Mar 26 2014
Notice, Create, Post: Join Us for Thirty Days of Embodied Spiritual Practices!
by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones
For two years now, I have signed up for the “photo-a-day challenge”—ten months of Unitarian Universalist ministers taking a photo each day and posting it to a special Facebook group. My beloved colleague the Rev. Michelle Favreault (http://riteherenow.com/blog/) creates this spiritual practice, urging us simply to slow down enough to notice … ourselves, the world around us, the present moment. Perhaps, when we really look, we’ll catch a glimpse of beauty; perhaps we’ll “reframe” our perspective on the day. It’s not about being great photographers—though taking photos every day and sharing them with others does teach me something about lighting, framing, composition, color. But it’s definitely not about being “good” at something. It’s simply about Being Present. Which is what makes it a spiritual practice.
The gift: It brings us back to a love of being alive.
Michelle posts a prompt for each day, which we participants are free to use or to ignore. The prompts range from the concrete (“Tooth”) to the abstract (“Trust”), and from the practical (“Weather”) to the whimsical (“Whether”). Participants play with the prompts, turning them into a play on words. We turn them upside down and do the opposite of what they suggest. We stretch them to encompass a whole new view. One day, when the prompt is “Smile,” I find myself sitting in a peace meditation group in the Circle of Palms. Through my downcast eyes, I notice the curving double lines in the California State Seal laid into the paving stones. I shoot a picture of just that, the burnished beads of the embossed symbol smiling up at me as I meditate.
Being a Body
At First Unitarian this April, our transformational theme is “Being a Body.” Being present. Paying attention to our senses. Noticing this embodied life we are given.
Let’s stretch the practice to include not just photography but also writing, journaling, pondering. Anything that takes us a moment or two yet brings us into our bodies, in the present.
How You Can Participate
Please join me for thirty days of an embodied spiritual practice! Here’s how it works:
- Below you will find a prompt for each day in April. Use this prompt or ignore it—the point is to take a moment each day to slow down and notice. Take a picture, write a poem, scribble a descriptive paragraph about what your senses present to you—what you see, hear, taste, touch, smell.
- Then, post your photo or your writing to our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/FUCSJ. (You can sign up for Facebook for free.) We’ll get to share each other’s journey through the month. At the same time, send it to our newsletter editors at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll publish some of the photos, poems, and paragraphs in our May journal!
- Don’t worry if you miss a day. Just keep coming back to the practice, and noticing …
5 Up or Down
12 In or Out
19 Large or Small
26 Flowing or Stuck
One More Example
When I walk out the door of my apartment right now, I am flooded with the scent of orange blossoms. Everywhere, the trees are in bloom, and the sweet gentle aroma envelops me like a bubble bath. As if today’s prompt were “Scent” (see April 17), I take a picture of buds bathed in sunlight, the round globes of the oranges just out of reach in the shadows. As I do, my body breathes in that very moment, grateful.
May this practice bring you awareness, peace, and joy! And may the sharing of it bring us closer to one another!
With love and faith, Rev. Nancy
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