Questions and Answers about Mindfulness

Recently I have been reading and practising Mindfulness. I have found it very helpful, so I thought it would be good to get some advice and guidance around Mindfulness. I tracked down Richard Johnston who has a website dedicated to Christian Mindfulness.

So I sent him some questions.

1. What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is our universal human capacity for attention and awareness. All people have the capacity to pay attention and to develop greater awareness regardless of faith. Continue reading “Questions and Answers about Mindfulness”

You became as we are

You Are by Pip Nicholls

You Are by Pip Nicholls

In the interests
of calling us home
You became as we are.

You willingly
experienced all that
it is to be prodigal,

to be in this homeless
land of superficial selfhood.
You too, had to know

the loneliness of separation,
like us, you had to
be blinded by transient influences.

And You awoke to there
being no self to cling to,
You fully experienced I Am.

You saw through the
illusion of self
as a human perception

so Your life became our
alarm bell that we too
would wake to the same.

You Are the prodigal son, the father,
the unsung mother, the brother,
the fatted calf, the storyteller, the story…

Awaken within us
draw us home to You –
welcome us as We Are.

Pip Nicholls loves to read slowly, in fact prefers to do everything with a little ‘slow’ attached, so she enjoys poetry and cartoons for getting to the unsayable briefly and succinctly. More about Pip can be found at her website The Gentle Art of Knowing

Source: Refresh Journal of Contemplative Spirituality Volume 13, Number 2. Winter 2014. 

After an Earthquake

After an earthquake

It doesn’t pay to be loose around the edges
at a time like this
to be frivolous or slack
don’t frighten anyone with a sudden sneeze
no leaping out of a birthday cake


You need to focus, concentrate
hold your mind in a straight path
don’t deviate into arrogance or smugness
don’t think you’ve got it all sorted
or imagine you can ride this rocky road
on your own
there are forces greater than you at work here
power beyond your meagre capacity to understand


You need to twine your heart
like a piece of number 8 wire
around something solid and grounded
that will hold you calm on the roughest of days
and the bumpiest of nights

Be thankful
look at all you have become
even in the midst of all you have lost

Be attentive
listen to the Voice speaking
like stirrings of wind through the trees

Be present in the here and now
appreciate the texture
the sound, the taste and touch
of each precious and holy moment

Be still
rest in the One whose love you know


by Barbara Sampson

Barbara Sampson is director at The Salvation Army Hornby’s Community Ministries in Christchurch, and part time poet, wordsmith and spiritual director. Wife of one, mother of two, grandmother of ten.

Source Refresh: Journal of Contemplative Spirituality Volume 13 Number 1 Summer 2014

Photo Credit: e_lisewin via Compfight cc

Shadow of Light – Discovering you’re not alone


It was a shadow, in the background, going unnoticed.

It was a Shadow of Light.

Weird really, but a shadow it was. You couldn’t touch it but it was surely there.

Light normally fills a the dark room, creating the shadows, but this was different. It was a Shadow of Light in my very very dark places.

It wasn’t bright neon ‘impossible to look at’ light, it was more ‘just there’. Dim and warm, soft and inviting.

Well it was inviting to me, but to those whose hearts and eyes had been conditioned to the darkness it was something to  pushed to the back of the room. Into the corner, out of sight, and definitely out of mind.

It just watched, silently and sadly at the darkness of thought and motive. Its image bearer hands glowing softly. Rope marked torn hands were clenched in fists that once held whip.

Shadow of Light moved a step forward then pulled back. It wasn’t time yet and I noticed a gentle restraining hand draped over the shoulder.

Why didn’t Shadow of Light act I wondered? Why the constraint in this time of pain?

I focused my eyes in on the throbbing gentle heartbeat of the Shadow. Then zoom, I was transported to his side. I leaned into listen. With the gentleness of a secure lover I felt an arm reach around behind me, gently pressing my head upon his chest.

This Shadow of light was now absorbing me into its image bearing self. A warmth was filling me that the darkness, the dirty, shameful, raping darkness could never rob away.

Do I want the shadow to intervene in the abuse of my soul? Yes, of course I do, but if it means for one moment that I could lose the sound of loves heartbeat then ‘No’ I would respond back.

There will come a time when Shadow of Light will banish every flicker of darkness away.

Till that day, I will secure myself knowing that there is a Shadow of Light walking beside me. No darkness can stick on me, no evil can define me, no abuse will ever shame my true identity.

I am a child of the ‘Shadow of Light’.

Perhaps my own Shadow of Darkness is being transformed by this Shadow of Light. Perhaps you are too.

Zoom into his heartbeat.


Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

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Lover. I wriggle under the implication of that word.

A Prayer

an old hymn tells me that you are
lover of my soul.
I wriggle under the implication of
that word.
For if you are lover of my soul
you long for a response
to show you
that I have seen you for who you truly are
– gentlest Love
– warming my heart
– stirring my desire
for more of you …
and more of you …
and more of you …
until I am lost in the mystery
of being with you
in you, of you,
Help me to risk drawing closer to you today.

Photo Credit: kt.beyondperception via Compfight cc

from ‘On Holiday with God’ Sue Pickering 2012 Canterbury Press, Norwich

Refresh – Journal of Contemplative SpiritualityVolume 12, Number 1. Summer 2013. I

Sue Pickering wonders often about retreating to a bach at Kinloch and being a granny,
but in the meantime is engaged in a stimulating mix of aged care chaplaincy; writing;
SGM Workgroup; spiritual direction, retreats and supervision; Cathedral governance;
learning the piano and occasional quilting. Helping others recognise the sacred Presence
in the midst of life is a continuing passion.


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On Juggling Snow Balls

Disclaimer: I have never juggled snowballs.

On Juggling SnowballsPhoto Credit: shenamt via Compfight cc

Sometimes I get a picture or a story, I believe from God, that needs to be prayerfully thought about.

 I had one of those the other day.

 I was juggling snowballs, and actually I was doing a pretty good job of it too, if I can modestly say for a non juggling Aucklander where it never snows.

For me I want to surrender to the ambiance of God’s love flowing around my juggling snowballs.

  Snowballs were flying high up into the air and I was enjoying the rhythm. I was having a party.

 I, like you most likely, have a busy life. Snowballs symbolising all the various roles I have. Husband, Father, Pastor, Gardener, Trugmaker, Blogger etc.

Keeping all those balls flying requires a certain rhythm, almost a musicality to the movement. Round and round, up and down, flying high up into the air.

There is however a relationship going on here that enables me to juggle. Its unseen, unrecognised and possibly taken for granted.

 The relationship between the snowball and the temperature of the air.

Ambient – relating to the immediate surroundings of something.
Ambiance – the atmosphere of a place


For those snowballs to hold their shape, there must be an cold ambient temperature to keep them frozen. A few degrees of warming will cause the solid to turn to mush. Juggling will become more of a slushy mess than entertaining experience.


That which is unseen and out of our control does have an effect on us.


Scary thought isn’t it. Something beyond your control, manipulation and power, having an influence over you.

The snowball juggler surrenders to the ambient temperatures ability to hold it all together. The juggler can play, do tricks, have fun all because the atmosphere is perfect.

Just try this little exercise for a moment.

Imagine God thinking about you.

What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?

When I ask people to do this, a surprising number of people say that the first thing they assume God feels is disappointment. Others assume that God feels anger. In both cases, these people are convinced that it is their sin that catches God’s attention. I think they are wrong-and i think the consequences of such a view of God are enormous. David Benner

 Honestly, deep down, at a raw emotional level what is the ambient temperature of God for you. Are you trying to appease an assumed angry God? If you are then you will never juggle with joy and spontaneity.

 For me I want to surrender to the ambiance of God’s love flowing around my juggling snowballs.

Gravity may hold planets in orbit and nuclear force may hold the atom together, but only love has the power to transform persons.

Only love can soften a hard heart.

Only love can renew trust after it has been shattered.

Only love can inspire acts of genuine self-sacrifice.

Only love can free us from the tyrannizing effects of fear.

David Benner


What will it take for you to surrender more of yourself to that love?

Those who specialize in firm exhortation, think less of enjoying God as “Abba” and more of obeying him as a sergeant. Larry Crabb

 Questions to consider and leave a comment.

  1. What is the ambient atmosphere surrounding your life? Fear? Love?

  2. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?

  3. How do your assumptions about God affect you?

Barry Pearman

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A Prayer of One Who Feels Lost

Dear God,why do I keep fighting you off-
Dear God,
why do I keep fighting you off?
One part of me wants you desperately,
another part of me unknowingly
pushes you back and runs away.
What is there in me that
so contradicts my desire for you?

These transition days, these passageways,
are calling me to let go of old securities,
to give myself over into your hands.
Like Jesus who struggled with the pain
I, too, fight the “let it all be done.”
Loneliness, lostness, non-belonging,
all these hurts strike out at me,
leaving me pained with this present goodbye.

I want to be more, but I fight the growing.
I want to be new, but I hang onto the old.
I want to live, but I won’t face the dying.
I want to be whole, but I cannot bear
to gather up the pieces into one.

Is it that I refuse to be out of control,
to let the tears take their humbling journey,
to allow my spirit to feel its depression,
to stay with the insecurity of “no home”?

Now is the time. You call to me,
begging me to let you have my life,
inviting me to taste the darkness
so I can be filled with the light,
allowing me to lose my direction
so that I will find my way home to you.


Photo Credit: Sam Burriss

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God hath not promised skies always blue

God has not promised


God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.

Annie Johnson Flint

Photo Credit: AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker via Compfight cc

Beginning Again

Beginning Again

Beginning Again

I had thought ‘growing up’ meant
Gaining independence.
Taking my first reckless steps
As I stumbled across the living room floor,
Then, later on, into
Adult life.
Creating a ‘me’ shaped by
My visions, my goals,
My desires –
Accompanied by some
Steepcliffs of learning and a
Painful chastening at times
As I looked back on earlier
Behaviours and their consequences with
Disbelief and regret.
I realise now that I have had the
Map upside down and been
Reading from back to front.
The landscape has changed;
Familiar landmarks are gone.
And I discover that
All I tried so hard to avoid is really
The pathway to what I most desire;
I am exchanging the freedom that confines for
The discipline of love;
Finding my freedom ‘in’ You.
Finding, in this unfamiliar place, that
I feel strangely at home;
A growing sense of belonging despite
My aloneness at time, as
Walls tumble, lines blur and
Resistance evaporates –
Until there is no longer
Thee and Thine or
Me and mine.
Until I am Yours,
Yours alone, and
You are mine, and we are just us

by Jane Hansen

Jane Hansen is married to Jim, and is also a mum and grandma. Jane enjoys country life
close to the Wairere Falls beneath the Kaimai Ranges, visits from family and friends and

writing in response to God’s grace in the blessings and challenges of everyday life.

Refresh – Journal of Contemplative Spirituality Volume 12, Number 1. Summer 2013. I

Photo Credit: `James Wheeler via Compfight cc

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