Anne Howard: A Word in Time: Time for the Long Breath

How's your Lent?

We're about halfway through Lent now, heading toward the Fourth Sunday this week. In these weeks, I've written about this 40-day journey that begins with that smudge of ash, the challenge to be a blessing, and the opportunity to question.

With or without "giving up something for Lent," there is a fair bit of rigor to this season, as we are all invited to wrestle with the deeper questions of our lives just as Jesus wrestled those 40 days with his questions of identity and authority and vocation. Often in my years as a parish priest, I thought of Lent as a marathon of adult education programming, a marathon that afforded scant time for silence and reflection.

Lent asks of us the one essential spiritual practice: pay attention to your life. And whether in church programming or moments of silence, all that paying attention can be heavy lifting. So in the midst of all the rigor and the wrestling, I am refreshed by a few words from Howard Thurman, the 20th century theologian and mystic. I've been following a fine collection of his writings, edited by Donna Schaper in Augsburg's 40-Day Journey Series.

Thurman writes about the spiritual practice of Jesus, reminding us of the gospel accounts of Jesus going apart from his friends for a time of quiet. He notes that Jesus did this at the end of the day, when he left the others to spend time alone in prayer with God.

In his 1963 book Disciplines of the Spirit, called this "time for the long breath:"

"The time most precious for the Master was at the close of day. This was the time for the long breath, when all the fragments left by the commonplace, all the little hurts and big aches, came to rest; when the mind could be freed of the immediate demand, and voices that had been stilled by the long day's work could once more be heard; when there could be the deep sharing of innermost secrets and the laying bare of heart and mind-yes, the most precious time for him was at the close of day."

In this moment, midway through Lent, when and where are you free of the demands of the day, and able to hear those voices muffled by the day's business? When and where do you find "time for the long breath?"

I think of Richard Rohr teaching us that the Hebrew name for God, the sacred name that is traditionally never to be spoken, is made of consonants: in English it would read, YHWH. When we add consonants, we say Yahweh. These are the only consonants in the Hebrew language that don't allow you to close your lips when you say them. The ancients in their wisdom gave God a name of mystery, a name that replicates inhalation and exhalation Yaaah Weyyyh. As close, as essential as breath, Yh Wh, is the name of God, the unnameable heart of the universe.  A word, a sound, a breath, that takes us into the deepest core of our being, and out again to the world, grounded in God.  

What practice might you try that allows you to take time for the long breath? What practice might you give up?


Echoes from the Edge

Creative and Transformative Spaces

By Anna Woofenden, Fellowship Associate - March 25th, 2014

The world of church and church buildings is changing and evolving.  Our fellows are engaging questions of church space, community space, ministry and mission in interesting ways. 

A few days ago some of our fellows gathered on an online meeting space to discuss how they are using their spaces in creative ways and shared ideas and lessons learned, from big picture questions on what is ministry, to the best electronic key code box on  

A few examples of the creative work Beatitudes Fellows are doing in their church spaces.

John Helmiere is the Convener at Valley and Mountain Fellowship in the Seattle area and one of the founders and creators of the Collaboratory.

Starting in June 2013, V&M partnered with Community Arts Create to start the Hillman City Collaboratorya social change incubator.  It is the focal point of our efforts to create a center for creative liberation in our city and it is also where we gather for Celebrations on Sunday afternoon.

Located in the heart of Hillman City, a diverse and historic neighborhood in south Seattle, the Collaboratory is:

a neighborhood hub where community thrives,

a breeding ground where collaborations are born and relationships form,

a compost bucket where positive social movements blossom.

The mission of the Collaboratory is to be an instrument of transformation that provides a built environment and programming specifically designed to create community and equip change-makers.  The Collaboratory is housed in a multi-use complex that incorporates four unique spaces: the mixing chamber, the coworking office, the learning kitchen, and the community park & garden.

Learn more about the Collab at


Karen Roher's congregation, Beacon, in Philadelphia uses their space to run The Studio.

The Studio at Beacon is a hub for community service and programming.

Depending on the season, this includes quality literacy education programs, art and life-skill development programs for all ages, food provision, canine therapy, and other events that foster community growth.

Current programs include: 

The Story Studio: Tuesdays 4:00-6:00pm

A program open to children ages 5-18, the Story Studio develops  critical thinking  and  literacy skills  through  storytelling. Healthy snack provided.


The Art Studio: Wednesdays 4:00-6:00pm and 6:30-8:30pm

Our afternoon program  is open to children ages 5-18 and  empowers children  to discover, explore, and grow their ability for  creative self-expression. Healthy snack provided.

Our evening program  is open to all  adults  and provides time, space, encouragement, and a safe community in which people can discover, explore, and grow their  innate capacities for creative expressio n. Less structured than our afternoon program, many participants work on self-directed projects, but project inspiration and instruction is provided.

The Hip Hop Writing and Recording Studio: Thursdays 4:00-6:00pm

We are collaborating with Blackboard Labs to host a studio for children ages 11 and up. In this studio program, participants explore their creativity and cultivate their writing voice by writing poetry and stories while adding various sound qualities, which results in a radio-style collaborative production. Healthy snack provided. 

To learn more check out:


Finally, the Poet

spring song

By Lucille Clifton, from The Collected Poems - March 25th, 2014

the green of Jesus

is breaking the ground

and the sweet

smell of delicious Jesus

is opening the house and

the dance of Jesus music

has hold of the air and

the world is turning

in the body of Jesus and

the future is possible

From the Beatitudes Society's blog.