my life, slowing releasing the barriers and obstacles that have kept me bound in fear, and embracing each piece. Grief – regardless of the source – is a lifelong journey of discovery, or embracing and releasing, of learning to live life as true and authentically as we can. There is no time-table for grief, for we are the one’s who determine how fast or slow we must go. The most important thing I have been reminded of on this journey, is that we do not travel this path alone… God is with us and within us, and places people and nature in our lives at just the right time to help us see more clearly, to hear more openly, and to love more deeply; and in the midst of it all there is a deep abiding peace.

I invite you to join me on the path of authenticity… knowing that I continue to hold you in the healing light of God’s love…

Michael

Grief and the Holidays – part 3

candlesMy last two posts about grief and the holidays have focused on some of the feelings and emotions of grief during the holidays.  Today I want to offer some practical ideas/actions that one can take to help cope during the holidays; to help re-frame our experience and see our grief from a different perspective.  I offer these ideas as an invitation to continue healing at a deeper level.

  • Place an empty chair at the table as a visual reminder of your loved one. The relationship has changed, but they are still with us in our hearts.  The empty chair can serve as a reminder of God’s promise that “love never ends.”  The love that our loved one held for us and the love that we hold for them is still very real and present.  The empty chair is a visual reminder of the change in our relationship, but that there is also hope in eternal, everlasting love.

  • Light a candle in memory of your loved one and place it in a prominent place as a reminder that they are still with us in our hearts, and that their light still shines brightly and can still guide us today.

  • When you gather with family and friends for a meal or gift exchange or other time of celebrating, have everyone gathered share a memory or something they are particularly thankful for as they remember their loved one.

  • You can write a letter to your loved one.  Tell them what you miss.  Tell them how they used to make the holidays special.  This can also become a prayer letter to God…

  • Make a donation to a meaningful charity or organization in memory of your loved one. This helps the legacy of our loved one continue to spread and make a difference in others lives.

Each of these suggestions are about remembering and continuing to give thanks for your loved one’s life and love.  Remembering and telling stories is a very important part of the grief journey and can help move us through the painful aspects.  Memories do not and can not replace our loved one, but they can help honor our loved one’s life and continue to give their life meaning, as well as help give you strength and hope.

As always, I continue to hold you in the healing light of God’s love,

Michael

Grief and the Holidays – Part 2

BlueChristmasTreeContinuing from Grief and the Holidays – Part 1’s post that talked about allowing yourself to be “surprised by joy,” I also remember a tradition that some congregations have started offering their communities – A special service known as, “A Blue Christmas.” This is a worship service that helps acknowledge the pain and sorrow that is woven into the holiday season. It is a service that helps those who grieve, those for whom the holidays are difficult, come before God in community to express our broken hearts, our sense of overwhelming loss, as well as hear words of hope and encouragement and comfort – to know that we are not alone in our sorrow.

So today’s suggestions for helping to cope with the holidays in the midst of grief include:

  • Allowing yourself to feel the sadness that is there.

Our society often encourages us to hide our sense of sadness and sorrow, to act as if those feelings are not present.  For one who is grieving the pain is always present – granted it will be felt at varying intensities, but it is there and can not be ignored.  When we try to squelch or suppress painful feelings and memories, we also end up putting up a barrier that prevents us from fully experiencing other feelings, such a joy, peace, love and hope.  When we do not allow ourselves to feel we offer ourselves and those around us a numbness that too easily looses touch with reality and the fullness of God’s love and healing.

One reason given to not acknowledging or feeling our sadness and pain is that it might cause us to cry – and sometimes in seemingly awkward situations, such as church or the grocery store; and many of us fear showing our tears in public places.  This leads to my second invitation for today:

  • Allow yourself and those with you to cry.

Tears are built in cleansing agents, a way of releasing and ridding toxins from our body.  There have even been scientific studies done on the chemical make up of tears.  Tears that are shed as a result of grief or other traumatic event have a higher level of toxins than do tears from something like cutting an onion.  So when we do not allow ourselves or others to cry, we are allowing unhealthy toxins to build up in our body – which can lead to illness.

This is not to say that crying is the only way to show grief, or said in another way – if you do not cry that you are not grieving.  The point here is to not feel guilty or embarrassed when you are with someone and they start to cry, or you start to cry – what is needed is compassion and presence, not condemnation.  Who knows, you might even find yourself moved to tears, as Jesus was when he first saw Martha’s tears after her brother Lazarus died.

Tears can be cleansing and exhausting, so be gentle with yourself and those around you.  You might even discover that you are crying and laughing at the same time.  The grief journey is filled with emotions – emotions that God created within us to FEEL and express.  Services such as The Blue Christmas, remind us that our sadness is not the only feeling that is present – but we will never know this if we don’t allow ourselves to feel and embrace the plethora of emotions.

Believe me, I know none of this is easy – this is one of the reasons Grieving Hearts is here – so that you will know that you are not alone on this journey and there is hope.

As always, I am holding you in the healing light of God’s love…

Michael

Grief and the Holidays – Part 1

HolidaysWe usually think of the holidays as a time to gather with family and friends in celebration.  However, when we are grieving, we often times do not feel like celebrating; in fact, some of us would prefer to hide under the covers until the holiday season is over with – or simply skip the holidays all together.  When we experience a significant loss, our lives have been changed in a dramatic way.  Holidays and other special occasions serve as a reminder of just how much our lives have changed. Thus, holidays become painful and even overwhelming.

Holidays can also be a time to confront our pain as we reexamine our relationships and traditions.  We can choose to see the holidays as an invitation to find healing on our journey of grief.  Over the next several days, I will be posting some different suggestions and thoughts on how to cope with grief during the holidays and other special occasions.

  • Allow yourself to be surprised by joy

It is important to recognize that our grief is not all there is once our loved one has died, or a major life transition has occurred.  Over the years I have spoken with many bereaved, and many express the fear that they will never feel joy again – or if they do, there is then feelings of guilt as if by feeling joy they are somehow not being respectful to their loved one or honest about the changes that have occurred.

Joy is a reminder of new life, and there are times that we have to look really hard in order to see it or feel it.  When I am officiating a funeral, I always try to find some happy and joyful memories that the family has of their loved one, and share this in the service to encourage laughter.  This is to help them know that throughout the grief journey there will be a wide spectrum of emotions.

It is okay to let joy into your grief, to let the sun shine and chase away the shadows – even if it be for a moment, it is okay to laugh and smile and embrace the glimpses of life around you. Try to remember that love never ends, so when we take the time to remember past joyful memories with our loved one we are honoring their memory, their life, and letting love continue to bloom – even when we are filled with despair.

Defiant praise

The day is grey and heavy with thick fog,

Fog that clings to all it touches,

blocking out the brightness of the sun.

Yet even as the fog clings to winter’s nakedness,

The trees lift their arms

Almost in defiance of the swirling grey,

Reaching out in a gesture of defiant praise,

Knowing where the sun is,

Refusing to give into the fog’s mantle of sorrow

The trees in their defiant praise point the way to truth –

There is Light!

There is Life!

There is Hope!

There is Joy!

Defiant praise in the midst of barren nakedness

That we all might stand

Lifting our arms in defiant praise

With and for God

In our own nakedness and winter vulnerability

Knowing there is light and life

Turning the shroud and somber, heavy, clinging fog into

A gentle embrace of God’s love and presence

As always, I am holding you in the healing light of God’s love…

Michael

Remembering September 11, 2001

9-11 MemorialToday people across the country and beyond are remembering and giving honor to the lives that were lost through the terrible tragedy of the terrorist attacks that caused the Twin Towers to fall. We remember the rescue workers how gave their lives so that others might live. We remember the families that continue to grieve the death of their loved ones. We remember our own experiences of that fateful day the emotions that these memories stir within us. We remember…

12 years later, for some the pain is just as raw as the day the towers fell, the Pentagon burned, and one final plane crashed to the ground unable to reach its destination of destruction. 12 years later we continue to struggle with acts of violence and the fear of terrorism. Our nations leaders and leaders across the globe are debating how to respond when horrific acts of violence and terrorism occur. Our leaders are seeking to understand what the moral obligation might need to be in response to chemical weapons being used in Syria. I am glad that I am not one of the leaders being asked to make these kinds of decisions, as there are no clear answers to the multitude of questions.  All I can do is pray.

My prayers are for peace, for the end of violence and bloodshed. My prayers are for God’s wisdom and the assurance of God’s love. As I continue to reflect today, I am drawn back to a poem that I wrote in 2010. I have shared it before, but I believe it is important to share it again.

The Towers Fell

Remembering September 11, 2001

By Michael Landon ©2010
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
We lost our sense of security
We lost our sense of safety
We lost so much
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
People, young and old, created in the image of God, died that day
People, black, white, brown, colors of all our world’s races, created in the image of God, died that day
People, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist and all forms of belief and disbelief – those seeking to know, follow, hide or run from or ignore the image of God, died that day
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
Our world became much smaller
Our world became much scarier
Our world became much more confusing
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
Neighbors reached out to neighbor
Strangers reached out to strangers
Nations reached out to our Nation
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
Before they fell, God was present
While they fell, God was present
God is present still
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
What have we learned?
What have we changed?
What are we becoming?
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust
The Towers Fell
People died
God wept
God continues to weep
The Towers Fell
When will our hatred
When will our anger
When will our distrust

 

I continue to pray and hold you in the healing light of God’s love…

Michael

So Who’s Right? Grief in the Midst of Politics…

100_0737I don’t usually write about political issues on this blog, but in light of many things I have read this week regarding various decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court this week I am keenly aware of the deep connection there is to grief. There have been discussions regarding voting rights and the potential impact on minority groups nationwide. There have been discussions regarding marriage equality and how this affects both gay and straight. As evidenced by the votes taken by the Supreme Court there is great division – not just between the justices and politicians, but amongst the American people. I have read, seen and heard mudslinging from one camp towards another; I have read, seen and heard attempts at reconciliation; I have read, seen and heard genuine confusion and questioning regarding our nation’s future and the ever elusive path that we seem to be on; I have read, seen and heard declarations of winners and losers; I have read, seen and heard many different spiritual, religious and political stances declared and the name of god invoked by a plethora of differing groups (small cap of god intentional here).

As I read and engage in conversations around these very difficult issues of our day, I am reminded of the genuine pain and anguish that has been experienced by ALL parties and position holders – and in the midst of that very real pain and anguish is grief. There is grief as a result of bullying and discrimination and inequality; there is grief that ideas and beliefs that some have held dear are perceived to be threatened, misunderstood, not appreciated or valued; there is grief when someone is perceived to be a loser and another a winner; there is grief when we are unable to see the essence of God in all people, in all of creation; there is grief when people treat one another without respect and dignity, and the fundamentals of LOVE; there is grief when we can not realize that we are ALL vital members of society – even when we disagree with one another. So yes, there is grief in the midst of pain and anguish, and in the midst of politics. There is grief when we are faced with change; and there is certainly grief when we allow our fears – justified or not – to stand in the way of living and moving forward.

Change – whether it is perceived as transformation, reformation, resurrection, desecration or abomination has an element of grief; and this grief must be acknowledged and recognized if there is to be any chance of healing and wholeness for our world. So as we ponder the various decisions that have been made this week, I ask the question – “Who is right?” Though I have very strong beliefs and convictions that have led me to those beliefs; though I stand in unity with those seeking marriage equality and protection of voting rights, I  have come to the conclusion that none of us are right. For to declare one right and another wrong, to declare one a winner and one a loser is to perpetuate a dualistic mindset that has been dividing nations, faith groups, families, and communities for generations; and for me this is an element of grief that has been neglected and over looked for far too long.

So today I invite you to hold and embrace one another, to recognize the pain and anguish that others are feeling, to recognize the joy and hope that others are feeling, and to look deeply into the eyes of another and see the essence of God – which is LOVE. I pray that love will prevail in the midst of grief.

Holding you all in the healing light of God’s love

Michael

Looking Deeper

100_0718Let’s face it, death is never easy to deal with; but it is even harder when it is sudden and when it is a teenager.  We got the word today that one of my oldest daughter’s classmates died suddenly yesterday while on vacation with his family – celebrating his graduation from high school.  Even though this is not a young man who I ever had a conversation with, I am filled with sadness – sadness for his family and friends, sadness for my daughters who interacted with him in band, sadness for his band family. However, I am aware that the sadness I feel isn’t just “for” others, it is simply a deep sadness that a young life has come to a sudden end.

When the person who dies is someone we know, and in my daughter’s case someone her own age, it can be very unsettling. In the midst of our grief, we brush up against our own mortality, the awareness that even someone young can die. We are invited to look deeper within ourselves and recognize our own vulnerability and the reality the death is a part of life, and is not only reserved for those who are elderly and very sick. We do not know all the particulars surrounding this young man’s death, but even if we did, it would not take away the sadness and confusion, or the grief.

In the midst of the sadness in my heart, I am also incredibly amazed and proud of my daughter. She knew that this young man was not traveling a healthy path, and yet she is able to look beyond the poor choices he was making and look deeper. She was and is able to see the good that is within him and the amazing musical talent that he possessed. When I think about it, this is what is truly important in life – looking for and seeing the goodness that is in one another.

It is my belief that the goodness we see within the depths of another is the essence of God’s love and presence. In the midst of our grief we must remember that God’s presence has been and continues to be with the one who has died, but is also with us. This is one of the things I have learned from Scripture, that we are to look deeper, look beyond the trappings, mistakes and negative projections; and see the goodness of God deep within one another.

Seeing this goodness may not make grief easier, and it certainly does not take away the pain of this sudden loss, but it can give us strength and courage to walk the path of grief and to walk along side those who are grieving and deeply hurting. My heart remains sad with the news of this death. My heart continues to hurt for my daughter and the family and friends of this young man. Yet, I can touch the power of transformation by seeing the goodness my daughter sees and can proclaim that even here, God is.

May we all take the time to look deeper and see the goodness of God in one another…

Holding you all in the healing light of God’s love,

Michael

Listening with the Ear of Your Heart

St BenedictThis is the fourth week of the online Lenten Retreat, “Praying with Illness” I am leading for those with chronic illness and their caregivers – through Always We Begin Again (AWBA) www.myawba.org This week in addition to praying with Psalm 23 through the prayer form of Lectio Divina, the participants have been invited to begin using the prayer form The Examen.  In a nutshell, The Examen is a deep listening and noticing of the consolations and desolation’s experienced in ones day, week, year and life.  This is a listening and noticing through the eyes and ears of love.  What follows is a reflection that I shared with the participants this week about listening with the ear of your heart.

One of my favorite images is of St. Benedict, cupping his ear as a reminder to listen with the ear of your heart. Listening with the ear of our heart also reminds me of one of the resurrections stores told in the ?Gospel of Luke, on the Road to Emmaus. Two disciples were returning to Emmaus after the crucifixion and were met by a “stranger” who in actuality was the risen Christ. Jesus questions them about why they are so downcast, and they were amazed that he could not know of the terrible things that had taken place in Jerusalem.  Jesus responds by saying, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26 NRSV) He then interpreted the scriptures to them.  After the two disciples invited the “stranger” in for a meal, as it was getting late; Jesus made himself known in the breaking of the bread.  They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 NRSV)

Luke’s description of the physical sensation that the disciples experienced is important.  Their hearts were burning within them – they were listening with the ear of their heart.  I have always considered this “burning within them” as a deeper awareness, an inner knowing that was being released.  It is not a burning that comes with pain of fire, but a burning with desire, hope and longing; a burning that comes from deep within, revealing the essence of God’s love deeply rooted in each one of us.

Listening with the ear of our heat is a listening to the stirrings within that are of God.  Listening with the ear of our heart is seeing our whole being through the eyes of love; where we can hear God say to us from the beginning of creation, when God looked upon the man and woman – upon you and me – “And it is VERY good.” Genesis 1:31 NRSV emphasis added) Listening with the ear of our heart is tapping into an inner depth that claims the truth of being created in the image of God; in the image of love.  Listening with the ear of our heart is remembering that our bodies are sacred temples that contain the very essence of God deep within.  Jesus came to help humanity listen with the ear of our hearts, to help us reclaim that deep essence of God within us that too often gets covered up.  Jesus came that our hearts might burn once again, that we might live in freedom and hope.

Living with chronic illness can sometimes make it very difficult to see our bodies as sacred, much less as containing the very essence of God.  There are times that we cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1 NRSV) When Jesus cried out these words from the cross, he was met with silence, but not absence and through the silence came the resurrection.  I think there are many times we are met with silence, but not absence.  Within that silence is the invitation to listen deeper, to listen with the ears of our heart. And less we forget when Jesus was met with resurrection, the scars were still there – but he was whole.

As continue through Lent, praying with illness – we are invited to listen with the ear of our heat.  We are invited to listen deeply when there is silence and claim the very essence o God’s image, of God’s love within us. We are invited to see and know that we are whole, despite the scars and wounds and limitations that come with chronic illness. Praying with illness is an invitation to not define our identity by that illness or diagnosis.  This is not denial of the very real struggles and pain that we lie with, but is bringing that pain and struggle into the silence, into the resurrection, into new life – and we can rest by the still waters and claim that, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.” (Psalm 23:6 NRSV) This is a promise for the living, for the here and now – in the midst of our challenges and pain.

Let us listen with the ear of our heart as we reflect the image of God’s love…

As always, I am holding you in the healing light of God’s love

Michael

heart

Praying with Illness Online Retreat

Celtic_Cross_Wallpaper_by_dreadpira - resizedI will be facilitating a special online Lenten retreat, February 10th – March 31st.  This retreat is being offered by a wonderful ministry, Always We Begin Again (AWBA) that services those who live with chronic disease and their caregivers.  To register, go to Praying With Illness Registration or you can send an email to registration@myawba.org January 28 is the deadline and space is limited (but we still have room)

The upcoming online retreat will be a time to learn, relearn, or expand upon each participants understanding and practice of Lectio Divina and The Examen.  I will be drawing from both Mary C. Earl’s and the Linn’s books (mentioned in my previous blog) as we pray our way through Lent.  Each week I will share a little nugget from these authors as well as from my own life experiences.  Each week will have a Scripture verse or passage to connect us with the Lenten Journey.  I might also share some poems or pieces of art work, or other sacred texts.  However, the main text I will be inviting each of us to pay closest attention will be the sacred text of our bodies.  As this is a group experience, everyone will be invited to share from their reflections, so we can learn from one another’s experiences.  I first learned the prayer of Lectio Divina as a small group experience on a week-long retreat.  It is amazing how the Spirit moves within such groups.

I am excited about this opportunity to walk with others during Lent, and to be with each participant in prayer.  A phrase that you will often see me using when I close my thoughts is: “I will be holding you in the healing light of God’s love.”  Healing comes in may ways, but the source is God’s love, and the Gospel of John describes Jesus as being “the light of the world.”  So know that I will holding every participant in prayer and imaging God’s healing light surrounding you.  A friend recently shared the following quote with me, and Ii thought it to be very appropriate to share as you consider being a part of this Lenten Journey.

“So don’t b frightened, dear friend, if a sadness confronts you larger than any you have ever known, casting its shadow over all you do.  You must think that something is happening within you, and remember that life has not forgotten you; it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.  Why would you want to exclude from your life any uneasiness, any pain, any depression, since you don’t know what work they are accomplishing within you?”

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

I also encourage you to share this with those whom you know that are living with chronic disease and their care givers.

Holding you in the healing light of God’s love…

Michael