Life-giving Waters

Whidbey Island 2013

Research suggests living near the beach can improve our health!   Now I know why I am so drawn to being near the water…

http://nbcnews.to/2viXE4K

Some of us can go to the beach for this kind of relaxation, but all of us can use “visualization” and our listening skills to make a difference. I have found that as I establish a daily practice of these disciplines, the “concerns” I have are no longer my primary thoughts – they do not take the position from which I see the rest of my life or my world. I am then able to relax, let go of the many “voices” that distract me, and receive the “breath of God”.  I begin to notice the rhythm of my own breath and as I look and listen in that place, I am cleansed and refreshed – my energy is restored.

What is delightful for me in this process is that this opens up much more to me.  It is like rivers of living water (John 7) that flow out from within me.  If I listen and look even further, I may begin to receive an impression, a clarity about a concern, or a word that heals.

The “waters of life” flow in and through me – and refresh.

When I am encouraging others in this practice in my coaching or art therapy ministry, I direct the client to visualize the most pleasant place they can think of and “go there”.  I often ask them to sit or lay in a comfortable position.  Once they can see themselves in that pleasant place, I ask the to look and listen, and see what comes.  Then they just receive and listen, and receive and listen.  The voice of the Living Waters may come.  The voice that is upon the wind of God may come.  Then, they can receive all they need and be at rest in a new way for that day.

I am so grateful for this practice.

They Told Their Stories

Everyone knows the value of a good story. I am so thankful for the storytellers.  I don’t consider myself a writer. You writers will surely say, “She’s right about that!”  Even so, we all have a story that should be told. Some of us tell our stories through pictures, songs, or poems.  Whatever the “means or medium”, stories should be told.  This leads me to begin to share my own.  I think it’s what the Spirit wants me to do.

In 2010, I facilitated a gathering in Lancaster, PA with approximately 50 women. It was a “Beauty for Ashes” prayer gathering, a ministry of ManyWaters that had been meeting annually since 1997. The focus was about the importance of telling our stories ~ important for ourselves to express and important for the spread of the gospel message of hope. I was excited to see that the women mentioned in Luke 8 had been so touched by their experience with Jesus and those whose stories they had heard, that they left the comfort of their lives and joined in with all they had.  Our prayer gathering was well received. Many had the opportunity to share their own personal story of how their lives have changed for the better by knowing and growing in relationship with God.

One of the most encouraging insights was that we could see more of God’s love and care for us as we listened to each other’s story.  Professionals might call this encouragement a form of good “pastoral care”. It truly was that!  We heard stories of hearts being softened to forgive, and healing of strained relationships.  We resonated with others whose story seemed to tell our own story.  Most of all, we saw more of the love of God through each other and in many cases, received restored hope.

Some of us felt that the topic, “They Told Their Stories”, would continue on with intention when we went from that gathering back into our ongoing routines and work.  I wondered if the title would one day become a book!   One of the speakers was so inspired that she launched a radio program as a platform for other women to share their stories.  She hoped much needed support might be given to other women, and it was the “means” she had available to her.

So here I am now seven years later thinking about this again and sensing the Spirit prompting me to explore the topic here on this platform.  I am saying “yes” and hope that it’s okay to just begin and see where it takes me – and those who might join in.  It’s my hope that my own story will be of encouragement, and the stories of other women that I share will spark an insight or prompt a story from the reader to pass on, too.  Look for stories to be told in the weeks ahead, and do let me know if something touches you ~ perhaps you’ll be prompted to tell a story of your own.

With anticipation, Carol

 

Your Part of the Whole

Grace was given to each one of us

according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:7

   In his excellent book, Eternal Echoes, John O’Donohue writes this, “… for as soon as you rest in the house of your own heart, doors and windows begin to open outwards to the world.”  Engaging with the rest of the world in a rich and positive way depends on being at home with yourself by yourself.  Your home is within yourself.

   We are created with that sense of home within ourselves.  The life within us, the full sense of who we are, is placed within us when we were “fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)”.  The grace, or gift, which is within you and describes you, was woven into your life by Jesus when you were first created.  Ironically, when we most deeply settle into that identity and gift we can feel the most alone.  It is that very gift and identity, and the way we uniquely live it out, which opens up the rest of the world to us.  Instead of connecting with others so as to not be alone, we begin connecting to others in a very real way.  It is also a connection that opens up our powerful flow of creativity.

   The more you are at home with yourself, the more you will have a sense of belonging with others.  The more you connect with others out of your own identity, the more real and life-giving those relationships will be.  The more you connect with others, the more you will find new ways to express yourself in new, creative ways expressing who you have been all along.  God created us to creatively give and receive that level of encouragement and affirmation.

John Maher