Take the Lent Mindfulness Challenge

Lent Mindfulness Challenge

Wed, March 6 - Wed, April 17, daily

Lent is historically a time when people might choose something to “give up”, like chocolate or sweets, watching TV, or excessive use of social media. Instead, what if you used this very special season to add a new habit of meditating and connecting with God each day?

Join Director of Contemplative Practices, Julie Stevens, and sign up with others for a 43 day challenge to meditate every day. Daily recordings of introductory and closing thoughts serving as prompts for timed silence will guide you through Lent. The daily time commitment will gradually grow throughout the challenge as your daily habit becomes more grounded -- beginning with just a few minutes, and ending at under 15 minutes.

New! Contemplative Practices Summit

Peeling Away the Layers to Love: A Contemplative Practices Summit

Saturday, January 19, 9am-3pm
Assisi Heights -- Rochester

Even on the best of days, we all face the challenge of dealing with our own personal “disturbances” and inner struggles.

Anxiety/depression, relationship and health issues, work and financial challenges, feeling a lack of control or feeling overwhelmed all make the list. But if only that were all that we faced! A polarized, demonizing, anxiety- and angst-filled culture surrounds and affects us through social media and our public discourse.

Is it any wonder that we need to take time to consciously peel away these layers and disturbances that can cover over our inner, true and love-filled selves?


Take a day away in the new year to join others in the beautiful and contemplative surroundings of Assisi Heights to take a deeper look at "Peeling Away the Layers to Love." We’ll name our personal disturbances through a mindfulness meditation practice, have guided alone time for personal reflection following the practice, and discover an ability to cut the hidden strings that bind us or control our thoughts and emotions. This personal time provides a first step in peeling away layers that make it difficult for us to offer a loving presence to others, and to ourselves. We’ll also name and lament collective, cultural issues that impact us, concluding the day with practical discussions on how to peel away these types of layers from your heart and mind as well.

You’ll leave with some tools and a lens through which to claim your own unique way of helping a hurting world.

Joining retreat leader and guide Julie Stevens (Director of Contemplative Practices) will be guest speaker Pastor Charles Ortloff, and Gloria Dei’s own musicians Chris and Noelle Roberts. Cost of the summit is $20. Pay at the event via cash or check.

Assisi Heights is located at 1001 14th St. NW, Rochester. Email julies@gloria-dei.com with questions.

Where Have You Seen Love This Week?

Where Have You Seen Love This Week?
by Julie Stevens

“Where have you seen love this week?” 

I recently posed this question to my Sunday morning contemplative practices group, mostly to get everyone talking and engaged.  The answers were moving and beautiful. We had all seen love somewhere in our week – at a family birthday party, at a wedding, through the loan by a neighbor of a much needed item, or in spotting a kiss given by a little child to her cousin while they played in the fall leaves. If the Bible says that God is love, we realized we had all seen God through these moments from our week.


I know that the little moments of life, taken alone, can seem pretty inconsequential.  But they’re anything but!  As we feel ourselves being overwhelmed by social media and public discourse that is polarizing, demonizing, and anxiety- and angst-filled, we realize that these “little moments” become significant additions to the intangible Kosmic storage bin (as mentioned in the writings of Ken Wilber) where even mere thoughts about love, wholeness, and inter-connectedness accumulate and drive human consciousness forward in a more loving and compassionate direction.   

So where have you seen love this week?  Be consciously on the lookout for these moments, and let their beauty and positivity fill you.  Move slowly enough through your daily life to be mindful of times when God is right in front of you through the words and actions of yourself and others.  And remember the Kosmic storage bin:  even our very hopes and wishes for a more loving and compassionate world all add up, and will help move us forward towards a more interconnected and loving world. 

If You're Feeling Thin and Stretched - 5 Minute Meditation

If you’re feeling thin and stretched - By Julie Stevens

Today, I led our staff in a group meditation. We have been working hard this fall to bring great programming to our community and are approaching MEA break. This meditation is meant for those times when you are feeling thin and stretched.

Join our group in this centering meditation:

Take 5 minutes to bring a sense of loving kindness to your own body and mind. Steady yourself in the here and now, bringing the mind and body together through your breath.

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In just these few minutes, I hope you’ve experienced a connection to your body, your life,

your breath.  This is a radical act of sanity, but better yet – it’s a radical act of love!

Enjoy these moments whenever you can.