Lent Joy Practice 4

Joy Practices #4                      GRATITUDE                       Lent 4, March 11, 2018

Express your joy in singing among yourselves psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of God! Thank God at all times for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ                     
Ephesians 5:19 -20

Rejoice[c] in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.[d]  Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.                
Philippians 4:4-7

Gratitude is an extremely important part of joy because it allows us to savor life and to recognize that most of our good fortune in life comes from others.

This gratitude practice is a very simple practice, to be done daily, to help you appreciate large and small blessings. This practice can also be done at the end of the day, when reflecting on whether you fulfilled the intention you set in the morning. This practice can also be done together with a friend of spouse.

Gratitude Practice: Journaling for Gratitude

1.  Close your eyes and recall three things from your day for which you are grateful. They can be anything from the kindness and generosity of a friend to the bounty of a meal to the warmth of the sun to the beauty of a night sky. Try to be as specific as you can be in recalling what you are grateful for.

2.  Write these three things down in a journal. While you can do this exercise in your head, keeping a lost of what you are grateful for has been shown to have many physical and emotional benefits over time. Each time you journal, try to write down three different things. Variation is the key to effective gratitude journaling.

Expanded gratitude practice;

1.  Reflect on all the people who are responsible for your life.

Think of your parents, who gave you life, the people who grew your food and who made your clothes, the countless others who are responsible for your having the life that you have each and every day.

Now think of all those who discovered and created all of the things we take for granted, the housing, the crops and the medicines that keep you alive.

Think of all your ancestors who had to live, and survive, so that you could be born, who braved enormous hardship so that you could have the life that you do.

Now think of the family and friends who give your life meaning and purpose.

2. Allow your heart to open and experience gratitude, appreciation and love for all these people.

Experience the enormous joy and appreciation that comes from being in touch with all that has been given to you. In realizing how dependent we are on others,  how weak in our separateness and yet how strong in our togetherness.


Joy Practices #4                    FORGIVENESS                    Lent 4, March 11, 2018

Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as God has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.     
Colossians 3:13

Forgiveness Practices:

The Fourfold Path of Forgiveness, from The Book of Forgiving by  Mpho Tutu and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. See also the Global Forgiveness Challenge, (forgivenesschallenge.com). These resources are helpful to those who are working to forgive major sources of pain and trauma, and address  how we can ask for forgiveness and learn to forgive ourselves.

The basic steps of the fourfold path, combined with some neuroscience research:

1. Tell your story.

All forgiveness begins by facing the truth.  Write in a journal or tell a trusted friend what happened. To help heal the memories and avoid retraumatizing yourself, it is helpful to imagine that you are watching the event happen in a movie. This reduces the changes of triggering the brain’s neural stress response.

Another suggestion: Close your eyes. Go back to the time and place of the emotional experience and see the scene in your mind’s eye. Now take a few steps back. Move away from the situation to a point where you can watch the event unfold from a distance and see yourself in the event, the distant you. Watch the experience unfold as if it were happening to the distant you all over again. Observe your distant self.

2. Name the hurt.

The facts are the facts, but these experiences caused strong emotions and pain, which are important to name. As you watch the situation unfold around your distant self, try to understand her or his feelings. Why did she or he have those feelings? What were the causes and reasons for the feelings? If the hurt is fresh, ask yourself, ”Will this situation affect me in ten years?” If the hurt is old, ask yourself whether you want to continue to carry this pain or whether you want to free yourself from this pain and suffering.

3. Grant forgiveness.

The ability to forgive comes from the recognition of our shared humanity and the acknowledgment that inevitably, because we are human we hurt and are hurt by one another. Can you accept the humanity of the person who hurt you and the fact that they likely hurt you out of their own suffering? If you can accept your shared humanity, then you can release your presumed right to revenge and can move toward healing rather than retaliation.

We also recognize that, especially between intimates, there can be multiple hurts, and we often need to forgive and ask for forgiveness at the same time, accepting our part in the human drama.

4. Renew or release the relationship

Once you have forgiven someone, you must make the important decision of whether you want to renew the relationship or release it. If the trauma is significant, there is no going back to the relationship that you had before, but there is the opportunity for a new relationship. When we renew relationships, we can benefit from healing our family or community. When we release the relationship, we can move on, especially if we can truly wish the best for the person who ahs harmed us, and recognize that they, like us, simply want to avoid suffering and be happy in their life.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.                                                                                             
Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness Meditation: Opening to the Light

1. Close your eyes and follow your breath.

2. When you feel centered, imagine yourself in a safe place.

3. In the center of your safe space is a box with many drawers.

4. The drawers are labeled. The inscriptions show hurts you have yet to forgive.

5. Choose a drawer and open it. Rolled or folded or crumpled up inside it are all the thoughts and feelings the incident evokes.

6. You can choose to empty out this drawer.

7. Bring your hurt into the light and examine it.

8. Unfold the resentment you have felt and set it aside.

9. Smooth out the ache and let it drift up into the sunlight and disappear.

10. If any feeling seems too big or too unbearable, set it aside to look at later.

11. When the drawer is empty, sit for a moment with it on your lap.

12. Then remove the label from this drawer.

13. As the label comes off, you will see the drawer turn to sand. The wind will sweep it away. You don’t need it anymore.

14. There will be no space left for that hurt in the box. That space is not needed anymore.

15. If there are more drawers still to be emptied, you can repeat this meditation now or later.




Whoever you are, wherever you are on your journey of faith, you are welcome here.