Search Results for 'Christian'

On Forgiveness

by Richard Holloway

Category: Recommended books

Tradition: Christianity

· book · Christianity · agnosticism · doubt · faith · love · forgiveness

Centring prayer

Many people do not believe in a personal God or in miraculous interventions, so we find it difficult to pray. But prayer is not just about asking for things. It can be contemplative. It can be about communing silently with the universe, or self-examination, or holding loved ones in your thoughts, or increasing mindfulness. Centring prayer is a spiritual practice that was developed by Christians in response to interfaith dialogue with Buddhists.

Link: Read more about Centring Prayer

Category: Spiritual practices

Tradition: Christianity

· centring · centering · Christian · Buddhist · contemplation · meditation · interfaith

The Secret Life of Bees

 Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, Lily Owens has shaped her entire life around one devastating, blurred memory--the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Since then, her only real companion has been the fierce-hearted, and sometimes just fierce, black woman Rosaleen, who acts as her "stand-in mother."

When Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily knows it's time to spring them both free. They take off in the only direction Lily can think of, toward a town called Tiburon, South Carolina--a name she found on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother.

There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August. Lily thinks of them as the calendar sisters and enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Maternal loss and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness entwine in a story that leads Lily to the single thing her heart longs for most.

The Secret Life of Bees has a rare wisdom about life--about mothers and daughters and the women in our lives who become our true mothers. A remarkable story about the divine power of women and the transforming power of love, this is a stunning debut whose rich, assured, irresistible voice gathers us up and doesn't let go, not for a moment. It is the kind of novel that women share with each other and that mothers will hand down to their daughters for years to come.

by Sue Monk Kidd

Link: http://www.suemonkkidd.com/SecretLifeOfBees/

Category: Recommended books

Tradition: Eclectic spirituality

· novel · bees · women's spirituality · Black spirituality · esoteric Christianity · Mary

Shared meals

Many religious traditions have shared meals as part of their practice.

Jewish tradition has the Seder or Passover meal, in which specific symbolic foods are eaten, representing different aspects of the Passover story. The youngest person present must ask, "Why is this night more special than all other nights?" and various other symbolic actions are performed, such as leaving the door open for Elijah, and raising a toast to the idea that one's next Seder will take place in Jerusalem.

Christianity has the Eucharist, which commemorates both the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples, and also the meal he is said to have shared with them at Emmaus after his Resurrection. The meal consists of bread and wine consumed in a sacred manner. There has been much conflict throughout Christian history about what the Eucharist means, who is allowed to partake of it, and what its effects are. Nevertheless it is a powerful ritual. Stephen Lingwood, a Unitarian minister, suggests that communion represents Jesus' radical hospitality – his willingness to eat with people marginalised by society, such as prostitutes, tax collectors and publicans.

In Wicca, the shared meal is known as cakes and wine, and is usually consecrated by a woman and a man (or a same-sex couple), and then shared among the participants in the ritual. A portion is kept for offering to the deities as a libation.

In some Hindu traditions, a portion of the food is offered to the deities while it is being cooked, and blessed food is known as prasadam.

The ancient Greeks had a ritual of sharing bread, which is where we get our word symposium, which literally means ‘together bread’. In ancient Rome, there were dining clubs devoted to the god Bacchus (god of wine), which presumably had a ritual or spiritual aspect.

Many religious traditions (including Buddhism, Christianity and Paganism) give thanks for their food before eating. Typically, the meal blessing might include thanks to all the beings and processes that went into creating the food, and a wish that everyone in the world might have enough to eat.

Cooking can also be a spiritual practice. It is in many ways akin to alchemy (the transformation of one thing into another); indeed, a cooking vessel invented by a medieval female alchemist – the bain-marie – founds its way from the laboratory to the kitchen. In Jewish tradition, the preparation of food has special rituals associated with it. The magic of a lovingly prepared meal is powerful stuff, restoring both body and mind.

by Yvonne Aburrow

Link: UK Spirituality blog

Category: Spiritual practices

Tradition: Multiple traditions

· alchemy · ancient paganism · Buddhist · Christian · everyday spirituality · Hindu · Judaism · Pagan · shared meals · spiritual practices · Wicca ·

Meditative walking

There are several different types of meditative walking, from various different spiritual traditions.

The theologian St Augustine famously wrote “Solvitur ambulando” (It is solved by walking), by which he presumably meant that as you walk, the problems that were at the forefront of your mind are put on the back burner and there solved. I have experienced this process myself.

Walking is also more environmentally friendly than other means of locomotion.

Eastern Orthodox Christians practice the prayer walk, which is a form of processional walking, with stops for prayers at various intervals.

The practice of walking labyrinths is a very ancient practice dating from pre-Christian times, but also used by Christians in labyrinths such as the famous one at Chartres. In a Chartres-style labyrinth, you never know quite how near or far you are from the centre, so as you twist and turn through the labyrinth, walking slowly and meditatively, you are reminded of the twists and turns of life, and sometimes solutions to problems come to mind as you walk.

Buddhists practice the walking meditation, which is where you walk slowly and mindfully, place one foot in front of the other in a slow and deliberate way, silently reciting a mantra as you walk.

Another way of walking mindfully is to walk in a garden, and walk towards the first thing – perhaps a plant, perhaps a stone, or a leaf on the ground – that attracts your attention, and then really look at it. What colour is it? What is its texture? How is it structured? Is it growing or decaying? Smell it, touch it. Does it make a sound? Follow the patterns on its surface. When you have really observed it with all of your senses, thank it and move on to the next thing that attracts your attention. At the end of your walk, you might like to draw what you have seen, or write a poem (perhaps haiku) about the experience.

by Yvonne Aburrow

Link: UK Spirituality blog

Category: Spiritual practices

Tradition: Multiple traditions

· everyday spirituality · meditation · spiritual practices · walking · ancient paganism · Christian · Buddhist · mindfulness

Stone Cutters

During the Middle Ages, a traveler once came upon a place in France where a great deal of building work was going on. He began talking with the stone cutters and asking them about their work.
He approached the first worker and asked, "What are you doing?"

The man, very disgruntled, and obviously unhappy in his hard toil, replied, "I'm cutting these huge boulders with the simplest of tools and putting them together in the way I've been told to do. I'm sweating in this heat and my back is hurting. What's more, I'm totally bored, and I wish I didn't have to do this hard and meaningless job."

The traveler moved on quickly to interview a second worker. He asked the same question: "What are you doing?"

The worker replied, "Well, I have a wife and children at home, so I come here every morning and I work these boulders into regular shapes, as I'm told to do. It gets repetitive sometimes, but it helps to feed my family, and that's all I want."

Somewhat encouraged, the traveller went on to a third worker. "And what are you doing?" he asked.

The third worker responded, with shining eyes, as he pointed up to the heavens, "I'm building a cathedral!"

Category: Stories

Tradition: None

· stories · folktales · fairytales · legends · myth · myths · mythology · Christian · attitude · mindfulness