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SOUL FOOD

This page has the introductions to various articles, sermons, notes, news.
Have a look at the synopsis for each one and then click "read more" to take you to the full article.






“Cursing” of the Fig Tree and Cleansing of the Temple
Mark 11/12-22:


A puzzling story from Mark's Gospel leads us to examne the metaphor of Jesus cursing the fig tree and overturning the tables of the money changers. What do these acts mean and what can we infer from them for our lives? The common view is that the fig tree represents Judaism and leads to anti-Semitic atitudes. I want to put a different understanding.
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Fishing and Beach Breakfast
John 21/1-14

In times of stress and uncertainty we tend to return to what is known and comforting. This story challenges us to see differently and to experience a more abundant way of living from the other side of the boat"!
Instead of doing everything in the same old same old way, ....

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Part 1 - Shadow-Boxing - Sharon Grussendorff

Sharon explores the place of our "Shadow" in the process of transformation. Our befriending of the shadow area of our lives leads to the freedom we all long for.
The shadow is not something to be corrected or changed, but a gift that helps us own and acknowledge our own unconscious workings. She applies the well known Psalm 23, the dark valley of the shadow, to our journey into reality.

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Part 2 - Peter's Shadow - Sharon Grussendorff

Sharon continues to explore the place of our "Shadow" in the process of transformation.
In Part 2 of this series, Sharon helps us see the "shadow" side of Peter's life and relationship with Jesus.
We can also recognise the way Jesus is using every event and response in our lives to bring about transformation.

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Part 3 - Shadows and Wells - Sharon Grussendorff

Sharon continues to explore the place of our "Shadow" in the process of transformation.
In Part 3 of this series, Sharon looks at the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the Well. She gives a background to the woman's life experience and shows how Jesus tenderly draws out her reality. We see the remarkable transformation in her and so we can relate that to our own discovery of Freedom in Jesus

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Heartfulness – Transformation in Christ,
A 4 Day Retreat at Coolock House, South Coast, KZN


Here is a short report by a participant at this retreat.

There will be more news in Finding Ground of any similar retreats offered in the near future.

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The Divine Presence Within

History has given us a record of religious buildings being built "for the glory of God". We live in a time to know that God does not live in buildings made by hands, but within each of us. The awareness of that reality is what is needed. So rather than focus outside ourselves on churches and temples, what about going inwards and preparing a spiritual centre?

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Spiritual Direction - Spiritual Companionship

Dave Geber has written an article for Finding Ground, explaining the ancient practice and process of Spiritual Direction, which can also be called Spiritual Companionship.

After reading this contribution, you might like to consider finding someone near where you live who offers Spiritual Direction, to talk about the possibilities.

Read Dave's very helpful article here

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GRACE

Sharon Grussendorff spoke recently on the subject of Grace, in a new and fresh way, exploring the subject from various angles.

She introduces the subject in this way:

"Such a simple word, but so very difficult to get hold of. And I fear that I am going to be using too many words to try to describe something that cannot be grasped through words, but has to be experienced through encounter with God. But in my experience words can be used by God to nudge us in the right direction."

Widen your experience of grace by reading the whole talk here:

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DYING WE LIVE

Death is a subject we would rather not consider, yet it is the most certain event in our lives. Birth and Death go together.

T.S. Eliot expressed it brilliantly in "The Journey of the Magi":

This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.


Consider in this piece, the place of death in our lives. To help, there is a YouTube clip of Steve Jobs' speech at Stanford University in 2005.

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How to Pray "The Daily Examen"

A great way to pray is to look for God’s presence in your life.
More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged prayer-filled mindfulness by proposing what has been called the Daily Examen.
The Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and to discern God’s direction for us.

Try this version of "The Daily Examen".

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The River of Communication and Trust

Ezekiel's vision of the river flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem towards the East and into the Dead Sea, can be looked at in Contemplative ways, with the help of David Bohm's understanding of Dialogue.

Vernon Lund explores this further:

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A Time of Waiting

Sharon Grussendorff explores the time of waiting between death and resurrection.

She writes: At Easter we focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus, but we often miss the time in between - the time in the tomb. When we consider the time that Jesus spent in the tomb, it was a time of waiting and darkness.

This cycle of death - waiting – life is also echoed in the image Jesus described in the week before his own death: "Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over." (John 12:24-25)

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The Human Condition

Sharon Grussendorff uses a scientific concept as an analogy of the human condition.

She writes: To begin, I want to talk about a scientific concept, as I am going to use it as an analogy of the human condition. This is the concept of gravity. Everything that has mass exerts a force of attraction on everything else that has mass. This is the reason that we are attracted to the earth. The Earth has a huge mass (roughly 6x1024 kg), which is why we feel the gravitational attraction towards the earth much more than we feel the attraction towards one another.

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Washing our Feet

Sharon Grussendorff explores the story of Jesus washing Peter's feet from a different perspective.

She says: When reflecting on this story we usually look at Jesus' washing of the disciples’ feet as the key challenge to us, inviting us to have more of a servant attitude, as he did. And this is an important challenge to us. But today I want to shift the focus a little bit, and look at Peter's response to the situation. This is an interesting one to reflect on in terms of our own responses to God.

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Letting Go

Sharon Grussendorff uses the story of the rich young man asking about the kingdom of God.

She points to a key: In the story Jesus gives this man a clue at the very start: he asks him "Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone."
The man answers: "Yes, but I have been so good. I’ve kept all the commandments."
Jesus answers: "Okay then, if you want to be perfect, do this impossible thing. Sell your possessions and give to the poor."

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Emotions and Self-Compassion

Sharon Grussendorff

Sharon says: It is interesting that many spiritual teachers recently have been saying that one of our biggest problems in the west is that we have lost any sense of self-compassion, and that is what is making our society so sick. It looks like it is the other way around in our extremely self-centered, self-pampering western society, but that it not what is meant by self-compassion.

I found it very interesting to read the definition of self-compassion on Wikipedia: Self-compassion is extending compassion to one's self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.


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God Within

Vernon Lund

Inspired by Richard Rohr's writing about the True Self, I have attempted to look at the story of Jonah as the conversation between The True Self and the False Self.

Here is the quotation that stimulated my exploration:
"I promise you that the discovery of your True Self will feel like a thousand pounds of weight have fallen from your back. You will no longer have to build, protect, or promote any idealized self-image. . . . You have finally discovered the alternative to your False Self."
Richard Rohr: "Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self", (to be published December 2012)

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Spiritual Transformation

Sharon Grussendorff

The cycle of death – burial – life was described by Jesus in the week before his own death: "Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over." (John 12:24-25) Sue Monk Kidd describes this cycle as separation, transformation and emergence. She writes: "By repeatedly entering the spiral of separation, transformation and emergence, we're brought closer each time to wholeness and the True Self.”

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What is grace if it is deserved?

Ashleigh Williams

Here are two experiences, that when taken together give the author new insights into snares, both physical and spiritual. This is particularly helpful for those who have been caught in the snares of religious legalism.
She writes: "On Saturday I went on a snare patrol, we look for and disable snares in indigenous forests and grasslands. Snares in our country are mostly made by twisting wire or barbed wire into slip-knot kind of loops and placing them along animal trails."

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You are God manifest as you

Vernon Lund

Genesis says we are made in the image of God. How do we go beyond our reason and experience that reality in our whole beings?
Thanks to Rabbi Rami (Shapiro) we have a way of understanding in our bodies, that we are made in the image of God.

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The Extravagant love of God

Sharon Grussendorff

Using two well known parables, Sharon opens up fresh insights into the parable of the prodigal son and the parable of the lost sheep.
To quote her last lines: "There is no place too lost for God to find us, because of God's irresponsible, extravagant love for us.

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Take Courage. It is I

Sharon Grussendorff

Sharon says: I have been struggling with reading scripture lately. I grew up with strong doctrinal teaching, very much around defending the literalism of the bible, treating it as a history textbook. In recent years I have been questioning this a lot, trying to get deeper into the essence and underlying meaning of the texts. This has been an important thing to do, as I have discovered that there are many more layers and depths of understanding than the thin, reedy ones I grew up with.

This has brought me back to something that I have had to re-learn over and over, in new ways and in greater depths - that I need to hear the Spirit through scripture at a heart level to hear anything fresh, which involves a need for me to let go of this head thing and approaching scripture from a much more open, quiet and prayerful space. There is an approach to reading scripture in this way, known as Lectio Divina, and it is a powerful way of letting go of our typical mental processes and arguments, and opening to the wonderful, surprising, rich and life-changing perspective that the Spirit can give to scripture. (See the Appendix for an outline of this method)

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

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Honour the Breath within the breath

Vernon Lund

Meister Eckhart says: “God does not ask anything of you except that you let yourself go and let God be God in you.”

A look at the Elijah story helps us grasp the reality: Elijah hears the breath within the breath, the sound of sheer silence, the still small voice.

Once we can show the True Self deep respect and gentle tenderness, we will begin to do the same for every other person whose True Self is the same True Self we have.

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Possibility and Quantum Tunneling

Sharon Grussendorff

Sharon says: I want to start with one of the surprising consequences of quantum mechanics. This is a phenomenon called “quantum tunneling”.

In short, if an electron encounters an energy barrier which, according to classical physics it should not be able to penetrate, there is a possibility that this electron can tunnel through the energy barrier.

When Mary has the angel saying she will conceive and have a baby, she asks: How can this be? That does not seem possible for her or for her cousin Elizabeth who is too old to conceive.

Sharon explores how thinking in possibilities can shift our thinking from a small view towards a wide and expansive view of life.

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Authenticity: Learning the art of saying NO

Sharon Grussendorff

Sharon says: The misguided emphasis on truth being about correct doctrine has been such a dangerous shift for the western church to make. This emphasis has encouraged fear, self-righteousness and intellectual arrogance, and these seem to be the complete opposite of the fruits of the spirit. But one of the most dangerous spin-offs of missing the emphasis on realness has been repression

Many of our choices and actions emanate out of dark, hidden, repressed pain. If this repressed stuff never sees the light of day, it festers and becomes a cancer inside, leading to hatefulness, self-righteousness and also, ironically, to deep self-loathing.

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Grace and Participation

Sharon Grussendorff

Sharon explores: One of the questions we often grapple with is what part do we play and what part does God play in our spiritual growth – how much is required of us, and how much is it about God’s grace?

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