Psalms for the Spirit Ep. 14: Listening in the Silence for What is True, with Brother Thierry

TODAY’S GUEST

Today’s guest is Brother Thierry, a French Benedictine monk who has lived in Northern Ireland for the past 22 years. Ages ago, when I visited Holy Cross Monastery where he’s based, I remembering Brother Thierry coming to welcome our group, and I was impressed by his gracious hospitality and the inviting and accessible way he spoke to our group about Benedictine spiritual practice, especially the role of silence. Then, earlier this year, Brother Thierry and I were a part of a panel on Contemplative Prayer for the Four Corners Festival in Belfast, and once again I was struck by the wisdom he has to offer about prayer and silence. So, I was delighted when he said he would talk with me on this podcast about the Benedictine rhythm of prayer, which includes a swift cycle of daily Psalm singing. In this conversation, we talk about finding happiness in a life of prayer, about being called to pray when others can’t, about how prayer is the only place we can be who we truly are, and about how silence is a listening relationship. 

I was grateful to get an inside perspective on monastic life, and as always, I was moved by the way prayer – and in particular, the psalms – can bring us together across religious divides. 

Find the podcast on the Psalms for the Spirit website or subscribe on Apple, Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Find out more about Holy Cross Monastery in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland where Brother Thierry is based.

FEATURED MUSIC

The music in this episode is by Celtic Psalms (Kiran Young Wimberly & The McGraths). You can purchase mp3s directly through www.celticpsalms.com

Come, Spirit, Come (Psalm 144)

Their Delight (Psalm 1 – forthcoming album, preorder here)

Love is Lord of All (Psalm 86)

You can find our published scores, CDs and mp3s through GIA Music

We’re also on YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon

Album draft cover by Eva Wimberly

NEW ALBUM, COMING UP!

Celtic Psalms has a new (fourth) album coming out in the next few months! We were so excited to be able to do music together again. Your pre-order will help us push the album through to the finish line. Pre-order here

SUPPORT THE PODCAST

If you would like to support the production of this podcast, you can do so by contributing here. Thank you so much! Your support will means there will facilitate more meaningful conversations about spirituality and resilience into the future.

UPCOMING EVENTS

“Sing a New Song” Online Retreat Day with Paul Hutchinson (Therapist, Mediator, Storyteller and Podcast Guest from Episode 11)

18th September 2021

“Refresh Your Spirit” In-Person Weekend Retreat at Corrymeela

19th-21st Nov 2021

GET IN TOUCH!

I’d love to hear from you. Email psalmsforthespirit@gmail.com or send a message via our Facebook page to share with me how the Psalms have lifted your spirits. If you send an audio file, I may just include it in an upcoming episode!

Whatever it is that brought you here, I’m so glad you’re with us. – Kiran

Psalms for the Spirit Ep. 13: Transformed by Grief into Agents of Change, with Sunder John Boopalan

TODAY’S GUEST

Today’s guest is Sunder John Boopalan, a professor specializing in political theology and ethics, with a personal focus on Dalit theology and social justice. I knew John way back when we were in seminary, when he also passed on his now-famous Indian Dhal curry recipe to my family. I always had a deep respect for his perspective, and John’s work recently came to mind because of the prominent book “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson. Along those same lines, John has written a powerful book called “Memory, Grief, and Agency,” in which he highlights the marginalization of the Dalit community in India – those who are considered to be outside the caste system, sometimes derogatorily referred to as untouchables or outcastes – and he proposes a theological response to caste or race-based injustices, naming the importance of grief in building our capacity to transform this world. In this podcast, we hear about John’s personal background with the Psalms as he grew up in South India, about caste-based violence and humiliations that Dalits endure on a daily basis, and about how Psalms might offer a way to express grief over society’s wrongs and transform us into agents of change. I couldn’t believe that so much laughter and heartbreak could be found within the same conversation – as you’ll hear, John isn’t afraid of looking at what’s challenging, but his warmth and joy never fails to come through. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Dalit experience, John recommends a few films: Fandry and Sairat, directed by Nagraj Manjule, which you can find online.

Find the podcast on the Psalms for the Spirit website or subscribe on Apple, Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

More about John:

Sunder John Boopalan, Assistant Professor at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Canada, where he specializes in political theologies and ethics, with personal emphases in the areas of Dalit Christianity and redress of structural or systemic wrongdoing. John is the author of the book Memory, Grief, and Agency (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). His most recent essay in the journal Religions is titled “Religious Amnesias, Mythologies, and Apolitical Affects in Racist Landscapes,” and is freely available at https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110615. John is a columnist for The Blueprint (https://theblueprint.news/), a digital publication that explores identity, society, culture, human rights, and freedom by centering marginalized voices with an emphasis on South Asia and its diaspora.

Purchase John’s book

FEATURED MUSIC

The music in this episode is by Celtic Psalms (Kiran Young Wimberly & The McGraths). You can purchase mp3s directly through www.celticpsalms.com

Come, Spirit, Come (Psalm 144)

I Lift My Eyes Up to the Hills (Psalm 121)

My God, My God (Psalm 22)

From the Depths (Psalms 130, 131)

You can find our published scores, CDs and mp3s through GIA Music

We’re also on YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon

SUPPORT THE PODCAST

If you would like to support the production of this podcast, you can do so by contributing here. Thank you so much! Your support will means there will facilitate more meaningful conversations about spirituality and resilience into the future.

UPCOMING EVENTS

“Sing a New Song” Online Retreat Day with Paul Hutchinson (Therapist, Mediator, Storyteller and Podcast Guest from Episode 11)

18th September 2021

“Refresh Your Spirit” In-Person Weekend Retreat at Corrymeela

19th-21st Nov 2021

GET IN TOUCH!

I’d love to hear from you. Email psalmsforthespirit@gmail.com or send a message via our Facebook page to share with me how the Psalms have lifted your spirits. If you send an audio file, I may just include it in an upcoming episode!

Whatever it is that brought you here, I’m so glad you’re with us. – Kiran

Longing for Refuge

The Psalms have always been a refuge for me. From the time I was able to read, I stole away to my room for solace from the bustle of the household. There in the quiet, I flipped open my Bible, and the pages often opened up ward the middle, to a psalm.

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul thirsts for you.” Psalm 42

“O God, you are my God, and I long for you.” Psalm 63

“My heart cries out and my flesh faints for the courts of the Lord.” Psalm 84

As a child, being at the heart of the family felt like both a blessing and a curse – I loved them dearly, but my emotions and thoughts also became mixed up in the midst of the relationships, the happenings, the conflicts, the conversations going on around me. I needed to find my center, my refuge, and I found it in God.

So, I escaped frequently to the quiet of my room, crawling under my covers and breaking open the psalms. These ageless words entered into me – the prayers of ancient people reverberating in my heart, becoming my own. As the deer longs to drink from streams of water, my soul is thirsty for you. O God, you are my God, and I long for you. My heart cries out to be in your presence now.

Meditating on these words, praying these prayers, I slowly found myself once again in the calming presence of God. I knew, somehow, in the depths of my being, that God had heard me, that God cared for me, and that God had met me there. I sat in that blissful place for a few moments, until I heard someone calling me to set the table, or to join the family for a movie, or to get on with whatever I was up to that day. Though it was always hard to leave that serenity, I carried a piece of it with me as I left my room and returned to the rest of my life.

The psalms have been my refuge, as they have been for countless others around the world for thousands of years. It’s incredible to me to think of the universality of this longing to be in God’s presence. For millennia, in a myriad of cultures and time periods, people have longed to find solace in God. They have longed to lay their burdens and concerns into God’s arms so that they might rest more fully in their Creator. We all long for things to be made right in this world, long to be our best selves, long to find our center, long to be at peace within ourselves, with others, and with God. No matter what separates us from each other, we share this deep inner longing to find refuge in God.

Though my longing was met momentarily during those moments of solace, it would always return. Again and again, that longing would return, and I would be called back to that same spot to seek God’s presence once more. As I got older, got married, became a minister, became a mother, it never failed to come back. That longing within me indicated that something was off kilter – that my emotions were overwhelming me, that my thoughts were careening in an unhelpful direction, that events in the world around me were whirling and swirling in a way that left me feeling turbulent inside. But as soon as I noticed that desire to return to God’s presence, and stole away to my quiet place once more, the storm within me began to die down. That longing was a signal for me to seek God again.

We might think of longing as something we want to get rid of – something to be satisfied, quenched, vanquished, gone forever. But I know that my longing has been a gift to me. Every time that longing arises within me and I pay attention to it, I find myself drawn closer to the heart of God. Without that signal, I’m not sure I would have chosen to return so frequently over the years, or found so many quiet moments of much-needed serenity in the midst of the activity of life.

Our longing beckons us to return to our place of refuge, again and again, amid the whirl and swirl of our lives. In that place of refuge, those ancient words resound in us still: As the deer longs for streams of water, so our souls thirst for you. O God, you are our God, and we long for you. Our hearts cry out to be in your presence now.

Ponderings for Your Path

  • Do you recall feeling that sense of longing in your life? If a memory comes to mind, sit with it for a few minutes. What did that longing reveal to you? Did you listen to that longing at the time, and if so, where did that lead you? 
  • What about right now. Do you notice a longing inside of you today? What is it telling you? Is there a way that you can meet that longing now? For example, is your longing nudging you to spend a few minutes centering yourself with God? Or is it pointing you towards a shift in your day-to-day life that will bring you into closer connection with God and with the deeper parts of yourself? 
  • Perhaps take a walk by a stream or river sometime this week, or if you can’t go to one in person, view the video below. Pay attention to the strength of its flow, the trickling sounds, the endless supply of water. How does the stream remind us of God’s unending supply of love, care, attention, and compassion for us? 

Blessing for our Journeys

May we listen to our longings

as we would listen to a dear friend

with attentiveness to the messages they offer 

in what is spoken and unspoken. 

May our longings draw us closer to the stream

of unending love and care,

attention and compassion

that is freely given. 

May our feet take us to that 

life-giving, 

God-given water,

again 

and again

and again. 

Amen.

Psalms for the Spirit Ep. 12: Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness, with Sarah Griffith Lund

TODAY’S GUEST

Today’s guest is Sarah Griffith Lund, a minister and author who has focused her life’s work on breaking the silence about mental illness. In her moving memoir entitled “Blessed are the Crazy,” Sarah tells her story of growing up in a family struggling with serious mental illness, and of finding blessing in the midst of her at times harrowing journey; and in her book “Blessed Union” she broaches the subject of mental illness in the context of marriage. When Sarah heard about this podcast, she got in touch with me to suggest that we talk about the connections between the Psalms and her work with mental illness – and I’m so glad she did. With her generous and gracious spirit, Sarah talks me through the stark realities of mental illness today, made even more extreme because of the pandemic, and how the themes of the Psalms speak to that life experience shared by so many. In our conversation, we talk about walking through the valley of the shadow of mental illness, sitting at table with mental illness, and finding ways to speak into the silence about mental illness. I felt grateful for Sarah’s gentle but firm reminder that we simply cannot stay silent when lives are at stake. There is some heavy content in this episode, so please do ensure that you have proper supports in place if needed, or listen to a previous episode – I’d recommend Episode 2 on building up habits of resilience in our daily lives. 

Find the podcast on the Psalms for the Spirit website or subscribe on Apple, Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

More about Sarah:

The Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund is passionate about loving her family, God, and being part of faith communities. She is an ordained minister and has served as pastor to churches in Brooklyn, NY, Minneapolis, MN, and New Smyrna Beach, FL. Rev. Dr. Lund served as Regional Minister in the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ and as a Vice President for Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN. She holds degrees from Trinity University (BA), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv), Rutgers University (MSW), and McCormick Theological Seminary (DMin). Rev. Dr. Lund received the Dell Award for Mental Health Education at the 30th General Synod of the UCC. She currently serves as Minister for Disabilities and Mental Health Justice on the national staff of the UCC and as senior pastor of First Congregational UCC of Indianapolis, IN. Sarah is the author of Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church (Chalice Press, 2014) and Blessed Union: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness and Marriage (Chalice Press, 2021). Sarah blogs at www.sarahgriffithlund.com.

FEATURED MUSIC

The music in this episode is by Celtic Psalms (Kiran Young Wimberly & The McGraths). You can purchase mp3s directly through www.celticpsalms.com

Come, Spirit, Come

I am Weary

The Lord’s My Shepherd

O God of My Salvation (from our forthcoming album – preorder here)

You can find our published scores, CDs and mp3s through GIA Music

We’re also on YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon

SUPPORT THE PODCAST

If you would like to support the production of this podcast, you can do so by contributing here. Thank you so much! Your support will means there will facilitate more meaningful conversations about spirituality and resilience into the future.

ONLINE QUIET DAY 12th June 2021 (Trans-Atlantic)

How’s your spirit these days? I’d like to ask you the question I ask my guests. It’s a question that’s not always easy to answer – it takes time, space, and intentionality to be able to really listen to our spirits and God’s Spirit in our lives. 

If you feel drawn to set aside that time, I wanted to let you know that I’m leading an online Quiet Day (to suit trans-Atlantic timings) on the 12th of June, 2021. Follow this link to book on Eventbrite. I would love to share that quiet space with people like you. There will be music and prayer, meditation and reflection, silence and sharing. It’ll be a beautiful time, good for my spirit as well as yours. 

GET IN TOUCH!

I’d love to hear from you. Email psalmsforthespirit@gmail.com or send a message via our Facebook page to share with me how the Psalms have lifted your spirits. If you send an audio file, I may just include it in an upcoming episode!

Whatever it is that brought you here, I’m so glad you’re with us. – Kiran

Waking to Gratefulness

“Thank you.” 

For years now, these have been my first words each morning as I reach out towards the cup of coffee my husband offers me. In that bleary, not-quite-awake state, my first thought is of thanks. 

I then get out of bed and sit in what I call my “prayer chair” in a private corner of the room, and in between sips of that freshly-made coffee, I write in my journal about the previous day. My dreamy state begins to sharpen its focus as I put words on the page. 

Bless My Feet: Let’s Walk This Path Together

Dear Fellow Travelers,

We don’t need to journey alone. I’d love to walk with you.

I’ve created a space where people of open-hearted Christian perspective can walk together to reflect on how spirituality connects to our daily lives.

You can subscribe to receive a free monthly reflection with questions to ponder for your own spiritual journey, and you’ll be kept up to date with what I’m involved with.

If you’d like to become more intentionally involved in this community, you can become a member to receive weekly emails with personal reflections, prompts for pondering, images of the beautiful north coast of Ireland where I live, additional video, music or podcast to accompany the written content, and blessings for your journeys. In the privacy of this space for members, you’ll be able to share on a more authentic level with others of like mind.

Until now, I’ve written the occasional post on this blog reflecting on the spiritual journey of daily life, but I’m migrating those posts to the Bless My Feet community. The reason for this is that I feel drawn to connect on a deeper, personal level with people in a more private environment for all of us, where we can share and reflect in a more honest and real way.

Whether you sign up either for the free monthly reflection or if you’re interested in walking together a part of the members’ community, it would be great to see you there.

Your fellow traveler,

Kiran

Psalms for the Spirit, Ep. 11: Loved in Our Unfixed State, with Paul Hutchinson

TODAY’S GUEST

Today’s guest is Paul Hutchinson, mediator, therapist, author and brilliant storyteller. A former Director of the Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Centre, Paul has distilled his memories and learnings from that time in his delightful book “Between the Bells.” I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Paul – interweaving spirituality, storytelling, and music with visiting groups. Paul exudes both wisdom and a wry sense of humor – his gentle presence fills a room, and he has that uncanny gift of seeing right through to what’s really going on under the surface. I wanted to hear from Paul about his spiritual journey from searching teenager to reflective Quaker, and about how his background as a therapist and mediator informs his reading of the Psalms. In our conversation, we talk about being drawn to sing a new song, about the importance of hosting all of our feelings, about how we can know when reconciliation is close at hand, and about how we are loved in our unfixed state.

Find the podcast on the Psalms for the Spirit website or subscribe on Apple, Google or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

More about Paul: 

Paul Hutchinson is a mediator, therapist, artist and retreat leader. He is a former Director of the Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Centre and the founder/Director of Imagined Spaces. Paul has over 25 years experience as a mediator and peace practitioner and has worked extensively in Northern Ireland, in North West of England (as a Neighbourhood Renewal Advisor), in New York, Jerusalem and Canada. He works with individuals, with interpersonal issues, with organisations, congregations and communities. Paul teaches/trains extensively on conflict transformation (Ulster University, Toronto School of Theology) and is a Visiting Lecturer at Dalhousie School of Law and the Atlantic School of Theology (Nova Scotia). Paul is a renowned storyteller and uses narrative practices throughout his work. He has created films such as Waiting & Silence, UPstanding: Stories of Courage from Northern Ireland and BYStanding: The Choices We Made. His latest book is Between the Bells – stories of reconciliation from Corrymeela (2019 Canterbury Press).

FEATURED MUSIC

The music in this episode is by Celtic Psalms (Kiran Young Wimberly & The McGraths). You can purchase mp3s directly through www.celticpsalms.com

Come, Spirit, Come

Sing to the Lord

From the Depths

Love and Mercy (forthcoming album – preorder here)

You can find published scores, CDs and mp3s through GIA Music

We’re also on YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon

SUPPORT THE PODCAST

If you would like to support the production of this podcast, you can do so by contributing here. Thank you so much! Your support will means there will facilitate more meaningful conversations about spirituality and resilience into the future.

ONLINE QUIET DAY 12th June 2021 (Trans-Atlantic)

How’s your spirit these days? I’d like to ask you the question I ask my guests. It’s a question that’s not always easy to answer – it takes time, space, and intentionality to be able to really listen to our spirits and God’s Spirit in our lives. 

If you feel drawn to set aside that time, I wanted to let you know that I’m leading an online Quiet Day (to suit trans-Atlantic timings) on the 12th of June, 2021. Follow this link to book on Eventbrite. I would love to share that quiet space with people like you. There will be music and prayer, meditation and reflection, silence and sharing. It’ll be a beautiful time, good for my spirit as well as yours. 

GET IN TOUCH!

I’d love to hear from you. Email psalmsforthespirit@gmail.com or send a message via our Facebook page to share with me how the Psalms have lifted your spirits. If you send an audio file, I may just include it in an upcoming episode!

Whatever it is that brought you here, I’m so glad you’re with us. – Kiran

Invitation to a Quiet Day

Hello friends,

I wanted to let you know about an online Quiet Day that I’ll be leading on 12th June 2021. It will be a time to listen to our spirits, to each others’ spirits, and to God’s Spirit as we gather for prayer, music, reflection, and silence.

In my podcast Psalms for the Spirit, I begin by asking “How’s your spirit these days?” and I’d love to ask you the same. How’s your spirit these days? Is it weary or joyful, heavy or hopeful – or a little of everything?

As we enter into new stages of normalcy, as our communities thrive and struggle in different ways, as we return to some of the familiar old ways and lean into a future that may be entirely different from anything we’ve experienced yet, we need to find time to be still, to listen deeply, and to be refreshed for the road ahead.

I invite you to join me in this time set aside for listening to our spirits and to God’s Spirit, grounded in Psalms of longing. I hope and pray that it will be a space where we can support one another through prayer and reflection, silence and sharing.

You can register for this event through this link. I’m asking for donations rather than a set fee for this Quiet Day, as I don’t want anything to hinder you from joining us. Your donation will go towards audio editing/mixing of the Psalms for the Spirit podcasts, which I am hoping to be able to outsource eventually.

The timing of the event on Saturday, 12th June 2021 is:

3pm-9pm GT (Northern Ireland/UK/Ireland)

10am-4pm ET (East Coast N. America)

9am-3pm CT (Central N. America)

7am-1pm PT (Pacific Coast N. America)

I hope to see you in that sacred Zoom space we’ll create together.

God bless,

Kiran

If you haven’t found them already, listen to the podcast episodes with wonderfully insightful guests here

Psalms for the Spirit Ep. 10: Leaning into the Cycles of Darkness and Light, with Barbara Brown Taylor

Today’s guest is Barbara Brown Taylor – author, speaker, Episcopal priest, retired professor, and all-around-delightful person. Barbara Brown Taylor has long been a highly regarded preacher, and she has written a number of compelling books on the spiritual life, including Altar in the World, Holy Envy, and Learning to Walk in the Dark. I was in the right place at the right time and got to spend a few hours with Barbara while driving her from Belfast to Corrymeela when she was here on book tour a few years ago, and I was thrilled when she agreed to talk with me on this podcast. In this conversation, we talk about the bird psalms, the bed psalms, and the difficult psalms, and we muse together on what they tell us about our humanity and how God sees us in that. We reflect on making friends with the dust, living gratefully on the earth, celebrating our place in the line of people who come before and after us, and leaning into the cycles of darkness and light, death and new life.  

Podcast Website

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

More about Barbara Brown Taylor:

http:barbarabrowntaylor.com

Psalms for the Spirit Ep. 9: Speaking to Each Other Across our Depths, with Avivah Zornberg

Today’s guest is Dr Avivah Zornberg, renowned Torah scholar, teacher and speaker based in Jerusalem. I first became aware Dr. Zornberg’s work when I heard a lecture she delivered in Belfast, and I was immediately mesmerized by her deep insights into Hebrew scripture – her studies are based on Midrash, literature, psychoanalysis and philosophy. She really brought Moses and other Biblical figures to life for me in a new way. With Passover in mind this weekend, I wanted to explore the use of Psalms in recounting the story of the Exodus, and I was absolutely delighted when Avivah agreed to speak with me not only from her scholarly background, but from her personal experience of the Psalms throughout her life. Our conversation spans from  stories of her grandmother to a Jewish theology of the Psalms to prayers said at the Passover table to speaking of what’s under the surface in each of our depths. 

Podcast Website

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

More about Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg:

See https://www.avivahzornberg.com/bio.html