Thursday, February 26, 2015

Writing to God: Day 8

James 5: 7-11

"God, I love to suffer.  I get a thrill from it.  The feeling of emptiness in the pit of my stomach coupled with the agony of waiting fills me with joy!  Please, Lord, put the weight of the world on my shoulders - and no one else's!  Allow me to feel, with every inch of my body and in all of my spirit, the burden of pain, and suffering, 
and heartache."

Said no one….EVER.

At least, no one that I know.  God, we know that hardship and heartache are part of life.  They come with the territory of being alive.  But, if I am honest with myself and with you, the thrill comes not from the suffering (no one wants to hurt, right?….right?), but rather from the way we see you and feel you beside us in our uphill climbs.  
Lord, I get frustrated with the idea that humanity can handle anything that comes our way with ease and spotlessness.  And I'm not praying for weakness over courage, just a little more honesty…and a lot more vulnerability.  

As a new day dawns and fades again, there will be challenges to face.  The people of your world do suffer and in lots of different ways.  Teach us to be honest about the struggle of life.  And show us the beauty that comes with letting go of our affinity with the idea that we must have it altogether.  All the time.

What if "getting better" wasn't our end goal?  What if, God, our "getting better" meant that we became more aware of our need and our heartache…facing it and owning it, and letting you more fully into the nuances and details of the pain that drowns us?  

Teach us how to carry your love with us in our struggle and in our joy - so that we will come to see, when it's all said and done, that you are the one who carries us, and not the other way around.

What if that was the prayer of our hearts?


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writing to God: Day 7

Habakkuk 2: 1-3
"In Need of Prophets"

God, do you remember a time when you didn't need us to prophesy?  When the order of the world and the turning of the Earth seemed to align smoothly and intentionally, with respect and attention to one another?  When a brother, if in need, reached out a hand and was met - not with judgement - but with understanding and care?  When a sister, although set in her ways, never turned away the stranger with anything less than a smile and the sincerest expression of her heart?

Was there a time?

God, do you remember a time when bridges were built with sweat, tears, and laughter, rather than torn down in vain?  Or when diversity was celebrated and differences revered?  God, do you remember the days when the human struggle was dealt with courage and compassion; not trampled upon with greed, or sheltered with a comfortable indifference?

Was there a time?

God do you remember a time?  Was there ever a day?  Can't you look back in your great, big hard drive of eternal memory and tell us if there was ever a time when you did not need the prophet?

If we keep searching for that answer…If we will roll up our sleeves and pave the way for your vision…then, O God…I pray that we will find the time.  It will be this time.  And it will be ours.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Writing to God: Day 6

John 1: 1-5; 14a
The Word Became Flesh

O God who came down and touched the water with your bare hands.  O God who scuffed through the grainy ground, walking from town to town, and got your feet all dusty.  O God who sat around a dinner table with close friends.  Told stories, talked about your day, laughed at a stupid joke.


Come and be near.
Come and listen.
Come and understand.
Come and embrace.

When the waters rise above our heads.  When the dusty road becomes too long and winding to find our way.  When our dinner tables are empty; or seats that were once occupied are no longer.  Or the stories have all been told; the jokes laughed at one too many times.

And silence now fills the space between bites and sips.

When friends who were once so close are now just out of reach.

And be near.
And listen.
And understand.

Come and embrace.

O God, we pray.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Writing to God: Day 4 & 5

As I figured, I got behind in my posting.  This will not be the last time I'll be behind.  I will also admit, that as I write these prayers, I get nervous about sharing them on here.  They feel too raw and too serious!  But, I made the commitment.  So for whoever is out there, here is Day 4 & Day 5 of Writing to God.

Day 4 (Saturday February 21):  Psalm 46
God, so much of our earth is frozen - and you tell us to be still.  So many of us feel as though the walls of our homes are closing in on us - that's how long we've been inside them, without much chance or courage to venture outward.  And you whisper - be still and know.

How still can one get before the crazy settles in?

A man died in Louisville a few nights ago.  He was found frozen on the steps of the homeless shelter.   The shelter had closed for the night.  The man's name was Kenneth.  God - you knew his name.  God - you knew him well.

How can we be still and know - when our shivering is too strong; too consuming?

How can we be still when our hearts become so closed up and cold - and our concerns and energies are spent on finger-pointing, name-calling, and the fear-based need to be right in our inclinations - that we miss the profound dysfunction of a human being dying in the bitter cold night because there was no room in the inn - in the land of dreams and opportunity?

God - when the world is cold and frozen shut, it is so hard to be still.  And so help us God - at the very least - to know.  To know that you are God.  To know that there is more love than indifference to go around.  And perhaps our knowing can lead to the stillness that you call us to.  The stillness of finding our place, knowing our place, seeking our place as listeners, peacemakers, as people of love.  People who can do our part of warming a cold world.

Help us, then, Lord, to be still.  To be still and know.  To be still and know that you are.  To be still and know that you are God.

Day 5 (Monday February 23):  Ecclesiastes 3: 1-20; Ashes to Ashes Confession
Cold reminds us of what it means to be human, to be fully alive, to hurt and to rejoice.  And darn-it if it still isn't a winter mess outside!  I'm going to look back on these prayers and wonder if there was just nothing else to talk about.  For a week now, our days, decisions, actions, and inactions have all depended upon what-is-it-going-to-do-next?  Snow?  Ice?  Freeze?  Rain?  Flood?  Nothing?  Remind us of our humanity and our limitations.

I search, God, for a way to be at peace with my brokenness.  I do not want to be so content that I stop trying to be whole.  But I want to find the peace and security that comes with knowing and accepting that I never will be whole.  Not until death, I suppose.  Is wholeness just out of reach?  I work on my spirit.  I strain my ear in morning darkness to listen for your voice.  Where are you?  What are you saying?  What are you not saying?

O Lord - don't you see the brokenness of your people?  Don't you see the fear and violence and the false security we have placed our lives in?  Your children are killing your children.  And so many of us turn the other way.  What do we do when our brokenness is in too many pieces, with too sharp of edges, that we bleed trying to find our role in living and creating a different way?

There is so much possibility.  And there is so much pain.
How do we even know where to begin?

God, don't leave our side.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Writing to God: Day 3

"Humility"  Isaiah 40

O God, may the echoes of laughter follow me today.  Speak to me in playfulness.  Open my senses to the liberation that you bring simply because you are above all and in all and through all.  And I am a grasshopper - bouncing along thinking that the world starts and stops with me.  Assuming that my decisions have the strength to press pause and play in the grand scheme of things.
I hope you laugh out loud - in love, of course.  Teach me to bow down.  Unwrap for me the gift of humility.  Place me in the balance of responsibility and release.  For you are the Holy One.  The earth laughs at our predictions - not to be mean - but to remind us of our inability to fully understand and to stop acting like we do.  Smile at your world today, God.  Smile at us and show us the liberating fullness of your laughter.  Amen.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Writing to God: Day 2

I look out the window today, God.
And see everything that is possible.
The bird about to take flight.
The person in a car driving by, slowly,
As to not slide off the snowy road.
The light of day stretching across the horizon.

I look out the window today
And wonder what it will be like
To pay attention to the trees, the 
Way they stand so elegantly in a frozen earth.
To listen to the way the snow 
Sounds as I take a step out the door.

I look out the window today
And wonder what it would be like
To greet every person with 
A smile and a wave - or even a hug.
Truly happy that they walked into the room. And,
Noticing the smile that embraces them,
They too might feel a little bit lighter.

I look out the window today, God,
And I see all that has been given and made.
Even in a season of cold and barrenness
There is a bird about to take flight,
And a person in a car driving by, slowly.
And the light of a new day stretching across the horizon.

If we would just take the time to look out the window
We would see everything that is possible.
This is the way you love us, God.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writing to God: Day 1

I may be shooting myself in the foot.  But, I'm giving this a shot.  (ha - no pun intended) Jesus said not to be like the hypocrites who pray on the street corners really loudly so people will see them and think they're devout.  So what's the difference with me putting my prayers on the world-wide-web?  I'm struggling to answer that.

But it's the season of Lent.  Today is Ash Wednesday.  The world I live in is snow-covered, cold, and on pause in many ways.  The season of Lent always gets under my skin and makes me want to do something new…something different…something maybe a little more bold and daring than I might do otherwise (maybe).  So here is my version of bold and daring (don't laugh).  I may be shooting myself in the foot…or the mouth….or putting my foot in my mouth…or….well, you get the point.  But I'm going to attempt, really hard, to write a new prayer every day of the 40 days of Lent.  And then (deep inhale) I will share it on my blog.  To guide this process, I am using a book by an amazing writer whom I just discovered about a month ago (thanks to a good pastor friend!;) ) called, "Writing to God:  40 Days of Praying with my Pen" by Rachel G. Hackenberg.

Why share my prayers?  I suppose because I still feel new to this blogging world, and I'm trying to figure out if I like it.  Also, because maybe there are others out there who have similar thoughts, prayers, and struggles as me.  And if I can help you articulate your thoughts, prayers, and struggles - (or just make you feel better about yourself through my insecurities!!) - then perhaps that's all the reason I need.  So, here we go…Day 1.

Ezekiel 37: 1-3
God, the blank page stares at me.  Who knew a white page could be so intimidating?  It seems to smirk and say to me, "Really?  You think you can do this? Do you really think you can etch anything of meaning on me? Really?! Ha."   It's as though this page - this ordinary, typical, not-so-special piece of paper - is my life.  My inner critic, more specifically.  Taunting me and making me feel inadequate.  I'm giving in to the page - my life - my inner critic.  I'm letting myself intimidate me.
God - everything you do screams LIFE.  Living, breathing, abundant LIFE.  So why is it so cold?  Why does it so often feel as though our breath freezes and stops the minute we let go of it?  Like we're stepping out into the snow-covered world, and our boots get stuck in the mounds of thick, white fluff.  This stuck-ness is how life too often feels. We stop before we ever truly begin.  We let it happen.  We let it happen. We let our lives say to us, like the taunting of the blank page, "Really? You really think you're good for something? Really?! Just - stop."  And that's all it takes for us to wiggle our foot out of the snow stuck boot, one after the other.  Leaving them there, empty, in the cold.  Our tracks barely made it out the door.  We go back inside and return to our familiar pillows and blankets of comfort and warmth. Of security.
And still, you beckon us, God. Our scared, timid, self-interested selves that like to think we're so strong and have everything under control. You beckon to us and latch onto us in a way so snug that we cannot wiggle away.  You say: "Move. Breathe. Look. Go. Live."
You say:  "Create life out of nothing.  Fill in the blank space with color and sound.  Make these dry bones move."
O God, show me how to put my feet back in.  Wake me up.  And show me how to move.  Amen.