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Forward Friday: Listen to the Voice of Love

Displacement begins with the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and it is that movement that we must be sensitive to if we are going to identify and join in the calling of God on our lives.

We’ve been going through Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life for the last couple of weeks.  If you’re feeling moved by Henri Nouwen’s message of choosing voluntary displacement but are unsure how to start listening to the divine voice of love, I encourage you to check out Tim Hoekstra’s wonderful devotional Miles to Run Before We Sleep.  All proceeds from book sales are donated to World Vision‘s clean water project in Africa, so you can’t go wrong.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, my husband and I know Tim (he married us in April 2011), and he is an unbelievably gentle and driven man of God with a passion for both running and racial reconciliation in the Church.  His devotional provides readers the opportunity to think, pray, move, and discover the unique calling on each of our lives toward what Nouwen calls voluntary displacement. 

Both of us are reading through the book ourselves and have already had some very unexpected insights.  I may share some of my meditations here in the future, but for now, I highly recommend Tim’s book to anyone looking for guidance in recognizing the displacement in our lives.

If a devotional isn’t your thing, you may also find one of these books helpful in learning to listen to the loving voice of God:

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer

Sacred Compass by Brent Bill

Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr

If you need more suggestions, drop me a line! I’d love to chat more with each of you.

Bathtub Spirituality: Getting Naked Before God

I’ve always hated showers.  Give me a glistening white tub full of sudsy warm water, candles on the ledge, and a glass of red wine.  That’s the way to be clean.

Showers are for the hurried, getting clean all in a rush of water hurtling down and straight into the drain–like getting caught in a downpour and giving up any hope of finding shelter before you’re soaked.  Showers are for standing; you’ve got someplace else to go–and you’re going to be late!

Baths are for lingering, resting, enjoying.  No agenda.  No interruptions.  Only peace.  Warm, scented, slightly alcoholic peace.  Taking a bath is my favorite form of centering prayer.

I’ve had some very profound moments, naked among the bubbles and salts and dripping faucet.  Moments when God speaks, when my heart breaks, when I am listening.  Moments of forgiveness, release, understanding, wonder.  Moments of experiencing God’s tenderness, mercy, lovingkindness.

In these moments I feel like nothing separates me from God. I can lie back in the water until my ears are covered and my hair swishes like seaweed around my head and feel held, encompassed, hemmed in.  I can stretch my legs one over the other, stick my big toe in the leaky faucet and examine myself exactly as God knit me together–my skin softened by the soap and salts and getting wrinkly from the long soak.

I can be fully myself in these moments, alone in the sanctuary of my white bathtub.  In these private moments I share my most intimate, sacred self with the Creator.  No cathedral, chapel, prayer garden, or monastery compares to the holiest of holies that is my tiled bathroom–with the steamed-up mirror, flower-shaped bathmat, and humming air vent that occasionally creaks when one of the screws comes loose.

That is my sacred space.  That is where I am most spiritual–and most physical.  That is where I experience God–in the bathtub.

This week I’m honored to host a beautiful moment in my dear friend Stacey Schwenker’s journey through experiencing her sexuality as a single person.  She’ll be sharing her experience of getting naked before God tomorrow.

Until then, how do you get naked before God?

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