Tag Archives: Prayer

Plugged into Grace

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This blog was inspired by Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28: The Faith of a Canaanite

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Jesus did not say a word when the disciples asked him to send away the Canaanite woman.  He says nothing. Perhaps he is remembering what he just taught his disciples.

In Matthew 15:10-28 we read how Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'”

There were lots of restrictions on what to eat or not eat in the Bible. Lots of things were considered unclean: You could eat fish and goat’s milk. You could eat locusts and beetles. Some birds were allowed. But you’d better not eat a cuckoo, or a lapwing. No hares as in rabbits were allowed to be eaten. Fat was forbidden. That was to be burned on the alter for God. Snakes, snails, swans and pigs were off-limits.

So when Jesus talks about what really makes a person unclean and that it is not related to what a person eats, not surprisingly the Pharisees are offended.  They are quite convinced that they are doing what God wants and are pleasing to him.

So here is Jesus, this time in the region of Tyre and Sidon, having withdrawn from his own country. Why has he withdrawn–perhaps he is in need of rest, perhaps he wants to spend time with his friends away from the needs of the crowds or the misunderstanding of the Pharisees–the Scripture doesn’t say.

What happens next, what Jesus says, has puzzled scholars and Christians for centuries. We want the warm fuzzy Jesus pulling us from the sea of our doubt.  Yet this is a scripture that challenges us to understand faith from a different point of view. This pushy woman, a Canaanite, a person who Jews do not like and who does not like Jews, shows up on their doorstep, kneeling, begging for help.

Jesus says nothing, not a word. Why does he hold his tongue?  Could he be demonstrating to his disciples how not to defile themselves through wrong speech? Could he be showing us saying nothing might be preferable to saying something that causes aggravation?

Yet, after the disciples ask him to send this woman away, he enters into conversation with her: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” Jesus tells her. She is persistent. She won’t take no for an answer. “Lord, help me!” the woman says. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs,” Jesus responds.

Nasty. Ugly. Humiliating. A woman talking to a Jewish man in public.  Unheard of.  The disciples say to Jesus.  “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

Isn’t this how we all are?  We find it easy to help the people we love, the people we know, the people who share the same customs and traditions. But this Canaanite woman shows us a love greater than that; she has come into their midst because her love is so strong for her demon-possessed daughter.

Today perhaps we’d consider the demon-possessed to be people addicted to drugs, booze, or sex, people who are sneered at by others.  These people might be our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives. Oh sure we want to help them, but don’t bring the drug recovery house into our neighborhood where we want peace from the worries and needs of others.

Yet when it’s not the OTHER in trouble but our own flesh and blood, we respond differently. We forget ourselves, even if it is but for a moment the way Peter did when he walked on the water towards Jesus. Out of love and an awareness of our inability to change things, we become desperate.

So we call upon a Mystery so much greater than our limited understanding. In the face of great difficulty when do we refuse to take no for an answer? We certainly might refuse to take no for an answer out of great love for a daughter or a son. When we are loving mothers and fathers, we will defend and protect our young to the best of our ability.

This strange woman holds her ground. You give even the crumbs to the dogs, she says. She dares to argue with God.

Perhaps Jesus wants to see what the Disciples will do about this woman. The Disciples aren’t in the mood for a Canaanite. She is abomination to them. Someone despised. They wouldn’t help her on their best day. Can they not have understood all that Jesus has been teaching? They urged Jesus, “Send her away, for she keeps yelling at us.”

Jesus goes right along with them. Perhaps a demonstration of what happens through association.

What happens if you follow your friends who tell you to come get drunk and try out dope or drugs to make you high, or hey grab a candy bar and stick it in your purse—Walmart can afford it—or let’s make fun of someone who is fat or old. Do you go along with them or do you think for yourself and consider what God teaches about the heart.

When Jesus goes along with the crowd of his disciples, he appears to be going against his own teachings. But the Mystery of this story points to something greater. It points to our need to act out of great love for everyone. Through such love coupled to the power of God, of Mystery, through Christ, there will be redemption.

In many ways. Jesus speaks as if he is a normal Jewish man with a poor opinion of people who aren’t like him. People who don’t worship the same way. People who look different. People who aren’t good enough. Can’t you see the satisfied looks on the Disciples’ faces. “You tell her, Jesus!” Of course, they’ve missed the point. If they had been not only listening to the teachings of Jesus, but also putting it into practice in their lives, they might recognize that their attitude about foreigners, about women, have not been planted by God in their hearts. These attitudes are alien from God’s inclusiveness. They separate us from Mystery, from God.

The woman could care less what they think of her. She demonstrates genuine concern for another, for her daughter. She is willing to be humiliated. She is willing to humble herself. Yes, Lord, You can treat me like a dog. But even dogs get the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table.

God’s love is so great.  The enormous persistent love of this mother, this parent, this strange foreign woman is united to the Mystery of love.  She is the manifestation of God’s love. She represents the possibility of the redemptive power of love.  She is doggedly persistent just as surely as God persists in offering us the love that brings us the healing we need for our minds and spirits and sometimes our bodies too.

The energy, the power of spirit is moving through the love of this woman. Her gender doesn’t matter. Her nationality doesn’t matter. Only her love for another person.  Only that matters. And through that love, her daughter is restored.

When have you been like this woman, unwanted, in a foreign or strange situation, and yet something impels you to persist, to not give up? We probably have all been the unwanted man or woman in some situation. What impels us to overstep boundaries?

During a particularly difficult time, my prayers plugged me into grace, the Mystery of God’s presence. My new husband had suffered all his life from painful sciatica. He never complained but I could see it in his face. I was praying and even laying my hands on his back. I was desperate for him to feel better. One night, I dreamed I was in a flood.  In my dream of the flood, I knew I was helpless.  Nothing I could do was going to stop what was coming.  Whatever was going to happen, I fully understood it was not my issue. As I was being swept away in the water, I heard the voices of my mother and father, both deceased, say: Everything will be all right. Everything will be all right. Not too much later, a disc in Philip’s back broke off and he was paralyzed.  The doctors in Ashland decided to send him in the middle of the night to Lexington for emergency surgery. It was a hundred miles away and I didn’t know the territory. I was mortified. For him and for me. I was helpless. But I had those words from my parents: Everything will be all right. A Grace from God.

It was midnight, and though I tried to follow the ambulance in my husband’s 4-cylinder tinny Geo, the ambulance stormed through a red light and left me in the dust feeling lonely and scared. I got completely lost in Lexington. But even though I didn’t fully comprehend at the time, Grace was right there for me. And in my mind I heard again those words of comfort. Everything will be all right.

Eventually, I made my way to the hospital, where a stranger guided me to my husband who was in a hospital room. He was joking with the nurses.

Later, shivering in the surgical waiting room in the wee hours of the morning, a woman from a very poor family whose nephew had been in a 4-wheeler accident that had crushed his legs came over and wrapped her cardigan around me.  Such grace.  It was everywhere. Not only for Philip, but also for me.

Did I really hear the voices of my deceased parents? I cannot say, but I know this was a God- experience from start to finish. It was grace. During this time, I felt surrounded by angels, including, I might add a young black guy in a ghetto area of Lexington, drug-infested and frightening. Lost, I pulled into an all-night deli frantic to find the hospital.  This young man looked to be on drugs, but he got himself together and gave me directions.

Love coupled with prayer opens the doors of the Spirit to intervene, to connect us to one another, to be Love for one another.

Jesus answers that foreign, desperate woman, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed that very hour.

Even when we are floundering in the sea of life, as was this woman, as was I, as we often are, our desperate calls to God are answered in many ways, many of them mysterious. Prayer of the heart plugs us into the Grace of God.

Everything will be all right.

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Spiritual Practice

• When your prayers seem unheard, pray about the courage and persistence of the Canaanite woman. • In times of crisis ask God for the gift of great faith.

Amazing Grace

Celtic Women

Amazing Grace Lyrics  

Amazing Grace – Christian Hymns with Lyrics ( John Newton )       

Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone CCHS Concert and Chapel Choir      

Amazing Grace, Gospel Choir, St. James Episcopal Church, Florence, Italy  

Amazing Grace – Diane Bish & St. George’s Episcopal Church Choir & Congregation       

Mystery of Blessings and Curses

Crop Circles of 2011 Photo Set

inspired by Genesis 32:3-31 New International Version (NIV)

Biblical Jacob is one of the Patriarchs, one of the spiritual fathers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Yet Jacob, this icon of three major religions, starts out a bit of a rascal with a crafty nature.   Nevertheless he continues to seek to be obedient to G-D throughout his long life always aware of G-D’s promise to him that he will be a foundational leader.

Jacob experiences three blessings…

First Blessing

Jacob steals the first blessing. He wants what was rightfully to go to his older brother, Esau.

Perhaps he thinks he’s better than Esau, him being more spiritual and more thoughtful than his fierce hunter brother who prefers shooting game to preparing food in the kitchen.

Perhaps he is greedy and wants more stuff? After all, why shouldn’t he have camels, SUVs, Coleman tents, bigger houses, or hot dates with sexy people?

Perhaps he is selfish and covetous of other people’s strengths. He might not be a muscle man, and if he were a woman, he might not be a beauty queen, but he’s got a good mind. He’s like the girl everyone says has a nice personality because she’s ugly.

You cannot steal someone else’s blessing and think you’ll get away with it. You have to be who you are, and you have to strive to overcome your inner demons.

Jacob’s stolen blessing becomes a curse.

His enraged brother wants to kill him, and is powerful enough to do so, probably with his bare hands.

To save his skin,Jacob has to leave his home, without any of the human inheritance of possessions. He has to leave in a hurry.

Second Blessing

Jacob demands the second blessing, one he has been promised by his uncle who he went to for refuge.

His second blessing is to get the girl of his dreams, Rachel. This time he isn’t the cheater, but what goes around comes around: he is cheated by her father, his uncle, into marrying the older, ugly sister, Leah.

Jacob is enraged. He has worked for uncle Laban for seven years with the promise of Laban’s daughter Rachel as his future wife. Not ugly Leah. He speaks up to uncle Laban who is his relative in more ways than one. Jacob now knows how it feels to be unfairly duped. He wants justice. He demands beautiful Rachel as his wife. Uncle Laban is no fool–he gives Rachel to Jacob, but makes him agree to seven more years of hard work.

Life, it seems, ought to have settled down for Jacob. He is a family man with children, one wife he adores, and the other who bears him many children. Life though continues to be full of turmoil. He is cursed with two women who are at odds with one another. He is cursed to do forced labor for someone else, rather than for himself.

Life is a continual struggle for Jacob just like it is for us.

Jacob manages to become prosperous in his own right but he does it by tricking Laban. He has the designer tent in the burbs, the cars, the camels, the kids…the good life.

But Laban notices what Jacob has done to amass a fortune at his expense.  Laban is on the warpath.  Jacob runs away just like he did from his treachery to Esau, but this time he takes his wives, possessions and prosperity with him.

Laban catches up with him and challenges Jacob’s deceitful behavior.  They come to terms.  Laban lets him go.

The only place for Jacob to go is back to his homeland.  He is coming full circle.

Third Blessing

Jacob receives the third blessing.

Jacob is on his way home with his sizable family and possessions to the place where he was raised.  He’s contacted Esau, but has no idea how Esau will greet him.  In fact, Esau is coming to meet him, eyes flashing, fist raised, leading a powerful army.

Jacob sends his servants ahead of him with plenty of gifts. Then he sends his wives and family across the river. He stays behind on the banks of the stream. Is he afraid? After all, he knows what he did. It seems he is quite willing to put others, his servants and his women and family in the path of his angry brother. Could this be in the hopes of protecting himself?

All night long he wrestles with someone, G-D, or a man, or perhaps himself. Is he trying to figure out what to do–run away or face his inner demons? Is he seeking strength to stand his ground and do what is right?

Often we cannot do what is right by our own means. We need help. A deepened awareness of our weaknesses and mistakes can become light unto our feet.

Jacob could have run away. He could have tried further manipulation. He could have drowned himself.

In the morning, when the man/God is leaving, Jacob demands a blessing. This time he wants his own blessing, not someone else’s. He is given a new name. Jacob is now to be called Israel.

Jacob means grasper. Jacob grasped for a wrongful inheritance, he grasped for the beautiful wife, and now he grapples with his inner demons, his weakness, his crafty nature, his deceit, his fear…

Israel means who prevails with God.

In his night-long struggle with an overpowering force, Jacob prevails with G-D. In other words he wrestles with his inner demons and doubts and fears, but does not succumb to them like he might have in the past. This all-night wrestling match gives him stronger muscles to overcome forces within his nature that separated him from the Realm of God.

What interior struggle contaminates your life?

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Seek first the Realm of G-D–as did Jacob, who comes out on top, not because of his deceit, but because of his connection to G-D.

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Meditation and prayer deepen and quiet our racing minds so that we might glimpse our shadows of fear, anger, greed, envy, arrogance, selfishness, deceit and shame. With the help of G-D, of Mystery, let your shadows be lit with awareness so that you are not darkened by them, but may see beyond them to your radiant connection to G-D, to Mystery, who rises from within.

Chant  O Lord Hear My Prayer – Taize:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f51n-yb11dY

Pray the psalm of David, aware that the protection you seek is from your own shadows, perhaps not your fault, but nevertheless imbedded in your nature through a less than perfect birthright.

“When I Wake (Psalm 17)” song by Hoss Hughes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OfqGRQs5Sg

Experience Psaume 17    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4HI0fFIr6U

Recite Psalm 17 A prayer of David. NIV

Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;     listen to my cry. Hear my prayer—     it does not rise from deceitful lips. Let my vindication come from you;     may your eyes see what is right.

Though you probe my heart,     though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil;     my mouth has not transgressed. Though people tried to bribe me,     I have kept myself from the ways of the violent     through what your lips have commanded. My steps have held to your paths;     my feet have not stumbled.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;     turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love,     you who save by your right hand     those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye;     hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me,     from my mortal enemies who surround me.

10 They close up their callous hearts,     and their mouths speak with arrogance. 11 They have tracked me down, they now surround me,     with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground. 12 They are like a lion hungry for prey,     like a fierce lion crouching in cover.

13 Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;     with your sword rescue me from the wicked. 14 By your hand save me from such people, Lord,     from those of this world whose reward is in this life. May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;     may their children gorge themselves on it,     and may there be leftovers for their little ones.

15 As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;   when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

 

 

Mid Month Meditation–bridesmaids and the groom

bridesmaidsThe Parable of the Ten Virgins

Read the scripture three times, fast or slow, out loud, to yourself etc. Sit in silence for 20 minutes and imagine yourself in the “story,” asking God for insight into your life in the here and now. Journal your response.

Matthew 25:1-13 (NIV)

25 At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

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Listen: Take my Hand– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc0eYSoMNNA&list=PL7913DAA1CEE6E56B

You are invited to join Verde, a Contemplative Prayer group, who meet the second Thursdays of the month, alternating between Ashland, KY, and Huntington, WV.

Our next meeting is on Thursday May 8, from 6:30-8:00 PM at Calvary Episcopal Church on Winchester Avenue in Ashland, KY.  It’s opposite the Paramount, next to bridges from Ohio.

 

Deepen and Heal Your Life through Reiki Touch Healing Prayer

Cave Run Lake, Kentucky

The following is a series of seven reflections and spiritual exercises combining Eastern Reiki healing using chakra centers with Western Lectio Divina and Scripture.   

I. Introduction

When I was first introduced to Reiki, it was by a friend who wanted to put her hands on my chakras and balance my energy. My initial response was standoffish: I’m English; didn’t she understand about English people? Our personal space is about ten feet! Gosh, in my family we don’t hug even after a year of separation, and even then we keep each other at arm’s length. I had no idea what chakras were either. The idea of healing as an actual fact of hands-on contact seemed very strange. After all, in Western society inappropriate physical contact is a very serious issue.

As a Christian minister, I often pray for people. I don’t fully understand how or who or what responds, but something/someone does. I prefer to call this mystery God, but a name is unimportant. What matters is the real force at work through the prayer of intentional goodwill. This is reinforced by Jesus who not only healed the spirit, but also physically healed people. His apostles became healers too: in Acts 3: 1-10 we learn about a man who is healed from lameness by Peter and John.  They look intently at the man in the name of Jesus while telling the man to stand up and walk; his feet and ankles are made strong and he is able to walk; he begins to praise God.

As Christians, we can expect to receive spiritual gifts, one of which is the gift of healing: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit.”                                                    (I Corinthians 12: 7-9)

Anything that heals another human being, moving them into a greater state of wholeness is a holy act of Christian love. Thus, although at first I resisted the idea of an Eastern healing technique such as Reiki, I eventually came to see it is something that leads to spiritual deepening for the practitioners along with actual healing for the recipients.

So what is Reiki?

Reiki, which means mysterious spirit, was developed by a Japanese, Dr. Mikao Usui, who practiced a mystical form of Buddhism called Tendai. He’d spent his whole life seeking the holy, had studied his native religion of Shintoism, and was also a master of martial arts. He became quite famous for the healing work he did for poor people who were victims of earthquake injuries without money to pay for medical help.

Reiki is often translated as Universal Life Energy. It can also be called Soul Energy, or Mysterious Spirit. Ki is Japanese for this energy. It holds no religious connotations but is a healing touch system. In China this same life force is called chi, in India it is referred to as prana, and Christians call it the Holy Spirit.

Research has shown that when prayer is used for healing, it seems to know mysteriously just what is needed. In one experiment, trays of bean seeds were treated in different ways. One set of beans was dried, one set was saturated with water, and a third set was left alone as a control. People prayed for the trays of beans. It was discovered dried-out beans regained their moisture, and saturated beans dried out. The normal beans remained healthy. The conclusion was that prayer brings about wholeness—a state of being God intends for us all (Weston, 29).

            There are five Reiki principles taught to western students:

1)      Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings.

2)      Just for today I will not worry.

3)      Just for today I will not be angry.

4)      Just for today I will do my work honestly.

5)      Just for today I will be kind to my neighbor and every living thing.

      The  Reiki principles are certainly in keeping with Jesus’ two central commandments:  “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12: 30-32

      As Christians we are called to give God thanks, to let go of worries, to handle anger in a righteous manner rather than allowing it to fester, to be honest, to fully develop our talents, to love and care for one another, to respectfully tend to all other creatures, to cherish and guard our mother earth.

Reiki healing makes use of the chakra system which originated in India. The following chart is a brief description of where the energy center is located and the associated color of the energy it represents.

The Major Chakras

CHAKRA LOCATION COLOR
Crown Top   of head Violet   or white
Brow Between   eyebrows Indigo
Throat Throat Blue
Heart Heart Green
Solar   Plexus Base   of ribcage Yellow
Spleen Spleen/navel Orange
Root/base Base   of spine Red

Chakra means wheel and refers to energy centers that are found throughout the body. There are seven major ones used in Reiki, along with forty-two minor ones. In the West, we are now able to measure the energy frequencies of these centers.  It turns out the seven major chakras correspond to the colors of the rainbow.

Prayer coupled with Reiki healing-touch is a wonderful way to bring about restoration of health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. When we call upon God in the name of Jesus, we are always triggering a response to bring about our, or someone else’s, wellbeing. This is not to say all cancers will abate, or broken bones will be mended without the help of physicians. God works through the medical profession too. However, prayer plus Reiki will bring about surprising results, including the ability to spread God’s love.

Reiki has helped me. To my surprise, for instance, I am now quite comfortable laying my hands on others. This is a far cry from that English woman I used to be who was shocked when my friend suggested she put her hands on me to “heal” me. One aspect of my brokenness was a need to get beyond British cultural limitations which kept me aloof: now I can readily hug others.

II. Fusing Scripture and Reiki to Heal Mind, Body, and Soul           

      “And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.”                                      (Genesis 9: 12-15)

God is love. God is Spirit. A rainbow can be explained scientifically as the refraction of sunlight through raindrops to form the colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. But that does not describe the experience of seeing a rainbow arc across the sky and the great hope of the pot of treasure. And treasure there is.

For just as sunlight is a mixture of colors usually appearing to us as white light, so the human body is more than it seems. It is not merely physical but is a mix of energies with frequencies corresponding to the colors of the rainbow. So when we look at a human being and see only a body, it’s rather like seeing only the white light from the sun when in reality there are layers of energy.

This light and these energy layers are part of our complex nature which is so much more than just physical. That’s what Jesus through Scripture keeps on telling us over and over again. Jesus really did walk on water to show us our deeper nature transcends time and space and the merely physical. This Jesus-miracle was witnessed by people with no reason to lie, yet like us, when we are confronted with sights beyond our understanding, they probably doubted their sanity.

Up until the fourth century, Christians routinely used prayer and the laying-on of hands to heal others. This was one of the reasons for the proliferation of Christianity in those early centuries. But with the passage of time and the rise of science, we forgot the importance of God’s spiritual touch to heal us directly. It even began to frighten us, because somehow we had forgotten God’s Love always works in our best interest. During that dark medieval time when many priests were corrupt, the people were oppressed and duped by magical ideas such as demons that could hurt them, science brought hope and truth. The rational knowledge science introduced has been good indeed, for God’s truth is always good, but still there is so much more to life than mere knowledge.

This little book is about miracles we can all experience: small ones perhaps, but nevertheless miracles of healing of people and pets. Such miracles take us beyond the rational, but are available to every sincere person who has the ultimate goal to help another. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us without barriers of anger, envy, greed, inferiority, self-interest, condemnation, or the myriad of other human choices that keep us from reaching our potential.

The following touch-healing-prayers are timeless wisdom from the Bible accompanied by hands-on Reiki healing.  If you follow the suggested seven devotions, you will have practiced Reiki I, the first level of healing to be used on spouses, children, friends, shut-ins, and pets, all of whom will benefit from your caring touch and prayer.

A seventy-year-old woman with such bad asthma her medications were no longer working needed help badly. Her lungs were so full of phlegm she couldn’t stop coughing. In spite of oxygen she felt weak and could hardly breathe.  In fact, she was convinced she was soon going to die. After a few intense Reiki healing sessions, her hope was restored, her breathing improved exponentially, she once again began to enjoy life and was able to reduce the steroids. Another benefit of the Reiki healing was that the excruciating pain she felt in her hip has disappeared.

Always ask permission before you begin healing other people. Not everyone will choose to accept Reiki. Don’t be offended. Continue to be loving. We can never fully know how God will work through us, but we can know any offer of healing is an offer of goodness to not only help other people, but to also help ourselves.

III. Touch-Healing-Prayers

Dear Reader, You are God’s beloved. May this journey of meditation, reflection, and healing bless you, and flow with God’s loving presence, lighting up your life in unaccountably nurturing and healing ways.                                                           Christina 

You are invited to practice the following seven Christian-prayer-plus-Reiki- techniques. Do them daily or practice one a week. Expect to spend an hour on each session. They are designed to teach you how to do a simple Reiki healing which can later be applied to other people. You will be reading scripture, following a Christian practice called lectio divina (Hall, Thelma. 36-56) which is intended to bring you into deeper contact with God, inviting God’s presence to enlighten and inform your life, healing you of both conscious and unconscious struggles.

First Touch-Healing-Prayer: Transcending Time and Space

Is the following scripture a true and realistic story?           

            So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.   The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.    Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck       Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.         (Acts 12: 5-10 ) 

This scripture is true. God does work in ways that confound us. Peter thinks he must be seeing a vision, but he isn’t. What’s described is actually happening. How do I know this? What makes me believe this? God once taught me a lesson about time and space and prayer of the heart.

I have a necklace that my mother gave me. It has two little pearls set in a tiny gold shell on a golden chain. Mum bought it in Hawaii shortly before she died. It  is very precious to me, not because it has any monetary value, but because it reminds me of mum’s love. I took good care of that necklace, but it disappeared at a writers’ conference. My dorm room was on a college campus, and though I’d been told to always lock the door, I never did. I didn’t even realize that my necklace was gone until I got home very late.  Heartbroken, I prayed all night long. In the morning, I frantically called the college to see if anyone had turned it in, or if it was still in the room. But it was gone. Hoping that somehow I’d just made a mistake, maybe hadn’t even taken the necklace with me, my husband and I searched the bedroom and even looked in my jewelry box. Of course, the necklace wasn’t there. I couldn’t give up. I went on praying all day long. Then, in the afternoon I went up to my bedroom to look for the necklace again. There sat my sweet little necklace on top of the dresser.

God transcended time and space and returned my pearl necklace to me because he heard my prayer. Perhaps he wanted me to tell other people about this amazing love. God wants us all to be happy, healthy, fulfilled, and whole.

Your time with the Holy

1. Begin with a prayer—use this one, or choose something from your heart, seeking your heart’s desire:

            Gracious God, I come to you full of hope, remembering how your angel came to     save Peter and somehow released him from chains. He escaped armed guards            and came through locked doors. Help me also to receive your healing light and             free me            from the chains that bind me. Remove the armed and dangerous guards             who stand between me and your freedom. Throw open the doors of my heart and    mind that I might become whole and filled with your light.                                                             In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen                

2. Read the scripture slowly again (Acts 12: 5-10), paying attention to each word and each sentence.  What is the scripture actually about? Jot down any thoughts.

3. Read the scripture again and reflect about what you have read. Does it make you remember any times when you’ve had “strange miraculous experiences” that you couldn’t easily explain?  Write them down. Draw an image. Think about your story.          

4. Pray to God, allowing yourself to freely talk to God about what you’ve read and the thoughts and/or images that have come into your mind. Ask questions just as if you are conversing with someone present. God is present and is listening.  Write if you wish.

5. Rest in God, using Reiki

      In Reiki, violet is the color of the crown chakra located on top of the head. It is associated with the spiritual and represents a connection to God’s flow.

Place one or both hands, palms-down, onto the crown of your head, and take deep breaths, gently pulling the air into your lungs, making your belly expand. Imagine white light flooding through your hands into your crown and filling your abdomen. Do not try to talk with God or pray anymore. Try to let go of your thoughts. This is a time for receiving passively the healing that God wishes you to receive. It is a time to let go of ego. It is a time to trust God that you are safe, you are loved, and you are blessed.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes. When your mind wanders, gently bring yourself back to the imagination of light cascading into your body.

6. Journaling: write anything that comes into your mind. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, syntax, or whether or not it makes sense. Just write about your experience and remember your story.  How do you feel now? What has God taught you? Do you believe the scripture is true? 

Second Touch-Healing Prayer: The Transfiguration 

How does the following scripture speak to you? 

      “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see      the kingdom of God.” About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the   appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of       lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with        Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at   Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully     awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were       leaving Jesus, Peter said to him,” Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (He did not know    what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken,   they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.   (Luke 9: 27-36 )

What is going on here? A visitation from those who have already died? Moses and Elijah, two very holy men, have come to talk to Jesus about his impending crucifixion. It makes me think about how we all benefit from comfort and support—even Jesus–from our peers. The three apostles are awed and frightened. Peter wants to build shelters. Does he think he can contain God? It is he who needs to be sheltered because he is so afraid.

I once had a vision. It scared me because I thought I must be going crazy. I, like the apostles, kept it to myself for a long time. I was in the sanctuary of First Christian Church where I had begun worshipping a few months earlier. I was not a baptized Christian, but I felt myself to be a follower of Christ and took communion every week. One day, as I looked towards the pulpit, I saw a vision of Jesus standing with his arms outstretched towards me. He was not clearly visible like a solid man and I knew that what I was seeing was in my mind’s eye—not a dream, but something similar. Along with the sight of this image, I felt overwhelming love surrounding me, and I realized that I was being invited to step into the healing presence of Christ.

Visions are real phenomena, but it’s important to ascertain what might be overly-imaginative or even a psychotic moment. Visions must be evaluated by the fruits that they bear. In my case, after this vision of Christ, I immediately arranged to be baptized. So, the fruit of my vision was that the barriers preventing my commitment to Christianity were removed. It was the beginning of my Christian journey. Jesus came and directly healed me by offering me irresistible love. But I am not more special than anyone else. Christ seeks to heal us all.

Your time with the Holy

1. Begin with a prayer—use this one, or something from your heart, some grace that you would like to receive.

            Irresistible God, help to open me to the reality of your loving presence. Remove       all the barriers that I have erected to protect myself. Let me feel your healing love          so that I too may rest with unrestricted vision in your presence and come to greater understanding of who you are, and who I am in Christ.                                                                     In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen     

2. Read the scripture slowly again(Luke 9: 27-36, paying attention to each word and each sentence.  What is the scripture actually about. Jot down any thoughts.

3. Read the scripture again and reflect about what you have read. Have you ever expected to see God? How would you feel if you were with the apostles on the mountain and saw the Transfiguration? What are you thinking as the cloud descends upon you? Write down your thoughts. Draw an image. Think about what God wants to teach you through this scripture.

4. Pray to God, allowing yourself to freely talk to God about what you’ve read and the thoughts and/or images that have come into your mind. Ask questions just as if you are conversing with someone present. God is present and is listening.  Write if you wish.

5. Rest in God, using Reiki

      In Reiki, indigo is the color of the brow chakra located between the eyebrows. It is associated with intuition, creativity, and psychic insight.

Place one or both hands, palms-down, between your eyebrows over the bridge of your nose, and take deep breaths, gently pulling the air into your lungs, making your belly expand. Imagine white light flooding through your hands into your head. Do not try to talk with God or pray anymore. Try to let go of your thoughts. This is a time for receiving passively the healing that God wishes you to receive. It is a time to let go of ego. It is a time to trust God that you are safe, you are loved, and you are blessed.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes. When your mind wanders, gently bring yourself back to the imagination of light cascading into your body.

6. Journaling: write anything that comes into your mind. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, syntax, or whether or not it makes sense. Just write about your experience and remember your story.  How do you feel now?  What is one word to describe your emotion? Are you peaceful, relaxed, anxious, happy, sad, rested? How is God within this feeling?

Third Touch-Healing Prayer: In Memory of Her

What words or images in this scripture stand out? 

            Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away,    and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

            While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

            Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of   perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages, and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

            “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth,  wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”   (Matthew 14: 1-9) 

            In memory of her are the words that speak to me. How will any of us be remembered? There is so much I might have done and have not done, and yet Jesus isn’t so worried about the “works” this woman might have performed, or how she might have used the money for good deeds. Jesus requires so much more than superficial giving. It’s all about giving love in the way that we can.

As I learned to become a writer, I struggled with publishing rejections. It has been almost twenty years of sustained effort that hasn’t resulted in what I expected.  People whom I love have turned away from me, have thought I was crazy. I’ve lost a marriage on the way. But I’ve trusted that I must follow the process of love in my life, the love that grows me beyond self-imposed and culturally-imposed limitations.

I hoped and continue to hope to give words to others, but unless I have God’s help, my words will be superficial. God’s word is spiritual food, and that is the basis for me to write. Scripture is a roadmap to growing awareness and understanding of what it means to be united with Jesus. I never would have thought the journey of God’s love was going to lead me, a poor kid from London, a poor girl who had no understanding of God, into a rich and abundant realm of living, into becoming a minister of God’s word. 

Your time with the Holy

1. Begin with a prayer—use this one, or something from your heart about your needs:

            Amazing God, your words are powerful and real and true. Speak to me through your scripture, revealing to me the way your love wants to make me whole, and the way I might simply be in your presence, giving back to you in some small way. Help me to remember I am loved no matter what anyone else thinks, no matter what has happened to me, no matter what I’ve done that has been wrong. You love me. Me! Help me to learn to love you and to respond to your love within my life.                                                                                In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen            

2. Read the scripture again slowly (Matthew 14: 1-9), paying attention to each word and each sentence.  What words or phrases did you notice most? Jot down any thoughts.

3. Read the scripture again and reflect about what you have read. How will you be remembered? Are there any inner enemies that haunt you? How are you like the woman with the perfume? Or are you one of the people who disapprove of waste? How can you grow your talents? What do you love to do? What makes you  joyous? How can you spend yourself? How do you need to find your true expression?

4. Pray to God, allowing yourself to freely talk to God about what you’ve read and the thoughts and/or images that have come into your mind. Ask questions just as if you are conversing with someone present. God is present and is listening.  Write if you wish.

5. Rest in God, using Reiki

      In Reiki, blue is the color of the throat chakra located over the throat. It is associated with voice and expression.

Place one or both hands, palms-down, over your throat, and take deep breaths, gently pulling the air into your lungs, making your belly expand. Imagine white light flooding through your hands into your head. Do not try to talk with God or pray anymore. Try to let go of your thoughts. This is a time for receiving passively the healing that God wishes you to receive. It is a time to let go of ego. It is a time to trust God that you are safe, you are loved, and you are blessed.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes. When your mind wanders, gently bring yourself back to the imagination of light cascading into your body.

6. Journaling: write anything that comes into your mind. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, syntax, or whether or not it makes sense. Just write about your experience and remember your story. Does God speak to you through imagination? When was the last time you sang in the shower? What letter would you write to yourself? What letter would God write to you?

Fourth Touch-Healing Prayer: Blindness—literal, not only a metaphor

How does the following scripture make you feel? 

            They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.  When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you  see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village.”                                                      (Mark 8: 22-26) 

Some people begged Jesus to help the blind man. There is such warmth in the caring and the help we receive from other people. I once prayed for a woman who had matricular degeneration and was going blind. It hurt me to think of her (or me) living without sight. My heart is joyous to know and realize that God works through my prayers and the prayers of all people. This lady underwent a new medical procedure, and later told me that it improved her sight enough for her to see again, darkly perhaps, but nevertheless far more than before. I am grateful to doctors and nurses and health-care workers. They are a part of answered prayer.

Your time with the Holy

1. Begin with a prayer—use this one, or seek a grace of your choosing:

            Healing Lord: open my eyes to see your truth. Open my heart to feel your living presence. Open my mind and release all the pains and hurts of the past. Open my soul so that your loving grace will flow through me to heal other people.              In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen     

2. Read the scripture slowly again  (Mark 8: 22-26), paying attention to each word and each sentence. How do you feel about the blind man? Was he always blind? Are you blind in any way? Close your eyes and imagine how it feels to not see. Now open your eyes. What do you notice around you?

3. Read the scripture again and reflect about what you have read. Do you ever feel lonely? Do you long for more intimate relationships with your husband, your family, or your friends? Have you ever begged Jesus to touch you? What do you wish you could see better?

4. Pray to God, allowing yourself to freely talk to God about what you’ve read and the thoughts and/or images that have come into your mind. Ask questions just as if you are conversing with someone present. God is present and is listening.  Write if you wish.

5. Rest in God, using Reiki

      In Reiki, green is the color of the heart chakra located over the heart. It is associated with trust and love.

Place one or both hands, palms-down, over your heart, and take deep breaths, gently pulling the air into your lungs, making your belly expand. Imagine white light flooding through your hands into your head. Do not try to talk with God or pray anymore. Try to let go of your thoughts. This is a time for receiving passively the healing that God wishes you to receive. It is a time to let go of ego. It is a time to trust God that you are safe, you are loved, and you are blessed.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes. When your mind wanders, gently bring yourself back to the imagination of light cascading into your body.

6. Journaling: write anything that comes into your mind. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, syntax, or whether or not it makes sense. Just write about your experience and remember your story.  Did you notice how your hands felt over your heart? Did they get warm? Often, when healing energy is flowing, there is a sensation of heat. 

Fifth Touch-Healing Prayer: Obedience to God 

How does the following scripture motivate you? 

            The apostles returned. They reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took      them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the   crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them           about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Late in the       afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to    the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

            He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

            They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there).

            But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”      The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.          (Luke 9: 10-17) 

The Twelve Disciples believed Jesus and were obedient. They distributed the bread and the fish to groups of people and everyone was fed, and the leftovers exceeded the original loaves and fishes. I wonder if I would be able to trust God to increase the bread to feed so many? “You give them something to eat,” Jesus says so simply, and they immediately think of going into town to buy supplies, but that’s not what Jesus meant. He was their supply of food. They did trust him but weren’t yet able to believe they could rely upon him.

We must learn to be still and listen. That’s not so easy for busy people working, raising children, running here and there and everywhere, and yet if we are to hear God, we have to listen to him when he is talking to us. We have to learn to pay attention. We have to learn how to be present to each moment of each day, aware that God is in that moment, longing to feed us something tasty.

Your time with the holy

1. Begin with a prayer—use this one, or spontaneously pray for a specific need:

            Abundant God, you supply me with nourishment so much greater than mere food. You also take care of my physical wants. How might I take care of the physical wants of other people? How am to obey your call to my life? How am I to give to other people? I ask because I know you will not only fill my head with ideas, but will empower my life with the energy that moves me to try new things, love anew, and do work that glorifies you, for it is in the name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.            

2. Read the scripture slowly again (Luke 9: 10-17), paying attention to each word and each sentence. What is the scripture actually about. Jot down any thoughts.

3. Read the scripture again and reflect about what you have read. How has God fed you in your life? In what ways have you developed your talents. Have you gone to school to study? Do you want to learn more? Does your work make you joyful in spite of  frustrations?  Could God be calling you to other tasks? What stops you from changing? How can you deepen your current job (including being a mom and housewife) so that you are God-inspired?

4. Pray to God, allowing yourself to freely talk to God about what you’ve read and the thoughts and/or images that have come into your mind. Ask questions just as if you are conversing with someone present. God is present and is listening.  Write if you wish. 

5. Rest in God, using Reiki

      In Reiki, yellow is the color of the solar plexus chakra located at the base of the ribcage. It is associated with work and power.

Place one or both hands, palms-down, over your abdomen, and take deep breaths, gently pulling the air into your lungs, making your belly expand. Imagine white light flooding through your hands into your head. Do not try to talk with God or pray anymore. Try to let go of your thoughts. This is a time for receiving passively the healing that God wishes you to receive. It is a time to let go of ego. It is a time to trust God that you are safe, you are loved, and you are blessed.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes. When your mind wanders, gently bring yourself back to the imagination of light cascading into your body.

6. Journaling: write anything that comes into your mind. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, syntax, or whether or not it makes sense. Just write about your experience and remember your story.  What words or images from the scripture stick with you? How do they relate to something practical that you routinely do?

Sixth Touch-Healing Prayer: Suffering 

What does the following scripture make you remember? 

      Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I   will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your       faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.                (Matthew 9: 19-21) 

A beginning of my healing came during a time of suffering. My husband of over twenty-six-years left me. I’d known, as women often do, that he was having an affair. I finally confronted him on Christmas day. That’s when he told me about another woman. She was pregnant with his child. How can I ever convey the brokenness of my soul that was revealed? I was childless, in my forties, and thought my life, clearly mapped out (comfortable, easy, not particularly challenging) was over. I remember rage overcoming me and helplessness and hopelessness. Then one day, as I walked in a beautiful field unable to see the green grass or smell the air or enjoy the squawking blue jays, I fell to my knees and I prayed for God to teach me how to forgive, to teach me how to understand, to teach me how to live again.  He did. He will for you too.

Your time with the Holy

1. Begin with a prayer—use this one, or remember a prayer you’ve prayed before, or choose a psalm to pray:

            God of infinite healing love, I am grateful that you are always present. In a crowd of people, you turn to look at me, turn to look for me, especially when I am hurting and lost. I call upon you now to release me from the wounds I am unable to heal by myself. I call upon you to restore me to a path of holiness. I call upon you to give me spiritual health that frees me to love you, to love all those I meet, and to bring restoration to others in the best way I am able. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen              

2. Read the scripture slowly again (Matthew 9: 19-21), paying attention to each word and each sentence.  What is the scripture actually about. Jot down any thoughts.

3. Read the scripture again and reflect about what you have read. Imagine you are watching the woman as she approaches Jesus.  Or perhaps you are the woman approaching Jesus. What or who is in your way? How are you hurting? What do you most hope Jesus will do for you?

4. Pray to God, allowing yourself to freely talk to God about what you’ve read and the thoughts and/or images that have come into your mind. Ask questions just as if you are conversing with someone present. God is present and is listening.  Write or draw if you wish. 

5. Rest in God, using Reiki

      In Reiki, orange is the color of the spleen chakra located over the navel. It is associated with emotional issues.

Place one or both hands, palms-down, over your navel, and take deep breaths, gently pulling the air into your lungs, making your belly expand. Imagine white light flooding through your hands into your head. Do not try to talk with God or pray anymore. Try to let go of your thoughts. This is a time for receiving passively the healing that God wishes you to receive. It is a time to let go of ego. It is a time to trust God that you are safe, you are loved, and you are blessed.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes. When your mind wanders, gently bring yourself back to the imagination of light cascading into your body.

6. Journaling: write anything that comes into your mind. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, syntax, or whether or not it makes sense. Just write about your experience and remember your story.  What has God revealed to you? What do you need to do in order to begin healing the suffering of your life? Do you need to seek forgiveness from God? Do you need to let go of bitterness and forgive someone else? Ask and you will receive.

Seventh Touch-Healing Prayer: Resurrection

What do you smell or see or feel as you read this scripture? 

      On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.   (Luke 24: 1-8) 

How often do we bring spices that are intended to cover up a smell—we want to superficially remove the stench of our discomfort. But what we really need is to allow God’s permeating Spirit to fill us. After I accepted baptism, my spiritual life began to skyrocket. It wasn’t all easy. It was frightening at times to learn how much a part I played through unaware behavior and wrong choices in keeping myself on a path to death. We all are participants in the fall of Adam and Eve. We are all a part of lost humanity in need of restoration. But in the New Covenant of the risen Christ, we are freed to be filled with something more fragrant than any perfume. We are freed to be filled with the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.

Wholeness will be something different for each and every person. One aspect of my wholeness is to have become a Reiki healer. It has freed me from believing life is merely physical. It has connected me deeply to the holy. It has led me along a path of life which gives comfort to others.

My current husband, Philip, has often been my guinea pig and we’ve both benefited by becoming closer. After major back surgery, when we’d just gotten home from the hospital, Philip could hardly walk and was heavily sedated. The doctors told me to be certain to keep his feet warm, because circulatory problems could be dangerous. I managed to get my good man into bed where he fell fast asleep. His ankles and feet were freezing cold. There was no way I could wake him, no way to get him to move his feet. So I prayed and I laid my hands, palms-down, on his feet. Within minutes his ankles and feet warmed up and never got cold again throughout his three-month recovery.

Your time with the Holy

1. Begin with a prayer—use this one, or seek a grace of new life for yourself in your own words. Pray from your heart:

Amazing God, you understand all, you give all, you never hold back, you send angels dressed in lightning cloth to remind us that after death there is resurrection. I don’t know when my final resurrection will come, but I know you are love, and love is always healing. Help me to fully open to your love, to let in the white lightning of your Spirit so that I might be immersed in a life that brings me and all whom I meet loving- presence, healing and wholeness.

In the name of the most Holy, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen. 

2. Read the scripture slowly again(Luke 24: 1-8), paying attention to each word and each sentence.  What is the scripture actually about. Jot down any thoughts.

3. Read the scripture again and reflect about what you have read. What are  the spices that you are carrying? How do you intend to use them? How have you experienced fragrance in your life?         

4. Pray to God, allowing yourself to freely talk to God about what you’ve read and the thoughts and/or images that have come into your mind. Ask questions just as if you are conversing with someone present. God is present and is listening.  Write if you wish.

5. Rest in God, using Reiki

      In Reiki, red is the color of the root chakra located at the base of the spine at the genitals. It is associated with survival, sexuality, and birth

Place one hand, palms-down, just below each hip, and take deep breaths, gently pulling the air into your lungs, making your belly expand. Imagine white light flooding through your hands into your head. Do not try to talk with God or pray anymore. Try to let go of your thoughts. This is a time for receiving passively the healing that God wishes you to receive. It is a time to let go of ego. It is a time to trust God that you are safe, you are loved, and you are blessed.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes. When your mind wanders, gently bring yourself back to the imagination of light cascading into your body.

6. Journaling: write anything that comes into your mind. Do not worry about grammar, spelling, syntax, or whether or not it makes sense. Just write about your experience and remember your story.  Are there memories surfacing that need to be healed? Allow yourself to experience these feelings and memories. Trust that God is present with you and will keep you safe.

IV. Final Word

The resurrection is a literal truth that we can trust.

Jesus has been crucified, a death so horrible that many being executed in this way went mad on their crosses. Now, after three days, when dead bodies are decaying and stinking, Jesus’ body cannot be found by the women. There is no odor. The angels tell them that Jesus is alive. Alive! What hope there is for us to know that Jesus lives! He lives! He transcends the physical death we all fear so greatly, and he comes back just as physical as before only somehow better and stronger.

He comes back to tell us, even when we are deaf, dumb, and blind to his message, that we don’t need to be afraid of anything, that in Him, and through Him, by opening ourselves to Spirit, that we too can and will transcend time and space. Jesus is a bridge between us and God so that we can be restored to health and life. Jesus gives us guidance, through scripture, through his actual presence within us, through the Holy Spirit. This force is real and empowering and entirely personal, for it knows what we need and what we don’t need. But we have work to do. We can’t continue to walk the road of death: the same old road of our former habits. We must open up to the Holy, listen, obey, and begin a new journey, practicing the holy disciplines of prayer, fasting, healing, and seeking God in all we do and all we are. Once we are truly able to be quiet, God’s will can be heard, and new life will fill us. God’s energy will flow through us like rivers of healing water.

Join now with me and others reading this book. In God’s Spirit we are in some mysterious way all One.

Loving and Perfect God: How we sing and rejoice to know the truth about your love. Help all of us to discern your purpose for our lives more and more that we might live fully. Help us to love You our Lord God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our minds. Help us give everything with passion, nourish our brains with learning, and teach us to reach out fully to others without fear for ourselves.

            It is in the name of Jesus we pray.                                                                   Amen.


References and Suggested Reading List

Bradford, Michael. 1997. The Healing Energy of Your Hands. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.

Ellis, Richard. 2002. Reiki and the Seven Chakras. London: Vermilion.

Hall, Thelma, r.c. 1988. Too Deep for Words. New York: Paulist Press.

MacNutt, Francis. 2000. The Prayer that Heals. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press.

Sanford, Agnes. 1991. The Healing Light. New York: Ballantine Books.

Weston, Walter. 1998. Healing Others. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads.

 

Scripture is from BibleGateway.com  NIV, Zondervan Press.

A recommended Reiki site from which some of the Reiki information was taken is

www.reiki-evolution.co.uk

mailing address:          Reiki Evolution, 5 Rose Lane, Spalding, Lincs., England, PE11 3RN

***

These exercises are published as an Appendix in my Kindle e-book: Ziggy, a Little Book of Healing–miracle and memoir, Reiki healing–true miracle of dog’s healing and how his life interacted and taught the author much about herself and God.                               $3.99

http://www.amazon.com/Ziggy-Little-Book-Healing-ebook/dp/B006ZZ9MLM/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1368364115&sr=1-6&keywords=Christina+St+clair

 

Lenten Spiritual Practices: Second Monday in Lent – March 17, 2014

patrick“I arise today through the mighty strength of the Trinity….

Christ to shield me today.”

from The Breastplate of St. Patrick,

attributed to St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland (390-469 C.E.)

***

Patrick is not only my patron saint; he is also a model for the ministry God has given me.  He traveled all over Ireland preaching the Gospel; I travel all over this country (and, occasionally, beyond) doing the same.  My preaching is usually in the context of a retreat, parish mission, or day of prayer.  And, like Patrick, I too rely upon (as The Breastplate says):

God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s shield to protect me….

For his fifth-century audience, Patrick’s message was both novel and challenging: a call to leave their pagan ways and be converted to the Gospel.  For my twenty-first-century audience, the message is usually not new; but is every bit as challenging, especially when we recognize that conversion is not a once-and-for-all event.  Rather, conversion is a life-long journey, calling us to keep our minds and hearts open to the full import of Jesus’ message – which is always beyond what we have yet grasped.

Today’s Gospel (Lk. 6:36-38) points out, uncomfortably so, how much further I have yet to go on that journey.  It contains some of the very few absolutes Jesus ever gave those who would follow him: Be merciful.  Stop judging.  Stop condemning.  Forgive.

Has there been a day on which I have not failed in those very ways?  That is one reason why a prayer I offer every morning are the first words of The Breastplate (in this two-fold translation, so that I might better remember the message):

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity.

            I bind unto myself the strong presence of Father, Son and Spirit. 

Perhaps that prayer may help me be a bit more converted today – and perhaps it might do the same for you.

Fr. J. Patrick Foley, Ph.D. WVIS Associate Spiritual Director: frjpf@sbcglobal.net

www.itinerantpapistpreacher.com

from West Virginia Institute for Spirituality: http://wvis.org/

Spiritual Direction–interview with journalist Lee Ward

tranquil

You and Cindy are spiritual directors. What exactly does that mean?

What exactly is Spiritual Direction?

Cindy:

The best definition I have found for spiritual direction comes from George J. Schemel, S.J.  He defines spiritual direction as “an in-depth conversation, over time, between a trained and certified Spiritual director (sometimes called counselor, advisor, or companion) and another person who seeks to grow in their life of Faith (prayer), HOPE (difficulties, trials and sufferings) and LOVE ( the person’s life in relationship to other individuals and their community).”  Actually, “Spiritual Director” is the formal title of one who is trained and certified as defined by Spiritual Directors International’s guidelines for training programs.  The title can be off-putting and seems to suggest a relationship based on formal authority, rules to follow and obedience.  Contemporary spiritual direction is something very different. It involves mutuality between the director and directee, recognizing great spiritual diversity but honoring that we are all spiritual beings seeking to fill the hole within that can only be filled by God. Spiritual direction is about holy listening, presence and attentiveness to the faith journey of another who desires to find and experience more of God.

I will never forget the first sessions with my spiritual director 20 years ago. I had just received a cancer diagnosis and had not been told of my prognosis. Like all humanity, facing one’s possible death at age 42 is a frightening experience, challenging the very foundation of faith that I had built my life upon. From the beginning my director heard and seemed to already know what had most fundamentally been threatened within me. She drew forth the words to those transcendent moments with God that all of us who seek have in our spiritual histories: moments I had hardly noticed, even stored away, and had forgotten, but moments that were the touchstones of my faith journey. My director brought those moments to fuller life as she drew forth my words, my stories, my heart, my sufferings, my questions. And then she offered the ways for me to “hear” the voice that comes from the Center that resides in all of us. Trained and certified directors always remember that God is the real director and what is sought is between the seeker and God.

Seekers come to spiritual direction for many reasons. Some come to deepen their prayer by learning new ways of praying. Others come because they suffer deeply and have nowhere to tell of their suffering. Others, because they are experiencing a crisis of faith and believe they have lost their connection to God when this experience of doubt is a natural and eventual happening for all serious and honest seekers of God. Spiritual directors are trained to bring to birth the experience of Divine union promised to us when Christ told us that the Kingdom of Heaven is here.

Spiritual directors must continue to be in direction and are under the supervision of other highly trained directors/teachers. We share the same professional ethics and guidelines as counselors, priests and ministers including absolute confidentiality and privacy.

Christina: I have always been interested in spirituality and helped start a meditation group, Holy Ground, with my pastor, Bob Bradley at First Christian Church here in Ashland.  I felt woefully inadequate leading such a group.  Elaine Bradley gave me an article about spiritual direction.  I’d never heard of it but after research, learned spiritual direction is a timeless Christian practice. Many Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther certainly used meditation such as Lectio Divina which is a contemplation on Christian scripture.  I enrolled in a spiritual direction program at West Virginia Institute for Spirituality.  It was equivalent to a Master’s degree.  I learned so much about prayer, and how to lead groups, and companion others in one-on-one spiritual direction.

One of the tenets of Christian contemplation is that it is not navel-gazing, but leads to action, to works, in the world.  This has certainly been true for me.  In addition to my spiritual direction program, I got degrees in philosophy/Christian apologetics and pastoral ministry.  I pastored a United Methodist Church.  And because my love of contemplation and of the teachings of Christ have transformed my world view and my way of living, I delight in offering retreats to others who want a deeper prayer life.

How did the two of you get involved with The Cup of Our Life and leading this retreat?

Christina:  Cindy and I are both graduates from West Virginia Institute for Spirituality.  She graduated the year before me and we did not know one another.  We met during a retreat I facilitated, the Spirituality of Story, and realized we both lived in Ashland. We began to meet to see how we might serve God in our community.  The Cup of Our Life is a book introduced to me by Cindy who has used it in the past.  I was familiar with the author, Joyce Rupp, who is an international leader in spirituality. You can learn more about her on her website where she posts reflections.  For January she writes:  Each of us has to find the best time of day to pray, but I truly believe that one of the first things required for faithful union with God, no matter when or how we arise, is to pray some kind of thanksgiving for a new day. Life is simply too precious a gift to take for granted. It may be as simple as standing with hands outstretched with a loving heart, but a vital aspect of morning prayer is the intention to unite ourselves with the One who has given us life. http://joycerupp.com/

Is the book or the program denominational at all? Are most churches accepting of this? It sounds pretty nondenominational to me, but it also sounds like something that a lot of more traditional churches might not embrace simply because it is nondenominational or it might be seen as something that’s “out there.” 

Christina: The book is non-denominational. Christian scriptures are used for the prayers and meditations.  Cindy and I have met with the Ministerial Association of Ashland to present our programs which have been well received.  We did a Lenten one last year at Calvary called God Speaks. People from different Christian denominations attended.  In fact, the five week program was so successful, it led to us continuing a monthly contemplation prayer group which alternates between Ashland and Huntington.

To answer your concern that the practice of spiritual direction is “out there,” it is certainly not something outside of Christian mainstream.  It is in fact an interior movement where through prayer and Scriptural contemplation, one seeks to understand God’s presence in one’s life, a movement that leads to works in our daily lives very much in keeping with Biblical mandates such as that found in James 2:14: 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?  

Can you describe how the program will go each week? Do the two of you lecture? Is it more an active program with participants doing things?

Christina: This is a time of quiet reflection.  Cindy and I begin by giving a brief teaching about contemplative prayer, perhaps quoting from experts such as Richard Rohr, Thomas Merton, or Joan Chittister. We will be focusing on five of the chapters in the book which use the cup as a symbol of our souls in various stages of growth: The Cup of Life, The Open Cup, The Broken Cup, The Cup of Compassion, and the Blessing Cup.

Rupp says in the preface to the Cup of Our Life:  “A cup can evoke a compelling connection with one’s self. I learned this in the twenty years since The Cup of Our Life was first published. While I enjoyed creating this book, I had considerable mistrust and apprehension about its ability to speak to those who used it. I wasn’t sure others would find the potential for spiritual growth that I did in the cup’s symbolism. As it turned out, this concern of mine was wasted energy.

During the years after The Cup of Our Life emerged, I received countless messages from readers telling me how profoundly their encounter with the cup imagery changed their lives. These messages have never stopped coming. Hearing these stories renews my strong belief in the power of symbol to connect our worldly selves to our deeper soul-selves. It is in this connection that we can find meaning and inspiration to live more fully.” 

After the teaching, we read a selected Scripture using a timeless Christian contemplative prayer practice which we will teach.  There is a time of silence for twenty minutes. Many people feel uncomfortable to be silent for such a seemingly long time and worry they cannot still their chattering brains, but in actuality, we become aware of the chatter, and focus our minds on the deep teaching of the Scripture, seeking for God to inform us.

After the silence, there is a time for faith sharing.  We adhere to Guidelines of Trust, adapted from Parker Palmer’s work. He is a leader of spirituality and community formation: http://www.couragerenewal.org/parker.  Participants agree to confidentiality, and to listen deeply without interrupting or advising or judging while others speak.  We close the session with contemplative music. 

Please feel free to add anything else you want to add.

Christina: Well, let me see: true union with God through Christ is a deepening and transformational process. We are all beginners in prayer and God is always surprising us with love and fresh awareness.  I never would have thought I’d ever be able to preach.  For some the idea of a woman behind the pulpit is uncomfortable.  It certainly was for me!  I thought only men were priests and ministers.  I am a person who dropped out of college because I was too scared to take a required public speaking class. Yet, years later, after becoming a Christian, through the encouragement of church community, I find myself able to speak with confidence.  Studying scripture is a source of incredible wisdom, praying scriptures is a source of deepening where I am learning to let go of my agenda and let God work through me in the ways of which I am capable.

 

The Cup of Our Life: a Lenten Interfaith Prayer Retreat

Join spiritual directors, Cindy Neely and Christina St Clair, for a time of interfaith spiritual formation using the Cup of Our Life.

Participants are limited to 15 people, preregistration is suggested by March 9.  Please call or e-mail Cindy or Christina to reserve your place. Checks can be made payable to Cindy Neely.

Contact:  Cindy Neely: (606) 923 0437                     e-mail: neelycynthia@gmail.com

Christina St. Clair: (606) 585-4315                 e-mail:  christinastclair55@yahoo.com

 

More retreat details:  http://christinastclair.com/blog/?p=3100

 

Contemplative Presence: Virtual Gathering

forest

Stand still.
The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost.
Wherever you are is called “here” and you must
treat it as a powerful stranger,
must ask permission to know it
and be known,
Listen.
the Forest breathes, it whispers,
I have made this place around you. If you leave it
you may come back again saying “here”.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree of branch does is lost on you
Then you are surely lost.
Stand still.

The Forest knows where you are.
You must let it find you.

This poem named “LOST” is a Native American teaching story adapted by David Waggoner. It illustrates the contemplative attitude. An elder is instructing us on what to do if we ever find ourselves “lost” in the forest. The poem teaches us about being “present” to the moment through the qualities of receptivity, awareness and openness to those powers and numinous forces that are so much greater than our small, ego-identified selves. The poem is about contemplative presence. http://ecocontemplative.com/contpresc3.html

Contemplate:

Read psalm 46 three times, slowly, paying attention to any words, phrases, images or meanings that seem poignant.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Pray:  God guide me in silence that I might hear what you speak to me through this psalm and through your Holy Spirit.

Silence: for twenty minutes center yourself on the word or the image that seemed poignant to you.  Do not worry if your mind wanders.  Simply come back to your word.

Journal: write down your experience.

Now join your voice in our Ending Song remembering you are singing with many others in many places.

Click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnGnGBlBc1k

THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS MAY FALL
by Dan Schutte
Based on Isaiah 54: 6-10, 49:15, 40:31-32

ANTIPHON:
Though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust,
yet the love of the Lord will stand
as a shelter for all who will call on His name.
Sing the praise and the glory of God.

1.       Could the Lord ever leave you?
Could the Lord forget His love?
Though a mother forsake her child,
He will not abandon you

2.       Should you turn and forsake Him,
He will gently call your name.
Should you wander away from Him,
He will always take you back.

3.       As he swore to your Fathers,
when the flood destroyed the land.
He will never forsake you,
He will swear to you again.

 

Christina’s response:

I am hearing conflicting ideas here.  God will comfort, but this is a God who also brings vengeance.

It makes me uncomfortable.

I want the stream of peace, but I do not seek nor believe in a God of vengeance. I take into my prayer my question, How are you with us, Verde, and how are you with me, God?

Later:

I was very tired not having slept well last night. I fell asleep.

Was God with me.?

Of course, in a simple way.

No vengeance here.  Peace. Rest.

I go now to the song.

I found myself singing the feminine not the masculine version but I was not troubled nor angry, and I have been very angry in the past at patriarchy:

Though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust,
yet the love of the Lady will stand
as a shelter for all who will call on Her name.

I was sad too, that the third verse was not sung:
Go to Him/Her when you’re weary,
He/She will give you eagle’s wings.
You will run never tire,
For your God will be your strength.

 

Advent Contemplations from West Virginia Institute for Spirituality–Sixteen

December 16, 2013 – Third Monday in Advent

silouan2The soul cannot know peace unless one prays for one’s enemies. The soul that has learned of God’s grace to pray, feels love and compassion for every created thing, and in particular for humankind, for whom the Lord suffered on the Cross, and His soul was heavy for every one of us.

St. Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938)

St. Silouan was a modern day Saint, an Eastern Orthodox monk, originally from Russia. Thomas Merton described Silouan as “the most authentic monk of the twentieth century.” A simple man, St. Silouan was sought out for his wise counsel, especially on prayer. “We must always pray, so that the Lord will tell us what we must do, and the Lord will not leave us in confusion.” But for St. Silouan, prayer goes beyond just asking the Lord what we should do. Through prayer we feel the grace of the Holy Spirit. And whoever has within him the peace of the Holy Spirit brings peace to others as well. For through the Holy Spirit is our path to forgiveness and mercy, and humanity’s path to eternal life. This path began with God’s creation of all living things, was demonstrated by Jesus Christ when He prayed for those who crucified Him and died for the salvation of all, and continues for all mankind, throughout the generations.

So, what does this tell us this Advent Season? Be diligent in our praying and the Lord will give birth to our prayers. Pray for all people, for all mankind, even our enemies, that all the nations may rejoice in God’s peace. If our souls are to obtain inner peace, we must love our brothers and sisters. And who are our brothers and sisters? Every other human being, for we are all connected through the body of Christ.

~Peace be with you during this Advent Season.

Prayer Practice for the Day

St. Silouan said “if your mind wishes to pray in your heart but cannot, then read the prayer aloud and keep your mind on the words of the prayer. In time, the Lord will give you prayer of the heart without interfering thoughts… whoever loves the Lord remembers Him always, and this memory of the Lord gives birth to prayer.”

Elaine Soper, WVIS Associate Spiritual Director: elainesoper@gmail.com

Link to West Virginia Institute for Spirituality to download all of the Advent contemplations: http://wvis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Advent-Reflections-2013.pdf

Verde, December 12, 2013–Holding the Tension

tension

Where: St Peter Claver: 828 15th Street,  Huntington, WV

When: 6: 30 -8:00 PM

What: Contemplation

Tonight spiritual director Cindy Neely will be teaching about contemplative prayer; she plans to open with the premise that the only way to live in the paradox of true spiritual growth is to understand: it is not about perfection but divine union. Holding the tension can only be done through a commitment to contemplative prayer.. resting in God…

We will light Advent candles to symbolize:

1. beloved/connected to Jesus

2. reflection/understanding Christ

3. crucifixion of some personal barrier to full union with God

4. resurrection of soul and self in the light of Christ

5. central: Verde is the greening of becoming one with God.

Luke 1: 5-25: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%201:%205-25&version=NIV

Special Blessing

Closing Music: Gabriel’s Oboe

 

Be Free: Tonglen, Compassion, Enemies, and Prayer

 

Jesus teaches we are to pray for our enemies:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  (Matthew 5: 43-45 NIV)

This profound teaching was illustrated for me through an article in Shambhala Sun, September 2013, about a comedienne: Margaret Cho.  Apparently she is a big hit in a TV show Drop Dead Diva.  Never seen it.  But she says, “…As human beings, we’re capable of experiencing all kinds of suffering.  It’s more valuable to share that than maintain this guise of privacy where we have to keep secrets from each other.  It really doesn’t matter anyway.  Everybody has a body. Everybody has emotions.  That experience is more helpful to share than it is to hide.  Privacy is something that people want to use to protect themselves when it’s not an actual protective mechanism. We’ve all felt the same, so we’re never really revealing anything.” (p. 23).

The article goes on to reveal that Cho practices tonglen.  Here is a link to a wonderful description of this practice by Pema Chodrin: http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/tonglen1.php

The wisdom of the Christ sets the stage and is the ground of action for Christians.  Buddhist tonglen is a meditative practice similar in that it is about praying for enemies, or at least for those we see as suffering.

From a Christian world view which philosophically hails God the creator as all-loving, all wise, and all powerful, anything that causes pain is considered evil.  When we pray for our enemies, both within ourselves, and distantly, we call upon a force greater than ourselves which sets us all free.

Tonglen is a powerful meditative tool and gives the means to pray for enemies in clear and concise ways.

How else will we ever be free from war unless our hearts, minds and spirits are able to recognize we are all brothers and sisters?  When one of us is hurting, we are all hurting.

Be free.  Create freedom. End suffering.  Pray for your enemies.  Practice Tonglen.