Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Prayer: Palm/Passion Sunday

God of all hopefulness, God of my life
On this holy day of Palms and Passions
and through this
the holiest of weeks,
when our Lenten journey
finds its completion
through pain
sorrow
despair
illness
losses of all kinds,
through fear
anger
hatred
vitriol
and finger pointing.

Through a self-examination of
all the ways we work against you -
against your hopes and dreams
for creation
against your love poured out
in flesh and blood -
we hang our heads and bow our hearts
seeking your forgiveness
yearning for your guidance
desiring your compassion.

Fill us we pray, with the ability to
turn to you, kneeling before your grace
open our spirit that we may take you in
let you in
receive you in
taking You in..

Into our hearts and minds and souls
Let you in
that we might turn to you,
return to you,
be transformed in you,
through you, by you,
for you.

Transformed
once more,
this day, this week,
into a new self,
me, you.

May we become a new people,
a gentle people,
a people of
love and compassion,
born anew from our
deepest sorrow
through the breadth of your
forgiveness
and love.

And then, may we do likewise.
Forgive.
And, love.
Amen.

Crossposted on RevGalBlog Pals and RevGal Prayer Pals

Friday, March 26, 2010

RevGals Friday Five: Redo, Refresh, Restore

Songbird over at RevGals offers this Friday Five Meme as we prepare for Holy Week: Please share with us five ways you redo or refresh or restore your body, your space, your blog, anything in your life that needs perking up this week.

I wrote about this recently as I reflected on generating regeneration (see previous post). That reflection was primarily about recovering from a cold that seems to come back over and over while at the same time trying to commit to a workout schedule at a fitness club. I have never someone who goes to the gym, if I can't workout at home I don't workout. But this new place is too small and with three big dogs it's impossible to work out here, except for dog walks. So, off to the gym I go. It helps that my daughter goes too. Thus, working out regularly is one way I am trying to renew, restore, redo, and refresh this aging body. Exercise is good for the mind and spirit too.

Usually I take one or two silent retreats a year at a local retreat center. In Arizona I was fond of Desert House of Prayer. Here in the Chicago area I like St. Benedicts in Benet Lake, Wi. A three day silent retreat filled with meditation and prayer, yoga, walking, knitting and reading is ideal for restoring me when I have been filled with outputting energy - like leading and preaching in worship, leading meetings, guiding conversations, tending to pastoral care.

Knitting is an every day way I refresh my energy. Knitting is a form of active meditation or perhaps contemplation. I do a little knitting almost every day.

Blogging affords me some time to reflect - its often a form of spiritual writing as I process my life and faith, my doubts and my joys, all in the context of trying to discern what God is calling me to do. This is also a process of refreshment and restoration.

Massages are definitely a means of refreshment and restoration. I get a massage about once a month. They are also great for sore muscles from all the working out I'm doing.

Mostly I think that it is really important to take of ourselves. As women, as clergy, as people who spend a great deal of our time tending to others it is important to spend the time for self care.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Generating regeneration

In less than a month I have packed up a house, loaded a moving truck, driving across country, unloaded the truck, rested for a few days, flown to the East Coast, interviewed for a new job, flew back, and landed with a cold.

I haven't had a cold in awhile, since last April, some 11 months ago. Then I was never sure if it was a bad cold or a bad allergy from a horrible sand storm. Anyway, I haven't been sick in a long time.

This cold is odd, though. Relatively mild as colds go. Maybe because I've taken Chinese herbs and done yoga and rested? It began in my head, clogged, hard to breathe. Moved to my throat, scratchy and sore. Moved to my chest. Yesterday I felt better. Today I feel like its come back. Viruses are like that, they regenerate.

My daughter and I have started to going to a health club. I've never been fond of clubs, even though I exercise regularly. I usually have my own routine that I do at home. But this place we are staying in is too small, and well there are the three big dogs to move around...or. not. So, we're going to a club.

Today we did a FIT class - alternating weights and cardio, arms and back and legs. It was a good class. I did well, especially considering I am out of shape, compared to those who go to fitness clubs. Tomorrow we'll take a fitness pilates - core work - supposed to be a real killer class. Thursday a massage and a yoga class.

Maybe these work outs at the fitness club will get me back in shape, build my stamina, tone my muscles? Maybe I too can regenerate?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Prayer: Lent 5C


(photo from flickrphotos)

God of all new things, God of
Spring, and fragrant flowers, and
unexpected snow. God of hope
and new life,
Bless us, we pray,
this day.

God of all things passing away, God
of old and yesterday, the One who is
with us in our despair and fear.
God who sighs and weeps, God
who wipes away
our tears.

Hear us when we pray. Incline
your ear to our words, silent
shouting cries, mournful whispers.
Be gentle with our hard
hearts. Be gentle. Be
gentle.

Anoint us with your touch
the softness of your love
breaks into our hardness
and opens us anew. A
new thing. A new life.
New sight.

Anoint us, Holy One and fill
us with you loving touch.
Fill us that we can touch
in your love and fill
others. Fill us gently.
Fill us.

In your name we pray. Amen.

Crossposted on RevGalBlogPals and RevGalPrayerPals

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Oil of Love

A reflection on the readings for Lent 5C: Isaiah 43:16-21 and John 12:1-8

Right out of college, in the late 1970’s, I had a small career working in dance and theater. By 1991 I was a stay at home mom with a two year old, yearning for a little something I could to do to earn money but also make my own schedule. My college roommate had carved a career for herself as a massage therapist and it seemed to me that dance and massage therapy would go well together. So, in the fall of that year I enrolled in a 14 month program that would earn me a certificate in therapeutic massage. We had classes on physiology, anatomy, and kinesiology which included memorizing all the muscles and bones in the body and how they moved. We learned various techniques for relieving muscle strain and lactic acid build up, and we had classes on oils.

Now a course on oil is not as silly as it might sound. As it turns out there is good reason to be mindful of what kind of oil one uses. I was surprised to learn that a massage could be given using regular household olive oil. But olive oil is not recommended for this purpose. First of all olive oil is heavy, even the extra light virgin olive oil is too heavy for regular use as a massage oil, besides, who wants to smell like pasta?

A good massage oil is extremely light for two reasons. First of all its light so that it goes on easily and doesn’t leave a heavy residue on the skin when the massage is over. Secondly its light so that the massage therapists hands can glide easily across the skin and feel the muscles below. A heavy oil causes friction which wears on both the therapists hands and the clients skin. And, a heavy oil like olive oil leaves a residue behind staining both clothes and the massage table sheets.

A good massage oil is made from grape seed oil which is very light, gentle, and affords a good glide with little resistance. It is quickly absorbed by the skin and leaves little residue behind. Plus, unlike olive oil, grape seed oil has no fragrance. This makes it perfect for either scenting with a healing fragrance like lavender oil or leaving it unscented for those who have allergies. My work as a massage therapist was healing work, very spiritual, and ultimately led me to discern a call to the priesthood.

The Bible cites many examples of oils used for anointing. A quick reference check through an online word search in Scripture provides 458 times the word oil is used and 171 times anoint is used – making it clear that anointing with oil is a significant holy action. Whether it’s God speaking to Moses about the anointing and creation of the people “Israel” or Samuel regarding King David or the Psalmist describing the anointed ones, or the women preparing to anoint the body of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit anointing new members in the Church in the Acts of the Apostles, or a salve to anoint one’s eyes to see, in the Book of Revelation, this word search through the Bible makes it clear that what we hear Mary doing this morning in the Gospel of John, anointing Jesus’ feet with nard, is holy, and of God.

Nard appears to have been made by boiling the roots of a plant and mixing that with an oil, probably olive oil. Nard was a popular treatment for anxiety and fear and was thought to produce a restful sleep and good dreams. (Camille Hegg, Feminist Theology Blog). I imagine its fragrance to be something far more potent than the gentle qualities of lavender, for the text says that it filled the room. Then again, she did use an entire pound of it – enough for 50 pairs of feet or more, under other circumstances. A rich, abundant, lavish, outpouring of fragrance and oil – so much so that Judas cannot contain himself and has to protest. Of course his protest is a sham, he claims to care about the poor, but we know that he is really thinking about himself and the money he could make from the profit of selling this oil. And we know that in a few days time he will make a profit on the money he gets from selling Jesus to the Romans. He’s not thinking about others, only himself. It’s sad, really.

Thankfully Jesus silences Judas’ protest and raises up Mary’s actions, showing them for what they are – Holy Spirit filled actions of love and compassion – even though they are also outrageous and lavish. Jesus reminds us that this same kind of outrageous lavish action is what God offers us too in the gift of life, and especially in the gift of new life, the resurrection.

But more than an action of love, every example in scripture when oil and anointing are used it is also a time when God is doing something new. From Genesis to Exodus, God is creating a new people. From Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, God is bringing forth leaders of the people to show them a new way. In our reading from Isaiah we hear God transforming the community of Israel, long in exile in Babylon – transforming them once again into the people of God. Not like they were before, but in a new way.

Isaiah says, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

In the Psalms we hear of God’s love given anew to the suffering people. Today’s Psalmist exclaims,

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."”

And in the Gospels we hear of God doing a new thing in and through Jesus – God’s love poured out like lavish oil through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God’s love doing a new thing in the world – choosing to be made manifest in human lives, through human hands, human hearts, human beings.

That is what Mary does, she brings to Jesus, and to us, a sign of God’s mercy and compassion doing a new thing with love. The fragrance of the oil fills the house as a sign that the love of God will fill our lives. When our lives are filled with God’s love we feel an impulse deep inside, like the impulse that propelled Mary to enter the room and anoint Jesus feet, a need to let God’s love pour out through us. Mary points the way through this gentle, humble act of love. We too are called to offer acts of love seeking to heal, as Christ’s hands and heart, the brokenness of the world.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Movie Ediition for The RevGals Friday Five Meme

Jan, over at RevGals asks us to "Share your preferences, opinions, and recommendations about movies! Choose 5 types of movies to discuss:

action
thriller
mystery
drama
comedy
foreign
animated
children's
science fiction
western/cowboy
other?


Bonus: Tell about the first movie you ever saw and/or the last one!

I'm going to begin with the bonus: The first movie I saw at a theater was The Sound of Music. The first movie I remember watching at home was The Wizard of Oz. And the last movie I saw in the theater was, Julie and Julia. Last night my husband and I watched a movie at home but the name escapes me, it was about a lonely professor from Connecticut who returns to his apartment in New York for a conference and finds some people living in the apartment. The couple living in the apartment are undocumented, one from Senegal and the other from Syria. It was a delightful film, sad, as well.

Broadly speaking I like any movie of any genre that reflects people growing, transforming, working toward wholeness, on some level. I don't need a happy ending, but I prefer an ending that points toward some potential for hope, even if I have to imagine what that might look like. So,some thriller, mystery, drama, and science fiction fit this criteria.

As a rule I never like horror films. I've seen a few Alfred Hitchcock - The Birds, the famous one the motel with the crazy son who keeps his mothers dead body and stabs the woman in the shower (what's it called?), and worst of all, "The Last House on the Left" - and the Oscar winning Cohen Bros. movie about the coin tossing serial killer psychopath - which I hated. There is no purpose in watching movies like this at all, as far as I am concerned. I don't need to be scared for the sake of being scared. Plenty of stuff in real life to do that.

I used to watch Westerns as a child - some days there wasn't much else on. But I don't really care for them.

When my kids were little I watched lots of animated movies, but not so much these days, unless Mary Poppins is on TV (it has a brief animated section) - I always have to watch that one. Another classic I enjoy is My Fair Lady.

Some of my all time favorite, watch over and over again, movies include: The Bourne series (gotta love Matt Damon), The Italian Job, Dogma, and Chocolat....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Prayer for the Fourth Sunday in Lent


(Photo from the files of Mompriest, Grand Canyon tree)

Creator God from whom
all life springs forth
We give You thanks
Come, one and all,
Celebrate and rejoice!

Celebrate and rejoice -
The old has passed away
Everything has become new!

Forgiving God with whom
We seek to reconcile
our brokenness and
the ways we break
into a new creation!

Celebrate and rejoice -
The old has passed away
Everything has become new!

Lving God, father, son,
mother, daughter
Family, friend, one, all
With, through, and by
Your Prodigal love
Reconciled.

Celebrate and rejoice -
The old has passed away
Everything has become new!


Cross posted on RevGalBlogPals and RevGal Prayer Pals

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A revised version of the reflection for Evening Prayer

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.



Our reading tonight from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians points us to consider what it means to be the body of Christ. Paul is speaking to a group of people who call themselves a church, the Body of Christ. But it appears that this body has some divisiveness: Paul writes, “I hear that there are divisions among you…”. Instead of working for the good of the whole they are emphasizing the parts, their individual needs are taking precedent over what is best for all. Paul calls them to consider how their individual parts might actually be used to make the whole stronger.

This reminds me of something my family and I have experienced recently. Last September our daughter drove to Arizona for a visit. She brought with her one year old 75 pound Weimaraner puppy…and then left him with us for six weeks while she returned home to attend to some issues she had to address. Mind you, we have two dogs, a 60 pound lab-mix and 50 pound Viszla. We figured though, that this would all work out – I mean Jessi, our daughter, was a participant in the raising and training of our two dogs, and she is currently a trainer, a professional equestrian, training horses to be ridden and people to ride horses. We thought that like us when she wanted her dog to stop she’d say stop. And when she wanted her dog to stay, she’d say stay. But instead she used the same words for her dog as for her horses…stay is wait, and stop is whoa. For about a week Dan and I stumbled through a series of words with these three dogs: stop! no... wait! no... stay! no.. whoa!

Curiously, though, the dogs figured it all out rather quickly. When one stopped, they all stopped. When one waited, they all waited. It really didn’t matter what words we used. Soon enough we all just adapted to the situation and learned how to blend our parts in a working whole.

Paul writes:” When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal…” If each of our dogs had insisted on their own words and commands we would have chaos. But because they adapted and blended their own needs for the whole, we end up having pleasant walks.
As the body of Christ, we come to our faith community as individuals – or to continue the metaphor in Paul’s Letter to Corinth, “We come with our own meals.” We have our own life experiences and education, our own homes and families, and ideas. We have our own experiences of God and our own hopes and desires for what community life will be like. This is particularly true during this time of transition as we gather to discern a potential new relationship between priest and congregation – each of us coming with our own ideas, hopes, and dreams for the future.

The relationship of a priest and congregation is like any other relationship. The two come together, each with their own language and ideas and experiences and slowly learn how to adapt and blend these into a whole. The priest does not define the congregation and the congregation does not define the priest. Instead each refines the other into a richer deeper whole.

So, the consequence of adapting and blending the parts into the whole is both richer and deeper parts AND richer and deeper whole body. But the purpose of the body, the reason for the body is not just to nourish ourselves. Ultimately the purpose of the parts, of you and me, becoming the whole, the body of Christ, the community of St. Potential New Parish, is for us to be able to nourish others in the world around us, and for them to nourish us. It’s a mutuality of relationship – you, me, us, them, God, Christ – blending and adapting our individualness into a whole, the cup, the bread, a meal. Thus we become a new covenant of thanksgiving for the love of God poured out in Christ, given to us, and shared with all.

A reflection for Evening Prayer

on the propers for the Daily Office, Tuesday in Lent 4, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.



Our reading tonight from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians points us to consider what it means to be the body of Christ. Paul is speaking to a group of people who call themselves a church, the Body of Christ. But it appears that this body has some divisiveness: Paul writes, “I hear that there are divisions among you…”. Instead of working for the good of the whole they are emphasizing the parts, their individual needs are taking precedent over what is best for all. Paul calls them to consider how their individual parts might actually be used to make the whole stronger.

This reminds me of something my family and I have experienced recently. Last September our daughter drove to Arizona for a visit. She brought with her one year old 75 pound Weimaraner puppy…and then left him with us for six weeks while she returned home to attend to some issues she had to address. Mind you, we have two dogs, a 60 pound lab-mix and 50 pound Viszla. We figured, though that this would all work out – I mean Jessi, our daughter, was a participant in the raising and training of our two dogs, and she is currently a trainer, a professional equestrian, training horses to be ridden and people to ride horses. Initially, though we were a bit surprised…you see Dan and I use commands like, Stop, Stay. But Jessi uses the same commands for her dog that she uses for horses…so she says, Whoa and Wait. At first ir was a challenge to walk these dogs as Dan and I scrambled our words – stop, whoa, wait, stay!

Curiously, though, the dogs figured it all out rather quickly. When one stopped, they all stopped. When one waited, they all waited. It really didn’t matter what words we used. Soon enough we all just adapted to the situation and learned how to blend our parts in a working whole.

Paul writes:” When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What!” If each of our dogs had insisted on their own words and commands we would have chaos. But because they adapted and blended their own needs for the whole, we end up having pleasant walks.

As the body of Christ, we come to our faith community as individuals. We have our own life experiences, education, our own homes and families, and ideas. We have our own experiences of God and our own hopes and desires for what community life will be like. This is particularly true during this time of transition as we gather to discern a potential new relationship between priest and congregation – each of us coming with our own ideas, hopes, and dreams for the future. Which need to be adapted and blended into the whole. Paul reminds us: For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on him – or her self.
The relationship of a priest and congregation is like any other relationship. The two come together, each with their own language and ideas and experiences and slowly learn how to adapt and blend these into a whole. The priest does not define the congregation and the congregation does not define the priest. Instead each refines the other into a richer deeper whole.

So, the consequence of adapting and blending the parts into the whole is both richer and deeper parts AND richer and deeper whole body. But the purpose of the body, the reason for the body is not just to nourish ourselves. Ultimately the purpose of the parts, of you and me, becoming the whole, the body of Christ, the community of St. Potential New Church, is for us to be able to nourish others in the world around us, and for them to nourish us. It’s a mutuality of relationship – you, me, us, them, God, Christ – blending and adapting our individualness into a whole, the cup, the bread, a meal. Thus we become a new covenant of thanksgiving for the love of God poured out in Christ, given to us, and shared with all.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spiritual or Religious?

Yesterday I attended a led conference by Diana Butler Bass. She is presenting new ideas on the state of the church and why there is hope for Christianity. One of her premises is a Newsweek/Washington Post poll from 2005 that states that 55% of the people in this country describe themselves as religious AND spiritual.

Without going into detail about her understandings of religious and spiritual (you should try to attend one of her conferences, if you can) share with us five thoughts ideas or practices that you consider to be "religious." Then share with us five thoughts, ideas, or practices that you consider to be "spiritual."

Religious::
1. I grew up thinking that religion was about "God" - but sometimes, these days, I wonder if religion has become more about making money and holding together an institution than it is about God.

2. Following rules.
3. Many ways to be religious.
4. Going to Church.
5. Practices to grow my relationship with God.

Spiritual

1. My experiences with God/the divine
2. Meditation and silence
3. That which gives meaning to my experiences in life within the context of my faith
4. Music, may include any number of religious hymns
5. Yoga

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Balance



My daughter has taught her dog, Ollie, to balance objects on his nose. She places something on his nose and tells him to "Wait!" then after a short time she says, "Take it!" and he turns his head, catching the object in his mouth. He does it really well, to our great amusement.

Balance is something that I strive for in my life. Unlike this trick of Ollie's, I seek balance that is deeper - spiritual, emotional, physical - balance.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday Morning Musings

Today marks one week, officially, that we have been in Chicago. Most of the first week was spent sleeping, resting, recovering. Our animals are still adjusting, but doing well, all things considered.

It's late winter/early spring in Chicago. The snow is melting and the ground thawing. Last seasons dormant grass is brown and soggy. This morning there is a heavy fog limiting visibility to about a mile. Rain is predicted for most of the week. It's familiar.

Yesterday I took the Metra train into Chicago and walked east on Madison Avenue from the Olgivie train station to Michigan Ave. I walked two blocks south on Michigan Ave to meet Karla at the Art Institute where we saw the William Eggleston photo and video exhibit. This was particularly interesting to me because I listened to The Help on my iPod during the drive to Chicago, and both the book and the photos/video in this exhibit take place in Mississippi in the 1960's.

On my walk to the Art Institute, as I crossed the Chicago River, I paused a moment, in all that familiarity, and thought, "Why don't I feel more surprise?" "Why does it feel like I am just taking the twists and turns and bizarreness of my life in stride?" "When I left here for Arizona I thought I was gone for good? And, here I am, back where I have lived for 37 years..."

I told Karla that I feel like I am just taking my life in stride, each day as it comes. With no judgment or expectation, just as it is.

And, for the moment it is familiar.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sunday Prayer

Gracious God, we give you thanks for all the blessings of this life -
for family, friends,
for home and food, and work
for the coming Spring,
for warmer days ahead
for the gift of your son
who leads us in this life.

Loving God, we offer up these prayers of concern this day -
for those struggling to rebuild lives
from natural disasters
from human disasters
from failed economies
from illness
from_______________
may the power of your Holy Spirit
bring new life, new hope.

Creator God, fill us with nourishment
the kind that only you can offer.
Fill us with hope
fill us with kindness
fill us with gentleness
fill us with your love.
May we be your living love.

Amen.

Crossposted on Revgalblogpals and Revgal Prayer pal

Friday, March 05, 2010

Spring Cleaning, A RevGals Friday Five

Sally over at RevGals offers this Friday Five Meme:

1. Is there a part of your spiritual life that is dry and dusty at the moment, something that could do with a good spring clean? Literally I have just left the dry dusty desert and returned to the melting Midwest...in a similar way I am hoping that my faith and spiritual life are restored by the healing rains and green earth of this region - and the comfort of many friends and family.

2. Spiritual disciplines- life-giving/ terrifying: discuss My spiritual disciplines include a twice daily meditation. I have practiced meditation for years although sometimes I take a long while off. It's an opportunity for me to be still and silent and observe where God is in my life and what God might desire of me at this time.

3. Share a practice that keeps you spiritually alive that you think others might benefit from... In addition to the twice daily meditations I also practice yoga - at least I did before our recent move - haven't done any for about two weeks...need to get back into that practice. Again, like meditation, I have practiced yoga for a long time and find that it helps me keep balance internally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Especially through some of the most challenging times....(of which I know little haahaahaaahaahaaa)...

4.Alone or together, how do you pray best? I usually pray alone although I can pray in a group practice of centering prayer or Taize. Generally speaking I find that Sunday morning corporate worship is simply not able to have much silent prayer, at that's a loss for us. It is also one of the areas I try to help congregations grow - a little more silent prayer in the midst of our worship.

5.If your spiritual life were to burgeon and bloom into a spring flower what would it be and why? I think it would be like those tulips that would pop in the middle of my yard. This yard, the rectory of a church I served awhile back, used to have a garden but it had gone to weed so we had it removed. Nonetheless every Spring the tulips would pop up and bloom in the middle of the grass. They were surprising and beautiful and a sign of tenacious life. I think our spiritual lives need to be tenacious as well, but also, hopefully, full of surprises!

Bonus, a piece of music a picture or a prayer that speaks to you of new life.... There are several I could use, but this morning I think this Cersus Cacti flower reflects what I want to image. The flower of this cactus only blooms a couple of times a year, at night. It symbolizes life against all the odds - a gorgeous flower blooming on a cactus, in the dry desert, at night.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Help

In preparation for the long drive from Arizona to Chicago I purchased three books for my iPod. The first five hours of the drive I listened to CD's. And for several hours on Saturday I listened to NPR from Stillwater, OK. But before and after that I listened to only one of the books: The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

I found this book deeply engaging from start to finish. The three narrators were fabulous and held me in rapt attention. In fact, as I grew weary from driving, or when I really had to pay attention to directions, I turned the iPod off fearing I'd be too engrossed in the book and miss an important turn.

The story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in 1963-1964. Three women play primary roles, two maids and a young woman who aspires to be writer. Through a variety of circumstances the young woman ends up interviewing women who are maids, the Help, telling for the first time their story of submission, abuse, and love. The story weaves through the assassination of JFK, the rising influence of Martin Luther King, Jr. Rosa Parks, and the young people at the lunch counter in Woolworth's. Stories of my childhood. I was so engrossed in the book I looked forward to getting in the car each day and hearing more of the story. I dreamt about it at night. I had to be attentive to my speech, lest I start talking in the Mississippi dialect or using phrases from the book, phrases clearly from the south...In other words the book was living in me.

If you are looking for a great book to read, or better yet to listen too while knitting or driving, I highly recommend this one.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Arrive

My husband and have finally arrived in Chicago. It was a long, arduous drive. Well, it was at least for my husband who had to drive the 25 foot truck loaded with our furniture. It was a diesel driven truck with over 101,000 miles. It was slow, noisy, and bumpy. We left Tucson at 2pm Thursday afternoon, having finished loading the truck and cleaning the house. We drove east toward New Mexico and then north toward Albuquerque. That drive, which normally takes 6 hours took us 8 hours, in part because it is a slow up hill grade the entire way. The truck groaned along.

Most disconcerting was the oil pressure gauge which kept dropping to 0 and scaring my husband. Finally, around 10pm, in Albuquerque, we pulled over and called Budget customer care and road side assistance, unsure what to do. They thought we should take it to a registered repair shop Friday morning. So....We spent Thursday night in the car in a Wallmart parking lot. In an effort to be prepared for anything I brought sleeping bags and pillows, thinking we'd be warm enough if we had to stay in the car. But the dogs and cats were not warm and even I got cold as the temps dropped to 28. We clearly had forgotten what it feels like to be in temps below 40...

Friday morning we called road side assistance and got the number for the repair place. We were told that it was probably nothing, just a computer glitch in dash board...and we were also told to just drive on for awhile and see what happens...

Still,we called the repair place and were told that they couldn't see us until maybe late Friday afternoon. So, we decided to go on, and see "what happens." The oil pressure continued to fluctuate and so we stopped once again in Santa Rosa, NM and called Budget road side assistance, again. This time, after talking to my husband, the agent told us to just "drive the truck." (I got the impression he was a little irritated with us...)So. We did. And, like I said, it was slow, arduous, shaky...my husband literally shook from head to toe whenever we stopped for gas or a break.

As a result the 1800 mile trip took us three days and three nights, but the second two nights we made sure we found hotels that would take pets, places where we could sleep in beds, rest, and shower. The animals were real troopers - travelled amazingly well.

Soon I will write about the book on CD I listened too on the trip - it was a really good book and made the trip "enjoyable" for me despite my worry for my husband in the truck that we came to call the "beast."

Now the beast has been returned to Budget. All of our things are in storage, except the few items we need to live. We are settled in with our daughter, and beginning to recover.

The Aim of Life

Like most people, when I was in my twenties,  I was focused on trying to figure out my life. I struggled to figure out what I was going to...