Awakening: Where Has All the Wonder Gone?
A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation,
Spiritual Direction and Soul Care
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.
This week we shift somewhat as we seek to experience this last week of Lent, which we call Holy Week. How do we fully experience the glory of Holy Week as we move closer and closer to the cross and embrace resurrection in Jesus Christ? In pursuit of this blessed experience we consider the role of wonder and awe in the presence of God’s magnificent sacrifice for us and the gift of eternity with God, which comes as an act of pure divine grace from God who is Love.
Where Has All the Wonder Gone?
Wonder occurs when we are still enough to let God’s magnificence, goodness, love, and beauty enrapture our senses with an overpowering meaning that cannot be explained or articulated. Wonder forces us to behold God’s creation, God’s work and God’s presence in such a way that it changes us forever. Wonder thus is dangerous if we wish to never encounter that which will bring dramatic change in our lives. Wonder is profound openness to surprise at every turn. Unfortunately because we are afraid, too busy, too self-absorbed, or just too unaware, most of us have become what we might consider too mature, cool, or unsure of ourselves to allow for wonder in our lives. But, Jesus told us to come as little children. Much of this is a call to be open to wonder. Most of the time we hope that one day we will have time for wonder; maybe a planned vacation, or some leisure time apart from regular life events , when we have time. There is a big problem with this however, as without wonder it is virtually impossible to grow spiritually because it is by wonder that we become radically open to the notion that we are not alone, that there is One who boggles the mind, who we cannot fathom, who yet cares for us very very deeply and wants to have a relationship with us; God. The tragedy and irony of it all is that we do not have to go anywhere to be struck by wonder. All we have to do is open our hearts, and look at the people and the things we see every day with a newness of focus and attention. The problem is that we generally go out to meet the world with expediency that precludes any notion of time wasted, or not used to our best advantage. But this is the irony, because by living expediently we in affect make the opportunity for wonder secondary, which in turn leaves us with time, life, that is decidedly less than optimum. Expediency and wonder go hand in hand to allow for a whole experience of life because by expediency we accumulate information in order to grasp and control our environment, while wonder deepens our appreciation of that which we experience, thus making our response to that experience both useful (expedient) and enjoyable (wonder). Again this is not exclusively the realm of what might be called special events, but instead becomes the realm of all events, even those we have relegated to the usual or the mundane. For example the expedient way to approach a piece of music is to learn the basics, maybe understand the form and explain it to someone else. The wonder of music however is how it makes you feel, which at its core cannot be fully described with words, it must be experienced, savored and entered into. Wonder therefore is the sense of the ineffable nature of the song (life), whereas failure to wonder simply explores the laws and rules of the song (life). Finally, wonder brings with it the truth of unity as all things are seen as one loved by God. To see life as an object is to be alone. To see life through the eyes of wonder is to enter into all that is. How does this speak to our walk to the cross, to this year’s upcoming Passion Week? What would it be like to experience Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday through the eyes of wonder? What are you willing to risk being changed, perhaps profoundly as we journey with Christ; Christ’s passion, death and resurrection through a lens of wonder, and openness to surprise. You can practice by placing yourself in front of something beautiful and gazing upon it, looking at it as never before, becoming aware of all the hidden intricacies and the miracle that it exists at all, as well as the miracle that you are able to wonder at it, in God’s presence.
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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; email@example.com
Something to Ponder
When human knowledge cannot see a handsbreadth before it in the dark night of suffering, then faith can see God, for faith sees best in the dark.
Kierkegaard, Gospel of Suffering
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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Some recommendations for excellent spiritual guidance…
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Knowing as We Are Known
A five week study in inner stillness
As taught by the author
Eugene T. Yotka
August 4, 11, 18, 25 and September1
at Epworth UMC,
7651 Johnson Street, Hollywood, Florida
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for tuition costs, further details and to reserve your space
A Gathering of Spiritual Directors
This coming Fall 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 email@example.com for additional details.
“Knowing as We Are Known: An Exercise in Inner Stillness”, by Eugene T. Yotka,
Imagine Seeing Yourself as God See’s You; The True You.
Imagine Living in Full Awareness of The Lord’s Presence in Your Life
Imagine Having a Deeper Sense of Being One of God’s Beloved Children
Imagine Hearing God’s Still Small Voice in a More Profound Manner
We all long to live from the center of an authentic self. Gene Yotka has provided an important resource for helping us identify and express a spiritual life from that center. His book is a gift. – Dr. Steve Harper, Professor of Spiritual Formation, Asbury Theological Seminary
Gene has demystified contemplative prayer and made it accessible to the average believer. – Dr. Stephen Seamands, Professor of Christian Doctrine, Asbury Theological Seminary
From Gene’s book I learned a lot about how to truly pray. -- Salvatore Buttaci, Author and Poet
Eugene Yotka's book changed my life. I have struggled with years of feeling lonely even though I had people in my life that I felt connected with and having been saved since I was 3 years old and felt I had a relationship with the Lord. But this book and practicing inner stillness brought me to a place of knowing God like I have never known Him before. I no longer feel alone and feel empowered to practice inner stillness daily to continue this awesome relationship with God. --Wanda, Amazon review
“Knowing as We Are Known: An Exercise in Inner Stillness”, by Eugene T. Yotka, offers a way to experience the true self where God speaks to our spirits telling us we are God’s children. We are created to live in the Presence of God, here and now, and to know inward stillness, peace, and tranquility as a way of life.
Available for $12.00 from The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction and Soul Care
Immerse yourself in that still place within, in which God speaks to the true self that you have been created to be. This book is more than simply information about inner stillness; it is a guide into the experience of inner stillness itself. This is the author’s journey to that place where God speaks to our spirits and calls us children. This is a call not so much to do something as much as it is a call to be who God created us to be. Through the experiences of contemplation, waiting, hope, and assurance, it is the goal of this writing that you will find rest for your soul, body, and mind in a fresh, new, and enduring way.
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(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
Love Henri, by Henri Nouwen
New! The Divine Dance, by Richard Rohr