Monday, September 11, 2017

Prayer in Such a Time

For the battered
bereft
beleaguered

For the courageous
compassionate
committed

For those who keep working
for those who keep holding
for those who keep vigil

For the hungry
the hurting
the hopeful

For all who have lost
and all who are lost
and all who continue to seek and serve

Into your hands, O God
into your heart, O Christ
into your unfailing care, O Spirit

we commend all

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Alleluia!

Easter Day


Forth Christ came at Easter,
like the risen grain,
the one that for three days
in the grave had lain,
quick from the dead
my risen Lord is seen:

Love is come again
like wheat that springith green.


John Macleod Campbell Crum
Hymnal 1982, #204

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lament

Holy Saturday

O Lord, my God, my Savior,
by day and night I cry to you.
Let my prayer enter into your presence;
incline your ear to my lamentation.
Psalm 88:1-2



morning arrives
grief-laden
the torment has not been washed away
but burrows deeper into my heart

as if it will excavate my being
leaving only dust






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Friday, April 14, 2017

Bereft

Good Friday

I am poured out like water;
all my bones are out of joint;
my heart within my breast is melting wax.
Psalm 22:14


the way collapses
deconstructs into
fragments bereft of meaning

love an echo

mercy keening
an eternity away




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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bare

Maundy Thursday

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


Now comes the time to set aside
the necessities of the journey
I can carry nothing
beyond this point
other than trust in Love itself

May my soul be stripped bare
dug up and turned over
furrowed
cleansed
made ready





Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Threshold

Wednesday in Holy Week

And I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.”
Psalm 55:7


As if the morning holds its breath
pondering the way forward--
duty, necessity,
inevitability?

Air heavily burdened with the undecided--
storm, release,
prelude?

Caught on the threshold,
will I dance into this thin place
or fight, or flee,
or freeze?

Still, I choose
the way






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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Next

Tuesday in Holy Week

Turn, O Lord, and deliver me;
save me for your mercy’s sake.
Psalm 6:4



my fingers enclose
a touchstone of ashes

the barest scent of holy oil
foreshadowing an anointing
for burial

now the sacred path spirals in
on itself

I open my soul
and continue








Monday, April 10, 2017

Renew

Monday in Holy Week

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


Piercing through still bare trees
morning sunlight dances
like a stone skipped across the stream
kissing new spring growth all along the way.

Life pushes through chilled soil
unfurling itself into the warmth
breaking open from protective husk.

I still myself and wait, hopeful
that I too might be sunkissed into life
and unfurl my soul to the passion and the promise.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Waiting

Saturday in the Fifth Week of Lent

O God, I will sing to you a new song;
I will play to you on a ten-stringed lyre.
Psalm 144:9


My progress is arrested by the sight of forsythia bursting forth in jubilant celebration. Now I am on the brink, preparing to enter the dark earthiness of holy time. The impossible yellow of the wild blossoms calls a song to my lips even as I wait for the paradox ahead.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Traveling Companions

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 hope our paths cross soon,” I write to a colleague. And as I hit send, shooting the note across cyber-space, I realize how much I would enjoy such a meeting. We haven’t seen each other in a very long time. And then I think about our paths.

We travel different roads, live and work in different places. We seldom see each other. Yet I know her to be a person of faith and joy and love. I see her strive to bring the light of Christ to others. I am aware of her deep understanding of how we are being formed on a daily basis into the people that God calls us to be. Our journeys are simultaneously parallel and intersecting. Sometimes our paths come close to one another and then veer off again without really meeting. Yet, even from afar, her faithfulness encourages me. Even when we are not aware of one another, we walk the same pilgrimage.

This morning as I pray once more that God will open my heart to the presence of the holy, I am suddenly aware of so many others also opening their hearts to God today, lifting their faces and voices in praise or in supplication or in lament. I am one of many.

I am one of many on this journey of faith. I am one of many lifting my soul to God. I am one of many seeking the road that I must walk. I can’t wait to see which of my traveling companions I will meet along the way today.



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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Imago Dei

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

The pictures come to me via FaceBook and texts. A mother with a new son, a grandmother rejoicing in the birth of a granddaughter, a doula holding a newborn she has helped into the world. These infants are already cherished by people I know, so I feel connected. But it is more than that. Looking on the faces of these brand new human beings, I immediately recognize new life worthy to be treasured and beloved.

Every human being is created in the image of God. It is easy to see that in the face of a newborn. But what about all the strangers I encounter every day? What about the people who give me a hard time? What would it be like to remember that each person has value and worth? To begin with the premise that on any given day, everyone is doing the best that she or he or they can?

On any given day, anyone of us can be as vulnerable as a newborn. Surely, I am not the only one who yearns to be nestled in the arms of a loving God. Surely, I have experienced enough of love to be generous and kind to anyone I encounter.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Nurturing Joy

Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

My lips shall pour forth your praise,
when you teach me your statutes.
My tongue shall sing of your promise,
for all your commandments are righteous.
Psalm 119:171-172

In my dream, I run up to the brink of a cliff with great expectation. As I come to where I can see over the edge, a stunning vista opens up before me. A clear path welcomes me to descend into a valley lush with spring green.

The anticipation of exploring new beauty lingers as I wake, even as my mind begins to turn to today’s to-do list. With conscious effort, I push aside the temptation to immerse myself immediately in tasks just to get a jump on the work. Instead I recall the flowering trees I noticed yesterday, their blossoms just beginning to respond with enthusiasm to the warming weather.

Joy can be like a tiny bud just beginning to poke out of the dirt. It needs warmth and light and space to become full. I realize I need to pay attention to my joy and nurture it. I may need to protect it from coldness of heart and angry stomping and suffocating to-do lists.

Burgeoning joy is as much a gift from God as a blossoming magnolia. When I am attentive to God’s abundance, I discover there is always more. The path of God’s word welcomes me into the extravagant promise of love and life.



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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Morning Hymn

Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Psalm 126:2


The clear tone rings out in the quiet of early dawn. I pay attention as it is repeated, trying to recognize this particular bird call. I’m guessing it is a robin. At first my morning soloist repeats one tune over and over, rich and confident. But then he changes it up with enthusiastic rapid bursts and finally something that sounds like laughter. I wonder what has amused my friend.

An alarm clock sounds in my house, as the rest of my family beings to stir and prepare for the day ahead. What songs will be on our lips as we enter this new day?

There are so many ways to greet the new day. So many ways to set one’s foot upon the path. This is God’s day. The robin knows to greet it with song and laughter, to delight in creation and abundance. My morning companion invites me to join him in this hymn of joy.




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Monday, April 3, 2017

With Abandon

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 head out for an afternoon walk, and it seems as if everyone is taking advantage of the warm spring day. The small city park along which I walk is teeming with life. People of all ages are biking, walking dogs, fishing along the canal, playing basketball. A child covers his face and counts to 20 as his friends scatter for hide-and-seek. A brother helps his young sister remove a fish from a hook. A group of young adults lays sprawled on a bit of lawn.

The community has come alive as if with a single purpose… to revel in delight. We all smile at each other as we acknowledge that the beauty of the day has opened our hearts and filled them with joy. I think that this life has been here all along, but hidden indoors during the winter months. Now, we are no longer waiting for spring. We are throwing ourselves into it with abandon.

I notice a single bud along a bare branch, its swollen potential brave against landscape still dominated by barren trees and shrubs. This hidden life too is coming forth, making itself known along with other nascent growth that in a few more weeks will burst forth with green transforming this landscape.

Along the wooded path, in the midst of the city, in wintry hearts, God is calling forth new life.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fashioning of Hearts

Saturday in the Fourth Week of Lent

The Lord looks down from heaven,
and beholds all the people in the world.
He fashions all the hearts of them
and understand all their works.
Psalm 33:13, 15

I wake with a sense of contentment, for which I immediately give thanks. Even as I step out into the day, I feel myself blanketed in God’s loving care.

In my heart, I know that I am never without God’s love and mercy. God’s care for me is absolute—and does not depend on how I feel about it. Some days I know this with confidence. Some days I simply have to trust. All days, I am in God’s hands.

And not just me. All the people of the world are encompassed by God’s love. I wonder what it would be like to imagine God at work in everyone I encounter this day. I wonder.



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Friday, March 31, 2017

Passing Love Along

Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Let this be written for a future generation,
so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord.
Psalm 102:18

My husband and I sit down at the dinner table by ourselves. One daughter is off at college and the other is off at a dress rehearsal for a band concert. This is becoming a more common occurrence, when it is just the two of us. We reach across the table and hold hands as we pray, the grace we use one our oldest daughter wrote when she was three.

The words are simple…and embedded in our souls. She offered these words to us as a toddler, because she had been formed by our practice of praying at meals since she was born. And we keep praying her words, because we have been formed by her offering.

I grew up with hands held in prayer around the table. How could I have known then that the words of thanksgiving to God that became a part of me as a young girl would someday reach out of me as a mother to encompass those I love?

Handing love from one generation to the next does not just create a line of connection. This seemingly simple action strikes a chord that reverberates. The sound of love moves forward and back across time and geography, God’s sacred song that called the world into being. Even now this symphony reaches across the impossible to embrace those yet unimagined.




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Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Power of Being Grateful

Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent

I will praise the Name of God in song;
I will proclaim God’s greatness with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:32

I count down my list. So far, I have listed nine—which means I need two more. Most days I make a list of thanksgivings. I think over my day and look for the times I was most aware of God’s presence. I revisit these moments and am amazed at what they have to teach me. About how God’s grace is woven into every encounter. About how often I can overlook the powerful love of the Holy One at work. About how God’s mercy carries me through troubled waters.

Because lists of ten seem to be the standard, I try to list eleven thanksgivings. I do this to remind myself of God’s inexhaustible abundance. Some days the list flows off my pen in a rush. Some days I must work at it. Every time the exercise leads me away from stress and towards contentment and peace. Practicing gratitude brings me joy.

I hear so many voices in the world teaching and speaking about power in ways that are far from life-giving. So, in this moment, as I pray the ancient words of the psalms, I ponder the power of being grateful and of proclaiming God’s greatness with thanksgiving.

I cast my mind over my day once again, looking for two more reasons to be thankful. And I smile as I thank God for giving me a heart to practice gratitude, and for the beauty of ancient words of poetry and praise.


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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Keep Walking

Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Steady my footsteps in your word;
let no iniquity have dominion over me.
Psalm 119:133

I review the day past again, looking for signs of God’s grace. I know they must be there, yet I have trouble bringing them to the fore. It is not that the day has been difficult—not at all. Rather it is that my mind and heart feel sluggish.

It is the middle of Lent, and my way seems dull. I continue to practice my daily disciplines of prayer and reflection and repentance, but any insight seems distant.

Is this what the interior of the wilderness looks like? A place where vision becomes small because the way past and the way forward look the same?

This is the place for trust. Trust in God’s goodness. Trust in the purpose of the journey. Trust in the many companions who walk the way with me. I pray for steadiness as I gather myself to step into this new day, to keep walking the Way.



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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Falling for God

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

As my foot slips off the curb, I experience a split-second of awareness that I am not going to regain my balance. Then I am on my knees in the street, everything I was carrying strewn before me. I pick myself up and am grateful that none of my neighbors seems to have witnessed my embarrassment. I brush off the dirt, surprised I have not ripped a hole in my pants leg. But other than a skinned knee and bruised pride, I am fine.

I regather my belongings and my composure and wonder why it is so hard to fall. Or rather, it is easy to fall but it is difficult to feel OK about it. Is it that skinned knees belong to adventuresome young girls and not middle aged professional women? That as an adult, falling represents failure rather than learning? Or is it simply that I do not want to know that I can be overcome by a curb?

Somehow, falling is all about being human. Sometimes I fall hard and sometimes I fall soft, but not falling does not seem to be an option. Falling can make me feel diminished. But in the eyes of God I am not less. Falling, failing, being overcome do not make me unlovable. Rather these moments of unlooked-for vulnerability expose me to God’s unfailing help.  And such exposure leads to succor and healing and life.




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Monday, March 27, 2017

Rainy Faith

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



The morning dawns dark and rainy and it is difficult to know if this is a brief drenching, or if we are settling in for a dull, wet day. I wrap my afghan more securely around myself to guard against the dampness. I know the sun is there, hidden behind murky clouds, and though the sky is gloomy, it is already warmer than yesterday.

The sun may be obscured, but its power is at work, its energy inextricably entwined with the continuous movement of water from clouds to earth to underground streams and back to the surface and into the atmosphere once more.

In the back of my mind, I hear an echo from one of yesterday’s hymns:

We wait in faith, and turn our face
to where the daylight springs,
till thou shalt come our gloom to chase,
with healing in thy wings.
(John Mason Neale, 1846)

I remember that the rain is full of life and promise. And that it comes at the hands of the Author of life. And I wonder what it would be like to enter this day with my face lifted rather than trying to duck the storm.


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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sun Kissed

Feast of the Annunciation
Saturday in the Third Week of Lent

Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Psalm 85:10-11

With piles of unmelted snow still evident, it is not that difficult for me today to contemplate Mary, the Godbearer. Most years this feast day catches me off guard. So many of our associations of the visit of the angel Gabriel to the young Mary are wrapped up in Advent and the frantic preparations for Christmas, that I find myself wanting to place this feast in winter rather spring. But if I meditate on Mary and her journey for only the few weeks before the birth of Christ, I miss the gifts of pregnancy.

Today is the announcement of a beginning. Today witnesses the divine arcing across creation to call forth life in a young woman who is astonishingly able to ponder and say yes. I see them reaching for each other across space, the light and grace of God’s love carried on the wings of Gabriel and the face of Mary lifted toward the warmth like a new shoot leaning toward the promise of spring sunshine.

And standing in the chilly air in my own back yard, I am aware of the warmth and light of the sun reaching across space and through the earth’s atmosphere, touching bare branches and cold earth. In turn, the seeds, shoots, and buds lift tender potential to the life-giving energy. Somewhere in-between they meet, kissing one another, promising gifts of mercy and truth and peace.



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Friday, March 24, 2017

Path of Promise

Friday in the Third Week of Lent

For he shall give his angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:11


As I pass a doorway, I glimpse movement in the room beyond. Even as I keep walking, my brain processes what my eyes have seen: a woman and a child walking a labyrinth.  I smile as I imagine their journey along the path—fast, slow, steadfast, deliberate, playful, together, apart, in tandem.

It is the second labyrinth I have encountered this day. The first was a picture my brother posted from the school where he is a chaplain. That one captured my attention because of its bright rainbow colored path. A path of promise. And although there were no children in the picture, I called to mind other times and places I have seen children running, skipping, meandering, sliding, and carefully placing one foot in front of another with serious intent along a labyrinth path.

In the evening, I chance upon a third. As I attend a meeting, I hear the footsteps of people ascending the stairs to a room above, where I remember a labyrinth painted on the floor. I imagine strangers walking the sacred path above us and somehow including us along the way.

All these walkers are unaware of me. Yet I feel we are companions on the same journey, that together we walk a larger sacred path, sometimes in tandem, sometimes apart, as our footsteps bring us close and then send us out again to the periphery. And all the while we are kept along God’s loving way, held in promise, while the angels are in charge.



Photo:  Celtic Labyrinth used at St. Martin’s Episcopal School, Winnetka, CA. Designed and created by artist Carol Greene of St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, Simi Valley, CA.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Uncertain Way

Thursday in the Third Week of Lent

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?
and why are you so disquieted within me?
Put your trust in God;
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
Psalm 43:5-6

The weather is playing havoc with spring. Or maybe is it the other way around. Warm for one day, unreasonably cold for the next two. A season’s worth of snow arriving in a single spring day after the mildest of winters. Nothing seems certain. Sandals or snow boots. Winter coat or sweater. This seems not the typical ambiguous transitional time of spring, but a wild uncertainty. I wonder if this is now the new reality, rather than an anomaly. It shakes my trust.

I walk simultaneously in another season; the rhythm of the Church Year informs my choices and movement as much as the North American climate. I have grown up attuned to both. Lent too can be a time of wild uncertainty. Traversing the desert is not a steady walk toward redemption, but a gut-wrenching slog across treacherous terrain. Sandy ground shifting beneath my feet, winds erasing the way forward, caverns waiting to swallow my soul.

Even though I think I know what to expect, I am often caught off-guard. By the longing. By an impasse. By a familiar discipline that ties me in knots. Some days I simply trudge along and wonder if the world around me is forever changed.

At such times, I understand that I inhabit a place where thankfulness must be anticipated rather than experienced. But the anticipation is based on memory, on certain knowledge that I belong to One who loves me and will not leave me bereft. I will practice gratitude and the path will clear. Expecting God is the way forward.



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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Carried by Light

Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent

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


Individual voices wrap around one another becoming a stream of gentle sound as this small group prays familiar words. We toss the phrases back and forth across the space, call and response, like passing a basket of warm bread around a table.

The cadence rises and falls as we wend our way along this path of prayer, content with one another’s company. And then we fall into silent intercession. I pray for each person in the group, and then for those who are absent. And then my prayer expands to include others in the building around us and then the community beyond and further still until I am following a current of prayer that encompasses the earth.

I am buoyed up and carried along, no longer by my supplications, but by a song that has been sounding all along, voices of angels and archangels and all the company of heaven glorifying God.

Gently, gently, I return, or am returned, to this small faithful gathering. A single voice intones the final benediction and we disperse, the echo of sacred song illuminating each footstep.



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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rock Splitting

Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent

God split the hard rocks in the wilderness
and gave them drink as from the great deep.
Psalm 78:15


At the end of the work day, I examine the problem once again. It has been in the background all day long. Several times, it has come to the surface, each time proving itself insurmountable. And each time I push it aside, I hear the enemy hint at despair. I am between a rock and a hard place, and can see no recourse. I wonder what God is calling me to do. I decide it is a good time to go to the gym.

My prescribed workout is challenging, and more often than usual I stop and reach for my water bottle. In the midst of my concentrated effort, I am astonished that a few sips of water can carry me so far. And then somehow, I have come to the end; I have completed my training routine and feel simultaneously exhausted and refreshed. I head home.

Along the way, I discover that my intractable problem has been transformed into an opportunity for curiosity. I wonder how many possible approaches there might be. And I almost laugh as I understand that God is at it again, offering me abundance where I had seen only barren rock.

It is not just that God can act in the wilderness. God does act. Has acted. God continues to break open a way in the hard places, the impossible places, the places where we senselessly fling ourselves against unyielding obstacles. God is between the rock and the hard place—transforming desolation into life-giving water.



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Monday, March 20, 2017

Restless Learning Curve

Monday in the Third Week of Lent

I think of God, I am restless,
I ponder, and my spirit faints.
Psalm 77:3


After the second failed attempt to get up and get moving, I finally pay attention to what my body is telling me and give in. I am not well and need to go back to bed. I am fortunate, I think, because the tasks of this day can be set aside and rearranged to allow me to rest. Two phone calls, a text message, an email, and my obligations have been covered. But even as I settle my aching body for sleep, my mind thinks of all I can accomplish in the space created by removing items from my calendar. I could get so much work done.

As I wrestle with my need to rest, the irony is not lost on me. I wonder if God is amused or heartbroken.

Late in the afternoon, after plenty of sleep and plenty of water and plenty of self-care, I feel like myself again. I offer a prayer of thanks as my soul is flooded with relief. And as I carefully pick up the pieces of my life and work, I hear the voice of the Holy One reminding me to be gentle with myself. I have so much to learn.



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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Walking the Way

Saturday in the Second Week of Lent

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil;
   for you are with me;
   your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

The achingly mournful notes of the piano linger in the gothic architecture as we gather to begin our walk. It is a walk of sorrows, a walk of pilgrimage, a walk with Christ. The Way of the Cross.

Our small, solemn band falls in behind the young boy who carries the processional candle, almost as tall as he is, with serious poise. We are quiet, we are prayerful. And as we walk along the tiled aisles, contemplating sacred scenes that have been prescribed for centuries, we become something more. We began scatted amongst the pews, too small a group for this large and formal space. But was we move along the path of this ancient story, as different voices pick up the narrative and join in supplication, we coalesce into one common prayer. We lean into each other, and in doing so find strength and comfort as our yearnings and hearts are magnified.

Even as we rehearse the way of loss and despair and death, we have also set our feet on the path of redemption. We have purposefully stepped into the holy mystery that encompasses all that is malevolent and unbearable in the world and speaks the final word of love.

The service ends in silence, and we quietly disperse. And I carry into the night the assurance that whatever lies ahead, I am not alone.



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Friday, March 17, 2017

Summons to Life

Friday in the Second Week of Lent

Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Psalm 95:1

The longing washes over me and I think I might drown in desolation. Then the feeling passes, and I know myself to have sure footing. Still, a dull ache in my heart lurks underneath the activities of the day, robbing me of ease and enjoyment of everyday things.

I recognize this as a place I get stuck sometimes, a rocky terrain in the wilderness where small annoyances elicit outsized frustration and I get caught in unconstructive ruminations. Working at it will not help. My salvation lies elsewhere.

I open my mouth in prayer, words I have prayed for much of my lifetime, and discover a shout of joy I had not looked for. It has been there for a very long time; I have simply passed it by without noticing.

The path of Lent asks me to renew repentance and faith, to seek God’s mercy for being deaf to the call to serve, to confess hypocrisy, to turn from my wickedness. The way can be difficult. But hardship and anguish are not its purpose. The summons is to the path of life. The invitation is to enter into God’s eternal joy.



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Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Different Story

Thursday in the Second Week of Lent

Let my mouth be full of your praise
and your glory all the day long.
Psalm 71:8



Even as I wake, I bat aside a sense of unease. The schools are closed for the third day in a row as my community continues to dig out from a fierce spring storm. Travel remains difficult, obstacles overcome simple errands and daily tasks, tension runs high as major events need to be rearranged.

The temptation to give in to stress is strong. Yet I know this is not the whole story. I call to mind the neighbors coming out together to clear sidewalks and excavate cars from snow drifts, the helpful stranger who stopped by with his snow blower, the patience and generosity of careful drivers on partially cleared streets.

Resilience is evident in this community. What would it look like, to be about the business of identifying acts of charity all day long? To give my attention and voice to the examples of God’s love in the world? To breath in kindness and fill my mouth with praise?



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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pieced Together

Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent

Your faithfulness remains from one generation to another;
you established the earth and it abides.
Psalm 119:90


Pieced together with one-inch squares of faded fabric, the quilt spreads a swath of gentle color across the end of the bed. It comes from my grandmother’s house, and I do not know exactly whose hands stitched all those pieces together. If I look closely, I will see the small, careful stitches underneath the border. Hand-sewn. How many stitches, I wonder, encompass that border? And could she who patiently framed this coverlet with needle and thread ever have imagined this room in which I sit? Or me?

Along with this quilt, my inheritance includes the faithfulness of generations of women. My grandmother. My godmother, her sister-in-law. A great-great Aunt whose stories I heard even if I never met her. A white wooden church in a small prairie town. Black and white photos of solemn-faced matriarchs.

My life and my journey of faith are also pieced together, and I like to imagine these women who are part of my legacy patiently holding me in their hands and stitching a framework of love around my life. And all of us held together in the loving arms of God who called us each into being.

For the moment, this quilt abides, although it may not last for my daughters to contemplate it years from now. But the love, patience, faithfulness, hard work, creativity, and expertise it encompasses endure from generation to generation. And if any of these fail, if it all falls to pieces, even then nothing is lost. For God is ever faithful, and Love abides.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Strong Promise

Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent

God alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken.
Psalm 62:2


The morning dawns with a pale light that is enhanced as it is reflected against the gently falling snow. But as time passes, the morning darkens. I doubt the sun will shine today. After the mildest of winters, now, in the middle of March, a huge storm.

It is quiet for the moment. No traffic. No plows. The snow ushers in a kind of peaceful wonder. Yet I know this will not remain a gentle storm. Soon the winds will increase and the snow will be replaced by hard icy pellets. I think of those who must venture forth today, because the safety and well-being of others depends on their presence. I offer up a prayer for their protection, and another of thanksgiving.

The wilderness of Lent can be deceptive. A mild beginning does not indicate a tranquil road ahead. But what remains unchangeable is the promise of God. That we are beloved. That God’s way is the way of life. That where there is trouble, there is also redemption.

I lean into this promise this morning, that I may be shaken, but not greatly shaken.



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Monday, March 13, 2017

God's Wingspan

Monday in the Second Week of Lent

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful, for I have taken refuge in you;
in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble has gone by.
Psalm 57:1

In the cold hour of dawn my morning meditation is accompanied by the brave song of sparrows. But along with their bright chirping, I hear something more—a scratching and a digging under the eaves of my house. They are at work building a nest, and I am fairly certain they have found their way once again into a small attic crawlspace. I meant to block up that opening last fall.

They are building a home in which to birth and raise their young. They are also building a refuge against the cold. It is hard for me to imagine how their tiny bodies can generate enough heat, or how a structure assembled out of twigs and bits of dryer lint can contribute sufficient insulation. Nevertheless, in a few weeks tiny new lives will be securely tucked under parental wings.

I also hear God’s song amidst the dawn chorus. I imagine the delight of the Creator swooping among the industrious sparrows. And then I wonder about the wingspan of the Holy One. What does it not encompass?

God’s refuge extends beyond those tucked closely under her wings. God’s mercy is expansive, and all the world is overshadowed by her love.



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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Resting Mercies

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

For the umpteenth time, I thank God for being home. For cooking my own food. For sleeping in my own bed. For praying in my usual space. As I linger in this contemplation, I sense there is something more here than simply the comfort of the familiar. It might be about rest. Sacred rest.

It is not only on the journey that God is present, but in the resting places as well. In creation, God sanctified rest, blessed and hallowed the seventh day. Times of being still and being restored claim a holy place on this Lenten journey.  And I recall too, that in music, there is a sign for a rest—for the interval between notes. It is not that this rest makes the notes possible, but that it makes them music.

I have a friend who always offers me travel mercies. Today I call on resting mercies. That God will protect my rest, shield my joy, keep me close. That I will remember that the intervals are blessed, and are required to stir my heart with sacred song.


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Friday, March 10, 2017

Fault Line

Friday in the First Week of Lent

Happy are they who trust in the Lord!
they do not resort to evil spirits or turn to false gods.
Psalm 40:4

It is when I hear the words of complaint come out of my mouth that I realize I am in trouble. It is not so much that I have noted something amiss and want to speak to it. It is that I recognize that I have been collecting faults.

This tendency to store up wrongs is a fault line in my soul, a place where the combination of certain behaviors and pressure cause a rift in my relationship with God, and in the worst cases, an eruption of vitriol. Where is my focus?

I turn my face to God, the one who loves me faults and all, and confess. I lay down my complaints one by one. I stop giving them my attention. I stop giving them power.

The sense of a burden being lifted from my spirit is palpable. Contentment rushes in to the space created by the absence my grumbling. I remember how wonderful it is to place my trust in God.




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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thankfulness Recall

Thursday in the First Week of Lent

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and make good your vows to the Most High.
Psalm 50:14


It begins modestly, my list of gratitudes. I think over the day that is past, and recall simple pleasures. A walk with a friend. A phone call from my daughter. The deepening of a relationship with a colleague. A piece of work come to a good conclusion.

And as my mantra of thankfulness continues, I become more aware of how God has been present to me in this day.

Sometimes these reasons for being thankful get lost in the bustle of daily work and obligations. Spending my time focused on difficulties and struggles leads me to see more hardship than joy. Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to direct my attention and heart on occasions to be grateful?  I bring them up now, one by one, recalling them from the hours past. And as I call them to myself, my heart expands.

I offer these thanksgivings to God and find that the cares of the day have been washed away. I am thankful for being reminded of all the pathways of gratitude.


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