Are you awake?
Buddhists famously call it mindfulness. Christians have many names for it. This week, we are introducing two nationally known retreat leaders who are offering readers a bounty of fresh ideas for making 2012 an eye-opening, tastebud-tingling, ear-soothing year of meditation, prayer and worship. The new book (which contains a lively toolbox of ideas between its covers) is called, Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God.
Later this week, you’ll meet J. Brent Bill and Beth Booram in our weekly author interview. Make a note of that, because we also will tell you in that interview how to reach them and how to find their websites, as well. When you get to know more about their work with Awaken Your Senses you may want to make arrangements to bring these two popular retreat leaders to your part of the country for a day or a weekend. (Special note to regular ReadTheSpirit readers: These folks draw their own inspiration from a number of talented people who already are popular with our readers, including Parker Palmer, Carrie Newcomer and J. Philip Newell. So, even if you are encountering Brent and Beth for the first time, this week, you’re meeting a team with ties to other trusted friends you’ve enjoyed in the past.)
TODAY, we want to open your eyes to these ideas! We’re doing that in three ways:
1.) With an excerpt of their new book, below.
2.) A short video of Brent and Beth, below.
3.) AND, our regular columnist Rodney Curtis, a.k.a. The Spiritual Wanderer, is writing on this theme, too.
EXCERPT OF AWAKEN YOUR SENSES
BY J. BRENT BILL
AND BETH BOORAM
Imagine awakening to the sound of the coffeemaker as it strains its final percolations and you smell the earthy aroma of its brew. You see dim light peeking from the edges of the shades at your bedroom windows. The feel of warm, soft blankets makes it hard to get out of bed. Once up, you look out the kitchen window, focusing your eyes on the early morning light, and feel greeted with hope, reminded that God is in new beginnings.
As you drive into work, you hear a siren behind you. The sound causes you to search in your rearview mirror for the lights. The alarm prompts you to pray—to pray for whoever might be hurt and for the safety of those you love. You feel your tightened grip on the steering wheel and think to relax, to concentrate on simply being and on trusting God with your life and your day.
During work, you notice things: the tone of stress in your boss’s response to a question, the sparkle in your coworker’s eyes as she describes her new romance, the firm handshake of a customer, the cool taste of water from a drinking fountain and the scent of a woman’s perfume in the elevator. Life has so much depth and texture. You are alive to yourself and the world—curious and open to God’ subtle invitations to pray, to love, to be. With each sensory prompt, you are learning to respond the way Jesus leads you.
Dinnertime and evening hours brim with sensual greetings. You prepare a meal with your family. The sounds of chopping vegetables and sizzling meat remind you that food is a gift. Everything you see, hear, touch, smell and taste turns your meal into an occasion—not only for your stomach but also for your heart. Scrubbing greasy pots, rinsing soapy dishes and feeling the scald of hot water awaken you to the unending life cycle of soiling and cleansing, mess and order. Your thoughts turn to your own jumbled soul, to Christ, to his restoring work.
As you lie down to sleep, you notice your cold feet under the blankets, the taste of toothpaste in your mouth, the smell of dinner lingering in the air, the quiet of the house and the streak of moonlight beaming through a window. You feel thoughtful, grateful and pensive. Your heart turns to God, and you express your feelings of smallness and inadequacy. “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” You entrust yourself to sleep and to God who does not slumber or sleep. Another day lived, hopefully more fully alive to God and yourself, alive to the beauty and suffering in life, to all its possibilities and cries for healing.
Have you ever longed to live this way—present to life, to God, throughout an entire day? It is possible. We each desire authentic spiritual experiences with God: real, moving, transforming engagements. The trouble is that’s not how we have been taught to live our faith. Most of our teaching comes by way of sermons, books, Bible studies and other spiritual resources that instruct our thinking. Often, though, these resources miss our souls, the prime place of divine encounter. This new book takes a different tack. Its purpose, simply put, is to help more of you experience more of God. How will we accomplish that? We’re going to introduce you to spiritual practices that engage your whole person: both sides of your brain, all five senses and your body. In this way, you’ll learn how to cultivate an experiential faith—one that trains you to be attentive to a self-disclosing God who reveals himself in each daily round of beauty.
WATCH A SHORT VIDEO WITH J. BRENT BILL AND BETH BOORAM
You should see a video screen, below, that you can click to watch a short video with Brent and Beth. If you do not see a video screen here, you also can jump directly to YouTube to watch the clip.
REMEMBER: THERE’S MUCH MORE!
Meet J. Brent Bill and Beth Booram in our weekly author interview, which includes links to their own websites and information on how to reach them if you care to inquire about a visit or a retreat. Of course, their new book stands alone for individual reading or small-group study. AND: You can order Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God from Amazon.
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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.