Before Tech Support

Here’s the back story leading up to my prayer encounter during my chat with email software tech support. I awoke that morning to the peace of a beautiful winter day. I was soon interrupted by anxiety when the realization of a very challenging financial situation crossed my computer screen as I opened up my online banking site. We all have fear triggers and I’ll be transparent here, one of mine is financial security. Couple that with some real financial challenges and I’m doing a face plant on my bedroom floor in prayer. Now, I absolutely love my ministry work and can’t imagine my life without it, to the point that, I can get so engaged in prayer, writing, recording, teaching, client sessions and more that I have to remind myself passion doesn’t pay the bills. This morning was one of those times when the trigger hit provoking a litany of doubts, “Am I really supposed to be doing this?” “If so, how do I keep a roof over my head?” “Am I doing something wrong or missing something I should be doing?” “Creating an online presence might be necessary but it’s so confusing!”

The voiceless Voice finally managed to get my attention in the brief gap between these thoughts and I heard, “Keep moving”. So, I returned to my computer and started plowing through some administrative and technical stuff. I got stuck on something when the little ‘live chat tech support’ window popped up as if prompted by an angel. No one but me knew I was struggling in that moment, or so I thought. I opened up a conversation with ‘Zoe’ and the rest you can read about in my blog post “Even Tech Support Needs Prayer”. (Pause here and read it, if you haven’t already.) I was humbled to the point of tears to say the least and grateful my ‘in the moment’ need for encouragement was met. God has shown me over and over again throughout the years, this is my work; inviting people into a deeper connection with our Most High God, themselves and others through contemplative Christianity. Inviting people into partnering with their Beloved as He transforms their lives. Inviting people to honor their stories of transformation and freely sharing mine. Reminding everyone, of who we truly are, the beloved of The Beloved. Perhaps most importantly, sharing my love of Christ, in my little way, letting the world know He is real, He is alive and He will meet you where you are.

Even Tech Support Needs Prayer

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not very tech savvy. So today I found myself in an online tech support chat with the email software provider I use for my ministry emails. Though I’m sometimes able to pick things up fairly quickly, I always have a lot of questions. The woman on the other end of the chat was very knowledgable, professional and oh so patient. She would not only answer my questions but would create a 30 second tutorial and send me the link. One time while helping me with a video upload, she took a little longer before responding. Then her question popped up in the window, “Is this your newsletter, are you the person on the video?” I answered, “I am.” She answered, “I just watched it and I want to thank you. I’m going through something hard right now and your prayer has helped me so much.” I was speechless. My fingers sat on the keyboard and my eyes welled up. I was truly taken aback by her openness. I immediately sent to her the links to my other videos with a prayer and a blessing. She said, “Well, you have another follower in me.”

The Spirit of our Most High God is always and in all ways healing. In that moment, I came to a clearer understanding that no matter who or where we encounter someone, they need God and everyone needs prayer whether they realize it or not. From the time I was a child, maybe because of challenging life experiences, I’ve always turned to prayer. It feels like a pure gift of the Holy Spirit. For it is God and God alone who draws all into His healing, loving Presence. The harvest is plentiful as God is calling in His workers even through live chats.

When Mindfulness Isn’t Enough

There may be a few people, a very small percentage of the world’s population, that are untouched by the present climate of anxiety and stress. These individuals, if they exist, are probably living ‘off the grid’ of what we call ‘normal’; having little or no contact with social media and news outlets.

The rest of us are trying to find our way, trying to create calm in the midst of chaos, peace in the midst of stress, serenity in the midst of anxiety, joy in the midst of loss, faith in the midst of doubt, trust in the midst of lies, confidence in the midst of fear, love in the midst of contempt. With hidden addictions, shame, guilt and remorse the rest of us are searching for any morsel of reality or a modicum of truth that will keep us from becoming a statistic.  The search for answers in spirituality is at an all time high.  Spiritual seekers and teachers are everywhere and any course, workshop, practice or meditation that promises some kind of peace at the end of the day, is in demand. 

Today I listened to a popular teacher of secular spirituality.  I respect him and his work, send him prayer and blessing.  He was encouraging individuals how they can change their lives by becoming more mindful.  That if they just used mindfulness practices and techniques, in a short period of time, their lives would greatly change for the better.  As I continued listening I heard something else.  Not from the teacher on the video, but from the Teacher within. 

That inner voiceless Voice spoke, ‘Cease striving and know that I Am God.’ In a moment Reality made this abundantly clear, it’s impossible for me to heal my own life. I’ve tried endlessly to escape all my fears, shame and guilt.  Only to arrive at the fact that I can not completely forgive myself and others for how our combined poor choices have wreaked havoc on my life. Bottom line is no matter how adept I get at any of these mindfulness practices I can not transform the inner workings and deepest motivations of my life.  The old thinking is always there. I might ‘feel’ a little better in the moment but I can not create a stress-free, peace-filled existence.  As I continued watching this very convincing, beautifully filmed video I recognized with great clarity, the only way to true transformation is not from me but through me.  The One and Only, who dwells in me, the Source of Love, Sustainer of Life, Creator God, Living Christ, Holiest Spirit who breathes through me, the Great Healer whose Presence I can not escape is the One who does the transforming.  The teachings that say it’s up to me to heal my life, can actually create more pressure and stress.  “How so?”, you might ask.  After all there are so many studies that prove how the brain responds to mindfulness meditation, etc.  I don’t deny that at all.  However, I believe that whether we acknowledge it or not, all healing comes from God, the Great Healer.  Surrendering to that Reality connects us to our God in a deep, profound way, clearing out the interference and foggy thinking that clouds our understanding and pulls us off course.  Striving and struggling with no intention toward surrender only creates more of the same.

Yes, we must willingly show up to silence, prayer, scripture and service, willingly show up to be transformed. That is our part.  However, the work really happens when we wholeheartedly consent and are present to the Presence, when we surrender to God’s Greater Work within.  For it’s not when we muster up more effort but when we relinquish our weakness.  Not when we acquire more knowledge but when we can admit to knowing nothing and fall into Divine Wisdom.  Not when we live perfectly, but when we acknowledge our flaws, embrace our failures, weep with our vulnerabilities, receive forgiveness and keep showing up. 

Any discipline, practice or level of understanding that supports our surrender is what will serve our transformation.  For as God has God’s way of love and healing in our lives, so too will the world be healed. We do not have to be about changing the world, rather allowing change to happen in each each one of us.  Yes, one person matters.  Each of us has a part to play that begins with surrender.  Remember, through one, Jesus the Christ, we’ve been shown the way of true life.  The way of surrender that leads to resurrection and eternal life.  Let it be so.  Let it be now.  Let it be.

Prayer For Our Children

Most High God, We boldly ask all of heaven to assist us as we open our hearts in prayer for our children. We are grateful for these gifts you have entrusted to us. From their first breath to their last we ask for your protection and guidance and sanctuary from the deceptions of this world. As parents, grandparents and guardians of the children we recognize the spirit of the world is at work to rob them of their innocence and conscience. May we be able to teach them and reassure them of the beautiful, strong children of the Living God that they are. We receive and believe this encouragement that no weapon formed against them will prosper and we pray against the weapons of addiction, loneliness, pornography, bullying, violations of the innocent in every form. We pray for an impervious hedge of protection around them from birth through adolescence, their teen years and beyond as they go out into the world. We are grateful for the heavenly beings that walk with them while they continue on this side of heaven. May we, as parents, grand-parents, guardians and fellow human beings rise up in prayer, body and spirit to teach them your ways of love and truth. We pray for courage as they grow to stand for what is true, good and honorable. To stand and live for Christ in their homes, at school, at work and beyond. Most High God relieve us of worry and fear. Rather give us a fearless spirit and courage to rise up, speak up when necessary, love, guide and protect always the presence of all of our children.

From Ephesians 6 We pray our children be covered with the armor of God.

“May they find strength in their union with the Most High and His power.  Putting on the full protection of God, so they may be discerning and able to stand their ground against the strategies of evil. For theirs is not a struggle against enemies of flesh and blood, but against all the various powers of darkness. Taking up the armor of God may they be able to withstand any attack, standing their ground. With the belt of truth and your Presence at the center of their being. Your morals and integrity guarding their hearts and minds ready to serve the good news of truth and peace. May they be emboldened in faith as their shield; for with it they will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And may they receive the mind of Christ, and the Spirit of Life protected by the helmet of salvation and the word of God as their sword. This is a mighty prayer and you are a mighty God. May we rise up, surround our children with your love now and forever. Let it be so. Let it be now. Amen.

How To Get Unstuck And Change Your Life

Feeling stuck?  Over and over again, repeating what you don’t want to do hoping one day you will arrive at the life you want. Why don’t  New Year’s resolutions work?  Because we can’t will ourselves into a new way of being and thinking.  We don’t really know what we want, or how to get it.  Then, if we do get ‘it’, whatever that might be, will it really make any difference?   You’re not doomed to keep repeating the same old patterns that keep you stuck, if you don’t want to.  The choice is up to you.  There is something you can do, and it doesn’t include setting more goals and gathering more information.  Rather, recognize this, you are enough, you have enough, but you don’t feel like it.  You feel stuck with no clear direction.  Don’t get discouraged.  Show up for your life in a new way, the  way of an active contemplative.  Take time, listen and follow the desire to seek God and transformation.  “But how?”, you might ask.  Jesus spoke two words to His would be apostles and disciples and the world was changed forever.  “Follow me” His great directive, called His chosen friends into action.  He didn’t tell them go get your life together, get rid of your dysfunctional, co-dependent, addictive behaviors THEN follow me. He didn’t say, ‘Go get spruced up, work on your strengths, lose that excess weight physically, emotionally and psychologically that’s keeping you down, THEN follow me.’  No, He simply looked them in the eye and said, “Follow me”.  What happened next changed the course of history.  One by one they dropped their personal agendas for happiness and did the only sane thing they could do.  They walked toward Him, they took one step and then another, day after day, walked with Him, listened to Him, prayed with Him, lived with Him.  A band of brothers and sisters recovering the lives they never knew they lost.  Finding the lives they never thought possible.  In essence they were stuck, lost, lonely and anxious until they showed up,  day after day and followed Christ.  Into the stillness of the desert,  the solitude of the mountainside; serving, listening and supporting one another.  How might this look in your life?  Here’s the active, contemplative way of following Christ I have found and live.  It has transformed me out of more dark valleys into green pastures than I can even remember.  My way of following Christ is threefold:  Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina and Spiritual Direction.  Yes, there are other ways like corporate worship, study and serving, etc. but this three-way approach is the foundation of my life with Christ.

The Deeper Connection provides all three for you:  Spiritual Direction, Live Pray-in, and Centering Prayer

For more information and support I would love to jouney with you as you heed the call of our Beloved Master and hear Him say to you, “Follow me.”

Still We Rise

In the midst of tragedy and crisis, where is God? Truth is, God is everywhere if we have the eyes to see. God is in all, if we have the hearts to feel, God is present if we have the soul to receive. As we watch the videos of how the horror unfolded on innocent lives in Las Vegas, we are burdened by the weight of sadness. In spite of the evil intention of a madman, God was in the midst of His people. Angels of mercy and might all around. Some ushering the innocent into their eternal home, others as friends, family, first responders, police officers, firefighters and the list goes on. Evil showed up but God prevailed in ways beyond imagination. Shielding thousands from a hailstorm of bullets, making a way out of what would have otherwise been a mass grave. God comforting the lost, as they breathed their last breath. God empowering the survivors as they performed heroic acts of courage.

Somehow we know all 22,000 people are heroes. When the worst of humanity reels it’s ugly head, the best of humanity responds in ways beyond imagining. We, who watch from a distance, are humbled by the tenacity of the human spirit. Stories of selfless heroism, beyond human strength and angelic compassion keep us bowed in surrender and voices lifted in prayer. As in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, Mexico and now Las Vegas, when it’s time to rise, we rise without hesitation.

The question that begs to be asked is this, “How will you rise?. How will we each of us respond, after the chaos has been cleared away and the news stories subside. This tragic event demands a personal response from every person within the sound of its’ thunder. That response must be Love in Action. Here is my request. Let love lift you up, your actions, your words and thoughts.

  1. Carry the woundedAs you saw the wounded being carried off of that killing field to safety, you too have the opportunity to carry the wounded. Those people wounded by anger, hatred and neglect on a daily basis, are all around you.
  2. Act in kindness, even when it isn’t returned, for perhaps your act of kindness will be the very one that softens the heart that has been hardened by a difficult life.
  3. Let your speech be respectful. Do not perpetuate angry, hateful, vile speech, for it only brings about more of the same. Refrain from participating in degrading, disrespectful social media posts and conversations, now and forever.
  4. State your position in an edifying way. Remember opinions are like noses, everyone has one. What makes you right and another wrong? Differences of opinions can be brought into the open without degrading and destroying another. Just watch Jimmy Kimmel’s video on his response to the tragedy in Las Vegas and you will see what I mean.
  5. Be patient with everyone, especially your children, spouse, neighbor, coworkers, etc. Patience is what love looks like. Patience can be hard and so can love, but in reality, what other option is there?
  6. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the homeless and support the grieving both literally and figuratively. There are those hungry for acceptance and appreciation, those in need of respect, those who are isolated and need connection, and those who simply need someone to help them cry.

We human beings have a will, therefore, unlike all other creatures, we can make conscious decisions for good, for the sake of love or to perpetuate evil. Someone else’s poor choices and destructive behaviors is not a good enough excuse for the rest of us. We can choose God, love, peace and harmony while at the same time speaking our truth and standing for what heals.

There are only three things that matter and three things that will last, faith, hope and love. We ourselves are wounded, too empty to cry, too angry to speak, stunned by these days, but still we rise. Why? Because God is, because hope never gives up and faith will not let go, because truth must be heard and because the greatest of all these is love and love will always prevail. Always.

Forgiveness

It rained on the last day of retreat
As if freedom could be more free.
God poured down grace on me.
Beautiful rays of golden light.
Through the canopy of trees.
From heaven into my soul.
Engulfed in prayer, the moment came unannounced.
Like the gentle summer breeze, that brushed across my face.
From the page of scripture, leapt the words “forgive them.”
And like the water cascading through the fountain
Came the names and faces I had hidden away.
I was ready.
Invited by the Silence.
Held secure by the Stillness.
Ready, to look deep into my heart,
Now with clarity and understanding.
The resentments once hidden by reason and rightness,
Reflected back at me.
“It is time.” He said.
And I knew what was mine to do.
No grand gestures of humility expected.
Just acceptance for a lifetime of wounds.
As I wrote down each name and saw each face,
These words came.
I release you from my resentment__I forgive you, God bless you.
I continued my litany of forgiveness, seeing each person.
Realizing how even the slightest resentment,
Hid secretly, deep in my heart.
“It is time.” He said.
“There is no one left.”, I replied.
The glancing down I saw my reflection in the water.
And I knew.
It was time and I was ready.
Readied by the beautiful work of prayer
Readied by the sacred space carved by Silence.
Readied by the presence of My Beloved.
Ready to receive the grace to forgive myself.
And the mercy offered.
As if freedom could be more free.
God poured down grace on me.


Who is Maria?


Maria Gullo is the founder of The Deeper Connection, a ministry dedicated to bringing individuals to inner peace. She is an ordained minister and has spent the past twenty-plus years delivering the message of contemplative Christian spirituality through centering prayer, retreats, workshops, and lectures. Maria’s guided prayer and meditation tools include audio downloads and CDs, available here online as well as on the Insight Timer mobile meditation app. Learn more about Maria.

Maria offers virtual online and private one-on-one Spiritual Direction sessions to help individuals develop a deeper connection, clearer understanding and authentic relationship with God, self and others.

Follow The Deeper Connection @deeperconnects on Twitter, and @thedeeperconnection on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube


Maria wants to hear from you! Tell your story or where you are in your journey.

The Silent Retreat

On the edge of Silent Stillness I embark
To an adventure unforeseen
The Silence pierces a world of noise.
The Stillness moves like the ocean’s depths.
I do not know what lies ahead.
I simply say ‘yes’.
My willingness now opens a path beneath me and above me.
Transported by prayer to heights and depths beyond my imaginings.
“Come”, the voiceless Voice speaks.
I move into the Silence now with trepidation.
Led into a dense forest of fear
On a path strewn with doubt.
Come—
Anxieties rolling in like ominous storm clouds.
Threatening thoughts entangle me.
Come—
Through waist high weeds of faded dreams.
Through stagnating memories of failure and regret.
Come—
The Silence persists.
Prayer draws me deeper.
Come—
Then without warning a gentle cool breeze rushes in.
Flowing over me and through me.
Come—
Lifting my head.
I breathe in deeply
Turning from the thoughts.
Releasing the illusion that gripped my soul.
Come—
I raise my eyes inward to see lush fields
Green pastures bathed in warm Light.
I am not alone.
Now I see.
I never was alone.
Come—
The path opens up.
The birds are singing.
The clouds have given way to crystal blue skies.
Prayer guided by Silence has led me home.
Home to my Self.
Home to God.
Home to my Beloved and I am free.


Who is Maria?


Maria Gullo is the founder of The Deeper Connection, a ministry dedicated to bringing individuals to inner peace. She is an ordained minister and has spent the past twenty-plus years delivering the message of contemplative Christian spirituality through centering prayer, retreats, workshops, and lectures. Maria’s guided prayer and meditation tools include audio downloads and CDs, available here online as well as on the Insight Timer mobile meditation app. Learn more about Maria.

Maria offers virtual online and private one-on-one Spiritual Direction sessions to help individuals develop a deeper connection, clearer understanding and authentic relationship with God, self and others.

Follow The Deeper Connection @deeperconnects on Twitter, and @thedeeperconnection on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube


Maria wants to hear from you! Tell your story or where you are in your journey.

Here In Retreat

Here in retreat:
The Trees speak,
the Water dances,
the Light is blinding bright,
the Silence is deafeningly quiet,
the Spirit is restoring, renewing, rebirthing,
The Moment is potently real,
the Word is profoundly revealing,
the Prayer is deep and compelling,
the Seeing is true and vital
the Listening is easy and patient
the Color is iridescent and clear
the Vision is becoming
and I Am is with me.


Who is Maria?


Maria Gullo is the founder of The Deeper Connection, a ministry dedicated to bringing individuals to inner peace. She is an ordained minister and has spent the past twenty-plus years delivering the message of contemplative Christian spirituality through centering prayer, retreats, workshops, and lectures. Maria’s guided prayer and meditation tools include audio downloads and CDs, available here online as well as on the Insight Timer mobile meditation app. Learn more about Maria.

Maria offers virtual online and private one-on-one Spiritual Direction sessions to help individuals develop a deeper connection, clearer understanding and authentic relationship with God, self and others.

Follow The Deeper Connection @deeperconnects on Twitter, and @thedeeperconnection on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube


Maria wants to hear from you! Tell your story or where you are in your journey.

Let The Silence Begin

Most of the time when I share with someone I’m going on a seven day silent retreat the reaction is always the same:

“You’re going to do what? For how long?”

Yes. For seven days, other than a daily half-hour spiritual direction appointment, silence reigns.

Even though I’ve been going on these retreats for years and know what to expect, initially I always feel trepidation. It’s not just you.  I too say to myself, “Hmmm, seven days feels like a long time.”

Though I’ve come to understand how the silence will affect me, what happens in me is always on God’s terms that is always a surprise. Here’s what I can expect: 

Day 1-2:  Silence is always my best friend. I can’t wait to get into the peace, quiet and nothingness.

Day 3-4:  Silence slowly becomes my enemy.  At this point, the silence is deafening and I wonder if I can hang on.

Day 5-6:  Silence is my home.  God is present and closer to me than I am to myself.  I want to bask in God’s Presence.  His voiceless Voice says nothing and everything.

Day 7:  Gratitude swells like an ocean and I am ready to walk back into my life with a renewed sense of I am not alone. All is well, and all will be well. 

When I was packing, I started feeling trepidation. I thought, what in the world is that about?! Most times I’m so looking forward to the retreat I can’t wait. “How can this be?” I thought to myself. Rather than get caught up engaging that thought and feeling, I just proceeded to pack and move forward with my day. As the evening hour approached and I got in my car to drive to the retreat house, I noticed the trepidation and doubt had disintegrated, no longer weighing on me. It happens, when we are heading into something that is completely God lead, doubt and trepidation try to engage us.

The engagement is the issue, not the thought or even the feeling. I recognized it and kept moving in the direction of my intention, to go to this week long silent retreat. If I engaged the thoughts and turned them into a dialogue trouble would have ensued big time. That’s the power of doubt. Doubt cracks open the door, engaging it swings the door to fear wide open. So, what to do? It’s quite simple (I didn’t say easy), keep moving, one step in front of the other, doing the next right thing in the direction of your heart’s desire. The contemplative rules of engagement come down to this, pray, don’t engage and keep moving.

You don’t necessarily even have to go on a silent retreat away from daily life. Silence is seeking you, let yourself be found. Though it may feel scary to you, deep inside you long for the peace that only Silence can provide. Silence is anything but silent. Intentionally turning off the external sources of noise that are seductively clamoring for attention is imperative to your wholeness, to your health. Then the rich expression of God through the universe will clear the static on the brain. I don’t mean to never listen to music, tv, videos, etc. It’s just most people are consumed with being plugged in and need to turn off and tune out. Then re-enter the world of noise with discernment.

My suggestion is to simply keep background noise turned off for 7-10 days. That’s music, etc. while driving, working, cooking, reading, etc. Then hear the sounds around you and let them draw you into the present moment. The birds chirping, wind rustling through the trees, Notice how you can pay more attention to your intention of being present to whatever it is you’re doing, cooking, working, cleaning, reading, everything can help you awaken your senses to being present to the Presence of God, here and now. 

Perhaps most importantly, ask God for the grace for whatever it is you need. Asking God for grace puts us in a place of receptivity rather than trying to make it happen on our own. Why is this such an important contemplative practice? Because most times we try too hard, too long, struggle too much before we finally become willing to receive. We try to work at our spiritual growth, at transforming our lives like we work at everything else. Then we cry out and complain to God “why aren’t you doing anything here?” All the while our ego has a white knuckle grip on our effort leaving no space for God.

Yes, intention and attention, awareness and openness is our part; however none of that matters if it’s all on us. If we put the responsibility for our growth, development and transformation squarely on our shoulders. The ego loves to handle the whole burden. This is about the Great Healer healing us. The Power of Healing that’s sustaining us this very moment. Our minds are thinking, hearts keep beating and lungs keep breathing without us doing a thing. We need most to be attentive to what we need and ask for the grace. God’s got this. You’re not in this alone. If you keep hitting the wall of “I can’t do this.” “I’ll never change.” “I’ll always feel___” “Other people can change, but not me.” “This is too hard, too scary, what’s the point.” You’re missing the point. So, right now, breathe and be gentle with yourself. What grace do you need from God for tomorrow? Grace, that flowing, loving, energy of Pure Presence. Remember as you are transformed you bring the True You into the world. God is healing the world and you’re one way He’s making it happen.


Who is Maria?


Maria Gullo is the founder of The Deeper Connection, a ministry dedicated to bringing individuals to inner peace. She is an ordained minister and has spent the past twenty-plus years delivering the message of contemplative Christian spirituality through centering prayer, retreats, workshops, and lectures. Maria’s guided prayer and meditation tools include audio downloads and CDs, available here online as well as on the Insight Timer mobile meditation app. Learn more about Maria.

Maria offers virtual online and private one-on-one Spiritual Direction sessions to help individuals develop a deeper connection, clearer understanding and authentic relationship with God, self and others.

Follow The Deeper Connection @deeperconnects on Twitter, and @thedeeperconnection on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube


Maria wants to hear from you! Tell your story or where you are in your journey.