Still Points in the Day: Wellspring

A holy chair.

Every second Thursday of the month, Kirk and I attend a contemplative gathering at a local church called Wellspring. It’s led by ordained artist and writer Jan Richardson and her immensely talented musician husband, Garrison Doles. 

We love it so. 

It’s a very simple service held in a tiny side chapel at the local United Methodist Church. The people who attend come from a wide ecumenical background and are beginning to feel a bit like family now. Garry shares his wonderful music with us. We read scripture together. We sit in long silences together. Jan shares a beautiful reflection that ushers us through the church year. We share conversation as a group from the places we’re sitting in our pews. We break the bread of Communion. 

I love every single aspect of this service, but one of the things I love the most is the chance to let my spirit rest. 

We slink quietly into the chapel, where Garry picks softly on his guitar and others sit quietly—listening, praying, being. We slide into our usual spot in the back pew, set our things down, and settle in. 

I close my eyes and breathe deep. I can feel the settling settle over me.

Time for rest

My spirit is at peace in this place. I’m welcome here. I’m invited to notice God. I’m thankful. 

The Wellspring service is a still point for me.

Do you have a space like this that is a still point for you?

Living a Rhythmed Life: Do You Have a Sense of Call?

“If ye have judged me to be faithful.”

Hello there!

We’re heading into our third week of the “Living a Rhythmed Life” series, and this week will be a return to the practical. We’re going to answer a few more questions about our lives and then turn to our trees of discernment to begin making decisions. 

The first question I want you to consider, then, is: 

Do you have a sense of call? 

This may not seem like a practical question, but I promise that it is. A sense of call impacts the decisions we make about our life’s rhythm. For instance, I’ve had a sense of call significantly impact the practical details of my daily life at least 3 times in the last 3 years.

I’m going to share those 3 instances with you here. 

The first time was in 2009, when I created that very first discernment tree I shared with you during a particularly overwhelming season of my life. At the time, when I stopped to think about it, I had a very clear sense of the direction my life was headed. I had received a call to ministry in 2007-2008, and so I was completing graduate work in spiritual formation and training as a spiritual director as a result.

I didn’t necessarily know what that calling to ministry meant or what it would look like or where it would lead, but I knew that it was a calling I needed to respond to and follow. Additionally, over the previous year I’d become significantly moved in the direction and study of nonviolence. The subject and its practical implications in our own hearts and lives had an inordinate occupation in my heart and mind.

And so, consequently, I knew that my schooling and training needed to take priority over other things in the sorting out of that very tumultuous time of 2009, and I knew that the ongoing invitation to the study and consideration of peace and nonviolence needed to stay in my life.

I couldn’t turn away from these things. Other things would have to go.

The knowledge of this impacted the way I made decisions after drawing my tree of discernment.

Another sense of call came when I graduated both study and training programs in 2011.

I had spent some time discerning with a few key people in my life in the months leading up to the completion of both programs about a specific call to serve in online spaces.

These mentors in my life had noticed with me that most of my spiritual direction clients had come to me over the years in long-distance contexts, with many of the directees coming to know me first through my blogs. I had completed my spiritual formation training in an online cohort context, so doing the work of spiritual formation online was not new to me. I was very comfortable with it. And, to top it all off, I had just finished my master’s thesis proposal on the intersection of digital connectivity and spirituality, and through the research process had developed some very clear ideas about what is needed for us to tune into our spiritual lives amidst all the noise and stimulation and distractions of our increasingly connected online lives.

The online medium had become, surprisingly, a space for me to exercise my call.

And so, as a result, I decided to commit, first of all, to this online space of Still Forming. I began writing here five days a week. (And just recently, I celebrated a year of faithfulness in this space.)

More recently, God has been bringing even more refinement to my calling.

I’ve come to see in recent months that my work is that of creating spaces for people to reflect on their lives with God. Still Forming is that kind of space. The Cup of Sunday Quiet is that kind of space. The Look at Jesus course is that kind of space. And the spiritual direction I offer to people is that kind of sacred space, too. 

This refinement of calling has required even more decisions that affect my daily rhythm. I recently made the decision to close down two personal blogs I’ve kept for quite some time. I’ve also had to turn down or adjust my involvement in certain opportunities based on the way they fit or don’t fit into that clear sense of call.

It’s about letting the call get my yes — and adjusting my daily rhythm to support the continued creation of those sacred spaces.

A sense of call impacts our rhythm. 

Do you have a sense of call at this point in your journey?

What Would It Be Like for You to Walk With Him?

Every path leads somewhere.

Today I’d like to invite you to take a walk with Jesus. 

I don’t mean this literally, although you are certainly welcome to actually go walking somewhere in your neighborhood or in a park or some other place you like to visit. 

I mean it imaginatively. 

If you were to actually take a walk with Jesus, where would you want that walk to be? What would be the perfect place for just such an experience? Take a moment now and ask yourself that question. Then take another moment and imagine that place in your mind. What are the surroundings like? What are the sounds, the smells, the feel of the air like? 

Now imagine Jesus is there with you, walking beside you. What does he look like? Are there any remarkable features you notice about him — his height, his stature, his clothing, his eyes, his mouth, his hands?

What is it like when he looks at you?

As you walk, notice yourself. Do you look at him? Keep your eyes on the ground in front of you? Look ahead or away from him? Do you put your hands in your pockets, swing them freely, hold his hand?

And now I’d like to invite you to discover what the actual walk with him is like. What would you like to say to him? Can you let yourself say it? Would you rather remain quiet? Would you like to listen to him? What might you hear him saying to you?

This has been an exercise in imaginative prayer. If you practice this exercise, I would love to hear what it was like for you to connect with Jesus in this way.

Meeting Jesus on the Beach

The beach is ours.

Hello there, lovelies.

Today is the first day since being down in Captiva that I left the condo with the express intent to meet Jesus on the beach. 

As I was walking there, I had the feeling of walking to meet him for a date. He was already there on the shoreline, just waiting for me to arrive, and I was on my way. 

It made me smile as I walked to meet him. 

The photo above is one I took once I reached the shoreline to meet him and start walking. The thought I had upon seeing this view was, “The beach is ours.” Such a long stretch without any other people on it. Just a place for me and Jesus to walk and talk and then turn around and do it all over again. 

He met me in a beautifully powerful way there on that shoreline walk today. It’s a conversation I don’t feel free to share out loud here, but it’s enough for now to say that it was one in which I voiced fears and insecurities and then received gifts beyond measure in return. 

It was one that grew my faith. One that asked for my faith to stretch and trust he would be there to meet such a stretch. One that invited me to attach my faith to visible, tangible markers of what Jesus is doing, wants to do, and will do. 

One in which I received the hearts of others and ended up carrying the heart of Jesus in my hand.

Do you want to meet Jesus?

There’s room for you to join us in looking at Jesus together here. You would be more than welcome to join us. I know that he, for sure, would love to spend that time with you too.

*Pinch, Pinch* Is This Really Happening?

Pinch, pinch. Is this really happening?

On Friday night, I got an e-mail from a friend offering me a totally unexpected and almost-too-good-to-be-true opportunity. Her husband’s parents had rented a condo on Captiva Island for the week and were unable to use it at the last minute due to illness. Did Kirk and I want to come and make use of it instead, free of charge? 

Did we? Um, let me check my calendar for a moment. *Clears calendar* 

So here we are, still pinching ourselves two days later. 

It is not lost on me that I’m spending a week on the beach — the same place I walk and talk with Jesus on a daily basis these days. And for the next slate of days, I get to walk on the actual beach with him. Actual sand on my feet, actual water on my calves, an actual shoreline on which to walk back and forth, an actual beach upon which to sit and talk with him. 

I wonder how he will meet me here this week? You can bet that I will share it here with you. 

And in the meantime …  

Registration for the Look at Jesus course is now officially open!

I can’t tell you how excited and blessed I feel to be offering this course for a second time. To register, go to the course details page and click on the “Buy Now” button listed in the right-hand sidebar. 

Note: Once you register, you will be redirected to a private page that offers a welcome message from me — including a fun welcome video and some questions to get you started that will help me get to know you.

The course is limited to 10 participants —I hope you’ll join us!

He Will Lead You Beside Still Waters

Still waters.

I think a lot about Jesus. Over the last ten years, he has become the most prominent figure in my spiritual life and connection to God. I love what Paul says about him: that Christ “gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get” (2 Corinthians 4:4). 

Isn’t that amazing? In looking at Jesus, we get to see God. 

Jesus used many metaphors to describe himself, and we could probably occupy ourselves for an entire lifetime just thinking deeply on each of those metaphors.

For today, I want us to consider the metaphor of shepherd

We have explored previously the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and what it is like for us, as sheep, to be a part of his fold. There is gentleness there, and kindness. There is provision and being seen. Jesus knows each of our names. 

Today, I want us to consider a couple lines from the very familiar Good Shepherd psalm, which says: 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

—Psalm 23:1-3

The Message version of this passage says it this way:

God, my shepherd!

I don’t need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows,

you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word,

you let me catch my breath

and send me in the right direction. 

I love that image of being “bedded down in lush meadows,” don’t you? There’s such a feeling of rest and comfort, like sinking into a huge, billowy, soft bed with luxurious goose-down pillows and comforters. And the image of having quiet pools from which to drink and a chance to catch our breath — what a relief!

Life with Jesus does not mean life without danger or distress. Sheep herds get attacked by wolves. Every year, they must be sheared. They have to travel each day somewhere to get exercise and food and drink. Sometimes sheep get lost. 

But walking as a sheep in the fold that’s led by Jesus means always being cared for by him in each situation. He knows the soft meadows and still waters you need. He will lead you there. He companions with you there and stays with you as you drink and eat and rest. If you get lost, he comes after you. He knows if you are missing. 

What is it like for you to receive Jesus’ presence in your life in this way? Can you allow yourself to rest in the lush meadow and drink from the still waters he offers you today?

Imagine Jesus with You

Grainy wood.

As you sit upon that large and sturdy rock and consider the flowers growing at your feet, begin to imagine Jesus sitting with you in that scene. He may be sitting on a bench across from you or kneeling at your feet.

Can you see him? 

Don’t feel any expectation or pressure to say anything to him or to hear him say anything to you. Just get used to his presence being with you in the scene.

Sit there quietly with him for a few moments. 

And as you sit in the quiet with Jesus, consider these words he used to describe himself: 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

— Matthew 11:28-30

When we think of Jesus, many beliefs and images may come to mind. We may remember different scenes from the Gospel accounts that have taught us certain things about him. We may have a particular image in mind when we simply think his name. 

In this moment, simply consider these few words he spoke about himself. Notice the invitation to come to him and rest. Notice that he calls himself gentle and humble in heart. Notice that he says his offering to you is easy and light. 

What is it like for you to be in the presence of Jesus in this quiet moment? What is it like for you to hold these words he speaks about himself?

Consider the Flowers

Rock garden.

As you are sitting on that large and sturdy rock from yesterday’s meditation, I want to invite you to notice the small flowers springing up from the ground at the base of the rock. 

Can you see them?

Take a moment to really look at those flowers. What colors are they? Are there different kinds? What are their petals like? What about their centers? What are their stems like? What do you notice about the soil they grow from?

Sit with the image for a few moments and really notice the flowers growing below you. Then consider Jesus’ words: 

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.

— Matthew 6:28

The flowers are quite beautiful, aren’t they? And they are beautiful simply doing what they do: growing from the ground, being gorgeous and worthy of our care and admiration without even trying. 

You are beautiful that way too. 

Can you allow yourself to receive that same care and admiration from God as you sit upon that rock, simply for existing and being who you are? 

A Place to Rest

Rock garden.

This morning, as I was talking to Jesus about this space and asking him what you most needed to receive today, I kept seeing in my mind’s eye a large rock resting off to the side of the path where Jesus and I were walking. It was the perfect rock for sitting down and taking a rest. 

Jesus kept directing my attention to the rock. He wanted me to invite you to sit down upon the rock and rest a while. 

It brought to mind a simple song of worship that I grew up singing in church. Perhaps you have heard it before. One of the lines in the song asks God to place our feet upon a rock. To me, that line has always been a request for God’s protection from harm. A rock is sturdy and cannot move. If our feet are placed upon it, then we are safe in its sturdiness, too.

Whatever may come alongside the way of the rock won’t be able to sweep us underfoot. 

Place my feet upon a rock, God.

About a year ago, I recorded that simple little worship song as a meditation for another website I maintain. I am embedding the video here so that perhaps you will find it helpful as an invitation to prayer for your own heart. Perhaps it will become a form of prayer for you as sit upon that large and sturdy rock on the side of the path where Jesus is inviting you to rest. 

Approximate run time: 2 minutes

If you’re unable to see the video, click here.

Can you imagine that large and sturdy rock on the side of the path? Will you let yourself sit down upon it? What is it like for you to receive the invitation to sit and rest here for a while?

Where Is Your Sacred Place?

This past weekend, I attended a retreat to complete three years of training in the ministry of spiritual direction. For this week’s entries on Still Forming, I’ll be posting reflections gleaned from the retreat that made me think of you and this space throughout the weekend.


On my very first morning of training in spiritual direction three years ago, we entered the chapel on the retreat grounds for a short service of welcome and blessing. I stepped inside the chapel you see featured in the photo above and was immediately stopped short in amazement at its arresting beauty and grandeur. 

The far wall of the chapel is nothing but windows that look out upon groves of trees and flowers and sky. The high wooden beams on the ceiling seem to extend upwards for miles and create a sense of safety and solidity to those seated within that place. One far wall is nothing but a stained glass window of dark blues and greens and reds offered in tribute to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

I can’t tell you how many times I have sat inside this chapel and simply stared in silence at this wall of windows or up at the cedar-like beams, drinking in the silence and holiness of that place. 

God has met me here many times these last three years.

When I need a place of respite or silent holiness, this is place I go. When I have met on retreat with my Audire community over the last three years, I looked forward with great anticipation to the Taize services we would share inside this chapel on the first night of each retreat.

God is in this place.

Do you have a holy space like this in your life? What is it like? How did you discover it? What does it offer your spirit in communion with God?