Classes and Meditation

Cultivating Space

Last Sunday, we heard the story of Jesus’s most famous miracle, his walking on the water. I believe that biblical truth resonates on many different levels. Considered from a metaphorical and spiritual standpoint, how it was that Jesus might have been able to walk on the surface of the storm-tossed sea? Just before his disciples become stranded at night on the stormy Sea of Galilee, Jesus has preached and miraculously fed a huge crowd in a deserted place. Jesus had come to the deserted place to be alone and pray with his disciples after receiving the news of King Herod’s beheading of his cousin, John the Baptist. But the crowds followed him there, thwarting his retreat, and Jesus fed and ministered to them. He then sent his disciples alone across the sea, and himself went up the mountain to pray, alone with God all night.

Circumstances in our lives and the world around us can be like the stormy sea… threatening to overwhelm and drown us, or even to overwhelm us in a positive way. After Jesus fed the multitudes, the disciples may have been dazzled by the miracle they witnessed, and some accounts record that the crowd was ready to take Jesus by force and make him king. How is Jesus able to not only stay afloat, but to walk on these stormy waters as well as the adulation of the crowds? I believe the answer can be summed up in a single word: space. Because Jesus spent time alone with God, there was space between his own deepest self and the circumstances of the world around him. The stillness and restoration brought to him during his periods of prayer and retreat acted as a buffer between his soul and the demands of the crowd or the chaos of the waves.

How can we find such space in our lives? I found that my summer vacation in the Sierra Nevada with my family was one way to create space. I came home refreshed with new perspective and hoping to hold on to that “mountain mind!” I regularly go away on spiritual retreats. But I still need to find time daily to be silent with God to preserve that space between myself and external circumstances. Some ways that I do that are through meditation and prayer, breath work, exercise, as well as being open to awareness of and gratitude for the beauty and blessings around me.

As school starts up again, summer rhythms shift for our church and the entire community. I pray that your summer has brought you a sense of space, and that you can find ways in your daily life to preserve that margin of deep peace.

Please see regular opportunities for prayer and meditation at Grace as well as other resources I enjoy to create space below! If you would like to commit to being present at another weekly time with others for prayer or meditation in Grace’s sanctuary, or to walk the labyrinth, please let Formation Director Sarah Christopher Neidhoeffer know! We can advertise a new time so that others have the opportunity to gather with you.

Mondays 6AM– Centering Prayer

Wednesdays 3:30PM– Contemplative Reading Circle (please contact Sue Cottrell for a good time to join this group, generally when they are beginning a new book)

Thursdays 7AM– Contemplative Morning Prayer

Thursdays 9PM– Compline (Night Prayer) with Anglican Chant

In deep peace,

-Rev. Any

PS. The sanctuary is open for private prayer and meditation during office hours Mondays 10AM-1:30PM and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10AM-4PM. The labyrinth, an ancient tool for walking meditation, is always open!

Praying with Ignatius

Ratcheting ourselves into another season of uncertainty may seem daunting, especially when our true desire may be wanting a deeper understanding of who we are in this troubled time.nPerhaps you’ve been wanting to make a retreat, but since our movement has been somewhat curtailed, an Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life might be just the thing you are desiring. In this retreat we are invited to take intentional time each week to experience a richer freedom and love in our lives. The retreat includes a commitment to daily prayer, weekly small group interaction, as well as individual meetings with the spiritual director.

The Retreat in Daily Life is a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, where we will deepen in our relationship with God byopening our lives to the work of God.. One of peace instead of fear, of love instead of hostility, of grace instead of gracelessness. One that honors both ourselves and those within our communities.

A time-honored tradition from the 16th century, this 30-week prayer experience was designed by St. Ignatius and continues to meet the current needs and sensibilities of today’s seekers.  In other words, people like you and me.

The retreat includes a commitment to daily prayer, weekly small group interaction, as well as individual meetings with the spiritual director.


Considering that Ignatius established the Jesuit order and the Spiritual Exercises almost 500 years ago, the history is powerful.  I am confident that their world then and during the 450 years since has been just as complicated and difficult for them as ours is for us today.  Two years ago, I was beginning to search for a way to improve my spiritual life and build on my relationship with God. Ruthanne Svendsen suggested that I consider attending her group on Ignatian Spirituality. It was slow going for me at first as I am completely resistant to change, but Ruthanne is a skilled and intuitive spiritual director and worked with me where I was.  (very Ignatian) I learned that through Ignatian Spirituality there is a “way of proceeding” and that I am learning to “find God in all things”.

– Phil Baxter

At first it was difficult to understand and complete the exercises, until I realized that there wasn’t a “right answer”.  Without the confines of right versus wrong,  l was able to get out of my head and embrace the feelings that were a vital part of each of the exercises.  If you want to experience a greater depth in your spiritual life please, give yourself the gifts that accompany the Ignatius exercises.

-Karla Jensen


Contact Ruthanne Svendsen at:  [email protected] for questions and conversation.

Day:  Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Time: To be determined.

Rev.  Ruthanne Svendsen, MDiv, Spiritual Director; graduate of the San Francisco Theological Seminary Program in the Art of Spiritual Direction.  2021-2022 will be her 26th season in leadership.

Guided Meditation with Fred Luskin

June 20 Forum, 11:30 AM
Guided Meditation with Fred Luskin
A time of guided meditation to build resilience and find peace with Dr. Fred Luskin, the Director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. Sign up for our e-news to get the Zoom link.

Building the Beloved Community

Dates: 2/24/2021-4/7/2021
Times: Wednesdays, 6-7pm
Cost: Free

Register Here

What are the skills and tools that can help us build the beloved community and meet God in each other? Rev. Anne and Rev. Robin from St. Mary’s Napa from will co-lead this series. We will look at the value of cultivating and listening to a diversity of voices. We will learn practical skills for engaging in conversation across a cultural divide, look at what we bring to conversation, as well as group dynamics in building an affirming space for difference.