Friday Prayer, January 5, 2017

 

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Happy New Year, my friends! What’s swirling in your spirits as the new year begins? I hope you are lifting pressure from yourself. I hope you are looking in the mirror at the 2018 you and smiling. I hope you are telling yourself this will be a year of showing grace and love and lots of breathing room – to others and yourself.

 The new year gives a beckoning call to delve deeper – to get to that primal heartbeat and listen for the truest desire within its cadence. To discover – through baby steps – the life-giving rhythms that free and fuel us.

I told my husband the other day one of my intentions this year is to say, “No problem” more – and mean it. Or maybe I’ll add some variety with other good sayings I’ve heard, like “All will be well” or “Plot twist!”

As a person of rigid, “all-or-nothing,” judgmental standards, I will probably say this through gritted teeth at times. But we live and act our way into new forms of feeling and seeing.

This goes for not only what happens to me, but also what I make happen. I’ve been thinking about how I deprive myself and those around me of gifts because it wasn’t the “perfect” way I thought it should be. There is such beauty in an offering simply because it is an offering. You are giving the Spirit room to work.

***

Gracious One,

 

I thank you for holding my hand in this fresh, new year…

Against my inclination and with your help,

I let go of my desire for more control over my life.

My hunger to know what’s coming and to be ready for it.

My expectations to be in charge.

 

Have you not taught me again and again

how the joy is in the flexibility?

How all the unexpected, the unwanted, the unexplained things

coalesce to carve me into

the person I really am and want to be?

 

Even the changes I asked for,

the changes I wanted,

can cause anxiety.

Treading on this shifting soil

calls for a steadiness

beyond my own capabilities.

So I trust your hand to hold mine,

carrying me into this new land –

good but different.

 

You are my Birthing Mother,

always re-creating, always open to change.

You can keep showing me that

while change is eternally constant,

so is your presence.

 

You can help me know in my bones

how hope is born through struggle

and the fresh start brought through

change is an invitation to grow.

 

Whenever something leaves,

something new comes.

Please give me the wisdom of soul, Loving One,

to look for it.

 

For a soft heart open to change,

sensitive to others’ pain,

resilient with hope,

trusting in darkness….

this is the heart for which I pray.

 

Amen.

 

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Friday Prayer, December 15, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

We are half-way through December and I wonder how your heart is faring. Winter’s taken a dramatic dive into colder temps and snow (at least in Chicagoland), and I think our inner soul landscape often feels the effect of that. The stretching hours of darkness and frigidity the earth now endures reminds me we often face the same in our hearts.

Perseverance in such conditions can be hard when we might find ourselves overwhelmed or stressed in preparing for the “happiest time of year.” If you’re feeling this way, you might read a prayer of mine from December last year.

I think about Mary and Joseph making their own journey toward Bethlehem. I’m sure it required every ounce of trust and perseverance they had. I bet that each day, they had to freshly overcome their fear and questions about what awaited them upon arrival. Their trust in God’s promise had to be bigger than the swirling apprehension or flat-out exhaustion (Mary was very pregnant!).

So, I pray you are encouraged today, my friends, as you walk a path that might be taking all scraps of strength you’ve got left. Keep your eyes on the star.

 

***

Warm, enveloping One,

You gather me in when

the wind of anxiety and fear whips,

when I feel my face, my heart,

tighten against the cold’s force.

 

With wide, warm arms,

you bring me into your heart

where my angst melts by

the fire of your love.

 

And it is there, as I rest and thaw

that you remind me…

 

Remind me of the unbelievable power in perseverance,

the choice to open my eyes each morning and say,

Yes, I will keep going.

And I will find joy here

and grace

and I will live with courage even when I’m uncomfortable

in this brutal winter.

 

As my brittle fears drip to my feet,

you let my real self come through.

A self you love so much…

 

My path toward transformation comes through acceptance,

through affirming that I will be

gentle and forgiving toward myself

because that’s how you are with me.

I will lean with all my weight into your ‘enoughness.’

Into the warmth I feel here.

My solace and strength in life’s winter.

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, December 1, 2017

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Advent – this holy time of transformation and waiting and pain and trust – begins on Sunday. I wonder what you are waiting for right now….

I wonder where you, like Mary, have been asked by God to do something you don’t feel capable of doing.

I wonder where you, like Joseph, have been asked to proceed with trust in a decision when everything you initially thought crashed down – hard.

I wonder where you have longed for the end of corrupt abuses of power (#metoo has become the very air we breathe…)

I wonder where you feel the togetherness of light and dark in your own life. It’s something I find so meaningful about Advent – how Christ comes to us in darkness. When we don’t see. Don’t expect.

And so I pray that each of us will be wide-eyed, broad-hearted, and open-minded, that God might cultivate in us a deeper awareness of God’s working.

***

God, my Light…

I step with hope, anticipation, trust,

into this holy season of Advent.

This season of waiting and longing.

 

A single star overhead

is enough light to lead me through this darkness…

to shine into even the smallest crevices of my

heart and life.

 

I need your light, God,

to shine on this path you’ve asked me to walk.

You say I only need light for the next step,

and once I make that one, I’ll have light

for the one after that.

 

So I will trust you’ll show me

what is mine to do

and where is my place to walk

and how my very living

is testimony to your

transformative work.

 

Jesus, you are the light of the world.

Fill me and make me a lamp as I journey….

Amen.

Friday Prayer, November 17, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Rowe

I’m thinking of you, friends, as we approach Thanksgiving next week. It’s a time when we feel the full emotional gamut, don’t you think?

There are kids home from college and cross–country journeys to visit grandparents. There are crazy, frenetic, expensive trips to and fro at airports. There’s the ache of loved ones who are missed at the table, and the joy (albeit cacophonous noise!) of babies who’ve been added.

There is a freshly inflicted pain we feel in broken relationships at holiday time, just as there is a deeply-seated hope and trust in God’s promise to heal all things. There is the realization this past year wasn’t at all what we’d planned on or hoped for alongside the reflection that much unexpected beauty was also harvested.

And there is this recurring challenge and perpetual prayer that God might open our eyes to the blessings buried right beneath us – the ground, the place, on which we stand right now. Maybe it’s a place we love and maybe it’s a place we don’t want to be – buried treasure’s been found even beneath feet stuck in mud.

Wherever this time of year finds you – know that with God is holding you in it, and has more good yet in store. Because that’s the beautiful God we love and serve.

I think it was Richard Rohr who said, “Choose gratitude until you are grateful.”

And we can.

Because of God.

Who is with you.

And in you.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

***

 

Loving God,

In all things, I can say thank you.

 

Not because I am comfortable,

but because I am not alone.

 

And not just companioned in this journey,

but held, loved, supported, blessed.

 

By You.

 

The One who promises

there is always, always abundance.

 

The One who soothingly says,

‘All will be well.’

 

The One who gives

enough light,

enough wisdom,

and enough peace

to embrace today

with vulnerability

and humble gratitude.

 

Your gifts come in all kinds of ways.

Please help me not to miss them.

Especially the little ones.

 

And as I am witness to your work,

still my soul long enough to pause,

and say, Thank You.

 

Through Christ, who lived gratitude

in all times….

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, November 10, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Rowe

 

Loving God,

Today, with your help,

I release ruminating on what I can’t control.

 

Today, with your help, I will welcome what is –

not in resignation,

but in trust.

This, too, can be an instrument in my transformation.

Life won’t always be this way.

And maybe, just maybe, I need this

in order to get where I’m going.

 

Today, rather than taking consensus

from everything and everyone around me

about what I need to do,

I will stop.

I will let myself be in that uncomfortable quiet.

I will do my deepest listening for the most important voice –

the Voice within.

And I will realize I have my answer.

 

I can choose these things today, God,

because these are your promises –

to handle what I can’t,

to use what I’d rather not endure,

to give me the exact wisdom I need for each choice.

 

So I say thanks, praise, and yes.

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, November 3, 2017

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Tutu with my daughter, Eden (13 months at the time)

 

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Four generations – My mom, Me, Eden, and Tutu (Dad’s mom)

Last weekend, my grandmother died. “Tutu” as we called her (Hawaiian for grandmother in honor of her favorite place) was my last living grandparent. In taking her first breath in heaven, she passed down the legacy lamp for the next generation to carry.

As one of our family’s dear friends said, “she was a regal lady.” My grandmother’s energy, heart, faith and wit leave beautiful footprints. I try to place my own feet in those imprints, feeling my soles connect with the strength hers had in walking that path. And couldn’t we all use some more strength for the journey?

The timing of Tutu’s death was especially poignant for me in light of this week’s All-Saints Day. It’s a weighty, holy time. There’s something about this time of year too – how this day on which we remember the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12) and saints comes when the earth is turning in season. When it’s dying. When with one more gorgeous burst of color, the world gives it’s best display of beauty, then drops down deep to rest.

And the life that turns to death – going underground with turning leaves and colder nights – will eventually become new, unexpected life. Fresh forms of life we will anticipate with hope and tenacity.

Because unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit….. (John 12:24)

I give thanks for Tutu. For my Dad. For the people who bore so much fruit during their lives, and now leave me a rich and bountiful feast to have and hold when I weary under my life’s weight. I give thanks for my saints.

And I give thanks for yours.

I shared this same prayer last year, and offer it once again as we remember and give God thanks for all the saints.

***

God  of welcome and warmth,

We’re a bit melancholy – or maybe it’s pensive – on this All Saints Day. It’s a beautiful day – this time to remember and give thanks for the saints that have graced our lives. These angels – raw, real, and devoted in their humanity – that have encouraged us, emboldened us, taught us what we needed to know to survive…

We think of parents, grandparents, partners, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, teachers, colleagues, friends – some of them did seem pretty unlikely characters to be your saints, but the more we live, the more we realize that’s pretty typical of you and your choosing.

We are grateful for these quirky, lovely individuals who have gone before us but whose light still shines, bringing warmth and illumination to our own paths. Their whispers of wisdom help us hunger for a deeper wholeness found in you. They tell us we can be saints too…

We thank you, God, for the saints of the then and the saints of the now…for the saint that you are kindling inside of us. May we remain grateful for their impact on our lives and hearts – the truth they spoke and lived, the faith they held and passed on, the love they modeled and shared.

In the name, and light, and love of Christ we pray, Amen.

Friday Prayer, October 13, 2017

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One of my challenges of late: Where is my focus?

Thoughts are powerful – especially when we tend to ruminate on the same things over and over again…..and over again (if you’re anything like me). Our thoughts seep into our bones. They become a part of us in such a physical way, affecting our perspective and how we feel. Our thoughts make a direct impact on our energy and how we engage the world (or not).

Thoughts are seeds, and they will always, always bloom – taking visible effect in our lives.

My prayer for you and for myself today is that we might let God “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). When your thoughts are in Christ, you are dwelling on what is true – and that is God’s goodness and your deep belovedness.

***

Guide of mind,

Companion of my heart…

 

Bring my thoughts back to you right now.

Ground my focus in your promises to me.

Pull the roots of my gaze deep into

the beautiful soil of who you are.

 

I’ve been stuck in other soil…

letting the seeds of thought

lie lodged in places of

anger over what’s not fair,

anxiety over what might happen,

guilt over what just happened,

fear over the free-fall.

 

Plant my monkey-mind

and all its seedlings

back in you,

where instead of dwelling on what I’m owed

I will celebrate all I have in you.

Where instead of fearing whether I am enough

I will celebrate how I am because of you.

Where instead of wondering (with a lot of hand-wringing!) about the future

I will celebrate how it rests in your hands.

 

And even as this place of

underground germination is dark,

I can be at peace,

and my heart steadfast.

 

Amen.