Tag Archives: letting go

Sitting, Praying, Letting Go.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 4, 2017


Sitting, Praying, Letting Go.

When I read this small section of the book How to Sit, I felt so badly that I did not sit and pray more than I do. (I know, it seems ironic, or perhaps even perverse, to be sad and regretful that I did not take as much time to pray and meditate regularly. But—there it is.)

Several parts of this reading hit home. For example, one part that smarted a great deal was the following: “We carry our past sorrows and anger and they become a kind of baggage that makes life heavy. Sitting meditation is a way to practice letting go of the things we carry needlessly.” [1]

Yes, these sentences hurt. Yet, they also gave me hope. When I pray and meditate, God helps me to let go of all those things I carry around with me, needlessly. All the stuff. All the hurt, and pain, and anxiety, and irritation, and awkwardness. All the difficult emotions, and hurt feelings, and painful experiences, and the memories I want to hide from. God helps me to bear them, and gradually to release them all.

Thank You, God! You not only provide me with more stability and serenity and peace, but You make it more and more easy for me to enter into prayer and meditation with You. How awesome is that? I praise You, and I am so grateful for Your help.



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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 48.

Journey to Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 27, 2015

birch wood path

Journey to Soul

Journeying. Traveling. All of us, each of us is on a journey through life. Some are more aware of the fact that each of us has a soul. Some, less so. Our souls are on that journey, too. (According to Benjamin Shield, the author of today’s chapter in Handbook for the Soul.)

I loved the image that Shield gave us in this chapter: that of Michelangelo freeing his marble sculptures from the stone that encased them. “All he needed to do was chisel away everything that was not the completed sculpture, and it would appear. This is the nature of the soul—perfect, yet hidden. Our ‘marble’ can be chiseled away by the passionate desire to know our soul as well as its obstructions.” [1]

Can one “know” the soul? Or, is it best to hold the soul lightly? As I might wear a loose garment? As Shield says, “being completely present with an open heart and open mind.” [2] I see this as being in the ‘now.’ Being open, with no expectations, no preconceptions, no baggage from yesterday. (Or, realistically speaking, as little as possible.)

Clearing the mind is a good way to attempt being completely present. Breathing is another good way. But what if I am focusing too much on negativity? Self-judgment? Especially if I am reactive towards any person, place or thing in my life? The best way to shake off all of this “past remorse or future insecurity” is to let go.

Letting go. I know how to do that. I’ve done that for a number of years, already. Good to know. I appreciate different takes on similar subject matter. Different riffs on the same theme. As Shield said, “Don’t be fooled into thinking you are alone on your journey. . . . It is simply that we take different paths along our collective journey toward the same destination.” [3]

It’s a relief knowing that. As I said before, good to know, God! Thanks! (And I am not being snarky, either!)


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 171.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 173.

Mindful, Nourished Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 8, 2015

if nothing ever changed, no butterflies

Mindful, Nourished Soul

Today’s chapter by Stephen Levine stretched my way of thinking. Yes, I usually think in terms of a Judeo-Christian mindset. However, this reading had a definite Eastern, even Buddhist view on mindfulness and the soul. Not my usual way of thinking, at all.

But, he also speaks of nourishing the soul. No matter what background each individual comes from, no matter what belief structure each one espouses, practically everyone acknowledges that the soul needs to be nourished. Strengthened, and encouraged.

A universal breakdown of that nourished, strengthened soul happens when distrust happens. I don’t care if people have Jewish beliefs, Christian understanding, Buddhist mindset, or whatever else is there. Mr. Levine tells us more: “We don’t trust ourselves, so we stay rooted in the easy and convenient. We eliminate as much pain as we can from our lives and end up painted into a corner we call safety. Safety is the most unsafe spiritual path you can take.” [1]

This last statement reminds me of the chaplain internship where I served, from 2002 to 2003. I was attending seminary full-time, but I also worked at the retirement center 20 hours per week. The director of chaplaincy was awesome. A wonderful administrator, he knew how to delegate authority. More than that, he knew enough not to hand-hold us chaplain interns. He turned us loose in the retirement center, with very little safety net. He took calculated risks, and gently encouraged us to take risks, too.

Further words of wisdom from Mr. Levine: “It’s important in everyday life to work with kindness. Learn patience. When you stand in lines or are at a red light, soften your belly. Open your body and your mind to the subtler levels of experience, letting go of your attempt to control, to be right, not worrying about appearances, not trying to be safe.[2]

So, here I am reminded of how I am to be, and how I am not to be. Yes—kind, yes—patient. Those attributes are good and positive. No—to safety. In other words, no fix, manage or control.

Yes, these are all attributes I need to allow myself to work on. Get better at. God willing, I shall. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? One step at a time. One day at a time.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 50.

[2] Ibid, 51.

Hanging On—Or Letting Go? In Prayer.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 3, 2015

devotion to Christ one thing that's necessary

Hanging On—Or Letting Go? In Prayer.

How often am I like Martha, “worried and distracted by many things?” (Luke 10:41) Yes, I am often worried and distracted. Generally, in life. But in prayer, when I am ‘supposed to’ be in prayer, or when I am ‘missing’ my time of prayer? Such barriers are so common in my life.

I am drawn to these sentences from my prayer guide by Howell: “Prayer is hard, because it is like letting go. We hang on to what is familiar, even if it’s of no great value.”[1] Hanging on to those things or ways or practices that are familiar is sometimes like a millstone around my neck, weighing me down. Other times it’s like wearing clothing that just doesn’t fit on me anymore, and is hopelessly binding or constrictive. Hanging on to those things are also like busy time-wasters that fritter away my available time, leaving me with only the crumbs to offer to God.

When I prayed today, those words from Luke echoed and re-echoed in my mind. God, are You trying to tell me something?

I don’t _think_ I am too busy. I still have a little leisure time. I am trying to follow the excellent advice of my friend Jason, a full-time church worker at the time. I received these good words several years ago, when he told me he blocked out three basic time slots a day: morning, afternoon, and evening. He suggested that I only schedule two of those time slots per day for work, and leave the third free for myself. I have been trying to follow his excellent lead and advice.

My friend’s words are useful not only for scheduling and calendar matters. His suggestions are useful in matters of prayer and relationship, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, I want to be able to offer You a real relationship, not just the crumbs and scraps of time that are like leftovers in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Help me, God. Please. In Your mercy and for the sake of Your grace I pray, amen.


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[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN: 2003), 18.

(Suggestion: visit me at my sister blog for 2015: (The Best Of) ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com     Thanks!)