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Guest Author: 
The Rev. Lyn G. Brakeman

It seems odd to be grateful for aging, yet I am, because aging calls me to do things I might not have done even five years ago. 

What stretches me, quite literally, is my yoga practice. We are instructed to stretch our bodies to our "edge," but not beyond, not to create pain. Now, what a temptation such instruction wards off!

My culture would tell me to push—do more, be more. My ego would say, show off.  I’ve done this most of my life. Push. Push. Push. This is what my Lord’s Prayer warns me against—temptation that I pray God will lead me away from. All my life I’ve prayed this, and all my life I’ve pretty much failed to hear its wisdom. Aging forces mindfulness if you listen and heed. 

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

It was winter in Michigan. The snow was piled high. Weeks of freezing temperatures and chilling winds were taking their toll on me and I was beginning to feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The mornings bode dark and heavy. I felt the same way inside myself.

One morning, lying in bed, listening to the wind whistle through the trees, I simply could not muster any enthusiasm for the day ahead. I knew I should feel grateful for the many blessings in my life, for I was one of the “lucky ones.” I had a good and bountiful life. Logically, I had so much to be thankful for but, on an ever-growing number of “blue” days, I couldn’t seem to access much gratitude.

Guest Author: 
Christine Sine

Earlier this year I discovered the Japanese art of Kintsugi, the art of mending broken pottery with lacquer resin sprinkled with powdered gold. The technique visibly incorporates the repair into the new piece, highlighting the breakage instead of disguising it. The process usually results in something more beautiful and often more valuable than the original.

I see the same kind of beauty in this rock. The salt has deposited along the fractures in the rock, creating magnificent patterns that would not have formed otherwise.

Guest Author: 
Fr. River Damien Sims

"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God's word, what we see created by we don't see."

— Hebrews 11:1–3, The Message

A friend recently observed that after twenty years I still have the same positive approach to working with street youth, and that I always seem hopeful. He asked me, "What keeps you going?" For me it is a simple answer that began when I was twelve years old—faith in Jesus of Nazareth.

Guest Author: 
Katherine Hampton

In this season of gratitude, it is often easy to come up with the right answer to the question: What are you thankful for? Things like family, health, stability, and community quickly come to mind as classic answers. But what if we dug a little deeper? What gratitude can we find in the growing—often painful—parts of our lives?

I have recently had the opportunity to explore the Enneagram with both my coworkers and my family. It has been a profound learning experience, and I have been thankful for the opportunity to understand myself better, as well as the people I hold dear. More than that, I have been surprisingly thankful for our differences.

Guest Author: 
Harlene Walker

In Christian ministry, living old truths in new ways had always been a workable mantra for me. Eventually however, from the depth of intuitive knowing, came the nudge—the kairos time—to live the reality of my experiences. My faith-life and spirituality were evolving. I could no longer live in a faith of old truths.

Instead of the doctrines and creeds—faith statements that had been written in the first 500 years of the last millennium—I needed to hear the wisdom that comes from science and the cosmological worldview for the 21st century.

Like a fox caught in a leg-hold trap, waiting for the conservation officer to set her free, I waited for a paradigm change to come to the church.

Guest Author: 
Linda Robinson

I remember the day I discovered my resistance to that four-letter word: “obey.” I’d come back to the church after an eleven-year absence, drawn in an inexplicable yet inescapable way by the Spirit I hardly knew to explore a relationship with Jesus—whom I didn’t know at all. I began to attend worship and read scripture to learn about the faith I’d abandoned. One day, the preacher called on us to go home and offer God a prayer of self-surrender, inviting Jesus to be Lord of our lives.

Guest Author: 
Janice Lynne Lundy

Sometimes, if you’re fortunate, you’ll come across a string of well-intentioned words that not only turn your head, but turn your life around. In 2007, I ran into one such strand.

I was reading, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Path of Happiness, by Vipassana teacher, Sharon Salzberg. I was keen on learning more about a blessing practice called metta, a Pali word, for “unconditional friendliness” practice. It is sourced in Buddhist tradition, yet versions of it are found in many spiritual traditions, including Judaism and Celtic Christianity. It is an inter-spiritual practice that supports all theologies. One of the chapters opened with a portion of a poem by Galway Kinnell:

Guest Author: 
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv

During October 2013, my father-in-law died. You need to know a little bit about the family in order for my story to make sense. We called him Norb; his full name is Norbert, not a common name today. He proudly served as a weatherman in World War II.

Norb died in southern California in the home that he bought with my mother-in-law Mary almost sixty years ago. Norb enjoyed tending his roses in their backyard, and Mary continues to grow pretty pink and purple flowers behind their bungalow despite the severe drought that has plagued California. During our weekly telephone chats with Mary, we often hear updates about the drought and the conditions of the flowerbeds.

Guest Author: 
Linda J. Robinson

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:6-7 NRSV

Cain didn’t listen to this wise and loving counsel. He couldn’t contain his anger, and in his anger he couldn’t listen to reason or appeal. He felt offended and couldn’t forgive the offense. He went out and killed his brother instead.

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