Spiritual Care & Development
First Monday will be held on the SECOND Monday (April 9) this month due to Easter Monday. Pastor Jason will take us on a tour of the Holy Land as he shared some of his experiences from his recent trip there with the Wisconsin Conference.
First Monday is a gathering of folks aged 50+ who meet for fellowship and fun on the first Monday of each month, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. We meet in the Great Room at PUMC for a potluck lunch followed by the program. Bring a friend and a dish to pass. If you have questions about First Monday, please contact Pastor Kate, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mini-Growth Group Season:
Starting at the end of April, we will have a 4-week mini-Growth Group season to follow up on some of the great events we have been engaged with over the past several months. This is also a great way to “try out” a Growth Group if you’ve been curious but not sure you wanted to commit to a longer group!
Green Living Growth Group: Go deeper into issues of climate change, Earth care, and how to live out our faith everyday through wise stewardship of our resources. Led by Alan Capelle and Mary Malone. Monday Evenings 6:30-7:30, April 30, May 7, 14, and 21.
“Waking Up White” Growth Group: This group will go through the memoir Waking Up White And Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debbie Irving. Irving “works with other white people to transform confusion into curiosity and anxiety into action.” Led by Pastor Jason Mahnke, Karin Davidson, and Jenna Jacobson. Days and time TBD.
Please look for sign-ups starting April 8th. If you have any questions regarding Growth Groups, please contact Pastor Kate, email@example.com.
Reflection from Pastor of Spiritual Care and Development:
In March I wrote a post for our Practice@People’s blog about a prayer practice that helps us slow down, take a break, and pray using the senses that God has created for us to enjoy. This is an especially good time of year to do this kind of prayer practice, as it helps us appreciate the small changes of Spring that begin to burst out all around. If you missed the post, here it is again!
“Stroll for your Soul” (adapted from Praying in the Messiness of Life, by Linda Douty)
This is a contemplative prayer practice that invites attention to the details of God’s creation. This can be done anywhere—a garden, around your neighborhood, in the Lerner Conservation Park, even around the grounds of your workplace.
As you begin your stroll, pause for a moment to offer your intention to God.
Gracious God, I offer this stroll to you. Open my senses to receive your presence.
Walk slowly in your chosen environment, noticing how it feels to move your body. After a few moments, take time to focus using your different senses:
Hear: For a few minutes, turn your attention to what you hear—the wind, birds chirping, the sound of your footsteps, etc.
Touch: Next, focus your attention on touch. Run your fingers along a tree branch, stoop down and touch the grass, poke your finger in the mud, etc.
Smell: Next, shift your attention to what you can smell. Breath deeply and become aware of the variety of smells that surround you.
See: Seeing is normally our dominant sense. Take a moment to focus on what you perceive around you. Notice the small variations in buds on trees, look for hidden sprouts, colors of the sky, etc.
Taste: Open your mouth and see if you can detect the taste of the air around you.
To close, offer a word of gratitude:
Thank you for the beauty of creation. May I remain open to your presence today and always.
A few hints:
- Try starting with a 10-minute stroll. You might try to take 2 minutes for each sense, working up into a longer prayerful stroll as you become more comfortable with the process.
- Don’t be surprised if it is hard at first to stay focused on whatever sense you’re using. In our busy world, we don’t often take the time to remain focused on one thing! It is not uncommon to have thoughts, worries, and to-do lists interrupt while you’re trying to pray in this way. If this kind of thought comes across your mind, just acknowledge its presence and let it float away as your return your attention to the sense you are experiencing.
- This kind of prayer works very well for individuals who feel overwhelmed by words, work long hours at a desk or looking at a computer screen, or learn best through hands-on experiences.
- Give this prayer a try in different settings and see how it feels. Customize the prayer of intention and prayer of gratitude to fit with whatever setting you are in, or whatever you bring on your heart into prayer that day.
Grace and peace,
Kate Sweet, Pastor of Spiritual Care & Development