Creating a Spiritual Practice, by Alex Franks
How lovely it is to welcome Alex Franks to my blog. I love the honesty with which this friend chooses to embrace sincerity and struggle. I met Alex quite a number of years ago. We were all sitting behind plastic tables, drinking burnt coffee, and talking about Narnia. Oh, how we all loved the idea of a "secret country" where bravery was a thing so tangible one could wear it as a crown.
I remember she laughed, and it was a picture so vivid and beautiful; I bring it to mind now as I read her words.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart with us today, my friend.
One of the first metaphors ever gifted to our imagination was the metaphor of a garden. This is also my favourite metaphor.
If we tease out and gently apply this metaphor to our own lives, then, "we are plants; watered, weeded, and naturally growing into our purpose."
In the winter, seeds in the ground do not grow; they do not yet produce fruit. The cold frost prevents life from springing up from the ground. Still, there is life inside the soil, stirring at the precipice of Spring.
Similarly, this winter, I have been feeling the bitter sting of winter in my Spirit. I have learned that it is what we nature and cultivate that grows to be the strongest force within.
How often do we find ourselves strangled by lies that have silenced dreams and paralyzed us from growing towards understanding our purpose? Just as plants need to be weeded, we too must take the time to pull the weeds out of the soil---out of our soul. And I know this leaves us feeling very vulnerable.
Sometimes we grow to let these weeds----these lies---support us, and without them, we feel weak. But when despite the fact that plants wilt for a time after they have been weeded, they soon realise that they have actually been strengthened for the now peaceful sustainability of their growth.
The heaviness of taking on the pain of this world is only possible through daily rest, allowing yourself to enjoy time with the divine Spirit, and I encourage you:
Let your Spirit be watered by spending time in the holy presence of God for, one day soon, it will be Spring again.
It is easy to lose hold of gentleness and compassion for others in a vicious, calloused world if we ignore our own self-care. We need to be watered, weed, and inspired. This process is important so that the love you receive can be poured out naturally to shower those in your community as well. Find a practice (or create a new one) where you feel most intimate with God. It is there, in the time spent with Love himself, that you find the strength.
One of my own personal practices has evolved and will continue to evolve for the remainder of my life. For this time and season, I find my Spirit filled by meditating on the Psalms and rewriting them to personalize each one, making it my own. Here is one that I often return to:
Spirit, my river-heart is no longer carrying the paradoxes of this world, which flood the waters.
I refuse to involve my spirit further into the spiralling, nihilistic logic that leads down a path where I have the option of choosing death.
Of this one thing I know: I miss your whispering voice.
I have hushed the rushing river, my soul.
And I've carved a new space.
I sigh for your presence.
I can describe it only this way:
I am like a child who is weaned from its mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Oh people of the Spirit, do not forget the words of the Lord are to be trusted now and forever.
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