March 8, 2014

Today would have been my grandmother’s birthday. 🙂  It’s also my second husband’s birthday. 🙂

Today, I’m actually more interested in the sermon from SSJE regarding Praying with Imagination.  Because the Lenten Series decided to do a compilation of the three previous videos (Really?  We’re 3 days into Lent – I don’t think we need a recap yet!), I went to their Monastic Wisdom section and saw a 5-week series on Traditional Methods of Prayer – except I’d never heard of praying with imagination.  To my way of thinking – it’s less of a type of prayer, and more of a type of meditation.  Don’t get me wrong – it looks fascinating and fun and I’m definitely going to do it, but it’ll be one of those meditation topics as opposed to a prayer.

So, in writing the blog for HT (which was why I needed something to offer in the blog in the first place), I asked a bunch of questions of people after they read the sermon.  I figured I’d answer them here:

I already know, given my mind, that I love this whole concept.  It’s similar to what I did for mom’s project last year, trying to put myself into the mind of the women she chose at one particular moment of their lives, to see about writing a first person account.  In this, though, there’s interaction – it’s not all taking place in one person’s mind – it’s taking place in my mind, while being there with Christ – or I could see using this method and seeing what it might be like to be at Sinai, or in the court of Xerxes with Esther, in the crowd fed by loaves and fishes, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the court of Solomon or among those at the Well with the Samarians.

One of the challenges in the blog is to choose a day among the last leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.  There are a few days I’d like to take time to truly explore there.

So, having now found the key to insanity (multi-tasking!), I have created a space that, I will do meditations and write them here putting myself into those situations.  If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on where they might like to go for such a meditation, let me know.

March 7, 2014

So, as I had feared, with emailed conversations between Dustin, Pastor Craig and myself, I’ve made this blog private, so that those who are seekers in the world don’t get confused with my appreciation of comparative religion. 🙂  I truly am not looking to confuse anyone in what I write, but merely to explore where this year takes me.  While I may view something from another religion as being perfectly clear that we’re talking about the same God, same Manifestation of God’s guidance and power, and view all religions as leading to one God, no matter how “He” is called, others may not have that clarity of mind and may find themselves muddled in things that I don’t necessarily explain all that well.  I’m writing for myself after all – I know what I’m referring to. <g>

So, mostly it’s my beloved sister, an absolute blessing to me, who reads my babbling, and I figure she won’t mind having to get “permission” to read it – just the once. 🙂

So, projects status.  I’m working my way through Acupressure for Dummies, and will probably see if I can Shanghai J for assistance in finding points on another person.  I’m up to G on the Psalm 119 English acrostic – I figure if I finish that part by June, I’ll have the second half of the year to see if I can make it into rhyming couplets without the acrostic, and like I’ve said, put perhaps a couple of those into both forms.

On the subject of prayer:

Evangelical Method

Episcopal Method

Baha’i Method

There are likely as many methods of prayer as there are people in the world.  But there are commonalities and differences that make the cultural influences clear – and are quite interesting.

March 6, 2014

Selah. Apparently, no one really knows what it means, but by the best guess, it means to pause and praise, to give value.  This is apparently one of the root words in Hebrew (and it’s not like there are a lot – 323 at last count) that scholars disagree about.  However, it being in Psalms 71 times and in Habakkuk 3 times, means that it is something relatively important.  Interestingly, what came to my mind when, after Morning Prayer and I’m attempting to figure out – what did I just read? – is the Arabic ṣalawāt that is said after the name of Mohammad is spoken (generally, something like Peace Be Upon Him).

So then the question becomes, when you’re reading those passages in the Bible and you come to the word “Selah”, do you actually say Selah, or should you say something in praise of what you have just heard?  Or should we pause and think about what we’ve heard, giving it the respect and careful consideration it apparently deserves?

So look at Psalm 66:4: “All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.  Selah.”  Is this a time to exemplify what you just read?  While I can envision that happening in some churches, it’s hard to even imagine it in the liturgical churches.   That could be a truly interesting way to blow everyone’s mind.  🙂  (As I sit here and giggle at the scene in my head.)

I may send this to a couple of pastors/priests and see what they think.

March 5, 2014

March 5, 1970 – the day my baby brother was born. 🙂

Today is also Ash Wednesday, for those who celebrate Lent.  The blogs/comments on the series HT is following is at the link.  It’s a pretty cool series sponsored by the Brothers of St. John the Evangelist.

Today’s reading that caught my attention is from Psalms 95:

1 O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

It is on these two verses that we formed a choir at the Baha’i Center in San Diego, known, of course, as Joyful Noise.  This was based on a very good lesson I got from an elderly Polish woman, who requested that I sing a solo part for one of the celebrations.  I told her that while I have a good choir voice, I’m not good enough to be a soloist, and would prefer someone else do it.  She quoted the above Psalm, and told me to get over myself – my own ego was getting in the way of God’s work.

I’d never thought of it that way – by refusing to use a gift God gave me, by saying that I was not “good enough” – I was making what I thought more important than the gift.  So, I did as she requested.  I was correct – I sound like a goat when I have to sing by myself. <grin>  But it was a good lesson that one can be “too” humble and insult God by declaring that you’re not “good enough”.  God didn’t ask for us to make a beautiful noise (although I’m sure He and anyone listening does appreciate it <g>) – he asked for us to make a “joyful” (joy-filled) noise in a song of praise.

That, I can do. 🙂

Joyful Noise eventually went on to get an absolutely phenomenal choir leader (one who knew what she was doing).  We sang at conferences in a wide variety of languages; we traveled down to Mexico to sing and teach there – only to discover that we had learned the dialect of Chile, which is Castilian Spanish, and to laugh with those we met to learn and appreciate the differences; we were drilled in Persian pronunciation so much we were ready to shoot the lady doing the drilling, and to sing her praises when those listening (about 50% were Persian) were moved to tears and astounded that only one of us actually spoke the language.  Music, itself, is a language that is universal, and a gift from God.  Our director went on to make three CDs, with writings from both the Baha’i and Christian Faiths, with many of us from Joyful Noise adding our voices.  She doesn’t do lyrics – she figured they were perfectly written to begin with, so she simply adds the music she hears when she reads them.

 

March 4, 2014

So, today’s Old Testament reading was from Proverbs Chapter 30.  The portion that struck me as interesting begins at Verse 18:

18 Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a girl.

And it continues similarly in that way to the end, listing things, counting things.  The similarity between this and Druid Triads:

Three Spiritual Instructors of Mankind: mastery of self, mastery of world, mastery of the unknown.”

Both of these do several things – they give you topics on which to meditate, lessons to learn, and a mnemonic method of remembering.

We often forget that histories, lessons and traditions were passed down orally.  There’s bound to be similar methods to help keep them accurately, rather than playing “Telephone”, and hoping the message at the end is not completely garbled from the original.

March 3, 2014

Obviously, I have been remiss in posting – I could blame the snow (finally got some, Yay!) and the need to be shoveling my driveway and walk on a repeated basis, but I think more, I just wasn’t in the mood to post.  I did, however, have things going in my head that I wanted to write about, hence, I’m posting today. 🙂

The commemoration yesterday was on the Wesleyan brothers, who developed a “method” of daily prayers focused on the Book of Common Prayer.  This method led to those who belonged to the churches they began being known as “Methodists”, and it just struck me as truly funny that Methodists began life as devout Anglicans.

There are times of late that I feel as if I’m back to the beginning of learning to meditate, and my mind has once again receded to the 2-year-old phase.  It wanders all over the place!  And I bring it back, to focus on what I’m doing, and so then it hums in the background.   Say the Lord’s Prayer – get the sung version going on – give in, and sing the Lord’s Prayer – get it in German.  Hmm, perhaps I need to go back to taking Estraval (for menopause) and see if that doesn’t help. 🙂

March 2, 2014

Prayers. I know I’ve mentioned before the differences between those in “liturgical” churches and those in “Biblical” churches and how they pray. Sunday this was called to stark attention for me.  Door of Hope has a prayer service at 1:30 (which was late getting started, so I ended up having to go next door to Holy Trinity for prayer shawls at 2:00, and then back to Door of Hope with shawls that needed blessed, at which time, I walk in, in the middle of prayer), and this week, they were praying for our country and its leaders.  This was why I particularly wanted to go this week, given the advent of what seems to be the restart of the Cold War.

Liturgical churches took Christ’s advice on how to pray metaphorically, taking His words and creating the Lord’s Prayer, which is said at every service.  Biblical churches took Him at His word, on the advice on how to pray, and as I’ve said before, can drop into a prayer as needed.  I admire this ability entirely.  And thus far, I fail miserably at doing it.  I don’t have a problem “talking” to God, ’cause I do that all the time, and it’s pretty much the way I talk to friends.  But “prayers” are different.

Because I came in “late”, Pastor Craig gave me the last three people on the list to pray for (Secretaries of Education, Veterans Administration and Homeland Security).  I got a little bit into it, but fortunately, the guy next to me took pity on me and finished it off. 🙂  I truly need to learn how to do this better, and I know what it’s going to take is practice – I just think I’d prefer to practice outside the hearing of others. <g>

As with any “prayers” that I say – if I’m not reading them, then I will be singing them, ’cause that’s the only way I can memorize.  For instance, Ey-Talebe Malakut or Remover of Difficulties.  Which, of course, means that they’re in all sorts of languages, from Persian to Spanish to French to Hebrew to Arabic, and of course, English. <g>

Somehow though, I think Baha’i prayers would likely make a few people uncomfortable.

Goals.  How to pray.

March 1, 2014

Hard to believe it’s March already.

Today, I’m not gonna talk about church or Biblical things.  Today is about the changing media choices.  Much of it, I think began with The Passion of The Christ, which achieved commercial success that people in Hollywood were completely astounded by.   Add to that that it was subtitled, with Latin and Aramaic being spoken, and the fact that it was rated R, and Hollywood was bowled over.  But for the most part, they treated it as an anomaly – who wants to watch Biblical epics?

Well – the majority of the people in this country. 🙂  With the advent of the success of Courageous and Fireproof – the latter of which was a movie with non-professional actors, produced by a church!, and Hollywood is paying a little more attention.  God’s Not Dead looks to be another hit, and that one is produced by a new company that focuses on “changing our culture for Christ” – Pure Flix.  They’re finding professional actors to make these movies, and they’re movies that families can go to.  Roma Downey and her husband’s movies “The Bible” and “Son of God” (currently on the big screen).  “Noah” set to be out soon…  Other than Disney, there haven’t been a whole lot of family movies out there.  And these days, even Disney’s questionable at times.

One of the interesting things about Fireproof that I liked was that Kirk Cameron has an agreement with his wife, that she’ll be the only one he kisses. 🙂  When he kisses his “movie wife” on-screen, they actually film it in shadow, and had Kirk’s wife come in to “double” for that scene so he could keep that agreement.  I suppose it helps that she’s an actress as well.  I thought it was cool. 🙂

Then we have other forms of media – television (Duck Dynasty anyone? – Although I’ve never seen the attraction to watching duck hunting – it’d be like watching fishing to me – but it’s the most popular “reality” show ever on TV); books (there have always been a lot of “religious” books, but Harlequin now has two lines – Heartwarming and Love Inspired – for books that deal less with sex and more with faith and relationships); and music (the popularity of “Christian” bands is increasing).  Interestingly, music is learning that you can keep the lyrics clean, and still have a wide variety of styles. 🙂

So I think our culture is slowly changing to value and appreciate wholesomeness, family, relationships – both interpersonal and with God – and life journeys a lot more.  I know I’m grateful for it. 🙂