Can we sing it again?

A couple of weeks ago we started our Devotion Circle times back up again. Meeting on a Monday afternoon as a community, welcoming travellers to join us. Making a rangoli in the centre of our space - a symbol of welcoming the Divine among us.

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And then singing and singing and singing. We sang a few bhajans - worship songs to Jesus, in the Indian style. After finishing one song, a lovely new traveller friend Jaelle said “Can we sing that one again?”

And why not? These words are true and beautiful and we repeat them again and again. We sing them, we pray them to God, we sing them to our own hearts, we repeat them to remind and encourage each other.

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Our Devotion Circles are pretty organic. Between songs, we intersperse prayers sometimes, or quotes and poems, verses from Scripture. I read a Mary Oliver poem called ‘Praying’:

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

(a post by Ro)

Episode #37- Lectio Divina on 1 Kings 19: 11-13 with Naomi

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Hi loves, 

I hope you’ve had a beautiful weekend, and if you’re in any space that celebrates Father’s Day this weekend, an excellent Father’s Day. Maybe a day of remembering, or celebrating, or even sifting through the good and bad of your experiences of fatherhood, whatever they are. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Ro and I chat about a busy week, shouting out to my parents, who have been married for forty years, and shouting out to Ro and Neil, who have been married for 13. Ro tells us a bit about their epic road trip over the weekend, and we chat about people on their way, people who are leaving, garden work, and moving house. 

*Naomi guides an lectio divina mediation on 1 Kings 19: 11-13, reading from the Voice translation.

(If you want to skip to this, it’s at 09:50, but don’t skip the intro because you’ll miss the gardener and his whipper snipper!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I pray this week that you feel the expansiveness and promise of God’s love for you. 

Much love,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. We need it! So, thank you!

Episode #36- Lectio Divina on the theme of peace with Ro

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Hi beloveds, 

I’m getting the podcast out after a day of unpacking at our new house, as well as a bit of puzzle time with Christy. Good times. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

*Ro and I chat about the week, including a labyrinth, moving strong people, and singing our hearts out.

*Ro guides a Lectio Divina meditation on the theme of peace. 

She reads from Ezekiel 37:26-27, Philippians 4:6-7, John 14:27, Romans 5:1, and Romans 15:13. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 07:47, but don’t skip the intro because there are night sounds! Night sounds!) 

Here’s a shot of the labyrinth Joshua made at Shekina Garden.

Here’s a shot of the labyrinth Joshua made at Shekina Garden.

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I pray that this would be a week of many, many tiny beautiful things for you.

Much love,

~ Rae


The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. We need it! So, thank you!

Community Lunch at Shekina Garden

It is lovely to be back home after adventures in the USA recently. Good to be back among my community, good to be back into our weekly rhythms. I do well with spontaneity in my life, but also with some good habits and rhythms and regular things that happen each week.

This week was my first week back cooking for Community Lunch. I head out to the market in the morning and enjoy loading up my scooter with lots of fresh vegetables - this week I made Magic Orange Soup, named by Isaac, which is full of pumpkin and potato and carrot - and fresh bread. The ladies at the market enjoy seeing how much produce I can stack on my scooter.

I get to the Garden, open up the kitchen, turn the fan on full blast, load up a podcast (this week was Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam to begin with) and get chopping.

A little way into cooking, I get a message from Winnie that the funeral of the beloved Rachel Held Evans, who passed away just recently, is on YouTube. At first I feel hesitant to watch the funeral of a stranger, but then I re-read Winnie’s message: ‘I’m a mess, there are tears in the cake batter, but Jesus is so stinking beautiful.’ It is enough to make me turn it. on. Soon enough I am a mess too, crying into the soup as I listen to family and friends pour out their love, honouring Rachel and turning my eyes to Jesus.

I finish the soup, butter 5 loaves of bread, chop more veggies for a fresh salad with Japanese dressing and do some quick dishes. Other folks have come and swept and mopped the salaah, set out cushions to sit on, bowls to eat out of, and fresh water. Someone is playing slide guitar. Friends are starting to arrive and kids are running in and out of the kitchen, everyone greeting each other, hugging, catching up. Some tears, some shared words about the beautiful sad funeral and other life stuff.

Eventually we are ready to eat. We introduce our space to newcomers, telling people that all we do here is just an overflow of love that we have received form the Divine and want to splash around. We sing. We give thanks. We eat!

And the afternoon goes on, gypsy jazz music, kids playing, good chats about deep things and fun silly things. Our dear Reillys are up for the weekend, so we make sure to squeeze them extra tight and enjoy seeing them back in the circle, feeling so normal and natural and a bit sad because it isn’t the norm these days, since they moved to Chiang Mai.

Dishes are washed, little kids play with the hoses in the hot afternoon. Older kids embrace being hot and sweaty and hold push-up and sit-up competitions! Chai and cake is served. We have a Sharing Circle, answering the question “Are you happy?”, which can be as simple or as deep as you would like it to be. Beautiful people share their hearts together.

Ahh, it is good to be back.

Here are a few snaps from lunch yesterday. A quick comment on the last one - if you sneakily take my phone to take dozens of silly selfies, you may just end up with one of them on the Community Blog! :)

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(a post by Ro)

(a post by Ro)

Episode #35- Imagination Meditation on the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda

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Hi beloveds, 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

*Ro is back! We chat about her travels and what’s been going on around here, including her visit to Nomad’s Land, hobbit houses, moving house, and vision talks. 

*Mili guides an imagination meditation on the man beside the pool of Bethesda. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 08:33, but don’t skip the intro because if you do, you won’t hear the faint background sounds of Chinua playing jazz piano. :D) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I pray that you find home in the heart of God this week. 

Much love,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. We need it! So, thank you!

Episode #34- Lectio Divina on Psalm 19: 1-3 with Ro

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Hi beloveds, 

We’ve had rain! It’s glorious. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

*In the introduction, I chat a bit about fences, climbing plants, and community lunch. (Next week Ro will be back for the introduction- yay!)

* Ro guides a Lectio Divina on Psalm 19:1-3. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 06:07.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

This week, let’s take some time to wander and see the things that God has made. Clouds, dirt, ants, and giant beetles are some things I saw today.

Much love,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. We need it! So, thank you!

A Prayer.

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We bring our hearts before Father, Son, and Spirit. 

Breathe on us. Reflect back to us what we are, what holes need to be filled with grace and mercy. Show us how we have taken on arrows, or let parts of ourselves fade to apathy. 

Wash us so we can live truly in freedom, untethered from the tricks of worry or opinion. Tethered to your strength, power, and grace. Tethered to your endless ability through love. 

Through love that cleanses, we are able to rise up. Through love that offers, that bridges worlds, we are drawn deep into the love of Father, Son, and Spirit. Through love that burns, we are able to overcome our fears. 

Through mercy we are invited into your being, to walk in your glittering shadow, to find rest in coming home to you. Through mercy we invite others to come closer, to find rest. 

Help us to be very near.

To curl up in our home in you, next to your heart. 

Cleanse us, restore us. Let our palms flow with love for others, giving life to all we touch. Give us peace that passes all understanding. Help us to live in this peace.

Amen.


*

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Episode #33- Lectio Divina on Psalm 69: 13-18 with Mili

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Hi dear ones, 

It’s Mother’s Day in some parts of the world- happy Mother’s Day! I pray that you and the mothers in your lives are surrounded by mercy. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

*In the introduction, chat a bit about what has been going on around here.

* Mili guides a Lectio Divina on Psalm 69:13-18. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 05:15.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Many blessings,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. We need it! So, thank you!

Episode #32- Lectio Divina on Psalm 23 with Mili.

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Hi beloveds, 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

*In the introduction, I share a little about the beginning of the new season. 

* Mili guides a Lectio Divina on Psalm 23. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 06:26, but don’t skip the introduction because I love you!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Surround one another with kindness this week, friends. 

Many blessings,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. We need it! So, thank you! Special thanks this week to our new patron, Anne!

Episode #31- Lectio Divina on Psalm 34: 1-8 with Rae

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Hi beloveds, 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

*Neil and Ro chat about getting back to Pai, garden projects, and a quiet book club. 

* Rae guides a Lectio Divina on Psalm 34:1-8. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 06:11, but don’t skip the introduction because you won’t get to hear a lizard making his podcast debut!)

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Be warmed by love this week, friends. 

Many blessings,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. We need it! So, thank you!

The gift of strength, give to us

He Srijanahar, Prabhu tumhaari

Ashish hum par hove

He Annadaata, Jivanadaata

Baldaan de do hame 

O Creator Lord, your

Blessings be upon us 

Oh Giver of food, Life giver

The gift of strength, give to us

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A recent favourite song we have been singing during Yeshu Kirtan - worship songs to Jesus, in Indian style. Words and music by Swami Anil Dev, Matridham Ashram; arrangement by Miranda Stone. You can find a beautiful recording at https://yeshusatsangtoronto.bandcamp.com/

Episode #30- Contemplation of Nature with Ro

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Hi beloveds, 

I’m posting this late after a traveling day and a long power out yesterday. It’s Easter Sunday where I am, and I am spending a week in solitude, writing and reflecting. I’m very, very thankful for the opportunity. I have a lot of work to do and a lot of silence to catch up on. The seasons are changing again, the first rains have come, and our rhythms will start up again at the beginning of May. It’s time to reflect on the last season and plan for the next.

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:


* Neil and Ro chat about their last days in Koh Phangan and what they’ve been up to, including sweaty hikes, meditation, small furry creatures, and of course, birds.

* Ro guides a Contemplation of Nature meditation. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 05:14, but don’t skip the introduction because it knows its way to the top of a mountain!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

We would be the saddest people in the world if not for the resurrection. I pray that you would find a moment to let the reality of the glorious new body of Jesus, and all that means, make its way into your heart. 

Many blessings,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. We need it! So, thank you!

A hard, horrifying, sad, good day.

Image: Gethsemane by P. Solomon Raj

Image: Gethsemane by P. Solomon Raj

Last night during Bible Circle we read Mark 14 and 15 and then passed a talking stone to share what stood out to us. A lot of us noticed the disciples leaving Jesus. Or the loneliness of Jesus in those hours leading up to his death—he faced his accusers alone, he was alone when he was whipped and mocked. Where was everyone? Why did they sleep when he asked them to pray?

He told Peter, James, and John, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with me.” Mark 14:34 (CEV)

I feel that I have felt that kind of sadness before. I have been so sad that I wondered if I would die from it. And whatever it is that I felt, I’m sure Jesus felt it more. We find it hard to offer one another companionship in that kind of sadness. We find it hard to sit and wait. Perhaps we would rather come to our own defense (“I will never betray you!”) or offer solutions. 

I thought about how Jesus says of Mary Magdalene, “She who has been forgiven much, loves much.” Mary had sat in that kind of lonely sadness before. She had no delusions that it would not find her, or that bad things wouldn’t happen to them all. And being loved in her own sadness, called out of her lonely sadness by Jesus gave her the strength to stay: to watch his death, care for his body, and show up at his tomb. Maybe Peter, James, and John just hadn’t been tested enough yet. 

They would be, and later, that same ability shows up in them. 

And there Jesus was, steadfast in love while they all fumbled, chopped people’s ears off, ran away, swore they didn’t know him. He remained in love. They couldn’t take that away from him, though they stripped him of dignity and life. 

I find it so hard to keep my own brain from looping into a poor-me story. Sad and abandoned, lonely and misunderstood. Even in my beautiful, abundant, untouched-by-violence life, I find this hard. I feel the strength of what Jesus did, remaining in love, not blaming, not resisting. I want to lean into him in this moment. Allowing, accepting, being ready for the road God gave him to travel. I want to be like that. I also want to learn from him to sit with others in their sadness.

My heart is heavy with his death and his loneliness. And the Father in that moment bore deep and heavy suffering as well. The suffering of the Son, the grief of the Father. The love between them in that moment. For what? For a new creation of reconciliation, oneness between God and humanity.

At the end of the discussion last night, we remembered that this story would be the worst ever if not for the resurrection. Jesus endured for the joy set before him. I am about as crappy in centering myself, feeling badly for myself, and being defensive, as any of the disciples were. And yet we all are loved into a new reconciliation, a connectedness that contains a million seeds of possibility- things God and we can do and be together because of this suffering. 

What a day. A hard, horrifying, sad, good day.

Episode #29- Lectio Divina on Matthew 11: 25-30 with Neil

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Hi beautiful ones, 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

*I chat a bit about the quiet season of Pai, as well as talking about worry and its phantom suffering.

* Neil guides a lectio divina meditation on Matthew 11:25-30. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 05:30, but don’t skip the introduction because it is pinker than a flamingo!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

My brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces are still with us! I’m a blessed girl. Today we have plans to go and play water in the streets for Thai New Year. I pray that this week, you find a way to play!

Many blessings,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. This week we want to welcome our new patron with a big thank you! Thank you Alecia Zoccoli! You are wonderful. xo

Sunset

About an hour before the sun dips below the horizon, people begin to gather. 

Swimming in the calm ocean, playing music, acro yoga jams, solitary figures in cross-legged meditation; people gather in various ways and for various reasons. Folks know they’ll find friends at sunset, have a chat, or dance together in the drum circle. 

Coming together to mark the passing of another day feels holy to me. 

When I sit and watch then sun's last moments on this part of the earth for this day, I feel a sense of solitude. It's just me and the sun, no-one else. My experience of this moment is just me. The sun's rays coming across the vast distances of space and hitting my skin, my retinas...only I experience it in this exact way, in my body. I feel the preciousness of this day, this moment.

And I also feel a beautiful connection to the rest of humanity. To those who are right here with me, gathered on this very beach in the Gulf of Thailand, and also with all the other little humans scurrying over the face of the earth, everywhere. This sunset connects us. Whether or not we see it or notice it, the sun setting has finished the day for each of us. 

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I think that it’s the noting of the passing of time, the memento mori this moment brings which makes it feel so sacred to me.

Reflection seems easy at sunset. And there is also the easy reminder of it all being a gift - I can’t make the earth continue to rotate so we enjoy another day, any more than I can summon my next breath. It is all a gift.

Neil says to me, "It's easy to think that once the sun is out of view, that's it... But there's so much more!"

It's true. There's so much more. 

The colour plays in the sky; the water reflects silver, pink, orange. A flock of Pacific swiftlets race overhead, chasing twilight bugs. There's so much more. 

The drums flow together, the hang drum and guitar and trumpet sing to each other.  

A big cloud rises up from the horizon.

(a post by Ro)

Episode #28- Lectio Divina on 1 John 3: 1-3 with Rae

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Hi meditators! 

It’s been an eventful week, and here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Ro and Neil chat about their week, with the music of cicadas, many birds, and a duck in the background. They also give a shout out to Warm Heart Community in Mexico City, who listens to our podcast every week. Don’t forget to let us know if you are listening by yourself or with a group! 

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* Rae guides a meditation on 1 John 3: 1-3. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 05:19, but don’t skip the introduction because it is not soggy toast!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

 This week I have family visiting and it’s the most wonderful thing. I’m praying that this week you are surrounded by love. 

Many blessings,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free.

Hands open.

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I was watering the garden in the smoke yesterday, watching how quickly the water disappears into the dry earth. Our friend who is helping with watering asked me if she was doing it right on her days. “I just don’t understand why it looks like I’m not even watering.” 

“It’s just that dry,” I told her.

 A drop lands and practically sizzles. It sends a puff of dust. The sky is like a bruise. The sun simultaneously scorching and weak through the smoke.

I watered, and I thought, “That first rain is going to be like a miracle.” 

It takes going through a dry season here to really appreciate the rain. 

The sky opens up. Water comes from heaven. What? Is that really possible? 

In two minutes God accomplishes what I would have to spend eight hours to do with my puny little sprinklers. 

The first rain.

Fasting and feasting. Waiting for the promise. The Bible is packed full of references to this part of our life with God. We are in the now/not yet. We know rain will come, but we can’t control when it will give us those first drops. 

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; 
His going out is as sure as the dawn;
He will come to us as the showers, 
As the spring rain that waters the earth.”  - Hosea 6:3

Sometimes when I am waiting for God, I get a little too invested in my own systems. I wrap my gnarled rat hands around the garden hose, insisting that my efforts are going to be AMAZING. It’s okay if you don’t want to come now, I tell him. I can do it all by myself. 


And then the rain comes. It drenches me, the garden hose, my gnarled rat hands and my face scrunched up from my efforts to be a tiny god. We are all soaked, instantly. Better to lay down on the ground, hands open, mouth open. 


That first rain is going to be like a miracle.


( A post by Rae- Cross posted at Journey Mama)

Episode #27- Contemplation of Nature with Chinua

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Hi everyone,

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Chinua and I chat about his last trip, birdwatching, music from Poland and a culinary experience that may have been better than our wedding day. (!) 

* Chinua guides a contemplation of nature meditation. (If you want to skip to this, it’s at 11:42, but don’t skip the introduction. You’ll miss Chinua singing Polish music!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I’m praying to be content this week, aware of the grace and love that is constantly flowing to me from the heart of God, even when I’m a bit calloused or impervious to it. I pray the same for you. 

Much love,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free.

A Poem by Laura

Reach out your hand…

Listen to the small still whisper…

Hold out your hands…

I fall like a stone into your river

Deep surrender

I hold out my hand

open and ready

Heart borders stretched wide, like sails waiting for your winds

Seek direction, in which way I ought to go

Play hide and seek with your Spirit within

THE SEARCH MYSTERY…..

Puzzle pieces unfolding in each step

Waiting…breathing in the spaces between…between years falling like leaves from the tree

breathe between the thin spaces…where this heaven and earth meet…the space between

like dust in these shoes falling apart - questions and stumbling, like dark night - like burdened shoulders,

like heavy heart.…like it wasn’t supposed to be like this? Like SURPRISE!

Yet never alone I walk - hand in hand

Yet never alone we walk hand in hand

With Spirit with this God, she holds me, she holds you.

Like mother and father and wisdom. You are guiding me, like light an undeniable flaming fire

Like wind - sometimes embers yet you are here…

Sometimes quiet - I am still

May I listen before I speak…in the unlikely places I hear you…in the unlikely places you speak

You are my guide, leading, unexpectedly pulling from behind…a gentle tug… sense of you…here

So we seek…so we wait…and we trust

Your Spirit stays close…along this path…Your eyes as our guide

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