I started the year going through this devotional with a group of women where we shared our stirrings over a group chat on WhatsApp.

This picture, taken from bed one morning, is an accurate representation of what my mornings looked like.
After a slow wake up including snuggles with our cat, Bourbon, I would…
get out of bed,
open the blinds,
make the bed,
get my water,
crawl back into the freshly made sheets,
put a pillow on my lap to prop up my book and journal,
set out to open to the days reading.

My trusty companion– the notebook– was a true friend during this time. I jotted down notes from every day, sometimes writing full paragraphs word for word because they stirred something within. After reading, I would reflect.
What stirred?
What did I want to say to God?
What did I imagine God’s response to me to be?
What was the invitation?

These prompts were also given to those I was reading along with, as a means to offer an added depth to our reading.

After reading and noticing, the group chat was open for sharing. Some people shared often while others listened and sent encouragement in the form of little hearts and thumbs up. As the days went on, the prompts changed, and we kept on exploring and noticing, sharing and having our own little moments with God that were transforming our understanding of God and self.

For myself, this book felt like sweet, sweet solace…

I’ve grown to dislike ‘devotionals’… (even now, saying or thinking the word ‘devotional’ makes me squeamish).

I did the devotional reading plans on the Bible App for YEARS. How quick we can be to just ‘check the box’ of ‘daily devotional reading’ practice. I know I certainly have been in the past. Sometimes at little as 5-minutes had be checking off a day on a reading plan in the Bible App. Done and dusted. Another day. Another check mark.

I dove into devotional books on topics, chapters of the Bible, with pretty designs and prompting questions that somehow always seemed to guide to a theological stand point that I noticed myself morph from agreeing with, to questioning, to disagreeing with as frustration rang out and the devotional books on the shelf started to gather dust before being given away.

Devotional reading was replaced with things more my pace and style through my unfolding journey. The pages of my journal still coming up full of prayers and connection points with God but it wasn’t the laid out ‘devotional’ doing the prompting, it was reading through passages of the Bible slowly and repetitively, it was reading a psalm a day from the book Psalms for Praying, it was just sitting with God, no prompts from the outside needed. A practice in noticing God here and now.

Coming back to a book with the word ‘devotional’ unable to be ignored right on the front cover was an adventure in noticing.

One day, in our group chat, I exclaimed that while I know it’s important to not live in a echo-chamber of only the things you agree with resonating around you, it felt nice to feel a sense of this solace and welcome and ‘yea, girl!’ moments while reading. Of reading on embodiment where a book referenced is one I’ve read and recommended. Of reading on nature and seeing the name of an author whose work I love. Of reading on the power of cycles while I have been on a journey of cycle learning and leaning into. Of acknowledging the wisdom of the earth, and our ancestors, and our inner spaces deep within that made me feel at home and not on the outskirts with the things I find value in learning about.

As with anything I feel passionate about, I now say I want everyone to read this devotional.

To take time to explore the call to the feminine, to nature, to embodiment, to awareness, to learning from other cultures and groups often not heard from.

To fill their own notebooks with pages and pages of quotes that stir and note what the stirring is feeling like and what it might be inviting them into and how their relationship with themselves and God shifts and changes as they intake new information and ideas and insights and wisdom from people outside their sphere.

Even as I write this, my mind can vividly recall an image that came to mind one day while reading.

It’s this idea of God in a box…

We all have ‘God in a box’.. the box is our idea of God. God inside is shaped to fit the box of what our peers have told us, our parents and Sunday School teachers, our pastors and our favourite authors. The people we see on social media. The songs we hear. The way others speak of God. How we experience God (or deny to experience God). This version of God in a box is safe because the box is closed and we have contained God to the box. The box is safe. It’s secure. It doesn’t change.

But eventually we start to open the box. We want to peek inside and see if God in the box is really all the things that box says God is. Like a ‘fragile’ sticker labelled on the outside that informs us to ‘handle with care’, we are curious about what’s inside– is it really what all the labels say it is?

And so we open the box.

And out pours God.

Expansive.

Inviting.

Warm.

A haze that fills the room but shows sparkles of galaxies within it that shimmer and draw you in to explore.

You can move through it and it smells delicious like freshly baked cookies, or ocean air, or the earth after rain, or the perfume that that transports you to another space and time.

Turns out, God wasn’t really what the box said God was.

God is bigger.

God is more full of mystery and wonder.

 

And you want to see more so you open the door and God fills the building you’re in.

The little specks of galaxies grow bigger and you see more details.

 

So you open the door to the building and God floods the universe and instead of wearing thin like God isn’t even there the world becomes interlaced with the God you had in a box that is now so much more wildly amazing than you could have ever imagined.

You can’t even see all of God because God expands to fill the furthest spaces from us that are billions of light years away.

You realize the Great Mystery of God is in experiencing and seeing pieces but finding comfort in that you’ll never know everything.

You take comfort in knowing that how someone on the other side of the world sees and experiences God will be different from how you see and experience God and that doesn’t make one right and one wrong, but perhaps offers more of an invitation to see what the boxes are we’ve been opening up and how God has been floating out of them, wrapping around us with Love, and opening us up to more exploration.

 

From explorations on the elements and the directions, to a disabled God, abundance, and our celestial siblings. From pages sharing on the divine feminine, and agency, to God with us, each day holds such a gift of reading and integrating.

This is one devotional that I will come back to again and again. To read about women in the Bible often overlooked or misunderstood, to remind myself of the wisdom held in the unexpected everything around us, and to remember how God connects intentionally whether we notice the invitations being extended or not.

 

I’ll end with the final quote to close day 40…

“This image of wholeness, sustainability, and fertility is what leads us to nurture and care for our world through the divine feminine in us; like mothers, midwives, and doulas– spiritual and physical– we birth forth new life with our hands and with our hearts. May we truly line an “on earth as it is in heaven” reality, a cosmic vision of an anti-imperialistic creaturely flourishing. This is sacred belonging.”