Sunday, March 30, 2014


When I woke up this morning, I felt how “cold” it had gotten over night. It was a late March morning and the temperature outside had dropped to 48 degrees-- which is cold for us here in Florida!
Usually, I walk my dog Joy first thing in the morning along the shore of Tampa Bay to watch the sun rise. I hadn't been able to do it the last two days though because it had been raining. I was looking forward to my walk but it was so cozy and warm in bed that I decided to stay in bed and just have a cup of hot tea to warm up.
Then I remembered the prayer “Awakening” that I say every morning: 

This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.—Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

I asked myself what would make me rejoice and be glad during the day? Would it be staying in bed and drinking a hot cup of tea and then getting up to work on my retreat preparations? Or would it be getting up, putting on some warm clothes, taking a hot cup of tea with me and walking in the beautiful cool weather, probably seeing a gorgeous sunrise? After all, we don't have that many cold days in Florida.
I didn’t have to think long! Of course I realized it would be the later. I would come home refreshed, my body would be completely awake, my spirit would be rejoicing and my emotions would be glad.

And that is what I did! I walked briskly in the cool breeze, saw a beautiful sunrise and when I came home, the 64 degrees in my home felt really warm and comfortable. I didn’t even have to raise the temperature in my home but just put on a warm woolen sweater. My walk was not only good for me and Joy, but also for the environment and my energy bill! Now THAT is practicing the presence of God!

Kent Nerburn wrote in his beautiful book Small Graces, 

“Now is the moment when I must pause and lift my heart—now, before the day fragments and my consciousness shatters into a thousand pieces. For this is the moment when the senses are most alive, when a thought, a touch, a piece of music can shape the spirit and color of the day… What is needed is only a pausing of the heart so the spirit can take wing and be lifted toward the infinite.” (Kent Nerburn, Small Graces, 1998, p.17-18)

I believe that I am letting my spirit connect with God’s spirit within me when I pause every morning before I am fully awake and pray the Awakening prayer. When I wrote the prayer I chose the verb “awakening” rather than “waking up” because if I start “my waking up” with prayer, I am not just waking up from a physical night’s sleep but also awakening from my spiritual dormancy – and we are all spiritually dormant in one way or another.

If I remember to start my day with the Awakening Prayer, I connect with the presence of God and I am more likely to stay present during the day. I also pray this prayer during the day, which keeps me grateful for all the blessings in my life and aware of the miracle of each day. 

Here is what I would have missed if I had stayed in bed this morning. Have a blessed day everyone! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Breathing in God's stillness

The prayer “Breathing in God’s stillness” has helped me in many life situations and I would like to share the most recent one with you:

I don’t use my checkbook often but occasionally I do need to write a check, so I keep it in my purse just in case. Last Monday, I needed to pay my yoga teacher for the next five weeks of yoga and I realized that it wasnt there. I didn't panic because I was pretty sure I had left it at home. However, I couldnt find it that night and it remained missing over the course of the next few days. I still didn’t panic because no money had been taken out of my account. When I went to the bank to get some new checks, I learned that it would cost $30 to cancel the old ones. The bank employee advised me to look a few more days before doing the cancellation.

I was still confident they were not stolen, so I decided to follow his advice. I tried to think systematically where I could have put them and realized that I hadn’t seen them since my trip to Germany two weeks before. So I went into the storage area and made sure I hadn't left it in my suitcase. Then I looked in all the places I had looked before... I even turned the paper recycling upside down to make sure it hadn’t fallen into the recycling bin. Now I started to panic! And then I realized that I hadn’t done the one thing yet: Pray!

I sat down and breathed in God’s stillness for a few minutes, becoming aware of the presence of God with me at all times.  And then I said, “God, you know where my checkbook is; please guide me to it.” (Actually, I was not as polite as I make myself look now. I was annoyed at that time and fearful and demanded: God, guide me to the checkbook right now!) 

Immediately I knew where it was without thinking about it!!! 

I had taken the checkbook out of my purse in Germany because I didn't need the checks.  To keep it safe, I had put it into the side pocket of the computer bag I wasnt carrying with me regularly.
Im still amazed when prayer is answered this way. Here is why I found it so easily: I didn't rely on my thoughts of where it could be! I asked for guidance and help!
My thoughts had taken me to all the places I “thought” the checkbook could be but my thoughts (my will) are not always connected with the knowledge of the Universe. I had to come to the point of asking for God’s help (Thy Will) and that made it possible for me to get out of the way and let God guide me to it. The Breath Prayer "Be Still" helped me to calm down enough to listen to the knowledge within me.
How does it work? I am not exactly sure but I know that if I pray and meditate in my life and am aware of God's presence within me, I don't have to know. It just works!

Why does it take many of us so long to connect with the power of prayer? Why is it the last thing so many of us think about? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

God's presence on the bridge between Tampa and St Petersburg

We can practice the presence of God everywhere and as Regina Sara Ryan so beautifully says: "“To make every activity a prayer, to make every moment a sacrament is what we are here for.”

I came back from Tampa and was on the  4 mile long bridge to St Petersburg when I saw that my last fuel bar was blinking which I had not seen before, meaning my gas tank had never been this empty. I did not know how much gas was left in my tank and how far I would be able to go. My blood pressure rose and my body tensed up. I saw myself running out of gas and standing on the sideline on the bridge… 
I took a deep breath and remembered the “I love you” prayer which brought me back into the present moment. I consciously relaxed my body, breathed deeply and realized that I had just harmed myself by going into the unknown future, projecting the worst—I experienced unpleasant physical symptoms for an event in the future that might not ever happen. How insane is that!!! But don’t we all live this way more or less?
Breathing in God’s love, I thought of you all, planning how I was going to share this realization from the safe place of my home. I projected a good outcome, saw that I would make it to a gas station and even planned calmly what I would do if my car stopped on the bridge. And I realized that no matter what happened, I would be safe in God’s care. I also realized that I could only act in the moment I would run out of gas and not do anything in the present moment to prevent it. The only thing I could do was drive safely and use as little gas as possible by driving the speed limit. AND pray!!! I arrived safely at the gas station and I am writing this from the safety of my home.
Stay present no matter where you are in life and you will experience God's Grace.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jesus said, “You examine the face of heaven and earth, but you have not come to know the onewho is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine the moment.”

—Coptic Gospel of Thomas #3