Just Playing Around

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Does Spiritual Formation sound like hard work to you?  Is it something on your daily to-do chore checklist?  Does the idea of playing seem incompatible with building strong discipleship?
As my husband, Max and I have worked to settle into our new home we have discovered just how important it is to take time to play.  In fact, it is so important that we have set aside a special cabinet we refer to as “Our Toy-Box.”  As we unpacked our moving boxes we learned to check deep down in the corners before sending them off to be recycled.  Many stray paper clips, pennies, and game pieces were saved from being lost forever.  And marbles.  Lots of marbles were found in the depths of those boxes.  I can’t say that we had lost our marbles because I don’t remember having them in the first place.  I am not sure where they came from, but now the beautiful sparkly glass orbs have a special place in Our Toy-Box.

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Max recently shared with me that when he was a small boy he would go to his special spot, his sanctuary in the back yard. It was quiet, cool, and shady behind the place his father had stored some old wood and construction materials.  I asked him what he would do while he was there.  He told me he practiced playing marbles.  He wanted to be ready to play when the guys all got together for a game.  I smiled at the thought of him practicing playing to be ready to play.  Isn’t that also one of the reasons to have daily spiritual formation practices…to strengthen our discipleship to be prepared to participate in our world?  We practice to be ready.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
The Toy-Box is always open and available to anyone wanting to play.  It’s filled with an assortment of books and games and toys.  But what I love most about it is to watch as the bowl of marbles is removed from the shelf and our guest digs their hand into the bowl searching for just one to take out and hold up to the sunlight.  It is a kind of a ritual.  I see it as a sacred practice.  A play-prayer of seeking out inner beauty that can only be seen through the light of God.  Each of those marbles has gone through quite a creation process of heating and forming to become that Objet D’art that Merriam-Webster defines as “a small object that is valued because it is beautiful or interesting”.
Playing, then, can be good for the soul and community, so how will you practice play today?

marbles

If you would like to see the process of marble-making this is a beautiful vintage video by the Discovery Channel:
Marbles-How Its Made by Discovery Channel You Tube Video

The Seeds of a Sanctuary

sanctuary%20(2)When I was a little girl my momma planned a perfect surprise birthday party for my sixth birthday.  It was the first party… and the last one… she ever gave me.  That was not because she was mean nor uncaring, but because she realized all too late just how terrifying the whole ordeal was for me.  I was a shy child.  This may be difficult for some of you who know me now to believe.  But I was. It didn’t matter what size or age they were. All people seemed to me to be the monsters, ogres, and evil queens come to life from fairy tales.  People came with expectations that I didn’t understand and rules that I didn’t want to obey.  People.  I didn’t like them and I believed they didn’t like me.  So that day, at party time, when I opened the door to a room full of ghouls shouting at me I turned and ran.  I don’t remember exactly how far or how long I ran, but I do remember after all that running finding myself tucked safely away in the extra quilts at the back of my closet, far away from the sights and the sounds of my surprise birthday party guests.  Long before that day I had created this little place of sanctuary in my closet.  I loved the colors and feel of the soft quilts and blankets momma had stored in there. Under them, I had tucked a paper from Sunday School. Printed on it was a picture of Jesus carrying a little lamb.  He was standing on the words I LOVE YOU.  Behind The Shepherd were dark mountains, but he stood there loving that little lamb, surrounded by rays of light.  That picture made me feel safe.  Other things had become part of this safe place, too. I had gathered a small rock that fit in the palm of my hand that felt strong and cool and also a handmade paper fan that I used to stir the air of the musty dark space.  And on that day with the party celebration raging outside my window I felt safe with Jesus in my closet.  I did not know then that I had created a sacred space, only that I felt loved and safe and I could breathe.  I also did not know that this little space would be a seed of what my husband and I have now joined hands with God to create as our home, as GraceStone Sanctuary.

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As an adult I have a very different attitude toward people.  Simply put, when I am able to see beyond the wounds and scars of someone’s life  and see the beauty God perfectly created in that person, I love through Christ’s eyes.  His view has no fear, no running away, no hiding.  Instead His eyes beckon us to come into the safe surrounding of His love and care.  My hope for GraceStone Sanctuary is that it will be a sacred and safe place for all people to come in, to be loved, to be renewed, and to celebrate.  That birthday long ago taught me something important.  That is – sometimes we all feel burdened, weary, and afraid.  And sometimes we just need to find a safe soft place to rest with The Shepherd, holding firm to The Rock, being renewed and revived by the cool breeze of the Holy Spirit.  And then we can once again go out into the world carrying with us a spirit of joy and celebration.
GraceStone Sanctuary c.1930...a long history of celebration!
GraceStone Sanctuary c.1930…a long history of celebration!
This is when it was known as Greystone Lodge.

 


365 Days of Creating Missional Sanctuary™

June 17, 2015

“If we could make our house a home, and then make it a sanctuary, I think we could truly find paradise on Earth.” –Alexandra Stoddard

IMG_3065It’s been a little more than a year since I have published a blog page on 365Missional Practice.  Does that mean I took a vacation?  Did I find some other way to express my creativity? My last post contained these words of Fernando Sabino:

“In the end, everything will be okay.  If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.”

How many time have I said these words to myself throughout the past year?  Did I give up on the importance of Missional Practice in my daily life?  Where have I been?  Here’s the answer:  I have been on a journey, experimenting with living a deeper expression of daily mission in my life.  I, along with the enormous help from my dedicated husband, Max, have been creating GraceStone Sanctuary, a home that promotes the mission of haven, hospitality, and refuge in today’s world.  In the past year we unexpectedly sold our home and moved across the state of Virginia into our new very old house.  We have deconstructed and reconstructed our new home with a mind toward creating a sacred space that promotes a community of love, joy, hope, and peace.  So far, it has been a faith  journey of discovery and creativity.  Each day grants glorious options, as well as obstacles to be surmounted, as we continue to discern what God has in store for this remarkable place in which we find ourselves.

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It has been clear that this is not an endeavor for self-satisfaction, but a joyful journey meant to be shared.  I want to share with you the continuing story of our expression of God’s love and care for the soul through GraceStone Sanctuary, a place we have only begun to create!  My prayer is that as I share the story of our home and community, you may also be encouraged and inspired to join us in our pursuit of God’s peace.

“I trust that God has made the plans to finish the good work He has already begun. He will continue constructing the life He knows I’m meant to lead as I travel freely in my journey of “becoming.” ―Michelle Aguilar

Visit us at our website at  GraceStone Sanctuary (gracestonesanctuary.com) or see our latest posts on FaceBook 

 


Hang On Little Tomato!

Day 155  June 4  2014

NEW BEGINNINGS

In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end. -Fernando Sabino

Hang On to the Vine!

Hang On to the Vine!

Just want to say how nice it feels to be finally home!  The last few months have been quite a roller coaster of ups and downs.  I have been grateful for the many uplifting and encouraging songs but one, in particular, got us through lots of doubtful, confusing, and even painful days.  “Hang On Little Tomato” is a song about just listening to His advice and hanging in there when “change is hard and not so nice”.

Now we have our very own little tomatoes  growing on the back porch and their yellow blossoms continue to give me hope and encouragement as we move forward to create a sanctuary of peace in our new home!

“Hang On Little Tomato” -by Pink Martini
The sun has left and forgotten me
It’s dark, I cannot see
Why does this rain pour down
I’m gonna drown
In a sea
Of deep confusion
Somebody told me, I don’t know who
Whenever you are sad and blue
And you’re feelin’ all alone and left behind
Just take a look inside and you will find
You gotta hold on, hold on through the night
Hang on, things will be all right
Even when it’s dark
And not a bit of sparkling
Sing-song sunshine from above
Spreading rays of sunny love
Just hang on, hang on to the vine
Stay on, soon you’ll be divine
If you start to cry, look up to the sky
Something’s coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead
And so I hold on to his advice
When change is hard and not so nice
You listen to your heart the whole night through
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you
(“Pink Martini is a musical group that was formed in 1994 by pianist Thomas Lauderdale in Portland, Oregon. Describing itself as a “little orchestra,” its music crosses genres such as classical, latin, jazz and classic pop.”  Wikipedia   My life was culturally and joyfully enriched seeing them in concert at Wolftrap last summer with my good friend.  Thanks for introducing me, Kathryn!)

You can find some Pink Martini music, including Hang On Little Tomato HERE


The Feeling of Home

Day 154 June 3 2014
NEW BEGINNINGS

“Home isn’t a place, its a feeling” ―Cecelia Ahern

The Entry Hallway

The Entry Hallway

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ― Maya Angelou

“What is home? My favorite definition is “a safe place,” a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It’s a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.”―Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child’s Heart

Then they all went home. -John 7:53b  The Message

 

 


God’s First Temples

Day 153 June 2, 2014
New Beginnings

The groves were God’s first temples. -William Cullen Bryant

Baby Anjou Pear Ripening

Baby Anjou Pear Ripening

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life…When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult… Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. …Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. …Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”  ― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible. -Welsh Proverb

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Wisdom of the Sands

 


Into The Future With Hope

Day 152    June 1 2014
New Beginnings

“In a spirit of hope and new beginnings, we linked arms like a couple of kids. Pushing aside sad thoughts, we strode off into our future.”  ―A.B. Shepherd

Home Sweet Home at last

Home Sweet Home
at last

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  ― L. Frank Baum

What a journey the last few months have been.  My “Five Year Plan” to prepare for moving into a smaller house somewhere in the country after my husband’s retirement suddenly became God’s “Eight Week Plan” to move into a new, but familiar, community 100 miles away!  So after a whirlwind of preparing and selling our old home in Northern Virginia, and buying and moving into our “new” home (though it’s almost 100 years old) across the state Max and I finally have re-entered the atmosphere of technology once again.  

Max spent the day unpacking and matching up equipment with cords and plugs and devices, until he finally emerged with a grin and  announced “You have internet”!  After his hard work I find myself surprised at my own reaction to his annunciation.  In one way I felt sheer joy at the thought of being connected to the cyber community once again.  I can blog and “google” and “Facebook” and shop Amazon again!  Hooray!  And yet the moment was bittersweet as I realized deep in my soul the sanctity of the time I have spent away from my daily rituals connected with the computer.  The past few weeks of not connecting electronically have pushed me into other ways of connecting with people face to face.  Relationships have been deepened.  Adventures have been taken into places I ordinarily would not go.  Being “unhooked” from the virtual cyberspace has allowed for deeper, authentic, “soul” conversations with others, myself, and God.  I am grateful for this time.

So now, still getting settled in and making this house a home, I’m back to putting some thoughts “out there” to you.  We are heading into the future with hope and anticipation!

“Home is the nicest word there is.”― Laura Ingalls Wilder

 


Peace, Perfect Peace

Day 123 May 3, 2014
PEACE

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you… -Isaiah 55:12

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“Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?; The voice of Jesus whispers peace within.” -Edward H. Bickersteth

“Dear God, Please send to me the spirit of Your peace. Then send, dear Lord, the spirit of peace from me to all the world. Amen.”  -Marianne Williamson

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27


The Light of Peace

Day 122 May 2, 2014
PEACE

“Find the peace, and then light will find you!”  ― Mehmet Murat ildan

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“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”   ― C.S. Lewis 

Seek peace and pursue it. -Psalm 34:14”

“In this world, whenever there is light, there are also shadows.”   ― Masashi Kishimoto

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”   ― Martin Luther King Jr.


Blessed Spirit of Peace

Day 121 May 1, 2014
PEACE

“The dove and the very blessed spirit of peace.” -Shakespeare

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“ The dove of peace flies to palace as to humble house, to young as to old, to rich and poor.” ―John Yoshio Naka

“True peace required the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict.” ― N.K. Jemisin

Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.


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