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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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Morning Song

Wednesday in the First Week of Lent

Your statutes have been like songs to me
wherever I have lived as a stranger.
Psalm 119:54

I am without my comfortable chair and my morning tea in a favorite mug. I am without my prayerbook. I find this morning’s psalms and scriptures and prayers on an app on my phone. Somehow it is just not as satisfying. I remember that I do not like traveling very much.

It is not just that I miss familiar comforts, of home and of my prayer space. It is also that I am a stranger here, even in the midst of faithful traveling companions. Visitor, guest, alien. With any of these roles comes a sense of disconnect. Like a plant relocated from another clime, I do not quite belong.

Yet the words of prayer and praise, of lament and strength, that I read from the small screen on my phone are God’s divine revelation. Holy. Sacred. Ancient. I remember that I belong in a way that transcends the strangeness of a hotel room.

In the scripture, in the call of bird, in the shape of a tree against the morning sky, I hear the Singer and the Song. I step out into the new day, ready.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Repenting toward Joy

Tuesday in the First Week of Lent

We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
Psalm 48:8

I awake in the early morning from a dream of busyness. It takes me some moments to set aside the impossible tasks I was trying to complete in my sleep and become present to this new day.

A fretful dream is hardly surprising as I spent the hour before sleep last night in work, responding to email, pulling together administrative details, planning ahead. I should know better.

Now it takes a conscious effort to set aside the various details of my life and work vying for my attention, so that I can turn my mind and soul to God. I am reminded that to repent means to turn, and that even in these first moments of waking, I need to practice repenting. I reach for the discipline of my morning prayer routine so that I can place myself intentionally in the presence of God. 

This is what disciplines are for, I remind myself. To give us familiar patterns and to build stamina on which we can rely when the cares of the world would lead us astray.

The frenetic pace of the dream slips away as I am wrapped in the joy of my love for Jesus. And my lips open to speak words of gratitude and adoration.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Getting Clear

Monday in the First Week of Lent

You plot ruin; your tongue is like a sharpened razor,
O worker of deception.
Psalm 52:2

For neither the first nor, I suspect, the last time this week, I rehearse the conversation in my head. It always starts out even handed. But by the second or maybe the third imagined exchange, my voice veers into a harsh critique.

I want to speak out. I think I need to speak out. I want to speak to what I perceive as an injustice to another person. I am convinced that I hold the higher ground.

But what keeps me from acting is the nagging feeling that I am not on the right track. How can I respect the dignity of one person by impugning the dignity of another? That can’t be right.

Respectful dialogue always go better when I give others the benefit of the doubt. When I assume that everyone is doing the best she can. I have experienced this time and again. And yet. And yet the Worker of Deception tells me otherwise, gives me smooth words to undermine the other from my position of perceived superiority. Even though I know that when I tear down another, a jagged edge is left behind in my own soul.

I do not pick up the phone. I do not draft an email. I am not ready. First I must confess my self-righteousness. First I must pray.

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Saturday, March 4, 2017


Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Oh Lord my God, I cried out to you,
and you restored me to health.
Psalm 30:2

I look out on the red buds of the maple tree outside my window and wonder how they will fare tonight. The weather has turned cold after an unusually warm week for this time of year. Last night the temperature dropped well below freezing. Tonight will be even colder. What protection do these buds have? Has the Creator built into their genetic code the kind of resilience they will need? I simply do not know enough about botany.

Many mornings I test the tenderness of my own soul, gently probing for bruises left by the previous day’s encounters with hardship. And I have learned to seek for the resilience there as well. For pliability and strength. Suppleness and durability. Toughness and compassion. I have learned to trust that God does not leave me without resources or recourse. And that restoration takes many forms.

Resilient. The word means leaping back. To be able to spring back into shape. I pray that this day I will place myself once again in the arms of God, whose word called me into being, in whose image I am lovingly made.

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Friday, March 3, 2017

When the Light Moves

Friday after Ash Wednesday

You have not shut me up in the power of the enemy;
you have set my feet in an open place.
Psalm 31:8

As the morning sunshine splashes across the pages of my prayer book, the pathway of the light passes through a bottle of water. The beams refract, scattering rainbow highlights across the pages of the psalm I am reading.

As the spectrum of color dances across the words, illuminating my prayer, I am reminded of the possibility of movement. White light is disassembled and reassembled as its wavelengths move through space, resulting in colors that the human eye can perceive--as well as frequencies outside the human visible spectrum. Sometimes, movement is not obvious.

God has gifted me with many kinds of movement--from touching and breathing and running, to the neurons firing across synapses in my brain, to my soul reaching, to my eyes perceiving light.

When I feel stuck, when my heart seems paralyzed by dread, when sadness traps words of love in my throat, there is another way. I can open myself to the Light.

And when I do, again and again I am able to see that God has set my feet in an open place, and invites me to dance with compassion, mercy, humility, and grace.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Making Room for Joy

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Refrain from anger, leave rage alone;

do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
Psalm 37:9

One after another, the anxious moments of the day recede. I breathe in and find ease where a few hours ago I felt constriction. Fretting can do that. Despite my best intentions to remain confident and positive, it does not take long for worries to build up and seem insurmountable.

The enemy relishes tempting me this way. To whisper in my ear that I am good at fixing, and then lead me along the way with subtle nudges until I have willingly taken entire responsibility for problems that are not mine to solve. I begin to feel small and frightened. I look for someone to blame, somewhere to place the fault.

Regardless of how many times I have stumbled in this way, I do it again. And regardless of how many times I stumble, Jesus takes me by the hand and shows me another way. Every time I turn my face to the one who loves me, I remember that I can make a different choice.

This time, I chose the gym. I chose dinner with my family. I chose to visit my father and run his errands. I chose to give space to the richness of my life rather than the problems which rush to invade and occupy my soul.

Now, gratitude rushes in washing the anxiety away making room for joy.

Image Copyright: kesu87 / 123RF Stock Photo

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Rooted in Ashes

Ash Wednesday

For the Lord knows whereof we are made;
and remembers that we are but dust.
Psalm 103:14

Anne E. Kitch
Lately I have been meditating on roots. And for months I have been painting and drawing my prayers. First I painted the roots we see above the ground. Then I thought of all the roots we cannot see. Intricate patterns reaching deep into the earth, down and down, stretching for…what? Water, minerals, nourishment? What sustenance lies in that buried darkness?

What about my own roots? Where do the tendrils of my soul reach?

The road I walk often leads me into dark places. Today I remember that in the darkness of the earth, under the press of soil, in a place where light and air are scarce, life continues. And is tenacious.

I am ready. I am ready to follow Jesus into the wilderness. I am prepared as I ever will be to examine my faithlessness and ask God to lay my soul bare. I am ready to be marked as dust.

Rooted in dust. Rooted in ashes. Rooted in love.