From the RevGalBlogPals site: For today’s Friday Five, please share with us five spiritual practices or disciplines from your experience. They can be ones that you have tried and kept up with, tried and NOT kept up with, ones that you flirt with at various times, or even practices that you have tried and found are definitely NOT your cup of tea. Let us know what’s worked for you…and not.
I’ve spent a lot of time with Richard Foster and his list of classic spiritual disciplines (As found in Celebration of Discipline). And at various times, I’ve played around with all of them: prayer, fasting, meditation, study, confession, service, submission, and even celebration. They’ve served a purpose, but the ones that I keep gravitating back to are not necessarily from this list of “classics”. Except prayer.
So, in no particular order, here are the list of spiritual disciplines that keep me afloat:
1) Prayer: I try very hard to live into the verse that says “Pray without ceasing”, thus making my entire life a prayer. Sometimes, I wake up with long, formal prayers on my lips, but more often than not, I’m working with flash-prayers where I simply pray for something that catches my eye. I also frequently use the techniques that I found and loved in Praying in Color. We’ve started something new at church where we’re keeping logs of the people we pray for, and that’s been useful as I think about intercessory praying.
2) Paying Attention: This isns’t a classic, but it did make sense as I read Barbara Brown Taylor’s “An Altar in the World”. I try very hard to keep my eyes wide open for what God is doing in the world, and have been consistently surprised by the things I see that I might have otherwise taken for granted. My preaching professor (Anna Carter Florence) said something that echo’s Taylors thoughts on the subject: A preacher is a lot of things, but most importantly, a preacher is somebody who pays attention.
3) Writing: I guess this goes along with paying attention, but for me, at least right now, writing is a spiritual discipline that refreshes my soul. I am trying to be diligent about reflecting on the things that I see, and putting them in words. Somehow, the act of writing itself seems to set me free, and allows me to open my eyes even further.
4) Examen: In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola talks about the examen, which is a means of reflecting on the events of the day, and using them to discern God’s will for your future. Each day, in my mind or on paper, I try to do a simplified version in which I think of three things I’ve been grateful for that day, as well as three things that I’d like to do better in the future. And then it’s done. The events of the day don’t get to nag at me any more.
5) Sabbath-keeping: I have watched many clergy colleagues burn out because they didn’t do the things they loved, and that became a lesson to me to keep watch for my own soul. A seminary professor said to us, “If the shepherd isn’t fed, she’ll eventually devour the sheep.” I work hard at not only engaging in holy rest, but I try to carve out time to do the things that feed my soul. I read books and work on quilts and daydream and take pictures and walk for miles on end–even when a convincing argument could be made that I should be doing other things. I don’t work around the clock, and I don’t feel guilty about taking care of myself (at least most days.) During crazy busy weeks when I just can’t make it happen, I’ll try to carve out some time for myself as quickly as I can.