same and different

During a Nature Meditation recently, I spent some time inspecting an okra seed pod, which had dried on the plant. Grey, spiky and splitting open, these pods are rather beautiful in their own way. I opened up the seed pod, inspecting each little crevice where the seeds were tucked away - 81 little round seeds. Each one with the potential to grow another entire plant, dripping with okra fruit, full of their own seeds.

I thought about how all the okra plants in our garden - probably around 25 plants - came from one single pod like this one, that my landlord gave me just a few months ago. And now each of these plants has many many pods with many many seeds in each one. So much potential! So much life!

Chinua guided us to think about some questions regarding the element of nature we had chosen to meditate on:

How are you and this element of nature connected?

In what ways are you and this element of nature the same or very similar?

In what ways are you and this element of nature different?

How are God and this element of nature connected?

In what ways are God and this element of nature the same or very similar?

In what ways are God and this element of nature different?

I thought about the cycles of life in okra plants and how the scriptures tell us that the Divine is unchanging. Does God grow or change? I thought about how much joy comes to me through learning and growth. Does God get bored of always being the same?

Then I found something unexpected - there was another seam of seeds in the seed pod! 14 more perfect, round seeds. A total of 95, not 81. More than I expected, though I had looked carefully.

I almost heard a chuckle from the Divine - There is more! More than you know or expect, dear one.

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(A post from Ro)

Episode #50- Lectio Divina on John 1: 29-34 with Neil

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Hi friends,

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

* Ro and I chat about the week, including the first community lunch of the season, weird mud, and whittling.

* Neil guides a Lectio Divina meditation on John 1: 29-34. 

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 08:45 but don’t skip the intro because it contains lightness of spirit.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

You really are lovely, I hope you know it!

~ 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 #49- Lectio Divina on Matthew 6: 25-33 with Laura

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Hi friends,

And, we’re back! Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* I share a little about my trip and jet lag in the intro, as well as what we are up to this week.

* Laura guides a Lectio Divina meditation on Matthew 6: 25-33. (In the intro I accidentally say it was recorded at Shekina Garden- it wasn’t, it was recorded at a nearby guesthouse. You can even hear a different bird than usual.)

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 09:35 but don’t skip the intro because it’s not a withered vine. It’s not!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Love and 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 little update.

Hi lovelies, it’s Rae, and I’m back from my travels, completely overcome by jet lag, and easing back into life.

We’ll take a break from the podcast this week and be back on Monday with a new episode. Things are progressing here in Pai… we’re out of flood danger and cleaning up, ready for community rhythms to begin again, hopefully next week! See you then.

Episode #48- Lectio Divina on Psalm 131 with Ro

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Hi friends,

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

*Ro and Neil chat about what’s happening in Pai, including long drives, acro jams, and two hundred birds.

* Ro guides a Lectio Divina meditation on Psalm 131.

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 05:35 but don’t skip the intro because you won’t hear what Neil spotted as his 200th species of bird. The suspense!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Love and 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 #47- Lectio Divina on Isaiah 40: 28-31 with Rae

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Hi beautiful ones. I’m on a little road trip, AND regular rhythms are not happening at the garden due to flooding, hence the late podcast episode. 

However, here are some things to think about: rivers, seas, smiles, music, carrots, and apples. Also trees. 

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the father told the older son, “All that I have has always been yours.” He said this because the older son was having a hard time, feeling like he worked hard and was left out of the party.

Whether or not you feel like that, it is always true for you. 

All that I have has always been yours.

 The sky, that pool of rainbowy water on the ground (don’t drink it, but you can look at it), the friendly dog who comes to say good morning. 

It belongs to our father, so it is ours, when we reach out for it. When we receive love through it. When we treasure what we have, no matter where on earth we are roaming. 

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

* Ro offers a ground level insight into the flood, as well as talking about dear friends who are on their way and what’s been going on in Pai.

* I guide a Lectio Divina meditation on Isaiah 40: 28-31. 

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 07:10 but don’t skip the intro! It’s delicious.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.


I really love you, thank you for listening. 


~ 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!

Beautiful Garden Beds and Flood Mud

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During this low season in Pai - with less travellers here during the heavy rainy season - we have been working on a few projects at the Garden. Chinua has been revamping the workshop, organising and researching what tools we need to set it up as a decent woodworking space. Joshua has finished the Labyrinth. And Neil (and I, and other helpers who come along, but mostly Neil!) has been making beautiful red brick garden beds for all our vegetables and flowers at the front of the Shekina Garden property. The progress has been slow but satisfying, as we learn how to lay bricks together. If you listen to our podcast, you’ve probably heard Rae and I speak about them often over the last months. Many hours have gone into these garden beds, and as we creep closer to them all being finished, we have been talking about throwing a party to celebrate their completion, with Neil as the guest of honour! They’ve been planted with ginger, corn, okra, beans, mint, rosella, zinnias, lettuces and amaranth, and have been truly looking beautiful.

But as you may have read last week, three floods (so far) have come through our property, bringing mud, debris and chaos.

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Thankfully they haven't been as high as the flood we experienced in 2016, and we had a little bit of prior warning, so were able to move valuable things up high onto benches and shelves. However, the whole property has gone underwater 3 times and there is weeks of cleaning and fixing and gardening work ahead. The frustrating and disheartening thing was that after the first two floods - which happened within 24 hours - we spent a whole week cleaning, fixing the fence, removing debris, setting fruit trees upright, high-pressure hosing out the kitchen and workshop, salvaging wood and other items... Just to have that work totally destroyed again a week later.

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We are so thankful, however, that we haven't had any really serious damage - all our buildings are still standing and most of our fruit trees have survived. As have our beautiful brick garden beds! The ginger is happy as ever, the beans and okra are fruiting like mad and the mint seems ok too. There’s even been a papaya seedling and some sweet potato spring up that we didn’t know were there.

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And we are so so thankful that we all have safe, dry homes to go to. So as the rains continue every day, we are waiting until the threat of any further flooding passes before we do any serious cleaning work.

There really is so much to learn from the work of gardening and interacting with nature in a hands-on way. Sometimes our work is undone. Sometimes it endures, or is changed. Our patience is tested, our bodies are tired out. We learn new ways to co-operate. We are reminded how tiny and helpless we are. We give thanks.

(a post by Ro)

Episode #46- Contemplation of Nature with Chinua

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Well, finally!

I’m happy to be getting this podcast episode up. 

We’ve had a wild couple of weeks, with three floods overcoming our garden. The last one was the highest and the most disappointing, as some of our superhero Shekina fam had commenced with a LOT of cleaning.

Rainy season is not always like this, but we’re learning about patience and acceptance, I think, through this rainy season.

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

* I talk a little about the flood and our beautiful bhajan night at a chai shop in town. (Indian traditional worship songs- these ones have been compiled and written by friends and Jesus devotees.)

* Chinua guides a contemplation of nature meditation.

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 09:10 but don’t skip the intro! It’s not a soggy donut.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Stay dry friends.

Love to you all,

~ 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!

Walking the Labyrinth

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We have a labyrinth at Shekina Garden!

After hours of dreaming and planning and drawing and thinking and a lot of weeding; laying down of rice husks, tracing out a path with large rocks and creating a small fish pond in the middle - done almost entirely by the amazing Joshua - we have a beautiful labyrinth in the Food Forest at Shekina Garden. (see this post for more about the Food Forest)

I've had a tiny bit of experience with walking labyrinths in the past, but since we have our very own, I decided I wanted to learn more about them. I've started running Labyrinth Workshops at the Garden, where we learn a little about the history of the practice of the labyrinth, and then try walking it ourselves. And I thought it might be worthwhile to share my research and thoughts here too.

Roman mosaic depicting the battle between Theseus and the Minotaur in the labyrinth

Roman mosaic depicting the battle between Theseus and the Minotaur in the labyrinth

For starters, let me clear up the difference between a labyrinth and a maze. In a maze, there are many paths and there's the distinct possibility of getting lost. A labyrinth is unicursal - meaning one line - there's only one path in, and out again. No decisions to be made, no possibility of getting lost. It is not designed to trick or confuse, the only decision to be made along the way is to walk... or not.

The term 'labyrinth' itself is Greek in origin, and there's a rich history of the labyrinth in Greek mythology - including the story of Theseus and the Minotaur on Knossos (ancient Crete).
There have also been coins found with labyrinths on them from Ancient Crete, which are up to 4000 years old! Cool!

In the realm of spiritual practice, the walking of a labyrinth has been used for meditation and contemplation in the Christian tradition for centuries.

The labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, France

The labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, France

There are a number of classical designs of labyrinth. Ours at Shekina Garden is based on the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth design set into the floor of the cathedral, built in the early 1200s. This design is similar to other Gothic cathedral designs from around Europe. The Chartres Cathedral design is an 11 circuit design, whereas the Shekina Garden design is for a smaller space, and has 5 circuits.

People in Chartres who could not afford to make a pilgrimage - to Jerusalem or other holy sites - could walk the labyrinth in a symbolic way to represent to journey of pilgrimage. In this way, pilgrimage was more widely accessible by all - I love this idea!

The walking of a labyrinth is a contemplative practice. A quiet, slow, meditative and prayerful spiritual practice with many different styles.

Some ways we have experimented with at Shekina Garden include the following:

Using a Breath Prayer as you walk (eg: inhale "Guide me", exhale "Jesus")

Pick up a stone at the entry to the labyrinth to represent something you would like to release to the Divine. Leave it in the centre.

Hold your palms facing downward as you walk inwards, as a symbol of letting go. Pause for reflection and prayer in the centre. Hold your palms upward on the way out, as a symbol of receiving from the Divine. Perhaps join them together in prayer as you exit the labyrinth.

Some other ideas or prompts we have found helpful are:

Don't rush. Pause at the entryway, the middle, the end. Is there a prayer you can speak silently in your heart? Perhaps giving a bow, nod, or other gesture to begin and end the walk. Engage the senses. Observe the actual walking, mindfully - the journey, the path, the feeling of moving towards and away from a destination.

Sound interesting? Come walk with us, sometime!

(a post by Ro)

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Episode #45- Lectio Divina on Psalm 42 with Rae

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Hello Dear Ones, 

The meditation today comes from Psalm 42, and verse 8 says, “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me.” 

I’m saying that verse to myself today, all day long. It’s so good. To be the ones receiving that directed love. 

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

* Ro and I discuss the week, including garden beds, yes, garden beds, helping a teen into his new school year, and planting rice. 

* I guide a Lectio Divina meditation on Psalm 42. 

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 07:50 but don’t skip the intro because you’ll miss the the symmetrical lines of rice.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Have a beautiful week friends,

Love to you all,

~ 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 #44- Many Version Lectio Divina on John 8:12 with Ro

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Hello Friends, 

It’s so so rainy out! The kind where the ground is soaked and algae is growing on the stones, and you slip and slide and try to keep your balance, but end up looking like you’re doing interpretive dance, just walking down the street.

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

* Ro and I talk about the week (mistakenly calling this episode 45- it’s actually Episode 44) while sitting in a café, including new roof hats at the garden, tiny biting flies, and my trip to Mae Sot, where I visited my friends from The Charis Project, an organization that provides education and support for under-served migrant families. You can check them out here. 

* Ro guides a form of Lectio Divina where she reads John 8:12 in a lot of different versions, with a lot of space in between each reading. It’s a great way to truly soak in one verse.

The order of versions she uses are:

New Living Translation

The Message

The Passion Translation

The Voice

English Standard Version

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 07:17 but don’t skip the intro because you’ll miss the lulling sounds of rain behind our dulcet tones.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Be loved and blessed dear friends!

Love to you all,

~ 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 #43- Narrative meditation on John 4: 1-28 with Naomi

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Hi beautiful ones! 

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

* Ro and I have a wee chat about our week. Full disclosure, we recorded the intro three times! First time the mic was off. Second time we had fits of giggles. Third time… here it is. 

* Naomi guides a narrative meditation on the story of the woman at the well in John 4. It’s a beautiful journey through the story with creativity and insight, and space in between for meditation and imagination.

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 07:58 but don’t skip the intro because you don’t want to miss hearing about the natural evolution of grass roofs!) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Be loved and blessed dear friends!

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 #42- Contemplation of Nature with Chinua

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Hi friends, 

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

* As usual, Ro and I talk about our week, including a worldwide leukena tree celebration, more singing, and love for contemplation of nature.

* Chinua guides a contemplation of nature meditation. You’ll need an object of nature for this meditation—either something you can hold and look at, or something you can see/feel.

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 06:54 but don’t skip the intro because you definitely need to hear the kids romping in the background.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I’ve been reading about Emerson, and his play between the life of action, and that free flying internal life of the spirit. Here we are for a purpose, but we still need to connect to the gentle and inspiring words of the Spirit, or we become thirsty and a bit angry, like hedgehogs. 

I pray that you find that connection this week. Pour your heart out. The Father inclines his ear to you.

Love to you all,

~ 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 #41- Meditation on Light with Rae

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Hi beautiful ones, 

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

* Ro and I talk about the week we’ve just had, including coming home, my new book, singing, and   butterflies. 

* I guide a lectio divina on Light with a short introductory imagination meditation on moving around in the dark. 

I used a collection of verses from different translations: 

Psalm 119: 105

Matthew 4:16

John 1:5

John 8: 12

Ephesians 5: 13 and 14

Ro mentioned that she thinks this meditation is an excellent one for people who are new to meditation, so if know anyone like that, or you are new, feel free to share! 

(If you want to skip to the meditation, it’s at 08:03 but don’t skip the intro because it’s a bit like a rare butterfly.)

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

This morning I’m thinking of the seemingly endless juggling of life. Tasks, food, clothing, lists, prayers, views, talks, things to do, things to see, things to pay. And in the midst of it all, a call to come away and be at rest. I pray that you find a little circle for yourself today, a place to be at rest, even in your heart while you do the things you need to do. 

Love to you all,

~ 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 #40- Imagination Meditation on Jesus healing the centurion's servant, with Neil

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Hi beautiful ones, 

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

* Ro and I chat about our week, including a soul care retreat, water buffalo, and food!

* Neil guides an imagination meditation on Matthew 8: 5-13

(If you want to skip to this, it’s at 08:40 but don’t skip the intro because it’s not a skimpy breakfast.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

The retreat we just had brought so many emotions to the surface, and I’m reminded of how much we need God’s help in sorting through feelings, so we feel surrounded and embraced rather than lonely in emotion. So this week I pray that you feel the companionship of God in whatever you go through. 

Love to you all,

~ 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 #39- Meditation on the Jesus Prayer with Rae

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Hi friends, 

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

* Chinua and I chat about our week, including working with wood, music, singing, and a blessing way.

* I (Rae) guide a meditation on the Jesus Prayer

(If you want to skip to this, it’s at 07:26, but don’t skip the intro because you’ll miss Chin’s thoughts on the perfect chord.) 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

This week may you have joy, and I have joy, and all of us have deep, deep joy. 

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 Poem from Laura

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I used to think I had to shove my doubts deep down

Keep them locked up

Only personal

Afraid the questions may make an earthquake

A trembling across the ocean of others’ faith

But a constant smashing up against the reality of the world - a tidal wave

Crashes my paper-thin and vulnerable faith

Confronted by my own shortcomings and denial of injustices, a turning a face

Maybe this is where real faith begins

When I am weighed to the ground with their cries

When I do not have answers

When it no longer makes sense

When pain reveals I do not understand creates a well deep of questions

This is where you offer me a drink

Of a water that is life

This is where I can offer you drink

In the midst of my uncertainty

In the midst of our uncertainties

When I do not feel God

There you are

Right in the midst of this wrestling

Spill your secrets and I’ll share mine

An exchange that brings connection

With you and the divine.