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Same Insight, Different Day

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on September 28, 2022

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  — Collect for Proper 22C
It has been truly delightful to hear the reflections these past two Sundays in Adult Formation about the sabbatical activities that St. Mark’s was able to engage in as part of the Lilly Endowment grant we received. If you missed them, you can check out the classes on the websiteAs I begin to prepare to share some of my experiences over the next two Sundays, it is hard to sort out what my most important insights were. 
Save one. 
This seems to be the same insight I receive over and over again when I finally stop the mad pace of my life and truly sink into the invitation God has for my life. Somehow when I show up and pray, everything is better. My practice is to pray the morning office, have a 20-minute centering prayer, sit in silence, and then (this is a newer addition) read part of the Green Bough Rule of life. During my month at Green Bough, we did this each morning, so it was a way to fill the reservoir of my own depletion, and I continue it now. 
Years ago, someone reminded me that part of the importance of regular retreat time is that is supports our daily practice. We all get off-kilter, and sometimes a hard stop is what allows us to ground ourselves in the wisdom we already have. After almost 30 years of going on retreat, I realize that my hope is to catch myself more quickly when I’m off-center. This is a much healthier approach than imagining I will stay centered at all times. 
So the first line of the collect this Sunday does not feel like a condemnation, rather an acknowledgment that, as a favorite title of a book on prayer notes, “Always we begin again.” God is always happy to see us return to the patterns that most connect us to God and our community. And speaking of that—we have some wonderful opportunities in the next two weeks! Sunday is a personal favorite of mine with our annual blessing of the animals. Seeing all of you with your beloved pets is always a joy. And then we are prepared for our grand rededication weekend, Come and See, October 15 and 16. Be on the lookout for your invitation, and make sure you join us as we celebrate the renovations of our spaces and the chance to be with one another again!

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