Sunday Prayer

I see you as you go before me.
I touch you as the ground beneath me.
I hold you as the wound between us.
I greet you as the peace within us.

Jesus my brother, Christ my savior,
I believe in you and in your resurrection
… most of the time. Help my unbelief,
for life is abundant and creative and
surprising, but I have unfaithfully limited
my understanding to death and cynicism.

Show me life where there is fullness of joy,
and I will make it my breath and my work.
Show me hope with possibility and clarity,
and it will be my guide and my salvation.
Show me faith that burns and opens hearts,
and I will give you mine over and again.

I see you as you go before me.
I touch you as the ground beneath me.
I hold you as the wound between us.
I greet you as the peace within us.

My Lord and my God!

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Deliberate Acts of Kindness

Meredith Gould’s writing and wit — combined with her overall brilliance — produce books that are relevant, purposeful and compelling, including the newly-updated and re-released Deliberate Acts of Kindness: A Field Guide to Service as a Spiritual Practice.

deliberate-acts-of-kindnessBeautiful to hold and easy* to put into action, Deliberate Acts of Kindness is a resource for such a time as this, equipping a new generation of socially-conscious-and-eager-to-change-the-world folks with discernment tools for spiritual grounding & a hearty dose of wisdom for guarding against burn-out.

For those who have already burned out once (or twice or thrice) in their commitment to serve others, Deliberate Acts of Kindness offers a knowing head tilt and a friendly raised eyebrow to encourage deeper, more honest self-examination about one’s engagement in service:

“How will you know your call to service is … not merely something your ego deeply desires?”
(DAK 21)

“Got trust issues? These may need attention…”
(DAK 19)

And this reality check:

“You’ll need to learn how to deal with the jerks, scoundrels, incompetents, and frauds you encounter along the way.”
(DAK 74)

Personal testimony: As someone in a helping profession (hello, ministry) my copy of Deliberate Acts of Kindness is highlighted, margin-scribbled and dog-eared every time Gould prods — I mean, prompts — my self-candor and clarity. Which pretty much means that every page of DAK is marked up.

Cover to cover, Deliberate Acts of Kindness provides concrete guidance and frames important questions for engaging service as a practice of faith: starting with the whys that compel kindness (Chapter 1), attending to the Spirit of discernment (Chapter 2), scoping out opportunities and ideas for kindness-in-action (Chapter 3), emphasizing the importance of serving well (Chapter 4), and preparing for inevitable disappointments and disillusionments (Chapter 5).

In addition to Gould’s own wisdom, especially useful throughout Deliberate Acts of Kindness is the wisdom she invites each reader to find on their own through contemplative writing exercises. I’m a great believer in the pen’s honesty: when we don’t write for perfection or worry about words, writing or journaling often has the result of putting truth on paper before our brains have the opportunity to reconsider it.

The writing exercises, assorted prayers and sayings from varied wisdom traditions, and Meredith Gould’s practical expertise make Deliberate Acts of Kindness a rich resource for volunteer veterans and humanitarian hopefuls alike — not just to be read once, but to be returned to again and again.

Deliberate Acts of Kindness is a book well worth your time and practice, for the sake of a more equitable, more kind world.

Bonus tips:

  • When reading a book by Meredith Gould, always read the endnotes. Seriously. Always.
  • Consider treating Deliberate Acts of Kindness as a devotional tool, not just a practical guide. When you find a quotation or question that resonates with you, hold onto it, take your time with it, meditate over it. Your spiritual groundedness for service will benefit your works of kindness.
  • Don’t assume that Deliberate Acts of Kindness is only a book about helping others. Chapter 4 is basically a guide for interacting with any human system/relationship (familial, professional, religious, romantic), demonstrated through the lens of service organizations. If people are driving you up a wall, whether generally or specifically, take a deep breath and read DAK. See also: adulting.
  • In addition to recommending Deliberate Acts of Kindness for your personal involvement in goodwill, I highly recommend DAK for those considering a profession in service. For example, my current job relates to folks who seek to become ministers, who are ministers, and (sometimes) who need to no longer be ministers. I would gladly put DAK into the hands of many a candidate & minister and require its study (along with therapy) for the work of collective discernment.

*If we call soul-searching, gifts-testing, energy-draining, pouring-life-into-love, burning-out, soul-reexamining, compassion-into-action-converting, giving-a-damn, and praying-to-God-to-save-the-world-from-itself work “easy.”

P.S. Meredith, I might totally steal/borrow/use “ad majorem Dei gloriam” (to the greater glory of God) with my next book, because it’s true, because it’s beautiful, and because I’m not adept enough with Latin to have thought of it myself. Thank you for your commitment to a more just & generous world.

Book Giveaway: Sacred Pause

Dear clergy colleagues,

Congratulations, you made it through the Lenten marathon and across the Easter finish line!

Thank you for the many ways in which you led and journeyed alongside others through this sacred season: in congregations and on blogs, in hospitals and on campuses, by protesting and by preaching, in coffee shop presence and in the quiet of your own heart. Thank you for your faithful attention to the experiences of life & death & renewal in scripture and the world.

In gratitude and as a gift for your own renewal in bearing the Word Made Flesh into the world, I’m delighted to announce a drawing for the free giveaway of a signed copy of my book Sacred Pause: A Creative Retreat for the Word-Weary Christian! If you’ve not yet perused its pages, Sacred Pause is a book that will surprise your spirit and encourage your faith, a book that RevGalBlogPals’ reviewer said “will change your life. Not might. Not could. Not may. Will. Change. Your. Life.”

So if you’re a minister, drop me a message with the subject “Sacred Pause Giveaway” and tell me your name & place of ministry. If you’re not a minister but there’s a minister in your life you’d like to gift Sacred Pause to, send me a message with the same subject and tell me your name as well as the name & place of ministry of the minister who you hope might receive this book.

sacred-pauseAll submitted names will be placed in a hat for a random drawing at 5:00pm eastern on Sunday, April 23. I’ll contact the winner for a mailing address to send the free signed copy of Sacred Pause.

Send me an email to enter!

(None of the email addresses received as a result of folks entering the book giveaway will be shared, and you won’t receive unsolicited emails from me after the giveaway has ended.)

Easter Sunday

Even before the dawn breaks,
you are with us.

Even while our spirits are broken,
you rebuild us.

Though we are too weary to run,
you renew us.

Though we are too slow to believe
but quickly ardent in idolization,
you remain our God.

When we barely remember our names
and all hope seems lost to the grave,
you love us forever.

Now the eyes of our hearts are opened
and the song on our lips is pure joy.
Beloved Resurrection!

resurrection

on John 20:1-18 with Jeremiah 31:1-6
cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals