The Waiting Heart

Mailboxes wait. . . and wait. . . and wait.

Mailboxes in snow--by Julie McCarty--Eagan MN USA

Mailboxes serve as the “waiters” of messages, providing a space for something specific to happen. They don’t appear to do anything, and yet mailboxes are serving the purpose for which they were created.

So, too, the contemplative heart waits upon the Lord, dwelling in prayer, being observant, listening, pondering the ways of God–doing precisely what the Lord intended.

Wait for the Lord, take courage;
          be stout-hearted, wait for the Lord.   
Psalm 27:14.

Will you pray with me?

Lord, we know you are always with us, listening to our prayers and guiding our ways. Help us and all who “wait” to do so with patience and courage. May we truly listen to others this day–not only with our ears but also our hearts. May the words we speak be filled with your compassion. Come, Holy Spirit, guide us in all your ways! 

Until next time, Amen!

P.S. Are you on Facebook? Check out “Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty” for little spiritual nuggets to get you through your day!

Attentiveness: A Spiritual Word for 2013

During 2013, I hope to learn some new layouts and methods for posting on my blog. (This one is called “image” for a shorter post with a single image.)

Remember the blog post about choosing a word for your spiritual theme for the new year?  Here’s my word, sprawled out on a whiteboard design I created:

Whiteboard art by Julie McCarty (click to enlarge)
Whiteboard art by Julie McCarty (click to enlarge)

Yup, that’s my word for this year, “attentiveness”… I want to ponder the meaning of the word, how to live more attentively, and most of all, how to be more attentive to the presence and action of God in my life.

Thought question of the day: What or who in your life captures the most of your attention each day?  Your job? Your family? Sports? Facebook? Shopping? Or ??

How does your daily focus coordinate with the quality desires of your deepest, truest self?

Please think about it. I plan to!

Until next time, Amen!

P.S. Looking for daily spiritual inspiration? Read short spiritual nuggets and updates at Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty” on Facebook.

Prayer for the New Year

For everything there is a season,
     and a time for every matter under heaven:
          a time to be born, and a time to die;
          a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
          a time to kill, and a time to heal;
          a time to break down, and a time to build up;
          a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
          a time to mourn, and a time to dance. . . .

God has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. . . . whatever God does endures forever. . . (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4, 11, 14)

 

North Shore of Lake Superior--photo by Julie McCarty--Eagan MN USA
North Shore of Lake Superior–photo by Julie McCarty–Eagan MN USA

Another year draws to an end, and a new year dawns. One chapter closes, another begins. One project finishes, another starts to bubble within. One human dies, another is born.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the many readers of Spiritual Drawing Board blog and its partner Facebook page of the same name. I enjoy creating these sacred spaces and look forward to continuing to share my spiritual thoughts and budding artistic creations with you in the coming year. I appreciate the thoughts and comments you post or send me. Thanks!

Below is a prayer I wrote this morning. Will you pray with me?

Blessed are You, Lord God,
     Creator of the gift of time.
Every moment truly belongs to You.
With the help of your Spirit,
     may we use every day, every hour,
     to love and serve you in the New Year,
     and in all that is to come,
     both in this life, and in the next.   Amen.

Lily--photo by Julie McCarty--Eagan MN USA
Lily–photo by Julie McCarty–Eagan MN USA

Creating things anew with God’s help–a look back, and forward

Some of you may remember that I selected the word “co-create” for my spiritual word for 2012. The spiritual word provides a theme or focus for one’s mind and heart over the course of time, an idea I learned from Christine Valters Paintner, the “online abbess” at the website Abbey of the Arts.

For me, “co-create” means to cooperate with God’s grace in making the world a better place. I found the word helped me to focus on trying new creative things, such as practicing nature photography and learning watercolor painting.

Downy Woodpecker underneath branch--photo by Julie McCarty, Eagan MN USA.
Downy Woodpecker underneath branch–photo by Julie McCarty, Eagan MN USA.

However, as so often happens when one takes up a spiritual practice, I was surprised at how many other, often deeper, meanings and ap-

Julie with her "Campfire" watercolor painting at Instructor-Student Art Exhibit --BTAC
 Julie with her “Campfire” watercolor painting (above) at the Instructor-Student Art Exhibit –BTAC
 

plications to “co-create” arose in my mind over time. These new understandings came to me through reading, talking with others, and thinking about my life experiences in journaling.

For example, when grieving the loss of my dad, the creative activities often consoled me as something new being “born” in my life. When waking up in the morning, I would find myself asking God, “What will we co-create together today?” As I did housework (something I dislike), I began seeing chores in a fresh light, as something that re-creates a beautiful, wholesome environment. While weeding the garden, it occurred to me that growing vegetables is also creating something good with God–good for me and good for others. 

From this year's garden
From this year’s garden

The year 2012 will be over soon. In fact, for Christians at least, the new liturgical year has already begun with Advent. I find myself wondering… hmm… what will be my “spiritual word” for 2013? What does God have in mind for me?

I invite you to ponder the same question with me. Is there one word or short phrase you would like to be your spiritual focus for 2013? Let us pray, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal a wise word to each of us for the good of our spiritual growth and service to others.

May the Good Lord bless you this holy season.

Until next time, Amen!

For more pictures from Julie’s watercolor class and other spiritual nuggets, visit Facebook’s  Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty.

Spiritual Drawing Board Page now on Facebook

Looking for a short spiritual nugget to brighten your day? A reminder that God’s divine presence is with you, even on a “bad day”? Something motivational, thought-provoking, or creative?

ImageSpiritual Drawing Board now has a Facebook page of its own. I’ll be continuing to write here, on this WordPress blog, but now you can also receive little spiritual nuggets on the Facebook page “Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty”. 

Expect to find encouragement to pray or meditate, to love others, to seek wisdom, to go beyond politics and “group think,” and to learn from famous spiritual figures.

To find the link, log on to your Facebook account and search for this:

“Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty”
(click on “like” to start receiving in your news feed on FB)

And, while you are there, I hope you will share your own inspiring thoughts or questions you wrestle with. The spiritual journey includes community focus–and I would love to hear from you, on the FB page, in the comments on the blog, or via e-mail (see contact page for e-mail).

Please, do spread the word. Share what I post on SDB on FB all you like. The world has enough sin and hate. It is up to Spirit-filled people to spread the message of  compassion in whatever ways they can.

Until next time, Amen.

P.S. For those new to Facebook:  If you “like” Spiritual Drawing Board FB page, you will receive “news” from the page, but your personal posts will not come to me unless you choose to put something on my page or message me directly. I will not see the messages you send your FB friends unless I’m already one of your friends on FB.

Work to live or live to work?

Do you work to live or live to work?
A Guided Meditation 

Labor Day weekend is a great time to think about this question. Do you work a 9-5 day and set it all aside afterwards to pursue your heart’s desire?

Or, are you blessed with a career so meaningful that work is living at its best?

Whether you enjoy your job or not, how does work fit together with the other pieces of your life?  Do you experience quality time with family, friends, and God? Are you able to give back something to your community? Ever just stop to smell the roses?

To reflect on this question, you might want read about how people in places outside the U.S. view work in  Mariela Dabbah’s article “Work to Live or Live to Work?”     To read about the effects of overwork on one’s health, check out this article on netdoctor.com , or explore Are You a Workaholic?  on WebMD. If you are a business manager, you might want to read about how overworking can actually lower productivity in the workplace, and ways to overcome the problem on  Joe Robinson’s website .

In hard economic times, many people feel immense pressure to work longer hours or risk losing their jobs–and that makes it all the more complicated to discuss the question. There are no easy answers here–and I certainly find it challenging to juggle all the pieces of my own life (it feels like a moving target!).

Even so, it’s worth thinking about:  Is my entire self-worth wrapped up in the work that I do? Do people have value beyond what they accomplish in the business/career world? What is the place of Sabbath and prayer in my life? Where is God leading me, and how do I best respond?

O God,
 You created us with many abilities, gifts, and inward beauty. May we always use these gifts wisely and yet remember that your love for us is not based on mere productivity. Open our eyes to the beauty of your creation and give us the courage and time to “smell the roses.”

Amen.

When there is no vision, a people perish.–Emerson

Morning Light on Smoky Mountains–photo by Julie McCarty, Eagan MN USA
(click on image to enlarge)

When there is no vision, a people perish.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Funny how getting away from it all for a time can give one a new perspective. Vacations and retreat experiences are important to our well-being. Unhurried time with family, long walks, extra sleep, and different surroundings are good for us on every level.

This summer, while taking some breaks from blogging, I’ve been focusing on other creative activities. I’ve experimented with new plants in the garden and practiced taking photos of nature. I attended a couple of seminars connecting art, writing, and spirituality, and vacationed with my hubby.

Although I haven’t blogged much during the summer, I think the break will be fruitful in the long run. Funny how that works: sometimes when you stop trying, something good is percolating deep down inside. (We’ll see if this is true…!)

In future blog posts, I hope to bring some fresh ideas and new formats. In addition to the longer spiritual reflections now and then, I hope to add some simple creative images (photos, artwork) along with spiritual quotations. I hope to provide starter dough for your own prayer and spiritual reflection, as well as my own.

Mid-August is a time of preparing for the new school year, planning church ministries, and signing up for sports and recreational programs. As I plan activities, the words of Emerson draw me to think more deeply than mere scheduling:

When there is no vision, a people perish.

What is your vision for today and tomorrow? How will you make the world a better place? What is the one thing God is hoping you will do?

Take a moment and just think about it. What is the best thing you could offer God right now? How do you envision your future–and the future of your children, community, and world? What one step you can take today, headed in the right direction?   

(pause and pray if you are a praying person)

Until next time, Amen!