Fri, Mar 4: OPEN SENSES

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
— Psalm 121: 1-2

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them? — Psalm 8:6

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from God comes my salvation.
God alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.
 — Psalm 62:1-2

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I;
 for you are my refuge.
— Psalm 61:2

To receive the gifts of the world around us, and the revelation of Holy Love as part of creation, we are invited to open and attune our senses. Additionally, becoming attentive with our senses may also improve our perceptions with regard to relationships with other people, and even self-care.

         For instance, in Mt Washington Valley, we’re surrounded by mountains. Our lives are bounded by peaks and valleys, notches and cliffs. When we look toward the horizon, we read it through the heights and depths of the landscape. Light breaks over it, sinks behind it.

         For some folks, witnessing that grandeur and changing beauty is enough. The journey is taken with the eyes, and how it tugs the heart and mind along on its journey.

         To gain a different perspective, we can travel up those slopes. Or walk down them. The steps along the way also mater, since it’s the journey that shapes us. Yet the destination delivers its own gifts.

Summits promise a chance for respite. They serve as a reminder and opportunity to set ourselves apart with time and distance. To create space to collect and center ourselves. To focus. Or to let go .

Seeking out such places also gives us a sense of proportion. We are in the presence of elements larger than ourselves. More eternal. The mountains may not be altered when we take journeys over and among them, yet they change us. 

Remember that self-care and spiritual wellbeing include break time. Like Christ choosing to leave behind the crowds and take time to pray on the mountain, we can follow this model. Removing ourselves from daily needs and demands. Putting aside schedules and deadlines. Permitting ourselves the chance to grow quiet, whether it’s during the walk up and down the mountain, or lingering at the top, or even observing from some distant spot and gazing out at the vista that the mountain offers.

Pastor and hiker Noah Van Niel suggests the following practice. Choose a Psalm. A few scriptures are offered above, but nature appears in many of them. Read through a few options before resting to look at the mountains or traveling outside into the mountains. Select one psalm excerpt and carry it with you. Also keep this list in mind: trees and plants, the heavens, sky, path, wings, rocks, mountains and valleys, water, storms, animals. Contemplate how the sacred verses connect you to creation. When in the journey do the words come alive for you? When does the Psalm speak most clearly to you? When you are reminded of one of the words, pause and reflect: linger in that moment, that experience. How does the verse change the way you feel?

We are invited to find a time and place to be in the presence of ourselves. We are especially guided to also keep company with the unlimited and eternal: Godself.— Rev Gail     

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Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn. John Muir

Prayer is a mountain; you have to climb it. — Prophetess Triza

PRAYER from MOUNTAIN as SANCTUARY & INSPIRATION
– excerpt from statement by Martin Luther King, Jr.
I just want to do God’s will … to go up to the mountain.
And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land.

PRAYER If MOUNTAIN Is ADVERSARY
— excerpt from prayer by Terra Blakemore
Lord God, give us this mountain and the knowledge, wisdom, understanding, patience, and strength to climb it, overcome it … We thank You for every mountain, circumstance, fear, and adversary You help us climb … and overcome in the power of Your Holy Spirit, Your awesome might. We thank You for every word of comfort, encouragement, correction, and instruction. We thank You for grace, mercy, forgiveness …

Advent Daily Devotional: WEEK of HOPE – DAY 7 – Sat, Dec 4

Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord. — Psalm 31:24

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. — Psalm 119:105

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The final day of its solo vigil, this candle sums up the week’s theme of hope. Alone it burns. Signals to you. Symbolizes everything you can imagine that hope might offer or promise. Dares to challenge its surroundings and add its small brightness to the world. Reminds you that your life, your heart, your mind, your choices, your voice, and your acts make an impact. — Rev Gail

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A lot of people have their big dreams and get knocked down and don’t have things go their way. And you never give up hope, and you really just hold on to it. Hard work and perseverance. You just keep getting up and getting up, and then you get that breakthrough. — Robert Kraft

In the right light, at the right time,
everything is extraordinary. – Aaron Rose

LENTEN RESOURCES

Acts of Kindness & Giving for Lent
(guides and calendars sourced from several organizations)

Reflections and Meditations

  • Coloring the Psalms Devotional Guide and Coloring Pages.
    *Already printed and available* at front of church, which is always open. Or accessible as downloadable multi-page PDF files from Jackson Community Church’s website. Due to licensing, the link will be sent by email to all church friends and members … if you want to participate, and didn’t receive this email already, sign up on this site to receive our email and we will forward the links to download the PDF files. Or email us directly for the link.
  • UCC (United Church of Christ)’s Still Speaking Daily Devotional messages. Sign up to receive these.
  • UCC (United Church of Christ)’s Still Speaking Podcast. Sign up for podcast
  • Mindfulness Applications for computers and mobile devices from Thich Nhat Hahn’s Plum Village (in the engaged Buddhist tradition)
  • Jan Richardson’s Painted Prayerbook blog entries
  • Maren Tirabassi’s Gifts in Open Hands blog with daily Lenten posts
  • Daily Meditations by Fr Richard Rohr, sign up to receive these
  • Living Lent Daily: Ignatian Spirituality daily meditations for Lent . Sign up to receive daily email meditations and devotional activities.
  • Social Justice Lectionary: Downloadable guide to readings and activities surrounding social justice issues. Extension of MLK Day initiatives.
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