Updated: Aug 16, 2021

I am sharing this note from my friend Cynthia Winton-Henry who shows us some new ways to worship!

Prayers for the Hidden Monastery
Have you been to the sanctuary? The one with no walls or doors that arises when you slow dance with the moon, meet the eye of a beetle, feel the tender touch of two hands, walk the street with those who move in protest? Have you been tending an entry to a holy place, keeping a candle lit in a time of epoch change– when prayer feels restless and old forms whither? Have you been making art when fatigue beats at spirit, when busy days disarm grace and leadership agitates for its next holy trouble? Have you been praying because you don’t know what to do but trek up and down the mountain of study and practice and share ritual meals with friend and foe? Have you been to your spirit hideaway to make offerings to the One who calms religious anxiety and quells your over-heated compassion born of Love’s insatiable desire? Have you been working backstage as one of Joy’s stage managers cueing the lights and sounds that awaken the solace begged by every breath? Have you run to the edges, to the Well, the Rock, the Tree any place where Holy Eyes meet, moist cheeks are kissed, wild souls are hallmarks of beauty, and courageous love is daily work? Have you gone on in spite of being ignored, laughed at, shunned, and told you want impossible things? If so then you are a monk of a hidden monastery where like ants in collective obscurity we create and recreate a billion sanctuaries made by ears inclined to a flute players breath, the deep hummed conversations, and the blue tears that fall into a common bowl. Cynthia Winton-Henry
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This morning I was reading a piece about aging and something in it was so poignant, I found myself crying. It’s difficult for me sometimes to face into the truth of aging. But I decided to do something called “lectio divina”with the piece I had read. Without rereading it, I just tried to remember what one word was most important to me – what stuck with me in this piece. The word was “let”.. Many of the sentences in this piece started with the command. to “let”. I sat with that word. Turned it over and over in my mind;

to let … to allow, welcome, embrace, tolerate, accommodate, accept, encourage, go, flow, open, give, get out of the way, say YES, unstitch…

--- all things I would like to do/be.

and the opposite of to let… prevent, restrict, stop, hold back, close, resist, withhold, interfere, repair, interrupt, oppose, blame, say NO…

--- all things I would like not to do/be.

At the beginning of every year, I try to choose a “word of the year:” that I want to measure up to. This year I chose “soft” – and I have been softening into that goal! Now I’ve decided my word for the second half of 2021 will be “allow”.

Here’s a poem about that from my friend Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer;


There is a carpenter in me

with an impressive tool belt.

She thinks she can fix everything.

Every time there’s a leak in the ducts,

she blames that darn condensation,

and whips out her metallic tape.

And when there’s a heart break,

she mumbles something about not meeting code,

then takes note of all the cracks,

all the places where it’s falling apart,

and gets to work: cleans up and preps

new concrete to hold things together.

I know she’s doing what she knows best,

I know she has good intentions.

But today, while she runs off to seek

just the right hammer, just the right nails,

I take those leaky ducts and that broken heart

into the garden and dig potatoes.

The soil is cool and slips soft

though my fingers as I sift for yellow fingerlings

and red-skinned Desirees.

There is a gardener in me who doesn’t try

to fix anything. She says in a quiet southern drawl,

Sweet thing, bring all that brokenness here

and let it walk amongst the sunflowers.

Let it weed the carrots and pick

some calendula bouquets. And nothing

gets fixed, but something shifts as I sit

beside unruly mint, its green spears rampant,

its scent so cooling, so sweet.

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I, and many people I talk with, struggle with sitting meditation. We claim we can’t sit still long enough to meditate because our minds jump from one thing to another and won’t settle down. Which is, of course, exactly why meditation is an important practice for almost all of us. We don’t meditate because our minds are already peaceful and calm! We practice meditation (like a swimmer swims laps, a batter goes to the batting cage, a golfer to the practice range, an artist makes sketches) because we aspire to have a peaceful mind in the midst of a chaotic life. The more chaotic our mind, the more opportunities we have to wake up and to notice that it has run away and to bring it back to the present moment. If we just sat down and “nothing crossed our mind”, we’d have no opportunity to practice at all! If our mind wasn’t a mad ping-pong ball, we wouldn’t need to meditate. Sometimes taming that crazy monkey mind is slow, challenging and boring work. Over and over, getting it to come back to the present moment. And why? So that we can notice the present moment and all that it holds and live fully in it.

I often need to be reminded that the purpose of meditation is not to be “calm” –- the purpose is to be fully present (awake and aware) to whatever arises – without judgment or preference. A tall order!!

Here are some quotes and reminders I have found that speak to me and encourage me in my own practice of sitting meditation;

~ “Let me stop do-ing”

~ “Inside each of us there is a silence. We are afraid of it and we long for it.”

~ “Cultivating a peaceful heart is the journey of a lifetime.”

~ “Meditation is about gaining self-kindness.”

~ “The goal is to overcome/defuse negativity in my mind”. –Sylvia Boorstein

~ “This moment – is passing”. Sylvia Boorstein

~ “In meditation, you are not trying to get from here to there…. You are trying to get from there to HERE!” - Jack Kornfield

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