Just Launched: Praying in Color with Sybil MacBeth

We just launched Praying in Color with Sybil MacBeth For Individuals and For Groups. This course is being launched in conjunction with praying in color Advent calendars developed by Sybil MacBeth to accompany Forward Movement’s book of Advent meditations, Waiting and Watching.

Some people are born for contemplative prayer. Content with silence, they can remain still and breathe in the presence of God. These people often find great benefit in quiet, prayerful meditation.

Then there are people who have needed to move, to direct restless energy, to do something while they pray.

Praying in color is good for both these groups of people. It’s also useful for people who are visually oriented, who enjoy bringing creative energy to prayer, who need something to direct their focus, or who simply enjoy exploring new and interesting ways to pray.

In this course, Sybil MacBeth, who developed this prayer discipline, describes praying in color, which is essentially praying through doodling. This approach to prayer can work for people who love art and want to build beautiful artistic creations in prayer and for people whose highest artistic achievement is the stick figure. Artistic talent isn’t the point. The point is to use a pen and paper to focus one’s mind and energy into prayer. At the end of the process, the person has a visual reminder of the prayers in which they have engaged and a prompt they can use later on to remind themselves to pray.

Sybil wrote the book Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God and has developed worksheets, DVDs, and other materials to help people practice this discipline. She leads workshops and conferences on praying in color as well. This class is ideal for those seeking new approaches to prayer.

Just Launched: Developing a Rule of Life with Hillary Raining

We just launched Developing a Rule of Life with Hillary Raining For Individuals and For Groups.

The Christian rule of life, as a concept, has an unfortunate name. The word “rule” for many people, suggests an unpleasant need to do one thing when they’d rather do another. It also suggests an unpleasant consequence if they don’t follow the rule. Most people don’t voluntarily seek new restrictions or invoke potential negative consequences in lives that already have plenty of demands.

Priest and author Hillary Raining asks us to look at the concept of a “rule” differently when creating a rule of life. Instead of a set of strict regulations, with punitive consequences for those who step out of line, she suggests thinking of a rule of life as a trellis — something helpful and supportive that guides our growth in the direction that we and God think best.

In this class, Hillary explains what a rule of life is and how it can help Christians. She discusses ways to decide what to include in a rule — not a dreary list of regulations to which we “should” adhere, but a dynamic list of choices that excite us; choices that we want to make because we can feel that they give us life. She recommends types of activity to include in a rule of life and ways to create one. Finally, she discusses how to maintain a rule of life in the long term.

This class is ideal for anyone who wants to deepen their spiritual practices in daily life. For a preview, please click below.

What Do We Do Now? Ask Parker Palmer.

As I write this post, the U.S. presidential election is not yet decided. It could be days before we know for sure who will run our executive branch for the next four years. On social media, both Trump and Biden supporters are making jokes about comfort eating, stress management drinking, anxiety medication, and the possibility of moving to other countries if their candidate does not win. They’re adding nervously smiling emojis and panicky GIFs.

People turned out in record numbers for this election, and the results are down to the wire, both nationally and in many states. We can take two lessons from this election already: (1) Americans care very deeply about who leads our country, and (2) No matter how awful we think the other candidate is, we have to deal with their supporters. They’re there. They’re voting. And even if we could get around them, as Christians, we really can’t just put them in a box labeled “evil” and keep moving. Jesus modeled eating with tax collectors, called Paul the persecutor of Christians to follow him, and specifically told us not to judge other people (Matthew 7: 1-2). That means we shouldn’t be judging people who we think are wrongdoers and that if we do so anyway, we should still reach out to them.

Applied today, this message means Trump supporters and Biden supporters should be dining together and talking to one another and generally working together. We aren’t, and we have seen the results of that approach. However this election turns out, half of the country will be bitterly opposed to the result. We need to do better.

Parker Palmer, Founder of the Center for Courage and Renewal and author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, among many other books.

How do we begin? Start with Parker Palmer.

Four years ago, we published Bridging the Political Divide with Parker Palmer. I have written hundreds of classes for ChurchNext, and I can honestly say that Parker’s ideas have made more of an impact on how I think than any other course I can remember. Instead of dividing citizens into Left and Right, Parker divides us into Cynical (those who have given up on communities’ building anything through governmental or civic institutions) and Hopeful (those who believe in governmental and civic institutions’ potential to work for the good of the community). Hopeful people tend to be able to find common ground on which to build, even if they think very differently about the best approach to government, and that’s where he suggests we begin.

If you don’t find “a divided nation staring each other down across the aisle” to be a strong model for successful government, figure out how to live a different way. If you don’t know where to start or want new ideas about how to move forward, begin with Parker’s class and move on from there. The For Individuals course is free for now. You can also take the For Groups version with others in your community. Please click below for a preview.