Advent prayer

 

Advent quilt and candles

 

Loving God, in this third week of Advent, we praise and bless your name. Together with the prophet Zephaniah, we sing aloud, we shout your praise, we rejoice and exult with all of our hearts to praise your name.

Loving God, we thank you that you are our strength and our might, that you are the source of our salvation, as the prophet Isaiah wrote.

We thank you for your loving kindness and for your mercifulness.

(pause)

We confess to you Gracious One, that for many of us this Advent season has been difficult, filled with anxiety and worry as well as grief and sorrow.

(pause)

We long for the appearance of the Christ Child. We long for your loving presence. We confess to you now our longings.

(pause)

We thank you Merciful One, for your listening, loving presence. We thank you for your continual forgiveness.

(pause)

We bring before you our requests, our concerns for others around us:

During the Advent and Christmas season we read the biblical story of Elizabeth and Mary, of Mary and Joseph, of the shepherds and the wise men.

We also read of the turmoil surrounding these people‑‑ foreign government occupation, mass relocation on account of the census, genocide of infant boys.

We are reminded that turmoil continues today throughout the Middle East. We are tempted to stop praying for peace because of the centuries‑old conflict, because of our weariness of praying for the area, because of our own lack of hope.

God of Peace and God of Justice‑‑again we pray for peace in the Middle East. We pray for an end to the fighting, the deaths, the homelessness of a people. Again God, we ask you to move on behalf of our requests‑‑we pray for your justice and we pray for your peace.

We pray for our country and for the conflicts we have here, particularly the racial divides that plague our nation. God of Peace and God of Justice‑‑we ask you to heal the racism in this country. We ask you to heal the racism in our communities. We ask you to heal the racism in our Church.

Compassionate God, we thank you for listening to our requests and moving in this world on behalf of our prayers.

(pause)

We thank you that you are in our midst, that you rejoice over us with gladness, that you will renew us in your love, and you will exult over us with loud singing.

We praise and bless your holy name.  Amen.

(Photo by Kevin Driedger. Advent quilt by June Mears Driedger)

Getting my (quilting) groove again

“A finished quilt is better than a perfect quilt.”  –Beth Ann Williams

I am in the midst of the great sewing room purge. It’s been a chaotic mess for a few years and I was resorting to creating pathways between stacks of fiber arts, quilting magazines, and piles of other stuff.

sewing roomThis corner of my sewing room isn’t quite as cluttered now.

As I was sorting through a stack of papers I came across the notes and directions from the “Storytelling in Fabric” retreats that Beth Ann Williams and I co-led for a few years. The above quote was scribbled across a retreat schedule—I remember quickly writing it after I heard Beth Ann say it. Anyone who has studied with Beth Ann knows she has a treasury of quotable quotes regarding quilt and art making. She also has sage advice on nurturing our creativity:

  • Nurture your creative spirit.
  •  Don’t neglect responsibilities, but remember that you also have a responsibility to your creative self.
  • Chores don’t always need to come first.
  • Cherish the joy of creating – whether you are preparing a meal or painting a future masterpiece.

I am also finishing up two quilts. One quilt is pieced and ready for me to pin it to the quilt batting and back.  The other quilt is for Advent and I am hand-quilting parts of it and will machine quilt the rest. My goal is to have hanging above our Advent wreath before the second Sunday of Advent.

Advent quilt WIP photo-1

It feels good to find my quilting groove again.

Also, clearing and cleaning my sewing space is giving me room to breathe and ponder new ideas for further quilts and art quilts. I’ve heard that “making a clearing” in one’s living space allows room for something new or fresh to enter or emerge. I don’t know if this is true but I am willing to open my heart to find out. 

A prayer for gridlock (with audio)

Loving God—

First,
I confess my anger toward Congress.
I confess my foul language when I listen to or watch the news.
I confess my hate-filled thoughts toward particular politicians.

Forgive me, loving God.

Second,
I pray for the politicians who are caught in the entrenched fight.
I pray that you soften and ease the entrenchments.
I pray that you provide a solution (or, solutions).
And, I pray for wisdom and peace for the national leaders.

Hear my prayer, loving God.

Third,
I pray for the federal workers who are on furlough.
I pray they might have something productive to do during this unexpected free time.
I pray they might not simmer in anger and resentment for this forced downtime.
I pray they might not overly worry or fret about the financial ramifications of the furlough.

Hear my prayer, loving God.

Fourth,
I pray for others impacted by this government closure.
I pray for those who might not receive their Social Security checks.
I pray for those whose much-anticipated plans are disrupted by closed national parks
and monuments.
I pray for those who are working without guarantee of payment.

Hear my prayer, loving God.

Fifth,
I pray for you to breathe your loving, gracious Spirit onto this country and help all of us to  breathe deeply of your love and compassion.
I pray that you help us make amends with those we’ve argued with, cursed at, and maybe blocked or unfriended.
I pray you will remind us that, ultimately, our allegiance is to you and our citizenship is in your kingdom.

Hear my prayer, loving God.

Amen.


Getting Unblocked

August Break 2013--Day 13

August Break 2013–Day 13–home. Our front porch.

Sometimes when one is blocked creatively in one medium it’s good to explore a different medium. This is what I’ve been doing this month with my new phone, Instagram, and the August Break #2013. The creator, Susannah Conway provided photo prompts for each day of August.

I’m having fun pondering the prompts and experimenting with the photo possibilities. Sometimes I am really pleased with my picture and other days, not so much. But that’s how creativity happens–exploring, testing, trying.

I didn’t do it daily yet I did more than just dip my toe into this new medium and I’ve had fun.

I am circling around fabric again, pondering fiber art again. Perhaps photographing will inform my fiber art? Think so.

Here are a few more photos I took:

Day 4--love.  A love note a found on my bulletin board one day.

Day 4–love. A love note a found on my bulletin board one day.

Day 18--looking down. These are the potted flowers on our front steps.

Day 18–looking down. These are the potted flowers on our front steps.

Day 27--numbers. These are the tools I use for my quilting.

Day 27–numbers. These are the tools I use for my quilting.

Prayer of the week (with audio)

By June Mears Driedger

By June Mears Driedger

“O God, come to my assistance,    

Make haste to help me!”  (Ps. 70:1)

Loving God, Compassionate God~

I need help. I’m stuck on a freezing river of inertia and unable to create.

I’m spinning my wheels, unable to gain traction to follow-through with my ideas, dreams, and projects.

So, please help me. Please come to my assistance.

Please send someone to give me a push, or put chains on my tires, or spread salt or sand, or whatever it takes to give my wheels a grip and to get moving.

Help me to not be afraid of the ice but learn to navigate myself without doing harm to myself or to my creativity.

And, please remind me that ice does melt, eventually. And that the spinning of my creative wheels may be just a season, and like the ice, the season will change.

Thank you God for coming to my assistance (I’m praying with confidence that you will respond to my prayer). AMEN.


“Eyes of the Heart” Book Winner

 

Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

Thank you for your thoughtful responses to Christine’s wise words of tending to our moments. I am grateful.

The book winner is Deanna Risser–congratulations Deanna! I will contact you for your address to mail to you.

And, I encourage everyone to pick up/order Christine’s book.

A final thought for today:

Look and See photo

Tending the Moments–Guest post from Christine Valters Paintner (plus book giveaway!)

 

Christine Valters Paintner

Christine Valters Paintner

 

You have undoubtedly had an experience similar to this: you are moving through a most ordinary day, when suddenly something shifts.  Where there was drudgery and habit, suddenly you become aware of the way sunlight is spilling across the living room rug and your heart breaks open at the splendor of it all.  Or you see a loved one in a new way and revel in their beauty.  Or maybe it is as simple as savoring the steam rising from your morning coffee, like incense lifting the longings of your heart.

We move through our lives, often at such speed, that our perception of time becomes contorted.  We begin to believe that life is about rushing as fast as we can, about getting as much done as possible. We are essentially skating across life’s surface, exhausted, and disoriented.

Contemplative practice calls us to change our perspective and awaken to a different reality, one that is governed by spaciousness, slowness, stillness, and presence.  Contemplation invites us to tend the moments.

Moments are holy doorways where I am lifted out of time and I encounter the sacred in the most ordinary of acts.  Moments invite me to pause and linger because there is a different sense of time experienced.  Moments are those openings we experience, where time suddenly loses its linear march and seems to wrap us in an experience of the eternal.

Mythologist and storyteller Michael Meade says the word “moment” comes from the Latin root momentus, which means to move.  We are moved when we touch the eternal and timeless which is available to us in each moment we are fully present. 

My work in the world is to invite people into this kind of awareness, something that is available to each of us, we just need to cultivate skills and practices to tend the moments.

Art and spiritual practice are how you find this moment of eternity, or better yet, how you allow the moment to find you. We only need to make ourselves available to them, to receive them as the gifts that they are, rather than seek them out as something we are entitled to.

Call to mind a time when you were so present to the moment, to the sheer grace of things, maybe watching a child giggle with delight or your dog romp playfully in a field.  And then perhaps, the thoughts broke in. The ones which seem to wield only criticism and dissatisfaction.  Maybe you remember the items still languishing on your “to do” list back at home and you felt an anxious dread. Contemplative practice cultivates our awareness of this pattern, so that we might be able to change it. So that when moments come to visit us, we find ourselves savoring and basking in wonder rather than reaching for what is next.

Contemplative practice also cultivates our profound awareness of life as an unending stream of gifts, and from this arises the impulse to create.  When we open ourselves to the sheer grace of things, we tap into a source of inspiration.  We feel moved to create something out of that gratitude.

For me, photography and writing are the ways I feel most often moved to respond to the generosity of life. Try this next time you feel overcome by beauty – pause there as long as you can without moving to do something else or complete another task.  And then, when there is a sense of fullness or completion, pick up a camera or a pen, and allow them to become the tools to honor what you have experienced and your expression of deep gratitude. Rather than “capturing” the encounter, let this be a prayer, so that slowly over time you might find yourself in an unending litany of praise.

Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice

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Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, is the online Abbess at Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery and community for contemplative practice and creative expression.  She is the author of 7 books on art and monasticism, including her latest, Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Christian Contemplative Practice (Ave Maria Press). Christine currently lives out her commitment as a monk in the world with her husband in Galway, Ireland.

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Thank you Christine!

The publisher has provided a copy of Christine’s book, Eyes of the Heart, as a giveaway to one of you! Leave a comment by Wednesday, May 22, 9 pm (est) to be included in the drawing. Please leave info for contacting you.