Friday Prayer, April 20, 2018

photo-4

At the family greeting area with my parents and Jeff, just minutes before the bombs went off.

 

photo-3

This past Monday was the fifth anniversary of the Boston marathon bombing.

I ran that race on my 28thbirthday. It was an exhilarating day that ended in horror. The height of humanity’s enduring spirit sidled by the depth of humanity’s pain. I wrote about my experience here….

I haven’t seen the movies made about it. I haven’t run a race since. Someday, I will do these things….

But each year, something shifts – even soars – in my spirit as I watch the coverage and read the results. I’m taken back to the essence of the day, which is one of goodness and perseverance and overcoming. The evil that happened that day has not held victory. Every year, thousands still gather to run together. They take back the ground in the name of beautiful strength with each stride and stomp of their feet.

This year, as I read the coverage with my broken foot, I was awe-struck by the story of Sarah Sellers who finished second for women on Monday. No one knew who she was. I learned that as a senior in college, Sarah had a broken foot and didn’t run one step for a year. She has been working as a full-time nurse, and the race on Monday was only her second marathon. She didn’t even realize when she crossed the finish-line that she’d taken second place. When asked what she would do with the award money, she said she’d try to pay off her and her husband’s student loans.

Or how about this story?! Talk about tremendous.

The affirmation I hear in this and to which I keep returning is, We are overcomers. I am an overcomer…..

It can feel like we barely catch our breath from one setback before the next one surprises us.  Author Paul Coelho says, “Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

The overcoming rarely comes in one, big wave. It’s more like a series of cascading waves that roll in and recede. But each wave will bring us further up the shore….

 

***

Strong and Loving God,

In You,

through You,

because of You,

I am an overcomer.

 

I keep my eyes forward

that I might see the beauty

before me.

 

Thank you for

helping me trust

amid the setbacks…

for helping me see that progress

isn’t a straight line,

but a squiggly one.

 

The simple choice to try again today

is victory in your book.

 

Yours is the coaching voice

I need most,

speaking directly in my ear

as you run alongside,

stride for stride.

 

I believe in you.

I am with you.

We will overcome this together.

 

Amen.

Advertisements

Breaking Open

IMG_7366

A new potential toy for Simon

What do you do when you live through the same nightmare twice?

Many of you know that this happened last fall.

On Easter evening two days ago, I was carrying a heavy laundry basket and turned a corner on a rug. My weak ankle gave out, and I heard a “pop” from my foot.

Yesterday’s appointment (with the same doctor I initially saw for my ankle) confirmed my worst fear. I broke my foot. She said my bone density looked fine on the X-ray, but the tendons and ligaments surrounding my foot bones were still weak from my ankle injury. They couldn’t fully support my foot bones with the weight of the ankle giving out.

I had to pull out my boot from a shelf in the garage. The friend who lent me her crutches brought them back over (still adjusted to my size).

I just sobbed.

After five months of recovery from my ankle, I’d just finished physical therapy. I’d returned to my running regimen. We got a double stroller for the kids and me to enjoy the coming spring. I’d just said to my husband last weekend, “I am so happy.”

I told family yesterday I didn’t know what was more broken….my heart or my foot. It is truly devastating. And I thought about my prayer from last Friday and how that is exactly what I am leaning into today.

I’m paged this morning through my journal for recent quotes I’d copied. About a week ago, I’d read this from Elizabeth Lesser in Oprah’s new book, The Wisdom of Sundays….

You can either break down and stay broken down and eventually shut down, or you can break open…I’m not going to waste this precious experience, this opportunity to become the best me.

To be honest friends, all I wanted to do yesterday was break down. And through the night, I lay awake, picturing what lay ahead of me. The dependence. The helplessness. The pain.

Jeff turned on “pray-as-you-go” this morning where the music was a rendition of Psalm 118 –

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” 

I remembered how my dad, who endured a cycle of continual relapse and remission with his cancer, said this in the morning for 11 years.

I thought about the immediate influx of of support I received from community yesterday – God’s presence made tangible in my midst.

And though I write with tears in my eyes, I am loosening my grip on my soul’s shards and letting them fall into the open hands of this beautiful community. This beautiful God.  How good you are. How good God is.

I once heard of an ancient rabbinic tradition where Jewish rabbis would pray the “Aleph-Bet” (or the Hebrew alphabet). The belief was that the Spirit would form from the recited alphabet the words needed when we feel unable to pray ourselves. A, B, C, D, E……

So many of you have faced and are facing terrible things and gone on to blossom. Your lives are witness to me.

So here’s to breaking open today.

And saying yes to all things.

And letting the Spirit form the prayers I need today.

 

Friday Prayer, March 30, 2018

Tree of Life

“Tree of Life” oil canvas by Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

A blessed Good Friday to each of you, my friends.

I am grateful to be writing after some long radio silence – sick kids, meaningful visits from loved ones, new baby developmental milestones that equaled wonky sleep around here, and the like (I forgot how the ability to stand up and cruise around in a crib throws things off!). I am praying this Lenten journey has been a grace-filled one for you, even if your moments to reflect have not come as often as you would have liked. It can be enough.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about death and new life. Especially today. Before being taken away for crucifixion, Jesus talks to his disciples about seeds. New life comes from a seed when it goes into the earth and “dies.” And death, as we know, comes in all kinds of forms.

The part of Jesus’ final discourse that really stood out to me this week was when he says,

Right now, I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this?’ No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’ (John 12:27-28 The Message)

Jesus said ‘yes’ to the death because he knew that particular ‘yes’ was also ‘yes’ to a whole bunch of other things.

As we hold space today for Jesus’ yes – to a cross and ultimately to new life – I am praying for you in the personal forms of death for which you are holding space right now. I pray there will be lots of room for both the death as well as the new life, because they always need each other.

You are brave.

***

Wonder Worker,

When I peered up from the hole and saw no way out,

When what was taken away gave no warning,

When I didn’t think I had the courage

(or even the energy)

to live into a life looking nothing like it did before…

 

Something was happening.

 

The thing I I thought would break me –

that did break me

is now making me.

 

Great is the mystery of faith…”

 

The pieces of life’s puzzle come together here and there,

or shockingly in a big patch at once,

and I see You,

active and good in all things.

 

Your power to redeem –

to take the most painful death and losses

and grow from them living, breathing gifts

that take my own breath away in awe.

 

Somehow this hard, hard, hard thing –

when given in earnest to you today

(and many tomorrows from now!)

becomes an open channel where

something amazing will flow.

 

A passage echoing

with a tender Voice –

 

You can trust me with all the things….

in all the things…

This too.

And yes, this.

 

Why is it, God, that

death is so demanding –

commanding space in my soul,

in my schedule,

to really lean in

to the new reality I’m asked

to embrace?

 

It took your disciples a while too.

 

I know you promise

I have as much time as I need,

and that fruit will continue to

bud and burst.

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, February 9, 2018

IMG_3681

Oil canvas by Arianne Lehn

Continuing the “Love” theme of last week, I am re-sharing a prayer I wrote a couple years ago. However your heart feels and whatever your heart is holding, there is sacred space for that.

God always makes room for “all the things.” It’s a priceless gift to me when I often tell my own self “no room” to feel this way, think about that, hope for this, seethe about that. But as Father Richard Rohr says, “everything belongs.”

Your heart, and what it holds, belong right here. Right in God’s hands. In God’s heart.

***

Loving God,

As we think about Valentine’s day, we bring you our hearts…

hopeful hearts,

disappointed hearts,

confident hearts,

hearts-in-hiding,

grateful hearts,

angry hearts,

patient or “I’m so done and over with this” hearts,

restless hearts,

full or aching-with-hollowness hearts,

scarred hearts,

scared hearts,

hearts that sing and

hearts now long silent,

surprised hearts,

struggling hearts,

broken hearts,

beautiful hearts…

We wear our hearts as the badges of honor they are – any heart that keeps beating love in a broken world is a testimony to grace, to resurrection, to you….Somehow, God, you find a way to curl yourself into the most closed hearts…to make your way through the heart’s minefield, knowing where to step, where to heal.

We know, God, that broken, beautiful hearts are powerful – the world was changed, is changed, because of your broken, beautiful heart. And there’s beauty to be found in the pieces…

Thank you, God, for holding us in your heart. It’s where we’re safe, secure, at peace.

In Jesus, Love made flesh….

Amen.

Friday Prayer, February 2, 2018

IMG_6005 copy

Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Great Love and Loving One,

 

I look around me…

 

How I crave your

true and powerful and unifying

(of the deepest kind)

love.

 

More than a Valentine’s Day love….

 

I look around….

 

Seeking your gritty, steady love

that humbles itself into gracious relationship.

That lays down to listen.

 

I look…

 

Remembering again and again

how you are Love itself,

moving into any dark holes of unloving –

including my own shadow side –

bringing beams of

pure, unconditional love.

 

A love that loved me first

and loves me still….

as I am

where I am

(even if I still act like I need to earn it

every.single.day.)

 

With looking eyes

and tuned ears

and a *somewhat* open heart,

I see that your Love – that you –

really are everywhere.

 

There are all of these amazing

people who are beacons of you,

standing united in mercy and compassion,

telling the world how connected we all are

and that you are our source.

 

Our Source of Love.

 

I’m joining in.

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, January 19, 2018

 

IMG_6007 copy

Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Let’s make room today. Let’s clear out what we’ve been using to numb or avoid or block. Let’s trust that in the quiet, open space there is healing.

And then let’s listen….

***

Patient, Gentle, God,

 

I can be so afraid of emptiness.

 

There are so many ways to stuff out

the echoes of hollowness….

fill the house with unneeded stuff,

fill the wallet with money,

fill the garages with spares of this and that,

fill the belly with more and more food,

fill the mind with whatever distractions can be found,

fill the time with busy-ness….

 

But it won’t pad the emptiness,

or fill the void.

 

Give me the courage, God, to clear this clutter!

To see in this empty space a sacredness,

a needed gift,

a place you will come and get to work.

 

Make me be alone with you

and with the things within me

I’ve been avoiding,

or not even aware of.

 

Use this open space to

bring about transformation

where your Spirit shapes my attitudes,

leads my thoughts,

guides my decisions,

covers my conversations.

 

You promise that

to be filled with your Spirit

is to be in formation –

to head toward the abundant purposefulness.

 

With your Spirit in me, I am never empty,

nor is my life.

 

Fill and form me, Loving One, today.

Remind me I have all I need in and through You,

and that there is no reason to be afraid.

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, January 12, 2018

IMG_6001 copy

Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Have you heard the serpent’s whisper in your life recently?

“Did God really say…..”

As I myself struggle with trust in some areas of my life, I’ve heard this whisper from Genesis 3 when the serpent confronts Eve. Did God really say….

Sometimes, like Eve, I can respond forthrightly with what God said. But then, like Eve, the longer the whisper sits with me, the more I start to question. And it is there, that the whole swirl starts.

Doubts over whether what God told me is really best. Questions over whether I heard God right. Anxiety and fear that I’m somehow missing out on something.

When I’m facing a big choice or am living into a hard decision already made, it takes the deepest form of trust to brace myself from backpedaling.

Sometimes all I can do is say, “I trust,” “I trust,” “I trust,” with each push forward of the pedal. And the cadence carries me through the fog.

***

One Who knows me best,

 

There are times I sense more clearly

your direction.

I know what I have to do.

Those are the times I feel more

grounded…steady…focused.

 

But more often,

I’m in that inner fog

where the call and light are faint.

I struggle to remember if I heard

your voice at all,

and the cacophony of questions

becomes the tolling bell I hear –

each ring another round of

Are you sure?

Turn around!

You’re alone.

 

It is in this time,

I grip your hand, Jesus,

remembering that you, too,

were asked if you trusted.

And you proved,

again and again,

how you did.

 

Everyday is practice to trust again –

sometimes, like Samuel,

it will take many tries from you

before I realize it’s your voice.

 

So please keep speaking.

I will do my best to

settle my heart

in listening, availability, surrender…

 

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

just to take Him at His Word

Just to rest upon His promise

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

 

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

 

Yes, ‘tis sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just from sin and self to cease

Just from Jesus simply taking

Life and rest, and joy and peace.”*

 

Amen.

 

* Stanzas from the hymn “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus”