Marlene Bogard serves as executive director of Mennonite Women USA and lives in Salem, Oregon, where daily she takes her cute little doggie on walks over the bridge, beyond the rippling creek and past the tall trees. She is married to Mike, has two adult sons and one adorable grandson. She is a fan of strong coffee, warm conversations and happy people.
Got a mantra? I am always on the hunt. Seems like I need a phrase, a song, a scripture to tame my ever-wandering mind. I have embraced many mantras over the years. Funny thing is, the mantra itself continues to morph. It’s never static, always evolving – like my faith, like my discipleship, like my yearnings.
What good is a mantra? It is an anchor, a north star, a grounding of sorts. When I become overwhelmed with anxiety, frustration, grief or confusion, I need to find a home, a safe room, a cozy place near to the heart of God.
A definition of a personal mantra: a positive phrase or affirmation that one repeats for encouragement. It could be a favorite quote, proverb, spiritual truth or religious saying that motivates and inspires you to be your best self. This phrase of special significance may be sung, spoken aloud or repeated silently as a prayer or meditation.
For me, reciting and repeating the inspirational phrase is an important spiritual discipline. It is a reminder, not unlike a tattoo or a string tied around a finger. The mantra’s power is that it draws me out of my current bind and prompts me to recall a spacious, safe place where I can rest in the love of God.
Here are several mantras that I have tried throughout my life to keep myself sane and centered and what they’ve reminded me:
Be still and know that I am God.
Reminder: I am not in control.
Be thou my vision.
Reminder: Holy One, let me seek your version of what is best.
Hands to work, hearts to God.
Reminder: Be God’s hands and feet with my doing, be close to God’s heart with my being.
Beloved, let us love one another.
Reminder: This is my calling.
Walking in the Light.
Reminder: God is light and in God, there is no darkness at all.
Abide in the Vine.
Reminder: Apart from Christ, I can do nothing.
These mantras have helped me enormously in my Christian walk. Some may view them as a kind of simplistic tool. But over time, I believe they have profoundly shaped me:
My perceptions about life, love and faith are clarified and healthier.
Mantras have steadied me and gave me courage.
I am reminded of my place in the world.
They calm me, call me to prayer and remind me to breathe.
A friend recently told me of her practice to choose a word for the year. Her word for 2016 is flourish. She uses it frequently in her social media posts, hashtags and as she reviews her purposes each year.
Might I suggest a mantra of the month? For me, a mantra must be flexible, somewhat alluring, and definitely timely. For now, I am going to use this one: Love is a verb. I know, kind of predictable, right? Not sure it has the stickiness that I will need forever, but for now, it is more than enough.
May the words of my heart and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19: 14.