Sunday, July 8, 2018

Attuned

We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God.
Psalm 48:8

It comes to me in a slow movement of grace, and I realize I have been waiting for it. If not with held breath, then with suspended expectation. It has been a week since the invitation came to me to listen. At first, I thought it would be within that day that I would encounter the holy in some intentional act of hearing. And as the day passed, and the next, I was still wondering what God was calling me to hear.

And then it dawned on me (can hearing dawn?). For the last four days I have been sitting in a committee as people have come to testify about how God is working powerfully in their lives, how they yearn to be heard, how they are asking our church to support them with powerful acts of love. The speakers do not know us; nevertheless, they come and lay their hearts and lives before us.

We call these meetings hearings. I am moved and astounded and surprised by the people who come to be heard. I listen. I hear. I attend with my heart. And through myriad beautiful, vulnerable, bold, articulate, gentle, and daring stories, I am invited into relationship with astonishing people. A hearing. A holy listening. A heeding, a hearkening, a beloved encounter.

Each day, I leave the room transformed by voices and lives that expand my heart. Hallowed offerings. And with joy I pray as my friend Lester has called me to, that my “ears and eyes may be attuned to love.”


Lester V. Mackenzie is the chaplain to the House of Deputies at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
Image Copyright: piotrkt / 123RF Stock Photo


Monday, July 2, 2018

Just listen

They refused the pleasant land
and would not believe God’s promise.
They grumbled in their tents
and would not listen to the voice of the Lord.
Psalm 106:24-25

My morning prayer time seems somewhat tame, mundane. Which strikes me as a bit off, as I am about to set off on an important journey. Surely God has something profound to say to me this morning.

Sometimes my daily practice is like that. A routine, but not one that breaks open my heart. But this is what it means to be a practicing Christian: practice. The discipline builds spiritual muscles, endurance, flexibility. I keep at it. The day-to-day ritual takes the temperature of my relationship with God. Somedays I am on fire with the love of Jesus, and some days I feel left out in the cold, and some days I am lukewarm. But for the love of God I do not stop praying.

And today, as I send a perfunctory “open me to you will for me today” line to Jesus, a response comes back. Be more specific.

And my prayer changes. I move from, “What are you calling me to do” to “What are you calling me to hear?” Today, my walk will be in holy listening. I hold still for a moment and smile. I know there will be a lot to hear today.



Image credit: zsirosistvan / 123RF Stock Photo

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Spacious love

I will strive to follow a blameless course;
oh, when will you come to me?
I will walk with sincerity of heart within my house.
Psalm 101:1

In the morning I encounter once again the gracious gift of fashioning space to spend time with Jesus. While I try to walk consciously in his presence every day, I know I am not always mindful of the tender love which created me and surrounds me and bears me up.

You would think such love, the omnipresent and omnipotent divine, would be a hard to ignore. Nevertheless, I am quite skilled at allowing my day, any day, to be taken up with things that seem important enough to push all prayerful thoughts aside. Even as I try to live out my call as Jesus’ disciple in the world, my heart and mind do not stay firmly fixed in the presence of the sacred.

But for this moment, this sliver of time, I feel the space in which I exist expand and I am ushered in to the extravagance of God’s love for me. I hear it in the early morning bird song, feel it in the caress of the summer breeze, sense it in the city that is waking all around me. God’s love is singing, surrounding my neighbor returning home from the night shift, the construction workers setting up down the street, a plane head overhead, and those I love still asleep in the house around me. And in Jesus, loving me, calling me, inviting me to walk this day together.

I do not have this day. It does not belong to me. I may be invited to dance in it, play in it, work in it, to breathe in it, to negotiate its many possibilities, but the day is not mine. It belongs to God, as does all time.

So, I sit a moment longer, consciously enveloped in holy love, grateful, content, in awe.



Image credit: duoduo / 123RF Stock Photo

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Sacred footfalls


The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and will save those who spirits are crushed.
Psalm 34:18

I hear my daughter come down the stairs and pass by the room where I am engaged in my morning ritual of prayer and journaling. I am typically the first awake in my house, and for years my early mornings have been accompanied by the stirring of other family members. Part of my mind and heart listen for those movements: feet on the stairs, drawers opening in rooms above me, the bathroom door opening and closing. Ubiquitous signs that my daughters are up and about and greeting the new day.

I listen also for their well-being. After 17 years in this house, I can tell if a footfall is tired or joyous or anxious or hopeful.

The daughter I hear this morning is an adult now, home for the summer and teaching at a local children’s theatre. Other parents place the well-being of their children in her hands for a few hours each day. And still I am attentive to her spirit. My heart remains vulnerable. It is a small step for me to be seared by the pain of those who have lost their children. To illness, to suicide, to murder, to gun violence, to addiction, to terror.

Jesus gathered children. Jesus held up a child as the symbol of the Kingdom of God. Jesus brought children to life.

I wrap my own daughters in prayer this morning, and I cast my prayer as far as I can to encompass other children and other parents, knowing that this is not enough, but it is where I begin.



Monday, April 2, 2018

and now

Monday in Easter Week

Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands;
lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.
Psalm 98:5

and now here we are
with Alleluias and hymns of praise
and other signs of joy and celebration

and it doesn’t matter how we come to this day
trembling, fearful, confident, relieved, exuberant
joyful, doubtful, brave, uncertain

the tomb remains empty
empty of hate
empty of contempt
empty of broken hope

Jesus is among the living
Jesus, the bearer of extraordinary love
Jesus is here
Alleluia!




Image credit: nirut123rf / 123RF Stock Photo

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Lamentation

Holy Saturday

Let my prayer enter into your presence;
incline your ear to my lamentation.
Psalm 88:2




a morning for lament
the burdened wait of mourning
a prayer made of weeping
flung from a grief-laden heart


and received









image credit: geeratii / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, March 30, 2018

Barren

Good Friday

Be not far from me for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Psalm 22:11




now
stripped away

now
bare stillness

now
I hold
keep watch
for mercy