Thursday, February 27, 2014

Let nothing Disturb You

That is the title of the Lenten "retreat" that will start next week. I really like the idea of doing something that is different in terms of my prayer life during Lent. It is the 40 days before we celebrate Easter and it is traditionally a time of renewed discernment and discipline in spiritual practices. I always welcome the opportunity to "go deeper" and for a person who is kind of undisciplined - I can do 40 days.

So.....this year we will spend time with St Teresa of Avila - a 16th century Carmelite nun who has much to teach us. Here are the basics about the retreat

Let Nothing Disturb You – a Prayer “Retreat” with Teresa of Avila for Lent
This year of living boldly we will spend time during Lent with Roman Catholic saint who lived inn the 16th century. Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun, reformer, writer and mystic. She is an example of a bold follower of Jesus Christ.
In a period of about 20 years, beginning when she was in her mid forties, she wrote five spiritual classics including her Autobiography, The Way of Perfection and the Interior Castle. In that same period she carried out a difficult and travel intensive reform of the long established religious life of the Carmelite order. It required extraordinary boldness - spiritual courage and leadership. She was immersed not only in the basic physical details of daily Carmelite life, but also in the exasperating ecclesiastical and civil politics of over a dozen convents for women and two for men.

Add to all this is the fact that she was never in good health. As an adult she continued to suffer the effects of youthful illnesses. In her early life she had spent days in a coma and years paralyzed.
We might wonder what sustained her through all the difficulties she faced. Her own answer is prayer – prayer when it seems impossible, prayer when others do everything to dissuade you, prayer when you struggle for clarity and confidence.

The season of Lent is a good time for us to practice a different kind of prayer discipline. Using the book Let Nothing Disturb You, we will provide for you prayers for every weekday in Lent starting March 6th. They will include prayers for the morning and the evening as well as a prayer “mantra” for every day.
They will be emailed out the night before . I hope that you are able to attend worship on Ash Wednesday as a time of commitment to this prayer discipline during this Holy Season.
If you are interested – please email me (Margot Connor) at

“Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”
― Teresa of Ávila

So, email me if you would like to be part of this. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our faith was so strong that we let nothing disturb us?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Reflection on Downton Abbey

Dear Friends

Like many of you I have been watching Downton Abbey which just ended its fourth season on Sunday. It is fun and interesting to watch life in the 1920’s in England. We marvel at the clothes, the furniture, the “upstairs-downstairs” way of life and of course, the drama of what is happening in the lives of characters we have come to love.

Part of the story is about people adapting (or not adapting) to change. We watch Carson the Butler struggle with this new gadget – the telephone and Lord Grantham having to come to terms with his daughter’s choices and life styles which are so different from his own. Lady Mary is a key figure who wants to keep Downton Abbey going for the sake of her son George and is willing to explore the necessary changes that will help her beloved Downton to survive.

Of course, this resonates for all of us as we live in the year 2014 because change continues. And certainly we see it in the church. We have to adapt to enormous changes in technology that the next generation is embracing – like computers, smart phones, streaming videos, and I don’t know what! Families have changed and some of our of traditional expressions of faith have changed.

But as I write this, I remind you that while expression of faith may change, God does not. God continues to love us and guide us as we turn to God. That enables us to find our way in the midst of the changes. Our God is always inviting you to enter into a deeper relationship with God

This morning as I was pondering this I had a memory of being in the ocean in North Carolina. One of my favorite activities of my life is being in the ocean at the Outer Banks - when I am there I feel like I am 17 years old again. The waves there can be strong at times. And when a wave is coming that makes me nervous I simply go under it and allow it to break over me. And I thought that is what always "works" when I get nervous about the waves of change that are coming my way.

Going deeper with God means I am still present and in the ocean but I know I am safe. And my prayer as I continue to try to be faithful is to trust that and to continue to develop a life of spiritual depth with the source of all life. I write this as I prepare opportunities for folks in the church to "go deeper" with God. My hope is that more people will understand the blessing of developing a life with God.

end this with a quote from Thich Naht Han

I am inviting you to go deeper, to learn and to practice so that you become someone who has a great capacity for being solid, calm, and without fear, because our society needs people like you who have these qualities, and your children, our children, need people like you, in order to go on, in order to become solid, and calm, and without fear.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Telling the Story

I learn over and over again how important it is to tell the story.

This has been a season of many deaths in the life of our church. This morning I went to Bible study at restoration village and we talked about a member of our Christ Care Group, Roland, who passed away on Sunday. In our conversation people shared their experiences of him in the last days of his life. They were able to express what he meant to them and even what he taught them. It was so healing just to share in that way.

It was very similar to the experience of the Wednesday night Bible study two weeks ago when we shared our memories and stories about Jerry Miller who had died the day before. I learn over and over again the value of each person's life and experience of each other. And how good it is to talk about it. To tell the story of "me and Roland" and "me and Jerry."

Sunday I sat with two widows - Gerrie and Gail - as they told their stories of their lives with their husbands. It is for me, an honor and a great blessing to be the one who gets to ask the questions that elicit the sharing of memory.

And so, I write this and remember that that if we don't have someone to listen, often the stories just sit inside of us and can almost weigh us down. They need to be told and heard as they bring us to tears and laughter.

Our Bible study this morning was Isaiah 48: 12-21 which was titled "If only you had listened." It was about the fact that God continues to speak to us and we only need to listen. And I have to say about all of these people who are grieving mightily this week - they might also be saying in their own way - "If only you would listen." They have a story to tell about someone they loved. And they need someone to listen.

May we take time to listen.