Friday, April 24, 2009

Praise for Green

Praise God, on this spring morning, for the spectrum of greens!

Praise for the emerald green of ivy climbing the dark tree bark!

Praise for the gray green, almost blue, of onion grass sprouting tall!

Praise for the sunlit lime green of new leaves budding on tall oaks!

Praise for the whimsical green of an iris just before the flower buds!

Praise for the two-faced green of the grass blades: luminous green of growth facing into the sun and rippling ocean green facing away!

Praise for the summer green of bamboo stalks catching rays from their vase on my windowsill!

Praise for the lush green of grass underfoot in the early morning, soaked with dew!

Praise God for the glorious array of vibrant greens!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sisterhood

People are fond of asking "Where is God?" when life becomes difficult.*** Or we look out across the oceans (always away from ourselves) at war and disease and poverty, and we ponder how to find a loving God in the midst of such chaos. I believe, if you really want to find God, then find a woman who is crying and God will be there. Even better, stand with her as a sister or brother and take the risk of God showing up in you, too. (For a brilliant, moving song on the universality of women's cries, listen to Sweet Honey in the Rock singing "The Women Gather" on their cd of the same title: "The women gather, crying tears that fill a million oceans...")

I pray for my sisters in Afghanistan
who are standing together against rape and patriarchy,
raising their voices despite the risk.
The skies over Kabul are not so different
from the skies over Washington, DC.

I pray for my sisters in Somalia
who are watching their boys carry guns
in desperation for a piece of the world's wealth.
The waves that rush to the shoreline are not so different
from the waves that crash onto Florida's coast.

I pray for my sisters in Darfur
who are barely surviving in refugee camps
terrorized with their children by hunger and violence.
The effort to silence their cries is not so different
from the deaf ears turned toward Oscar Grant's daughter.

I pray for my sisters in China
who are giving up daughters for want of sons
and losing the chance to raise new women.
The rainfall in Beijing is not so different
from the rainfall in Seattle.

I pray for my sisters in Brazil,
in India, Tonga, and Minneapolis,
in Malawi and France and Puerto Rico.
The God to whom we raise our cries is not so different
from the God who walks with us and promises deliverance.

***(4/25/09) I keep thinking about my choice of the verb, "fond." I don't feel the need to change the word, however, I do want to admit that it's glib and provocative...on purpose. "Fond" implies an affection or a sense of fun, neither of which is typically associated with the question of theodicy ("How can we say that God is good when there is so much evidence of evil?" or, in its simplified form, "Where is God?"). I vacillate between viewing theodicy as an indulgent question and understanding it as a relevant question. As a relevant question, theodicy seeks to hold onto faith in a compassionate God and strives to recognize and respond to evil as an act of that faith. As an indulgent question, theodicy is debated from a position of comfort and privilege; it's a theoretical exercise, and evil is an external problem that happens far away from "us" (whoever "us" may be). For me, using the verb "fond" implicitly critiques our debate of theodicy as an intellectual exercise.

Whether theodicy is relevant or indulgent, at the end of the day, I think it's the wrong question. I believe that the better question is, "How is God already acting/How is God calling me to act to affirm Life in defiance of Death?" The problem with theodicy, as I see it, is that it is a stationary question...it's a talking point that doesn't (in itself) compel any activity. In the face of evil, we desperately need to be active; I'd rather see us committing our energy to upsetting evil than expending our breath in endless debate.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

And so Lent comes to its end,
Easter marks the completion,
and I pray, o most holy God,
for what is, in fact, a beginning:
life new and renewing
the impossible to be believed
joy that cannot be quenched
and always,
everywhere I look
every place I turn,
your endless love and grace.
Amen and amen.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lent 40 (Holy Saturday)

Today I wait, at a loss,
Because everything I thought I knew
Everything I hoped for
Has died.

Today I have no prayers
Because what if it is God who took it all away?
I could not bear it,
So I do not ask.

Today there is nothing to do
But sit in silence. And breathe. And stare
At the rock face of the tomb
And wonder about endings.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lent 39 (Good Friday)

In these days full of shadows and crosses,
O God who reigns over both death and life,
be close to those for whom Good Friday
is not a ceremony
but a daily reality...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lent 38 (Maundy Thursday)

In the frosty chill of morning,
Have mercy on me, Son of the Living God.

In the waning evening light,
Have mercy on me, Son of the Living God.

In the nakedness of solitude,
Have mercy on me, Son of the Living God.

In the squall of daily decisions,
Have mercy on me, Son of the Living God.

In my regrets, in my triumphs,
Have mercy on me, Son of the Living God.

Sitting at your feast table amidst friends,
Have mercy on me, Son of the Living God.

Watching, waiting, at the foot of your cross,
Have mercy on me, Son of the Living God.

Miserere.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lent 37

Be creativity when I am stagnant,
o God of the red-breasted robin and bright daffodil.

Be insight and direction when I spin my wheels,
o Jesus in whose dusty way I strive to travel.

Be laughter when I take myself too seriously,
o Spirit dancing in my daughter's ballet shoes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lent 36

"Testimony"

How good you are, my Jesus, and how glad I am
that you have not left me alone,
that even from my first breath you have walked with me.

In those days when my mother and father were young and uncertain,
you were their rock and source of strength.
In my childhood, at a time when I was carefree in pigtails,
you were the spirit of joy and adventure
propelling me to the highest branches of the tree,
to explore the clearest pool in the mountain stream.

In my youth, you stood me tall in my goody two-shoes
and you protected me when I kicked them off.
As a not-yet-adult, you sent guides to shape my path;
unrelenting you called "Come further up and further in."*
And when adulthood burst upon me with the pain of childbirth,
Jesus you were the wellspring of grace, strength and creativity.

I look across my years and say to my soul,
"Who else is like your God who has brought you this far?"
At every step and turn, Jesus, you are constant and yet surprising,
always saying:
"Come find me here.
"Now come, grow in this place.
"Walk with me down this new road.
"Learn from me and seek my face."

You have not let me go nor have you let me stand still.
Amazing, Jesus, to retrace my steps,
to recount your goodness!
"I come to the end, I am still with you."

*P.S. Thank you, God, for the imaginative parables of Narnia!

More good news

Let's pray that this is the beginning of justice "rolling down like water"...

Vermont legislature overturns governor's veto:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040701663.html?hpid=topnews

DC recognizes gay marriages of other states:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040702200.html?hpid=topnews

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lent 35

What a life you have given us, God,
and who in the world can be expected to navigate it all?!
Should I laugh or should I cry when I take in
the clouds and the sun battling to set the day's mood?
the summer and winter toying with us through spring?
the reporter making a trite quip at the end of a gloomy newscast?
the boggling disparity as a Hummer thunders past a pedestrian?
the pain of choosing to care?
the reality of violence among family members,
among those who are supposed to love one another?
the pressure placed on the youngest among us to compete?
the strain on all of us to be self-sufficient,
to not need and not ask?
Tell me, God, should I laugh or cry?
Jesus cried, at least once.
I think that I would cry more often than Jesus
but laughter is a cheerier mechanism to cope
with what I see
what I hear
what I feel
what I fear.
I don't know what you think of all the ceremony
we've given to this week called "Holy,"
but at the very least it gives us an outlet
for processing
suspense
doubt
death
hope
anger
complexity
and, hopefully, agreeing with you at the end of it all
that life is the most important thing,
worth laughing at and worth crying over.
Worth fighting for.
There's no navigating life without being scarred,
but there's grace for living with the scars.
There's grace.
There's grace.
My God, thank you for grace.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

Hosanna! All praise to God!

I'm glad to be in your presence this day, beautiful God:
to be breathing in the warm spring air
walking, relaxed, through new grass
and knowing that you are in this day
regardless of sunlight or storm
in spite of
and in the midst of
palms and crosses, life and death alike.
Today is your day
to be praised.
Today is your day
to draw us into living
more intentionally
more carefully
more praise-ing-ly
(and God, since you made language,
I trust that you understand made-up words).
Today I am glad to be with you
to be called yours.
Keep my feet on the ground
and my voice full of song,
God of glory.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lent 34

Be still and know that I am God.

o my God, i pray for the perspective to bear in mind that i am not God; that no amount of planning, no amount of caffeine, no amount of pride can set me in your place; that yours is the wisdom and the bearing that i need most of all.

Be still and know that I am.

o my God, i ask for the calm and the trust to know that your breath is the source of my life; for the faith and the confidence to know that there is a living God though the mountains should fall and the earth tremble, though rivers of tears should flood seas of heartache.

Be still and know.

o my God, i struggle with the weight of all that i don't know, with the worries of all that remains unseen; grant me the quiet peacefulness of lilies waving in the wind, clothed beyond the beauty of Solomon himself; bless me with the joyful focus of a sparrow going about its work simply because another day has dawned.

Be still.

o my God, i am not still but restless, pressing through each day as though it all depends on me; be the voice in silence just as you once whispered to Elijah on Mount Horeb and call me to task for lacking faith...until i let go of the busy noise that i have created.

Be.

o my God, let me be fully what you have created me to be: a reflection of you in words and in silence, in work and in stillness, in community and in solitude; let me be, to your glory.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lent 33

Rescue us, mighty Deliverer,
from our callousness to the world around us,
from our blind eye turned away from your world,
your people,
your pain.

Save us from dispassionate ears listening (without hearing) to news
of state-sponsored violence and vilification of those who resist,
of calculated numbers that represent
real people in despair,
real people hungry.

Deliver us now before Holy Week comes and we miss the drama
of politics and power beating down love and healing,
money winning over compassion, and finally:
torture sanctioned,
even against God.

Good News

This article just in from the BBC: "Iowa upholds gay marriage rights"
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7981893.stm

What remarkable news! My mind goes to Jesus saying, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them" (Matthew 18:20). Often we affirm Jesus' presence among us in worship or other church events. Is it too much of a stretch to overlay this scripture on the "gathering" of two or three states that recognize marriage rights for same-gender-loving couples? Where two or three have gathered---Connecticut, Massachusetts, and now (though not yet implemented) Iowa---the presence of God's justice is known.

We pray for more to gather.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lent 32

o God, grant me clarity of thought,
deep joy in breathing,
generosity of heart,
bravery in truth,
strength for perseverance in faith,
and an endless spirit of prayer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lent 31

With a deep breath and humility,
i bring my confessions to you, most gracious God:

How often i sit pretty on the promise of God's blessings
and disregard the unequivocal reprimand of Jesus' woes!

Woe to me when i petition God for luxuries
beyond daily bread.

Woe to me when i sacrifice care
for comfort.

Woe to me when i do not use my voice
for justice among neighbors and peace between enemies.

Woe to me when i provoke another's anger
and neglect to ask forgiveness from my brother.

Woe to me when i anticipate God's deliverance for the oppressed
and do not place take responsibility for my place among the oppressors.

Woe to me for my resentment
of life's strains and stresses.

Woe to me when i value order
over grace.

Woe to me for setting prestige and rapport
on pedestals toward which i strive.

Woe to me for believing that it is about me at all;
woe to me and glory to God, the source of all blessings.