Progressive Christian author Rachel Held Evans died after a sudden illness in 2019, at the age of 37, and the world lost a courageous and compelling voice for truth-telling and all-welcoming love.
This spiritual practice is inspired by the power of her intention to find and apply the balm of healing by standing firm for spiritual hospitality, by defending everyone’s right to dignity, respect and the freedom to find one’s own path to grace. Peace be with you, Rachel. And with your family.
1) Wake up any morning – and before you get out of bed or do anything else – say this: “How I do what I do always makes a difference.” Breathe in and out slowly. Then say again: “How I do what I do always makes a difference.” Breathe in and out and repeat a third time.
2) Find individual space. Welcome stillness. Then choose something you normally do. In fact, something you will do in the next hour or so. Walking the dog. Cooking a meal for your family. Answering email at work. Playing silly games with your children. It doesn’t matter what you pick. Just discern for a moment and let something everyday-ish arise.
3) Take your ordinary activity and give it an extraordinary, yet appropriate, intention. Say your intention out-loud – with joy and conviction – like a vow. For example, “I cook this dinner for my kids so that they may grow strong and healthy” ….. or “I listen to my co-workers for the sake of affirming their agency and experience” …. or “I clean this toilet so that everyone who uses it may do so in comfort and with confidence” … or I hold my grandfather’s hand to share my love for him” … or “I say this prayer (about anyone you choose) for the sake of her/his/their healing and wholeness” …. If an intention does not arise quickly, no worries. Just choose something at random to get started. (This practice is like riding a bike. Once you start generating a little momentum, it’s much easier.)
4) As you engage in your chosen activity, hold the intention in your heart. Touch your heart with your hand if this helps you remember.
5) Once the activity is complete, find some stillness and ask yourself … Was anything about your experience of this ordinary activity different? And if so, what was different?
6) Try it again another day with another daily activity, if you like. Discern. Bonus practice – ongoing …. Say this phrase whenever you feel your heart closing with doubt or fear or anger – “How I do what I do always makes a difference.”
Love and blessings to all of you. Grateful to have you as part of our community.
Here is the longer version of Rachel’s quote:
“If you are looking for verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for for verses with which to liberate or honor women, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them. If you are looking for an out-dated, irrelevant ancient text, you will find it. If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it. This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not “what does it say?”, but “what am I looking for?” I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” If you want to do violence in this world, you will always find the weapons. If you want to heal, you will always find the balm.”Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood