Pilgrimage

The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

God who leads us safely through the varied terrain of life. Help us travel with wonder and purpose. Amen


This week’s evening drop series has been dedicated to the biology and spirituality of movement. Why does walking make us feel so good? What does it mean to “walk by faith?” Where do runners get their strength? This Friday evening, I want to celebrate the power of pilgrimage.

I spent my 50th birthday on the tiny Island of Iona, off the western coast of Scotland. The trip was a pilgrimage with a close group of scholars and spiritual directors. That morning I took a solo walk to the north coast on the Irish Sea. It was raining, and the wind was blowing hard. I remember talking to God and saying, “The first 50 years have been been quite a climb– growing up, raising children, learning a vocation– I’m ready now to walk downhill, with the wind on my back and sunshine on my shoulders.

Well, my life still feels like ‘climbing mountains in rain gear’, and I suspect I will feel that way for as long as I have air in my lungs.

Life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, and we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Pilgrimage Psalms (Psalms 120-134) were sung by traveling families as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts.

It is my opinion that travel changes a person and strengthens a family. In all my travels I can feel my pilgrim’s heart. What does this journey mean? Who might I meet? What can I experience in this new place that will open the eyes of my heart? Perhaps I just love traveling-with-a-purpose so much that I make it one of the highest priorities of my life.

Don’t misunderstand. We’re not a fancy family with lots of funds. Neither Dave nor I had parents who took us places other than National Forest campgrounds and southern Minnesota! (Things we love and visit to this day.) Most of our travels have been with a pop-up trailer and four kids. We were pilgrims to the Grand Tetons, the Olympic Rainforest, the Canadian Rockies, the Outer Banks, Yosemite and Big Sur…

I think God saw how happy we were on these trips, and God helped us reach for more. Somehow we found a way to visit friends in England and family in Bavaria. In seminary I got to know South America. When Sarah was studying in Spain, the two of us made pilgrimage to Rome one Holy Week. And then I was hell bent on Iona. And last week I got hell bent on Jerusalem.

Spiritual Practice

And that brings me to the whole point. Let’s plan a pilgrimage NOW! I don’t know who you are and what is possible for you. But let’s all pick a place to go for our next trip, put it on the calendar and plan it out.

Safe, close spots include: Steamboat Lake, Chambers Lake, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Chasm Lake, Pawnee National Grassland, the top of Pike’s Peak… Can you travel further away? I love Moab, Santa Fe and the Anasazi Ruins. The moment it’s possible, I’ll be on a plane to NYC to pilgrim-around with Ryan and Sarah.

Life is a pilgrimage, and literal pilgrimage has a purpose in the spiritual life. What kind of travel has changed you? What have been your happiest moments on the road?

Sweet dreams,
Katie

We Run

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12

God who goes first and God who empowers, forgive our tendency to shrink back. Give us courage to risk uncertainty and run the race marked out for us. Amen


This week’s evening drop series is dedicated to the biology and spirituality of movement. Why does walking make us feel so good? What does it mean to “walk by faith?” And tonight, I want to celebrate the strength of runners.

There is a certain bravery needed for running, which doesn’t apply to walking. Running will bring you to places of depletion, pain and self-doubt. Sometimes we enter these states during a single run; other times they come to us over the course of a season. If you’re a runner you know what it’s like to wake up with shin splints or be furloughed by a stress fracture. These setbacks occur in the spiritual journey as well as the running life.

I’ve already confessed that I prefer to walk. Walking is enjoyable for me. I also enjoy trusting God and opting out of the rat race and competition of modern life. My fantasy is to walk the contemplative journey companioned by God and other enlightened people. But the life of faith is rarely that way, because there are relational heartbreaks, vocational train wrecks and financial ruins to deal with. You can’t opt out of running with the bulls, or running from the bears—even if you’re a spiritual advisor, a yogi master or a well-set retiree.

Life is dangerous, and sometimes we must run. Life is also exhilarating, and sometimes God invites you to pick up the pace and run headlong into the face of uncertainty. This is faith.

Spiritual Practice

In the Daring Way™ we talk about knowing our arena—being clear about the setting where we are called to show up, be seen and live bravely with our lives. During the Covid-19 crisis people are showing up in the arenas of parenting, neighboring and laboring. We work from home or we go to work in healthcare, grocery stores and meat packing plants. People are running hard into the arena of businesses and leadership—meeting payroll, forgiving rents-due, making tough decisions, keeping supply lines open, reorganizing for mission. My daughter Anne will give birth to my first grandchild during a plague. Many women are giving birth in an era of social distancing, with limited physical support. Many people have entered the arena of death, separated from their loved ones.

I’m sorry this Spring is not a walk in the park. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, but we’re not there the breathe them in. Whatever race you are running, Christ-in-you is REAL strength. A good spiritual practice is to name your “arena” or your “race.” Take a Post-It note and write, “My arena is ________.” Or, “I am running the race of ___________.” Put that Post-It where you will see it several times a day.

There are no guarantees about the race, and we will always be uncertain of the outcome. Faith means showing up and running anyway. You may not know where the race will lead you and what will happen along the way, but you are on the right track.

Every morning I jog out of my driveway and run at least two blocks before walking downhill to the river. I’d like to become a real runner, but currently I’m a walker who occasionally jogs. I’m waiting for running to become enjoyable, but I have my doubts about that ever happening.

Love you,
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  

Victory

Death has been swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15

God of new life, heal us from our fear of death, that we may no longer participate in the deathly swirl of greed and violence. Give us liberty to do your good work in the world. Amen. (Walter Brueggemann)


Did you know Easter is just getting started? We are only now finishing the first of seven weeks! Just as there are 12 traditional days of Christmas for me to unwind in the midwinter quiet and light, so too I have seven weeks of Easter sunshine.

In this Covid-19 crisis, I’m thinking more about the serious side of Easter than the straight-up sunny side. Perhaps in Aprils-past, I’ve not fully appreciated Easter’s power over death, nor thought too much about my role in the ongoing mystery of overcoming death in every-day life. I’m sure I still don’t get it, but I am a little more aware today.

In 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 Paul makes a powerful Easter statement followed by an imperative call to action: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Walter Brueggemann comments: Paul’s claim does not announce that we will not die. It announces, rather, that we do not need to live our lives in response to the power and sting of death that wants to negate our life, because death has been disarmed of its power to hurt us. This is defining news for us because we live in a society that is largely propelled by the fear of death. The outcome of that fear is anxiety, greed, and violence, all grounded in an elemental fear of scarcity; death specializes in scarcity and parsimony. (I looked up “parsimony”; it means tight-fistedness.)

Here is the JOY for those whose hearts are renovated in Christ’s Love: Though we are fighting a threatening disease, and though there is fear-driven anxiety, greed and violence in our society, those forces are obsolete and irrelevant to your life. Why? Because such a negative spirit has lost all its authority over your actual/real life in Christ.

Because of this Good News, Paul turns the corner with “therefore”: Be steady and constant without anxiety; Above all, excel in your performance of God’s work.

Spiritual Practice

I realize this Easter lesson adds responsibility to our lives. It’s not the typical way of thinking about Easter freedom. But where else will we go with our thoughts? This is the actual Message of Life. You carry in your very body, and within your household, and in your relationships, Christ’s Presence, which cannot be negated by anything going on in the world around you.

This Easter Friday reflect on your importance in the ongoing Easter story. How can you be hope and life to some part of the human family this weekend?

Come Monday, we get to keep learning Easter.

Blessings,
Katie

Mindfulness

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is… Set your minds on things above… For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3

Easter Thursday Prayer: Christ who shelters and nurtures my True Life, renovate my thoughts and heal my heart. Help me experience the JOY of being in this ONE moment.  


(This week the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the courage-building skills of rising strong. It’s my way of staying in the Easter Spirit for the whole week!)

Yesterday, I forgot to write the Evening Drop of Hope. This happened because I was practicing mindfulness. Having started the week with a mindful Monday, I was planning to practice being in the NOW all week long! So, moving from afternoon tasks into the evening hours, I made the mental commitment to pay attention to my cooking and my housemates. I wasn’t going to let media, or the worries of the workday, take over my head. In the course of paying attention to my inner life, I dropped a task that matters.

This happens to me a lot. There seems to be a tradeoff between present moment awareness and getting my stuff done! If you have figured out how to have it both ways, please do share!

In any case, this little drop of hope is dedicated to the art of mindfulness, which you now know I am NOT qualified to teach.

What is mindfulness?

The definition of mindfulness I carry around with me comes from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune in to what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

Colossians 3:1-3 is my theme verse for mindfulness. (See above.)

Spiritual Practice

In order to practice mindfulness, I try to do a couple of elementary things that we teach in the Daring Way™.

First, I write myself a permission slip. For instance: “Permission to make dinner while only making dinner.” Or, “Permission to have fun with my housemates without squeezing in one last workday task.” If I’m feeling some stress, I might write this permission slip on a Post-It Note and physically place it in my space. Elementary, my dear!

The other elementary thing I do is pay attention to my breathing. Having decided to re-focus on the NOW, and having written a permission slip, I pay attention to what I’m feeling in my body. If I’m not relaxed and able to enjoy myself, I know that something is UP. The best way I know to pay attention to deeper truths in my body is to focus on my breathing. I’m currently favoring a breathing practiced called Ujjayi Pranayama used in various types of therapeutic Yoga. Here’s a short video, if you want to try it out.

I feel a little self-conscious recommending practices that might cause you to be less productive in the short-term. I’m also pretty hopeful that in the long run, we’ll be more creative and whole if we find mindfulness.

Love you!
Katie

Hopefulness

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37

Easter Tuesday Prayer: God of all futures, give us the tenacity to hope, that we may not give in to fear, despair, or cynicism. Amen.


(This week the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the courage-building skills of rising strong. It’s my way of staying in the Easter Spirit for the whole week!)

Today, the debate over public health versus economic freedom is raging in the news. The president claims he has absolute authority to decide when we can safely open schools and public spaces. The state governors say, “Not so fast.” Well, no matter who gets to decide, you and I won’t have much of a say.

When your future is at the mercy of government decision makers, where do you find hope?

Since 2014, the church where I lead has had a motto: Hope is Here. The motto has at least three meanings: 1.) Our church family embodies a deep sense of hopefulness; 2.) The Spirit of Christ brings Hope, and Christ is in everything; 3.) Because the Spirit of Christ is in us, Hope is with us when we gather, and hope goes with us when we’re scattered into the community.

What is Hope?

Brené Brown writes that “Hope is a function of struggle.” So, it makes sense that our church rose into this character of hopefulness through some painful struggles. It also makes sense that Crossroads is influencing individuals and families with Hope during the painful struggle of Covid-19.

Next to Love and Belonging, we want those we love to have a deep sense of hopefulness.

This evening, I want to offer us a way to foster hopefulness in our personal lives—NOW.

Before learning about C.R. Snyder’s research on hope, I thought hope was a feeling of possibility; and as a theologian I had all kinds of Bible material on the topic. But according to Snyder, hope isn’t an emotion; it’s a way of thinking about something. Emotional literacy plays a supporting role, but hope is really a style of directing the mind, which involves goals, pathways and agency.

According to Snyder, hope happens when:

  1. We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go).
  2. We are able to figure out how to move toward those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again).
  3. We believe in ourselves (I can do this!).

HOPE as a Spiritual Practice:

I realize every person’s situation is different today. While one medical worker wonders when she will hold her baby again, a fellow parent on the same block wonders when he will walk his child to the school bus stop, or receive a paycheck, again. The intensity of longing and wondering puts the squeeze on the hopefulness of both parents.

No matter what you hope for, do yourself a favor and meditate your way through Snyder’s pathway and your situation. 1.) Envision meeting your goal and talk to God about the worthiness of what you hope for. 2.) Admit, “God I don’t have the power to control the outcome; but I am brave enough to commit and persist through the twists and turns of my situation (Read Psalm 37). 3.) Finally, remind yourself of a time in the past when you faced uncertainty and persisted. Say, “I’ve done it before; I can do this again.”

Is this a formula for hopefulness? Not really. It’s a spiritual practice that trains the mind and transforms the self. I offer it to us, because I’m passionate about us learning HOW to hope in life-changing ways.

Rest well and take JOY,
Katie

Rise Up

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3

Easter Monday Prayer: Risen Christ, you include me in your mystery of passion, death, waiting, and new life. Because I trust YOU, I trust my own deaths too. Allow me this Easter to go further with you and to trust the Power of Resurrection. Amen


Before you read: Watch and listen!

It is Easter Monday: Holy Week has happened; and Spring has sprung. We are perhaps halfway through this BIG Pause, and we’re now fully aware we are making history. We’ve never experienced a global pandemic with a national shutdown before. When it’s over, most of us will look back on this as a live-changing event.

What are you learning so far? What good will come from what we’re going through? To put it another way: When this is over, what are you willing to let back into your life? We have a chance to think about that.

There is a lot of speculation going on about the meaning and purpose of our pain—on the individual and collective level.

This week, I’ll devote the evening musings to the practical process of rising strong in midst of suffering. Learning and growing through hardship isn’t guaranteed; but it’s powerfully possible. Going from strength to strength over the course of our lives mostly depends on the quality of consciousness we bring to the evolving stories of our lives.

And since we’re all in weird times this Easter Week, why not go on an intentional treasure hunt for the next great thing to be uncovered in our hearts? Each evening this week, I’ll bring a different rising strong topic and a new exercise for rising.

Spiritual Practice

This evening our practice is to be mindful of our Easter Monday status of being in-Christ. You are literally filled up to all the fullness of God. I know: You don’t always feel that way, and neither do I.

Listen again to the theme song for this Easter week, performed by our worship musicians at Crossroads. It’s lit up with photos of families who are rising strong.

Read aloud the verses from Ephesians 3 and the starter prayer at the top of this post.

Rest Well knowing you are in good hands,
Katie