Saturday, December 23, 2017

The holy now

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

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

I move my finger along the groves of the wooden labyrinth feeling its smoothness. All is quiet around me, my office empty of people and projects. I sink into the contemplative moment, allowing myself to rest.

I have followed so many different ways to arrive at this moment. And any way forward is full of possibility. I know I travel with the promise that God is with me on the journey and in the resting places. God traces my ways: as in finding me? Or as in sketching out my life? Or as in following along as my finger follows this labyrinth’s path?

I lean into the holy now, sensing God as companion and guide, shield and rock, hiding place and fierce power. I come to the center, lift my finger for a moment, and then begin the journey outward, heading toward the redemption that awaits.

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Boundless wonders

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

Great things are they that you have done, O Lord my God!
how great your wonders and your plans for us!
there is none who can be compared with you.
Oh, that I could make them known and tell them!
but they are more than I can count.
Psalm 40:5-6

I begin my morning journaling and almost without thinking start a sentence with, “Thank you for...” and I stop. For the last several years I have been practicing gratitude. Emphasis on the word “practice” because I by no means have this down. I find it so much easier to list for God the things I want help with, the people I am concerned about, and the troubles of the world that worry me.

I often set myself the task when journaling of writing eleven thanksgivings before I do anything else. I choose eleven because reaching past ten reminds me that there are always more. This undertaking compels me review the day before looking for God’s presence and for the many blessings that went unnoticed by me.

The counting is just the primer. Sometimes it is as far as I get. But often it ushers me across a threshold into an intimate encounter with Christ. The sacred opens to me and I am awash in boundless love and know that God’s wonders are more than I can count in a lifetime.

I pick up my pen and continue my conversation with the holy. I smile as I realize I am almost ready. Ready to receive the wondrous gift which is about to be given again.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Living hope

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
Feast of St. Thomas

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not be in want.
Psalm 23:1

As I open my prayer book to the text for the day, the familiar words of a much-loved psalm greet me. I am caught by the opening verse and linger there, letting the graciousness it holds wash over me.

God wants goodness for creation, and all of us within it. And I am given the gift of participating in this goodness, not only by enjoying it, but also by sharing it with others. I must not let the voice of the enemy convince me that small kindnesses, modest offerings of relief, simple words of comfort, humble gratitude, gestures of courtesy, and expressions of creativity are ineffectual and worth little. Instead, I must muster these resources so readily at my disposal and stride forward into a living hope.

One step at a time, my savior reminds me in my morning prayer time. Not only because one step is the way to begin many steps and something larger, but because one step can be the journey in and of itself.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wonder and awe

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

This is my comfort in my trouble,
that your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:50

We are well into the service of lessons and carols when I realize that somewhere along the way I have been transported. The beauty of it all washes over me. On a Tuesday night in late December, people from a wide community have assembled to hear the ancient story. As voices are lifted, and faces illumined by candlelight, there is no doubt we have gathered in the realm of the sacred.

Rituals are important, because they usher us into the center of it all. The carols, the decorated trees, the manger scenes. The seasonal celebrations and the pauses for solemn awe. How empty these are if they become routine and we cease to allow ourselves to be touched, transfixed, and transformed. We do await the Christ child, as astonishing and momentous an event as any birth. That in and of itself could transport one into wonder. And this is so much more.

This little Babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
Robert Southwell

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Willingness to seek

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

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

I see the postcard on the floor as I am about to exit the building. A failed delivery notice. I am annoyed because we have been in the office all day. But rather than coming to the main door, whoever brought this notice came to a side door and slipped it through. Clearly this was not brought by our usual mail carrier (who always has a smile and greeting for us).

I am sure the person did not intend to mis-deliver the message. Today, rather than the letter coming to me, I will have to go to the post office and pick it up. What could be a cause of irritation offers the opportunity for reflection. How many times have I failed to communicate, thinking I was clear, but leaving my message at the wrong door? And how many times has someone smoothed the way by coming to me to re-establish a connection? So much can be missed if we are only willing to wait for missives to come to us, and not equally willing to go out to meet them.

God is our guide. And what we make of the spiritual journey depends on our participation in it. Sometimes we are called to wait. Sometimes we are called to seek. Always we are called into relationship.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Tender attention

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.
Psalm 52:8

I start the oven at 6:00am, not because I am about to set something for an all-day roast, but because I am preparing my lunches for the week and I didn’t get to it last night. In my effort to eat better and pay attention to my health, I am trying to avoid grabbing food on the go.

And I remember that I am under God’s care as well, a green olive tree being nurtured. Although today I feel less like a tree and more like a shoot. Even after more than half a century of relationship with God, I see I have so much to learn, so many ways to grow. My spiritual life needs tender attention as well as my body. My formation into the person God has created me to be is not one long slow season of steady development. Rather it is cyclical—planted seed, delicate shoot, robust maturity, decline and the need to let go—being repeated over and over. Yet, not without change. Each season recalls the one past and reaches forward in hope.

The comfort I find in remembering this enables me to be at ease. To celebrate my vulnerability and embrace this time of renewal. Even as I await with welcome anticipation the tender life of the Christ child.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sacred song

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

The Lord grants his loving-kindness in the daytime;
in the night season his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
Psalm 42:10

It is late, long past dinner time, when we gather around the dinner table for a festive treat. We are welcoming one daughter home from college and celebrating the other’s acceptance to the college of her choice. My husband and I also lay our thanksgivings on the table for accomplishments in our work places. And even though we have not come together for a meal, I light the two Advent candles and we reach our hands to one another for prayer, saying grace.

I think of the dinner table as a sacred place in our home. For many years, the two and then the three and then the four of us have gathered here for food and camaraderie. Here we share laughter, we tell each other about our days, and like collected treasure we lay on the table our triumphs, dreams, aspirations. We discuss politics, theology and the best strategies for fantasy football. And here, we sometimes fail one another, forgetting to listen, or harboring resentment, or just being cranky.

But it is the love that prevails. The ritual of lighted candles and hands held in prayer and partaking of one another draws us together and at the same time transports us into the sacred song being sung all around us.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Seeing love

Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Blessed be the Lord!
For he has shown me the wonders of his love in a besieged city.
Psalm 31:21

The competent and caring nurse practitioner who treated me. The courteous and capable pharmacy tech who provided my meds.  My considerate husband who shoveled our walk before leaving for an early morning meeting. The friendly clerk at the grocery store who smiled as she rang up my purchase. The thoughtful driver of the other car who gave me room to merge.

As I prepare for the day ahead in prayer, I also examine the day before, and consider where and when I experienced God’s presence.  Looking back, I am reminded of the many kindnesses shown to me. It can be easy for me to overlook these humble acts of respect and humanity. I can neglect to honor the loving hand of God at work in the world around me.

Advent is the beginning of the church year. As with any beginning, it offers the opportunity to seek renewal, recharging, a fresh start, a new commitment to engage the days and work ahead with energy, creativity, enthusiasm, openness, and expectation. Today brightens with the invitation to encounter the holy and to participate in love.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wrapped in prayer

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Make haste to help me,
O Lord of my salvation.
Psalm 38:22

I wrap an extra scarf around my neck before I step out into the bitter morning, made colder by the fierce wind that pushes people along the street. Even from within my car I can feel its force.

While I don’t like to be cold, I do enjoy winter. I find comfort in wool sweaters and thick blankets and burrowing in with a cup of hot tea. I experience a certain satisfaction in wrapping myself up and feeling protected from the elements.

In the early morning I also wrap myself in prayer, finding comfort in the poetry of the psalms and familiar passages of scripture and sinking into the presence of the holy. I offer my thanksgivings to God and also seek help for the complexity of the day ahead, discovering consolation as I place myself in the care of the one who saves.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Scent of hope

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

And now, what is my hope?
O Lord, my hope is in you.
Psalm 39:8

I set the onions to simmer and their pungent aroma begins to fill the kitchen. What is it, I wonder, about the smell of sautéing onions that is so satisfying? Their tang brings to mind warmth and comfort and the gratifying familiarity of the family gathered around the table to enjoy a meal. Taking my time, I add chopped carrots and marjoram and thyme, the mixture on its way to becoming lentil soup for a cold winter night.

I marvel that a simple smell can contain the essence of hope. At times, it is difficult to believe or remember the impact of small gestures. Yet I know the uplifting of being on the receiving end of a gentle word, a moment of listening, a burst of laughter. Small acts of hope can carry us through. They are icons of the One in whose hands our souls are held.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Creating a way

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. 
Psalm 25:9

Yesterday, the early morning sun disclosed an unbroken sheet of snow covering the back yard. It reminded me of my childhood, when such a sight would have thrilled me with its invitation to create on a blank page. I would spend hours outside in the cold crafting tracks in the snow, pathways, mazes, games. If I had known then the shape of a labyrinth, surely I would have made such a path.

This morning, I see the remnant of the single path I created walking across the yard to retrieve the snow shovel from the shed, the endless possibilities seemingly vanished.

It is tempting on the Advent journey, on any journey with Christ, to think of there being one way, the way, to arrive. Or to believe that a life of faith consists in discovering or uncovering the designated path that God has set before us. But the holy does not abide by such limits. What makes it God’s way is to walk in love and faithfulness.

A new day opens before me. The possibilities have not vanished at all.

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Felicitous mystery

Saturday of the First Week of Advent 

For you will give him everlasting felicity
and will make him glad with the joy of your presence.
Psalm 21:6

I glance out the window and feel a smile begin. It is snowing. I’m not sure when it started and as I hadn’t paid any attention to the weather forecast, I am caught by surprise. And delight.

I know the complications this weather can bring, but nevertheless my overriding response is excitement. To me it announces cheer, it speaks of winter woods and quiet paths, plucky birdsong calling into cold stillness, clean beauty frosting city landscapes.

Simply the anticipation of what these first few flakes may herald calls me into the presence of transcendent joy, the presence of a God who delights, laughs, wants to make our hearts glad. And I am awed that an ordinary water crystal can evoke such reverence.

The flakes become larger, slowing into a steady fall. And I welcome the invitation to revel in the mystery of God’s creation.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Light of laughter

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

You, O Lord, are my lamp;
my God, you make my darkness bright.
Psalm 18:29

The early darkness still catches me by surprise this time of year. Last evening, I wound my way home along illuminated streets yearning for my warm house and thinking that we haven’t even yet arrived at the darkest time of the year, the longest night.

Intentionally, I chose the route that takes me through the historic downtown, where the windows in the buildings along each side of the street display a solitary candle. Something about this simplicity brings me joy each Advent. A reminder that a single flame dispels the darkness.

This morning I enjoy laughter and conversation with colleagues as we talk about sharing hope. This too dispels the darkness. We are lamps to one another, companions along the path, each bearing the light of Christ as we wend our way to the crèche and the salvation of the world.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

In the seeking

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

The Lord looks down from heaven upon us all,
to see is there is any who is wise,
if there is one who seeks after God.
Psalm 14:2

As is often the case with me, it seems to happen in an instant. One moment I am functioning just fine,
and the next I can’t put two thoughts together. It’s time to stop. Breathe. Drink water. Go for a walk.

I honestly think my aging body is my friend in this moment, my lack of stamina a gift. As a younger person, I would have insisted that I should just power through, would have been caught up in the lie that I could power through. Yet even now, I am not immune from the voice that whispers, “inadequate, unreliable, uncaring,” while at the same time telling me I can do it all. This is a snare laid by the enemy. I know it well.

And with the strength to cut through the cords that entangle me, like the sigh of a gentle breeze, another voice sings into the moment, has been signing all along, “remember the source of life, turn toward the light, know you are loved.”

And I remember to seek God.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Opening the door

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

In the morning Lord, you hear my voice;
early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.
Psalm 5:3

I slip my thumbnail under the flap to gently pry open today’s door on my Advent calendar. It is a retro design, recalling the calendars of my childhood. A winter scene with forest creatures looking over a snow-covered village and a star shining on one particular spot in the distance. Each door reveals a tiny scene of preparation or anticipation of the celebration to come—all enhanced by a light sprinkling of glitter.

I had to hunt to find the right numbered door this morning, and in doing so remembered this as part of the ritual from my youth. How searching for the day’s door carried mystery and delight. How could something so obvious and certain be hidden in plain sight?

In my journey toward Jesus, each day is a door opening to revelation, offering opportunities for the recognition of joy, divine presence, and redemption. Day by day I am reminded that revelations of the holy are hidden in plain sight. Some searching, a bit of attentiveness, a modicum of intention opens the way and the heart to sacred love.

Monday, December 4, 2017


Monday of the First Week of Advent

Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness,
and put on the armor of light, 
now in the time of this mortal life. 
Collect for the First Sunday of Advent, the Book of Common Prayer

I pour the remainder of the dry oatmeal into my bowl and consider the empty container. There was a time when this round cardboard carton with its plastic lid would have been precious. I would have saved it for my daughters simply because with some construction paper and glue and imagination the canister could become a drum. A shaker. A castle tower. The body of a train or a dragon or a robot.

Now that time is past, my daughters, young women. I no longer save the empty paper towel rolls or egg cartons or jelly jars for projects, but recycle them in another way. Nevertheless, as I hold the empty cylinder in my hand, I feel the pull of possibility. I stand in a moment of manifold time.

On this winter morning, time shifts around me in other ways as well. In one world, we hurtle toward the end of the year in frantic busyness. In another, it is the new year, the beginning, the advent. I pray to open myself once again to the fullness of joy which is the coming of Christ, child and savior.

We are each containers of possibility, open to the loving hand of the creator. To be made, remade, unmade, made anew. Now. In this time. In this life.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Prayer in Such a Time

For the battered

For the courageous

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


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


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
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


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


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
made ready

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


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,

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

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


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


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


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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