What is a God shimmering, you might ask? Well, think of how you picture “shimmering” as something shiny, and with the reflected light kind of quivering or wavering as you look at it. Something that shimmers catches your attention, and you pause for a moment to examine whatever it is. These are helpful descriptors as we think about how to spot God’s shimmerings for us, knowing this is no easy task in today’s culture. We are bombarded with stimuli of every kind.Our attention can be drawn in any number of directions. So, spotting these shimmerings from God, in the midst of all the other stimuli, definitely doesn’t happen without our applying some conscious awareness to our lives, and some focused effort to live in the present moment.
The Lent Mindfulness Challenge is complete. Thank you for being on this amazing, inner journey with over 130 others! We’ve marked this season of Lent with some time spent in silent contemplation of 1 Corinthians 13. I hope the daily meditations have been helpful and thought-provoking, and equally, that they’ve helped you begin to (or more deeply) establish a daily habit of time with God through meditation.
We’re aiming to produce more of these types of experiences in the coming months. In the meantime, enjoy 14 of my favorites from the 42 installments of the Challenge.
Julie’s 14 Favorite Meditations from The Lent Mindfulness Challenge 2019:
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.
This meditation is designed to identify hidden strings in our lives and lead us into a process of living into our disturbances and letting them go. The result is a powerful process of freedom and flow. This meditation was the foundation for the Contemplative Summit: Peeling Away the Layers to Love at Assisi Heights on January 19th, 2019.
How Jesus Looks at You
by Julie Stevens
Have you considered how Jesus looks at you? Our life circumstances can dictate how we look at ourselves. Are we weak or strong? Accomplished or failures? Special, or unworthy of God’s concern and love? Take a moment to consider how Jesus looks at you.
A Relaxation Visualization Meditation
led by Julie Stevens
Start the day, refresh in the middle, or prepare for sleep with this visualization of light filling every cell of your body.
Led by Julie Stevens
Stressed by your busy schedule? Try this mindfulness relaxation body scan to slow down or regroup
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
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 - 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.
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.