Search

Being Benedictine

Living the Rule of St. Benedict in Daily Life

Search results

"marriage"

Our Coral Anniversary: 35 Years of Marriage

Jodi Blazek ❤️ Joseph Gehr, August 17, 1985

IMG_0014

A marriage is made of moments. When you string them all together, you get a picture of a life built together. A marriage isn’t made, once and for all, when the I-dos are exchanged. A marriage is constantly being recreated; it is always in the process of becoming.

A marriage goes through seasons: the spring of new life and hope, the summer of comfort and security, the autumn of changes and letting go, the winter of sadness and despair. A marriage will not survive without adapting to, enduring and celebrating the change of seasons. A marriage embraces all seasons.

A marriage provides a safe place to fall, a form of protection from the stresses of everyday life and also from more extreme challenges, like the pandemic we now face.  The traditional symbol for a 35th anniversary is coral, an organic material found in warm seas. Coral takes many years to form—much like the strength of a marriage made of moments. Coral is a symbol of protection—providing essential habitat structure and energy for 25% of the world’s ocean life, including young fish. How fitting that coral is the symbol of our 35th year of marriage, a year where we have found much safety in each other’s company.

104633941_10222554675045965_7780876847106615467_n
Visiting Jessica in Madison during the summer, 2020.

Marriage includes the necessary and mundane—doing laundry, taking out the trash, paying bills, fixing, washing, mowing, checking things off the list of things to do, arguing about checking things off, thanking each other for checking things off.

After 35 years of marriage, Joe and I have so many “remember when” moments, the makings of great storytelling or one-liners that no one else understands but us. Funny, sad, silly, stupid, poignant, heartwarming, memorable moments. Moments we’d like to forget and moments we have to forgive. But, mostly, moments that have helped us become who we are.

A marriage is made of moments. Some of our earlier moments: Continue reading “Our Coral Anniversary: 35 Years of Marriage”

The Vow of Stability: A Marriage Made of Moments

Jodi Blazek ❤️ Joseph Gehr, August 17, 1985

A marriage is made of moments. When you string them all together, you get a picture of a life built together. A marriage isn’t made, once and for all, when the I-dos are exchanged. A marriage is constantly being recreated; it is always in the process of becoming.

A marriage goes through seasons: the spring of new life and hope, the summer of comfort and security, the autumn of changes and letting go, the winter of sadness and despair. A marriage will not survive without adapting to, enduring and celebrating the change of seasons. A marriage embraces all seasons.

I believe more each day that it is only in the stability of marriage, enduring the weather of every season, that one can reap the true benefits of a life lived together. Advice to young couples: Stick with it. Don’t give up.  I promise, with effort, love, respect, and forgiveness, your marriage will endure and you will be so happy it did!

A marriage is made of moments.

Marriage includes the necessary and mundane—doing laundry, taking out the trash, paying bills, fixing, washing, mowing, checking things off the list of things to do, arguing about checking things off, thanking each other for checking things off. Continue reading “The Vow of Stability: A Marriage Made of Moments”

Walk With Me: A Wedding Promise of Stability

Last summer (July 17, 2021) we enjoyed celebrating the wedding of my daughter, Jessica, to John Holland with a beautiful ceremony officiated by my dear friend, Joyce.

This summer (June 25, 2022) I was so honored to be the officiant for the wedding of Travis and Sam, one of Jessica’s college friends. It was such a joy to walk with them in creating their ceremony and so humbling to be a part of their special day with family and dear friends.

It was a spiritual experience for me to consider again, after 37 years of marriage, what it means to make a marriage commitment—to promise “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death does us part” (Sam and Travis’ vows to each other) and to walk together on life’s journey.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the famous French author of The Little Prince, wrote in Wind, Sand and Stars:

“Love is not just looking at each other, it’s looking in the same direction.”

I shared these words during the wedding ceremony:

“Walking together, in the same direction, is what your marriage commitment will require. The primary reason we commit to relationships, to promise stability, is to be there for the other. In a consumer-driven society, we are encouraged to buy new, better, more but the ancient monastic practice of stability encourages us to stay put. Nathan Oates writes, “Stability doesn’t mean you’re not trying to improve or that you don’t work on the problems. Just the opposite. It means you’re going to work hard, and you expect problems. This isn’t a fairy tale. This is learning how to love.”

Promising to stay, to walk together in all of life’s joys and challenges, is the vow of stability. One’s relationship can grow deep roots, in great love, by understanding that the other will always be there for you.

Selfies with the bride and groom!
Continue reading “Walk With Me: A Wedding Promise of Stability”

July 11: A Big Day for Being Benedictine

St. Benedict is special to me for a few reasons. First, we share a birthday. I admit I was disappointed when I first discovered this. My parents had given me an illustrated book of the “Lives of the Saints” to commemorate my Confirmation. As any nine-year-old would do, I immediately looked to see who the saint was for July 11, my birthday. Perhaps Elizabeth, Mary, or Theresa would be my special saint.

Instead, I see an illustration of a man with a dark hood, a scary-looking bird, a crooked cane, and an unusual name I had only associated with Benedict Arnold. July 11, St. Benedict, Abbot, it said. I had never heard of him and surely did not know what an Abbot was. Through the years, I returned to this image of St. Benedict, thinking that I should have some connection with my patron saint.

Fast forward 26 years. With a full and busy life—married with a young daughter, a career as a high school teacher and club sponsor—I felt a deep longing for times of silence. I answered the call of my heart and responded to an advertisement for a silent contemplative prayer retreat. I discovered an oasis of peace just a few hours from home in the cornfields of Nebraska…called St. Benedict Center.

Continue reading “July 11: A Big Day for Being Benedictine”

The Sower Sows

May 2022 Lectio Divina and Oblate Reflections

Sources

Lectio Divina—Parable of the Sower, Mark 4: 1-20

Book Discussion—Stability: How an ancient monastic practice can restore our relationships, churches, and communities by Nathan Oates. (Introduction)

Lectio Divina

Mark 4:1-20 A sower went out to sow

We consider the question: How does the Parable of the Sower apply to the Benedictine value of stability? Words and phrases that resonate give us a rich perspective of the sower, the seed, the soil, and the fruit.

The sower sows regardless of thorns, rocky ground, little soil, or rich soil. The sower sows—a committed action to continue to sow.

Continue reading “The Sower Sows”

Prayers of Peace for Ukraine

Let us pray.

Pray in whatever ways and words work for you–whether you are holding space, sending positive energy, visualizing hope and peace overflowing, creating a collage, writing your own thoughts, or reciting the words of the prayer Pope Francis has intended for the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (shown below.)

JUST PRAY.

There are no requirements to understand every word of the prayer, to be Catholic, or to believe in Mary’s Immaculate Heart, in order to grow in compassion and unite our intentions with others who pray, hold space, and send good energy. As I read (and prayed) Pope Francis’ prayer, I created bullet-prayers (not sure if that’s a thing, but it is for me now)–one-sentence intentions that I can offer up when I think of those suffering in Ukraine.

Turn our hearts towards love and peace. 🌻 May we hold space for those suffering.

Make visible our compassion. 🌻 May we remember what causes pain for others.

May we hold in our hearts the children, the hungry, the homeless, the fleeing, the mother, the father, the child, the beloved pet, the defenders, the truth-tellers, the fighters, the comforters. 🌻

May we ravage the earth with love. 🌻 Help me to think of others.

May we be, and follow, models of love and peace. 🌻 Help us remember that darkness can be overcome.

Untie the knots of our hearts. 🌻 Help us to forgive.

Water the dryness of our hearts. 🌻 Fill our hearts with peace. 🌻 Help us to pray.

Here is the full text of the prayer obtained by Catholic News Agency:

O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Continue reading “Prayers of Peace for Ukraine”

Eat Cake and Pray

The prayer before dinner in “Don’t Look Up,” the satirical apocalyptic film setting Netflix records and nominated for many awards, keeps going through my mind.

“Dearest Father and Almighty Creator, we ask for your grace tonight despite our pride. Your forgiveness despite our doubt. Most of all Lord, we ask for your love to soothe us through these dark times. May we face whatever is to come in your divine will with courage and open hearts of acceptance.”

How will we spend the moments that could be our last?

How do we face tragedy with courage?

How can we find peace in our hearts when our world is falling apart?

How are the people of Ukraine, and others experiencing oppression around the world, facing their fears?

What can soothe in dark times? How can we help? Are prayers enough?

I was deeply touched by Oksana Potapova’s social media post that has gone viral.

Continue reading “Eat Cake and Pray”

About SoulCollage® 

Cultivate your creativity and spirituality through a variety of prayerful, creative, and contemplative practices including SoulCollage®, praying with art, poetry, music, and more.

DSC_0730

SoulCollage® is an intuitive process using images to create personal cards. SoulCollage® helps name the parts of ourselves that we value and also want to work on as well as naming the parts of the Divine that we often overlook. A visual journal to discover your inner voice, this process can be a spiritual practice of tending soul while expressing self. People are amazed at the beauty of their cards and their ability to access their inner wisdom using images.

What is SoulCollage®?

 Collage is a creative and intuitive act of cutting and pasting images. Easy and accessible for all ages, it is a powerful form of self-reflection and prayer. Images can guide you to a new awareness and reveal a deeper level of thought and feeling. If you have never tried creating a collage, you will be amazed at what you can learn from this process. Holding an image in prayer is powerful; it is much more than just a craft project.

Creativity is about the process, not the product. It’s not a competition and it’s not a race. It’s about listening to self and spirit.

How to create a SoulCollage® card:

Step OneTo begin, gather some supplies—magazines, special photos and images, old calendars, scissors, glue sticks, pencil. Ideally, you will glue your images on a 5 x 8-inch card (available from SoulCollage® or from a hobby store cut into the desired size.) You may select any size you desire, but I’ve found that limiting the number of images and making critical decisions about what “belongs” in your collage is part of the practice. A working frame could be helpful in selecting the images that will fit on your card by cutting a 5 x 8-inch center out of a piece of cardstock or paper that is the same size as a SoulCollage® card.collage 2014

Step Two: Begin looking at images and setting aside those that tug at your heart. Often images just gravitate to you, so there is no need to hurry the process. Be contemplative about exploring images, selecting those that speak to you either positively or negatively. Perhaps an image disturbs or disgusts you, or you do not understand what draws you to an image—don’t be afraid, just go with it. If an image speaks to you, set it aside for possible use. It can often feel that an image selects you when you surrender to the process. Don’t think too much—trust the process when images “pull” at you.

DSC_0730

Step Three: When you find a collection you want to work with, start playing with two or three images that attract you and feel like they belong together. Loosely trim or tear them out of their original context and imaginatively place them in a new context by framing or fitting them together, using various arrangements and layering to increase an image’s visual power. Play with different backgrounds either horizontally or vertically. Let your intuition speak to you.

DSC_0027a

Step Four: There are no hard-and-fast rules in SoulCollage®, but you might consider a few tips. First, it is a good idea to limit each card to a few images that represent the same mood or energy, and second, try not to use words in your cards. Words tend to pin down the meaning of a card, instead of allowing an open interpretation when working with your card later.

DSC_1014a

Step Five: When it feels like your card is complete, cut carefully around the edges of final images, using smaller, sharp scissors for areas of detail. When gluing images down, use a lesser-quality magazine as a base, turning to a fresh page after gluing an image down (much less messy than a sticky kitchen table.) Smooth away wrinkles with a rolling pin, art roller or brayer and gently brush away glue rubbings.

Step Six: There are many ways to go deeper with creating, journaling, praying with or reading your cards since they are the reflection of your innermost thoughts and feelings. In the ancient prayerful practice of Lectio or Visio Divina, Latin for “divine seeing”, we allow words and images to speak into our hearts. See what you can learn by naming your card and journaling with “I Am One Who…” as a sentence starter. Using I am One Who StatementsA Great Light Has Come Upon the Earth.

2soul
Some Creative Card Practices:
  • Create a card that expresses your prayer style, a prayerful expression, or an aspect of the Divine. For example: What names do you have for God? What are you praying for?
  • Create a card when you are in a positive emotional state, a negative one. Ask God for help understanding your emotions.
  • Find an image of an animal that draws you in. Think about why this image, this animal, appeals to you. We breathe life into our cards by speaking from them in the first person. What does your soul say?
  • Find 2 or 3 backgrounds that speak to you. Set the same image in front of each of them. How does the meaning of your card change?
  • “I am One Who” sharing. Roleplay in the first person rather than talking objectively about your card using “I am One Who…” Describe yourself as if you are the image. This is a different practice than writing “what this card means to me…” Consider where you are, what you are doing, what the image may want, need, fear, expect or intend. Keep saying IAOW…speak, speak, speak. It’s even better to practice this with someone who can write down what you say, or tape yourself and listen back.  Speaking is more right brain, writing is left brain. Journaling is revealing, but speaking brings something new. “I said that? 
  • Praying with your cards. Draw a card a day to hold in your heart throughout the day. What insights do you get about how to pray today?
Blog Retreat Gallery collage
Creating with a Theme

Creating cards can be in response to prompts or themes, as in the Not-Just-For-Advent retreat, or can be intuitively created with no special purpose in mind. Here are some ideas based on the cards I have created:

Journaling with Your Cards
  • Responding to QuestionsWhat gifts do have to give me? What message do you have for me? What do you need from me? What are you afraid of? More exciting possibilities here.
  • Initiating PrayerStanding in the Flow
  • Writing Poetry— The Door is Open
Reading Your Cards
First Retreat Collage
image-assetsoul collage

SoulFully You Retreats are a safe, sacred space for your own creative process to emerge, in your own way, in your own time, to become SoulFully You. Attend a scheduled retreat or invite me to plan a special program or retreat (many themes below) for your organization or group. Half-Day, Full Day, or Overnight Retreats available. Blog posts about SoulCollage® HERE.

Picture1

Future SoulFully You Retreats

June 1-3, 2022, St. Benedict Center

December 2-4, 2022, Advent, St. Benedict Center

February 3-5, 2023, Full Snow Moon, St. Benedict Center

May 5-7, 2023, Full Flower Moon, St. Benedict Center

December 1-3, 2023, Advent, St. Benedict Center

May 28-30, 2024, St. Benedict Center

December 13-15, 2024, Full Cold Moon, St. Benedict Center

June 10-12, 2025, Full Moon, St. Benedict Center

December 4-7, 2025 Advent, St. Benedict Center

By arrangement, many themes available.

SoulFully You Retreat Themes

Self and Spirit—honoring different parts of our self and qualities of the Divine

Discover Your Inner Monk—desire for silence, solitude and seeking God

Discover Your Inner Artist—cultivating intuition and creativity

Calm Your Inner Critic: Perfectionism, Expectations and Judgment

The Joy of Creativity—cultivating gratitude and joy through creativity

Personality and Prayer—a variety of prayer practices including music, creativity, words, movement and more.

Creativity as Prayer—a variety of creative prayer practices including SoulCollage®, creating mandalas and more.

Seasons of Your Life—Learning from the seasons of birthing, dying, transforming, solitude.

Journey to Wisdom—what is wisdom, seeking God, using your SoulCollage® cards to access inner wisdom

Awaken Your Creativity— You are Created in God’s Image, using creativity to grow spiritually

Circle of Stones—Explore the power of spiritual friendships and contemplative practices to ground you in the present moment; powerful retreat for a circle of friends.

Full Moon: Living in the Fullness of God

SoulFully You: A Journey—labyrinths, sacred walking, movement prayer and other contemplative practices

Lent and Advent Retreats

Benedictine Spirituality–prayer and work; obedience, stability, and conversion of life.

mercy2
Reflections on SoulFully You Retreats

Contact me if interested in planning or attending a retreat.

Something Old, Something New

After 36 years of marriage, Joe and I have so many “remember when” moments, the makings of great stories to be told over and over. This last year of marriage we are the “something old” in the cliche and “something new” was celebrated by welcoming our new son-in-law, John, when our daughter, Jessica and he were married on July 17, 2021.

So on August 17, 2021 we celebrate 36 years; John and Jessica celebrate one month. Something old, something new.

Joe and I on August 17, 1985 drinking fake champagne from glasses labeled Bride and Groom. We saved them for a “something new” moment.
Joe and I at John and Jessica’s wedding. July 17, 2021
And the “something new” couple using the same champagne glasses that Joe and used in 1985. We were honored to share them with the newlyweds.

A marriage is made of moments. When you string them all together, you get a picture of a life built together. A marriage isn’t made, once and for all, when the I-dos are exchanged. A marriage is constantly being recreated; it is always in the process of becoming. I shared this sentiment in a blessing at their wedding, see From This Day Forward, To Have and To Hold.

Continue reading “Something Old, Something New”

About Me

I am a high school business teacher and department chair just starting my 25th year as an educator.

My passion is practicing SoulCollage®, writing blog posts for my websites, Being Benedictine and SoulFully You, and leading retreats in creativity and spirituality.

I have been a Benedictine Oblate at Christ the King Priory since 2011. I am a lover of learning, reading, and writing and a compulsive curator of images, information and inspiration.

I have been married for 36 years and have one daughter, Jessica, 27 years old, who was just married this summer.

Jessica becoming

Blessings as you explore Being Benedictine!

Jodi Blazek Gehr

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑