Posted in Adult Enrichment

Walking Prayers at Walden Pond: Our Graced Oasis

  • June 19, 2017

Last week marked our final Walking Prayer gathering at Walden Pond … for now anyway.  What a blessing it has been to observe the seasonal changes throughout the year – both in nature and in our lives.   We have drawn closer to our own hearts, to God, and to one another, as we’ve carried one another’s burdens and shared in each other’s joys.

They say that beauty comes from a spirit that has weathered many hardships in life and somehow continues with resilience.  Grace can be found in a soul who ages softly, even amid the tempest.  I think the loveliest by far is the one whose gentle heart bears a hundred scars from caring, yet still finds a way to pick up the lamp, one more time, to light the way for love.”    

                                                                         – from Open Passages by Susan Frybort

 

 

 

 

 

 

We most recently watched spring finally arrive at the pond, to be followed quickly by signs of summer.  All along, this place has become a “graced oasis” for us – to borrow a term from Miriam Therese Winter who writes:

“Drink, drink deep, let it all sink in to the well of your remembering and the spell of your imagining, against the day after day after day, devoid of time to sit and pray, when your heart is up against the wall, your thirsting spirit will recall what a blessing so much time and space is, and return you to this graced oasis.”

“Courage at the Crossroads” – WCUC Women’s Retreat at the Sea

  • May 9, 2017

… Seeking Light and Hope to Guide our Way

“Ring the bells that still can ring.  Forget your perfect offering.  There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.”    – Leonard Cohen

We enjoyed a weekend together on Cape Cod that was blessed with sharing, praying, reflecting, singing, laughing, playing, enjoying nature (rain and shine!), creating, exercising, eating, and dwelling in the presence of God’s amazing grace!



Hope      

Hope is all about the future

It is a turning away from the past,

the jagged memories, the fearful thoughts that circle in

a tightening spiral.

Hope is a choice, an opening to the

possibility of change.

It widens the view and restores the heart

Beating, like the wings of a flying bird,

on its way somewhere.

Just as I am and you are.

                                              Susan Coppock

 

Inspired by a line in Carrie Newcomer’s song A Light in the Window…”I’m throwing seeds on a winter snow…”

Unfinished Song

I’m casting good bread upon the water I’m shoveling earth from off the ground I’m hanging my coat from the lowest hook I’m saving the best for first.

I’m throwing a long glance over my shoulder

I’m listening to what the little bird said
I’m hesitating before I’m lost
I’m walking a mile in my shoes.

I’m laughing with the doves of mourning I’m taking that leap of standing still
I’m planting feet firmly in the clouds
I’m forgetting who I thought I was.

Shelli Jankowski-Smith May 6, 2017

 

Walden Is Waking Up

  • April 26, 2017

Prayer walkers at Walden are beginning to notice signs of spring.  Rising water, greener trees, louder birds, and more people enjoying the pond have blessed us in recent days.  As winter has turned to spring, we welcome new beginnings and pray together for release from the the burdens that bind us.  In the words of Jan Richardson…

A Lazarus Blessing

The secret of this blessing is that it is written on the back of what binds you.
To read this blessing, you must take hold of the end of what confines you,
must begin to tug at the edge of what wraps you round.
It may take long and long for its length to fall away,
for the words of this blessing to unwind in folds about your feet.
By then you will no longer need them.
By then this blessing will have pressed itself into your waking flesh,
will have passed into your bones,
will have traveled every vein 
until it comes to rest inside the chambers of your heart
that beats to the rhythm of benediction and the cadence of release.

 

As we live in the now and hope for what is to come, we are ever mindful of the challenges that life can bring.  Many of our reflection conversations have offered opportunities for the prayer walkers to share joys and concerns and to ask for help in holding what is hardest.  This hymn, sung at Special Music Sunday at WCUC, hit home for me – a sure reminder of the importance of companionship and the power of the Spirit moving among us.

We Yearn, O Christ, for Wholeness (To the Tune of O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
We yearn, O Christ, for wholeness and for your healing touch;
Too long have we felt helpless; our burdens seemed too much.
Forgetting all pretenses, we make our pleadings heard,
in hope and expectation, await your gracious word.
We long to have companions who travel by our side,
strong friends to call and answer with whom we are allied;
As we lift up each other when struggles lay us low,
community develops; our faith and caring grow.
We need your living presence, O Christ of Galilee,
a presence that revives us and sets our spirits free.
No longer are we fearful, your love pervades each place.
Empower us with courage to claim your healing grace.

Winter Walks at Walden

  • February 7, 2017
From Winter’s End  by Richard Wilbur: 
“Now winter downs the dying of the year;
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin  
And still allows some stirring down within.”
Witnessing the wonders of God’s creation at Walden Pond and listening for the Spirit in the wind, in the silence, and in the words of fellow travelers continues to bless WCUC Walkers.  The wisdom from someone as old as Thoreau and as young as Tucker, one walker’s 8 year old grandson, (and from all of us in between!), has touched our hearts and minds in ways that are quite refreshing and inspiring!
Newcomers are always welcome!  Join us on Mondays @ 9:30am.
Wisdom from Tucker’s speech:
 Stand Strong for Peace and Love
“Hatred is a weapon that some people use but there are strategies we can try to help spread love and kindness.  I want world leaders to remember the destruction of racism, exclusion, and violence and dedicate their goals to stopping such harmful actions.  Maybe they can learn from us how to treat each other.  

A mean word may not feel as bad in the moment as a punch, but a cruel word can get stuck in your heart and make you feel sad.  A harmful word is a kick ready to go into action from the inside. Kindness can be a blanket of comfort.  Love is a powerful thing.  When people love one another mean words are put into cages.  Harmful words can be like germs.  But kind words are always the medicine. 

I am trying to spread peace and love.  Please join me.”

Wisdom from Henry David Thoreau:
“In 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved to a cabin on Walden Pond in Concord, MA to learn to live more ‘deliberately’ – away from the crush of random chatter.  But the cabin furniture he chose to secure that ambition suggests to simple ‘retreat’.  He said that in his cabin there were ‘three chairs – one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society’.”    from Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle
 
Going to Walden  by Mary Oliver
It isn’t very far as highways lie.
I might be back by nightfall, having seen
The rough pines, and the stones, and the clear water.
Friends argue that I might be wiser for it.
They do not hear that far-off Yankee whisper:
How dull we grow from hurrying here and there!
Many have gone, and think me half a fool
To miss a day away in the cool country.
Maybe.  But in a book I read and cherish,
Going to Walden is not so easy a thing
As a green visit.  It is the slow and difficult
Trick of living, and finding it where you are.

Advent Blessings at Walden

  • December 19, 2016

Cold and crisp air….warm sun’s glow….crunchy snow beneath our feet….and the sight of “swans a-swimming”.   These are a few of the advent blessings we experienced this morning on our prayer walk at Walden Pond.  We’ll meet again in the new year on Monday, January 2nd at 9:30am.  Newcomers are always welcome!

The Risk of Birth, An Advent Poem by Madeleine L’Engle (1973)

 This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & truth were trampled by scorn-
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn-
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.img_7976 img_7980 img_7972 img_7983 img_7982

Advent Light Comes to Walden Pond

  • November 29, 2016

The Spirit is alive and well during our Monday morning prayer walks at scenic Walden Pond.  As the season turns from fall to winter, we’ve noticed the changing leaves, the cooling temperatures, and increased wind, and at times, the frozen path.  And yet, the Light remains.  And with it, our hope for more love, peace, and joy in this world grows with each step we take.  The power of God in nature, in friendship, and in prayer walking continues to bless us beyond measure.

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How the Light Coimg_7888mes

I cannot tell you how the light comes.

What I know is that it is more ancient than imagining.

That it travels across an astounding expanse to reach us.

That it loves searching out

what is hidden,

what is lost,

what is forgotten

or in peril or in pain.img_8677

That it has a fondness for the body,

for finding its way toward flesh,

for tracing the edges of form,

for shining forth through the eye,

the hand,

the heart.

I cannot tell you how the light comes, but that it does.

That it will.

That it works its way into the deepest dark that enfolds you,

though it may seem long ages in comingimg_7920

or arrive in a shape you did not foresee.

And so may we this day turn ourselves toward it.

 

May we lift our faces to let it find us.

May we bend our bodies to follow the arc it makes.

May we open and open more and open still

to the blessed light that comes.

—Jan Richardson

from Circle of Grace

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Walking Prayer at Walden

  • November 8, 2016

We continue to witness God’s beauty in nature, in silence, in sounds, and in shared reflections.  Join us for walking prayer at Walden on Monday mornings @ 9:30am.  Newcomers welcome!

Walking Early on a Monday Morning, by Linda Watskin

What is there about walking around Walden Pond—silently
Could be the way the water moves across the pondimg_7819

Maybe it’s the swimmers on a cold autumn day

Could be the cairns built on the edge of the pond

Maybe it’s the red foliage

Could  be the reflections in the water

Maybe it’s the half submerged branch

Could be the sand beach

or the children with pails at the water’s edgeimg_7731

or the fisherman with three poles simply waiting

Maybe it’s the two ducks at one end of the pond

or the sound of the wind weaving a path through leaves

or a bird sound you can’t identify

Maybe it’s the sound of your sneakers

on the hard packed sandfullsizerender-4

Could be the way you relax into the day

and wear the goodness like a shawl

 

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from Joyce Rupp’s A Star in my Heart:

Leaf by Leaf

Leaf by leaf by leaf
They tumble and fallwalden-in-fall-2016
All my haggard hurts.

Like a cottonwood tree
Ever so slowly letting go,
So the heartache of my heart.

There goes a bit of sadness,
Now a leaf of anger flies;
Then it’s the dropping of self-pity.

The leaf of unforgiveness
Takes forever to fall,
Almost as long as non-trusting.

Leaf by leaf by leaf
They fall from my heartimg_7773
Like a tree in its own time.

Old wounds don’t heal quickly,
They drop in despairing slowness,
Never looking at the clock.

It seems a forever process,
This healing of the hurt,
And I am none too patient.

But a quiet day finally comes
When the old tree with no leaves,fullsizerender-3
is decidedly ready for the new.

And in my waiting heart,
The branches with no leaves
Have just a hint of green.

img_4091fullsizerender-3 walden-in-fall-2-2016

Hebrews 12:1-2a
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…

Magical Morning Meditations at Walden Pond

  • October 18, 2016

img_7725 Blessed by nature, silence, exercise, and spirit filled sharing, WCUC prayer walkers continue to delight in God’s creation and relish in the company of one another.  Each week we gather to share some of life’s joys and sorrows,  walk in silence with intention around beautiful Walden Pond, and then close with observations, insights, and reflections.  Join us on Mondays at 9:30am…newcomers are always welcome!

“Living in the center of the ache and awe.”
From Carrie Newcomer’s song, Throw Me a Line

 

fullsizerender-4A blessing offered by Amy Gleason on 10/10:

I wish you enough

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how grey the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

Bob Perks

A poem shared by Linda Watskin on 10/17:

Prayers Like Shoes

I wear prayers like shoesfullsizerender-3
pull em on quiet each morning
take me through the uncertain day
don’t know
what knock me off course
sit up in bed
pull on the right
then the left
before shower before teeth
my mama’s gift
to walk me through lifeimg_7727
she wore strong ones
the kind steady your ankles
i know
cause when her man left/ her children
gone/ her eldest son without goodbye
they the only ones keep her
standing
i saw her
still standing
mama passed
some things to me
ma  smile   sense of discipline
ma
subtle behindimg_7731
but best passed on
girl you go to God
and get you some good shoes
cause this life ain’t steady ground
now I don’t wear hers
you take em with you you know
but i suspect they made by the same company
pull em on each morning
first the right   then the left
best piece a dress
i got

Ruth Forman

More wisdom shared by Cathryn Armstrong on 10/17:
passionate

 

Monday Meditation: Prayer Walks at Walden Pond

  • September 27, 2016

img_7626 img_7631

We are walking in the light of God.  Come join us on Mondays @ 9:30am for some contemplative exercise as we walk together in silence, soak in the sights and sounds of nature, and listen for the voice of the Spirit.  Contact joycedegreeff@gmail.com for more information.

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This week, we concluded our time together with a poem by Carrie Newcomer:

Blessing

May you wake with a sense of play,
An exultation of the possible.
May you rest without guilt,
Satisfied at the end of a day well done.
May all of the rough edges be smoothed,
If to smooth is to heal,
And the edges be left rough,
When the unpolished is more true
And infinitely more interesting.
May you wear your years like a well-tailored coat
Or a brave sassy scarf.
May every year yet to come
Be one more bright button
Sewn on a hat you wear at a tilt.
May the friendships you’ve sown
Grow tall as summer corn.
And the things you’ve left behind,
Rest quietly in the unchangeable past.
May you embrace this day,
Not just as any old day,
But as this day.
Your day.
Held in trust
By you,
In a singular place,
Called now.