Rhythms, Resources and other Holy Habits, Part 2
There are days that all of us wake up to sadness, a phone call, breaking news, emptiness from loss and pain. Loss that I have personally experienced has also awakened me to the sadness of others around me and to the preciousness of shared life. As we commit to walking through the valleys of sadness knowing God is with us, just as he is in green pastures and beside still waters, we are awakened to the relationship of shelter and refuge:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;Psalm 91
I will protect him, for he knows my name.
It is the belief in the presence of God that transforms, encourages, and strengthens us for the struggle of human life. This is our core value, the transforming encounters with the Divine, the Creator, Our Father who is in heaven and in our hearts. Life in the Presence keeps us awake to the preciousness of knowing and being known, offering our pain as a prayer, and giving space to the sacredness of refuge.
RHYTHMS AND HABITS. Finding Life in the Presence
Sojourner Truth, born Isabella Van Wagenen, 1797 – 1883, was a freed slave who took a new name — Sojourner Truth — and hit the road as an itinerant preacher. From the late 1840s through the 1870s, she traveled the America, denouncing slavery and slavers, advocating freedom, women’s rights, woman suffrage, and temperance.”
When she was a child her mother taught her: “My children, there is a God, who hears and sees you.”
“A God, Mau-mau! Where does he live?” she asked. “He lives in the sky,” she replied; “and when you are beaten, or cruelly treated, or fall into any trouble, you must ask help of him, and he will always hear and help you.” She taught them to kneel and say the Lord’s Prayer. She entreated them to refrain from lying and stealing, and to strive to obey her master. At times, a groan would escape her, and she would break out in the language of the Psalmist—“Oh Lord, how long? Oh Lord, how long?”
RURAL SANCTUARY. Sojourner Truth believed God was greatly superior to other men in power; and being located “high in the sky,” could see all that transpired on the earth. She was deeply impressed with the idea that if she were to present her petitions under the open canopy of heaven, speaking very loud, she should the more readily be heard; consequently, she sought a fitting spot for this, her rural sanctuary.
The place she selected was an island in a small stream, covered with large willow shrubbery, beneath which the sheep had made their pleas- ant winding paths. It was a lonely spot, and chosen by her for its beauty, its seclusion, and because she thought that there, in the noise of those waters, she could speak louder to God without being overheard by any who might pass that way. She improved it by pulling away the branches of the shrubs from the center, and weaving them together for a wall on the outside, forming a circular arched alcove made entirely of the graceful willow. To this place she resorted daily, and in pressing times much more frequently.
“Messenger of the Living God” adapted from The Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Olive Gilbert and Sojourner Truth. Public Domain in the USA.
REFUGE. Find a solitary spot in nature where you feel free to talk to God aloud, without reservation. If you feel led, move some things around to make a seat or arrange some branches to create a “rural sanctuary” like Sojourner’s. Once settled in, try vocalizing your prayer. Praying out loud is a discipline that can help us if we feel disconnected from our Invisible God, or if we struggle to maintain focus during prayer. Experiment with this practice and notice how it helps you to feel sheltered in the presence of God.
PRAISE. Spend some time with this beautiful African American spiritual: I want Jesus to walk with me. Liz Vice, Paul Zach https://youtu.be/SwwTZa8o4TQ The hymn honors Sojourner Truth, the freed slave woman who publicly spoke for freedom and equality for all.
MEDITATE. Read Psalm 91 prayerfully and then listen and worship along with Victory Boyd: