Be gentle with yourself.

“Be gentle with yourself.”

This is what my spiritual director tells me at the end of each session. I spend an hour explaining some aspect of my spiritual journey and she reliably responds, “be gentle with yourself.” She could just as easily be saying, “Don’t forget to eat” or “Take naps every few hundred miles,” as if I was leaving her office for a road trip.

Which I kind of am.

I’m a person who forgets to eat. I’ll drive a hundred miles more than I should because I’m certain I can handle it. I am reliably not gentle with myself. It sometimes feels like my default setting. I have my reasons, but none of them are very gentle either.

Sometimes even my prayer life feels rigorous; un-gentle. I fixate on keeping up a regular routine, or being mindful of our tradition’s liturgical calendar. Somewhere I read that Episcopalians who feel a call to ministry should pray the Daily Office at least once, but preferably twice, a day. I’ve committed to this practice several times. Rarely, though, in a way that could be described as “gentle.”

But if we thought of being gentle with ourselves as a form of prayer?

What if we – I – tried to imagine that the words of my spiritual director were the words of the Holy Spirit, and that she was speaking them to me as a reminder of my belovedness? Is it so hard to imagine that God would prefer us to be gentle with ourselves than not? We are called to love God and to love one another… and we are a part of the “one another.”

If we can learn to be gentle with ourselves, perhaps we will better know how to be gentle with those who God brings to us in our lives and vocations.

So I ask you to consider:

If being gentle with ourself is a form of prayer, how does that look in our day to day life? How does that prayer take shape for you?

 

 

Photo by Dylan Gialanella

Prayer as resistance.

resistance

Prayerful resistance is my spiritual practice.

It is with these words that I braced myself for the new American administration.

I am a Christian. I am not, however, a Christian supremacists.

I am a Christian. I am not, however, a Christian imperialists.

I will not mince words about what I saw on display at the inauguration ceremony of the 45th President of the United States:

The current American president has encouraged the nation to “open your heart” to patriotism.

I resist that blatant expression of idolatry.

We are not called to open our heart to America. We are called to open our heart to God. Do not be deceived by this pseudo-religious rhetoric.

The current American president has suggested that God will protect this nation while it shores up its defenses, strengthens its military arsenal, and prepares for a period of isolationism and aggression.

God will not be shaped into the likeness of a war monger.
God does not bow down to tyrants, and neither do I. Click To Tweet
I pray to a God who liberates.

I pray to a God who is Love.

I pray to a God who took on flesh in order to heal, teach, pray, and inspire, and who was then subject to death as an outcast, a criminal in the eyes of the state.

I pray to a God whose life-giving love cannot be killed by instruments of death.

The God who raised Jesus is not a God of war.

This is not a God who sanctions the various forms of violence done in God’s name.

This is a God whose will is for all of creation to live the fullest, most complete, most loving, most mutually-respectful lives imaginable.

Anything that works against this vision works against God.

Any exercise of power that denigrates the integrity of God’s creation is a work against God.

Bombs.
Bullets.
Drones.
Greed.

Shortages of food,
resources,
structural support.

Acts of division that
pit groups against one another.

Systems that
institutionalize
racism,
sexism,
or any other
form of oppression.

All of this works against God’s purposes.

I resist because I am a Christian.
I resist because I have integrity.
I resist because I am human, created by a God who calls us to a different kind of reality.

A kin-dom of Love.

My resistance is a form of prayer.
My prayer is a act of resistance. Click To Tweet

 

 

Photo by Quino Al