Shambhala in Your Heart

Ahhh that post-festival feeling!

We are just back from the beautiful festival Shambhala in Your Heart, held each year in Chiang Dao, Northern Thailand. It is organised by a group of Japanese hippies and is laid-back, quirky and fun.

This year our whole Shekina Garden community attended, kids and all! Some folks were volunteers - helping cook or decorate stages and make signs. Others created a band called Marigold Mala and sang Jesus bhajans (Indian-style devotional songs) on the main stage. Some performed sets of music or joined in on bands and jams. We soaked in hot springs, swam in the river, had deep conversations around fires, learned African dance, led and attended workshops, led Christ-centred meditations and danced to great music into the night.

A couple of festival moments to share with you -

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Early morning light on the mountain

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Jamming in our little Meditation space

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Bhajans on the Main Stage (photo from Shambhala in Your Heart Facebook page)

(a post by Ro)

Changing Seasons, Goodbyes and Festival time

Hello, hello, hello hello

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

That’s all there is

And the leaves that are green turn to brown

(Simon and Garfunkel, Leaves That Are Green)

We are in that funny time of the year when we are saying more ‘goodbyes’ than ‘hellos’. The numbers of travellers coming through our little town in the mountains is decreasing, the temperatures are slowly rising, and the fields and hills which were lush and green a few months ago are slowly turning crispy, brown and dry. We are spending more and more time watering the garden.

Friends are travelling on towards India, or Bali, or back to their homes. The seasonal gatherings and parties are beginning to finish for the time being. We have farewelled a lot of visiting friends - one of the hardest parts of living this life away from ‘home’ countries is saying goodbyes. To family or dear, dear friends who cross the seas to spend time with us for a short while. To travelling friends who we meet again each year, or maybe never again. It is a lovely but hard part of being a traveller.

However, the slowly changing season also means that it is festival time! A lot of friends headed to Jai Thep festival over the weekend and next week Shambhala in Your Heart starts - a lovely, Japanese-run hippy festival in Chiang Dao. The whole Shekina Garden community will be there, camping all together. We plan to run daily meditations there and also just enjoy time together and with our travelling community family.

We will send you an update from there next week!

(A post by ro)

(A post by ro)

Episode #21 - Lectio Divina on John 4: 23-24 with Ro

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Sorry for the late podcast this week! I’m posting from the outdoors in Chiang Dao, while volunteering at a Japanese music festival. The wonders of modern technology are making podcasting while camping possible, while the slowness of a cellular connection are making it take a long time.

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

* Ro and Neil chat about friends who are visiting, and the upcoming festival where I am volunteering and where we will be guiding meditation and singing/camping together.

* Ro guides a Lectio Divina meditation on John 4: 23 and 24. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 04:50. (But don’t, because the introduction is not lukewarm tea.)

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I’m so blessed to be outdoors for a while, sleeping under the trees. Wherever you are, I hope you get a chance to look at the sky. 

 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.

Episode #20 - Imagination meditation on John 11 with Neil

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Hi beautiful ones. I hope you’re keeping warm wherever you are. It’s chilly here, but we’re admittedly soft. 

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

* Ro and I talk about how we feel about reaching episode 20 of the podcast, tree signs, Vanna White, a Devotion Circle on spirituality and play, and birthdays. 

* Neil guides an imagination meditation from John 11. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 09:46. (But don’t, because the introduction is not a waste of beans.)

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I’m thinking about unity and love this week. I pray that you’re feeling loved, wherever you are. 

 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.

Movement Meditation in India

A Movement Meditation on Psalm 139

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Fingers dancing, thankful for movement. For the way these hands can build, can make food, can hold another’s, can embrace, communicate. 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex.

Look down at my feet, thankful for the the way they carry me through this life, take me forward on the direction I dream to go. That I can walk, jump, dance, stand.

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You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex.

Each body created perfectly & uniquely in your image, thankful for diversity and differences.

Thankful for the living breath of life in these lungs and the gift of experiencing life in the fullness of being a human. 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex.

Imagining a world where the focus was not on ideals of beauty constructed by media, of comparisons and feelings of being incomplete. 

What about a world of thankfulness for the bodies we have been given as gifts? To be thankful for the freedoms they provide and room to move. To celebrate each one’s beautiful reflection of the Divine, to see the fingerprints of the Master Artist’s work. To be fully comfortable within your skin.

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You are a living, breathing piece of poetry, a work of art. A light bearer. 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex.

Today I am thankful for this body, for your body & for the one who created it.

(A post by Laura, at a Shekina Community in India)

(A post by Laura, at a Shekina Community in India)

Episode #19 - Lectio Divina on Psalm 84:1-7 with Rae

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Hi friends! The light is shining through the red-leafed tree next door, and it’s beautiful, but I somehow have cactus spikes all over my hands. This is life.

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

* Ro and I talk about our week: visitors, hordes of gardeners, when you run out of steam, beloved people, and tree signs, and we have an update on life at Shekina Community in Goa, including salsa dancing, movement meditation, and Bible circle!

* I (Rae) guide a Lectio Divina meditation on Psalm 84:1-7. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 08:50. (But don’t, because the introductions are witty and effusive.)

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

This week I pray that you would think in poems. 

 Much love,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com  for as little as a dollar a 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 # 18 - Lectio Divina on Psalm 119: 104-112 with Chinua

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Hi, it’s a beautiful Saturday here and I’m thinking about how I want to truly know that God is taking care of everything. That’s what I’m going to focus on this week. 

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

* Josh and Ro have a chat about the week, including a prayer bead meditation, visitors coming and going, and a devotion circle about how we tell ourselves the truth. 

* Chinua guides a Lectio Divina meditation on Psalm 119: 104-112 . If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 05:30. But don’t, because the introductions are really fun! 

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I pray that you would wake up with the expectation of traveling through your day with someone who makes all things possible.

 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.

As We Walk Into The New Year

Thank you so much for journeying with us, with the Shekina Communities, with our blog and podcast here in this space. May 2019 be a blessed season for us all as we journey onwards together.

I’d love to share these beautiful words with you as we walk into the New Year…

AT THE END OF THE YEAR.

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline’s longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

-- John O'Donohue (To Bless The Space Between Us/Benedictus)

(a post by Ro)

(a post by Ro)

Episode #17 - A Meditation for the New Year from Psalm 90, with Rae

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Hi everyone! The break has been wonderful and we’re ready to get back into life at Shekina Garden. 

We had a massive Christmas celebration and it rained exactly at midnight on New Year’s Eve, which was wet but lovely for the garden. It’s going to be a full season going forward, and we’re thankful to be here still, in this community of travelers from around the world.

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

* Ro and I chat about our Christmas celebration, meals of rice and chutney, Hungarian!, a benediction, and Leaf and Brendan’s move to Chiang Mai. 

* I (Rae) guide a meditation for the New Year or any new beginning, based on verses from Psalm 90. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 08:20

Here’s the podcast on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I pray that you would run straight into your days… full of hope and the kind of happiness that comes from eternity.

Much love,

~ Rae

The podcast will always be free, but you can support us on Patreon.com and get extra audio for as little as a dollar each month. We're so thankful for your support, which helps our communities to be here in the world. We have all kinds of expenses and your help contributes so much!

Mary: A Christmas Story.

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Part 1

Mary was born in troubled times. Years ago, when her grandfather was a boy, Rome had overcome Jerusalem and occupied all of Israel and Judea. There were terrible stories of that time and even now, the land seethed with danger. The Romans had installed Herod as King, and Herod did not care for his people. There were so many things to remember, to stay safe. Mary’s mother told her to keep her head down and never walk alone. Mary had a sick feeling in her stomach if she came upon a group of soldiers standing on a corner in their red and silver uniforms. Even if she walked with her uncle or her father, she felt afraid. It was too easy for something to go wrong. She had seen a man beaten just for walking too close to the soldiers.

Her village felt like the sea, one thing on the surface, and so much beneath the water. Every family felt differently about the occupation. Some people ran willingly into the arms of idol worshipers, her father said. Some resisted and moved into caves in the wilderness, to make grand plans of rescue. And some kept their heads down, waiting, always waiting for the one who would come to set them free to worship celebrate the feasts. Last year Herod had canceled Passover in Jerusalem, a thing of great sorrow. Mary’s father had wept for hours, sitting on the floor with his tallit over his head. 

Her parents often warned her about walking after dark.

“If it is too late to get home before sunset,” they said, “stay where you are. Send a boy to tell us. We don’t want you walking at night. It’s not safe with the soldiers everywhere.”

So it was dangerous, but there were beautiful parts about her life in the village. Meals at the family hearth, goat milk with spices in the evenings. Her family had a flock of goats, and Mary loved the feeling she got when she went out to call the goats home and the whole world was bathed in golden light. There were moments that nearly called her heart out of her body: the shadows over the low hills, the smell of plants crushed under her feet. She got the urge to run, and sometimes she did, chasing the baby goats until it was time to bring them all home. 

She wondered if she would feel the same freedom when she married Joseph. She had been promised to him for a long time. Sometimes, when he came to visit her father, she peeked at him from under her veil. He had a kind face, with curly black hair and skin just a shade lighter than her own brown skin. There was gray in his beard, though. When Mary mentioned the gray beard, her mother frowned. 

“You are very lucky, Mary. Joseph isn’t that old! It is only that he has been taxed as we all have. Times are hard for us. We have to give most of everything we earn away.” Then she would sigh or cry and Mary would sneak out to look at the stars outside the door.

Mary didn’t want to think about the taxes, the occupation, or King Herod. She wanted to think about the stories of Adonai making the world. How did he do it? she wondered. She wasn’t often allowed to sit and listen when the men talked about such things. But she sat and looked at the stars and thought, and thought, and thought about it. Especially on mornings when it seemed that the world was exploding with light and color. How did he do it? And having made such a lot of beauty, did he ever think about her? 


One night she took too long bringing the goats back. Her mother had been crying, again, about how much of their grain Herod’s tax collectors had demanded, and Mary felt that if she could run along the hillsides, she could outrun all of it. 

But the sun fell behind the mountain before she knew it, and the world was suddenly darkened. Heart beating, she gathered the goats and urged them through the pasture and into the yard. When she got them to the animal hut, her heart was in her throat. Everything she had ever heard about darkness and danger came back to her. She pushed the goats through and went inside to pour their water. 

She nearly screamed when she saw the… man standing there. Was it a man? He was so tall that his head brushed the rafters, and his skin was dark like a night without a moon, a darker, bluer black than she had ever before seen, but his skin seemed lit with silver light where her lantern shone on his hands and face.

“Elohim sees you, young sister,” he said. “The Lord has seen you and knows how beautiful your heart is. He has chosen you.”

She stared at him. “He knows who I am?” she whispered.

“Don’t be scared,” he answered. “You can come closer if you want.”

“Where are you from? Do you have a name?” she asked. 

“From the sky,” he told her. “My name is Gabriel. And I’m here to tell you that Adonai sees you and is giving you a gift beyond your imagination. You are going to have a baby and you will call him Jesus. He will be the Son of the Most High and will be a king like David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

“I’m sorry,” Mary said. “I’m not sure that I heard properly. When? When is this supposed to be? I’m not even married yet.”

The man smiled. “This won’t happen in any kind of ordinary way. The Spirit of God will come to you and the power of the Most High will overwhelm you. The baby will be the Son of God.”

A goat bleated loudly. Mary blinked. She looked down at herself, her brown hands and bare feet, her completely ordinary body, her tunic flapping around in some strange wind. She had asked if God saw her. He had answered. The wind tugged at her hair and she felt a strange, sudden joy. The angel smiled at her again. 

“I have only ever wanted to serve the Most High,” Mary whispered. “I am willing. Let it be to me as you say.”

The tall, tall man stooped to leave the barn, touching her on the shoulder as he did so, and she felt courage cover her like a warm blanket.



Part 2


Joseph hadn’t called off the wedding. This was what Mary reminded herself, over and over again, as they journeyed the long miles to Bethlehem. For safety, they traveled in a big group, and Mary was thankful that Joseph owned a donkey. Even though the donkey walked with a jolt that made her feel as though her hips would never be the same. He was affectionate with her but stubborn. She named him Nimrod, and was thankful that she didn’t have to walk, since it was during her ninth month of pregnancy that Caesar had got it into his head to count his hordes of subjects. “To make sure he gets enough taxes,” her mother had said, wringing her hands.

 

It was after dark when they finally arrived in Bethlehem. Their companions had trickled off one by one as they went to their home towns, until it was finally just Joseph, Mary and Nimrod. Mary could tell by the set of Joseph’s shoulders that he was worried about traveling after dark. 

“What was the dream like?” she had asked him, on the day he came back to her father to say that he would marry her after all.

Both of them had stared at her. Her father had sorrow behind his eyes that had been there since the day Mary told them of her pregnancy. She understood. It wasn’t supposed to be possible for women to get pregnant on their own. Her father didn’t know whether to believe her when she told him about Gabriel.

“There was a man.”

“Black as a night with no moon?” 

“And a sword in his hand…” Joseph said, nodding. “He called me the son of David, and told me that the baby in your belly is from the Holy Spirit. Like you said, Mary. And that he will be called Immanuel. God with us.

Once they were within the walls of the city,  Joseph relaxed. He grew anxious again, though, when innkeeper after innkeeper looked at them and said, “We’re full.” Mary couldn’t tell if they were lying. She stood leaning on Nimrod, waiting while Joseph went from door to door. 

“Is it you?” she asked the donkey, stroking his nose. “Or me?” 

They certainly looked rough after their journey, and she was obviously a northerner, with the distinctive patterns on her rough woven cloak. She winced as she felt a sharp pang at the bottom of her belly. Nimrod whickered beside her. Another pain came, this one sharper. No! She thought. Not now. Joseph turned away from the last innkeeper, anger and humiliation warring on his face. 

“Sir!” she said, before the innkeeper closed the door. “Can we stay there?” She pointed.

“Mary!” Joseph said. “In the animal hut?”

“We must, husband,” she said, gasping now. “We need a place to rest.”

He stared at her for a moment, and turned to look at the innkeeper. The innkeeper gave a brief nod, and none too soon.

The animal hut was dark and dirty, but it didn’t matter. Mary gave birth there, with only Joseph to help her. The innkeeper offered some towels and warm water, and his wife helped to clean Mary up.

The birth was worse and better than she had expected. Worse because it was more painful than people had described to her. Better because it was fast. Worse because when the baby left her body, she felt separated from a kernel of peace that had rested under her heart for all these months. She picked him up and nursed him, murmuring over him, kissing his sweet head and velvety brown skin. He opened his eyes and looked at her, and a tiny star flared up again inside her. The world was well, when he was in it. 

Immanuel, she murmured. 


Part 3


The shepherds were a surprise. She was finally falling asleep when they came roaring up. They drifted into the animal hut, looking stunned, scared, and sleepless. They had a story about the sky filled with fire and singing creatures, but all she really wanted to know was what the first angel looked like. “He filled the whole sky,” one said. “His skin was like the darkest depths of the sea. But he shone like sparks of fire.”

Mary smiled and picked the infant out of the feed trough, pulling him close to her and laying back in the little nest Joseph had made for her. Gabriel, again, she thought. The tiny star inside her glowed. He told them, too, she thought. She looked at her new baby. He told a group of shepherds about you. Who are you? Why does Adonai love me so much, that he gave me you? 

The days turned into a kind of long dream. She slept, ate, and took care of her baby. Sometimes when she gazed at him sleeping, she felt a familiar longing. It was the same feeling she had when she looked off at the hills. As though she wanted to run, and run. But she no longer asked whether Adonai ever thought about her. She knew he did.

People whispered about her, in the market, on the road. They knew she and Joseph hadn’t been married long enough for Jesus to be born to them. But between lack of sleep and the wonder she lived in, Mary couldn’t feel the sting of the whispers.

“My soul reaches to Adonai,” she whispered to Jesus as he slept. “My spirit is singing to Hashem the saving one. He saw me, even though I am very small. Even though I am the smallest bird, just a little sparrow. He saw me, and he gave me you, and no one will ever forget it.”

But times were troubled. The king was growing increasingly difficult. There were stories of violence, and the little family decided to stay in Bethlehem to be safe. Mary tried to ignore the rumors, until she was thrust right into the center of everything. 

One night, there was a knock at the door. When Joseph opened it, he let out a little sound of surprise. There were three men there, with a whole train of servants in the yard. Mary covered her head quickly. She had never seen anyone like these men from far off lands. They wore fine embroidered cloaks and elaborate head-dresses. Their faces were strange. She sat holding her baby, and when the men saw her there with him, they fell on their knees and bent their faces to the earth. She was frozen in shock. No one should bow except to Adonai alone. 

She looked at her baby. He gazed back at the men, and the tiny star within her flared into a bright flame. Tears ran down her cheeks as the men offered treasures to Jesus. They told her of a star that had guided them, and dream they had, a giant angel like a radiant night, who told them not to tell Herod that they had found Jesus. And then not much later, Gabriel visited Joseph again in a dream.

“He spoke to me again,” Joseph told Mary the next day.

She didn’t have to ask him who.

“What did he say?” she asked. 

“We have to run, to flee to Egypt. Herod wants to destroy Jesus.” 

Mary couldn’t understand why Herod wanted her son, but she needed no other warning.  Gabriel had always been right. He had been helping and watching from the beginning. Joseph and Mary packed what they needed and left, with barely enough time to say goodbye to their neighbors. Nimrod carried Mary and the baby once again, and as they rode, Mary’s heart felt as though it would swell to bursting with joy, which made absolutely no sense. They were refugees, penniless, with only a donkey to carry them. They could only hope the Egyptians wouldn’t turn them away. But the star in her heart burned bright and strong. Adonai cared for them, sending his angel to save them. She felt like he had run with her, across the hillsides, carrying the beauty of the mountains right into her heart. He had given her Immanuel, her own infant son to care for, and she would carry deep joy as long as Jesus was with her.

“He has done great things for me, and holy is his name,” she whispered to Jesus as they crossed fields in the dark. “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones. He has lifted the poor and needy, and fed the hungry. No one can be proud before him. He will pour mercy down on his children forever and ever.” 


Episode #16 - Lectio Divina on Genesis 28: 15 with Brendan

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Ah, beautiful things are ahead this week. We celebrate Christmas Eve with our traveler friends, both in the Shekina Community in Goa and at Shekina Garden in Thailand. Tons of food, lots of candles, light and music and stories. 

The next time we post a podcast will be after the New Year as we take a Christmas break. I’ll have the extra audio for Patrons up before the New Year, though. 

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

* Neil and I chat about introversion, garden beds, and a bake sale. Also, what’s happening at Shekina in Goa, and preparation for our Christmas Eve celebration.

* Brendan guides a lectio divina meditation on Genesis 28: 15. If you want to skip straight to this, it’s at 06:55.  

Here’s the show on iTunes. 

Here’s the episode on Youtube.

I pray so many blessings for you this Christmas. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it! 


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.

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