Just Launched: Introducing Benedictine Spirituality

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Today, we launched Introducing Benedictine Spirituality with Laurel Dahill. St. Benedict of Nursia was born in the fifth century and had such a strong and lasting influence on monastic life that he became known to history as the Father of Monasticism. One reason for his widespread influence was his Rule: regulations guiding day-to-day living which he used to guide the abbeys that he founded so that they could live according to his precepts in his absence.

In this class, the Rev. Laurel Dahill, a priest who lives her life according to Benedict’s Rule, shows modern Christians how we might adapt Benedict’s Rule to guide our day-to-day lives and help us live according to our values. Benedict’s Rule emphasizes stability and rhythm and a wise use of our time, so that we may nourish our minds, bodies, and souls. In our rushed lives, bombarded with news, videos, entertainment, and advertisements as well as many responsibilities, it can be helpful to commit ourselves to living mindfully, to acting purposefully, and to being deliberate in our daily activities.

If you are interested in incorporating prayer into your life, in living mindfully, or in utilizing spiritual practices on a regular basis, you should consider taking Introducing Benedictine Spirituality with Laurel Dahill. Prayer groups, devotional groups, and adult Christian formation groups might profit from investigating Introducing Benedictine Spirituality with Laurel Dahill for Groups.

If you are interested in this course, check out this preview and learn more about it.

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Daily Spirituality

Spiritual practices draw us backto attentiveness (1)

In the Everyday Spiritual Practices class that we launched this past Sunday, the Reverend Keith Anderson suggested a variety of spiritual exercises that we might employ during our busy days. Which practices we choose to use depends on which activities resonate with each of us at different times in our lives – even at different times of the day. Such practices can be any activities that call our attention to God or help us love and serve our neighbors.

I find that everyday activities, even odd ones, can become spiritually rewarding. For a while, I found spiritual value in the act of putting on my children’s shoes; the act resembled foot washing enough that it became holy to me. Then the days got busier, and now I am usually in a hurry when I put on my son’s shoes, so the act has lost its spiritual significance, but others have come to take its place.

Right now, one of my spiritually rewarding daily activities is the act of putting my older son to bed. He prefers to say his prayers silently. Next to him, in the quiet room, I naturally find myself praying silently alongside him, especially for him and his brother and my husband.

When the children were younger, a spiritual practice that came naturally was just walking to and from a pond near our house while holding them in slings or other baby-wearing devices.  There was something about the beauty of the pond and the warm baby snuggled against me that naturally drew me toward mindfulness and gratitude.  It can be easy to engage in spiritual activity if we just go with the acts that seem to draw us in that direction anyway.

Deliberately engaging formal, spiritual disciplines also helps many people. The Rev. Anderson suggested journaling and gratitude journals. My mother gets great spiritual satisfaction from religious journaling; she makes time each day to write in her journal and deals with life’s difficulties by asking God to be with her and then journaling her problems out with God.

Some people make time every day to sew or knit their prayers into quilts and blankets. We received a prayer blanket that someone had crocheted for my son when he was a baby that soothed me greatly during those first anxious, sleepless weeks with a newborn. Some people make time during the day to draw or paint the things and people they love in a spirit of mindfulness. I know a woman who swims laps mindfully each day; she finds spiritual benefit in the repetitive act of swimming and the relative peace of just moving back and forth across the pool.

What spiritual disciplines do you find help you in your daily lives? What daily activities have become imbued with spiritual meaning for you? Please comment! We would love to read about them!

launching today: Everyday Spiritual Practices with Keith Anderson

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It doesn’t have to be complicated: simply taking time each morning and evening to connect with God, to reflect on one’s day, to offer thanks and prayer, are everyday spiritual practices that help us recenter, andersonrefocus, and become more aware of the presence of God in our lives. Such seemingly mundane activities as washing dishes or changing a diaper can be performed with presence and intention, and can also draw us closer to God. Everyday spiritual practices bring peace, contentment, and a sense of gratitude. It’s that simple.

In our latest course, Everyday Spiritual Practices, Lutheran pastor Keith Anderson reminds us of the myriad ways we can incorporate small practices into our daily lives in order to bring us closer to Emmanuel, the God that is–always–with us. This is a wonderful course, one that will appeal to anyone seeking a deeper sense of peace and trust. It’s also great for your small group — whether busy parents, empty-nesters, women’s or men’s groups, or youth. Keith can offer wisdom about the how’s and why’s of spiritual practices, and how they can fit into — and enrich — anyone’s life, at any stage of life, every day. Click here for more information or to register.

The Reverend Keith Anderson is a pastor at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church near Philadelphia, author of The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World (Morehouse, 2015), and co-author with Elizabeth Drescher of Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible (Morehouse 2012). Keith is co-editor with Elizabeth Drescher of The Narthex, an online magazine about the changing contours of American Christianity and serves on the editorial committee for Odyssey Network’s ON Scripture lectionary commentary series. An expert on digital ministry and sought after speaker and writer, his work on religion, new media, and popular culture has  appeared on The Huffington PostReligion Dispatches, Day 1, and The New Media Project.

The Earth Is Charged with the Grandeur of God*

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This week we launched our latest course, Spirituality and Gardening, with Christine Sine. In recent years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in “getting back to the earth,” in literally returning to our roots, in conservation and organic gardening, in growing our own food. This, of course, isn’t really a new thing, merely a revival of interest in an age-old awareness of our spiritual connection to God’s creation.

Celtic Christianity has long been known for its teachings on this subject. As John Philip Newell writes, “What is it we have forgotten about ourselves and one another? In the Celtic tradition, the Garden of Eden is not a place in space and time from which we are separated. It is the deepest dimension of our being from which we live in a type of exile. It is our place of origin or genesis in God. Eden is home, but we live far removed from it. And yet in the Genesis account, the Garden is not destroyed. Rather Adam and Eve become fugitives from the place of their deepest identity. It is a picture of humanity living in exile.”

Our souls are only too aware of this sense of exile, of loss — even when we pretend not to know it. The periodic resurgence of a need to return to the earth, to reconnect with the natural world, reminds us of this. Indeed, since the Industrial Revolution, the West has seen periods of renewed interest in the natural world, and a sense that it is only within God’s creation can we find rest and wholeness.

We commend Christine Sine’s course, Spirituality and Gardening, to you. We believe it will bring fresh insight and wisdom on spirituality, on connecting with Creation, on your relationship with God.

Does your parish have an organization or group dedicated to gardening or the natural world? This would be a wonderful discussion or retreat starter for you. (As would Becca Stevens’, of Thistle Farms, course, A Simple Path to a Deeper Spiritual Life.)

We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments or on Facebook. May the glory of Creation remind you of the glory of your own soul.

* from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem,”God’s Grandeur

The Big Class: A Simple Path to a Deeper Spiritual Life with Becca Stevens

You don’t have to worry about being inspired. Just do the work of daily spiritual growth and the inspiration will come.

We are so excited for our next Big Class, which runs 3/22 – 4/5 with Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene newbeccaand Thistle Farms. In “A Simple Path to a Deeper Spiritual Life,” Becca will help us explore what the spiritual life really means: how to believe, to hope, to experience resurrection, to be inspired. In four lessons, she shares what she has learned in her years of ministry and service, and how this wisdom can enrich our own journeys. She reminds us about the importance of just showing up, of believing, of surrendering, of giving ourselves space. And that love heals and changes and brings about resurrection and justice.

This short, free course will be open to all from March 22 – April 5; registration opens this Sunday, March 15. We invite you to join us and to share this course with friends and neighbors. Our prayer is that, as we enter the season of Easter, this course may renew and inspire our journeys to resurrection.