Labyrinth in Lavender – Lets Celebrate World Labyrinth Day

Yesterday I posted this gorgeous photo on facebook

Thanks to my good friend Patty Doty, I found out that this marvellous lavender labyrinth is in Kastellaun Germany.

I love labyrinths and as many of you know we construct one each year for our Celtic retreat on Camano Island in August and a couple of years ago even had participants making their own finger labyrinths. I have also blogged about the significance of labyrinths here and still hanker after the labyrinth that Craig Goodwin created out of his backyard vegetable garden.

Going online this morning to do some research on labyrinths for my upcoming book I discovered that the Labyrinth Society celebrates World Labyrinth Day on the first Saturday of May – which just happens to be next Saturday so it seemed a good time to post again about labyrinths.  I have not posted resources to help one explore and create one’s own labyrinth and thought that this was a good time to do that.

Here is the list provided by the Labyrinth Society, though these are not specifically Christian.

Many Christians, because of the non Christian roots of this tool are skeptical and even condemning of its use. This is a well balanced article that explains some of these concerns. However labyrinths are gaining popularity amongst Christians and I personally have found them to be a very helpful tool for mediation.

Some of the best Christian resources come from Jonny Baker and the people at Proost in the UK.

Labyrinth Kit

Labyrinth Meditations

Labyrinth Instrumentals

Hold This Space Pocket Liturgies [pdf]

Navigatio Pocket Liturgies [pdf]

Landskapes – Labyrinth Meditations, Eucharist, and Spirit of the New.

VJ Loops Volume 1

The labyrinth Network Northwest also has some great resources available. – It is an extensive list and I am very glad that I did not need to reproduce it.

And this pdf on Labyrinth Prayer  not only explains the labyrinth & provides some prayers to use in walking it but also mentions some great books on labyrinths.

Bosco Peters just made me aware of this video that he uploaded for his post Twists and Turns of Holy Week. Thanks Bosco.

I also really enjoyed this video introduction to labyrinth walking.


Pear and Raspberry Bread – A Delicious Alternative to Banana Bread

I have fallen in love with pear and raspberry bread which is a favourite in Australia at coffee shops for morning and afternoon coffee. It is one of my fond memories of visits with my Mum. I have been thinking about making this with some pears I have that are a little beyond fresh use.

It is usually served toasted with butter (yum) though it is always good plain too. I prefer it to banana bread though I have never found it offered here in the U.S.

This recipe is adapted from the one I found at


– 3/4 cup whole grain or wheat flour
– 3/4 cup all purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/3 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup canola oil
– 2/3 cup milk
– 1 pear, peeled and chopped
– 1/2 cup raspberries, do not thaw if using frozen

1. Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F

2. Sift flour, baking powder, soda. Stir in sugar and nuts

3. beat egg and oil together. Add to mixture, stir in milk, add pear and raspberries and gently sir into mixture until just combined

4. bake in a greased loaf tin for about 60 minutes, until golden brown. Leave in tin to cool

Prayers for the Journey

earth touches heaven

Earth touches heaver - photo by Coe Hutchison

Here is my round up of facebook prayers from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!


God we give you thanks and praise this morning

your love is unfailing in unanticipated circumstances,

Your faithfulness endures in unexpected places,

Your mercy is unlimited in undeserved ways.


May we remember always

The love of God casts out fear

The life of God conquers death

The glory of God fills our world

May we remember and give thanks.


Let the light of God shine into your soul,

And fill you with life.

Let the love of God shine through your life,

And fill others with the life of God


Let all earth rejoice and praise the One who is Lord of Lord

Let the trees shout and the lions roar

Let the birds sing and the elephants trumpet

Glory to the creator of all life.


Jesus may we today see your glory in unexpected faces

Hidden treasure in the face of strangers,

Glimmers of newness in the struggles of loved ones,

Life emerging where there has been death.


For the beauty of the earth we thank you O God,

For the abundance of the garden we thank you O Christ,

For the flourishing of friendship we thank you O Spirit,

For the abundance of life we give you thanks today,

Thanks to the three in One, the One in three.


Let us look and see the wonder,

Resurrection exploding around us,

In sunshine and blossom and springtime emerging,

Christ is risen and is everywhere present in our world.


May the beauty of God’s creation seep into your soul,

May it fill you with love and peace,

And radiate from your heart into this world God loves.


Lord Jesus Christ your majestic name fills the earth

You glory is reflected in all creation

Your love is expressed in every act of caring

May we rest secure in the wonder of your risen life.


Salvation in the Neighbourhood – Creative Ideas from the Parish Collective.

The Inhabit conference which the entire MSA team attended this last weekend was one of the best conferences I have been at for a long time. So many creative and committed Christians gathered in one place inspiring each other with how they have seen their neighbourhoods transformed. Many of us are being stretched in our faith and life practices as we grapple with what it means to be the shalom of God in our communities.

I have been following with great interest the continuing conversations and story sharing that is occurring on the Inhabit Connect facebook group too. To encouraging to hear about the ways that God is planting mustard seeds that are growing and producing fruit.

I particularly enjoyed this video by Paul Sparks this morning. Do listen to the whole video – the end of the interview is particularly inspiring.


And this is a great article by Craig Goodwin over in Spokane – hope to have him over for a conversation at the Mustard Seed House some time


This one is very close to my heart as I strongly believe that we need to encourage our urban centres to become more self sustaining. it is an inspiring and imaginative way to use an old warehouse in Chicago


A great website worth exploring – the work of Candy Chang an artist, designer, and urban planner who explores making cities more comfortable and contemplative places.

And finally a story about a church helping to develop a grocery co-op in an impoverished community.

Learning to be the presence of God is part of what salvation is all about. God desires wholeness not just for us as individuals but for the entire human race as a community. And people like those who attended the Inhabit conference are busy planting seeds and light beacons that are quietly transforming our world.


Spirituality of Gardening Seminar is Almost Here

Its almost time for the spirituality of Gardening Seminar May 5th at the Mustard Seed House and with the beautiful weather we have had in Seattle the garden is thriving – Register Now

This year’s Spirituality of Gardening seminar at the Mustard Seed House will be held May 5th. This year we have special discounts for students and alumni wanting to gain new spiritual insights and share gardening advice. It would be a great opportunity to check out the Mustard Seed garden, interact with our growing garden community and hear about the developments at the Mustard Seed Village.

Join in discussions about connections between community, spirituality and gardening. Explore the wonderful ways that God and God’s story are revealed through the rhythms of planting, growing and harvesting. Spiritual insights, practical advice for organic backyard gardeners and time for reflection will all enrich and deepen our faith. Come prepared to get your hands dirty as we will spend some time in the garden or in the greenhouse if the weather is inclement.

Register HERE today before all the spots are filled!

Goodness is Stronger than Evil by Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks after receiving the Jamnalal Baja International Award in Cape Town, South Africa, June 25, 2001.
(Photo by Mike Hutchings © Reuters NewMedia Inc./CORBIS)

Yesterday I posted this prayer from Desmond Tutu’s An African Prayer Book on facebook. It was so popular that I thought I would post it here too. Jane Hessdorfer informed us that John Bell wrote music to create a song from the words so I have included that as well – unfortunately it is only the music. The MP3 can be purchased at GIA Publications

Victory is Ours
Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.

The words for the song are:

Goodness is stronger than evil, Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours, Victory is ours
through God who loves us.
Victory is ours, Victory is ours
through God who loves us.

Music by John Bell
GIA (c) 1996 Iona Community

What Can We Do For World Malaria Day?

Today is World Malaria Day, a celebration that really resonates with me and I suspect also resonates with the heart of God. I still remember the horror of watching children die of malaria in the refugee camps in Cambodia in the mid 1980s. It happened so quickly. If we waited to get an accurate diagnosis they would be dead before we responded. And in Africa we lived on antimalarials and soon adapted the African physician preoperative practice of routinely treated children as though they had malaria. Complications postoperatively were much higher in infected children.The spectre of this terrible disease hung over all the communities and families we worked with.

In Africa, malaria deaths have been cut by one third within the last decade; outside of Africa, 35 out of the 53 countries, affected by malaria, have reduced cases by 50% in the same time period. In countries where access to malaria control interventions has improved most significantly, overall child mortality rates have fallen by approximately 20%. In spite of this malaria still kills 2,000 children daily worldwide, mainly in Africa and in some countries the situation is very fragile. Today–World Malaria Day–recognizes global efforts to combat malaria.

Eradicating malaria is possible. We just have to want it very much.

I am sorry that this list is a little late for us to get involved in this year, but consider how you can make a difference not just on World Malaria Day but throughout the rest of the year too. Here, from World Vision, are five things you can do to fight malaria:

World Malaria Day poster.

1. Host a Night of Nets event in your community

Help your community understand and advocate for a simple, yet effective, malaria prevention method that can save millions of children: bed nets. Your event could be a concert, a coffee house, an art show, a sleep-out —any event to unite your community around this urgent global health crisis.

2. Send a message to your members of Congress

Ask Congress to increase our contribution toward the fight against malaria. Government officials respond when they hear from their constituents — constituents like you. Our easy-to-use online tool makes it simple to do!

3. Download World Malaria Day resources to raise awareness

Visit our resource center on for downloadable posters and other resources that you can use to raise awareness about this threat to children. The more people know about malaria, the more likely we are to defeat it.

4. Pray with your community (PDF)

Download our prayer guide and pray with your small group, family, or by yourself. The prayer guide provides short stories about children impacted by malaria, facts about malaria, and prayer points to guide your intercession.

5. Make a donation to provide bed nets for children and families at risk

In sub-Saharan Africa, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets could potentially prevent 1 million child deaths. Every $6 you give will provide a long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net that will protect the life of two or more children from this deadly disease. Or make a monthly pledge to contribute to the fight against malaria.

Looking for Blessings – How the Body Heals Itself

good samaritan - african

good samaritan - african from

This morning I am not feeling well. Since my bout with the flue 3 weeks ago I have been spiking the occasional evening temperature, and like most doctors I am reluctant to see a physician for myself. But today I have decided to bite the bullet and go.

Well that doesn’t sound like a blessing you might say. And your right it doesn’t. But in the midst of this I have been thanking God for the blessings of health and healing. Thank God for the immune system that normally does heal and restore us. Thank God for healing herbs that form the basis for many of our medicines. Thank God even for the symptoms that really are part of God’s healing process – runny noses that dispel the viruses from our bodies, inflamed cuts that draw the germ fighting cells to a diseased area, sloughing skin that protects us from most of the germs that surround us.

Of course healing doesn’t always come in the forms we want it too. After all who of us likes to spend days in bed because we are too weak and tired to get up. But that is all part of the healing process. Once again God never seems to work in the ways I expect.

So take some time to thank God for the miracle of healing today. Read through this article that talks about the healing mechanisms of the body. Also read this article that talks about the even more amazing ability of the brain to change itself through meditation and if you have time get hold of Norman Doidge’s book The Brain that Changes Itself  

Our bodies are miracles – so intricate, so complex, so well thought out by God. When I think about it I am truly amazed.

What Is Prayer?

What is prayer?

What is prayer?

As many of you know I am working on a new book on prayer Return to Your Senses: Reimagining How We Pray. I talked about this in a recent post entitled Let God’s Love Soak Into Your Soul. Part of what I am grappling with in the book is the question what is prayer?. For some of us prayer is confined to intercession. For others it focuses on meditation. For some it is always spoken in the mind, for others it must be shouted out loud to be effective. Usually our concepts of prayer revolve around words and responses which I think is part of the challenge we face.

There are probably more books written on prayer than any other Christian topic, yet we still come to Jesus regularly asking: teach us to pray. The problem is that prayer is not about words but about relationship and relationships are constantly growing, changing and requiring new ways of interacting. The speaking of words can become rote and repetitive, even boring at times, the developing of relationship requires flexibility, creativity and constant willingness to change and to grow.

What the disciples saw in Jesus’ prayer life that they craved because it was so different from what they had grown up with, was the deep and personal intimacy with God that was at its heart. I think they also craved a prayer life that did not depend on rituals performed at certain times of the day but rather was based on a whole new way of looking at the world. The disciples longed for a relationship with God that wove through every part of their lives. They wanted to develop the same dynamic, living relationship with God that Jesus had and realized that to acquire it they needed to learn not just new techniques for prayer but a whole new understanding of prayer.

In my previous post I commented on Madame Guyon’s definition of prayer as “an exercise in love”. I am also very drawn to Richard Foster’s concept of prayer as “finding the heart’s true home”. I imagine prayer as any process that draws us back into the garden of God where we walk, and talk and commune with God in a place of abundance and peace and harmony for all. I imagine prayer as a new way of looking and listening and interacting with the world so that we are constantly uncovering the presence of God which shines through every moment and enlivens every creature.

This kind of understanding of prayer is a constant journey of discovery which demands we give God our full attention in each moment. It is not easy. We are so easily distracted by busyness and worry and work. We are so easily waylaid by the needs of the world and our desire to find solutions. We definitely need to come back to Jesus for a new understanding of prayer.

A good place to start is with this quote from Elaine Heath in her helpful book The Mystic Way of Evangelism,: When we come home to the love of God everything changes, beginning with how we pray. Prayer is now at its foundation a contemplative soaking in the infinite love of God. All our intercessions and thanksgivings and wordless cries now issue from the molten core of contemplative prayer. Prayer has become the vital breath, the heartbeat of divine energy without which we cannot live.

So what are your thoughts? What is Prayer

Snapshot Inhabit 2012 – Andrew Wade

Inhabit is over. Great fun, great fellowship with friends old and new and much to think about. Here is a snapshot from MSA team member Andrew Wade. A great event to be a part of. Will let you know as soon as we have the dates for next year.