Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Blessing - Meditations at Pinkerton Park

Many years ago I began a practice of once a week making a note in my journal about something that happened that week that only God could have done. In recent days I have modified it to ask, "what were the blessings you received recently?" I have been surprised that most days I receive a blessing that was unexpected. Maybe it was a smile, a word of thanksgiving, a scripture from my lectio divina practice, or a simple thank you. I really believe we receive tons of more blessings than we realize and every blessing should be greeted with thanksgiving in our heart.

Yesterday, while meditating in Pinkerton Park I thought of several blessings I have received this week.

The Email

I received a note from a reader of Spiritual Journaling that was a blessing to me.

Dear Brother Dan

Thank you for the gift of your writing and, in particular, your book Spiritual Journaling, which by various routes landed here on my doorstep in Jersey, Channel Islands. It was both a comfort and inspiration at a time of weariness and restored peace and thankfulness to the Lord.

God bless you in all your endeavours.

Kind regards

Michael Evans

Nothing is a greater blessing than to receive a note from someone who has read your book and found inspiration from your writing. This email was a noteworthy blessing for which I was thankful.

The Friendship

The Reverend Wayne Burns is a dear friend. We met over four decades ago. We were neighboring pastors in the Coosa River Baptist Association near Talladega, Alabama. He was famous for preaching the doctrinal sermon at the yearly convention. It was titled, "The Doctrine of Trouble." I have never heard a sermon like it.

We were both Thomas Merton buddies. We have been to the Abbey of Gethsemani many times together. We talk too much there. As Merton use to say,"Oh no, the Baptist are coming. I talk too much while they are here."

Over the years, Wayne has dedicated each day to his AM With Merton, a daily email with a quote from Thomas Merton. His commitment has hundreds of people waiting each day for the quote and a revealing question he always asked at the end of the quote.

Wayne wrote a review of Spiritual Journaling and this is what he said:

A few weeks ago, the book Spiritual Journaling  God's Whispers in Daily Living was published.  The author, Dan Phillips, has been a close friend for many years.  You might find this book very helpful and meaningful for your spiritual journey.

All who read and study Thomas Merton realize the impact Merton's journals have on so many people. Dan has been journaling for 40 years. The book contains 11 chapters in 88 pages.  Each chapter will help in learning how to journal and how to learn and reflect on your journal.

Dan shows us how our journal should always be with us.  Dan writes, "I feel it is an easy companion." When should one write in a journal?  Dan writes, "Write only in your journal when something grips you or has special meaning to you."  What is in the journal.  Dan will tell about dates, time, places, things, people, etc. Dan reflects on the place Saint Anne's at the Abbey of Gethsemani played in his life.  Dan writes, "Prayer plays asignificant part in a spiritual journal....but prayless journals
are not spiritual."

Dan believes our lives would be more fulfilled if we kept a spiritual journal.  He writes, "Rereading my journals I find, and this is the most important part of this book, that each page is a reminder, a
discovery of a point in life when God was alive, and with the tiny words that survive we find hidden treasure and a record of God's work in our life."

The book is brief but packed with many lessons about the importance of having a journal as one travels thru life.

You can purchase the book thru Amazon  or Barnes and Noble/nook.


A blessing, a word from a friend to other friends. Another time of thanksgiving!

The Contemplative

Before going to Pinkerton Park I had worked out at the Williamson County Recreation Center. My friend Gary Brown was there. Several years ago, a college classmate from North Carolina wrote me that a friend of his was moving to Tennessee near me. My friends words of commendation was "He is a contemplative." Those words meant a lot to me. I do not know of many contemplatives around. For several years Gary and I have periodically gone on a half day excursion to meditate, pray, read from our journals, and be silent. A park, an old church, a monastery, a bench in an out of way place usually set the framework for our meditations. Yesterday, we decided to get a cup of coffee after our exercise, get our Bibles and Journals, and go to Pinkerton Park for several hours of contemplation.

The weather was perfect. Gary had brought chairs. We shared thoughts, especially things we had written in our journals. What a blessing! Someone to sit and commune with God in an out of the way place. A slight breeze, enough sunshine to see our journals, even a policeman on a horse to chat with briefly. A Blessing!

The Guru

I am not a marketing genius. I hate marketing. It takes time, innovation, and in our day of social media, unusual ways of sharing our books. When my book was published I knew that one of the persons I wanted to say two or three sentences about my book was the "Guru of Twitterdom." He doesn't live far from my house. I looked up his house on Spokeo and even found a picture of his home. Excited, I autographed a book, sharing how much I appreciated his work, and went by his house. I was going to ring the doorbell and give him a copy of the book, but the traffic was terrible and I couldn't stop.

I went home and decided to look up his address and mail the book. In reading his blog and how to contact him, I became really discouraged. His words were not to give him a book, not even if it was one that was appreciative of his work. It was then I told the Lord, "Guess it is not meant to give this book to him. If you want me to give it to him you will have to bring him into my life your way."

A certain peace comes with hopelessness. It is all in God's hands. Anyway, what do you do with an autographed book that you are not going to give? Cut it up, I thought. I could use it in a powerpoint presentation, or show retreatants how to tear a book up and make it useful. You get the idea!

Lo and Behold, while meditating in the park with Gary Brown, who should come jogging by but the "Guru of Twitterdom." I couldn't believe it. A rather awkward moment. Maybe it was not him.  I had never seen him before. I was dreaming. Sorta weird. I went to my car and got the book I was going to destroy and continued the meditation. I am sure he will not surface again. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Here he comes. Shaking off my fear I ran up to him, introduced myself, and gave him the book. He really didn't want it, but thankfully he carried it with him.

I remember something P.D. Gurdieff once said, "If you want to meet someone, sit still and they will come by."

So at least the "Guru of Twitterdom" has my book. Will he read the book? Who knows, but if God can bring him by while I am meditating in a park, he just might be able to do anything, like move mountains. The Blessing of the day!

So, for your consideration, "What was the last blessing you had in your life?" You think about that.

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