Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Paltry prayer

Tuesday in Holy Week

The Lord has heard my supplication;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
Psalm 6:9

I turn the corner in my familiar route home only to be thwarted. A roadblock. It was not here on my way to work, but now this street has been overtaken by construction and the hard-hatted worker flags me to halt. So I sit in my car, thinking this might be a good time to pray.

But I cannot gather my thoughts, cannot seem to connect with the holy that I know is all around me. My mind wanders over my day and discovers barrenness. I have overlooked God, missed opportunities to be thankful and to ask for guidance, to rejoice and to lament. Now my prayer is one of uncertainty. Words and intentions and purpose escape me.

As I continue to sit and wait for the way before me to open, I lay this paltry randomness before God and offer the only thing I have—the yearning itself. It will have to do.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Monday, March 30, 2015


Monday in Holy Week

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:11

I step out into the cold to clip some branches from the forsythia. It is time. No blossoms yet, but placed in water in the warmth of the house they will bloom.

Finally the last vestiges of our relationship with winter are put away. No more boots line the front hallway and the towel for stopping the draft from under the front door has made its way to the laundry room. The ice-melt and the wiper fluid for the cars, which have been at hand, are put away.

It is time, too, to clear away any clutter gathered in the wilderness, to let go of any relics I have picked up along the way to which I am tempted to cling. It seems more than a season since I lifted my face to be marked with the ashes of this journey. Now I prepare to bare my heart before God and the wild cleansing of the desert wind, yearning for renewal, knowing that first I must encounter the cold before the spring, the dark before the dawn, the soul emptying to come.

I place the bare branches in the front hallway, where their promise of life and riotous color will greet us in our comings and goings as we walk the way ahead.

photo credit: Anne E. Kitch

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Saturday in the Fifth Week of Lent

As the deer longs for the water-brooks,
so longs my soul for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1

I wake from a nap disoriented and thirsty. Desperately thirsty. When was the last time I drank water, I think sluggishly as my brain tries to reconnect with the current reality. Synapse by synapse I cast lines as I climb from the befuddled depths.

Drinking water is so simple. And so necessary. And apparently so easy to dismiss. Like so many things, I know this. But I don’t do it.

My soul also is parched. I have pushed myself to respond without taking time to rest. Hence the unplanned nap. I know that I have more to give when I take to time to replenish my spirit. But I don’t do this either, succumbing to a misplaced value for endurance and doing it all.

When will I learn? How many times do I need to traverse the desert before I remember the importance of keeping my body and soul hydrated? Before I trust in God’s care of me enough to care for myself?

I head for the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water before I forget—or put it off again.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, March 27, 2015


Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning,
for I put my trust in you;
show me the road that I must walk,
for I lift up my soul to you.
Psalm 143:8

The traffic is slow. Really slow. Bumper to bumper, stop and go slow. I wonder if there is an accident or a detour ahead. And then I see an odd sight—a few cars ahead of me a vehicle drives up onto the median. Is he that impatient, I think? Is he crossing the median to turn out of this traffic because he can’t wait to get to the intersection?

But then it is my turn and I understand. The entire lane is consumed by a huge, ugly pothole. Honestly it is more like a ditch. There is no way around. The car directly in front of me dares to drive gingerly through it. I choose to drive up onto the median. My husband blew out a tire in a pothole encounter last week. I’m taking no chances.

In my faith life too I encounter obstacles and challenges. Sometimes the way ahead is blocked, the obvious path impassable or full of risks. In truth, I have to take chances every time I set one foot in front of another.

I know there is more than one way through the wilderness. Sometimes I am called to forge my own path and sometimes I am called to follow others. I am easily tempted to believe I already know the best way before I get there. I need to be reminded that what seem like detours can lead to oases, and what looks like a mistake may be the road to safety and sanctuary and refuge. I need to remember whose way I walk. Every morning I need to lift my voice and pray for discernment for the day ahead, and trust in God whose love precedes me, even to the depths.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cup of blessings

Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent

But I still my soul and make it quiet,
like a child upon its mother’s breast;
my soul is quieted within me.
Psalm 131:3

“Mom, will you help me with my English essay?”

I have come downstairs with a novel in hand intending to eke out half an hour to read and unwind. I know I have to send out one email, and follow up on one phone call, and read one document before I can call it a night. But I’m hoping I can dispense with these efficiently and then settle in to some leisure time.

I sit down near my daughter and ask with a bit of trepidation, “What do you need?” 

“Can you just sit here with me, and then read it when I am done?”

I can do that. And so we do our homework together in company and it feels good. And my work is no longer such a burden.  I tell her about the best part of my day, and she tells me a funny story about hers. We relax into companionable silence and even though my novel lies untouched, I feel refreshed.

I marvel at the grace discovered in the quiet, in my daughter’s presence, in the simplicity of sitting together. I sense not only the tension of the day leaving my body, but also God’s care pouring into my parched soul. I didn’t know how thirsty I was. And before I knew, God was already filling my cup with blessings. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Perplexing space

Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent
Feast of the Annunciation

Will you not give us life again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Psalm 85:6

Before I head out the door, I zip up my coat and make sure my gloves are in my pocket. I know it is colder outside than it looks. I am tired of bundling up. I am tired of bracing myself against the weather. I want to wear lighter clothes and brighter colors. I want to leave the house without a jacket and lift my face and my winter weary limbs to the sun.

It is truly spring now, that in-between time of cold days and warm days, of bare branches and new buds. Not one thing or the other.

I want to move ahead, I yearn to be out of this transitional time and into full spring. But this is a time of transformation. New life can’t be rushed.

I hesitate. What is there for me in this particular place? Can I linger here, pay attention to the roughness of it, open myself even more to the possibility for conversion? Can I enter even deeper into the wilderness journey when I am acutely aware that I am nearer the end than the beginning?

And in the hesitation itself, a rush of angel wings and the echo of God’s perplexing announcement of joy that asks to be believed before it is fully evident.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Someone else's watch

Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved
and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
Psalm 121:2-3

I resist the temptation to check the time; I know it is too early to be stirring. Something is pulling at me. Not a particular something, but a whole host of somethings that do not quite shape themselves into precise cares.  I know better than to give them enough attention to become fully formed at this hour. Now is time for rest.

In my sleepy brain, I remember that God is awake. God is awake and watching over me. God is awake and watching over me and everyone else. God is awake and watching over me and everyone else and all of creation. And because God is doing all this, I don’t have to. And as a matter of fact, I can’t. God can do this because God is God. 

And me? I am a finite human being. A mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and no matter how early I get up or how aggressively I prioritize I cannot accomplish an infinite number of tasks or will more time into a day.

So I lift my eyes and my heart and my hope to the one who keeps me safe. I place my wakefulness in the hands of the one who numbers the stars and calls them each by name. And I rest.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Monday, March 23, 2015

Waiting struggle

Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Be strong and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.
Psalm 31:24

I keep my eye on the bowl of oatmeal in the microwave as I set my tea to steep. If I am not attentive, the oatmeal will boil over and make a mess. I find I am impatient with my vigil; so many other things I could be doing rather than standing still and focusing on this one thing. 

I remind myself it is only for another minute—literally. And then I am brought up short. Am I in such a rush that I cannot give my attention to a bowl of oatmeal for three minutes altogether? Is waiting such a burden?

I have already been distracted from my prayer time this morning. I engaged in woolgathering, allowed myself to be sidetracked by email, jumped ahead to tasks set for later in the day.

In my Lenten walk too, I am tempted to jump ahead, to relax from discipline, to think I have done enough work in the wilderness. So many other things I could be doing rather than standing still and giving my attention and focus to God. But those other things are not my light and my salvation.

I gather my tea and oatmeal, take a deep breath, and pray for strength and courage.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015


Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent

The Lord changed deserts into pools of water
and dry lands into water springs.
Whoever is wise will ponder these things,
and consider well the mercies of the Lord
Psalm 107:35, 43

I absently reach into the pocket of my sweats and am surprised to encounter some unidentified shapes. Pulling out my hand, I reveal two pieces of wrapped chocolate, partially melted into misshapen lumps.  I set them aside. In the cool house, they will harden. And they will still be chocolate. Why waste them?

Yesterday after my yoga practice a friend asked me if I had gotten all bent out of shape. “Actually, bent into shape,” was my reply.

This is what the wilderness does for me. Stretches me, molds me, asks me to reach beyond, increase my flexibility and strength. And even when I find myself misshapen, I am still me, still God’s beloved, still held in the hands of the living God, still striving to grow into the measure of the full stature of Christ.

So this morning, once again, I place myself before God who changes water-springs into thirsty grounds and deserts into pools of water. And know that I am in good hands.

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's time

Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent

For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
Psalm 95:7

It is has not yet begun to snow, but I keep looking out the window anticipating the first flecks. If it were not for the date on the calendar, I could easily imaging that this was a day headed into winter rather than spring. My mind does a bit of a time warp, and I have an impulse to hunker down and prepare for dark and cold rather than to open myself in expectation light and warmth.

As I have shed layers of scarves and heavy sweaters and boots and winter coats, I have also set aside some spiritual burdens as I have traveled during Lent. I do not want to go back and pick them up again, but the temptation is there. To fall back into old patterns, to decide I can live with less than healthy practices, to plead that the effort of creating new habits is just not in me.

But the voice of the Holy One is never silent. God does not wait for me to show up at a particular time of a particular day of a particular season. Or in a particular place. Rather the invitation to hear and respond to God’s love for me is newly offered this day. The call for amendment of life and renewal of spirit sounds now.

There is no better time than the present. There is no better time than God’s.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rising waters

Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Let not the torrent of waters wash over me,
neither let the deep swallow me up;
do not let the Pit shut its mouth upon me.
Answer me, O Lord, for your love is kind;
in your great compassion, turn to me.
Psalm 69:17-18

I remember later than I would like that I have to do a load of laundry tonight. I lift the lid of the washer only to discover that it already contains damp clothes. One of my daughters is clearly in the midst of doing her washing.

I open the dryer and find that it is also full. I would ask the offspring in question to come and take care of her clothes, only she is not home at the moment. So I begin the task myself. 

It would be easy for me on a day when those things that I have left undone are piled higher than laundry in this room to give in to the temptation to rage and indulge in feeling overwhelmed. But, I remind myself that my daughter would do the same for me, as our pattern is to help one another out in this way. I take out a shirt and fold it with care. 

I will not finish this tonight. In the morning I will rise early to fold one set of clothes and move the next load from the washer to the dryer. And there will still be laundry waiting to be done. And there will still be people to help me along the way. And God will still be there to pull me out of deep water, and kindly set my feet upon the path that is sure.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Within my house

Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent

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 101:2

“Would you mind throwing my music stuff in your car so I can practice after school?” my daughter texts, “It’s on the front hall table.”

I look at the front hall table and make a mental note to grab her music folder on my way out the door. And then I look at the table again, taking it all in.

A basket of Christmas cards still sits there, covered by programs from a recent show, a book, and some paperwork I don’t want to lose track of. The table is also acting as both the in-basket and the out-basket for the mail. Tickets for an upcoming concert lie nestled next to a random cup and a bag of birdseed that has been headed to the backyard for weeks now. And my daughter’s music stuff.

Originally, the table sat in my grandmother’s elegant front hall, but no one ever came in through the formal front door. We all came in through the kitchen. So this beautiful piece came to me in pristine shape—a condition it no longer holds.

But what it does hold is a true testimony to our household and the life we continue to build together. This table witnesses our comings and goings and the oft-ensuing chaos. Like the table I strive to keep what is important at hand and neglect to let go of what is past and collect various items along the way that really belong somewhere else. I am a bit worse for wear and could really benefit from some spring-cleaning.

But that will be later. I grab the music folder and head out the door.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Opening to promise

Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.
Psalm 100:1

I haven’t left the house yet, but I already have a spring in my step.

The warm weather and increasing sunshine of the last week have done their work. The banks of snow have melted and the bare trees are beginning to suggest that they just might have some color to show.

Black frozen mounds still cling to certain streets, and the thaw has uncovered the detritus that the winter buried, but there is no denying the spring now.

It will be warm today. No need to bundle myself against the elements. Even in the wilderness journey a corner has been turned, and it is time to open up more and more to the promise of new life. 

I don’t want to miss the blessings along the way. I begin to hum as I walk out the door.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Play list

Monday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Your love, O Lord, for ever will I sing;
from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
Psalm 89:1

I feel sluggish as I pull on my sweats to drive my daughters to early morning band practice. I have been burning the candle at both ends for days, and find myself stretched thin.

I start the car and the music starts with it—a slow ballad.  “Is that my playlist?” my daughter asks, and I nod my assent. “I’m glad you like it.”

I like it very much. It was her birthday present to me, her selection of her music that she thought I would enjoy. Her music has accompanied me as I have traveled, and not just her song list. Her voice. Her quirky choices. Her hopes and inspirations. Her exuberance for life. Her willingness to share herself with me. Her increasing independence.

As we crest a rise, the pink-orange bands of the sunrise greet us, and we all take note of the beauty. God’s gift given once again.

I drop my daughters at the school wishing them a good day. As I head home I put that one song on repeat, drinking again from the love that sustains my life.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rainy day

Saturday in the Third Week of Lent

Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the land and the earth were born,
from age to age you are God.  
You turn us back to the dust and say,
“Go back, O child of earth.”
For a thousand years in your sight 
are like yesterday when it is past
and like a watch in the night.
Psalm 90:2-4

It promises to be a rainy day and the parade has been cancelled, which is fine with me as I have a lot of catching up to do. I think of the pleasure of a slow day and somehow the sound of the rain on the roof and the whooshing of cars on the wet streets bring with them as sense of nostalgia, of rainy days long past.

It has rained on this house for just over a hundred years. It rained on the forest before that. And before that? What was here a thousand years ago, or ten thousand, or ten million? I try to imagine the very earth of this place being formed. And I remember that all water is recycled water; water is not made new, but moves through God’s creation over time and distance. Today’s rain is formed of droplets that have watered the earth before.

Given all this, how is it that God is mindful of me? Of what account is it when I take a moment to be mindful of God? 

I watch the rain out my window, and see a single drop cling to a bare tree branch and then fall to the earth below where it is lost in the wet ground; except it is not lost at all.

Image Copyright : Lane Erickson

Friday, March 13, 2015

Signs and Seasons

Friday in the Third Week of Lent

It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord,
   and to sing praises to your Name, O Most High;
To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning
   and of your faithfulness in the night season.
Psalm 92:1-2

It is still dark as I prepare for morning prayer, thanks in part to daylight savings and how we keep time. The moon shimmers through a break in the clouds and several stars are still visible. It might be the beginning of night rather than the end. 

Earlier in the day big billowing clouds scuttled across a brilliant blue sky. I think of creation, how God first created light, then the sky, and then placed the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. To be signs of seasons, days, and years.

Time belongs to God. We count it, measure it, but it is creation that sets it in motion. Our lives are pulled by the movement of the moon, the sun, the rotating earth. I might short myself on sleep, or fill my time with busyness, or think there are not enough hours in the day. I might contemplate the clouds, or take a walk under the stars, or revel in God’s creation. Regardless of how I choose to be in God’s creation, I abide within it.

Outside my window I can hear the birds begin their morning song. I lift my voice as well, opening my lips to praise the One whose faithfulness reaches from the morning to noonday and through the night season to the morning once again.

Photo Credits: Anne E. Kitch

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wending my way

Thursday in the Third Week of Lent

My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God;
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
Psalm 42:2

I step onto the labyrinth and begin to walk. In the predawn stillness, the brick path is illuminated by the moon and the ambient light of nearby buildings. I did not plan to come this way this morning, but was drawn by a desire for prayer and movement.

As I wend my way along the curved path, I recall a time when my children were preschoolers and our entire family walked a labyrinth together. We did not walk it at the same pace or even in tandem with one another. But I remember now my awareness then of us all being on the same path at the same time, at times coming close to one another, at times moving farther apart, yet connected by our shared journey.

This morning as I meander along a way that one moment heads me straight to the center of it all and the next propels me to the outer edge, I become aware of just how connected I am to the journeys of many others. I ponder this, savoring its implications.

Then, just when I am used to the back and forth movement, I find myself at the center. I fold my legs beneath me, sit in silence, and pray. I stepped onto this path this morning because I was yearning for God, seeking connection and reassurance. Now I see it is not a matter of how or when I will discover God, but that the Divine One is always present and all my steps are always in relationship to God. 

I sit for a bit longer, the growing light giving more shape to my surroundings. Then I get up and begin the return journey, stepping once again onto a winding path.

Photo credit: Anne E. Kitch

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Well met

Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

Your word is a lantern to my feet,
   and a light upon my path.  
Psalm 119:105

The three of us pull our chairs together under an overhang, our conversation continuing after everyone else has left the evening gathering. Just beyond us a gentle rain refreshes the landscape as the night deepens. We are new to one another as colleagues, yet have discovered an ease in sharing. Our discussion roams over much territory—where we grew up, difficulties and doubts we have encountered, extraordinary people we have met along the way. 

We laugh and for a moment I sense our repartee is taking place inside a larger dialogue, wrapped in the sacred discourse of God speaking creation into being. I am reminded once again that God’s word comes in many forms.

The wilderness journey includes the possibility of new companions. Others are traveling this was too. Sometimes our paths meet and we bow our heads in acknowledgment and go our separate ways. Sometime we see each other only from a distance. Sometimes we fall into step with one another and continue on together for a time, exchanging insights having noticed different things along the way. 

Finally it is time. Sleep beckons. As we wend our way through the darkness I am grateful for the trust offered and received that lights the way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent

We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord,
and the wonderful works he has done.
That generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn;
that they in turn might tell it to their children;
So that they might put their trust in God
and not forget the deeds of God, but keep his commandments.
Psalm 78:4, 6-7

My daughter and I take on the chore of washing the dishes because the dishwasher is still broken. I actually enjoy washing dishes by hand. When I can settle in, giving the task the time and attention it needs, I find it relaxing and satisfying. And it does lend itself well to conversation when shared with another.

Soon I find I am telling her stories of her grandmother and then her great grandmothers. Stories of my childhood and theirs. Stories of relationships and of what was passed down, gifts and fears, blessings and curses.  Stories of struggle and redemption and yearning.

And just when I think I have talked too long, that she is simply indulging me, she asks me to wait. “Hold on,” she says as she steps out of the kitchen for a minute to put away a dish—she doesn’t want to miss what I am saying.

I am caught up short by her generosity and by the realization that she is attending to our conversation with care, and that I feel heard and honored. Together we have entered into that holy place of the stories of our ancestors, where I learn again and again how my story is woven into the fabric of generations and God’s love, and she has glimpsed the pattern and can choose to pick up the thread and make it her own.

I offer a prayer of thanksgiving and awe that together we stand on sacred ground. Then I pick up the next pan and immerse it into the hot, soapy water.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Monday, March 9, 2015


Monday in the Third Week of Lent

Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven;
behold and tend this vine;
preserve what your right hand has planted.
Psalm 80:14

I almost overlook it altogether as I toss a can into the recycling bin on the side porch. After all, there is not much to see—just banks of brown trampled mush emerging from the melting snow. But as I turn back toward the house, it finally registers on me what I am seeing: the garden bed along the side of the house is making its presence known. 

It doesn’t look like life yet. But beneath the sodden mess seeds and bulbs and corms are being split open by tendrils pushing their way up toward the surface. I can’t see them, but I know the fragile yet determined green shoots will emerge—they must. Soon it will be time to tend to them and remove the remaining untidiness of winter.

What else is waiting beneath the surface, outside of my notice? How much potential life escapes my observation? How many other green things are ready to spring forth? How ready am I for the new life God promises?

I, also, am emerging from a winter that has covered me and hemmed me in. I, too, need tending. I head back into the house, contemplating just what God has planted in me, curious about what kind of new growth I will encounter.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Comfort in the storm

Saturday in the Second Week of Lent

O tarry and await the Lord’s pleasure;
be strong, and he shall comfort your heart;
wait patiently for the Lord.
Psalm 27:18

One website I am using for my work is producing documents stripped of their data. The other one is down completely, displaying only an error message. The attachments I had sent myself through email, trying to circumvent the misbehaving web platforms, will not download claiming they are damaged. 

As my friend Kim says, I am being tossed about in the wilderness with technology.

How do I tarry in this mess? Why would I want to linger here, being pitched to and fro by corrupted digital systems while trying to troubleshoot my head above troubled waters?

My need to get things done tells me not to hesitate but to forge ahead.

But the sacred song is calling for me to wait…and be comforted. 

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, March 6, 2015


Friday in the Second Week of Lent

Though my flesh and my heart should waste away,
God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
Psalm 73:26

I wander from room to room in my house, retracing my steps, looking for my glasses. Clearly I have arrived at that age. I check the top of my head just to make sure I have not made that mistake again. Of course the irony is that I am trying to find my glasses when I can’t see very well. They have to be here somewhere.

In my spiritual life too, I can find myself meandering from place to place searching for a misplaced thought or insight, repeating steps without result because I cannot see. Age is like this. I am less confident, just when I think I would be more. 

This week in lunching with a friend we both struggled to recover the name of someone we know well. “We talk about the wisdom that comes with age,” my friend says, “but what about the aging brain that can no longer locate what it knows?”

I would think that after all these years of spiritual practice, I would be more sure of God, more faithful, my heart more firmly fixed. But I forget my way, am assailed by fears and doubts, reach out for sacred intimacy and find my hands empty. Yet I know the promise—that God is faithful.

I find my glasses the third time I look in the same place. After all, they had to be somewhere. And God is somewhere too. Once again I am called to practice trust. And to remember that all ways belong to God.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Thursday in the Second Week of Lent

You strengthen me more and more;
you enfold and comfort me.
Psalm 71:21

All at once I am done. I have stayed late in my office to finish several tasks. It has been a day of flying loose ends, and I want to gather them all up before I lose track of them altogether. But halfway through the umpteenth task, I know I can do no more. I save the document and shut down my computer closing application after application.

I have somewhere better to be. In a parish hall nearby, people are gathering. Teens and young adults and busy parents and middle aged and older folks are preparing a meal together. There will be freshly baked bread and conversation and contemplation and welcome. And it won’t matter to anyone that I arrive late.

I soon find myself sitting in a gentle circle invited into Sabbath reflection. And later around the tables, we enjoy an unhurried meal, graciously serving each another, passing tenderness and regard and mindfulness to one another along with the chickpea and cucumber salad.

I am grateful for the choice I made, and that such a choice was made available. In a world that does not want any of us to stop long enough to breathe, some have stepped aside to create this oasis where I feast on companionship and generosity, and where together we lift our voices in prayer to the One who embraces us all, strengthening us for the way ahead.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent

I see that all things come to an end,
but your commandment has no bounds.  
Psalm 119:96

The page from my witty daily calendar reads, “Spoiler alert! Everybody dies.”

I have to laugh. This is one page I will tuck away with a few others I have kept to pull out again on a day I need a lift of spirits.

Of course it is no spoiler at all, as most of us learn this important plot development at an early age. All things, even those most precious to us, come to an end. Yet I find that I am easily lulled into a sense of permanence. I like to order my life, set up systems so it all works, put controls in place to guarantee my security. As if I can structure all my life’s variables into an effective plan that will run along smoothly and indefinitely.

But life isn’t like that. Systems break down, situations change, children grow and have different demands, relationships transform for better or worse, institutions implode, things end, and people die.

Except for God, the source of all. God’s love and command of creation are not things that end. God cannot be bound within a lifespan, cannot be confined to a particular time or space or situation, cannot be restricted by doubt or even unbelief. I am the one who is limited. 

So, with my imperfect grasp of the hope that sustains me, I choose to stumble along in the wilderness for yet another day, trusting in holy boundlessness that, paradoxically, draws me close in a loving embrace.

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Washing away weariness

Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent

You sent a gracious rain, O God, upon your inheritance;
you refreshed the land when it was weary.
Psalm 68:9

I finally have a chance to thank my neighbor. We cross paths in the early morning, getting our teenagers out the door and on the way to school.

“Was it you who shoveled our walk the other week?” I ask. We had been out of town during a snowstorm and arrived home to find a clear path to our door.

He nods his assent claiming it was nothing.  It is the kind of nothing that neighbors do for one another, I think, as I spread salt on the ice in front of my house and continue on to salt the frozen walk for my neighbor on the other side.

These nothings are the gracious rain of God, washing away the accumulated stress of this winter in our urban neighborhood. I think of small kindnesses that often go unacknowledged and their power to refresh. I am certain on this morning that I have not been grateful enough for living among people who simply care for the well-being of those nearby even when we hardly know each other. 

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Sluggish waking

Monday in the Second Week of Lent

Whenever I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you. 
Psalm 56:3

The phone wakes me five minutes before my alarm rings. I stumble into something that resembles consciousness and make my way across the room already knowing that the recorded voice I will hear will tell me the schools are delayed. 

Even though it is close to the time I usually get up, I cannot come fully awake. Wisps of dreams swirl in my brain refusing to come into focus and rather than moving into my day I am slowed by subtle fears.  That I will drop the ball, forget an important deadline, fail at a small task that will have grave repercussions for others. Fear that I have already disappointed someone or several someones.

This is what I have to work with this morning.

And as I acknowledge this truth, I also am reminded that I have other resources. The discipline of prayer. The practice of bringing before God my self regardless of the circumstances. The oft repeated experience of laying my fears at the feet of the Gracious One and  receiving strength.

Once again I propel myself toward prayer book and journal and supplication, and once more I find solace and encouragement and grace.