Mindful Mondays: Embracing the Dark

The Winter Solstice has just passed us and we experienced one of the darkest days of the year.  Many conversations about the solstice point towards a relief that we are finally entering the days of longer light. It is the coming of the light that is glorified rather than an appreciation for the dark.   And in conjunction with the holiday season, light continues to take center stage.  Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus as “the light of the world” and Hanukkah with a nightly menorah lighting.  Light has a place in our culture and in many of our wisdom traditions as pointing towards hope, as a force of good, as positivity. 

But what about darkness? 

Why does darkness get ignored, tossed to the side, and written off as bad, evil, and unwanted?

Can we see a God with a presence that is not only in the light, but also in the darkness?

I like the dark.  I’m writing this meditation in the dark right now. In fact, I write most of these meditations in the dark nights and predawn mornings.  I feel a bit of sadness as the solstice passes because for some reason the dark days give me comfort, space to reflect and let go, “to center down” as Howard Thurman calls it.  This year, more than most years, I’ve been spending a lot more waking hours in the dark with a baby who wakes frequently and equally likes the dark!  And I’ve come to appreciate the darkness and its place in our lives in new ways.

We need a new narrative about the darkness because it is just as much as a gift to us as the light.  Darkness holds its own wisdom for us if we can just learn how to embrace it, face it, notice it, and appreciate what it offers us on its own terms.

We spend the most delicate and critical part of our lives in the dark.  It is in the dark, quiet and warm cocoon of our mother’s womb where we form into a being.  This darkness is a safe place.  A gentle place.  It is our first home. And the darkness embraces us with her protective covering, letting us reside in her until we are ready to break forth.  She must mourn for us when we leave, but the darkness is faithful and steadfast in her task to hold us as we prepare for a new life. Darkness not only brings forth life in human beings, but she does so with all creation.  Deep in the fertile soil of the Earth, darkness brings forth trees, plants, food, flowers.  Animals in wombs, insects in eggs and sacs, closed flower buds preparing their way to unfold all their beauty, a caterpillar hunkering down in a cocoon before taking flight as a butterfly.   And in the Christian tradition, today is Christmas Eve, a day where believers wait for the birth of Jesus.   Born a man and of the flesh, even he resided in the darkness of Mary’s womb before coming to the world.  Darkness helps bring forth creation.  We all reside in her, unformed and vulnerable, yet she shields us like a warrior protecting her tribe. 

Darkness offers a stillness, a complete focus, and a chance to be inside of ourselves in ways that are unique and essential.  We can’t see in the light the way we can “see” in the dark.  Darkness invites us to look within.  There are no outer distractions pulling us away from ourselves because we can’t see.  Often in meditation and prayer our instinct is to close our eyes.  We invite the darkness so we can focus and be present.  So we can look deep within. 

As we enter these lighter days and this holiday season of light and love, let’s remember the gift of the darkness.  The loving embrace of her shadows and what she helps us to manifest in the world.  Whatever answer you are seeking, whatever comfort you may need, whatever silence and stillness you crave, whatever inspiration you are looking for, go to the dark—she’s waiting for you with loving and open arms.

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash.

Mindful Mondays: Power Wielding

You see it

I see it

We feel it


It’s ugly.


Power laughing

Kicking and screaming

Lying and wielding

Power tweeting

Manipulating and evading

Stealing and thieving


That lump in my throat

That knot in my stomach

That ache on my heart

That foot on my neck


It’s heavy.


History revealing itself again

Old narratives turning into new narratives




It’s winning.


Go ahead then.

Let them try.


You know it

I know it

We feel it


It’s rising.


Power praising

Praying and seeking

Creating and healing

Power speaking

Organizing and testing

Resting and reflecting



That fire in my belly

That wisdom in my soul

That truth on my lips

That meditation in my heart


It’s stronger.


Presence is reality

Ancestors lifting me

Culture strengthening my spirit




It’s inside.


Go ahead then.


Mindful Mondays: Stillness


What magic is in the stillness of your heart? What hidden miracles reveal themselves when all the dust settles for the day?

We live in a time and place where there is a lot of noise. There is an angry chatter invading the quiet spaces within our inner lives. Outer chaos charging into our lives in an individual and collective sense....in the personal and the political. We need chaos energy sometimes. It stirs things up. It can bring about fundamental change. It can bring down the walls of controlled structure and order and what emerges is something creative and soulful.

Yet if we are seeking wisdom, well that awaits for us in stillness.  This stillness that lives within ourselves but is often overlooked. We ignore its steady gaze on us. The reprieve. The quiet answer. The small miracle. All resting in the stillness of our lives and available to us like long lost friends and undiscovered treasures.

So today, in the rush and the chaos and sometimes the sheer upheaval of life, I invite you to witness where stillness is present in your life. I invite you to take a moment and settle into the quiet of your life.  Don't let the chaos take you for its crazy ride....be still in the chaos my friend. Be still.

Mindful Mondays: A Meditation for the Children

Let us listen and find courage to bear witness.

This is an audio recording of the voices of the children left behind at the border.



Let us pray.

I am so sick about what’s happening to our children at the border that I tried to write an intercessory prayer for the kids in this post and I couldn’t. The grief and the anger are too deep. I have no words.

At least 3200 children, toddlers, and babies have been separated from their parents and they are locked up in cages. They have fallen prey to sexual and physical abuse, human trafficking, and the possibility of being forever lost in a system with stark chances of being reunited with their parents.  1500 children are literally lost—they have been released and unaccounted for.  It has been estimated that the Department of Health and Human Services now has custody of over 11,785 migrant children.  And now, under the new executive order, future children crossing the border will be locked up with their families indefinitely.

I do believe that evil exists and this is what it looks like. This is evil. And these holding centers are hell.

While I like to focus on love and light, we also must be brave, courageous, and conscientious enough to look into the face of evil and chant it down. And as we bare witness to the horror of it all, we must act. As people of faith it is our duty. Nothing less. So today let our action be our prayer and meditation.


James 2:14-17

14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  


Let us act.

Click on each action for a link to more information.  


Donate funds.

Via ActBlue—splits your donation between 14 groups that are on the ground and on the front lines advocating for kids at the border.


Show up.

Rally and March on June 30 National #FamiliesBelongTogether day of action


Make a phone call.

Call your representatives and stop Speaker Ryan’s Anti-Immigrant Bill


A Meditation Dedicated to Women of the African Diaspora

Calling in the wisdom of…


Mother Earth

Spirit Sophia

Aminah, mother of Mohammad

Mary, mother of Jesus the Christ

Isis, Queen Sheeba, Nefertiti

Sojourner Truth, Septima Clark

Harriet Tubman, Winnie Mandela



And those we have not named…..


<Pause.  A moment of silence.>


We are their hopes.  

Born of their sacred wombs

Carrying legacy

We are life continued.


Collective callings

Prophetic voice

Tilling this Earth back to a higher truth 

One child at a time

One moment at a time

One project at a time 

One policy at a time

One person at a time

We keep moving forward.


Weary from fighting against, pushing back, calling out

Releasing the weight of this bridge on my back


Reclaiming my time

My power

My space


I breathe in a new truth that is mine to create


Breathing in ancestral lands

Breathing in the legacy we carry forward

Breathing in being loved

Breathing in being seen

Breathing in experiencing joy

Breathing in feeling beautiful

Breathing in the I AM.


I become. We become. She becomes.



Natasha Burrowes

Spiritual Director. Educator. Writer.

For prayer requests, spiritual direction, or to be added to this listserv contact me at http://www.natashaburrowes.com/listserv/


***The visual piece featured above was created by a talented Seattle artist by the name of Shurvon Haynes.  It is called "Be Encouraged and Live". View more of her art at https://www.facebook.com/BWB365


Mindful Mondays: Inner Voice


To that inner voice you’ve been second-guessing;





Resisting. Discounting.


Take a moment to turn your head towards;

open your heart for;

tune your ears to;

what you already know.


Your compass and guide

Healing balm for your worries

Information for questions

Comforting stresses


Google searches

Scientific advances

Astrological predictions

Experts and opinions


Can’t match the voice that lies deep within.


Be still and know.



Be still and know.



Be still.


And Know.


Lake Beebe, Photo credit: Derrick Brooms

Mindful Mondays: A Spiritual Practice for the New Year

About 8 years ago I let go of my annual tradition of creating a list of New Year’s resolutions.  While it was a tradition intended to help me “better” myself, it often caused me stress, disappointment, and seemed to exacerbate my insecurities.  While New Year’s resolutions can help some reach goals and craft a vision of themselves, for me it triggers something deep inside of me that says “not enough”, “I’ll be happier when…”, “I need more of...”, “I should”, etc.

Lots of judgment, lots of expectation, lots of future trippin’.  Not helpful.

So for those of you who are looking for a different kind of practice this year, I offer a tradition a couple of my dear friends and I started about 8 years ago.  Through the years, it has transformed from a tradition to a spiritual practice that has helped me be more present to my life. 

Each year on January 1st, my friends and I choose one word. The word that we choose is like a theme that is laced throughout the year.   We invite this word into our personal lives in an intentional and focused way.  We choose the word and let it reveal its teachings to us all year long.  Sometimes the word teaches us obvious or unexpected lessons.  Sometimes the word encourages us to embody its essence in various moments through the year.  Sometimes the word helps us bring more awareness of its presence in different aspects of our lives.  Sometimes we actively cultivate and manifest the qualities of the word in our lives. Sometimes the word shows us its deeper meaning.  We hold this word close throughout the year and cultivate a mindful presence to it.  We then reflect with each other on how the word shows up in our year as we move through February…June...October…etc.  We share with each other ways we see the other person’s word showing up for them.  We share with each other testimonies of our dance with our word.  And then we start again on January 1st with a new word.  Each year is a new discovery.

Some of my words throughout the years…







Each word had lessons and revelations.  Each word had a way it challenged and affirmed me.  Each word had a deeper meaning by the end of the year. 

Blessings and Happy New Year!

Mindful Mondays: Holiness of Life

Source of all Creation. 

Sacred Presence.

Bringing forth the Great Emergence. 

Darkness and lightness.

Energy and force.

            Contraction and expansion.



Life springing forth from the Universal womb.


And then there were atoms and then there were stars

            then there were galaxies and then there was the Sun

                        and then there was Earth and then there were animals

                                    and then there was him and then there was her

                                                            and then there was You.

In Her womb

            the breath of life. 

Emergence out of Holy stillness, once again.

            You were created.


13.8 billion years of life evolving

            you came through the unfolding

                        in this time and in this place

                                    for a Divine purpose

                                                to touch the world in your own way.


In remembrance

of who you are,

breathe deeply

and access the holiness of life.


You are gift.

You are miracle.

You are Love.

You are ancient.

You are Universe.


***Artist: Emily Linderman, http://www.emilylinderman.com/




Mindful Mondays: A Gratitude Prayer

A Gratitude Prayer

For the air I breathe, the sun that energizes me, the soil of the Earth that provides me sustenance, the water that flows through me;

Thank you.

For the love of a mother and father, the comradery of colleagues, the comfort of friendships, the joy of children, the embrace of a lover;

Thank you.

For the steadfastness of my heart, the creativity of my mind, my blood----the ever flowing provider, these old bones of mine to keep me upright;

Thank you.

For those who fought before me for my freedom, for the family who sacrificed, for the leaders who had vision, for the ancestors who survived;

Thank you.

For the lessons of yesterday, the magic of this moment, the new prospects of the future;

Thank you.

For Your unconditional love, for creating me, for Your presence in all places and all times, for Your peace that passes all understanding;

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.


Mindful Mondays: The Judging Mind

Do you find your mind filled with judgmental thoughts of yourself and/or others? How’s that working out for you? Take a moment to reflect.

 Judgment is a habit that becomes a burden the longer you practice it.

While judgment helps us weigh options, protect ourselves, and sometimes even motivate ourselves to do better, it rarely leads us to the truth and security that we so desperately desire.  It is isolating. It often keeps our mind bound rather than free.  We are wed to our opinions.  We are pinned down by limited thinking.  We are deceived into thinking our judgment of someone else renders us righteous.  Aren’t we just a mess like everyone else?  Made mistakes?  Disappointed ourselves and others?  Slipped up and fallen short?  Taken risks? Had successes?  Experienced happiness? Give yourself and others a break.  Life is complicated and messy.  It is impossible for anyone to escapes the paradoxes, the ironies, and the contradictions wrapped up in the experience of life.  Your expectations of others are keeping you bound more than they are manifesting the actions and feelings in others that you so desire.  Accept what is and make your choice. Free yourself from being a victim to your judgmental thoughts and expectations of others. When we are free from this type of thinking we see the whole person and we see the whole picture.

A free mind practices full acceptance.  Isn’t that liberating?  You don’t have to like what you accept, but there is something that releases when we just accept what is.  That is working with the real.  No illusions. No extras.  No opinions.  No fight. Just what is.

And then there is the judgment of self.  Some of us are at war with ourselves in our minds.  How do we release the grips of the judging mind when the judgments are self-inflicted?  Call yourself into the present moment.  Cultivate awareness and presence for a release.  In full disclosure, I’m judging myself as I write this meditation.  My mind is filled with critique and self-doubt with each sentence I type.  How do I navigate this judging mind?  I stop writing.  I notice my thoughts.  Accept that I’m thinking them without judgment. I reflect back to myself…”right now I’m thinking that I’m not good enough.”  Then I rest my head back on the couch, take a breath and invite myself into the present moment.  I hear the birds chirping outside my window.  I feel the sunlight touching and warming my skin.  I notice the fall breeze on the back of my neck.  I let myself take in the sounds of the strings from the African music I have playing in the background.   I take in the gift of this moment. I am alive.  I am here. Then I send some love and compassion to my tender and vulnerable soul with a deep breath.  “It’s ok,” I tell my heart.  “It’s ok.”  Released.  Even if this release lasts for but a moment, I’m a little more free from the weight of that judging mind than I was before.

You can transform the judging mind, breath by breath, moment by moment. Breathe into God’s grace for you are a beautiful soul.

“There is a feeling of inner peace that comes from total relinquishment of judgment.   We don’t feel the need to change others, and we don’t feel the need to be different than we are.  We can see, for whatever reason, the total beauty of another person, and we feel that they can see the beauty in us as well.” –Marianne Williamson

Mindful Mondays: Headlines

North Korea

Las Vegas

San Juan

Florida Keys






Crooked cops.

Broken systems.

Hungry babies.

Melting icecaps.

Tech takeovers.

Travel bans.

Border walls.

Fake news.




He said.

She said.

They said.

I think.

This post.

That post.







Taking knees.

Speaking out.

Marching feet.

Praying hands.

Planting trees.

Creating new.

Writing views.
























Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 







Mindful Mondays: Keep the faith. Your miracle is coming!

In the Christian tradition, Jesus resurrecting from the dead was a miracle, for it couldn’t be explained by logic or science, it just had to be witnessed and received.  For three days, Jesus’ followers felt the most despair, dread, and sadness then they had ever felt in their ministry.  Their friend, brother, inspiration, and leader was executed by the state.  They were lost and didn’t know what was next.  And just when all hope was lost, the resurrection.  Jesus rises from the dead, reveals himself to the women and a movement is born.  Many Christians celebrate this miracle during Easter.

This sunny Easter morning has me thinking a lot about miracles. 

The first thing I’m thinking about this morning is how you are a miracle.  Do you know how many things had to be in place just for you to be conceived and born?  Your birth parents had to meet and “connect” . . . out of all the 7.1 billion people in the world they met and created you.  Then, even at your mother’s most fertile point in her cycle, there was a 20% chance for an embryo to form in literally a 12-24 hour window.  Then, out of a 180- 400 million sperm, one sperm and one egg formed a union.  Then you had to make it past that very delicate first trimester. Then you had to make your way through a risky birth process just to be in this world.  You are miracle and yes, all the human beings scurrying around you are just as miraculous.

Even as you embrace the miracle of you, take time to witness the everyday miracles around you.  Winter transitioning into spring.  Each breath, each step.  The sun rising and setting.  The earth spinning and twirling at just the right speed and angle.  Awakening each morning to a new day, a fresh start.  There are miracles in the mundane if we can just pause and bring our awareness to the present moment.  There is so much beauty and wonder in this life.  What miracles are around you waiting for you to witness them?

And finally, your miracle during uncertain times.  You’ve lived this life long enough to know that there is always a breakthrough during tough times.  I’m writing this morning to encourage you and to remind you of what you already know inside of you, your miracle is on it’s way.  So roll up your sleeves and do the work you need to do to climb out of whatever you are in and know the Universe/God/Spirit is conspiring for your good.  A miracle is on the way for you my friend.  Believe that and be a witness to it when it comes!

The song that inspired my blog post today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNmE7nsyz9c

Trey McLaughlin and the Sounds of Zamar, Remake of Sounds of Blackness, Optimistic

Mindful Mondays: Rise

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. -George Washington Carver

I have a beautiful Saucer Magnolia tree that is growing right outside of my living room window.  I’ve been watching its movements since September paying attention to its structure, colors, new buds, etc.  Each season brings such delight because I can watch this tree transform before my very eyes….each week something new is happening.  In September I watched its thick leathery leaves waddle in the wind and reflect the sun.  In November, I watched it turn varying shades of yellow and brown.  All winter I’ve been admiring its structure---the roots, the branches, the trunk---all of its turns and bends.  Even at the turn of the New Year, I started to see new life peeking out—little buds were starting to form.  I’ve watched these buds grow bigger and bigger week after week…anticipating their reveal.  This tree was doing its thing…going through the same cycles it has been moving through for the last 70 years or so. On track…on course….steady.  Dutifully, it knew what it had to do and it knew what came next.

And then last week came. 

It was an unseasonable 70 degrees all week in Louisville, hitting a record high of 80 degrees on Friday.  And while everyone was wearing shorts, taking walks, talking about global warming, and driving with their windows down, all I could think about was my tree.  It started blooming….in all its gloriousness.  The buds just burst through with bold flowers.  Beautiful shades of purple, violet, and white.  The petals had smooth textures and sultry curves.  Looking out my window was a sight.  I took delight in this tree, but also was anxious for what it had to endure for its future. It’s still February and it had bloomed too early.  It had been misled.  The tree had been so steady, so confident all these seasons and now I watched it in full bloom bear itself fully--in its most vulnerable state--to the elements.

And then last night came. 

There was a morning frost on my car and just as I had feared, many of the flowers on the tree had wilted.  The edges of the petals browned.  One night. One frost.  This tree opened herself up and she had been burned.  I’m now watching her pick up the pieces, reorienting herself into this new reality, still going about the business of growing in the wake of her set back. 

These are the risks that come with the business of living.  We also are exposed to the elements as we bear ourselves to the world.  Sometimes we take a chance and we fail.  Sometimes we open ourselves up and get hurt.  Sometimes we are talked about, lied to, or let down. Sometimes we lose, get burned, miscalculate, underestimate. It’s humbling. 

Yet faith, like the Saucer Magnolia outside my window, gives us courage to get up again, to keep going, to try, to reorient, to trust in spite of the “elements” in life that come our way.  Armed with a fierce faith in life, my tree thrives and she continues to stay open to receive the good the Universe has for her…the sun, the rain, the soil.  No frosty night or torrid thunderstorm will stop her from thriving.  She’ll stay open to receive and she’ll rise again.  Just like you will.

Amen. Ashe.





Mindful Mondays: When Life Is Hard

Sometimes we go through a season of life that is just hard.  Where we once stood tall and confident reaching for the sky and for the stars, we now fall to the ground and lay vulnerable, sad, angry, grief stricken and lost.  Whether it is the death of a loved one, financial or health struggles, loss of a relationship, addictions spiraling out of control, depression-there are seasons when these happenings in our lives can bring us to our knees.   

At times, the pain we experience in life can unbearable and paralyzing.   The pain of life can be humbling as well, revealing that within us which is weak, unresolved, and limited.  This self-awareness adds another layer to move through during difficult seasons of life.  Parker Palmer says, “The spiritual journey is full of paradoxes.  One of them is that the humiliation that brings us down—down to the ground on which it is safe to stand and fall—eventually takes us to a firmer and fuller sense of self.”

In the difficult seasons of your life, know that you are the strongest when you are the weakest.  It takes a lot of strength to be vulnerable.  It takes a lot of strength to bear your own pain and grief…to stay with it and see it through.  It takes a lot of strength to accept or ask for help when you need it.  It takes the strength of discipline to say no when temptations are the strongest.  And to continue to walk down the path of uncertainty and the unknown when you are scared, broke down, and unsure—that takes a kind of strength that is admirable and courageous.  You don’t have to “be” strong; you are strong, even in the midst of your weakness. 

So pray good people and be tender to your soul.


Prayer for Faith

By Marianne Williamson from Illuminata

Dear God,

May I have faith.

May I not be tempted to forget Your power.

May I not be tempted to forget Your love.

May my mind not stray to the might of the destroyer but remember instead the might of the Lord. 

Tomorrow, You shall show me.

You shall have the last word, the final say.

And so I shall not worry.

You shall redeem me,

I shall resurrect.

You shall bring forth new life from all apparent death.

You create from what the darkness has destroyed, for Your power is infinite, Your forgiveness total, Your mercy complete.

So it shall be that I might fall, but I shall not remain down for my Lord is with me.

He shall lift me up.

He shall create a new day.

He shall bring me home.

Praise God.


Mindful Mondays: A Dedication

A Dedication

Last week was a tough one for most of us who have a commitment to not only the ideals of equity, freedom, and justice—but also the physical manifestation of those ideals into lived reality.  

The United States of America has always been a land of paradox and illusion.   What has been touted as “freedom” has really been freedom for some and slavery for others.  What has been presented as “opportunity” has been a new life for some and stolen lands for others.   What has been upheld as “justice for all” has really been justice for some and injustice for the others.  What has been celebrated as “diversity” has been inclusion for some and exclusion for others.

Those who have suffered from the grips of this country’s unequal laws, oppressive systems, dehumanizing institutions and generational violence have known this too well and for too long.  This project of the United States of America—this 238 year old experiment in democracy—time and time again has been at the expense of the poor, people of color, women, and immigrants.

It was enslaved Africans who were forced to give their labor for free in order to build the wealth and infrastructure of this country.  It was immigrants and indentured servants who made a life on less than livable wages to build our railroads, grow our food, work in our factories.  It was our indigenous brothers and sisters who were forced at gunpoint and deception to give over their lands for free. We cannot forget this history…it is part of the creation story of the United States.  It tells us who we are and it shapes our current reality.

So again…here we are living in this “experiment of democracy” with a president-elect who is openly racist, homophobic, sexist, and xenophobic.  It is again on the backs of the poor, people of color, women, immigrants, and our muslim and LGBTQ brothers and sister to endure the ramifications of this tyranny. . .for we will be and continue to be impacted the most.

This impact is personal.   When you know and have witnessed this impact on your friends, children, cousins, aunties and people you love and care for, it is only human for feelings of anger, sadness, and worry to arise.   They are the cries of our ancestors. 

Allow yourself to be mad as hell.  Shed those tears of sadness.  Take notice of the worry you may feel about the future for yourself, your family, and others.  It is justified by history.  It is warranted by current reality.  

Be kind to yourself and accept feelings of anger, sadness, or worry. To deny those feelings or bypass them would be oppressive and inhumane.  Anger, sadness, and worry are demonized in this culture so much, but these feelings aren’t bad in and of themselves.  They are present.  They are real.  They are often fluid.  It’s what we do with anger, sadness, and worry and how much power we give them that can be either life-giving or destructive.  This is where we have choice and this is where we have power.  Let those feelings of anger, sadness, and worry be your guide and your teacher.  May they give you wisdom.  Let them clarify your truths and reveal your deepest needs.  Let them move through you.  Let them bring you to your knees for prayer…inspire you to action…warn you when you aren’t safe…spark you to reach out to others for connection and support. 

I don’t believe in a God that gives the pain or takes the pain away-humans seemed to have mastered that ability, but I do believe in a God that is with us in the pain, helps us to endure, to transform, to create, to be powerful, to survive and to thrive.  

God of Justice, God of Love, 

God of Creation, God of Mercy, 

be with us now and always.