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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Saturday, May 28, 2005

More sites of interest

Ms. Debbie Sharp Loeb, the Hodgepodge contributor here on the Farm, has passed a bit of something on to me (and it came to her through her friend Diane).

I am a curious creature, as I believe many of you are... so when she sent me a message to check it out, so I did. Quite an eyefull.

Take a look at You can find many spirituality sources, discsussion groups, meditations, prayers, quizzes...... even an internet dating service called "Soulmatch"!

Give it a go and send us a note about your reactions.

Monday, May 23, 2005


OK..... this really started out when I heard, in a very twang-y voice, the refrain from that country-western song "Divorce"....or, more specifically, "Dee-ah-vey-oh-ahr-say-uay". And that somehow "morphed" in my mind into "Ahr-ay-tay-ahr-uay-aye-tay". Why? Well, I was peripheral to one over the weekend.

Maybe it's coincidental, maybe not.

The word retreat can have a chilling effect on people (the way the word divorce did once upon a time). Now, for the most part, myths have been dispelled around divorce. Yet the idea of a retreat - for some folks - remains cloaked in a combination of mystery and discomfort.

For those of you who have not been on a retreat, let me offer a definition (which, in miniature can be used for a quiet day): a retreat is a reflective exercise where you - alone or in a group - intentionally take yourself out of your standard surroundings and dedicate time, thought, energy and prayer to a topic or issue.

Sometimes the retreat is silent, sometimes noisy interspersed with silence. Sometimes it is very structured in terms of focus and time; others have chunks of free time built in for rest, relaxation, physical activity.

There are retreats that are self-directed (you get yourself out of your routine, go somewhere quiet and focus on a personal issue to tackle) which may well incorporate some time spent with a spiritual mentor or director for personal confession or input from a safe outside source.

Other retreats are organized by monastic communities around a topic, issue or experience. One (or more) of the Sisters or Brothers of the community will offer meditations and presentations. You may get a taste of monastic life by sitting in on some of the monastic offices and saying or chanting the psalms and attending their daily Eucharist. Simply contact different communities (listed in individual diocesan directories) and see what open retreats they are offering during a given year.

Still others are parish sponsored and one or more of the clergy partipate by giving addresses. Lay persons are then delegated the responsibility of officiating at Morning or Evening Prayer.

Still other retreats are more like extended meetings for community building, brainstorming, etc.

When I have polled people on the topic of retreats, their reservations fall into two categories: 1) it takes too much time/my family won't like me being away and 2) what, no TV/music/iPod/DVD.... only silence?

Let me use an easy example:I work - have several jobs, in fact; have chores to do and appointments to keep; if I go away, who can take care of Miss Emmy Lou??? In other words, I DO understand that it isn't often easy to get away - particularly with no other member of your family. You really DO have to plan ahead and make arrangements and contingency plans.

At its very core, a retreat is intentional. You are going away for a reason: perhaps to refresh your prayer life, or bond with the vestry, or meet other people committed to a cause, or expand your inner horizons. With all the busy-ness in our day-to-day lives it is, from time to time, extremely healthy to break away from the routine and have time apart with God to focus on something, unhampered or hindered by chores or phone calls or spider solitaire or sniffing children or overtime in the office.

It does take a bit of time, removed from the bustle of the city or the drone of the TV or the din of the dishwasher or the sibling shuffle in the other room, to become accustomed to some quiet. Authentic quiet.

When in authentic quiet I become acutely aware of something: there is a lot of noise going on inside me! Problems wrestling in my subconscious, a lurking fear about something, some unresolved conflict, a hint of guilt over forgetting a name or a birthday, replaying a hurtful comment someone made to me- or one I made to someone else. Without the exterior noise to stifle it, these items rise to my conscious awareness. It can be a bit unnerving! AND a wonderful opportunity. Becoming aware of my inner disquiet I can invite my loving God into the very center of it all so that together, in wisdom and gentleness, we can sort through it and come out the other side more centered, at peace and refreshed.

Consider making a periodic personal (notice I don't specify the length of the period!) retreat or joining in one offered by your church or group or religious order. Try a spring (or fall)cleaning of the spirit. Invest in your inner life with God and reap the benefits (oh, and your family/pets/co-workers will reap the benefits too!). De-mystify the retreat by experiencing the mystery. Amen and amen.

Prayer In a pinch

In line with the prayers posted on MOLC earlier for humans and their pets, other prayers have come to me for people in their daily rounds and other situations.

Here they are. And folks, please send in your ideas, prayers, etc. so that we can keep this wonderful exchange of enrichment going.

For parents/guardians of children
Holy God of infinite wisdom and patience, so guide my thoughts, decisions and responses that all may be tempered with your love for this child (these children), XXXXXXX, under my care. May my actions speak volumes of the respect you have for the earth, its resources, its wildlife and peoples. Strengthen me to your service and the nurture of this child (these children). I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

For the workplace
Precious Lord, you worked for years in the stead of Joseph as a carpenter. Be present in Spirit as I conduct business today in my workplace. Let callers hear cheer in my voice, feel attentiveness in my speech and concern in my action. Defend me from the temptation to gossip or complain. Give me a grateful heart that I have work to do and that my efforts, combined with those of my colleagues, result in true benefits for others. In hope that you will hear my prayer and assist me in my work, I praise your name, with that of the Father and the Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

In the garden
Spirit of God, like the mist that covered the earth before time, find my garden a place to take pleasure and rest. Awash with color and bounty, may it be a pleasure to all who see or visit it. Give me the stamina to sow and prune, tend the vines and subdue the weeds. Make a place for balance, growth and harvest. Creator God bring the seasons in turn; Jesus who had command over the trees and seas provide cool and warmth, dry time and showers. Make me a steward of your gifts indeed. Amen.

Before driving
God of faithfullness, I call upon you to heighten my awareness. This machine is heavy and demands that I utilize it responsibly. Keep me alert and attentive to my surroundings. I ask that I might arrive safely at my destination and that no one be harmed by the vehicle under my control. In the loving name of Jesus. Amen.

Let me know if there are prayers you use (and would like to share) or ones you'd like to see. In Christs service, Deacon J

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