Routine

ROUTINE can itself be a means of creation. Rob Hoerburger

May God strengthen you with power deep inside. The Apostle Paul

God of all comfort and joy, give me eyes to see how your Spirit is working in the routines of my daily life. Amen


My Grandmother spent half her life a farmer, the other half a townsperson with showstopping gardens. She was also a cook who put out large and delicious spreads for holidays and family picnics. People always wondered how she and her sisters could create such beautiful home places and feed such crowds.

Grandma B. survived the Big Thompson Flood of 1976. Her home in the canyon was only a few hundred feet from the river. I was 11 at the time and spent the rest of the summer living with her to keep her company and help with chores. In the aftermath of the flood we had no electricity, no running water, no road into town for months. My mom and uncle trucked our groceries and drinking water over high country ranch roads south of the canyon.

That summer I learned the secret of Grandma’s creativity and contentment—ROUTINE.

Every day we got up with the sun, hauled water, tended gardens, baked, did laundry, ate breakfast and lunch, prepped dinner, had tea and sweets, read, fired up the cookstove, cooked, ate, washed dishes, took a walk, lit kerosene lamps, got ready for bed and slept like logs.

Grandma B. was not one you would label a “creative.” She had no “career.” Her talents were gardening and home-keeping, and her secret weapon was routine. We live in a world that often pits creativity against routine. But the summer I lived with Grandma, I learned how our creativity depends on it.

When it was my turn to be a grown up, I established my own routines: Morning reading, coffee, exercise, laundry, packed-lunch, dinner prep, evening news… When there were little ones: waking, feeding, playing, napping, bathing and bedtime. At work: morning creative projects followed by meetings and afternoon admin.

Sometimes I wonder how my routines are hindering, rather than enhancing, creativity.

Now that I’m living in the land of quarantine like all of you, I’m renewing my appreciation for the creative power of routine. Rob Hoerburger writes: Routine can itself be a means of creation. Routines, like all acts of creation, [are] essentially acts of faith.

Spiritual Practice

What routines are a means of creation for you?

How have your routines changed or been strengthened during the pandemic? Which routines get boring? When do you notice a lack of joy or peace? Is there a routine that might give you comfort and stability?

Sleep tight, and don’t forget the sleep enhancing properties of a healthy bedtime routine!

L, Katie

Hidden Strength

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. Psalm 145

God of hidden strength and goodness, forgive our tendency to trust in worldly systems and be intimidated by appearances. Give us faith to keep taking steps. Amen


This week’s evening drop is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of walking. Why does walking make us feel so good? Tonight I want to celebrate the spiritual power of walking by faith.

Walking by sight is an endless temptation. The phrase “walk by sight” means to live by what we can see. And most of what we see is the world’s systems of power and security. In Jesus’s day Rome had the power. Early in the Old Testament days, Pharaoh had the power. Bible stories told in each of these eras illustrate the futility of trying to influence our circumstances by tapping into the visible and obvious systems of power.

In this Covid-19 era there are visible systems of power: the economy, business, supply chains, governors, the president, the CDC, congress and the World Health Org—to name a few. To walk by sight in our day is to put our faith in these systems—to hope and believe that these systems have control over our well-being.

Against such a tiresome practice of walking by sight, the Apostle Paul urges us to “walk by faith”—to trust a power we cannot see. This is the gospel (Good News) that there is a hidden Goodness at work in the universe. The proof of this loving presence is the resurrection of Jesus, which is also reflected in every aspect of nature and every aspect of your life.

To walk by faith is to cooperate with a Reality deeper and more powerful than the markets, the government or the health care system.

Spiritual Practice

If we choose to, we learn to walk by faith during a lifetime of practice and growth. When we walk by sight we focus on the visible successes of our outward lives, and we experience regular discouragement. True Faith does not plan her course by those signs. Rather, she walks with a daily confidence that the power of God is always at hand.

Psalm 145 is about the power of God, which is hidden in all things. If you could use a dose of encouragement for your walk of faith, take a minute and read Psalm 145 aloud. Perhaps visualize or write down the worldly systems you are still hoping will come through for you. And then visualize the more hopeful and realistic truths described in this Psalm. If you had access to the levers of power in the world’s governments or the transformational power of God in creation, which would you choose?

Rest well,
Katie  

We Walk

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5

We walk to keep our mental and physical worlds open and to stop the walls from closing in. Dr. Shane O’Mara

Creator God who makes us divinely human, lead me into new worlds of health, vitality and creativity. Amen


This week, the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of walking.

Why does walking make us feel good? For me, walking is habit. When I show up in a new city the SECOND thing I do is figure out where I can walk for exercise and what site seeing I can do on foot. (The first thing I do is figure out where I can get coffee.)

During quarantine, I appreciate the gift of walking more than ever.

I’ve been reading how walking elevates our mood. As we walk, we place our heart muscle under positive stress, and molecules are produced that assist with the growth of cells, regulation of metabolism and reducing inflammation.

Walking is also essential to our nature and sets us apart as humans. No other animal does it. Have you ever watched a child learn to walk? One day they make this unique transition from crawling on all fours to toddling around on two feet. When my daughters were toddlers we sang a song: Walking, walking, walking, walking / seems so easy now / but I remember when I was small / and I did not know how! (On the most genius album of baby songs ever, by Hap Palmer.)

And we do NOT walk by sight. Dr. Shane O’Mara observes that walking is how we begin to find our way around in the world and develop an internal GPS and sense of direction. People who are visually impaired from birth still navigate with purpose and direction, because the experience of walking around in three-dimensional space creates cognitive maps. Close your eyes, and point to the door. That is your cognitive map at work, and it was built by moving around—not by looking around.

Movement through the world changes the dynamics of the brain itself, boosting creativity. Have you ever been out walking and had a hopeful time of prayer or an inspired idea for solving a relationship problem? Me too! “A walking brain is a more active brain,” writes Dr. Mara.

Spiritual Practice

So, in this time of “stay at home” and “safer at home” limitations, let’s indulge the joy of walking. Take a walk and say, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!” I love what you do for my lungs; I love how you reduce my anxiety; I love how you help me stay connected with neighbors; I love all the birds and bees and flowers and trees that I walk with every day.

The rest of this week, I will get spiritual and talk about walking as a metaphor for the faith journey: living faithfully, running risks and the art of pilgrimage.

The biggest joy of the quarantine walks? Seeing Dave’s mom, who is 92, walking up my driveway for a little (socially distant) visit. Grandma lives two blocks away, and she walks every day. She is also an artist and a lover of international travel. My own mother lives four blocks away, and also walks by my house every morning. I learned the habit of daily walks from her.

Sleep well and start your day tomorrow with a long walk in the neighborhood,
Katie

Every-day Peacemaking

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5

Spirit of Christ, embodied by Jesus and the assembly of saints: Help me to host your peacemaking ways in my body too! Help my faith community become agents of peace near and far. Amen


Today Daily Drop of Hope is from Bethlehem! That’s right—we’re coming to you from that sacred space 10 kilometers south of Jerusalem.

Our teacher, Sami Awad, is director of the Holy Land Trust. The Holy Land Trust builds communities of resiliency through grassroots movements of nonviolent resistance. Sami is a friend of Pastor Ryan Howell. Ryan has been going live every day at 10am, and this week he is introducing us to the Howell’s ministry partners around the world.

Sami’s teaching and exhortation especially aligns with Crossroads mission to become a network of every-day peacemakers. He shared the three ways his community is sowing peace in Palestine: Non-violent resistance, healing trauma, and nurturing transformation.

He defines PEACE as something other than safety and security. Peace derives from the risky life-arts of breaking privilege, giving freely, listening well and compassionate service. This brand of peace requires significant disruption!

Ryan talked about the necessity of ending the “myth of sacred violence” that fuels harmful religion, including some modern strains of Christianity.

Sami also spoke of the blessing of being locked down for 50 days. He thanks God for the opportunity to change our way of life. God is giving us permission to turn the tables of economic injustice, pay attention to the brokenhearted and spin free of fearful motivations into deeper movements of love, compassion and care. He urged us to think beyond protecting our wealth during this pandemic and to lean in to the possibilities in God’s bigger vision for humankind.

Spiritual Practice

My summary does not do it justice. Watch/listen to Sami’s brief video message. At the end, he prays for us in Arabic!

The Peace of Christ be with you,
Katie

Decisions

Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3

Jesus, who taught us the Way of Wisdom, thank you for relieving us of the anguish of impossible decisions. Help us use your good judgment to help ourselves and our neighbors. Amen


Today Pastor Doru Cirdei who leads Filadelphia Church in Chisinau Moldova was Ryan Howell’s guest on the Morning Drop of Hope. Early in their conversation I was struck with a one-word theme: Decisions. They were talking about decisions that faith communities, parents, health organizations and governments are making in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The best decision-making guidance I know comes from the late, great Peter Drucker. His classic book The Effective Executive is like a devotional. Every year, I try to read it slowly and get better at the big themes of his teaching. One of those themes is decision-making.

According to Drucker, good decision-makers do not make a great many decisions. They concentrate on what is important. They try to make the few, critical decisions they make at the highest level of understanding. Their decisions are based on pre-determined values, principles and rules that they apply over and over. Then when a new problem emerges, the decision is largely processed by applying earlier high-level decisions already in practice.

As my church and my household have responded to the vexing problem of our time—Covid-19—we fairly easily make decisions about how we will operate. We value life, therefore we will limit our freedom of movement, or gathering in person, in favor of protecting all life. We have already decided that Jesus gives special preference to the poor, the incarcerated, foreigners among us and the sick; therefore, our decisions will be made in favor these vulnerable neighbors.

It’s surprising how many dilemmas disappear when we base our current decisions on good decisions already made. And as patterns in our decision-making emerge, these can be named as values, which enlighten any analysis we need to do in a novel situation.

Spiritual Practice

As we all transition from the Stay at Home directive of April to the Safer at Home directive of May, we have decisions to make. How will we use our additional freedom?

What decisions have you previously made in your life which will guide your operations in the month of May?

It matters not if our enterprise is a corporation, a small business, a church, a home or our own spiritual transformation—our choices matter. And by God’s grace very few of these choices are novel and vexing. Most of the time our decisions are as complicated as we choose to make them.

I am heartened to be a spiritual leader in the company of wise persons like Ryan, Doru, Governor Polis and all of you!

Have a blessed evening,
Katie

Non-Anxious Presence

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4

Spirit of the Living Christ, inhabit my heart and mind in such a way that I become a purveyor and protector of the peace—for my own good and the good of the whole human family. Amen


Today Pastor Ryan Howell hosted the Morning Drop Hope with his friend Tom MacDonald who pastors in the U.K.. Tom shared about the peace of Christ that Jesus brought into every setting and situation. Tom used the term non-anxious presence, which comes from the work of psychologist, Edwin Friedman—a world-class expert on how anxiety is passed from person to person within families, work places, faith communities and nationalistic movements.

We are living in a time when anxiety is being passed from person to person in our homes, political conversations and leadership groups. I hope for your sake that you are not caught up in a cancerous cell of anxiety-producing drama. If you, or people you depend on, are struggling with group anxiety, reach out to me. We have resources to help you.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear from several non-anxious leaders on Sunday news programs. My favorite was the Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz. Just listening to Chancellor Kurz lowered my pulse and gave me hope. Kurz carefully explained the compassionate and wise sequence and timing of Austria re-opening their society. He was empathetic to the U.S. and expressed his hope and blessing that we would be safe and prosperous as we navigate our own reopening.

I also listened to an epidemiologist encourage leaders in all industries to be hopeful about reopening, to watch carefully how their industry is proceeding and to follow carefully a step or two behind the early movers and shakers.

As a pastor, these three non-anxious experts give me wise-hope and lower my anxiety. Tom reminded me that I can be the presence of Christ and bring peace into any situation. The chancellor and the scientist also encouraged me that God will provide the wisdom we need to step this thing out when the time comes.

Spiritual Practice:

This is a good time to remember who we are and what it means to be children of God and disciples of Christ. The Spirit of Christ is more powerful than any threat– and able to calm any chaos. But this confidence can only happen in us when we are grounded in our true identity in Christ. Without access to your True Self, you cannot freely exercise faith when storms come. The opposite of being a non-anxious presence is being a fear monger . But we have the option to choose!

For me, the best way to overcome fear is to stop and really feel it and say to myself, “I’m scared, but it’s only a feeling. Fear has no power; but God’s Love does!” When I don’t stop and talk to myself about fear, it spirals. When I stop, breath and confess my fear, I have the opportunity to remember God’s presence and receive Peace. This is not a perfect science, but it’s a good start.

Perhaps the best spiritual practice for spreading peace is to regulate what we read, watch and listen to. Find wise mentors, even in the new media!

Have a blessed evening, and rest safely,
Katie

Voice

Blessed is the LORD! for he has heard the voice of my prayer. The LORD is my strength and my shield, my heart trust in him, and I have been helped; Therefore my heart dances for joy, and in my song will I praise him. The LORD is the strength of his people, a safe refuge for his anointed. Save your people and bless your inheritance, shepherd them and carry them forever. Psalm 28


There is a modern catch phrase meaning: ‘the person speaking has something to say, and the people listening affirm that the speaker is worthy of speaking.’ The catch phrase is: to “have a voice.” We might say, “she found her voice” or “I have a voice” or “they gave me a voice.”

Truth is: You have a voice. If you’ve ever felt silenced, you know it’s a terrible feeling. And to have a voice is a wonderful and healthy way of using your rightful power.

God is one who gives voice; and the most important place we use our voice is in prayer. Anyone can pray, anytime. No one can silence your prayers. And best of all, the LORD of creation listens to your voice and joins in your prayer– with compassion, vision and wisdom beyond words.

VESPERS Prayer

There are countless ways of using your voice in prayer. There are talking prayers and silent prayers, group prayers and solitary prayers. There is mental prayer and meditation, intercessory prayer and soaking prayer, breath prayers and desperate prayers. There are scripted prayers, prayer services and praying in the Spirit. Prayer breeds life, and there are so many new things to learn and try when it comes to your VOICE in prayer.

Vespers is a service of evening prayer, which comes out of the monastic community tradition. Vespers is a wonderful way to transition the day into a hopeful evening.

A Vespers prayer time is something you can do any evening, anywhere. If you like, you can light a candle, sit quietly and invite yourself into God’s presence, then read a Psalm and finally close with a prayer that is intended to be used for a full week. There are various prayer books and resources that provide us with scriptures, prayers and songs for Vespers.

Let’s Try It

Light a candle and sit quietly alone or with others. Rest in silence for a minute or two. Rest your heart and mind and silently confess your intention to enter into God’s presence.

Read this evening’s Psalm 28:6-9 aloud. Is there a word or phrase that speaks to you? Form what you’re thinking about into a prayer. Write it down, talk to God about it or share it with someone else. Use your freedom in Christ to speak your peace!

Say the Our Father aloud: Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

Conclude by saying The Prayer Appointed for the Week. (From The Book of Common Prayer in the Season of Lent): Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which give life to the world: Evermore give me this bread, that he may live in me, and I in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,
Katie