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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’d love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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:
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.
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.
Today’s guest is Karen Campbell, minister and musician, originally from Northern Ireland and currently based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Karen and I met first when we were both serving Presbyterian churches in the Belfast area, but our friendship has extended into our shared love of music, the Psalms, and spirituality – as well as some fun times and good laughs along the way. Here, Karen shares about her connections with the Psalms throughout her life, leading up to the creation of an album she and her husband David put together during the pandemic period of 2020. I’m grateful to the Campbell family for the music in today’s episode – their son Ian’s voice features in the opening song, followed by David’s voice as well as other musicians from the Church of the Servant with whom they recorded this beautiful and uplifting album. In our conversation, we look at how exploring the psalms through music, art, and honest reflection helped her congregation uncover deep grace in the midst of the pains, laments, and hurts that came to the surface in a turbulent year, and how that process has led them to hear the voices on the margins in a clearer way. Check show notes to see photos of some of the artwork that came out of those sacred times of gathering around the Psalms.
Karen grew up in Northern Ireland. Before becoming a pastor, she worked for 3 years in Nairobi, Kenya teaching music and worship at Daystar University. She has worked in both rural and city settings, but longs for people to become fully mature, spirit-filled worshippers and followers of Jesus who unite together in being kingdom influencers in the world. Karen came to be co-pastor at Church of the Servant in 2018. Karen is passionate about fulfilling Church of the Servant’s mission statement: to enable a fellowship where the burdened and suffering will find support and comfort, where the alienated will be accepted, and where those seeking God will be shown the way. Karen is married to David and they have three sons, Ian, Callum, and Duncan.
Today’s guest is Kate Wiebe, founder of the Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth. We both entered seminary only days after 9/11, an event that influenced many of us as we began our theological studies not far away from the areas that had been traumatized by those events. It wasn’t until years after we’d graduated that I found out that she’d gone on to do doctoral work on how people come through times of crisis, and that her studies led to the founding of ICTG, an organization focused on helping groups respond to large scale crises such as natural disasters and acts of mass violence, as well as more private crises that devastate smaller communities. In our conversation, Kate and I explore how spirituality and the Psalms weave into her life’s work of being a guide for people through the rugged terrain of the valley of the shadow of death.
This episode contains references to numerous traumatic incidents, so please keep your triggers in mind, either by having proper supports in place or by listening to a previous episode instead – I’d recommend Episode 2 which offers lots of practical tips on building resilience in day to day life.
I can’t imagine a gentler guide through life’s rough paths than Kate, and I’m sure you’ll learn so much from the wisdom she shares, as I did when we talked.
Rev Dr Kate Wiebe is a pastor in the Presbytery of Santa Barbara, CA, a telehealth counselor at La Vie Centers in Pasadena, and a volunteer with the Institute for Collective Trauma & Growth, which she founded in 2012. Over the last two years, Wiebe has found herself increasingly drawn to follow the research and invest time and energy more locally. She supports the development of local resources among individuals, families, and groups to become refreshed and to thrive amid adversity, especially through counseling, mentoring, and encouraging congregational ministries. As time allows, she continues to offer national and international subject matter expertise and consulting on disaster response and organizational restoration after crises. Her most treasured time is with her family, including her husband and four children.
Today’s guest is Eric Sarwar, a minister, musician and academic, from Pakistan and currently based in California. I first met Eric many years ago when he was visiting Northern Ireland, and I remember my kids and I dancing around the kitchen to some of the music he left behind for us to listen to. A few years later, Eric and I met again at a conference in the States, and shared music across our traditions, which shows just how universal music can be. Eric has a deep personal love for the Psalms and has studied the history of the Psalter used in Pakistan. I wanted to hear from him what the Psalms have meant for his Pakistani diasporic community, and also about his fascinating doctoral work looking at the Psalms as a starting point for interfaith dialogue with Muslim neighbors. I’m grateful to Eric for sharing his music for this episode – you’ll hear him singing and playing his harmonium to demonstrate the sounds of the psalter he grew up hearing, and you’ll also hear a recent recording of a musical collaboration that is really delightful. This time, there is a link to the video of our fuller conversation, including footage of Eric playing and singing some traditional Pakistani psalm settings.
Rev. Dr. Eric Sarwar (Ph.D. Fuller Theological Seminary) has a three-dimensional ministry calling: (1) Musician, (2) Minister, and (3) Missiologist. Along with church planting and inspired intuition, he established the first-ever Tehillim School of Church Music & Worship in Pakistan. Dr. Sarwar is a passionate preacher, translator, an excellent communicator, and a phenomenal catalyst for music and mission-related ministries worldwide. As a music composer and songwriter recorded four albums and various songs for children and youth ministry, published three books and articles, and interviews on worship and witnessed through music in the Islamic context.
My guest for today’s podcast episode is Erin Hayes-Cook, a Presbyterian minister based in Rahway, New Jersey – a short commute away from New York City. I’ve known Erin for about two decades now – we were shocked to realize! – and I was interested to get back in touch to hear about some of her current work around building resilience in her congregation’s spiritual lives as well as the broader community during these wearying times. In this conversation, we explore marking time through rituals, creating space to meet with God, and poetry as a creative process in understanding who we are. Serendipitously, this podcast coincided perfectly with the launch of Erin’s new project River of Resilience, which offers practices in resilience for people of color traumatized by racism. Through this project, Erin seeks ways to offer healing for people whose bodies, minds and spirits have been affected not only by the pandemic but by the pervasive racism that has been all the more exposed in this past year.
In January of 2013 Rev. Hayes-Cook accepted the call to be the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Rahway, NJ. Her subsequent ordination was on April 7, 2013 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. She has served First Rahway for 8 years as the first woman of color to pastor the community in its 275 year history. Gaining great joy in walking alongside the diverse community she serves through her local presbytery and synod.She looks forward to the the River of Resilience initiative to help offer healing practices in the face of racism. Rev. Hayes-Cook and her husband Lawrence welcomed their first child in June of 2019. She loves a good cup of coffee, writing, and working out with her Crossfit community.