Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Writing to God: Tuesday of Holy Week

Jeremiah 31: 2-13

Jeremiah is a poem of the joyful future return from exile for the people of Israel.  It is a celebration of the hoped-for journey home - a journey that remembers its brokenness but literally dances in God's delivering presence and love through it all.  The people, it says, "found grace in the wilderness."

In the Gospel of Mark, Tuesday of the last week of Jesus' life begins at chapter 11 verse 20.  It continues until 14:1.  Tuesday is full of action, sayings, and teachings of Jesus - including the Greatest Commandment, predictions of the temple destruction, the lesson from the withered fig tree of Monday, and the widow's offering.

What kinds of lessons do you have to teach us, God?
About love, and mercy, and kindness?
Are they lessons that lend us joy in our grief and a lightness in our daily step?

What kinds of lessons, God, do you have to teach us?
About humility, and patience, and trust?
Will they be lessons to help us in the waiting seasons, the times of change, our losses and failures?

God, what kinds of lessons do you have to teach us?
What about lessons of faith, of hardship, of perserverance?

For you knew what season it was, yesterday, when you went looking for fruit on that fig tree.
And, in the same kind of way, you know the skips and gallops, trips and falls that we take through this life.  You know each and every one.  (That could cause a person to be still before you.)

So we cannot help but ask:  on this long and eventful Tuesday - what lessons do you have to teach us?

But wait.  First we need to understand what it means to be watchful and how to listen - for only then will we be able to hear you.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Writing to God: Monday of Holy Week

Psalm 148
In Praise of Green

(Along with this prompt, I am deciding to use Mark 11: 12-14 as inspiration for this prayer).

"Praise the Lord!…Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!  Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!  Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!  Young men and women alike, old and young together!  Let them praise the name of the Lord…"

We sing with the Psalmist our praises to you, O God.

As the fig tree stands in the shadow of early morning sun.  Her leaves full and green.   

What a strange time it is to be so joyful, God.  The Earth is pulling out pastels and highlighters from the drawer, dusting them off, and doodling so much color upon the ground.

She stands tall and proud.  Confident.  In control of her timing and gifts.

What a funny season to be so sad.  It is a week just like any other.   Life is only as hard as we make it, right?  What is it they say?  The grass is always greener on the other side.  Just help me get through this week God, so I can lay down in the greener grass….

As a man approaches the fig tree standing there so proud.  Happy to see a visitor, she gives a stretch and a gentle rustle in the warm breeze.  But his look of disappointment captures her eye.  And he walks away angry.

For the budding of first flowers, and for the silvery dew upon the green grass, we praise you, God.  For the opportunity to walk with you one day at a time, we praise you, God.

In seasons of abundance and in seasons of waiting, help us to stand tall and weather the storm;

praying that, in time, we will bear fruit for your Kingdom.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Writing to God: Palm Sunday

Mark 11
"Palms and Passion"

My Lenten discipline of Forty Days of Writing to God ends with special prompts for Holy Week.  Today is Palm Sunday, the day we happily wave the palm branches in church and sing Hosanna.  The day that Jesus "triumphantly" rode into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey.  Today we celebrate the victory Jesus is coming to bring - victory over worldly powers; victory over abusive rulers; victory over death.  Today he is the crowd's Messiah.  Too often we forget the power and the importance of the rest of the week.  Some of us skip from here to Maundy Thursday; some to the cross; and if you're like me, after today I'd like to fast forward to next Sunday.  But we will be missing out on a whole lot of what God is doing if we pick and choose the parts of our faith story to pay attention to.  I hope you will journey and struggle with me this week as we carefully move through each day.

Saving God, give me the courage to be wholly attentive to the movement of this week.  Every intricate piece, each grimacing detail.

As the palms wave today, make my song light and free; hopeful and trusting.  Surely something big is going to happen.

As the palms wave today, remind me of the coming of your kingdom.  How the first shall be last.  The lowly, the sick, the suffering.

As the palms wave today, I pray I wave them high for the injustices of the world that Jesus came to abolish.  I pray I wave them for the forgiveness he showed us to accept and to extend.  I pray I wave them for the respect and love he required of each follower to show to each and every living being.

Give me the courage God, to be wholly attentive as I sing Hosanna today, knowing that there is more to your story of salvation and grace than most of us like to acknowledge.  It is more than a simple one-liner.

Give me the courage to watch closely as Jesus sets his gaze toward Jerusalem today, on the back of a humble colt, awkwardly carrying with him the weight of the world.  And too often we think it is only about us.

Give me the courage to be wholly attentive to the significance of this day for us all.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Writing to God: Day 34

Genesis 2: 4-14
"Spring Rain"





We belong to the Earth.  At our fingertips is just what we need to have abundant life.  It does not come from a store.  It knows not what to do with a dollar bill.

May everything that breathes praise you, O God.

As the rains water the Earth and the sun warms the ground, Spring is making preparations for new life.

May everything that breathes praise you.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Writing to God: Day 33

Luke 19: 1-6
From God

If you were walking down my street today, Lord, would I scurry up a tree to see you?  Would I run inside and lock the door and pretend I wasn't home?

I pray that today
Is one of those days
That I'll remember to stop;

I'll be ready to greet you
In whatever way
You show up.

And I'll climb to the highest places
Just to see you.
Where ever you may be.

I'll make an effort,
In spite of my weaknesses
to see life from a different perspective.

Perhaps, then, I'll be more open to your love, your forgiveness, your invitation to come inside and sit with me.

I wonder how such a simple thing could change the way I live?


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Writing to God: Day 32

Genesis 32: 6-12
On "Good Friday" Kind of Days

I think this prayer is more of a reflection of yesterday, and how, looking back on the thoughts and feelings running through me as I drove home last night, it had hints of Good Friday darkness, pain and strange emptiness.  Nothing horrible happened yesterday, per se, so if this prompt hadn't been here this morning I probably wouldn't have even written this.  But just as someone else's words spark your own and guide you in a certain way, this is what came out of my heart as I sat with God in the shadow of an early Spring storm.

Lightening and thunder greet me this morning, Lord.  Patch hates storms.  His tail was wagging fiercely; his little snout letting out the most pitiful whine.  It was all I could do to ignore him.  I let him out of his bed early, so at least he could hang out at my feet.  The rain is coming down strong.  It's been so long since we had a storm that I wondered what it sounded like!  I even forgot that Patch was scared of the thunder.

Some days just feel longer than others.  For no particular reason.  I am always thankful when the days pass harmlessly and remotely drama-free.  But as I drove home last night, I had a feeling of sadness.

Maybe it was a random, innocent reminder of something I'm struggling with.

Maybe it was the news that my sweet niece fell and chipped her tooth on the concrete.  My sister shedding more tears than she.  The fear and the guilt that comes with simply letting children be children.  The way a day can suddenly turn from ordinary and easy to frantic and fearful.  And thanking God that it wasn't any worse.  Lord, it is emotionally draining.  I hate it when the people I love hurt.

Or maybe it was the random phone call I got 20 minutes before Vespers yesterday.  Cradling a sleeping Abbey in my arms, trying to mentally prepare for worship.  "I need gas to drive to Bowling Green to see my sister in the hospital.  And - do you have any food?"

Two basic needs that the church of Jesus Christ should be able to meet - and I said it couldn't.  Who knows, she could have been lying.  Frustration and sorrow heaped up within me.  Don't you know your problems are bigger than a gas card or a can of food?  It's 5:10 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon.  What do you want me to do?   I cannot fix your problems.  If you want to come to worship we can try to collect an offering….I can meet you for coffee tomorrow, I'll buy your cup and we can talk.  But I can't fix your problems through this phone call.  I can't fix your problems at all.  Lord have mercy on us both.

Maybe it was the story Molly told me of how she randomly witnessed a man whip his dog yesterday afternoon.  She yelled out for him to stop.  He cussed at her, but eventually he quit and they went inside.  I think, if it had come down to it, Molly would have risked getting whipped herself to make that idiot stop hitting his dog.  Perhaps God, you were looking out for that dog in the best way you could, without being able to fix the dog's problem of an abusive owner, you made sure its biggest advocate in the city of Glasgow was there to yell stop.  One less whip.  One less grimace.  One less moment of pain.

God, forgive me, but sometimes I wish you could do more.  I wish we could do more.  But those phone calls always come.  The stories of abuse never go away.

So if nothing else, just sit and cry with us.  When we're driving home at night.  On these Good Friday kind of days.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Writing to God: Day 31

Psalm 36: 5-9

Creator God -

"Your steadfast love extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds."

On top of the highest mountain, in a little town in Southern France, where the wind bites sharp upon my face,
Your love is as close as I feel to the white fluffy clouds.  I can almost touch them.

Beneath the waters of the sea lies a whole city of colorful creatures.  Strange looking things.  And even more deeper and deeper down.  Your love reaches them.

Across the globe lives someone who does not look like me, talk like me, dress like me, or think like me.  We will never meet.  We will never know what the other struggles with or finds joy in.  Your love reaches beyond our separation and difference.

Within each soul is a light.  Deep within.  It glows and brightens without our control.  We can choose to love it or hate it.  Strengthen it or ignore it.  Tend to it or abuse it.  Keep it or share it.

Yes, your love is the small light within the depths of our souls.  And even it can extend to the heavens; to the clouds; to the sea creatures; to our neighbors around the world.

May we go today wherever your love takes us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Writing to God: Day 30

Daniel 4: 1-8
Seeking Signs

O God of Dreamers,

We wonder what our dreams mean.  It's been a stumbling block for most of your people over the centuries and throughout generations.  What are those visions we see after a long day? What is the meaning behind the stories that play out behind closed eyelids?  Sometimes our dreams are scary or confusing, and we are so relieved to wake up.  Other times we wish we could stay a little bit longer in dreamland, as though it's better than real life.  What do our dreams tell us about ourselves, about you?

And then there are the dreams that take place between the hours we are awake.  We all have them.  You know the famous ones:  the "I have a dream's" and the "You may say I'm a dreamer" ones.  These dreams have moved mountains of hate and fear and opened up doors of new realities.

O God, I believe that our dreams are our deepest longing for our lives and for the life of the world.

I am not as prophetic as your son Martin Luther King, Jr…I wish I were.
I am not as poetic as your son John Lennon…though I'd love to be.
Even their dreams made a lot of people mad.
So perhaps all this is for nothing, (but I really don't think it is.)

What is my dream for the world?
For me, it looks a lot like love - the kind that finds itself in the least likely of places; the kind that follows us around no matter how much we try to lose it.

It looks like unity…without uniformity.  It has color…a lot of color.
It walks with a slower pace…it values watching and listening to the secrets of nature.
It looks a lot like people working together and respecting one another.
My dream has the feel of a much needed gentle rain on a hot Texas day.
It sounds like my favorite song in the world and doesn't get annoyingly stuck in my head.

My dream is like the first bite of a hot, home-cooked meal for someone who hasn't eaten in days…mixed with the assurance that this bite will not be the last.

O God, make my dreams come true.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Writing to God: Day 29

Matthew 6: 9-13
For a Moment, and a Lifetime

There's the stuff we need every once in a while.  When the season of life calls for it:
-patience in a certain situation
-forgiveness of someone's wrongdoing
-mercy from a mess-up

And then there's the daily bread that is necessary for our every moment.  Our next breath.  Our here and now and future life.  It's the stuff that carries us through each day and, if depleted, so are we.  Like a car putt-putts on "E", without our daily bread we eventually run out of steam and we are stuck in our search for you.

I ask for my daily bread (and I realize that you know what I need far better than I).
I ask for the sustenance to get me through the minutes and hours.

I need the small moments of laughter.  The humor that keeps me light on my toes - but just enough - so that my feet stay firmly planted in the soil of reverence.

I need the honesty of someone's answer to, "how are you?".
I need the excitement of new possibilities and adventures.  I need the yearning for more, for greater, for depth.  Not in the latest fad, but in every encounter with ordinary holiness.

I need the power of simple moments, of gentle awakenings, of thoughtful questions.

I need love.  The kind that fills the body, reaches the soul, and extends far beyond the eyes can see.

Give us this day our daily bread.  Grant us the stuff we need for today.  For tomorrow.  For always.

For all of this I give thanks in the name of the one who taught us how to pray.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Writing to God: Day 28

Job 9: 1-12

I never write at night.  I'm usually counting sheep by this time.  But Jeff, Abbey, and I have just returned home from an overnight in Hopkinsville.  It usually doesn't take much to reunite us with my parents, my sister, brother-in-law and precious niece.  But this trip down originated for a different reason.  Every March for the last 23 years, the museums of the city of Hopkinsville (where I was born and raised) host an Edgar Cayce Hometown Seminar.  Edgar Cayce is the most renowned and interesting American psychic from the 20th century.  He is most commonly known as the "sleeping prophet."  (You can find out more about him here www.edgarcayce.org.)  He is my kinfolk.  My Grandfather, D.D. Cayce III, who died this past September, was a historian and pretty much a celebrity in this world of enlightenment and holistic living - due to his relation to Edgar and his vast knowledge about his life.  So this weekend I went home to go with my mom to the seminar and accept an award given by Edgar Cayce's Association of Research and Enlightenment in honor of Granddaddy.  Sitting in the historic Alhambra Theater, a little cold, and remembering my days up on that stage in 4-H variety shows and high school choir concerts, I realized how important Granddaddy was and how much depth of spirituality I'm missing out on each day I let go by without honoring or learning more about the life and teachings of Edgar Cayce.
So, as my prayer prompt works perfectly for a nighttime prayer, here it is from the sleepiness of my mind and heart.  I hope it speaks to you in a way that touches your own story and life.

This whole day, God, you were right there under my nose.  You were right there.  Opening up doors and windows of new insight and discovery.  Beckoning to me in a unique way to come looking for you.  I would rather whine about my loneliness, sometimes, than attempt to open my ears and eyes.

This whole day, God, even when I felt alone, I wasn't.  And now that the stars are out; now that the darkness has settled in and all the laughter of the day is asleep…now do I feel the presence that I mistook for absence.

My whole life, God, you were right there.  You still are.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Writing to God: Day 27

Psalm 18: 1-2
Focusing on Rocks (or, in this case, any other loved part of creation)

You see, there's the ocean and the seaside.  Sometimes I can hear it if I'm quiet enough.  Waves building and crashing.  Breeze blowing, seagulls singing.  It has a smell like no other place.  Salty and sweet.  I can look at the ocean waters and be in two places at once:  comfort and fear.  Comfort from knowing that it really isn't all about me.  There's this whole other ecosystem swimming beneath the waves.  A part of creation that deserves my respect, but is not dependent upon me to make it through the day.  The fear takes root in the realization that I really am powerless.  The waters are so vast and they don't care if I love them or despise them.  The waters will continue to be; the waves know their purpose.

The ocean can tell us a lot about you, God.

And then there's Appalachia.  The hills and mountains of green trees that stretch out forever.  I've stood in a high clearing speechless and dumbfounded at what my eyes witnessed.  Finding myself again in two places at once.  Fear and comfort.  Looking out at the magnificent world that pays no mind to my works, that gets on just fine without me; yet one that I cannot be too indifferent toward.  To not think that it doesn't matter what role I play in the act of creating or destroying; care or harm.

The green mountain range and the life that lives in its foothills can tell us a lot about you, God.

And then, for me, there's the way the day wakes up.  For someone else it may be the way the day falls asleep.  Slowly.  It never seems to rush.  We think it does, but that's because we are usually so rushed.  We rarely pay attention to the way the day takes its time.  It knows exactly how to do it, every single morning.  The birds are the first to announce it.  They take the place of any need for a snooze button.  The birds couldn't care less about our snooze button.

The dark fades out, the light tiptoes in.
Some mornings we have to wait and let the fog lift.
There's no rushing it.
The colors of the sun, if the clouds aren't sleeping in, extend and peal back the layers of orange and pink arms across the sky.  Then they carefully fade back into the bright yellow fiery ball.  As though this is the sun's own special way of yawning and stretching.

Depending upon how closely I watch, I find myself again - even in the walls of my home - standing in two places at once.  Fear and comfort.

God, there is so much we can learn about you in the gentle way the day wakes up.
Your vastness and your closeness find their meeting place just outside my window.
If I dare to take a look.  Or else I may miss you.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Writing to God: Day 26

1 Samuel 3: 1-10

Is that you, God?
Nope.  That was me again.

Sorry, I promise I'll stay quiet.

Oh - there you are!

Wait…no.  Still me.  Gosh I'm jumpy this morning.
Okay.  My bad.  Go ahead, your turn.

Your turn, God.  Go on.

So much to do, so much to do….Did I send that one email yesterday?  Shoot I still have to make that phone call, I've been meaning to do it all stinkin' week!

Oops, haha.  Sorry, God.  That can wait.  Okay, for real, I'm shutting that part of my brain down.
Here we go.  I'm all yours.

Geez, God, how long are you going to take to say something?  I don't have all morning.
I've got to start my day soon, so a little guidance, a few words to get me going is all I'm asking.

Here we go, let me have it.  Really, I can handle it.  (I think….)  I'll do my best anyway, just say it, here I am.  I'm here.  Not leaving this chair till you show up.  Well, unless it gets to be time to get in the shower.  But you know what I mean….I'm ready.

Stop talking?
But I've hardly said a word!  Are you sure you're in the right prayer group right now?!
I've been waiting for you this whole time!
I'm so confused.

I see.

Oh - all day, too?

That's all you need me to do?

Seems way too easy for me to have such a hard time with it.

Yes.  Here I am.

I'm listening now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writing to God: Day 25

Psalm 34:8
Feeling a Prayer

The sun shines on my face, and I say a word of thanks.

I see a world desperately wanting change and justice.  I see people who risk everything to make it happen.  Thanks for your faithful people, God.

I taste with my tongue the smokey flavor of a grilled burger and the freshness of green asparagus.  Thanks for the early taste of summer, God.

I hear an excited dog bark and the lift of a bird's wings taking flight.  Thanks for the sounds of life, God.

I smell a handpicked daffodil.  Thanks for the sweetness of the Earth, God.

The sun shines on my face.  I feel your presence.  I whisper thanks.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Writing to God: Day 24

Mark 14:36

Today's prompt basically said to write down your questions.  Let them come, big and small.  Write them all over the page.  The empty space between the questions reflect "the unknowns and uncertainties."  Here are are some of mine - reflected in random spacing.  What are your questions for God?

Okay God - you know how bogged down and bummed I can get with all the "why's" in the world.  Even Jesus fell down on his knees and cried to you to take the cup away because he didn't understand.  He didn't want it.  So surely you can handle my struggles and questions.  Sit up straight and steady your shoulders,  I need you to carry these for me, please:

If we are all created in your image, why do people kill?


Is the world going to implode on itself?
War?  Violence?

Why do some babies lose their lives in their mother's womb?

Why can't you just step in and fix everything?

Are you disappointed with how the church has turned out?

Is any of this what you had in mind on "Day 1"?

What happened in the tomb?
What do you think about the way technology has changed
human interaction?

Do animals have a secret knowledge of life that humans
will never understand?

Cancer.  I mean, really - why?!

How do you really answer prayer?

Do you ever laugh?  would you consider yourself to have a sense of humor?

What is the real meaning of our existence?

That's all for now.  Sometimes it just helps to get them off my chest.  I know I'm just one person in this great big convoluted world - but I do want to help out as best I can.  Obviously I have no clue what your answers are….but maybe I can be a tiny piece of healing in the pain, laughter when it's needed, and hope wherever it can be found.

What do you think, God?


Monday, March 16, 2015

Writing to God: Day 23

Psalm 23
Experiencing Psalm 23

How do we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death?  How do we walk through our deepest despairs?

God - how can we be so sure that your rod and your staff is there for us to lean on?

These questions wrestle me.  Some days they make me want to cry out in anger.  Or cry in utter disbelief.

When we try to live with intention, with prayerful thought to what we do and say…
When we really try to live our lives and do our work with meaning and care, wanting something more than the same ol', same ol'.

When - even on days when nothing goes wrong - we feel as though we do nothing right….

Show us how to learn like a child.
Remind us of the lesson we learned about patience.  And time.
Even in a world of immediacy and instant gratification, there are some things that just take time; there are lots of things that need time.

Show us how to learn like a child.  When we try to stand up and we keep losing our balance.  Remind us of what it takes to keep trying to stand up again.

Show us how to look for something new.  Show us how to be excited about what the day will hold, even when we're walking through the valley of darkness.

Be our rod and our staff.  The hand that reaches down and grasps our tiny trusting fingers to lead us to another embrace.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Writing to God: Day 22

Matthew 1:23

In quiet moments of prayer and reflection,
God is with me.

Through another diaper change or wardrobe malfunction,
God is with me.

Between rushed sips of coffee, finger-sized bites of banana, and washing of dishes,
God is with me.

When I pause to remember something left undone,
God is with me.

In my writing and reflection, thoughts and words,
God is with me.

On the line in the phone calls I make, riding beside me on the way to a visit,
God is with me.

When I cradle my child asleep in my arms,
God is with me.

In the laughter released from a stupidly funny joke,
God is with me.

In my laying down and in my rising,
God is with me.

I don't want to take one single moment for granted.  In a life of so much struggle, so much violence, too much bad news.  In a world that never stops, never turns off, never shuts down to be refilled - may I find the fullness of "God with me" in every passing day, in each bittersweet moment.

I pray this Emmanuel for me, for you, for the world.  Sometimes that is all we can do.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Writing to God: Day 21

Hebrews 11: 1-12
Loving the Holy

O God your story is one that celebrates and works for the dawn of a new day.  The cloud of witnesses can attest to that.  You seek out new land, you offer rich companions, you surprise us with your wit and possibilities.  You work for justice and you call us to work alongside you.  You deliver your brokenhearted people from the hands of bondage.  You get frustrated, but never abandon.  Still, you seek out the dawn of a new day.

O Faithful God, don't forget us.  Even when we forget you.  When we breeze through our days, lost in our own worlds; and thinking that the world depends on us in order to know which direction to turn.  Don't forget us when our hearts are good, but our egos block its way.  Don't forget us when we forget to love ourselves, or when we refuse to love another.

Don't forget us.  Even when you are tired of pleading, and prodding, and urging, and nudging, and forgiving.  Don't forget us.

And - God - don't let us forget the plea of the lives around us and beyond us who have been forgotten far too long.  Because your story is one that promises the dawn of a new day.  And the new day remembers everything.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Writing to God: Day 20

Exodus 6: 5-8
Taking a Breath

God of mercy,

I breathe in you.  I breathe out everything that keeps me from you.
I breathe in your spirit of gentleness.  I breathe out my tendencies to over-think, over-analyze, over-do.
I breathe in your compassion, I breathe out my selfishness; my desire to serve me first.
I breathe in your forgiveness, I breathe out my sin.
I breathe in your justice, I breathe out my complacency.
I breathe in your presence, I breathe out my worry that I am all alone.
I breathe in your life, I breathe out all that is dead within me.

Creator.  Redeemer.  Sustainer.

Be the breath that fills my lungs and tells me I am loved - even before I release to you all that makes me fear I am not.

Be that breath for us all.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Writing to God: Day 19

Psalm 22

Like a water drop that drips...  That drips slowly and carefully from a faucet...my tears come.

They do not flood.  They start gently, welling up inside until - one by one - they melt the surface of my cold cheek.
In this way, I weep for the troubles of the world.

O God, catch our tears as they fall - one by one - into the waters of despair and grief.

I've heard it said that your plan is perfect, that you've got it all worked out in advance.  That you know the in's and out's of our days and life choices better than the farmer knows the creeks and crevices of his land; more intently than the surgeon studies the body laid before her.

But what happens when our certainty in your plan, our trust in your all-knowing wisdom, fails to answer our hardest questions of 'why'?  What happens when the longing for more paralyzes our hearts and turns our faith to mush?

Give us something to hold on to when everything else is out of reach.  Be near, God.  Be the Healer they write books about.  Be the Deliverer we sing our songs to.

Don't forget the water of tears that flow from your people's eyes.  Remember the sound of the animal as it cries out for protection.

Where do you go when things get hard?  When life is short of air and suffocating?  Don't be far, God.

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
"Comfort, o comfort my people."

And sit with us in the morning.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Writing to God: Day 18

Revelation 4: 1-11

Holy, holy, holy - Lord God Almighty,
you rock this world like the sound of sharp thunder on a spring day;
you start with a seed - the smallest of creations - and through it you imagine this colorful, vibrant, alive, articulate piece of work….a flower, a tree, a life.

Holy, holy, holy, your gentle touch reaches the holiest of places.
From the grandeur of a snow-covered mountain range
to the emptiness one finds in the pit of her stomach after a hard day.
In all that is holy, and in every hole of life, you fill with your peace.
You are assurance in difficult times.
You are creator of glory.

Every creature that crawls upon this Earth was
intricately designed by your holy imagination.
And every creature sings a song of praise in its own unique way.
These songs fill the deep holes of longing and fear.

Listen, Creator God, as your creatures sing holy, holy, holy today.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Writing to God: Day 17

I Thessalonians 5: 12-24
Unceasing Prayer

My prayer is the wind that blows on a spring day -
I don't always know where it came from,
I rarely know where it goes.
But I am certain God moves it to the places where it is most needed - for a gentle lift.

O God, carry my prayer of love through your world today.  Amen.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Writing to God: Day 16

Hosea 6: 1-3
Recycling - A prayer for salvation

There is always something to do, God.

A never-ending list of things-to-do, it seems.  Work that must get done.  Clutter that must be picked up and put away into the boxes of our homes and our minds.  Dirt wiped clean from dusty tables and muddy floors.  Dishes to wash and laundry to fold and put away - only to wear, and wash, and dry, and fold, and put away again.  (Although sometimes, we admit, that 'folding' part gets skipped.  Okay maybe lots of times).  There is always another mouth to feed, another book to read.

There is always something to do, God.  A phone call to make to that person I've been meaning to call.  A note you need to send to a friend.  A thoughtful article to write or a meeting to attend.  There is always a lesson that needs teaching; notes that need taking; flights to book for seminars and conferences and vacations (vacations - what? what are those?) There is always something to do.

And so, when life becomes one long list of chores that feel mundane and never-ending….when our days drag on with no pause to reflect or rest…when moments blend into the next and we lose sight of what day it is (or week, or month, or year…)…….
…… Refresh us.  Refocus us.  Remind us, O God.

That every day - everywhere - for everyone - you do something new.

All the time - in all places - for all of us - are hints of your resurrection.

Life can come alive for us if we let it.
Help me, Lord, to see the world (to see my life) differently today.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Writing to God: Day 15

Isaiah 41:10
Nighttime Prayer

God, it can be hard to write a nighttime prayer as I watch the sun come up.  The sky getting lighter and clearer; the new day coming into focus - as if you are high up in the sky carefully turning the lens of your camera, until all the blurry images find their true shape.

It can be hard to write a nighttime prayer in the beauty of this new day.

I thought about writing this at night - but I know myself too well!

Although the nighttime is sacred beauty, holding pieces of promise and truth that the day just doesn't understand, it is often associated with our fears and struggle.  You know that.

God - as with all your people, you know me well enough to know my fears of:
  • failure
  • of not being or having 'enough'
  • of losing something or someone too important for loss
And you know the more practical fears that cause me to lock my doors all the time and turn on the security system when Jeff is not home.

You know my fear of reaching the end of life, looking back, and wondering "what if?"

You know my fear that this world will not be a good place to raise children.  That it's only getting more self-centered, more dangerous, more violent.

God, this is my nighttime - these thoughts, these fears.  These are the things that make me afraid to lie awake at 2 a.m., unable to sleep.  It is then when these demons capture and haunt me, refusing to let go until the break of day. 

And the break of day is when the demons retreat back from wherever they came… (in the confines of my subconscious?)  

They cannot compete with your light.  Next to the sun's rays and with the song of chirping birds, those demons look lifeless and out of place.
Because, God, when I am at my very best, I can allow the hope of a new day, the comfort of your promises of resurrection, to lift me from my fears.

When I am at my best, I am able to be comforted and assured by the sun.  Knowing that those demons don't go completely away.  But trusting in the promise that your love and your goodness and your vision for light in this world is so much stronger than they.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, God.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Writing to God: Day 14

Psalm 78: 1-4; 52-55
This is a prayer of praise for the twists and turns of my faith journey.  The prompt encourages the use of the phrase, "Bless the Lord, O my soul."

Bless the Lord, O my soul
and give thanks for the persistence of friends who push me well beyond my comfort zone.
Give thanks for family who smile and say "yes."

Bless the Lord, O my soul
and celebrate the sacredness of creation at sunset, colors glowing and light dancing between tree branches.  Voices, young and old, singing and praying together in the presence of the deer of the woods and the birds of the air.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
for books and professors who open my world to uncomfortable newness.  Who excite me with their witness and passion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
for the gift of unexpected friendships; friends who paint the spectrum of skin color, life experience, and understandings of Jesus and love.  How amazingly diverse is God's creation.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.  God is faithful.
Give thanks for how some things work out and others don't.  Praise communities of faith who listen to the holy rumblings among them; who love without reserve; who push and challenge, support and nurture.  Communities who have shown me Christian love and spirituality, generosity and acceptance at its very, very best.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Through all the storms and summer nights.
Through the longest hours of doubt and despair.
Through moments of epiphany, and laughter, and bittersweet joy.
In the work of planting, the release of growing, and the art of harvesting in this wonderful, messy life.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.  And bless God's holy name.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Writing to God: Day 13

Mark 4: 26-32
"A Prayer (in the form of a poem!) While Waiting for the Kingdom of God"

She took a seed, pinched between her fingers
And dug a small hole in the ground.
There she placed the seed next to a sleeping worm
And covered it up with dirt.

He leaned back in his desk chair, exhausted.  Wondering
if the day will ever end.  Yet knowing
that tomorrow will be more of the same;
heartbreaking testimonies of need and tears.

The old man sat beside the bed of his love.
Watching her chest rise and fall
with each complicated breath.
He would not let go of her hand.

On a cold wintry day
The red bird sits on a frozen branch
And lets out a whistle.
Her echo is all that returns.

I turn off the t.v. and close the computer.
I put down my phone for the night.
Too much hard stuff.  Too much suffering.
I look for sprinkles of hope in it all.

All of this.  All of this.  And so much more.
All while waiting for the Kingdom of God.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Writing to God: Day 12

Isaiah 9:6
Prayer of Names

Creator of the stars at night.  Wonderful Counselor.  Mighty God.  Prince of Peace.  Lord of Hope.  Gracious God.

Our words fall short.  What we call you is only a fraction - a tiny fraction - of all that you are.  You who set the planets in motion, while knowing every hair upon our heads.  Your vastness and intimacy boggles my mind.

Most days, I just don't even go there.  I don't try to figure you out.  Because I usually get lost in the attempt to pin you down with my pen.

God, you answer to so many names.  Names that make sense and names that fall short.  We choose names that bring us comfort and shy away from those that make us fidgety with awkwardness or angry in disagreement. Do you lovingly laugh at us, sometimes, at the ways we attempt to figure you out?  To know you?  To name you?

Do you find our curiosity endearing?  Do you frown at our certainty?  Do you shiver when we place our actions upon your name?

Perhaps your people from long ago are the only ones who ever knew how to bow down to you.

They called you YHWH.  Yahweh.

More than a word, it is breath.  Your name is the very breath within our lungs.  Every time we breathe we are calling your name.

Your name is the breath of all life.

Your name is the hope that at each release, at every letting go, all that is dead within us and beyond us will be discovered by your breath of life.
And something new and wonderful will be created.

God bless your holy name.  Amen.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Writing to God: Day 11

Weekends are hard for me to keep this up.  So, obviously I'm behind on my prayers.  But, hey, it wouldn't be Lent if it wasn't challenging and we didn't mess up, right? Yea, sure, of course…. ;)

So, I did some adjusting with Day 9, 10 & 11.  And I'm picking back up with Day 10's prompt which for me is today - Day 11.  Just in case anyone was wondering….(note the sarcasm!).

Psalm 147:  A Song of Praise

A song of praise sounds a little bit different, depending on the one who is singing.

For me, it sounds like morning.

For some, it may rumble with the crashing and swooshing of waves on the shore of a sandy white beach.  And for others, it could be the patter of rain falling on a ground that has been dry too long.

A song of praise may have lyrics that unfold with the falling of shiny snowflakes, deepening in volume as they mix with the cold blanket on the ground.  And for some, the song sounds like the sticks that crunch and crack under brown, heavy boots walking the crooked path of a hiking trail.

I wonder whose song of praise begins with the setting of the sun; it's melody flowing with the pinks and oranges of the fiery sky just before dark?

Or what about the songs that move with the bouncing twinkle of a starlit sky - who is it, God, that sings those?

There are songs of praise that long for the warmth of the sun's rays.  And songs that beg for rain or the cool breeze of autumn air.  There are songs that cry out for answers when the flood waters keep rising or the storm winds blow relentlessly.  When the ground shakes and the lakes freeze.  When the sun burns a little too fiercely.

My song is the melody of the birds welcoming the soft light of a new day.  It sings the gentle stillness that hopes for peace, even in the midst of stormy weather.  Its chorus brings in the sun and, lots of times, I want to keep singing it just a little longer before the work of life begins.

My song of praise sounds like morning.
And today I can see the grass that was shivering under layers of winter snow.  And I hear the birds whistle a prelude to spring.

O God, you hear our songs of praise.  You gift us with the voices to sing them in our own unique ways.  And, thankfully, for people like me, this kind of singing doesn't always require a music degree or the ability to strike a chord on the piano.

Thank you for this gift of song and praise.  Hear us today, God.  Hear us and sing with us.
And open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts to listen with grace to the songs of each other.