This edition of Refresh your Soul has been rather like a defiant child, refusing to be written. Yet here it is at last, newly envisioned. I hope that these letters (expect them every 6-8 weeks) will be a source of practical inspiration for you as they also provide a point of connection for us.
In this edition of Refresh Your Soul:
This present moment
Encouragement for those who grieve
In the next Refresh Your Soul:
When the wait stretches long
(A reflection for Advent)
This Present Moment
I am learning to live in the present moment. But this is no easy task. I need reminders, often. The reminder to release my anxieties for the future. To stop my insistent habit of editing the past. To embrace the present moment fully, with wide-eyed curiosity. Ready for the gifts it has to offer. Open to what it desires to teach me. To cultivate a heart that is grateful.
At the moments when I do this, anxiety is replaced with peace. My soul becomes keenly alert to what's around me. I seem to become more alive, and certainly more free. I become aware that this very moment which I'm living carries something of the sacred.
I'm a child of my culture. Of the two words for 'time' in Greek, one was adopted into the English language. Chronos refers to chronological time. Western culture is driven by the ticking of the clock and the many tasks which we must fit into our 24 hour days. Chronological time never stands still and keeps pulling us into the future. The dilemma of living by its measurement is that we risk missing the moment which we're living, the present moment of the now.
Another Greek word, kairos, expresses a different concept of time, that of opportunity or encounter. A kairos perspective invites us to embrace the moment we are in, to experience it fully, and intensely. "We live in the now by attuning ourselves to the calls of each moment, listening and responding to what each hour, each situation, brings," says David Steind-Rast in The Music of Silence.
It may sound like a tall order to change our inherited perspective of time. Yet taking a crisp autumn walk ... a few deep breaths ... a few moments of solitude ... a choice to pull away from a task to engage with a person ... the expression of gratitude ... engaging the senses to notice what's gone unnoticed... intentionally slowing down for a few moments or for a sabbath rest.... These are simple acts of attuning ourselves to the moment. Simple gestures which affirm that this present moment is a gift, an opportunity, an encounter which is not to be missed.
Deeper Devotion Initiatives
A spiritual tuneup offers a treat for the soul. It's a simple process which guides in identifying your current desires and goals in your walk with God, and defines some practical steps for attaining them.
A tuneup involves spending an hour or two in intentional reflection followed by an hour together with me. You'll go away encouraged for the coming season, with a good sense about the sacred rhythms which will aid you in reaching your desires and goals.
I've had several spiritual tuneup conversations this fall and each one has been highly encouraging, fruitful and enjoyable. I think I've landed on gem of an idea and I'd love to
extend the reach of this simple spiritual treat.
A spiritual tuneup can be done as a single session or serve as an intentional 'check-up' in an ongoing process of spiritual direction. I offer it in person or online.
Check out the spiritual tuneup page for more information.
Encouragement for those who grieve
When someone is traveling through loss and grief, a listening presence is a gift of grace. Having a safe and welcoming place to express the grief and the questions which accompany it is
essential to traveling through the grief.
Spiritual direction conversations offer just such a place.
Orient yourself to this aspect of my ministry via the recover from grief
page and the links which follow. If you know someone who would benefit from what you find, please share this with them.
A new site feature! On the Dealing with grief page
you'll find a section where visitors can contribute their own stories to strengthen others on their journey. If you have learned wisdom in walking the path through grief, I encourage you to share it. My hope is that this page will grow to be a practical source of strength and encouragement for many as they travel along this road.
There's much more to tell, but one aspect of Refresh Your Soul's new vision is to keep these letters brief. So until next time, may you enjoy the present moment and be awed by the gifts it has to offer.
Elizabeth de Smaele
MMus, MDiv, CSD
Amstelveen, The Netherlands