A Meditation for Boston


Bringing light into the darkness.

What a week

I feel like I’ve gone to bed saying that several nights running now — and yet, each morning, I woke to even more startling news headlines. Today was no exception. 

If you’re like me, you’re feeling overwhelmed by the weight of all that’s happened in the world this week, and especially in Boston. And if you’re like me, you’re wondering what to do with all those feelings.  

Today, I’d like to offer you the opportunity to connect to your mind and heart in the midst of all that’s happened — a chance for stillness, silence, and prayer (or, if you’re not someone who prays, a chance for loving-kindness). If that sounds like something you’d benefit from receiving, I invite you to create space to listen through this audio meditation I created just for you.

Enter into the meditation here:  



Note: When playing the link, you may want to pause at the beginning and let the entire audio file buffer before listening your way through.

Much love always,


Be Transformed by the Resurrection

Make way for sun.

Make way for the light.

The last two weeks on the Cup of Sunday Quiet, we’ve been focused on Easter. In particular, the weekly lectio recordings that I create for that community of subscribers have centered on resurrection stories — the story of Mary Magdalene encountering the empty tomb and the risen Christ, then the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples gathered in the upper room. 

I’m being transformed by these stories. 

That’s the wonderful thing about lectio divina. It carries the power to transform. You may be listening to a portion of Scripture you’ve heard a hundred times, but you’ve never heard it in just this moment, carrying just what you’re carrying now, responding in just the way you’re moved to respond today. 

Plus, it creates room for real response. You’re invited to encounter your real heart as well as God. You’re invited to let God encounter you. 

It can be a powerful, transformative experience.

I’m away at a conference this week and won’t be posting here, but in my absence I’d like to invite you deeper into this season of Easter through these two resurrection stories. Will you make room to encounter the risen Christ?

PS: Please pardon a little bit of airplane interference in the second recording — a sometimes-hazard of living in the flight path of an international airport! :-)

PPS: To receive the Sunday Quiet mailing each week, sign up here.



The Body Series: The Connection Between Body and Soul


Usually when I run a series here on Still Forming, I have a strong sense of where it will go before it even starts — an outline already exists in my head, or a list of post ideas has been scribbled in my journal, to be used as a guide along the way. 

But this time? No such outline or list exists. 

Yes, there are the seven posts I wrote last year on this topic, some of which we’ll revisit here. And there are the three books I’ve read or am currently reading that will spark conversation and serve as additional voices for us in this series. 

But right now I have no list. I have no outline. 

And so today, I simply want to share what I’m noticing in this present moment: the connection between body and spirit. 

This isn’t new information.

Most are no doubt familiar with the concept that the body and soul are related and affect each other. There’s the prevalence of yoga as a form of exercise and an opportunity for meditation. There’s the sense of overall well being that results after having exercised the body. And there’s the evidence of psychosomatic illnesses, where mental or emotional factors create physical results in the body, such as migraines or ulcers or back pain.

But since this series is, for me, an attempt to take head knowledge deeper — for it to become real knowledge, not just head knowledge — I’m sharing today what I noticed this morning that is helping this concept become more real.

It happened when I sat down at my desk to enjoy my usual morning routine of coffee and prayer. Before I got started, I checked in on my usual online haunts. And there, I learned some news that startled me. Grieved me. Panicked me. Confused me. 

And then I couldn’t concentrate. 

There I sat, the psalms open before me on the desk, but my mind and heart couldn’t translate the words. Instead, my knee shook up and down. I sat with my elbow on the desk and my hand covering my mouth. My eyes glazed over. My mind shot elsewhere. I stared out the window. I checked my email. I texted. 

Every few minutes, I would return to what was meant to be the central focus — prayer and quiet — but my focus continued to be anything but those things. 

Eventually, as I paid attention to what was happening, I experienced my body speaking to me.

My shaking leg told me I was nervous. My inability to read the psalms said that my mind and heart had other things taking their notice. My glazed-over eyes said I’d gone someplace else. 

Listening to my body — noticing what it was telling me — became an opportunity for my time of prayer to go a different direction. Rather than the psalms being a launching point for prayer, as they usually are, my body instructed my prayers instead. I talked to God about what bothered me. I prayed for those concerned. I sat with questions, letting God be with me in my holding of them.

Have you ever had a similar experience, where your body “spoke” the state of your soul?

Still Points in the Day: All Is Prayer


A friend shared a video with me yesterday about prayer as a state of consciousness — the idea that we can hold a posture, inwardly and outwardly, that is prayer, no matter what we are doing. 

It made me think of the series we explored here recently called “Prayer Can Be.”

Prayer can be verbal, yes.

But it can also be silence, and dance, and drawing, and tears, and exercise, and preparing a meal, and so many other things in life. 

Just as I was sharing yesterday, in reference to the writings of Brother Lawrence and Jean-Pierre de Caussade, practicing the presence of God and attending to the sacrament of the present moment can create in us an ability to be still and prayerful inside ourselves while going about the mundane details of life. 

In that sense, still points are with us all day long. 

I’d encourage you to watch the 3-minute video my friend shared with me. Perhaps it will serve as a still point for you, as it was for me. 

Still Points in the Day: Routine Activities


As I was getting ready for work this morning, I noticed a still point happening underneath the surface of my around-the-house bustling.

Washing the dishes. 

Making the coffee. 

Drying my hair. 

Putting on make-up. 

I started thinking how often this happens for me.

I can be washing the dishes in the kitchen sink after dinner, sudsing up each dish and then rinsing it clean with hot water, and in my mind and heart I’m thinking of someone or a situation. Praying over it. Meditating upon it. 

Or I’m going through the motions of my getting-ready routine — brushing through my curls, applying lotions and moisturizers to my face and skin, picking out my shoes for the day — and underneath those automatic activities, I’m thinking about the day ahead, holding concerns in my heart, thinking through decisions. 

Brother Lawrence spoke of making each activity a prayer. Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote of the sacrament of the present moment. Both of these men were speaking of mindfulness — being present to what you are doing as you are doing it, allowing that activity to become an intentional channel for prayer — and I’m very much in favor of that practice as a means of prayer. 

But sometimes automatic activities and routines we’ve sustained for so long we could do them blind become hospitable moments for deeper thought. It’s like someone who prefers to draw or take notes or play solitaire while listening to a lecture because the use of their hands keeps one part of their brain happy while freeing up the other part of their brain to listen better. 

Routine activities are like that for me sometimes. They can be gateways for deeper meditations of the heart. 

Do you ever experience this?

Closing Thoughts on Prayer

Reaching for the sun.

Hi, friends. 

I’ve so enjoyed writing this series on prayer for you.

I’ve loved receiving emails from many of you over the last 5 weeks who said you’ve been encouraged to learn all the various forms that prayer can take. Some of you shared your faith has felt validated by this series. Some of you have shared surprise at some of the entries, asking, “Can it really be?” Others of you have shared that you felt relieved, also asking, “Can it really be?” 

This series could continue on indefinitely, if we really wanted it to. I have a list in my planner that includes even more forms that prayer can be, including:

  • Dance
  • Study
  • Lectio divina
  • Cleaning the house
  • … and more.

I think what’s important to notice here is that prayer is life. 

When the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonian church and encouraged them to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), I don’t believe he had in mind for them to kneel at their bedsides, brows furrowed, talking in concentrated verbal prayer every moment of the day to God.

I believe he intended them to learn to experience all of life as prayer.

To find connection with God in all we do. To discover the truth of our hearts in our activities. To offer those revelations to God. To consider the ways God might be speaking and inviting us to notice our hearts and his voice throughout our days. 

I’ll see you here on Monday with a new series to share. 

Much love,


Prayer Can Be ... Images

Pinch, pinch. Is this really happening?

If you’ve been reading here a while, you know that images show up in my life with God quite a lot.

I’ve written about a 9-month season of walking on a beach shoreline with Jesus. I’ve written about that season coming to an end and how I was ushered toward a grassy area with a huge tree overlooking a cliff. I’ve written about being that tree. In other seasons of my life, I’ve walked through woods with Jesus, overlooked a city with Jesus, and then entered into that city with him. I’ve held the image of a village. I’ve held the image of a communion cup.

I’ve learned that images can be such a gift to our prayer lives because they can teach us so much.

They can put words to our inner experiences. They can serve as a mirror of our internal state. They can serve as invitations. They carry layers. They hold multiple dimensions that invite us to notice and go deeper and even ask questions. They teach us about ourselves and God. 

Do images play a part in your prayer life? Are you holding any particular image right now?

Prayer Can Be ... Under the Surface

Seeing the eye.

I met with my spiritual director, Elaine, on Monday, and the first thing I said when I sat down was that I hadn’t spent any formal time in prayer since our last meeting three weeks ago. 

It was a strange admission for me, since prayer is a primary part of my life. I have a rhythm to my days that includes intentional time spent in quiet and prayer with God each day. 

But I’d not been spending that time each day.

I’d been avoiding it.

And yet, as our conversation proceeded, we came to see that prayer had been abundant in those three weeks.

It was under the surface. 

I told her about the chance moments, like driving my car down the street or talking with someone who was struggling, where I became aware of an undercurrent of prayer at work in my spirit. Some people call it a prayer language. Others refer to Romans 8, which says the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (v. 26).

That’s what it was: groanings too deep for words.

Underneath the surface often.

It happens when I don’t know how to pray. It happens when I wake in the middle of the night with someone on my mind and I don’t know why. 

And, as I learned in my session with Elaine on Monday, it happens all the time. Underneath the surface. As I go about my day. 

Do you ever experience prayer underneath the surface?

Prayer Can Be ... Gratitude

My beautiful girl.

One of the components of my life for which I feel great gratitude.

On Sunday, I was in two gatherings at church where the concept of gratitude entered in.

The first was a gathering to learn about the healing work of God, led by an older Australian gentleman who has given his life to the ministry of healing in the church. He shared that gratitude is important to healing in the sense that if we don’t recognize what God has already done in our life (gratitude), it makes it harder to be open to what he can do (healing). 

Later in the day, our assistant rector spoke along similar lines at the contemplative eucharist service. He said that gratitude creates an opening in us for God. It helps us see, and then we have a greater capacity to see more. 

I know some people who keep a daily gratitude journal, just looking out upon their lives and writing in that journal each day the things for which they have to give thanks.

For myself, I find that practicing the review of the day increases gratitude in my life in a very natural way and in significant measure. When I begin to see on a regular basis that God is present and working in my life in so many ways that I might not have seen in the moment they happened, that increases my posture of gratitude toward God and toward life. 

How might gratitude become a form of prayer for you?

Prayer Can Be ... A Review of the Day

Time will tell.

I’ve written on two different occasions about something called the prayer of examen. It’s a simple, daily practice of taking 10-15 minutes at the end of each day to review the events of the day and look for evidences of God.

Sometimes we’re aware of God’s presence with us in the day, and sometimes we’re not. The prayer of examen, or review of the day, gives us a chance to acknowledge God and to find God in places previously unseen. 

When I practice a review of the day, a wide variety of moments can be called to mind:

  • Being saved from a potential car crash
  • The chance to participate in the eucharist at church
  • A text from a friend or loved one
  • An email that deeply touched me
  • That moment at the end of the day when all four of us — Kirk, me, Solomon, and Diva — pile on the bed to snuggle and make each other laugh
  • Remembering to pay a bill coming due
  • The chance to sit in quiet on my couch for a half hour, just reading and praying
  • Beautiful weather

These are evidences of God’s goodness toward me. Ways God provided for soul and body. Ways I was opened to love and grace. 

It is a chance to notice and give thanks.

Could a review of the day be helpful to you?

Prayer Can Be ... Writing


Writing is prayer for me. 

When I write here each day for you, it’s an act of prayer to discern what ought to be shared and the best way in which to share it. 

But also, when I write privately, the entries I compose on my typewriter are prayer. I feed sheets of paper through the roller and pound away at the vintage keys. Sometimes I speaking directly to God. Sometimes I’m just getting my thoughts and feelings on paper.

The whole time, I’m seeking to get at what’s really true.

What’s happening now? What do I think and feel about those things? Where is God in here? What am I learning? What’s difficult? How can my previous experience shed light on this? How will I respond?

These questions, for me, are prayer. They’re an act of opening my heart to the truth and of inviting God to tell me the truth, too.

They’re moments of clarity. Of repentance. Of contrition. Of discernment. Of holy truth-telling.

How is writing prayer for you?

Prayer Can Be ... Preparing a Meal

In the kitchen.

Sometimes when I’m in the kitchen preparing dinner at the end of a work day, anticipating Kirk to walk in the door at any moment, I’m aware that the dinner preparations have become like prayer. 

I’m slicing tomatoes or pressing garlic or sauteeing onions or browning meat. I’m stirring soup or measuring broth or chopping cilantro or pouring spices. I’m squeezing lime wedges or mashing avocadoes or dicing bell peppers or shredding rotisserie chicken. 

And all along, I’m holding Kirk and our home in my heart. 

I heard a description of prayer once as “holding someone up to the light.” Not using any words or making specific petitions. Just holding them up to the light. 

Preparing a meal in our home often becomes that kind of prayer for me.

I’m holding Kirk and our home close to me, then holding them up to God. Just presenting them. Us. Our life. My heart toward him. My heart for peace reigning here. My love for the provision of sustenance in our home. My love for sharing that meal with him.

What is it like for meals to be viewed as prayer for you?

Prayer Can Be ... Exercise

Cute new Vans for me. (I needed some new casual deck shoes.)

When I was six years old, my mom took my younger sister and me to join a soccer team. I remember walking toward the group of kids on the field that first day of practice and being truly petrified. I was shy, so meeting a group of strangers filled me with great anxiety. And besides that, I didn’t know the first thing about soccer. 

The soccer attempt was short-lived. (I don’t recall that I ever went back after that first day’s experience.)

But my sister and I joined a girls’ city softball league shortly after that. And the extent of my native athletic talent should be made plain to you with this fun fact: 

I played girls’ softball for three years and only hit the ball once. 

My freshman year in high school, I tried out for the volleyball team and was surprised to discover I liked it. I was also surprised to discover I made first cuts at tryouts. The coach thought I was quick and disciplined at the conditioning drills. Also, I hit a pretty mean serve, and I could bump the ball with the best of them.

Spiking and setting? Not so much. I was cut from the team in the second round.

I did, however, excel at swimming. My older brother and I went out for the team my sophomore year and were both moved to varsity within a few swim meets. But as much as I loved the conditioning experience of swimming laps and following drills, I hit a plateau and never grew beyond a certain point. Plus, anxiety crippled me at the swim meets. I swam for one year and then quit. 

All this to say, exercise has never really been my friend.

And yet I’m experiencing the way exercise can be a form of prayer these days. 

Earlier this year, due to a couple of events, I began to explore the importance of the body in our lives — especially our spiritual lives — and have been experimenting in different small ways with what I’m learning. I have such a long way to go in truly understanding all this, and especially in integrating it into my daily life and behavior, but there is one thing I’ve noticed.

When I think of my body as part of the whole of who I am, exercise becomes a form of prayer.

I push and pull against resistance with the weights. I expand and contract my muscles with stretches and reps. 

And all along, as it’s hard, I’m thinking, This body is yours, God. You gave it to me to steward. It houses my heart, mind, and soul. I’m doing this for you.

Do you ever experience exercise as prayer? 

Prayer Can Be ... Serving Another Person


Earlier this year, I volunteered for an event in downtown Orlando called iDignity, which provides free services once a month to help people get their paperwork so they can apply for ID cards, birth certificates, and social security cards.

You probably already know that without proper identification, it’s impossible to do certain things in society, like get hired for a job, cash a check, rent an apartment, or vote. Identification plays such a critical role in helping people become participating members of society. 

I was privileged to interact with a broad spectrum of humanity that day.

So many stories. 

A number of the people I met had just gotten out of jail, some for the second or third time. They didn’t have places to live. Some had been previously arrested in other states, and their only form of physical identification was a mug shot on file at the out-of-state jail. They were hungry and trying to scrounge money for their next meal.

I remember, still today, some of the individuals I met. A tall, quiet young man with a record. An older black woman with dark eyes and a meek smile. A young pregnant girl so thin her legs looked like they could so easily snap like twigs.

It felt like such a privilege to look into their eyes and smile. 

To accord them dignity. 

To acknowledge their common humanity with me. 

I felt like I was looking into the eyes of Christ each time someone approached me to put their name on the list for a birth certificate application.

In them was the image of God. Just like the image of God is in me. 

And so each smile, each moment of eye contact, each small conversation was an instance of prayer. As I loved them, I was loving Jesus. 

Have you ever experienced prayer as serving another person?

Prayer Can Be ... Spiritual Direction


I’ve shared on different occasions how meaningful it is for me to meet with my spiritual director, Elaine, once a month.

We sit together in her home, and there’s open space for me to talk about what’s going on in my relationship with God. Or simply what’s going on in my life in general, and we look together for God’s presence and activity in those things. 

I always leave her home feeling refreshed.

I know God is in that place, present between the two of us. 

A lot of that has to do with my knowing Elaine is attuned to God as she listens to me. She’s listening to me, but she’s also listening to the Holy Spirit. And in her responses to me, she reflects that prayerful posture — sometimes through asking just the right question, sometimes through pointing out something I hadn’t noticed, sometimes by remembering the landscape she knows of my story and how it might speak to what’s currently going on.

As a spiritual director myself, I know that the full hour of time that I hold with someone in a session — or even the full length of an email dialogue we might carry concerning their journey of the heart — is prayer. Whether their sharing is spoken to me or to God, all of it is prayer.

That space is sacred. We are listening and looking together for God. 

Have you ever experienced spiritual direction? Would you like to?

Prayer Can Be ... Tears

Uh oh ... the watercolors make an appearance for a third time today.

Sometimes you’re in a place where all you can do is cry. 

Those tears are prayer. 

I love the way Psalm 56 describes our tears in the sight of God: 

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

—Psalm 56:8, NLT

I have all these images in mind of what those bottles of tears look like in God’s storehouse. Maybe one is a vial. Maybe another a mason jar full. Maybe another the size of an old glass milk bottle. Maybe another a bottle of wine. 

I suspect that no matter the volume of our tears, God finds bottles of suitable size to hold every single one of them. How could he not?

Have tears ever been prayer for you? Is it helpful to know that they are?

Prayer Can Be ... Being Present to Another

Clustered growth.

One of my favorite things in the world to do is be present to another person as they’re sharing their heart.

Whether we’re sitting together on the couch, connecting across the miles by phone, or sharing an email exchange, I love the experience of receiving another person’s heart and giving them the experience of being truly heard and seen.

God seems to have given me an uncommon ability to do this:

  • Asking questions that help a person probe deeper into their heart, feelings, beliefs, and experiences; 
  • Reflecting back what I hear so they find themselves saying, “Yes! That’s exactly it!” and feel that amazing, uncommon rush of having been actually known;
  • Providing space for the “real deal” to be said without a flinch or agenda offered in response;
  • Getting out of the way so my stuff and my story don’t interrupt or detract from their sharing.

I love being made this way. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that God made this attentive listening the focus of my life’s work now. (And if you need someone to be present to you in this way, consider this an open invitation from me.)

But sometimes, when being present to another person, the way forward becomes unseen. I find myself, with them, stuck in the brambles. There isn’t a clear way through. 

Usually, at this point, I discover the end of myself. And the next step forward is truly a Hail Mary pass: 

“God, help. I don’t know what to say. Please show up.”

Pretty much every time, he does.

In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced God not showing up after I prayed that panicked plea. The conversation takes a turn I never could have foreseen or orchestrated, and I know that God has been there. He showed up in ways beyond me.

Have you ever experienced prayer when being present to another?

Prayer Can Be ... Liturgy, Part 2


I’ve been sharing with the Cup of Sunday Quiet subscribers about some of the difficult changes at work in my spirit and my life with God. Over the last few weeks, as these changes have accelerated, I’ve seen myself grow more and more weary. More and more weak. 

Last weekend, I had hardly any physical or emotional or spiritual strength to stand. 

When it came time on Sunday evening to drive to the contemplative eucharist service at our church that we love so much, I had a hard time just being willing to go. It felt like I was pushing myself to get ready, pushing myself out the door, pushing myself to be faithful and just show up. 

And as we were driving to our little church, just around the corner from our home, I thought to myself: 

“I’m not going to have the strength to say the prayers. I just can’t physically do it. I’m going to have to let the prayers of the people carry me.”

This is another reason I love liturgy. It prays for us when we cannot pray ourselves. 

I knew that I could be in that church with that gathering of people that night and simply be there, not even a single word escaping my mouth the entire time, and the people would still pray. 

Their prayers would hold me up.

I could rely on their prayers when I had no ability of my own.

Prayer can be liturgy because in the gathering of the people, it prays faithfully. It allows the voices of the strong many to hold up the weary few.

Prayer can be liturgy … if we need it, and if we let it.

Have you ever experienced liturgy holding you up in this way?

Prayer Can Be ... Liturgy, Part 1

The holy.

Kirk and I made an episcopal church our home a little over a year ago.

After attending non-denominational Christian churches for most of my life, getting used to liturgy in church definitely took some time. We were the ones flipping through the Book of Common Prayer, never quite sure which pages were happening next. We were the ones taking the cues of those around us when the time came to kneel or stand or sit. We were the ones who never made the sign of the cross on our foreheads, lips, and heart at the announcement of the day’s Gospel reading because we just didn’t know what that gesture was or what it meant. 

Despite the learning curve, it took me no time at all to appreciate two key aspects of liturgy: 

  1. Liturgy helps you pray what’s true.
  2. Liturgy holds you up when you’ve fallen down.

Today we’re going to talk about the first, and tomorrow we’ll talk about the second.

So, when it comes to helping you pray what’s true, I love that every week, I get to tell God this:

I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done and what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart. I have not loved my neighbor as myself.

This prayer brings me back to myself. I’m reminded of what’s happened since I last prayed these words, as though the events of the previous week — or even the previous hour! — are playing on the movie screen of my mind. These words help me acknowledge my need for grace to myself and to God. 

I love that just before taking eucharist, I get to say the words of the Lord’s Prayer slowly. I get to remember that God’s name is hallowed. That I long for his kingdom to come. That I get to be a part of his will being done on earth right now. I get to keep asking for just the right amount of daily bread. To be forgiven while being reminded of my own need to forgive. For God’s grace to help me evade the darker side of life. I get to tell God each and every week that his is the kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever, amen. 

And I love when it comes time to pray this: 

Grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart.

It reminds me of my heart’s deepest prayer: that I want to love God with single-hearted focus all my days.

Liturgy helps us pray what’s true. 

Have you ever experienced this with liturgy?

Prayer Can Be ... An Offering

Trinity figures II.

Kirk and I traveled to the Pacific Northwest for a wedding a little over three years ago, and before we flew back home, we had one full day to explore the area. So we trekked over to Whidbey Island, off the coast of northern Washington State, and spent the day there.

While we were exploring the island, we stopped the car overlooking the coast in one particular area, and Kirk got out of the car. When he got back in the car, he had a large, smooth, gray stone in his hand, which he handed to me.

This trip was happening just before I was going to begin a 3-month summer of solitude dedicated to the study of nonviolence. And this stone, we both knew, had something to do with that.

It was a prayer rock in some way.

When we got home from the trip, I placed the stone on top of a Trinity fixture, which you see pictured above, which sits in a corner of my desk. I placed the stone there and just sat there looking at it, letting it be a kind of offering to God.

It was the offering of the summer of solitude about to begin and whatever words might emerge from it. 

It was the offering of my trust in God for those three months and their result. 

It was an offering of acknowledging that my doing what I was about to do in those three months — and anything I did as a result of them — was simply a response to God’s invitation in my life in the first place. 

Objects can be offered up as prayer. 

Have you ever experienced something like this?