Joining in the Advent Journey

Every year, during the Advent season, I ask myself the question, “What ‘newness’ wants to be birthed into the world through me in the coming year?”  It is my way of holding a space within my heart and mind to listen for what offering of love the Divine is calling me to create, share, or give to the world.

In 2018, when I held this question I felt the nudge that it was time to write a book.  I had received this nudge many, many times in the past, but last year it felt different.  It felt like it was time to face all of my fears about writing, to offer the whole process to the Sacred and to allow a book to be birthed through me.  So, I embarked on one of the most challenging contemplatively lead projects of my life.  Every day, I showed up in my office and prayed to be shown what to do and I committed to taking the steps that I was shown.

Gradually, one small step at a time, a book began to take form.  It was to be a compilation of lessons I have received from my time spent in nature.  The vision was to have these reflections organized into categories that correspond with the elements of earth, air, fire and water.

The whole process of opening to the Sacred to allow this book to take form felt magical, challenging, and beautiful all at the same time.  When doubts about my ability to write, worries about being good enough, and obstacles around finding an editor, title, or cover art for the book arose, I found myself turning to one line of an ancient prayer in the book of Proverbs (30:8) which reads, “Keep lies and falsehoods far from me.”   This prayer would rise to my aide every time that I felt overcome with fears of being judged and criticized for my writing, or fears that what I was creating would not be good enough.  This simple prayer would help me focus, clear my being of fear and give me strength to keep showing up.

Bit by bit, I was shown the way to write this book.  I was inspired to ask my aunt for one of her paintings for the cover art.  I was inspired to dig through my collection of writing to find reflections that corresponded with the movement of each element.  I was inspired to reach out to friends and colleagues for help and support with reading the manuscript, editing it, and providing valuable feedback.

Throughout the project, when I needed strength and inspiration, I would turn to these words from Rilke, “We must give birth to our images, they are the future waiting to be born.”

When I finally held the book in my hands for the first time, my heart was full of gratitude for saying ‘yes’ to this journey.  Compiling this book helped me grow the inner muscles of courage, perseverance, and commitment.  It also strengthened my belief in something greater than us that uses us to birth newness into our world.

In the end, I learned that this book does not belong to me.  I was only the instrument through which it was birthed.  As the creative process came to completion, I recognized that I was being asked to let go of thinking that I was in any way in control of this process.  This book would have a life of its own.  I couldn’t control who read it, or what people think of it (or me).  This creation would find its own way in the world.  It would reach the hands it was supposed to be held in, it would touch the hearts it was meant to touch.

Today, I am so grateful for the gifts that I have learned through the process of creating Lessons from Nature.  I am grateful for listening deeply to the inner movements and nudges of Spirit.  And, I am gratefully surprised by the stories people are sharing with me about how the book has impacted them.

In 2019, as we once again find ourselves immersed in the Advent story, what new life is stirring within you?  What invitations are beckoning you to say ‘yes, I will commit to this journey’?  Just like Mary and Joseph, as we listen to these nudges, we find ourselves immersed in a story that is both ancient and on-going.  We take part in the birthing of new life and love into our world.

Advent blessings to all,

P.S.  Lessons from Nature can be purchased from all on-line book retailers, including Amazon and Chapters.  Signed copies can be purchased directly from me by emailing  A portion of the proceeds from each book sold are donated to Community Forests International.

Can Prayer Increase the Positive Energy in the Universe?

I recently came across an article in which the author, Ilia Delio, is being asked if she thinks that prayer can increase the positive energy in the Universe.  Ilia Delio is a theologian with a passion for exploring the intersections of science and religion.  She has written many books on the subject and her most recent book, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution and the Power of Love (Orbis, 2013), received the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award and a third place Catholic Press Association Award for Faith and Science.

I wanted to share a link to this article as it is well worth the read:

I especially found the final paragraphs inspiring and affirming as Ilia shares:  “…No matter where we are or what we are doing, if we are living out of a contemplative center of prayerful relationship with God, we will be a vital part of the cosmos, since our energy fields are entangled in the cosmos.  Hence we can play a significant role in evolution, helping to direct the process toward unity in love.

In Teilhard’s view, contemplation, mysticism, deep prayer, however we enter into the depths of divine mystery and share in the wellspring of divine life, is the most important activity in the universe.  Deep prayer is the vital energy of evolution because it is the most unified source of convergence between God and personal being.  Prayer can change our world!”

To me this truly speaks to the support and encouragement Contemplative Pathways offers in all of its programming, and most especially in our commitment to spiritual practice and the journey deeper into relationship with God. Prayer, and I might add, contemplative presence, changes the world, often one heart at a time.


One Breath

The air crackles when I step outside the door. The breath catches in my lungs and stings my nose. It is minus 35. Cold even for this part of the world. I don’t want to know what the windchill factor is. My eyes blink to focus in the frigid air. Winter in much of Canada is a harsh teacher this year.

Even in this frozen cold each day I take myself outside the House of Prayer where I am staying for some time of healing and reflection. I stand among the barren trees listening to the winter birds (how do they manage to survive in this bitter beauty?) I watch the deer paw through the snow for a morsel of sustenance. In the early morning sky I see the waning moon, Venus and Jupiter shining bright.

I am reminded in this one brilliant moment that this breath I can see as I blow through pursed lips I share with all life. It is not “my breath”. It is indeed the Breath of Life. I see the deers’ breath as they stop along the path to look back at me. I see the “breath” of the lake as the holes the weekend ice fishers cut begin to freeze over. We share the One Breath. We are of one essence. I now know how strongly, how integrally we are connected. And I breathe my prayer of thanks.

Susan Butler-Jones