Archive for March, 2014

Mar 26 2014

April Theme: Being a Body

Published by under Minister's Musings

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 ( 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Then, post your photo or your writing to our Facebook group at (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 We’ll publish some of the photos, poems, and paragraphs in our May journal!
  3. Don’t worry if you miss a day. Just keep coming back to the practice, and noticing …

The Prompts


1                    Spring

2                    Yellow

3                    Touch

4                    Longing

5                    Up or Down

6                    Toes

7                    Dance

8                    Bud

9                    Orange

10                Taste

11                Grief

12                In or Out

13                Fingers

14                Write

15                Blossom

16                Blue

17                Scent

18                Love

19                Large or Small

20                Eyes

21                Music

22                Fruit

23                Violet

24                Sight

25                Joy

26                Flowing or Stuck

27                Hands

28                Paint

29                Silence

30                Self-portrait

One More Example


ReFraming Clergy Photo Group 03-19-14 orange blossom

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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