Tree of life


 
 

Recently I’ve been experimenting with frottage, often using the bark of a tree as my substratum, and posting results to my instagram account (@irene.bom).

Here I’ve used the technique to help illustrate Proverbs 15:4a (NLT): “Gentle words are a tree of life”.

My main inspiration for featuring this particular verse was a blog post entitled, “100 Healing Words for Every Harmful Syllable” by Scotty Smith.
 


Words of assurance

(inspired by Revelation 21:1-6)

Behold:
there is a new heaven,
    a new earth
        and a new city,
where the river of life flows,
where the tree of life bears fruit in every season.

This heaven,
    this city,
        this river,
            this tree
are a vision of your life
    reborn, restored, and renewed.
Thanks be to God!

 
source: re-worship.blogspot.com
 


Tip: Word study on “Tree of life”

Check out the bibleproject.org video on Tree of life. Also check out their many other materials to enrich your study of the Bible.
 

Lament


Always speak the truth even if your voice shakes  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

To introduce this month’s theme of SORROW, an excerpt from the Foreward by Eugene Peterson published in Michael Card’s book, A Sacred Sorrow.

And if you want to try writing your own psalm of lament, check out the links below.
 


On weeping

Eugene Peterson writes,

It’s an odd thing. Jesus wept. Job wept. David wept. Jeremiah wept. They did it openly. Their weeping became a matter of public record. Their weeping, sanctioned by inclusion in our Holy Scriptures, a continuing and reliable witness that weeping has an honored place in the life of faith.

But just try it yourself. Even, maybe especially, in church where these tear soaked Scriptures are provided to shape our souls and form our behaviour. Before you know it, a half dozen men and women surround you with handkerchiefs, murmuring reassurances, telling you that it is going to be alright, intent on helping you to “get over it.”

Why are Christians, of all people, embarrassed by tears, uneasy in the presence of sorrow, unpracticed in the language of lament? It certainly is not a biblical heritage, for virtually all our ancestors in the faith were thoroughly “acquainted with grief.” And our Savior was, as everyone knows, “a Man of Sorrows.”

 
source: A Sacred Sorrow by Michael Card, p.11
 


Compose your own Psalm of Lament

During a recent episode of The Habit Podcast, David O. Taylor describes how we might write our own psalm of lament.

To find out more, go to thehabit.co and/or listen to the podcast episode.
 


 
Prayer poem for Lent 3B : Sweet words
 
This prayer poem is inspired by Psalm 19, in particular verse 14: “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
 

First steps


Poster for a Corona-proof cultural route through the heart of Rotterdam
 

“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.” (Exodus 15:20)

britannica.com describes dance as

the movement of the body in a rhythmic way, usually to music and within a given space, for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy, or simply taking delight in the movement itself.

There is some overlap between dance and prayer, as our bodies help us express our love for God, our delight in knowing Him and our emotional and bodily needs.

Exodus 15 records the use of dance as a community response to God’s saving acts on Israel’s behalf. But there’s no reason why we can’t use “dance” in our personal prayer time too, to enrich it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Adopt the embodied version of St Patrick’s breastplate. A friend of mine was keen to learn it – not just for the spiritual benefits, but also to exercise her weakened left arm. And when I visit her now, we make a point to pray this prayer together before I leave.
  • Dance prayerfully to a favourite hymn or spiritual song.
  • Interpret a passage of Scripture as a series of steps and gestures, to make the words come alive in a fresh way for you.

 
RECOMMENDED
Dance Is Like Thought: Helen Keller Visits Martha Graham’s Studio (including a video)
 

More food for thought

 

According to euronews.com, there are multiple benefits to eating locally and in season. For example:

  • reducing our carbon foot print
  • protecting local land and wildlife from mass-scale agriculture
  • minimizing our exposure to preservatives
  • reconnecting our body with nature’s cycles
  • enjoying nutrient dense food

 

Another benefit is that we get to share in the joy of harvest on a regular basis.


From the blog
Food for thought
Environmentally water-wise
From parched to satisfied
 

On the threshold of tomorrow


Spotted on a wall near my local supermarket. What can this mean?  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

I first posted this blessing by Joyce Rupp in a post entitled Looking forward looking back in the last days of 2018, on the threshold of a new year. Rereading the words today, I think they are well worth adopting as a blessing for all our days / all our tomorrows.

Check out the Index for posts you might like to revisit, or search on a topic, category or theme.
 


Blessing … for today … tomorrow … whenever

 
I hope for you …

… that the single, most significant dimension of life
is your relationship with the Source of Goodness
who never ceases to sing love songs to your soul

… that you find meaning, purpose, and vitality
in what you do daily

… that you treasure your loved ones
and let them know how dear they are to you

… that you make choices and decisions
that reflect your truest self

… that you look in the mirror at least once a day
and smile in happy amazement

… that you remember relationships are what count above all else –
more than work or money,
or all the material things we spend so much time tending

… that you live in an uncluttered manner,
enjoying the freedom to be content

… that you keep your sense of humor
when things don’t go the way you want

… that you find adventure in each new day
and marvel at the wonders of creation
which constantly present themselves to you

… that you never give up on yourself
when others turn away or do not understand

… that you are attentive to the health
of your body, mind and spirit

… that you take risks and accept
the growth-full challenges that come to you

… that you draw on your inner strength and resiliency
when you are in need

… that you carry peace within yourself,
allowing it to slip into the hearts of others
so our planet becomes a place
where violence, division, and war are no more

 
~ written by Joyce Rupp. Posted on Joyce Rupp’s website.
 


From the blog
In the school of prayer with Ignatius of Loyola
Food for thought
Show me the way
 

Restless / restore


(Photo: Kate McDonald)

 
If you search on the word rest you’ll discover, as I did, that it appears in all kinds of unrelated words, like interested, forest, wrestling and restore – each word containing a world of meaning of its own.

I like that unrest and restlessness are somehow related, and yet substantially different. Unrest generally has negative connotations, while restlessness has mixed overtones. A holy restlessness and an unholy restlessness are both feasible, but unrest feels far removed from God’s good intentions for us and the world. Still unrest might be a truer reflection of what is going on under the surface, and God has been known to use unrest to bring about necessary change.

Here is a morning prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that features both restless and restore. In prayer we can bridge the two.
 


Morning prayer

O God,
early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray,
and to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.

In me there is darkness,
but with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
but you know the way for me …

Restore me to liberty,
and enable me so to live now
that I may answer before you and before men.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.
Amen.
 
~ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, posted on cinchreview.com
 


 
Extra
The photograph was part of a batch that Kate McDonald sent me to accompany the 2017 Holy Week series. It is somehow linked to a small family-owned farm outside Bethlehem, Palestine and their project called Tent of nations.
 

Small beginnings

 

Some things start small and grow over time. Maybe the best things.


The Gift

This time 3 years ago I was working on 12 prayer poems for my series on the Holy Spirit which I entitled The Gift.

You might like to revisit the series as Pentecost 2020 approaches.

 
There’s also a PDF booklet available containing all 12 prayer poems and the verses that inspired them.
 


Prayer-Poems

After completing the series, I wrote the blog post, On Writing Prayer-Poems. This post continues to attract readers in increasing numbers: 18 views in 2017; 36 in 2018; 212 in 2019 and 129 and counting this year.

Prayer-poems are a great way to engage with Scripture. You could make it an online group activity, reflecting on Scripture together, writing and sharing and giving feedback in the group and later sharing your creations with others.
 


Thy Kingdom Come

Don’t forget, Thy Kingdom Come 2020 starts on Thursday.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come it is hoped that everyone who takes part will:

  • Deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness

This year’s theme is “The Father’s Love”.

Download the app on your phone (android | iPhone & iPad) or print out the PDF prayer journal from the website.
 

In small ways


(Photo: Irene Bom)

 

Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’ (Matthew 17:20)

 

A prayer by John van de Laar to engage your faith, and information about Thy Kingdom Come for your prayerful consideration.

 
 

Stay safe. Stay safe. Stay safe.

 


A Prayer

We may not be able to confront queens,
    or challenge presidents;
We may not have the capacity to divert resources,
    or uplift communities;
We may not have the voice to silence the noise of war,
    or the words to negotiate peace between armies;
But, as we follow you, O Christ, we are able to do something.

And so, we pray that you would inspire us
    to commit to and act on
        the small difference we can make:
May we bring peace
    through small acts of gentleness
        and reconciliation;
May we bring wealth
    through small contributions
        and collaborations;
May we bring safety
    through small acts of consideration
        and acceptance;
May we bring wholeness
    through small acts of care
        and service.

And in the small ways, O God,
    may our small difference make a big contribution
        to your saving work in our world.

Amen.

 
— written by John van de Laar, posted on Sacredise.com
 


Thy Kingdom Come: 21 to 31 May 2020

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray from Ascension to Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus.

Check out the website for more information on how you and your church can be involved. Resources available include a personal daily prayer journal and materials for families.
 


 
From the blog
Sparks
History matters
Interpreting the times
 

Re-turn


(Photo: Irene Bom)
 

Call to Worship

based on Joel 2:12-13

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.
Rend your hearts, and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and filled with compassion and love.
 

source: re:worship
 


 
Going deeper
The book of Joel from a millenial perspective
 

Sister moon


Misty moon at tramstop in downtown Rotterdam  (Photo: Irene Bom)

Praise him, [brother] sun and [sister] moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.

 

Psalm 148:3 (NIVUK) / Francis of Assisi

 


Full Solar Spirituality vs Lunar Spirituality

In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor makes a case for “lunar spirituality” and letting the darkness teach us what we need to know. She writes,

“Full solar spirituality … deals with darkness by denying its existence or at least depriving it of any meaningful attention … it focuses on staying in the light of God around the clock, both absorbing and reflecting the sunny side of faith.”

“… my spiritual gifts do no seem to include the gift of solar spirituality. Instead, I have been given the gift of lunar spirituality, in which the divine light available to me waxes and wanes with the season. When I go out on my porch at night, the moon never looks the same way twice. Some nights it is as round and bright as a headlight; other nights it is thinner than the sickle hanging in my garage. Some nights it is high in the sky, and other nights low over the mountains. Some nights it is altogether gone, leaving a vast web of stars that are brighter in its absence. All in all, the moon is a truer mirror of my soul than the sun that looks the same way every day.”

“Even when light fades and darkness falls — as it does every single day, in every single life — God does not turn the world over to some other deity. Even when you cannot see where you are going and no one answers when you call, this is not sufficient proof that you are alone. … darkness is not dark to God; the night is as bright as the day.”

(from Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor, pp 7-9, 15-16)


Prayer

Creator God,
may we see You at work in the rising sun every day.
May we see You at work in the rolling fog or the cloudy skies.
May we see You at work in the rain that falls upon the earth.
May we see You at work in the setting sun and the rising moon,
the stars that shine, whether we can see them or not.
May we know always that You are doing something new,
every moment, every day, every year around the sun.
Great is Your Faithfulness, O God,
as You faithfully renew us every day.
Amen.

written by Rev Mindi, posted on her rev-o-lution.org blog


Digging deeper

See The Sun, the Moon, and Prayer where Vance Morgan explores solar vs lunar spirituality in more depth.

Quote: “If prayer is lunar rather than solar, then everything changes. Prayer becomes a matter of reflecting the divine light into the world in whatever way that light is shining on you and in you at the time. It is not up to me to generate the light; rather, it is up to me to reflect divine reality in ways that are unique to me and represent the seasons and cycles of my life.” (Vance Morgan)

Also check out this article by Moshe Benovitz on the Jewish ritual of blessing the new moon.

Revisit the blog post, In the school of prayer with St Francis.

(song by Donovan from the movie, Brother Sun, Sister Moon)