Monday, October 22, 2012


In the New Testament it is recorded that Jesus asked over 170 questions to those he came in contact with.  Conversely, it is documented that Jesus was asked 183 questions…only 3 of which he answered directly!  An interesting observation, especially in this day of bombastic religious leaders telling their flocks what to believe from top to bottom.  Many questions Jesus “answered” with another question.  Obviously, he knew what it has taken therapists and spiritual directors centuries to learn – that asking questions is more effective at getting to the real answers than merely telling someone what to think or do. 
 One of my favorite quotes is from Blaise Pascall, a 17th Century mathematician, philosopher and physicist:

All (wo)men's miseries derive
from not being able to sit
in a quiet room alone. 

So that's what a small group of souljourneying women did this past weekend...asked and answered some of those same questions Jesus put forth to those he encountered.  Questions like, "What are you thinking in your hearts?" and "Did not the Maker of the outside also make the inside?" - dealing with our tendency to care more about the externals rather than live as integrated, whole people.

One of my greatest joys, and my calling, is to provide that kind of solitude for women. My prayer is that through the stillness, the Spirit will bring healing, God will confirm the desires of their hearts and they will claim their true callings in order to transform the world.

As they sat down (in the quiet outdoors) with 5 questions, they took the time needed to peel back the layers of our minds and hearts. Below are a few suggestions I gave them to help begin and follow through with the questions.  It is a powerful exercise to sit with a list of meaningful questions...and hold them in your heart until answers come.
  1. Before answering each question, begin by reciting to God the centering prayer you created for a few minutes. Try keeping your eyes open…
  2. Sit in at least two different places as you answer the five questions to give yourself a change of perspective.
  3. Start the process for each question by doing 5 minutes of free-writing. Write whatever comes to your mind, without regard for spelling, grammar and topic and without stopping or taking pen off paper.
  4. As thoughts come to you, continue to ask yourself more questions. Use the old Who, What, When, Where and Why prompts to expand the thoughts you have.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


For my birthday in late September, I attended The Arc of Appalachia Preserve’s semi-annual Women’s Retreat.  Even a retreat owner needs a change of venue at times and I was interested both in surrounding myself with beautiful scenery, as well as seeing how another organization conducts their women’s retreats.

Monday, October 8, 2012


We struck a bargain this past spring, or rather,
I struck a bargain with you, when you left the
newly-planted mountain laurel gnarly and leafless
and stripped small oaks of their budding futures. 

You will eat the dirty, orange persimmons
that fell from the lichen-covered tree on the hill. 
Though we gathered only four all season to
taste of their pungent flesh, we did not mind.

You will eat the bruised and misshapen apples from
further up the hill, too full of  blackberry canes to
make the climb worth it. If you can glean them from
the abundant thicket, we are happy to share.

You will walk the mowed paths through the prairie,
and bed down at the edge under the spreading pines.
You will drink undisturbed from the pond, lick the salt
and lay hidden in the big bluestem under the evening sun.

Then, after the fall equinox and first full moon, the terms.
We will stand over your strong body and graceful eyes,
give thanks to you and the Sustainer, knowing the ground
we stand on, blood-soaked and bargained for, is holy.

Cindy Steffen
November 2011