Friday, March 22, 2019

Being known

Friday in the Second Week of Lent

O God, you know my foolishness,
and my faults are not hidden from you.
Psalm 69:6

I pick up the prayer beads enjoying the feel of them in my hand. A gift from a friend, they came to me already imbued with prayer.

I am surrounded by other gifts, other prayers. A mug. A shell. A bracelet. An ashen stone. Such tokens not only accompany me through the wilderness of Lent, they remind me that this is not a solitary journey. I have traveling companions. People who also journey. People who know me. People who want to be known.

It is a comfort to be known and loved. Known for all my faults and shortcomings and growing edges and be loved. And if I am truly known, then also known for my goodness and gifts and accomplishments and loved. We are complex creatures of an abundant and all-knowing God who loves us perfectly.

I touch each token, grateful beyond all measure for those who travel with me as together we grow in the knowledge and love of God.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Gracefilled crossing

Thursday in the Second Week of Lent

My mouth shall recount your mighty acts and saving deeds all day long;
though I cannot know the number of them.
Psalm 71:15

As I pull out of the parking lot I consider my route. I have an errand to run on my way home and a choice between two bridges. One way or another, I have to cross the river.

I make a decision and pull into traffic heading toward the newly renovated bridge. For two years the bridge was under construction. First one lane and then another were closed, clogging traffic and training us to use alternate routes. When the work was finally complete, I remember my daughter commenting, “Every time I drive across this bridge, I feel like it is such a privilege.”

Privilege because it was easy. Privilege because it was beautiful. And privilege because it reminded us both that access is not always available to everyone.

Today I recall her comment and think the of the numerous ways the work, choices, and actions of others ease my
path—and how oblivious I am to their contributions. And encompassing us all are the works of God, which are beyond measure. I have so much for which to be grateful.

As I cross the bridge, I offer thanks for all whose labor and ingenuity make my crossing possible. And I contemplate my own choices. How I can choose to be grateful. How I can choose to be aware. And, during this season of Lent, how I can make better choices to ease the way of others.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Luminous comfort

Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent

Let your loving-kindness be my comfort,
as you have promised to your servant.
Psalm 119:76

As I pull the bags out of the back of my car, a flash of glittery fabric grabs my attention. The dragonfly finger puppet lies on top of the pile of items designated for the thrift store. I hesitate. This creature has had quite a journey the past week or so. As I continue my cleaning-out-the-attic project, the puppet has changed places several times, moving back and forth from the keep pile to the thrift shop bag.

I do not remember any special occasion that brought this creature into our house. It has no particular memory or sentiment attached to it. I have simply loved it because I find it beautiful.

Sometimes the whimsical is a comfort to me. Finding loveliness in the small can lighten a load, bring a smile to my face, remind me of God’s goodness. And certainly now is a time when occasions for delight need to be recognized and cherished.

I hand the bags to the thrift shop attendant, but not before I have rescued the luminous creature and placed it in my pocket.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Determined gentleness

Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent

In God is my safety and my honor;
God is my strong rock and my refuge.
Psalm 62:8

Temptation to step away from my determined course whispers at me several times along the way. I could drive straight home. I could run an errand instead. And then the murmur of fear. This will be hard. You have lost too much ground. You won’t be able to keep up.

I don’t even want to count the days it has been since I have been to the gym. First, I was sick, then I was traveling, and then… well, life happened. Now it has been long enough that the discipline has begun to wear off and even though I know how important it is to treat my body with respect, a desire to give in to cheap self-care asserts itself.

Even when I get to the gym, the voice continues to call me to less. Skip this. Reduce that. Do something small.

I know I need to wrest my attention from this lure of defeat. I remind myself that taking care of my body is a spiritual practice. That while I may have lost some strength, I have not lost my Rock. I have a different voice to which I can attune my soul. The one who offers safety and refuge. The one who gives honor rather than shame and blame. Remembering this, I choose to be both gentle with myself and determined. I pick up the first set of weights. And I decide gentleness and determination might be good practices for daily life.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Simple pleasures

Monday in the Second Week of Lent

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;
I will sing and make melody.
Psalm 57:7

I almost stop myself as I reach for a favorite spoon in order to scoop out my yoghurt, about to deny myself this simple pleasure. If I use the spoon now, it won’t be there another time on perhaps a more important occasion, an inner voice rationalizes. At least, not until it is washed again.

Thus, in a small way, I can step away from joy. The tempter excels in subtle.

The spoon itself actually belongs to my oldest daughter, a gift to her when she was a toddler. I love it for the person who gave it to her, for its reminder of a wonderful time in childrearing, and because it is well crafted and fits nicely in my hand.

I pick it up, and with purpose turn my attention away from the rationalizing whisper and toward the delight this one modest act adds to my day. I turn toward the memory and relationships and love embodied by this everyday object. I turn toward the one who created me, and where I know my heart is firmly fixed.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Ways and vistas

Saturday in the First Week of Lent

You trace my journeys and my resting-places
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Psalm 139:2

I arise a bit earlier than my norm to allow time for the drive to my morning destination. My work encompasses several counties, so I am often on the road. On any given day, I may travel in numerous directions from my home or office in order to attend to business and vocation.

I enjoy my excursions. I delight in familiar routes and landscapes, and how they change from season to season, and how I can be surprised by a new vista along a way I have traveled often.

And as I drive along, I feel the connection with the people who inhabit this beloved landscape. Friends and companions and colleagues and partners in ministry await me at destinations. And God is with me in my journeying. Always we are in this together.

As I prepare to leave my house, I offer a prayer of gratitude to God who is acquainted with all my ways—not only the roads on which I travel, but also the ways in which I go about living into my vocation.  I lean into the promise that I cannot be lost.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Perpetual connection

Friday in the First Week of Lent

Your righteousness have I not hidden in my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your deliverance;
I have not concealed your love and faithfulness from the great congregation.
Psalm 40:11

I wake with my heart still full of the goodness of gatherings and meetings with friends and colleagues yesterday. We spent time in silence, conversation, prayer, laughter, storytelling, problem solving. In community we shared guidance, encouragement, hope, solace, celebration, faith.

I can sometimes get lost in a personal relationship with the Holy, which can lead me not only to focus solely on myself, but also to believe I am in this alone. Both of these places are off the mark. It is so clear that God created community, calls communities to love and action, and continually invites us into community. We are called to share our gifts of experience.

Even as I sit in solitary prayer this new day, I am inextricably connected. The early morning freight train, the birds singing their way into this new day, the cars rushing by my house. The neighbors sleeping and awake. The workers repairing a pothole. The squirrel doing gymnastics in the tree. The great congregation.