Tag Archives: spiritual guidance

For Heaven’s Sake, Calm Down. Topeka Gives

TCF Topeka Gives logo final

” Hey! Calm down, for heaven’s sake,”
                       say Jean Luc and Elijah.

Here we are. Send us!

We are just a couple of wild and crazy guys, who want you to . . . 

  • Stop by The Sanctuary Foundation’s table at Topeka Gives on Tuesday, June 7, 2016,7:00-6:00, Fairlawn Mall, Topeka, Ks.
  • Get your free stress square and measure how calm you are 
    from “slightly stressed to screaming ninnie.”
  • Find other tools to relax and nurture inner peace.
Elijah, the Lab, Holding a Place for You

Elijah practicing meditation.

The Sanctuary is an interfaith center for spiritual nurture, which helps people find deeper awareness of God, self and others. Please join us in expanding our work for inner peace.   Your gift of $25 or more at Topeka Gives will be percentaged matched by a generous donation from the Topeka Community Foundation.

Do you see unmet needs in our community? Are you are weary of political stalemates, name calling, stalling, and denial? Do newspaper headlines make you angry?

Come down to the Fairlawn Mall ( 21st Street and Fairlawn) and discover grass roots, homegrown hope, hard work, love, wisdom, and imagination in action.

Look for our table with the blue and gold balloons. Stop by and say Hello! Get free stuff and a hug.

While you are there –

  1. Pick your favorite organizations – Please include the Sanctuary!
  2. Make a donation of $25 or more to each organization. Then watch your gifts GROW through the $73,500 matching fund given by the Topeka Community Foundation.

I can’t wait to see you and tell you about how your dollars make a difference to some of your neighbors. Please give us your support this year. There are many people who need safe spaces to explore their souls and nourish their spirits.

REMEMBER that to participate in the Topeka Community Fund match you must bring your gift in person to the Topeka Fairlawn Mall on Tuesday June 7, any time between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm.

Elijah 3 months 2

If you would like to support The Sanctuary and can’t come to Fairlawn Mall in Topeka on June 7. You can donate online here. Your gift will not be matched by the Topeka Community Foundation in this case, but even small gifts can do amazing things!

Elijah and the Gentle Leader

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love… Hosea 11:4 (NIV)

Elijah - foot at 11 weeksI got a new pup, a black lab with some golden retriever mixed in. His name is Elijah. We are in love. Thank God. Learning each other’s rhythms and limits in fits and starts, shouts and barks, foot stamping and puppy pouts, we are pulling at the restraints of the discipline, which all relationships require.  Without the love, we would never make it.

When people see Elijah they say, “Oh, how cute!” Then on taking a closer look, they shake their heads and add with pity, “He’s going to be a big dog.” I try not to shudder. The little prophet dog is mostly feet, knobbly knees, long legs, and a single minded purpose to chew. My last dog died at sixteen years. He had long given up gnawing at things and people.

Elijah has all the approved chewing materials. We go to puppy training. At the advice of friends,  I got a training halter device which requires a degree in dog mechanics and six arms to put on your puppy. In spite of liberal use of hotdog bits, it didn’t go at all like the video showed. Obviously the demonstration dog had been drugged.

The device comes in a box resplendent with marketing genius, Immediate gentle control. “My pup was changed in a mere ten minutes.” The nose loop encircles your dog’s muzzle in the same way as a pack leader gently, but firmly grasps a subordinate’s muzzle in his mouth. This is a clear signal that You are his leader!  My dog is still working to pick up that clear signal.

Elijah detests this device with a passion. However, I confound him by offering the tastiest treats I can find, when I put it on and when I remove it. I rubbed hotdog juice all over the part that goes around his nose. When we walk, he turns summersaults over the grass trying to shake it off, or writhes on the ground like a snake. Then he will flop prone in the street with a huge sigh and pout. Despite the period of adjustment for us both, things are improving. Once he gets over his hissy fit, he trots along in fine fashion being the dog of my dreams. 

 Gentle Leader

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. (Psalm 32: 8-10 NIV)

The amusing name for this device is Gentle Leader Head Collar. This cracks me up. I got the giggles thinking about it in church this week. I had this picture of God struggling to put such a halter on us, while we flop about in our lives, straining to get loose from the constraints of our own realities. Our genetics, life experiences, choices, and environments wrap around our snouts and bind our movement. Such discipline may gentle us into surrender to the truth of who we are. We may come to accept the conditions placed upon us by our journey and the reality that we are not the leader of the pack, or we may toss ourselves in summersaults, whining, and wriggling against our limits.

“Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourself unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary (2 Chronicles 30:8),” I say to Elijah, who is trying to chew the darn thing off his head. The Hebrew scriptures frequently compare the people of Israel to oxen with stiff necks who will not submit to the yoke, or a horse who will not follow without bit and bridle. The notion of discipline and surrender to the Leader of the Pack appears also in Paul’s writings. In fact it is often the prophets, including Elijah’s namesake, who serve as God’s harnesses to restrain an unruly rebellious nation.Elijah 3 months 2

If Elijah could see the positive benefits of his Gentle Leader, he might not put us through such a struggle. His resistance only increases his discomfort. Being conformed to the harness requires repetition, discipline, love, and a good deal of faith in the Leader on both our parts. The way to Elijah’s abundance is a counter intuitive surrender to what feels at first as terribly confining. Not a bad prescription for the spiritual life.


More about prayer –

Contact Loretta –
lross@fromholyground.org, www.fbook.me/sanctuary

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Gracious Uncertainty and Jumping on the Bed

communion trayI held out the tray of tiny plastic cups filled with juice, freshly poured, bubbles still floating on top. He delicately placed finger and thumb around his choice, and went to draw it out, but it was stuck and would not budge. He tightened his grip, pulled, and the thin plastic cup shattered in his fingers. Juice flew onto the suit jacket of the fellow next to him, the carpet before the altar, and my white robe and scapular with the appliquéd wheat and golden sun. How can such a tiny cup hold so much? we wondered.

Sprinkled liberally with the blood of the Lamb, I finished the service and told the mortified fellow all was well.

 I like it that things like this happen when people pray.

I am at the hermitage (where I prayed for close to twenty years). The cabin is tucked in a hillside on a small lake. Out on the screened porch I am listening to someone in need of God. I am praying she discover the presence of God whermitageith her here, and, in her contact with God, find healing for her soul. Inside the hermitage my two daughters, ages four and six, are playing quietly. My guest and I sit still, leaning into the grace of the moment-listening to meadowlarks and watching willows bend in the breeze. After a while my children’s play grows noisier. Thumping, giggles, and something crashing to the floor intrude on the serenity. They are jumping on the bed. The more I try to focus on the silence and my guest, the louder the girls get. Finally I rise from my prayer stool and go inside. “Please be quiet,” I whisper. As I take Diana’s arm to lead her over to some books, she shouts in a screechy, ear-splitting whine, “Mom, stop! You are hurting my arm.”

Well so much for serenity, and all our holy poses and postures.

If nothing else, God is Real and is asking us to get real. For me the freedom to be real is the fruit of prayer and a central message of the Christian faith.

Why do we reduce the Feast of God to a thimbleful of juice in a flimsy plastic cup anyway? Why do we embarrass grown men by asking them to wedge their fingers, fumbling for cups fit for elves?  We mortals do the strangest things in the name of worship.

I have few answers, but I love it that the Living God breaks out of our little cups and categories and paints my expensive liturgical vestments with purple speckles. It makes me want to go jump on the bed.  Here is a God who keeps me on the edge of my seat, breathless and shouting.

Certainty is the mark of the common sense life – gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. O. Chambers


FYI, I got the stains out using a cleaning product called, Shout! It works great. Try it. And go jump on the bed.