Someone has written that finding joy IS a spiritual practice. Besides the more or less “serious” and “consistent” practices such as meditation and prayer, there is also the idea that we are made to enjoy this life right now. I think many of us have a harder time finding joy than finding seriousness. So, here is your invitation to find a path that meanders through another kind of field. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to do something – learn to juggle, sing in a choir, play with paint, to sew some fanciful thing, to cook some wonderful food… Maybe it’s time to make a “bucket list” of things or experiences you’d like to have between now and the end of your life – not so much places you want to see, as experiences you’d like to have – maybe you want to own a parrot, or take an art class, or learn to do calligraphy, or, or, or…
On this page I have collected some websites that have opened me to joy. Check them out – or hunt for your own sites or Pinterest boards that address your own longings. Here are some of my favorite websites;
Websites I like;
www.Janphillips.com -- Jan is a musician and a spiritual writer. Her website contains her own writings and music and suggestions for becoming your own creative person. She has a “Museletter” with ideas to inspire you.
Austinkleon.com -- This is a fun writer who posts a newsletter weekly where he tells you 10 random things he has liked this week. It is often books he's read, art projects he suggests, music he loves, etc.
www.Janrichardson.com Jan is a United Methodist minister with several meditation books. She is an artist and has a section on her website about painted prayers.
www.cynthiawinton-henry.com Cynthia is the founder of a movement called “Interplay” which is about finding joy and soul through moving your body, through the use of words and silence . Her website “The Hidden Monastery” has lots of suggestions and reflections about uncovering the connection between your body and your soul.
www.themuseisin.com Jill Badonsky is a writer and creative artist. her website is chocked full of inspiration for writing, drawing, just living a creative life. It is very whimsical and includes a monthly creativity newsletter.
www.gratefulness.org is a website committed to helping us be grateful. There are links to send beautiful cards to your friends for free, a daily mindfulness quote and links to lots of info about living a mindful life. You can light candles for people etc
www.braidedway.org This website is dedicated to seeing every religious tradition as one strand of a larger braid. There are lots of spiritual practices, poetry, stories, visual images here uniting all religions.
www.michellehaydenfineart.com Michelle paints gorgeous and simple mandalas each day and posts them about once a week on her website. I believe she is mainly a watercolorist. I love her mandalas and they inspire me to think about doing my own.
www.ahundredfallingveils.com The poet Rosemary Wahtola Trommer posts an original poem EVERY DAY here. It is lovely to see a famous poet's first drafts! You can subscribe to receive them daily -- or just go and have a look!
Books I have found useful;
A Hidden Wholeness – Parker Palmer … about the Journey toward an undivided Life”
Inner Work – Robert A. Johnson … Using dreams and active imagination for personal growth.
Seven Thousand Ways to Listen – Mark Nepo … very short essays and questions about staying close to what is sacred.
A Call to Compassion – Aura Glaser … Bringing Buddhist practices of the heart into psychology and into understanding your life.
I Pray Anyway – Joyce Wilson-Sanford … Daily prayers for the ambivalent “unbeliever”.
My Bright Abyss – Christian Wiman … memoir/meditation of a modern “believer”.
The Presence of Absence – Doris Grumbach … her own journey to recover prayer in her own way.
An Altar in the World – Barbara Brown Taylor … helping you to recognize some of the “altars” in your everyday world. An honest and wise book about how faith can be both practical and sensuous.
That Which You are Seeking is Causing you to seek …Cheri Huber One of Huber’s many useful books about how we need only stop, sit down , be still and pay attention – and she tells you how to do that!
Happiness is an inside Job – Sylvia Boorstein… This Jewish woman become Buddhist teacher takes an honest and refreshingly funny look at how to become happy.
Start Where You Are – Pema Chodron… The first step is to develop compassion for your own wounds.
A God that Could Be Real - Nancy Abrams.
And here are some quotes that speak to me. sometimes I like to make little “quote notes” – on business sized cardstock (which you can buy) I write the quote and then illustrate either with paint or just collage pretty paper onto then. Sometimes I give these to friends.
Quotes I like;
Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard. – Anne Sexton
Let go or be dragged ~ Zen proverb
What is deep is holy ~R. W. Emerson
My first job is to be myself ~Arthur Foote
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Will it help if I say something?
Don’t run away from your happiness ~Anton Chekov
God is buried in our own hearts ~Arthur Foote
Life is a journey from No to Yes ~Mark Nepo
Open to unknowing ~Tilden Edwards
The one who wants to shine will shed no light ~Lao Tsu
Be thankful that your fears have again and again proven groundless. ~A. Foote
Stillness; One of the doors into the temple. ~Mary Oliver
One should utter daily 100 benedictions. ~Rabbi Meir
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. ~Jack Kornfield
Life’s goodness comes beyond our power to earn it. ~R.W. Emerson
There is no greater curse than lack of contentment ~Lao Tsu
There are no unsacred places. ~Wendell Berry
Our work is to constantly be worn free of our preferences ~Mark Nepo
There are no big reasons to live…just little reasons. ~Kyo Maclear
So much depends on our tender resolve to outwait the c louds. ~Mark Nepo
The heart is always the highest authority. ~Cheri Huber
Singing is air moving around nothing. ~Mary Oliver
We’re always not wanting to be who we are. ~Pema Chodron
Silence and solitude course-correct the soul wordlessly. ~J. Sanford-Wilson
Be generous with your joy. ~Pema Chodron
Practice being gentle. ~Pema Chodron
The heart, like a wing, is of no use tucked. ~Mark Nepo’
Encourage yourself not to be a walking battleground. ~Pema Chodron
Desire to be desireless. ~Buddha
The heart can soften the wolf we carry inside. ~Mark Nepo
Listen to everything with your heart ENERYTHING. ~Mark Nepo
Kindness is a way of life. ~Mark Nepo
Peace and agitation are stitched together. ~Mark Nepo
Practice blessing everything. ~Barbara Brown Taylor
Do whatever leads to joy. To more life and less worry. ~Marie Howe
Dive into the unscripted day. ~Mark Nepo
May I arrive at every place I enter. ~Belden Lane
Choose in favor of your deepest desire. ~Margaret Silf
“Choose gladness” ~anonymous
I take the wings of morning ~Psalm 139
Nothing is easy at first. ~Ghutaratana
The first duty of love is to listen. ~Paul Tillich
God is invisible but holiness is visible. ~Mary Oliver
Be still and know. Be still. Be ~anon.
And here is a link to making your own “Soul Collage cards”. These are cards that you make using magazine images to illustrate the various “selves’ you have inside. I recommend this practice highly!
And, I always find it fun to search through the internet for images that appeal to me. One can find literally dozens of images of anything that interests you. Put in “blue jay feather” or “Gees Bend Quilts” or “monarch butterflies” or “children playing in sprinklers” into the Google search and you will find lots of images to delight you!