Episode #15 - Lectio Divina on 1 Peter 1: 3-9 with Naomi

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Hi listeners, I hope you are well! We’re supposed to see the Geminids meteor shower tonight, and Ro and Neil went off camping to see it, but we’re under cloudy skies, so we don’t really know whether it will be visible. Hopefully the clouds will break for a little while. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Ro and I chat about the rainy weather, our benefit concert complete with clowns, the stool that Neil made out wood, and an altogether beautiful week. (PS I promised a photo of the stool but forgot to take one, so I’ll have to get you one next week!)

* Naomi guides a lectio divina meditation on 1 Peter 1: 3-9. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 07:30

Here’s the show on iTunes

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I pray that you would feel the gentle warmth of the light of Jesus this week

Blessings,

~ Rae

Play for Shelter

We held a beautiful benefit concert called Play for Shelter, on Friday night here at Shekina Garden. There are three families we know of in the area who are in need of some assistance with housing - these families are living with a range of difficulties including disability, recent loss and grief, addiction and poverty.

Neil suggested we put on a night of performances and ask our traveller friends to contribute towards this cause. Usually we would hold an Open Mic -style concert for a benefit night, but we decided to curate the evening more closely and invite people to play. We had our friend from Australia Bo play some originals, a bunch of the Shekina community banded together to play and sing Jesus bhajans - devotional songs in an Indian style, Chinua played a solo set of originals, then played with Devin and Eliza for some very danceable trad songs - Irish tunes with bodhran and mandolin and guitar and whistle. Rae shared some of her original poetry in both sets. We had a bunch of us Shekina folks play some bluesy/country-gospel tunes and then our friends from Circus Arcanum Erika and Scion brought the grand finale with a gorgeous clowning act. They then spun fire with our friend Ryan to live drumming in the garden!

 (photo by Erika)

(photo by Erika)

A whole bunch of us also made cake, cookies, fruit crumble, slices and chai which our dear traveller family snaffled up with gusto. KIds ran around the garden, we danced and sang along, lit a bonfire and had a really really fun night together.

I love that our spirituality is not just in a building once a week. It is prayer and meditation and bible circles…and it also finds expression in throwing a big party with our friends to raise some money to help others.

And raise some money we did! Including gifts from Australian and Thai friends, together with what was given on the night…we smashed our target and raised 31,650 baht!

Such generous friends!

We feel so pleased to be able to help these three families to set themselves up with some better housing for the cold season.

- a post by Ro

 (Singing Bhajans - photo by Rae)

(Singing Bhajans - photo by Rae)

Episode #14 - Lectio Divina on Psalm 40: 1-7 with Chinua

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Hi everyone, here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* We have a new patron! Thank you Leona Raptis! This podcast is always free, but you can support it for as little as a dollar a month on Patreon

* I was away this week, so Neil and Ro introduce the episode, chatted about passionfruit jam, an excellent discussion on race and white privilege, carpentry, and a benefit concert.

* Chinua guides a Lectio Divina meditation on Psalm 40: 1-7. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 06:50.  

Here’s the show on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

This week I pray that you would know the truth of Paul’s words from Acts 17:28 — In him we live, and move, and have our being. 

Blessings,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free.

Episode #13 - Lectio Divina on 2 Corinthians 12: 9 and 10 with Ro

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These days are so golden. The high season is upon us and I’m thinking about our fellow communities as we all gear up for Advent and Christmas. It never snows here, but sometimes it gets cold enough to wear socks on our hands. :) 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Ro is back and though she was sick with a cold yesterday, she recovered enough to record the introduction with me. We chat about the week, including music and sunshine, a Devotion circle on worship, saying goodbye, a massive crowd for lunch, and a band of all skill levels. 

* Ro guides a lectio divina meditation on 1 Corinthians 12: 9 and 10, today from the Passion Version. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 10:43 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Have a beautiful week. Wherever you are, I pray that even when you go through hard things, you will be satisfied with the richness of God’s presence with you, behind and before.

Blessings,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free.

I like Jesus

Tonight we had a beautiful Dinner and Bible Circle together with a few traveller friends, and read through John chapter 2. We each took turns sharing our thoughts on the chapter, ideas that stood out to us, questions. It was deep and fun and beautiful as these Tuesday nights usually are. In the chapter we read are two stories from the life of Jesus that I really love. Two stories that give me an image of Real Life Jesus. Not some ‘holier than thou’, soft-focus, walking-six-inches-off-the-ground Jesus; but a Real True Person.

The first story is about Jesus changing water into wine at a wedding, at the behest of his mother. As I understand it, Jewish weddings in this era could be week-long affairs with plenty of eating, drinking dancing and joy. Jesus changing water into wine as we noted in our circle, was probably not a life-saving miracle. No-one had their sight brought back, or their ability to walk restored to them. The party just went a little longer, and perhaps the host’s face was also saved. The fact that the wine Jesus created was the best that there had been at the party is such a great part of this story for me. This whole story gives me a vision of Jesus as a man who liked to party! He wasn’t scolding people for drinking so much, or being a wet blanket. He was helping the party kick on deeper into the night!

The second story is the one of Jesus driving out those who were selling animals for sacrifice in the Temple. The Message version of this story has Jesus chasing the animals and sellers out, telling them

“Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” (John 2:16)

We discussed how the area that these people had set up their market was inside the Temple - most likely in the area called ‘The Court of the Gentiles’, the closest that non-Jewish people could get into the Temple, the closest they could get to the Holy Place, to worship God. This was meant to be a quiet area where people could contemplate and worship God, not a busy market, full of animals and buying and selling. In Mark’s version of this story, Jesus tells the people selling in the Temple

“Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17)

This vision of Jesus is angry - angry about injustice, about outsiders not being welcomed in, about people excluding others from access to God, anger on behalf of the outsider. This is a righteous anger, a good clean anger. This is a Jesus who is emotional and deep and cares about those who want to step closer to God, and doesn’t want to see them excluded by those on the ‘inside’.

When we had a few minutes meditation during our Circle time, I imagined this man, the one who extended a party with really excellent wine, the man who overturned tables and threw coins to the ground in anger, chasing sheep away. I thought that this man is someone I would have liked to be around. I think he would have challenged me a lot - like some of my closest friends often do, in the best ways. I think I would not have understood many of the things he said. But still…I think I would have enjoyed being around this magnetic person who could enjoy a party, who wanted to welcome outsiders in towards God, and who got emotional and was a Real True Person. I thought, maybe for the first time - I know I love Jesus, but you know what? I also like him.

I like Jesus.

(A post by Ro.)

Episode #12 - Lectio Divina on 1 Corinthians 13: 1-10 with Neil

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Hi, everyone, this is Rae. It’s been another full week here, with holidays (Thanksgiving, which I’ve mostly just watched friends celebrate, and Loy Kratong, an important Thai day) and kids, and community work and life. It has been busy in the best ways.

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* We have a new voice in our introduction. Ro is away, so Neil sat with me for the first time and we chatted about the week, including seeds, yeast and treasure, drying fruit, a tonne of compost, building solar dehydrators, lanterns that go the wrong direction, and mini waterfalls.

* Neil guides a lectio divina meditation on 1 Corinthians 13: 1-10. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 09:13. 

Here’s the show on iTunes

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

Be well this week. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving, take lots of time to rest and reflect. Wherever you are, really soak it in: you are loved by God, fully and tenderly and fiercely.

Blessings,

~ Rae

**

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free.

More than you can imagine.

 Ro in the garden harvesting miraculous fruit that came from tiny seeds.

Ro in the garden harvesting miraculous fruit that came from tiny seeds.

We had a Devotion Circle on Monday about the kingdom of God. The realm of God, the reality of God. This shining thing that is just behind our eyes, that we sometimes can’t see in the trudge and dirt of everyday existence: the annoying interactions, the misunderstandings, the thousands of bridges we have to build to get to one another. 

We looked at three verses from Matthew 13, about the treasure hidden in a field, the mustard seed, and the yeast exploding in a whole lot of flour. 

As we went around the circle discussing each verse, here are the insights that emerged:

The examples Jesus used are hidden, tiny, not immediately apparent. They involve waiting or time, they are organic, beautiful. They need the right conditions (the seed needs soil, the yeast needs flour), but then they grow without effort. In the case of the seed and the yeast, they are alive and reproduce, they rise. They are common, ordinary examples, or dreamy ones, in the case of the treasure (who doesn’t want to find a treasure?). Each can become more than what it is, effortlessly. 

Dallas Willard says that Jesus was looking at a “God-bathed and God-permated world… in which God is continually at play and over which he continually rejoices.” (The Divine Conspiracy)

The kingdom is always right there, at hand, and we have the chance to step in, to engage in this reality where the tiniest of things burst into God-breathed life. Where small works or moments become much more than they could be, if God’s spirit was not breathing and moving and working around and behind them.

Watering the garden. Cooking meals. Offering money to someone in need. Inviting someone over. I don’t know that I could spend my life on all the little things that take up my time if I didn’t believe that each one is a tiny keyhole into something that God will breathe on and cause to live. Teaching kids. Making tea. A kiss on the forehead. Washing hair. Reading aloud for hours, and hours and hours.

Welcome to the reality of God, Jesus says. It’s right here, but you have to look for it. You have to remember that it is here before you. It isn’t transactional; you don’t get exactly what you put in. It is a whole plant sprouting out of the tiniest of seeds. It is so much more than you can even imagine.

(A post by Rae)

Episode #11 - Lectio Divina on Psalm 13 with Rae

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I’m writing this late on a Friday night. In many ways it has been a great week. Today I found a road I had never explored and filled my eyes with the beauty of this valley. But there was a lot of sorrow in the news this week as well, and it caused me to search out the Psalm that begins, How long oh Lord? That’s what I have for you today. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Ro and I chat about the week, including sitting around in offices waiting, thankfulness, rugby kids, sowing flowers, and harvesting roselle. 

* I guide a Lectio Divina meditation on Psalm 13. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 09:00. 

Here’s the show on iTunes

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I pray that you will know the gentleness of God’s love for you, all through every day.

Blessings

~ Rae

A Poem: Prayer (I) by George Herbert

After reading Rae’s post recently of Adam Clarke’s description of God, I wanted to share this poem with you. I came across it while reading Timothy Keller’s book called ‘Prayer’.

I have been meditating on, reading about and guiding Devotion Circles on the topic of prayer for a few months. I find myself wanting to understand prayer and enter into prayer in a deeper way. It is such an intimate topic, so straightforward in some ways (‘Just talking to God’) but I also find it definition-defying and mysterious.

Here is George Herbert’s ‘Prayer (I)’:

Prayer the church's banquet, angel's age,

God's breath in man returning to his birth,

The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,

The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth

Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tow'r,

Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,

The six-days world transposing in an hour,

A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;

Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,

Exalted manna, gladness of the best,

Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,

The milky way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,

The land of spices; something understood.

Some phrases resonate with me so strongly… heart in pilgrimage, Reversed thunder and The land of spices particularly.

How about you? Does anything in this poem echo how you feel or have felt about prayer? What is prayer to you?

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(A post by Ro)

Episode #10 - Contemplation of Nature with Chinua

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Hi, Rae here. How amazing that we are here at the tenth episode of the podcast! I’m back in Pai, decompressing after many weeks of having a packed schedule. I’ve taken things a little more easy this week and I’m feeling much better. Just the smell of woodsmoke in the air is restorative.

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Ro and I have a little chat about the week: guiding meditation at a Women’s Retreat, transformation, art meditation, and the intoxicating cool season air.  

* Chinua guides a beautiful contemplation of nature meditation. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 08:45. You will need to have a object of nature to hold or look at for your meditation, so take a little walk and find one before you start! 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

This week I challenge you to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. After a busy couple of months I got to talk to my brother today, and it was so good to connect. I pray for good connections and relationship in your life. 

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. Thanks especially to our new patron, Matt Tresser! You are wonderful.

Adam Clarke's description of God.

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I have been reading a book called Life Without Lack by Dallas Willard, and I came across this description of God, written by Adam Clarke, who was a 19th century Methodist theologian. I know, like all theologians, he was imperfect and skewed by his culture and worldview. But this description is pure beauty. God is:

“The eternal, independent, and self existent Being; the Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence; he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, the most spiritual of all essences; infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made; illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only by himself, because infinite mind can only be fully comprehended by itself. In a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom, cannot err or be deceived, and from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, and right, and kind.”

Just reading it fills me with peace.

Illimitable in his immensity.

Indescribable in his essence.

Infinite goodness.

Eternally just, right, and kind.

I think I’ll keep reading it slowly, all week.

Episode # 9 - Lectio Divina on Zephaniah 3:14-17 with Ro

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Hi! I’m away at a women’s retreat so this episode is going out a day late. Sorry about that! The time here has been beautiful and restorative, though. I’m thankful for every bit of beauty in the gardens around here, for weather that is cooling down and for so many beautiful people in the world.

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Ro and I have a little chat about a Very Special Visitor, a worship circle, the extra audio for this month, part singing, and weeds like trees (again.)  

* Ro guides a Lectio Divina meditation on Zephaniah 3: 14-17. (If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 10:18)

Here’s the episode on iTunes. 

Here it is on Youtube.

I pray that this week you would notice the beautiful light of morning each day. Be well, dear ones.

~ Rae

Episode #8 - Imagination on Luke 10:25-37 with Neil

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Hi everyone. The sky is full of lightning this evening, with warm, wet air blowing through my window. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* I give the introduction on my own, since Ro is away for a couple of days. I talk a bit about the past week, including Christmas-size lunches, unconditional love, a few useful words, more weeding, and a bake sale. 

* Neil guides an imagination meditation on Luke 10:25-37, the story of the Samaritan who stopped to help an injured man. (If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 09:03)

Here’s the episode on iTunes. 

Here it is on Youtube.

This week I pray you have a glimmer of excitement about the days to come, like when you were a little kid watching the rain. 

~ Rae

***

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. Thanks especially to our new patron, Matt Tresser! You are wonderful.

Community is like an ox.

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I love the birds near my house. They wake me up every morning with singing. Or squawking. Or crowing. They remind me that I am in a living world, that it flies, creeps, crawls, and sings with life. 

I have other reminders. The snails in the kitchen, the ants in a line along the wall. Mold on the baskets, moss in my motorbike seat. A little white dog, snores from my family members. Plants that need water, white flowers falling from the tree. All of this is life. Life that changes, grows, moves, bursts, buzzes, lifts, explodes. 

One of my favorite verses is “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14:4) It reminds me every day that messes are from life. Misunderstanding is from life. Life breeds, smears, and eats all the cheese. Life finds the chocolate stash. Life rains and wakes you up too early. Life accidentally steps on your new sprouting lettuce when it was playing a game with a lot of other chubby lives. 

Where there are no oxen, no life, no explosive, inconvenient growth, you do not have to buy new shoes or take the kids to the dentist, or apologize, or make amends, or try so hard to understand someone from another culture, or stretch your brain to empathize, or wait, or cook food day in and day out. 

An empty stall is clean and peaceful. And… empty. Nothing is happening, nothing is making a mess but nothing is coming back at the end of the day snorting and dancing its way into the stall, bringing in the sheaves, spilling its food, bringing stories and songs and a rich harvest.

Community is the ox, the life…it is better to have the ox. A good rule about life is that if it is messy, it probably means it is full of life. 

~ Rae

Episode #7 - Imagination on Luke 8:22-25 with Miri.

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I just drove a car load of teenagers to a youth retreat and now I’m recovering from a very chatty four hours in the car, posting this in a quiet space. (Aaahhh.) I love those kids.

Here’s what to expect in this episode of the podcast:

* Ro and I chat about the last week, including community lunches that have been full to the brim, dance meditation, planting seeds, forgetting about the sun, and a beautiful Devotion Circle.

* Miri guides an imagination meditation on Luke 8: 22-25. (If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 09:13)

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*Also, during the introduction, I talked about an art piece that my fourteen-year-old daughter did in response to a dance meditation this week. Here it is:

Dreamy.

Here’s the episode on iTunes. 

Here it is on Youtube.

Here’s the podcast and blog Facebook page.


I pray that you feel scads of joy this week, wherever you are. 

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. 

theRiver Gathering

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Last week most of us Shekina Communities people joined another 70 or so folks in Chiang Mai for theRiver Gathering, for communities like ours from all over the world. We had friends there who are living in Israel, the USA, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, India, Scotland, The Netherlands, Germany, Canada, England and more. Folks running hostels, farm stays, ashrams, meditation spaces, mobile communities, and other creative communities.

It was beautiful to connect with so many people who have a similar heart to us, making spaces where travellers can connect with Jesus' life and teachings, in a welcoming environment. 

We sang and prayed together, had sessions and panels and interviews about life in community, rhythms and practices, sharing Jesus, mentoring volunteers, and pilgrimages. We worked out loads of creative ways to stay connected with each other and help our traveller friends meet each other too, in other spaces along their journeys. And I may have caught the travel bug again, hearing about all the amazing places and practices that these amazing people are making happen all around the world!

(a post by Ro)

 (photo by Scion)

(photo by Scion)

Episode # 6 : Lectio Divina on Psalm 126 with Rowan

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This week I’m posting from theRiver Gathering in Chiang Mai. It has been such a full week, so full to the brim with goodness and thoughts and connections that we are overflowing. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode:

* Ro and I talk a little about the gathering, including dance meditation, wrestling contests, new and old connections, and amazing worship. 

* Ro guides a Lectio Divina meditation on Psalm 126. (If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 08:30)

Here’s the episode on iTunes. 

Here it is on Youtube.

We have a Facebook page up if you want to follow us there.

May all the love and mercy you need flow freely to you and through you this weekend. Much love.

~ Rae

***

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free to travelers and spiritual seekers from around the world.

Episode #5 : John 14: 1-7 with Joshua

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How exciting to already be on week 5 of this little podcast. (This is Rae.) It has been a hot, sticky, busy day here in Thailand and it feels good just to take a moment to send this out. 

Here’s what to expect in this episode:

* Ro and I talk about our week, discussing Devotion Circle, a successful surprise, friends who are in town from around the world, and what is happening next week! 

* Joshua guides a meditation on John 14:1-7. (If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 08:30)

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here it is on Youtube.

We have a Facebook page up if you want to follow us there.

Many blessings for the weekend, wherever you are. Remember God’s mercy, flowing all around you.

***

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to offer this kind of meditation and other Christ-centered practices for free. 


Holy and dearly loved.

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I’ve been reading Colossians a lot lately. Over and over again. Today it’s this verse.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,

Deep sigh. Going into the day with a hug all around me, loved. The sparkle in a friend’s eye when they delight in me, the cries of my children when I arrive home after being away, an arm around my shoulders, God standing behind me- what does it mean to be holy and dearly loved? Set apart, not flailing in an impossible sea. Held. Unarmed because I am already protected.

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Today I put on fisherman pants and one of Chinua’s T-shirts. Then those got wet on the motorbike when I drove through a rainstorm. So I changed to leggings and a top that used to be really beautiful but is now rather faded and a little torn. Clothe myself. Put on compassion. Pull it on, really think about it, really get ready for the day with kindness like a pair of pants, with humility like my glasses that I wouldn’t leave the house without. Gentleness. Patience. I’m ready for anything now. Ready to look around the world at my brothers and sisters and really see them.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 

This reminder carries the tiniest, gentlest bite. Forgive how? As the Lord forgave you. Bear with one another… how? Why? He bears with you and more. He listens when you are being a total jerk. He doesn’t walk away during your rants. So you can bear with one another. It’s possible. You just need to tap into being dearly loved…

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Love is the superhero cape that you tie on last, or the cloak that swirls around you, protecting you. When you truly love someone, you smile at their ridiculously beautiful tiny human ways. You love them, you love them, you love them. When you love you enter into the warm realms, the Kingdom of God, a place so rich with belonging that everything else fizzles and falls away.

And it doesn’t mean that the warm realms don’t have hard things, hard truths. Not even belonging can keep regular human consequences away. But God will be there, and we can do all things with him in our midst.

I pray that today you know you are holy and dearly loved.

Episode #4 : Imagination meditation on the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' robe, with Rae

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(Rae here.)

We’ve been so busy with life but one of the gems right now is being able to guide meditation. I hope today’s meditation speaks to you.

Here’s what to expect in this episode:

*Ro and I have a short chat about life right now including rainbow salad, contact dance, city life, and being glad to be home. 

*I guide an imagination meditation based on the story of the woman who came and touched the hem of Jesus’s robe. (She was so brave.) (If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 07:05)

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here it is on Youtube.

We have a Facebook page up if you want to follow us there.

Many blessings for the weekend. Love one another and remember that you are so, so loved.