God of the whirlwind and storm
Why must you still sleep?
Surely you know we continue to sail into the storm.
once safe harbor in the storms
have become like sand castles
–their walls no longer a fortress.
Do you not care that your children are perishing?
People of color
from the north and the south
the east and the west.
How long, O God, how long?
You rebuke the wind and the rain
You rebuke us.
There can be no peace
I’ve heard You called by these names.
When I read them aloud
in a sea of voices in Sunday worship
I feign comfort and assurance
at the power these names imply.
I read stories of You
speaking through whirlwinds
appearing in fire
and affirm my desire to follow.
Then I listen to the radio
and hear that this Earth
the very ground we live and move upon
has cracked wide open
The land that gives life and vegetation
now rushes down the mountain
burying all in its path.
and I wonder if I really mean those words I recite on Sunday
the ones I whisper now:
I trust that You are there
in the places where the Earth cracks and slides
in the villages and cities in chaos
in the homes and halls of pain.
I trust that new life emerge from these cracks
and ascend to heights I cannot conceive.
In those moments when my trust quakes
I see a glimmer to remind me.
Something as simple as a child’s sidewalk art
“love is stronger than fear.”
The noise in our world
both far and near
I couldn’t hear
a simple gratitude–
Here I was
preparing for Thanksgiving
–an oven christening
–a home christening
–a family christening
and all I could do was stir
the simmering pot
So I did the only thing I could think of
The only thing I’ve found to help me:
and I raged.
and I wept.
and I did not hear a voice.
Rather I found
in a fifth grader asking
to help prepare the feast.
We christened our kitchen
in the peeling of the potato
the sautéing of the celery and onion.
the invention of a stuffing and cranberry ball.
step-mother and step-daughter–
mashed and chopped
our rhythm was a prayer of thanks.
Forgive me Dear Friend,
I’ve stood You up recently.
Avoided really showing up
in the stillness of the morning.
Pretended I needed that extra half-hour of sleep.
Rationalized that You understand.
Your grace abounds.
These rationalizations might be true.
But the truth is…I’ve avoided sitting with You
in the stillness of morning.
The empty open space of Easter
The Good News of resurrection
And yet I know from experience
challenges me to embrace
new ways of being and doing.
I know from experience that prayer
is not a passive practice
or a one way street.
It calls me out in ways I both love and despise.
Forgive me, Dear Friend.
I embrace the Amen
that is just the beginning.
Holy Saturday You seem more ghost than God.
There’s an absence
I realize how much of this last year
has been like living
in a series of holy Saturdays.
It’s the day of betwixt and between,
and not yet.
over 2000 years ago
I have to believe
that even in the haze of grief
and the grip of fear,
You were there.
Your Holy Ghost God presence
filled the women’s lungs with air,
stirred them to risk life
to discover that which You had promised
and that which You hidden within them.
Even in days and seasons of Holy Saturdays,
the empty tomb waits to be discovered.
Your absence reminds us
You were never ours to hold on to in the first place.
Our fists are to be like the empty tomb
as we let You go.
It takes open hands for
Holy Saturday break to into Sunday morning.
The world waves palms in Your honor this weekend.
We re-enact the crowd cheering You forward.
Within a week
we stand by and watch the journey
that leads from the table
to the cross
to the tomb.
Whether we turn our heads away
and hide in our homes;
stand silently on the streets;
Whisper of Your whereabouts;
Deny Your power in our lives;
or collapse at the foot of the cross–
this week is one of thin places.
Places where You reach us.
Remind us in this week of grief and challenge
that it is in these thin places
–the most raw
–the most desperate
–the most human
that You are most present.
I have heard spiritual teachers speak about how one’s outer landscape is often a reflection of one’s interior. For the last two months, this has been true for me in more ways than I care to admit. Just as I really committed to pursuing the pain in my lower right pelvis, my husband and I committed to fixing up our bathroom. At a first read, this might seem simple enough. It’s such a small room. It will merely be an inconvenience. We’re only going to paint. But for anyone who has traveled down the rabbit hole of home improvement projects, you know that it often takes longer than you think; looks worse before it gets better; and often entails disruption to “normal.” In our case, a home with only one bathroom meant coming home from church one Sunday to find the toilet in our bedroom…but I digress.
When we started the bathroom, I was pretty certain we were diving down one of the home improvement rabbit holes. What I didn’t know is that pursuing health and healing via modern medicine is eerily similar. From the testing, to the diagnosing, to the asking and re-asking the process is not clear or straightforward. In some ways, I feel like this process was like peeling up the floor…just how many layers are there? What damage has been happening unseen? For how long?
As I prepare for surgery tomorrow, I suspect that I might indeed “look worse” before I look better. Who really does look good in a blue gown with a morphine glaze smile? I suspect no one. Just like our bathroom, I expect this healing journey is one that will be messier before it’s over. My prayer is that I can trust this process like I did with the house project. And at the very least that I find gratitude in the toilet being back in its home.
Sometimes a prayer of thanksgiving is
as simple as a swatch of blue sky,
a swag of gnarled green grass,
and zigzag stitching of geese migrating North.
This open handed, arms wide open love is the hardest thing I’ve ever practiced.
I don’t know about you,
but I find it much easier to say I love
the widow, orphan, or immigrant that I see on TV or walking on the street
than I do to practice the love with those nearest and dearest to me.
This no strings attached,
is much easier to worship is at a distance.
About somebody else.
When it’s in here,
throwing-up at 3:00 a.m.
or complaining about the dinner menu,
this love can feel more like sandpaper than soothing lotion.
All the same, it’s the sandpaper that seems to transform.
To soften my hard edges.
To create something new of me
It’s this love that seems to
carve an empty tomb
in my heart.
I wait for the resurrection
knowing it will come,
trusting this love that breaks the heart
only does so to grow its size.
God of long, dark nights,
I confess that my mood has been like the ground.
Cold, hard, and brittle.
I can so easily snap at one of my beloveds
like sound of ice crunching beneath my feet.
These frigid days I long to burrow beneath the covers
repeating a mantra learned long ago:
Then I notice a snippet of sun and blue sky
as if to remind me
that You are there and so much bigger than I can conceive.
May I remember that warmth comes from connection
and that the sun is always present
no matter how many clouds blanket the sky.