Thursday, September 29, 2016

Where your heart dwells

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:34

A bank account, a stock portfolio, a vault filled with material wealth and possessions; these are among the loneliest places for the heart to dwell. The heart longs to dwell with the Source of Love.

-The Rev. James Burns

Image Copyright: santiaga22 / 123RF Stock Photo

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Made whole

For those who have lost
For those who are lost
For those who are broken
For those who find
For those who gather the pieces
For those who who dare
to see the worth of each
and imagine welcoming them into the whole
and anticipate rejoicing in a new creation
and tell the story of
the God of compassion
who never stops seeking
making whole

Image Copyright: leekris / 123RF Stock Photo

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Holy Saturday

For I am full of trouble;
my life is at the brink of the grave.
Psalm 88:2-3

                                                     no breath
                                                     no spirit

                                                     no choice
                                                     no direction

                                                     stilled at the brink

                                                     how long?

Image Copyright: nattapornphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, March 25, 2016


Good Friday

Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
Psalm 95:7

                                            A voice of betrayal
                                            A voice of lament
                                            A voice of abandonment, affliction, forsakenness

                                            A voice of entreaty
                                            A voice of travail
                                            A voice of thirst, promise, completion

                                            Hearken to the voice of anguished love

Image Copyright: praszkiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Speaking of love

Maundy Thursday

My spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is desolate.
Psalm 143:4

Today is the day of the new commandment. Love one another as I have loved you, Jesus says. And I look out at the world and see such a great need for love. Fear has closed too many hearts and eyes and throats. The enemy has found a chorus who cry of hate and exclusion and scarcity.

How do I speak love out of and into the desolation?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Wednesday in Holy Week

Hear my prayer, O God;
do not hide yourself from my petition.
Listen to me and answer me;
I have no peace, because of my cares.
Psalm 55:1-2

The familiar words of the psalm bring tears to my eyes. How is it that God knows? My pain, my fear, my insecurity. The words in my prayer book are ancient and translated and sacred. Today they wrap around me, connect with my soul, and pull my innermost self to the surface where I am exposed to this day.

And I understand that this day is what I have been given. This day. This indeterminate weather. This uncertain time. This light. This body. These thoughts. This time of prayer.

This way.

And the One whose way is through the waters of pain and fear and insecurity. Troubled waters. Sanctified waters. Waters of new life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Tuesday in Holy Week

The Lord knows our human thoughts;
how like a puff of wind they are.
Psalm 94:11

I press the delete key again and watch the letters disappear from my screen, one by one, in the reverse order from which they appeared. How easily these words deconstruct.

The Word itself will soon unravel, be poured out, and spent. And for a moment or a time, we will be in that emptiness. That no space. The speechless sea.

Even now, in preparation, I fling out my arms and cling to the echo of Love.

Monday, March 21, 2016


Monday in Holy Week

I have come into deep waters,
and the torrent washes over me.
Psalm 69:3

The time has come. I cannot stop the minutes or hours slipping away as my Lenten passage now approaches a certain end. Each day this week has its own place, its own rhythm. And I am ready to be carried along, but I wonder if I will stay above the torrent or be drowned in it.

In the Celtic tradition, a pilgrimage was not so much setting out on a path as setting out onto the waters. To begin the journey was to get into small boat, and then see where God would take you. Can I let go of the last moorings that tie me to a certain stance within the wilderness? Can I leave the desert for the uncertain sea? Can I set myself adrift in this time?

My mother used to say that if you pray for patience, then God will give you plenty of opportunities to practice. Dare I pray to be set adrift?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Another way

Saturday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Send out your light and truth, that they may lead me,
and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling;
Psalm 43:3

As I drive along the river, I look across to the highway that parallels my route. I could have chosen that way and arrived at my destination. However, I am enjoying the stone houses, red barns, fields, creeks, and winding roads that make up this particular course.

Given a choice, I will almost always choose the back way. I like to know my way around and have familiarity with more than one track. And I am almost always open to the adventure of discovering a different way to arrive somewhere. But, somehow in my spiritual life I have narrowed my choices.

For weeks I have been thinking of my Lenten journey as being on a path—one particular path. I have visualized this trail moving off into the distance, not always straight, but always clear. Now today I perceive the limits to this vision.

God does not set one path before me, but opens the way before me, including choices as I go. Nor is this simply a path divided, with one right way and one wrong way. Rather, I am offered ways along the way. I do know that some choices are more life-giving than others, and that I am called to be discerning about God’s work in my life. But if I am to know God as the creator of all, if Jesus is the salvation of the world, then there is no place I can stray that is beyond the reach of God’s loving embrace.

Soon I will turn my steps more directly toward the foot of the cross. I will remind myself that there is more than one way to approach holy death. And that meticulous steps do not bring me to God, but rather following the light and truth.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Path of trust

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

I could be on any road headed anywhere. The fog that has enveloped this morning’s landscape presents me with a wall of white. I cannot see far ahead of me, but have to trust that the way will be revealed. I assume that the road continues, my evidence being past experience.

Even as long as I have been walking with God, I do not know the way. Each morning as I wake and get out of bed, I have to put my trust in God. That God is merciful and gentle and loving. That God’s way continues. Because if I don’t trust in that, I could not stand. And evidence of past experience tells me that above all, God is merciful.

Everyday I set my feet upon the path anew. Everyday I walk a way I have not been before. Everyday I bring a different self to the journey, because I have been changed by the encounters of the day before. And everyday I open my soul to hear of God’s loving kindness so that I can step forth.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Morning watch

Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:5

It is almost impossible to move this morning. In the dark, I hear a lone bird chirp. Once…then again. She knows it is time to welcome the day even if I am unsure.

As I reluctantly put my feet on the floor, I wonder if birds ever wake up feeling tired. Do they work late into the night, perhaps gathering bits of softness for nests that anticipate new birth? Or do their beings, which seem to respond to minute shifts in seasons, effortlessly balance work and play and rest? Are they ever unhappily wakeful at night, yearning for the moment they can first open their throats to sing?

I consciously push aside my lethargy, trying to focus myself for prayer. Lately my attention to the Lenten path seems to have lapsed. Am I tired of watching, or too tired to be watchful?

As the sky lightens, I see a robin perch on my windowsill, soon joined by another. Even as I lean in for a closer look, they hold their place as if to say, “We are here with you, because all of creation is watching and waiting.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in,
from this time forth for evermore.
Psalm 121:8

“FYI,” the group message begins, “I am at the HS, and will be home shortly after 4”



“@ the cathedral be home by 5 or so”

“I have rehearsal at 330, and will be home a bit after 6.”

“Dinner at 630 then”


Thus my family stays in touch and manages a typical weekday.

We are all coming and going all the time, and if we are not intentional about being with one another, seeing one another, listening to one another, being attentive to one another, we will certainly fall apart. I’m not sure how we would manage without cell phones, but I’m betting we would figure it out because sitting around the dinner table together is something we love.

Each year as my daughters mature our lives get more far flung, the radius of our daily dispersion increasing. In a few months one of them will be leaving home.

Soon we will not be having dinner together and I will not know how they are spending their afternoons. We will find new ways to be attentive to one another. Or we won’t. Regardless, our lives will never move beyond the radius of God’s care and the love we have shared over food and laughter will not lessen by being scattered.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Waiting in motion

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

The drops pelt my window and I hear the swish of cars driving on the wet street. I pull the afghan more securely over my lap, appreciating the comfort of being safe inside as I listen to the rain.

But I will have to step out into the storm. I cannot stay here today, regardless of my desire to wait while I attend to the Holy speaking in the raindrops.

Waiting does not always mean staying in one place, or doing nothing. Sometimes waiting involves going about my daily business while knowing that something else is in the works as well. God is working in me and in the world all the time. And I can’t always sit back in comfort until the work is perfected. In fact, if I waited until God’s work with me was complete before I stepped out, I would never engage in the world at all. And if I don’t participate in God’s creation, then ….

Whether still or in motion, waiting takes a kind of courage; the willingness to hold one’s ground or to step out and do, even when all is not in place. Either can involve risk. Both involve trust.

I burrow into my afghan a few minutes more, wondering what God has in store for me on today's journey. Then I head out into the rain.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The long way home

Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;
I will sing and make melody.
Psalm 108:1

I awake to sunlight and birdsong and the comfort of being home.

Yesterday was a travel nightmare of delayed flights and missed connections and unhelpful personnel. And late at night, having been left to fend for myself at an airport that was not my final destination, I found myself traveling with another stranded soul, a stranger who turned out to be a neighbor, his destination half a mile from my house.

As I drove us homeward in a rented car, we bonded over hometown icons: the local high school, the music festival that has changed over the years, the new sports complex and arts center, when and where one can expect traffic jams. And then our kids, our parents, our stories of how we ended up here.

And all along the way my heart was thanking God who showed me once again the goodness and kindness of humanity and pulled generosity from me in response. So that by the time I dropped my companion off and finally opened my own front door, my step was lighter than it had been, the burden of frustration erased.

And this morning I continue to rejoice; the wilderness road ahead seem less daunting. Because though I am the one who offered a stranger a ride home, I have received the greater gift. And it is for this reason that I sing and make melody to God.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent

In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
They shall perish, but you will endure; they shall wear out like a garment;
as clothing you shall change them, and they shall be changed;
But you are always the same,
and your years will never end.
Psalm 102:25-27

The entire world feels noisy to me today. My whole being wants to rebel against the manufactured sphere in which I maneuver, struggling with internet connection and email that won't load and highway traffic.

Recently I stood at the beach, letting the waves wash over my feet. I looked out across the field of water, taking in the color and the movement and the sheer power. I imagined the moon at work, pulling the water toward her and then letting go, a celestial hand pushing the waves along. And for how many centuries has this ocean watered this beach, and what about the millions of creatures and rocks that make up this sand, and what did this particular spot look like a million years ago, or two million?

All of this magnificence is the sacred work of God’s hands. Yet often I am blind to holy grandeur. I become disconnected from creation, allowing the freeways, traffic, expansive commercial complexes, business offices, check-out lines, industrial carpeting, laptops, and cell phones that surround me to dull my soul.

Yet even in these human-made monoliths, the sacred can be perceived. A beautiful geometric shape, a splash of light refracted into a rainbow, the capacious space in-between things. And God, in all and before all and beyond all.

I close my eyes, take a breath, and open them again. And there is the Holy Spirit, swooping along the corridor, singing and daring me to smile.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
Psalm 73:23

I am standing in the check-out line of the discount store when it happens. A sudden overwhelming feeling that I do not belong.

I have experienced this before, this disconnect with those around me that compels me into the lonely landscape of doubt. In a group of colleagues, or parents at one of my daughter’s events, or friends at a social gathering, or neighbors in the town in which I live.

I am sure it is the enemy who whispers in my ear at these moments, who has caught me unawares, and who has been rifling through my soul and brought to the surface all my insecurities.

This is an unsteady place to stand, for if I do not belong here it is either because I am less worthy than everyone else…or more. Neither is a true picture of what it means to be made in the image of God.

So I breathe deeply, and in my mind I reach up my hand to place it in God’s only to discover I have been held all along. And in the next breath I tell the enemy to take a hike.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Stumbling along

Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Lent

As often as I have said, “My foot has slipped,”
your love, O Lord, upheld me.
Psalm 94:18

I throw up my hands in defeat; the document I need for our taxes simply cannot be found. I looked in all the usual and likely places. And then I looked in the unlikely places. And then I looked again. Lost is a conclusion I am not ready to accept—so even though this is a problem with a solution, it feels like a complete rout. And the last straw in a series of frustrations.

In so many aspects of my life I am sure of my footing. I like to keep it that way. I work hard so that I do not misstep. I plan ahead. I keep track of details. I get creative with problem solving. I take pride in my efforts. And there is the problem.

I know that all I need to say is that I need help. I have experienced the love of God upholding me many times in the past. Yet even now, I fall into the trap of thinking that simply working hard enough will always smooth the way ahead. Or that at least I should not stumble over the same things.

But I know that there are some stumbling blocks that will always be mine. And that I will learn more about myself each time I stumble over them. And that it is not in my power to remove them. And that the love of God will be there each and every time I fall. And that whether I stumble or limp or stride, God has sent people who love me to walk the path with me.

Monday, March 7, 2016

I will sing

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

 As the familiar hymn tune washes over me, I unexpectedly begin to tear up. It is a Sunday like any other Sunday and nothing has happened to make me feel particularly vulnerable. But perhaps that is the point.

How many times have I sung these words? Yet this morning, I hear them differently. They bathe my soul filling crevices where I yearn for loving reassurance. I didn’t even know I was thirsty.

Here I find my greatest treasure;
hither by thy help I've come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
bought me with his precious blood.

What did Robert Robinson, only 22 when he wrote “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing,” know or seek that led him to author such beauty? Could he have imagined me, a middle-aged woman more than 250 years later, being touched by what he penned? And who will come after us, what other weary travelers who have lost their way will find solace in these verses?

None of us knows the joys or burdens we bring with us to lay at Jesus’ feet. And it is here, not in this building but in this moment of uncertainty as I am thrown into the very presence of God, where I find my greatest treasure.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Writing in light

Saturday in the Third Week of Lent

Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to another.
Psalm 90:1

The photograph has always captured my attention. When I was teenager, I made a painting of it, replacing the black and white and gray with vibrant imagined color. Yet even then, I captured the pensive visage of the young girl, my grandmother.

I never knew that young girl, only the elegant mature woman she became. I have no stories of her growing up. In the photo she is pictured with her mother, my great-grandmother, who I knew not at all. Yet this morning, as the light hits the photograph hanging on the wall, I look again and sense the strong bond of connection. I am linked to this photo by blood and light.

Could these two women have imagined me? Did they sense they were casting their expressions forward for another generation to receive? They have passed on to me certain characteristics, visible and invisible. Eye color, a pensive look, faith.

Light makes things visible, provides energy, travels through time. The girl and the woman are literally captured in the light. In a process that we take for granted, but someone had to discover, their image was cast onto light sensitive material then made visible and preserved by being bathed in chemicals. A photograph. Writing in light.

Did they appreciate that day that their lives, like the light that made them visible then, would travel through time? Did it ever occur to them, as it does to me in this moment, that we are all the result of God writing in the light?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gale force

Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

Sing with joy to God our strength
and raise a loud shout to the God of Jacob.
Psalm 81:1

I wake in the early hours to the fierce wind encompassing the house in a mighty embrace.

It calls to me of joy and power and elation. I want to throw myself into the arms of the gale, to feel its strength and vivacity. I want to submit myself to its cleansing power and to feel myself uplifted and carried along by the surge of its purpose. I want to align myself with its frightening splendor.

I want to cast myself onto the mercy of God.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent

They railed against God and said,
“Can God set a table in the wilderness?”
Psalm 78:19

I hesitate for a moment with the cookie in my hand. Then, rather than take a careless bite, I put it on a plate. For good measure, I add a small colorful paper napkin and picking up my cup of tea head for a comfy chair. If I am going to indulge in a treat, I decide, I am going to really enjoy it. The point of a single cookie, after all, is the sweetness of each small bite.

Sometimes the difference between plenty and scarcity is simply a matter of attention.

The question is not whether God provides for us in the wilderness, but whether I know how to see it. Where have I missed the abundance of God, or the opportunity to enjoy a sweet morsel of kindness? How often have I gobbled up offerings of compassion, consideration, gentleness without a thought and thus missed the benefits?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Unseen presence

Monday in the Third Week of Lent

Your way was in the sea, and your paths in the great waters,
yet your footsteps were not seen.
Psalm 77:19

It’s a simple note, really, that appears in my inbox in response to something I posted. But the sender is someone I am very fond of, and just seeing her name brings a smile to my face.

Ours is a long distance friendship; we follow each other mostly through social media, email, and the occasional phone call. Our relationship is rooted in porch rocking chairs and a long ago conversation in which we each discovered we had stumbled across a kindred spirit. I cannot remember what we talked about, except that it was fervent and authentic and sprinkled with laughter and sacred.

Since that day we have travelled separate paths, our footsteps unseen, unremarked by one another. Yet still we rejoice with each other’s life celebrations and support one another with kindness during times of sorrow and stress. Perhaps our paths will cross again. Or perhaps our paths are always crossing as we traverse the Way, immersed in baptismal waters, buoyed by the love of God who is the source of all.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sacred pattern

Saturday in the Second Week of Lent

You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.”
Your face, Lord, will I seek.
Psalm 27:11

The light reaches through the slats of the blinds splashing patterns across the floor and wall. If I sit here long enough, I can perceive the movement of the sun, or the rotation of the earth, as I track the passage of light and shadow across the room.

A month ago this light would not have been here at this time of day. But the earth still would have been rotating around the sun. Whether I trace it or not, the dance of heavenly bodies continues in more than one expanding universe.

God too moves beyond my senses, creating arcs that I will never perceive, and nevertheless leaving designs for me to discover and study, to follow and dance along, to be thrilled and challenged by.

One cannot look on the face of God and live. Yet, this is the face I am to seek. I am asked to search out the one who breathed life into me and will surely consume me if I look her straight in the eye.

The light has moved. Or I have moved or the room has moved or the earth has moved or God has moved. The sun warms the back of my neck through the window closed against the winter cold. I turn my head and lift my face.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Casting questions

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 look at the date again to make sure. Still only the second week of Lent. How can that be? In so much of my life time seems to be rushing by, anticipated events suddenly over and done with, and yet while it seems I have been forever in this season of yearning, I have made little headway.

Some days I look at my work—my home, my profession, my avocations—and think I have realized little progress. Despite effort and determination and the aspiration to make something good, I see only what unravels and sputters out. This does not lead to despair, but rather a wonder. What is this all about? How do I make sense of the world? Where is God in all of this?

And because I know of no other way, even this I offer up to God. My foolishness. My faults. My limited vision. My lack of movement. In a life of pilgrimage, I have spent a lot of time in the wilderness. You think I would know how to traverse it by now. Rather it still holds mysteries and trials and open spaces and false trails and moments of doubt and moments of wonder.

I lift my face to the breath of God and cast my questioning heart once more into the breach.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Connected, enfolded, and comforted

Thursday in the Second Week of Lent

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

As I gather myself for early morning prayer, I hear the ding of a text message. A friend who wants me to know she is praying for me and asks, “are there other things you would like me to pray for?”

Throughout my life I have been sustained by the prayers of others. As a young child, by my mother’s friend who laid her hand on my fevered forehead. As a teenager, kneeling at the altar rail asking for strength and courage. In college, by companions in a campus prayer group. As an overwhelmed new mother, during a family tragedy, in times of grief.

And today I am strengthened by the gift of extraordinary prayer on an ordinary morning. As I am enfolded and comforted by this connection, I am suddenly lifted into that place where I know myself one of a chorus, proclaiming our praise and fear and grief and hope and supplication and thanksgiving in a song that continues to sound across time and space. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Full Word

Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent
Saint Matthias the Apostle 

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,
by the breath of his mouth all the heavenly hosts.
Psalm 33:6

Almost without thinking, almost without noticing, I look up. And have my breath taken away by the beauty of the full moon.

Although several people had mentioned it throughout the day, as people are wont to do when it comes to a full moon as a habitual explanation of all sorts of things going awry and coming together, I hadn’t thought to look for it.

Such a simple thing to flood my soul with such power. Yet the matter and dust and radiation and atmosphere and rotation of heavenly bodies that make this encounter possible are hardly simple. And it hangs on a word.

God spoke the world into being and God spoke me into it and God is speaking still. And whether I am paying attention or not, my soul reaches for the Word, restless.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Baptism by water

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 had not anticipated a flood.

As I lingered in the shower earlier, my thoughts had been of baptism and the power of water. I know that all water is recycled water; so whether it is the water I drink or cleanse with, or ocean waves rushing up onto the beach, or a gentle rain, the individual droplets (and in fact the H2O molecules themselves) have been around for a long time. Around the world in fact, participating in a perpetual cycle of precipitation, infiltration, evaporation. And baptism. Perhaps, I thought, this very drop on my skin this morning was poured on me at my baptism many years ago.

And then I emerged into the day to discover the hot water heater in the guest-house in which I am staying has failed and the water is rising.

I call my dear host and for the next 30 minutes we rescue items, shut off the water to the house, search for other various shut-off valves, call the plumber who can't come until tomorrow, remember to turn off the circuit breaker, sweep water toward a place it can drain, and laugh. Not necessary in that order.

Baptism into a life in Christ is all these things. Gentle, anticipated, ferocious, energizing, chaotic, unexpected, soothing, dangerous, refreshing, overwhelming, life-giving. And sometimes the Spirit compels us straight from our baptisms into the wilderness where we may encounter trials as well as an unforeseen flood of laughter and love.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Monday in the Second Week of Lent

I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God;
I will present to you thank-offerings.
Psalm 56:11

My friend notices the tree first, “Look at those roots, they are amazing.” And indeed they are.

Strong, bold, and substantial, they undulate rather than twist their way from trunk into ground leaving the firmness of their support in no doubt. I know nothing of the life of this tree, but I imagine the roots as ancient and I think of all that they have seen: sun, storms, wind, seasonal shifts, foundational upheavals, long stretches of hardly any change at all.

I have been thinking of roots a lot lately, of my own mostly. Of how I am connected to my past, of the strength to be found there, of the stories to be told if I were to trace the curving lines back to their source. And of my certainty that even if some of those pathways wend their way past decay and disappointment, that the gnarled lines attest to the triumph of love. Because vows made on my behalf and those I have uttered on my own bind me to the Source of all creation.

Because I am bound in love, I am able to stand tall this morning, lift my face to the light, and open my mouth in thanksgiving.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Saturday in the First Week of Lent

Search me out, O God, and know my heart;
try me an know my restless thoughts.
Psalm 139:22

We linger over lunch, and extend our time still further enjoying each other’s company and a long friendship. Our conversation traverses wide territory: work, kids, upcoming plans, past follies. We laugh a bit at our earlier selves, recognizing that we continue to become.

It is good to have someone know me well, really well, and love me nonetheless. I realize the comfort found in a relationship that spans the years having been tried, enjoyed, neglected, respected, renewed, celebrated. Not perfect. And just right.

One of the ways God knows me is through her eyes. One of the ways I know the Holy One is in the gift of self she offers me. Being known and being loved. I am still learning about both.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fine Linen

Friday in the First Week of Lent

The Lord put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God;
many shall see, and stand in awe,
and put their trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:3

I check the linen tablecloth for just the right amount of dampness; it will soon be ready for the hot iron and I already anticipate the smooth crisp result.

I don’t remember when I learned to iron linen, but it was long before I inherited this cloth from my grandmother. It is the smallest of the four I now own, and it is on its way to a new home. I haven't used it for such a long time, that I decided to pass it on to someone else who would welcome it, enjoy it, give it renewed life.

Sending it along the stream is a kind of letting go, but it is also an invitation to newness. Newness for the recipient, myself, the cloth. It makes no sense to hold onto something, devotedly stored but never used, when it could live its purpose. And in releasing it, space is created. And more than space. Possibility. Generosity. Connection.

I know the hands that will accept this gift, so I know the cloth will be lovingly received. As will its legacy. As will I. And perhaps someday it will get passed along again. The thought brings a song into my heart as I feel the embrace of the One who is the beginning of every good gift and every gracious letting go.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Calling light

Thursday in the First Week of Lent

The Lord, the God of gods, has spoken; 
he has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Psalm 50:1

I head home into the dusk and notice that the sky has finally begun to clear. After a day of slush and snow and rain, it is a relief. And then I realize I am not headed into the dusk at all. Blue sky emerges, the light hits me, and I am struck by the truth that the days are getting longer.

It seems only yesterday I would have been driving home in the dark at this time of day.
I understand that my experience of the lengthening of days is unique to where I live. This hemisphere, this latitude, this earth in its particular orbital relationship to the sun and other planetary bodies. Nevertheless, my very body and soul respond to the increasing light as if it were integral to my Lenten sojourn across the wilderness, as if I were created to dance to this rhythm.

As if I and the universe itself were uniquely attuned to God’s call.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tender place

Wednesday in the First Week of Lent

I entreat you will all my heart,
be merciful to me according to your promise.
Psalm 119:58

I test the spot in my heart and find it is still tender. There has been healing here, but there is more to come.

For several weeks now, even before my face was marked with ashes for this journey, I have submitted a room in my heart to self-examination. I directed the light of my current understanding to shine on the past and there found dead wood to be discarded, wrong assumptions to be righted, burdens of past obligations that could have been set down long ago. I did not enter this territory alone, but holding God’s hand dared to engage in repentance: awareness, contrition, sorrow, confession, amendment of life. And as the Holy One lifted burden after burden off of my shoulders, tendrils of new life began to show.

And now, knowing there is more renewal to come, I place my tender self at the feet of my savior, seeking mercy, and praying for that gentle spirit to surround me as I step into an unknown day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tracing Faith

Tuesday in the First Week of Lent

This God is our God for ever and ever;
he shall be our guide for evermore.
Psalm 48:13

It has been a long time since I have thought of my grandmother, but this morning she is here, in her smart tailored dress and matched shoes, bringing with her the elegant house in the center of the small farming town in the Midwest.

The chair I sit in came from her front room, where I remember formal visits with her friends and Christmas mornings with my family. I trace the memories back and call forward the kitchen wallpaper, the brick patio, breakfasts with my grandfather who always put half-and-half on his cereal. And summer visits, which included the wooden church with the red door.

Church was a given, whether at home or on vacation or at my grandparents, and as much a part of the fabric of my life as my mother’s own stories of her early faith formation.

The strength I have is equal parts God-given and inherited, and even that which has been passed down to me connects me to the Creator of the universe who is the source of the faith of my mother and grandmother. And to this legacy, on a daily basis, I fold in the resources I have discovered along the way as granddaughter, daughter, sister, spouse, and mother.

Although I am often lost along the way, God has been and will ever be my guide, a love I can trace in any direction.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Just a step

Monday in the First Week of Lent

In my integrity you hold me fast,
and shall set me before your face for ever.
Psalm 41:12

God knows I tried, but nevertheless my morning prayer discipline falls apart, my mind meandering down futile pathways. The promise of lesser but quicker satisfactions invade my space: I could quickly answer that email, or go make some toast, or check online for a sale on box springs (I need a new box spring). I pull my focus once more to the scripture in front of me and wonder if I should just throw in the towel for this morning. God will understand.

But because I know the sweet taste of connection, because I yearn for my soul to break free from the mundane and be encompassed by the holy, I throw a plea to God instead. Help me to keep from choosing the lessening. Help me to keep my feet on the path toward deepening. And the answer comes swiftly. One step at a time. Ordinary advice after all.

God knows. God knows me.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stopping place

Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:6

In one sense, it is an odd gathering. A handful of adults of various ages, a teen, a couple of children. Drawn by differing purposes to walk a sacred path together, not planning to meet each other here, we nevertheless coalesce into companions together on a journey.

As the beauty of space and simplicity and music and holy text swirl around us we are propelled onto the Way of the Cross. Stations. I meditate on the word itself as I am lulled and comforted by the serenity of this moment at the end of a full day and busy week. A station. A regular stopping place.

What a gift that this unusual mix of people and this ancient tradition could be quite ordinary. And that in meeting one another to walk the way of sorrows we are drawn more deeply into the mystery of love.

Friday, February 12, 2016


But as for me, I have trusted in you, O Lord.
I have said, “You are my God. Psalm 31:14

I follow the path of the electrical wire again, and finally it begins to make sense. The cloth covered wiring may not be as old as our 100-year-old house, but clearly no one has disturbed it in recent history. Over the years, various people and plans have added to the complex pathways along the pipes and beams in the stone floored basement. I have not had to sort it out before, but now, in order to make a needed repair, I try to make sense of it.

And what about the pathways of my interior life? How many times have I changed direction, rerouted a practice, looped back to revisit an assumption? What trails have I left behind me, and what might I discover by retracing them? I expect among the junction boxes and transformers of my life I will see strong connections that continue to supply energy as well as tangles that might best be unraveled and intricate patterns that will bring understanding.

And I suspect that running through it all will be the love of God.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

One way or another

Be still before the Lord,
and wait patiently for him.
Psalm 37:7

The house is in disarray. In the midst of work being done, nothing is in place. I sit and pull a cone of calmness over me as I block out the mattress on the floor, the pictures from another room leaning against a desk that is out of place, one shoe (who knows where its partner may be), and several cloth grocery bags full of items that may or may not find their way back to where they belong.

It is in this time and this place, in the midst of the disorder, that I school myself to stillness and lift my face to God. The invitation of the holy has been tugging at me since I woke and the call of the mess has raised its voice as well and with awe I discover the blessing in all this is that I do not have to choose.

Or rather I can choose the mess or the calm and nevertheless God dances there offering me a path that will wend its way in the wilderness one way, or another, or another.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Welcoming Dust

Revive me, O Lord, for your name’s sake;
for your righteousness’ sake, being me out of trouble.
Psalm 143:11

Again I consciously push the hunger aside. I have been awake for only half an hour, and yet a dozen times I have had to keep myself from breaking my fast. It is not that this fast is so difficult; I am not suffering outrageous hunger. It is more a matter of mindfulness. Like an application running unattended in the background, my mind tells me of course it is time for a banana, or a bowl of oatmeal, or a quick omelet.

Each time I say no to that automatic impulse to eat, I consciously change my path and set my face toward the dust.

I am clearing the way in order to welcome dust. I am preparing myself to be marked. I am making room in my day, in my life, in my soul to carry ashes, to mar the repentant surface with a dark smudge, to seek cleansing by reaching for the dirt because aligning myself with the mess of the earth is the only way out of trouble.

Because as God spoke some dust into being me, so in this dust I am once again revived.

image credit: sportlibrary / 123RF Stock Photo