Posted in Adult Enrichment

Bless the Space Between Us: Summer comes to Walden

  • June 5, 2018

With signs of summer everywhere, the WCUC Walden Prayer walkers enjoyed their final walk together for this season.  Consider joining us next fall and in the meantime, continue to breath deeply, pray fervently and walk with intention.  May God bless you with many grace filled moments this summer!

“For Equilibrium, a Blessing:

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,

May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,

May your gravity by lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,

May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,

So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,

May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,

May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough

to hear in the depths the laughter of god.”

John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

WCUC Women’s Retreat Plans Get Underway – Save the Date: May 10-12, 2019

  • May 21, 2018

Women’s Retreat 2019:  “Women’s Wisdom: Inspiring Stories of the Sacred, Secular, and Self”

Five WCUC women spent this past weekend at Craigville Conference and Retreat Center to make plans for our retreat next year which will happen at this beautiful seaside location May 10th-12th, 2019.  Arrival time will be anytime after 2pm on Friday and we’ll close with worship on Sunday morning and depart by 11:30am

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This retreat will include all of our favorite things:  time to share and get to know people, amazing meals, music, worship, prayer, art, yoga, free time to rest and play, and some programming to help us to more deeply reflect about faith and life.  Next year’s theme will center on Women’s Wisdom as we explore interesting and inspiring women from the Bible, from secular society (writers, poets, activists, and other historical figures), from our church, and from our own lives.

Everyone is welcome and we especially hope that if you are new to WCUC,  you’ll consider joining us as this is a terrific way to meet and get to know people in a meaningful way.  Plus it’s super fun and relaxing!!

Enjoy these photos from our planning weekend and a huge thank you to Ann, Candy, Michelle, Heather, and Polly for helping to make our next retreat interesting, inviting, and inspiring!

Stillness Speaks at Walden

  • May 16, 2018

Morning Poem
by Mary Oliver 
Every morning

the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches— 
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth 
is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

TRUTH and HOPE

Come sit with me, here beneath the shade, in the quiet corner of creation, and together we will sort out the worries of the world. We may not have the power to make things right, not with a single word, but we have words enough to speak the truth, and there is a power in truth greater than money can buy. From our bench we will survey the great garden of hope, growing in an abundance that knows no borders, welcoming the children of every land, sheltering the elders who come to talk away the warm afternoon. Come pray with me, in any way you want, until our dreams appear like fireflies, here beneath the shade, telling us it is time to go, time to make our way home until another day.

Steven Charleston

Join us on the beach on Tuesdays @ 9:30am for prayer walking!  Newcomers always welcome.

Wisdom at Walden

  • April 30, 2018

“She will guide me prudently in my undertakings.”  Wisdom 9:11

Spring is beginning to show up at Walden Pond!  Join us for walking prayer on Tuesdays @ 9:30am to share in friendship, nature, silence, and reflections.

Open Window

“Inside each of us there awaits a wonder – full spirit of freedom.

She waits to dance in the rooms of our heart that are closed, dark and cluttered.

She waits to dance in the spaces where negative feelings have build barricades and stock-piled weapons.

She waits to dance in the corners where we still do not believe in our goodness.

Inside each of us there awaits a wonder – full spirit of freedom.

She will lift light feet and make glad songs within us on the day we open the door of ego and let the enemies stomp out.”

from Joyce Rupp’s The Star in my Heart: Experiencing Sophia, Inner Wisdom

Holy Week Reflection: Tuesday Morning with God at Walden Pond

  • March 27, 2018

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
—Psalm 71.3

From a lectionary reading for Tuesday of Holy Week: Psalm 71.1-14

Happy Holy Week from the Walden Prayer Walkers of WCUC!  This morning, as the sun sparkled on the water and the crisp air filled our lungs, we listened for God’s voice in the words of the Psalmist and in the wisdom of poet, writer, and theologian, Jan Richardson.  Walden for us has become what she describes as “not a place of escape from spiritual struggle but a space where [we] can both wrestle with God and rest in the God who delivers [us] and provides shelter and strength for [our] souls.”

On this Lenten day, where do you find the solid ground that God provides? How do you seek the refuge, solace, and shelter that God offers you—not as a perpetual escape from the world but as a place of safety where you can receive the strength and sustenance that will enable you to engage the world in the ways God needs you to engage it?

Blessing of Refuge

That I may flee to you
not to escape forever
from the world
that you have created,
the world that you
call beloved

but that in your refuge
I will find
your presence
to strengthen me
your courage
to sustain me
your grace
to encompass me
as I go
where you would
have me go.

You can find Jan Richardson’s full reflection here:

Walking Prayer at Walden: Lent, Love, Life….

  • February 27, 2018

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.                                                                                              Mark 1:12-13

“Holy Spirit, drive me out of my comfort zone and into the fullness of life.  And thanks for the angels.”                                                From the UCC Lent Devotional:  “Lovers and Fools”

Just as winter begins to move towards spring at Walden Pond, so also our lenten journeys wander towards Easter and its promise of new life.  We carry with us hearts full of joy and sorrow, questions and certainty, anxiety and peace.  We, like Jesus, walk in the wilderness of life encountering all sorts of “wild beasts” and praising God for the “angels” in our midst.  Our prayer walks at Walden this season have served as reminders of the power that can come from community, nature, and the abiding presence of the Spirit.  Join us on the beach at 9:30am on Tuesdays.  Newcomers are always welcome!

Strong is the hand that holds our own, firm the arm around our shoulder, for the Spirit is a support in time of sorrow, a very real presence in the hour of our need. What is holy is as real as the Earth on which we stand. We can feel it. We can see it. We can breathe it. Especially when we are brought low by the weight of our lives, grieving or afraid, then most of all the tangible presence of love takes shape, lifting us up. The face of God we may imagine in a thousand ways, but the hand of God is always the same: life-giving strength, warm comfort, steady reassurance. No dogma can contain the memory of the touch that holds fragile life in the palm of eternity.

– Steven Charleston,  Native American elder, author, and retired Episcopal bishop of Alaska.

Stillness Speaks: Finding Hope for our Hearts

  • December 20, 2017

On Sunday, December 10th, people filled the parlor after worship seeking stillness – time to pause, ponder, and pray.  Through contemplative music, short readings and reflections, lighting candles of individual and collective hopes, and silent meditation, we drew closer to God and to one another.

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• Hope opens us to the future but releases us into the present.

Advent draws our eyes toward the horizon as we watch and wait for the Christ who comes to us. In this season, we sing with Zechariah, By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us(Luke 1:78). When we are in grief, looking toward the horizon with hope and anticipation is no small feat. Instead of luring us away from the present, however, Advent invites us more deeply into it, where the kingdom of God is at work even now. This is the nature of the hope that Advent cultivates in us. Rich with memory and infused with expectation, hope calls and enables us to work here and now, in company with the Christ who is already about the work of heaven in our midst.

Jan Richardson

This Luminous Darkness:  Searching for Solace in Advent and Christmas  

Advent Prayer Walks at Walden Pond

  • December 20, 2017

Tis the season for making cards, going shopping, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, mailing packages, preparing for special meals…in the midst of all of this, what a treat to take time out to be in nature, to share our hearts, and to walk in peaceful solitude listening for God’s wisdom.  Here are a few scenes from recent Prayer Walks and some reflections that were shared to bless us on our way.  We meet every Tuesday on the beach at 9:30am.  Newcomers are always welcome!

First Snow

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

~Mary Oliver~

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare you way.”  Mark 1:2

Blessing the Way

With every step you take, this blessing rises up to meet you.  It has been waiting long ages for you.  Look close and you can see the layers of it, how it has been fashioned by those who walked this road before you.  How it has been created of nothing but their determination and their dreaming, how it has taken its form from an ancient hope that drew them forward and made a way for them when no way could be seen.  Look closer and you will see this blessing is not finished, that you are part of the path it is preparing, that you are how this blessing means to be a voice within the wilderness and a welcome for the way.

Jan Richardson, Circle of Grace

 

 

Walden Wisdom

  • October 16, 2017

“The heavens are telling the glory of God;  and the skies proclaim the work of God’s hands.”

Psalm 19:1

 

Beannacht / Blessing
by John O’Donohue

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

 

 

God speaks to each of us before we are,

then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,

go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

Flare up like flame

and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me. 

Nearby is the land they call life.

You will know it, when you arrive, by how real it is.

Give me your hand.

  • Rainer Maria Rilke

I’m stepping out from wooded shadows and into the bright arrival of a fresh day.  Beyond the forest, rugged trees give way to a clearing as I walk beside new possibilities.  Along the path, I gather tattered pieces from seasons past to place with care upon the mantle.  And to my surprise what I discover, resting nestled and preserved, are scattered dreams now recollected, their colors vibrantly reminding amid the slender pines.  Entwined twigs and fallen needles, I find childhood dreams that have lost their way, I uncover wild dreams yet unbroken, and dreams that used to keep me up at night, restless and alive.  Now is the time I pick them up, dust them off and let them breath into a wider opening.  Let their pulse race free with promise.  Let them blend with each morning’s faithful light.

From Susan Frybort’s Open Passages:  Doors and Windows to the Soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Prayer happens every Tuesday at Walden Pond.  Meet us at 9:30am on the beach for some centering time and conversation, followed by a meditative walk around the pond (or along the beach, for whatever distance is comfortable for you), and a closing circle to share insights, inspirations, and reflections.  Newcomers are always welcome!

Walking Prayer Resumes at Walden Pond

  • September 6, 2017

It was as if summer just would not let go.  Even though it was the day after Labor Day, by the sights and sounds at the pond, it could have been mid-July.  What a gift to reunite with fellow travelers in faith, to share what’s been on our hearts over the summer, and to walk alone (but together) in silence around the pond looking and listening for God’s voice.  The flowers, the trees, the beach goers, the water, the birds, and even a turtle…all signs of a lingering summer refreshment.   In the words of Barbara Steele…”Nothing remarkable today, except so much glory.”

EXCEPT

Gauzy sky.

Exploded cattails.

Drifting rafts of oak leaves.

The river a mirror—

only the slightest distortion–

like fine old glass,

with the back paddle ripple

of mallards along the edge.

At the trail’s end,

a heron,

poised,

a study in stillness,

dark against the sudden glare

of sun on water.

I slow and hush and witness,

caught in that suspension of time.

Nothing remarkable today,

except so much glory.

Barbara Steele/Bethany Poets

 

Walking Prayer happens every Tuesday.  Meet us at 9:30am on the beach for some centering time and conversation, followed by a meditative walk around the pond (or along the beach, for whatever distance is comfortable for you), and a closing circle to share insights, inspirations, and reflections.