Awakening: Preparing for Lent

A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction and Soul Care

February 18th 2017

Hi Everyone, I pray that you, at this very moment, are experiencing the presence of God in your day. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak to your heart.

Preparing for Lent

March 1st is Ash Wednesday, a day of repentance and remembrance, when we are called to ponder our own sinful nature from which we turn away and embrace the Good News of Jesus Christ. “Repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ” is what we hear and receive as the ashes are applied to our foreheads. This is the beginning of a 40 day period of preparation for the Easter season. It is a time of fasting and repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The idea is to purposely and reverently put aside time to reflect on Jesus Christ-His life, sacrifice, suffering, death and resurrection. For Christian’s throughout the millennia this is a most Holy time that offers us a tremendous opportunity to know the Love of God in a profoundly experiential manner at the core of our being. For many Christians Lent and Easter come and go without ever responding to the amazing gift of God’s presence and our opportunity to walk with Christ, truly hearing and responding to the Lord who says to us “Follow me.” This year, as in the past, a series of daily devotionals will be offered throughout Lent in “The Awakening Letter.” But, perhaps it would behoove us to start early; perhaps we need to prepare our hearts for Lent.

My experience of Lent over the past several years has been one of healing as I spend time with our Lord Jesus, walking through the events of His life, as if I am right there with Him in the biblical narrative. Therefore, I thought a good way to begin to prepare for Lent would be to consider and experience, over the next two weeks, two healing events that appear in the Gospel narratives. The first being the healing of the blind man as given to us in Mark 8:22-26 and the second (next week) the healing of the hemorrhaging woman and Jairus’ daughter from Luke 8:40-56.

Healing of the Blind Man

1. Read Mark 8:22-26 two times slowly

2. Read Mark 8:22-26 again. This time place yourself into the scene. Live it, feel it, taste it, and smell it, as you take in the experience as it unfolds around you. Ask the Lord to reveal any blind spots, or special learning that you may need to have revealed to you at this time.

3. Sit for five minutes in silence

4. Write in your journal a few sentences indicating important aspects of your experience. Go into as much detail as you can. Also write a bit about blind spots or learning that occurred as a result of the experience.

My Response to this Experience:

The deep compassion that the blind man’s friends have for him is palpable, as they implore Jesus to touch him. They truly believe that a touch from Jesus would restore their friend’s eyesight. As I look at Jesus I can almost hear his thoughts saying, “This presents a great teaching opportunity.” He then proceeds to go through a process of healing this man’s blindness. Surely he could have healed the man instantly. The process seems to be an object lesson teaching us that sometimes healing is a process. The blind man allowed himself to be led by Jesus out of the village, followed by two rounds of healing, the first partial and the second complete. Do these represent the physical and the spiritual? In the healing I sense the previously blind man being filled with a tremendous sense of all the new possibilities that are now before him. I saw a sense of freedom in his eyes. He looked at Jesus as one who beheld the glory of God. I found myself praying “Lord reveal any blind spots in me that may be affecting my ability to see you fully. Two things flashed through my mind. 1) Gene, you don’t know how much you are loved and 2) You put undue pressure upon yourself, which causes you to feel less effective than you feel you should be in your efforts to serve God. I prayed for these blind spots to be healed.

What healing does God want to do in you?

How might you behold the glory of God in such a manner that new possibilities come to you, as blindness is remove by the hand of God?

Coming in the Fall of 2017

Introduction to the Enneagram Eleven Week Course

This is an Eleven week (27.5 hour) course into the fantastic world of the Enneagram.

This class will include an in-depth look into all nine spaces as well as their subtypes, wings, triads and Holy ideas, with emphasis on its usefulness within the context of spiritual direction and self-care.

Syllabus is now available;

Want to learn more about the important practice of spiritual direction, or are looking for a spiritual director to walk with you in your spiritual journey?

Contact “The Awakening Institute”

321-298-8801 or visit our website

Coming this Fall

Christian Mysticism in Today’s World

Course Description: This is an 12 week course, (2 1/2 hours per session), designed to help the student discover the most important dynamics of Christian Mysticism, both in its historical context as well as the many ways it has, and continues to develop today. We will use a three-fold approach, which includes 1) Defining mysticism historically and what it means for disciples today. 2) Answering the question, “Who is a mystic?” and 3) the way of the mystic.

Syllabus now available, email:

Upcoming Classes and Seminars

  • Introduction to Spiritual Direction

  • Contemplative Listening

  • Lectio Divina

  • Centering Prayer

  • Exploring Spiritual Dispositions

  • Introduction to the Enneagram

And much more…

Request a free syllabus today:

To register please call 321-298-8801

Or visit our website for a complete listing of available classes and a free syllabus for a class of your choice.

Community Bible Experience

This is an encounter with God’s Word designed for those who wish to experience the Scriptures at a deep heart level, as a way to inner transformation.

Coming in the summer of 2017

The Gospel of John

Watch for details

Do you know someone who would like to receive “Awakening” every Friday?

Send us their email address and we will make it happen.

Some recommendations for excellent spiritual guidance…

If you have others to share with our readers please send them to

Something to Ponder

At times in deadness of spirit, a truth may be trying to break through for us. We need to stay with the experience and not run from it. The dry bones feeling may be our inner self’s way of calling us to greater wholeness. It may be saying to us: “Look. Pay attention. See what you have ignored for so long. Stop running away from this reality that blocks your growth. If you want to have greater freedom you must claim this part of yourself.”

Joyce Rupp,

may I have this dance? pg. 39

Enneagram Training Courses

Introduction to the Enneagram Seminar

A Six hour seminar,

February 18th, 9:30-3:00,

1 hour break from 12:00nonn to 1:00pm

At Epworth UMC

7651 Johnson Street

Hollywood, Florida, 33024

During this seminar we offer the following as an introduction the amazing enneagram.

  • Historic Background

  • The Three Part Symbol and Its Nine Points

  • Body, Heart, and Head

  • Initial Exploration Into Discovering Your Space

  • Subtypes (Self-Preservation, Social and One-to-One)

  • Arrows (growth through stress points and healing the child heart)

  • Self-care (vice to virtues)

Cost for this seminar is $25 prepaid before February 1st and $35 after February 1st

Feel free to email or call 321-298-8801 for further details

A Gathering of Spiritual Directors

This coming spring The Awakening Institute will host a gathering of spiritual directors. The reason for the gathering is to come together in prayer and to seek discernment regarding ways we can, together, raise awareness within the church of how spiritual direction can be a vehicle by which God’s presence and voice can be more deeply felt and more clearly heard, at both individual and congregational levels. If you are a spiritual director and would like to join in this conversation please contact Gene Yotka at 321-298-8801 or email for additional details.

Recommended Reading

(Additional to our daily Scripture reading)

  • Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, by David-Steindl Rast

  • I Am A Follower, by Leonard Sweet

  • Becoming Human, By Jean Vanier

  • Knowing As We Are Known, by Eugene T. Yotka

  • Let Your Life Speak, by Parker Palmer

  • Desiring God’s Will, by David Benner

  • Walking In The Light, by Steve Harper

  • Thoughts in Solitude, by Thomas Merton

  • Incarnation: The Surprising Overlap of Heaven & Earth, by Will Willimon

  • The Mystic Way of Evangelism, by Elaine A. Heath

  • A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer

  • The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen

  • Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity, by Norman Wirzba

  • Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr

  • Between the Dark and the Daylight, by Joan Chittister

  • New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton

  • New! Love Henri, by Henri Nouwen

Have Something You Would Like to Share?

Awakening would be blessed to receive original articles, poems, or artistic work that would be helpful and edifying for those interested in Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction, and/or Soul Care for future publication.

Please submit via email to

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