Scattered Thoughts on Spiritual Practice

So many things to write, talks coming up. Every day now I must devote myself to thinking on these things. I do some of my best thinking "out loud", and that's why I'm here. I hope you don't mind.

As of yesterday I was given an assignment to talk about beauty. It doesn't seem to fit with any of the other eight talks I have to deliver. I've been fussing with it.

This morning I woke thinking about the last words I typed in last night...

Beauty has a shape. It is dimensional.

I don't know what that means. Except it somehow fits with a conversation I had with a friend, about what prayer looks like. I said I think prayer isn't just sitting alone in a room, staring at the four walls and saying some kind of obligatory words. I said I think maybe praying could be as simple as this: go on a hike, with a sense of openness and a willingness to compose (think David and his poems) and all of it in a posture of "here I am God."

Prayer has a shape then too, a shape that includes footfalls, rock climbing, touching dirt, maybe picking wildflowers. It's seems to me this is the primary prayer shape recorded from Jesus' life. And he went out into the hills. (that's my paraphrase). There were the Festivals too, great times of prayer and devotion. These were also dimensional (one of my favorites is when they would pour water out of jugs, onto the pavement, for the Feast of Tabernacles).

Have we pared spiritual practice down to a thing we do with pencils and books, barely dimensional? And, as we instinctually know about beauty when it is pressed flatter and flatter, have we lost something vital along the way?

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Anonymous Heidi said...

I love this. The more I've gotten away from the "doing" of the Christian religion, the more I find and converse with God when I am with him in nature, in art, in music, in the laughter of children. Sometimes our conversations form words; other times they are wordless.

But somehow I feel much closer to him than when I was always trying to find the right words to say.

Blogger Unknown said...

LL I was up until 2am this morning talking to a friend of mine about God and how my walk with Him has changed significantly in the past few months.

This exceptionally broad topic that you have touched on here is what the conclusion of our discussion was: we limit God. We box Him. And then we lose the glaring beauty.

You say "Beauty has a shape. It is dimensional." For me this means that it is open to unique interpretation by each beholder. But in order to interpret, we need to consciously take in, digest and absorb before the beauty can become nutrition.

When I make myself conscious, then God does the rest and I am fed by His beauty.

This is my experience. I look forward to seeing what others share.

Anonymous Maureen said...

Thought-provoking musings this morning.

I think of poems as prayers. I think of beauty in symbols. Flannery O'Connor said, "A symbol should go on deepening." Beauty does, when we get beyond the surface. Words do, when we don't read them merely as words. Prayers do, when we look around. Beauty is everywhere but requires deep seeing to be revealed through God. This, by Rumi: "On a day when the wind is perfect the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day."

Or this:
"It was easy to love God in all that / was beautiful. // The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me/ to embrace God in all/ things." "In All Things" from Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky

Blogger Kathleen Overby said...

Thinking with your prompts. Beauty IS becoming flatter and flatter like wii gardens and playing farmville, instead of planting a real seed or plant which will produce something alive, lovely. Fruit that gives pleasure or is useful.

Beauty can be broken, not the same as flat. Broken beauty is what comes from the olive press. Sustaining.

Praying is mostly receiving. Noticing.

Blogger Unknown said...

Quick comment... prayer is receiving, yes, and beyond that - it enters, and changes you, it moves the mind beyond its walls, pulls us, moves us, inward, upward, outward (I know those words are used a lot, but still true) - as does beauty.

It is not just the request or the need.These draw us here sometimes. These are starting points. Both beauty and prayer change the heart, move us in other directions.

Rarely am I on my knees, prayer flows into so much of everyday - is there in the moments... over dishes, food, changing diapers... it becomes of part of your life. It doesn't always make the moment better, doesn't change me immediately, or anyone else. It does reorient me, even if I do not move right away. It flags what needs to change. It keeps me connected to what matters.

Blogger Sunny Shell said...


I am in total agreement with you. Pray, like all other aspects of our walk with Christ is dimensional, as our Lord God is dimensional...He is not flat, nor limited to our time or space.

It seems we often forget that prayer is about 90% listening and only 10% of us talking...that's why I believing that going hiking, gardening, and other things you mentioned is so important in our time of prayer...b/c in these times, we are most aware of the awesome creation from our Great and awesome Creator and it causes us to pause and listen more than speak and for me...sometimes whine. :-)

Bless you,

Blogger Bina said...

Hello Sweetness!

I love this post. Spiritual practice...should equal relationship...which should never be routine and boring.

When we meet with our friends, we go out to new places, we try new foods, we laugh over new topics, we talk about new issues ~ so why then, do we limit God to the same mundane, routine prayers and places to meet? (...oh, and should somone misunderstand...I am totally included in the "we" up there...)

I love it so very much when God reminds me that there isn't a box big enough to contain Him...when He meets me most unexpected in the clothing section of Target and strikes up conversation...when He paints a cloud "i luv u" in the sky...when He greets me in the soft kiss of my daughter.

Relationships are exciting, fun and motivation...why do we limit God to anything less?

I love how your brain works, my friend.

Anonymous HisFireFly said...

You've pricked my heart, a heart that bleeds for more communion with the lover of my soul.

He Is, He Was, He Is to come, multi, multi dimensional, as you said.

I pray that I continue to open the box and release Him to be more of Who He Is.

Blogger Kelly Sauer said...

Prayer is poetry. Beauty strung together, a series of thoughts, words, feelings aching, groaning toward heaven. It takes different shapes, bears light rising, pulsing into dark, spirit meeting Spirit in incomprehensible time outside of time.

This beauty we pray is shaped in joy, pierced in through pain, etched and grown and blown and painted by life itself - life in a world held together by God who is sovereign, who allows time since death has entered, who created us to live outside of time.

Beauty, I think, takes the shape of the eternal. It moves us beyond the bounds of time and we find ourselves praying, responding, worshipping, living in that other, infinite dimension.

Thank you for your thoughts. I love reading them. Here's to eternity, when time won't be an issue for getting a round tuit. ;-)

Blogger Billy Coffey said...

I love the way your mind thinks.

Blogger Sarah said...

LOVE this. Nothing forms into words in response, but I wanted you to know.

Blogger Laura said...

I would love to hear your entire talk on this.

Anonymous suzy said...

"and he went out into the hills."
Prayer seems to embrace the undulations of life more than the polished linear surfaces.
Wonderful, thoughtful post!

Blogger Unknown said...

I love all of your thoughts, and these comments.
and I remember reading in the dedication to a church , where the author said that the church uses art and architecture to show truth as beauty through prayers in colour and stone.
for someone who always struggle with embracing the indoors , rather than the outdoors, I liked this.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL... have you experienced prayer in a labrinth or perhaps a Taize worship??? just curoius, these and many other forms of prayer are truly beautiful and worth trying in community.

Blogger nannykim said...

These thoughts again remind me of Brother Lawrence's book on Practicing the Presence of God. Life is about enjoying God and His presence at all times. Guess that is why it is so multi-dimensional. I do see a slight difference at times between David's, Jesus', and Paul's prayers. But they all are very God focused.

Blogger elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Prayer with a shape... I've known a lot of conversations with God that have taken on a shape and beauty that cannot be easily outlined in a textbook. My prayer life with Jesus is, indeed, a 3-D kind of experience.

Beautiful description.



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