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Hello friend,

Cultivating our life spiritually is an important part of peacemaking. This is the first of two letters which will include meditation exercises and some recent reflections that I've found helpful in my journey.

Doing these meditation exercises seems to even give me insights for the whole day.

For example, when I was tired and considering cutting short my quiet time,

these words came to me: "Just show up." In other words, just pray. It's ok to pray even if I don't feel like it, which for me is probably fairly often. It is good just to go through the motions. This is a reminder that the effectiveness of my prayers depends on God and not on me and how I am feeling. Oftentimes it feels like hard work to force myself to pray, but I am becoming more and more convinced that it is worth it. Discipline and disciple go together.

The other day I was trying to lift the fighting in Lebanon to the Light. The word I got for both Hezbollah and Israel was, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." This is another example of the results of just praying whether or not I feel like it.

One of my callings is to pray for others, and a number of those are people with whom I disagree. Often times I just have to say their names as a way of lifting them to the Light. And all at the same time I try to ignore my feelings and acknowledge my own contradiction, and just say, "Help, Lord. I believe; help my unbelief."

I keep asking you all to pray for us. Maybe that sounds like a broken record, but I just want to say I think it is an important part of peacemaking in giving us protection and making us effective. Please keep it up. Thanks so much.

Here is the exercise. I hope it is helpful to you. The source for the book is below, but I encourage you to practice prayer even more than to read about prayer.

Peace and blessings, Jim

The Individual Mediation Exercise


1. Relax body and mind. Start by making yourself comfortable. Feel the weight of your body on the chair (or the floor). Then consciously release the tension in each part of your body. Then let all your immediate worries and all your current preoccupations go. Relax your mind so much that you give up talking to yourself in your head. Let yourself become wholly receptive.


2. In this receptive state of mind, let the real concerns of your life emerge. Ask yourself " What is really going on in my life?" but do not try to answer the question. Let the answer come. You can be specific: "What is happening in my relationships, my work, my Meeting, my own heart and mind?" And more specifically still: "Is there anything here that makes me feel uncomfortable, uneasy?" As we gradually become aware of these things we are beginning to experience the light.


3. Now focus on one issue that presents itself, one thing that gives you a sense of unease. And try to get a sense of this thing as a whole. Deep down you know what it is all about, but you don't normally allow yourself to take it all in and absorb the reality of it. Now is the time to do so. You don't have to get involved in this problem again, or get entangled with the feelings around it. Keep a little distance, so that you can see it clearly. Let the light show you what is really going on here. What is it about this thing, you can ask, that makes me feel uncomfortable? Let the answer come. And when it does, let a word or image also come that says what it's really like, this thing that concerns you.


4. Now ask yourself why it is like that, or what makes it like that. Don't try to explain it. Just wait in the light till you can see what it is. Let the answer come. If you get a simple answer like, "Because I'm afraid," or "Because that's the way she is," ask again the question why: Why am I afraid? Why is she like that? Let the full truth reveal itself, or as much truth as you are able to take at this moment. If you are really open and receptive, the answer will come.


5. When the answer comes welcome it. It may be painful or difficult to believe with your normal conscious mind, but if it is the truth you will recognize it immediately

and realize that it is something that you need to know. Trust the Light. Say yes to it. Submit to it. It will then begin to heal you. It will show you new possibilities for your life. It will show you the way through. So, however bad the news seems to be at first, accept it and let the truth pervade your whole being.


6. As soon as you accept what is being revealed to you, you will begin to feel different. Even bad news will seem strangely good. Accepting truth about yourself is like making peace. An inner conflict is being resolved. Now there is peace. Your body may respond quite noticeably to this change. A sense of relief may make you sigh, or want to laugh. Your diaphragm may heave. This is the beginning of changes that the Light may bring about. But if none of this happens on this occasion do not worry. It may take longer. Notice how far you have got this time and pick it up on another occasion. In any case, this is a process we do well to go through again and again, so that we can continue to grow and become more like the people we are meant to become.


When you feel ready, open your eyes, stretch your limbs, and bring the meditation to an end.


These exercises are based on the practice of early Friends (Quakers). Each of the six steps described here should last about six or seven minutes; the words of each paragraph should be read first, then followed by silence. They can be used in groups also.


Source: Ambler, R. ( 2002 ). Light to live by: an Exploration in Quaker Spirituality. London: Quaker Books. Available at https://secure.serve.com/fgcbooks/secure/orders.php

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