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Supplication: “God is Enough” – by Naomi Wenger

Posted by on Jun 19, 2019 in News | 0 comments

Supplication: “God is Enough” – by Naomi Wenger

The Hermitage Way is a group of folks who commit to keep ten practices for a year at a time. This article is one of a series of articles on these practices.  Practice 1: Those who choose to keep the Way commit to engage in a daily prayer practice. This practice will include silence, meditation on scripture, intercession and affirmation. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer liturgies from The Hermitage or other sources may be used.  Supplication: “God is Enough” There are many words used for prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, intercession, pleading, etc. Some of our prayer, perhaps the greater part, should be simply acknowledging God. These kinds of prayers are adoration and thanksgiving; wonder-filled expressions of our awareness of God at work in the world. But, we often think of prayer as asking. That is understandable since the original meaning of the root of the word “prayer” (precarius is Latin meaning to obtain by entreaty or earnest asking) is to beg, to ask. So, it is appropriate that we pray for others or ourselves. We ask God to act in some way to benefit those we love and serve. This is called intercession or supplication.  Supplication is a prayer of deep trust and awareness. The stories of Elijah in I Kings help us when we think on this deep kind of prayer. Elijah the prophet of the Lord, lives during a particularly troubled time in Israel’s history. King Ahab is a bad king, rebelling against God’s rule in his own life and leading the people astray. He is married to an equally bad queen, Jezebel, who opposes the worship of God and promotes the worship of the local god, Baal. God sends a warning to his people in the form of a drought, the ensuing famine and, probably most galling to Jezebel, a prophet who is listening to God. During the famine, God sends Elijah to live with a widow in Zarephath, and to eat at her table. God supplies her with a never-ending oil jug and a bottomless flour jar so that they will not starve. However, during the famine, the widow’s son falls ill and dies. Elijah, never one to mince words with God says, “O lord my God have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?” A rather direct question and accusation! Nevertheless, Elijah presents the facts to God, concluding his prayer with, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again” (17:20-21) thereby acknowledging that only God can change the circum-stance of death. This is a humility born of experience. And God restores the boy’s life. A few weeks later, Elijah is sent back to Ahab with the news that it would rain again after three years of drought. Ahab agrees to a challenge between God and the prophets of the Baal. The prophets fail but God is revealed in a show of firepower. Elijah’s simple prayer of supplication is of interest, here, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord are God and that you have turned their hearts back.” (18:36-37) The motivation behind Elijah’s prayer, “so that this people may know that you are God,” gives us the clue to Elijah’s target. He was not praying that the people would follow him, that they would give...

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“Fascination is the oldest form of healing” – by Naomi Wenger

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in News | Comments Off on “Fascination is the oldest form of healing” – by Naomi Wenger

“Fascination is the oldest form of healing” – by Naomi Wenger

              A few years ago, I was hiking in the Columbia River Gorge area of Oregon/Washington. After a two-day hike, I drove to many of the waterfalls along the gorge. I was tired from hiking with my pack on, my feet were probably sore, so at the last of at least a dozen roadside stops to see a waterfall, I stayed well back from the falls, choosing to look on from half-way there. Down the trail, where the falls were soaking onlookers, I noticed a flash of red. It kept darting into my field of vision and retreating. I focused my camera on the spot and saw the pure delight of a young boy in a red jacket daring the falling water to get him wet. He charged and challenged, roaring at the thundering fall, and then ran away with a sylph-like quickness to the shelter of a protruding rock. He got very wet. His joy at provoking the huge waterfall lifted my spirits. I can’t say it healed my aching feet, but I revel in the memory of his obvious delight.               The old tales tell of a couple who left their homeland to find out where God would take them – “to the land that I will show you.” A shepherd stopped along a rocky path to watch a bush that was aflame but not consumed by the fire. “I Am” spoke to him out of that bush—a sound he may have missed if he was not fascinated by what he saw. A beloved woman watched as her friend was assassinated, then stood by as other friends lovingly laid his body in a tomb and rolled a stone in front of the entrance. She waited, wondering what would become of her loved one; what would become of her? On the third day, she was the first observer of that empty tomb at the resurrection of Jesus. Fascination.               Carl Jung author of the title statement of this article, continued that thought elsewhere with, “the world is the oldest form of fascination.” When have you last been fascinated by the world? Daily rituals and sightings bring joy to our hearts. How many beautiful sunsets have we photographed only to forget exactly when they occurred? We “ooh” and “aah” over a delicious cake, asking for the recipe. We watch hawks soar, grin at young rabbits as they flop instead of hop, gawk at tiny birds who open gigantic mouths to be fed, and coax darting hummingbirds to our back yard feeders.  When we travel, the beauty in others’ faces or the colorful jumbles of market stalls invite our attention. It is no surprise that the things of the earth delight us. We are made for this planet home and we should find it interesting.               But we can become so inured to its charms that we begin to think that the insects, the weather, the unwanted plants (eg. weeds), the animals that invade “our” space are “other” and despicable, and then disposable. When this happens, we have failed the exam. Our work is to live well in the home we have, at peace with all of the other creatures we live among. We are not commanded to be destroyers but to “tend and keep” the earth. The ready antidote to this failed attitude is fascination.               I used to be extremely bothered when the spring invasion of ants began in my house. First at the back door, then in the dog dish and finally on the countertop. It was a regular routine and I squished and squashed ants until...

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That There Would Be Harmony – by David Wenger

Posted by on May 4, 2019 in News | Comments Off on That There Would Be Harmony – by David Wenger

That There Would Be Harmony – by David Wenger

Years ago we were blessed by the presence of a lovely Swiss woman who came to the Hermitage as a working retreatant several times a year. She had a beautiful, warm smile and exuded a reverence and love of life that was infectious. We welcomed her back with enthusiasm each time she passed this way. During one of her sojourns with us we had an unusually full Saturday. I was feeling overwhelmed and conflicted about all that I had said yes to for this particular day. St. Joseph’s Barn was full with weekend retreatants, Gathering Room in Hanby Center was being used by a day group and there was a group of volunteers coming to work in the woods. Was it possible to “create an environment of attentiveness to God” with all of this going on? After Morning Prayer our friend came to me and asked for her marching orders for the day. I told her about the various groups that were coming and what each required. I said I was feeling anxious about all that the day held for everyone. She paused, thinking deeply about what was needed, and then said, “That there would be harmony.” As soon as she spoke those words I was overcome with a sense of calm. Yes, that there would be harmony. Above all, this was the work of our day, holding the intention of harmony for each person and purpose that we were expecting. That there would be harmony has become my prayer in similar times of unsettledness, whether that be internal or external. And I am always comforted by the beautiful spirit of God within our friend who first uttered the prayer into...

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Learning to become silent – by June Mears Driedger

Posted by on Apr 22, 2019 in News | Comments Off on Learning to become silent – by June Mears Driedger

Learning to become silent – by June Mears Driedger

Centering prayer is a way of quieting down one’s mind—one’s interior. On Saturday mornings at the Hermitage we practice Centering prayer. One Saturday, Kevin lead morning prayer, offering us these words: centering prayer is a simple prayer of focusing our attention toward God. But it is also a difficult prayer as our minds are not accustomed to being quiet or silent.  When our thoughts wander (as mine often does) we return to our original intention of focusing our minds on God. We can do this by focusing on our breath or having a sacred word in which we return to when our thoughts wander. My sacred word is “Love” because Love is the essence of God. My brain often sounds like squawking blue-jays, demanding attention, squawking louder and louder until I turn my attention on whatever is clamoring for my attention. Sometimes the demand is very quotidian such as, don’t forget milk at the grocery store. I return to the word Love, mentally repeating it until my thoughts settle down and clear. On this Saturday, I am more challenged than usual to move into an interior silence. I slept just a few hours the previous night as I was brooding over some harsh words that had been said during a meeting. While their words weren’t directly pointed toward me I was part of the situation that upset them. My spirit was crushed and I was hurt and angry. The scenes from the meeting kept resurfacing with all my feelings I attached to the words. I kept returning to Love. I was struggling to focus on God.             Breathe in—breathe out. Love             Breathe in—breathe out. Love             Breathe in—breathe out. Love As I calmed down and returned to my intention of focusing on God these words came: invite this person to tea. With those words—which I believe came from Love—my inner turmoil dissipated. My brooding lifted and I was able to experience inner silence. Later I did contact the individual to schedule a time for tea. The tension between us eased and I was grateful. Mind you, this does not happen every time I prayer but that Saturday morning it happened.I am learning, from my experience and listening to others—that silence can open us. When we become silent, if we can move through our resistance to silence, we can hear God whisper. We gain clarity and discernment arrives. We hear...

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Rhythm Wisdom – by Kevin Driedger

Posted by on Apr 11, 2019 in News | 1 comment

Rhythm Wisdom – by Kevin Driedger

And again, the grass turns green. And again, the daffodils bloom. And again, the seeds are sown. And again, the sun rises.And again, the sun sets.And again, the darkness comes. And again, we gather for prayer.And again, we gather to eat.And again, we enter solitude. And again, we hear a whisper from God.And again, we taste God’s love made edible.And again, we see the beauty of God. Life at the Hermitage, as all life everywhere, is filled with rhythms: from the quickened rhythms of the heartbeats of each beloved guest to the long, slow, cosmic rhythms of expansion and contraction. A key part of the work of the Hermitage, both for staff and for guests, is to recognize these rhythms, feel them, learn from them, and enter into them. These rhythms have much to teach us. The wisdom literature of the Hebrew scripture extols the importance of being attentive to these rhythms and to recognize the wisdom of God held within. Some rhythms are simple steady beats that are easily recognized, while others are vastly more complex and may take many generations to understand. These wisdom texts were central in shaping early monastic life and play a central role in the Rule of St. Benedict which guides many monastic communities even today. These traditions established ways of living for people, whether in community or in solitude, that are filled with rhythms of prayer and work, the rhythms of the church year, and the rhythms of life. Let us all be attentive to those rhythms that shape and nurture our lives. Rhythms of work, of play, of retreat, of breath, and of prayer. There is wisdom in these rhythms, if we just open ourselves to hear God...

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Freeing Hospitality – by Naomi Wenger

Posted by on Mar 29, 2019 in News | Comments Off on Freeing Hospitality – by Naomi Wenger

Freeing Hospitality – by Naomi Wenger

“ For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” Galatians 5:6 In the letter to the Galatians, Paul chastises the church for so easily falling away from the teaching they received that, in Christ, all have been made free of keeping the Jewish religious law. For, the Galatian gentiles have apparently embraced the practice of circumcision to prove that they “belong” to this new Jewish sect (that has not yet been named “Christianity”). Circumcision was the sign of inclusion for law-abiding Jews. Paul is eager to point out that there is a new way of living that does not require adherence to the law nor any external sign of inclusion. He calls it living “in the Spirit.” He criticizes the Galatians for starting with the Spirit (of Christ) and ending with the (Jewish) law, a backward movement. He reminds them that what “counts is faith working through love.” Neither faith nor love is concretely measurable. This leaves all judgment in God’s hands and frees followers of Christ to be open-hearted and open-handed toward all people, no matter their ethnic origin, their religious practice, or their gender. In Christ, he says, all are free. Keeping Jewish law, particularly the religious practice of circumcision, is no longer much of an issue for Christians in the West. What issue or issues divide us? How would we write this admonition today so it would be an equivalent warning to us to avoid the same kind of misplaced energy the Galatians were giving to “keeping the law?”  Each one of us will probably have to examine our consciences to find the “law” we are “keeping” that creates for us a container of inclusion or a wall of exclusion. For it is this sin, of excluding (or preferentially including) another on the basis of some “law,” that is at the heart of the message to the Galatians. This issue also resonates with our current experience in North America. There are folks excluded because of their immigrant status, gender, relative power status, socio-economic state, religion, and even their “fit” into what is expected as “normal.” Of course, we all want others to be “like us” because that is more immediately comfortable than the stew of differences we find in this heavily populated globe where we rub shoulders with the “other” more than we might like. But, is it possible that we exclude the very folks we should be welcoming because they don’t live life as we do? What if they practice a different religion? Does that make them excludable? As I read the Bible, I see that the better practice is to welcome and include rather than to exclude. Jesus admonishes in the gospels not to fear what others can do to us (Matthew 10:26-33 and Luke 12:2-7). But we are to major in “love for others” (John 15:9-17).  We are more likely to be guilty of pushing someone out of God’s welcome than we would be “tainted” by their presence or practice when we welcome them in love. In another place, Jesus teaches,“Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40). When fear runs amok among us, we shout down demons and decry other practices as antithetical to our faith. But it really has nothing to do with faith. Faith is not visible nor measurable; it is not what we do, but how we are. Rather, as faith is worked out in loving others, it is recognized as fruitful. We can be haters, fearing others’ practices, or we can be lovers, welcoming...

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