Monday, January 30, 2012

My Toe Hurts

A Monday Morning Exercise

For those retired, like myself, Monday is the gift day of the week, a day of paraphrasing who and where I am, usually a blank schedule, and a place of quiet.
My diabetes numbers are high which bothers me. There is no reason other than a busy weekend. I taught Sunday School and taught a course on journaling at the Church of Latter Day Saints in Nashville. It was an attentive group. They seemed appreciative of what I was doing.

When I got home I had one of my dizzy headaches and slept for a couple of hours. Earlier in the day I had dropped a bottle on my foot and my toe began to throb. I looked and it was black and blue. I walked with a limp. It changed my mood. A defective toe will do that.

I watched Downtown Abbey at 8. It is one of my favorite shows but it left me depressed. Everything was bad; dreams destroyed, deaths of primary characters,  strange maniputations, and faults of characters suddenly emphasized. It caused my foot to hurt more, but reality is like that. There are days we need to forget. Days assembled from darkness not light.

A word of encouragement comes from Isaiah 41, "Be strong! Be an encourager." WORTHY WORDS. Important words. Words rarely spoken.

The sun is out today. The temperature in the sixties. Nice. A day to be thankful, to watch birds and sunlight and dream. Leave the newspaper closed, the hurtful words will be there tomorrow. Drink deeply of the air, feel the sunlight, rest the hurt toe. REJOICE!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review of Spiritual Journaling by Dan Phillips

A Review of Spiritual Journaling- God’s Whispers in Daily Living
By Dan Kenneth Phillips
Circle Books, London, England, 2011

In speaking of his journals, Phillips says, “A frayed journal is precious. It often has torn pages, water lines dribbled throughout, ink stains scattered, forgotten names in inappropriate places, words misspelled, tear stains on blotted ink, crayon marks of a child, wrinkled pages, bible verses scribbled in darkness, or an article from a deceased newspaper columnist.” He describes the journey with a journal as an awakening, an hour of anticipation, a sacred time.

Using his own journals, Dan Kenneth Phillips describes events and experiences where God’s presence was real to him; a patient on his way to surgery becomes a source of inspiration as he faces death, standing on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, sensing the voice of the Apostle Paul, or as he prays by a statue in a dimly lit corridor of a hospital, he realizes the important of life and how the leftovers of our life can be the source of new life.

His inspiration for a spiritual moment can be as simple as a lingering sunset, waves softly rubbing the shore line, a sentence he reads in an ancient book, a kiss, or a prayer in an ancient garden. He describes these moments as “points of light like a meteor showering the sky.”

He emphasizes the importance of buying a special journal.  A Buffalo Journal he bought in Montana says, “This ‘Oh-sooo-soft’ leather is double thick with a natural battered rough edge, the kind a traveler may have taken with them on that long journey, chasing the western sunset.”

Jonathan Montaldo, editor of many of Thomas Merton’s Journals, says of Phillips, “Written with simplicity and revealing great humanity, Spiritual Journaling continues the work of a master teach of contemplative living who finds God’s energies everywhere in all the events of life.”

Phillips is a long time chaplain at a leading hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, a former religious editor, and a blogger. His blog, Monasticskete ( is read by numerous people each day as is a result of many of his journal experiences. He also leads retreats on Developing Your Spiritual Life, using journaling as a key element. Spiritual Journaling-God’s Whispers in Daily Living, can be ordered from Amazon or Kindle at

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Catching the Sheep

Thomas Merton wakes me up sometimes. I often begin with A Year With Thomas Merton. Today he is in the sheep business, dealing with verses that Jesus said, like "My sheep hear my voice." As he describes himself while writing this he confirms he is restless, stubborn, surrounded by events and living a complicated life.

Guess that sums us up to. Complicated. Ears itching from the latest rumors. Animals need to be fed. We have a headache. The dog jumps on the bed at 4 a.m. and wakens me, so I get up and study of all things, "The Art of Worldly Wisdom."

So Merton pretty well describes us, but it leads him in a different direction than us. It develops into prayer. His, I call it, The Shepherd Prayer, stirs something in me. He hits home, a home run. Complications become moments when we turn ourselves over to the master.


"Good Shepherd, You have a wild and crazy sheep in love with thorns and brambles. But please don't get tired of looking for me! I know you won't. For you have found me. All I have to do is stay found."

Question: Has the shepherd found you?