Day of Prayer for the Healing of the World

On Wednesday we will welcome Morgan Stafford as our preacher in The Upper Room Chapel. Morgan is working with the Tennessee Annual Conference as a Cross-Cultural Strategist. He will be preaching on “Will We Welcome”?

The service, at 10:45 a.m., is one part of a Day of Prayer for the Healing of the World. We will be gathering as a staff for a day of pray for the world, for our nations and leaders, for our churches, for our communities, families, and friends. We invite your participation from wherever you are. We hope you will send us your prayers for the world so that they may be a part of this day. Share your prayers with us.

Join us in body or spirit on Wednesday, October 18, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (CDT). 1908 Grand Avenue, Nashville, TN 37212.

Surviving Exile

By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?
– Psalm 137:1-4, NRSV

I am wondering,
How do I navigate,
How do I survive,
How do I continue to live
In this time of Exile?

And then I think
Of all those
Who have lived in Exile
In this country
For centuries.

Let us hang on to
Community.
Hope.
Love.
Laughter.
Courage.
Trust.

Let us know when to
Take action.
Stay in the present moment.
Go outside.
Take a media break.
Remember the long view.

How shall we sing
The song of the Holy One
In this foreign land?

What are the scriptures, the songs, the poems that you hold on to? That ground you these days?

The Unexpected Blessing

You went out to walk your dog,
A giant, beautiful puppy,
Who wiggled in ways only puppies could.

I called out to you,
“Can I bless your dog?”

You didn’t run away.
You stepped onto the lawn with her.

You held her in your arms
And I began to pray,

Bless this creature,
Fashioned by the holy one
From the glimmer of stars
And the music of angels. …

I glanced at your face.
You were looking down at her,
Your eyes full of love,
Your countenance full of tenderness.

Bless this creature
And the human one
Who shares its life.

And I realized that
The blessings were spilling out
And splashing up
Over you.
Over me.

The blessings were
Filling this space,
Soothing weary, anxious hearts.

The blessings were touching the world,
The places of joy and of sorrow,
Of fear and of hope,
Of turmoil and of peace.

Bless this home.
Bless this life.
Bless this wonder.
Bless this love.
Bless this creature.

This miracle of life,
The opening up of hearts and spirits
To the gracious blessing of the holy one.

Bless this world
And all its creatures.

Photo: The blessing of Jack by his friend, Claire.

Blessings Upon Blessings


Probably the most fun I’ve ever had at work … Blessing the animals on St. Francis Day (October 4). We gathered on the lawn in front of The Upper Room Chapel. We blessed pets from the neighborhood and pets of staff people. We blessed pictures printed out and pulled up on phones. We blessed the dogs of people just walking by.

From our first guests at 4:00 p.m. (a 40-lb. tortoise named Barnes and a very brave cat named Freddie) to the folks who ran a red light to get here before we closed at 6:00, blessings were given and received.

Bless this creature,
Fashioned by the holy one
From the glimmer of stars
And the music of angels.

Bless this creature
And the human one
Who shares its life.

Bless this home.
Bless this life.
Bless this wonder.
Bless this love.
Bless this creature.

– Beth A. Richardson

St. Francis and the Blessing of the Animals

Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. In St. Francis’ “Canticle of the Sun,” he named all of creation as his siblings. We’re celebrating St. Francis today at The Upper Room with a Blessing of the Animals. We’ve invited our friends, families, and neighbors to bring their pet(s) or picture of their pet(s) for a blessing. Those of you close by, we hope you will join us any time between 4 and 6 p.m.

Jack has had a bath and a haircut and will be present at the event. If you would like a blessing (or a head hug) from Jack, he will gladly oblige.

Praise to you, Lord, with all your creatures; and above all to Brother Sun, who makes the day that lightens us. He is fair and shines with a great splendor. Most High, he bears your mark.

Praise to you, Lord, for Sister Moon and for the Stars. In the heavens you have framed them, clear and precious and fair.

Praise to you, Lord, for Brother Wind, for the air and the cloud, for calm and all weather by which you give sustenance to your creatures.

Praise to you, Lord, for Sister Water. Very useful is she and humble and precious and chaste.

Praise to you, Lord, for Brother Fire by whom the night is lightened. He is lovely and limber and lusty and strong.

Praise to you, Lord, for our sister, Mother Earth, who upholds and cares for us, who brings forth the many kinds of fruit, the painted flowers, and the grass. …

Praise and bless the Lord, and give God thanks, and serve God with great humility.

Francis of Assisi
“Song of the Creatures”
Writings of Francis and Clare

Too Hard

Some days it seems too hard to
Turn on the news,
Read the texts,
Answer the phone.

What news,
What pain,
What disaster
Awaits us today?

How much more
For the Holy One.
The one who stands,
Sits,
Weeps
With the world.

May I,
In my little life,
Also, sometimes,
Stand,
Sit,
Weep,
Pray
With those who suffer.

Just
For a little while.

Dad, Can I Have a Horse?

I first rode a horse when I was in early elementary school. It was a pony owned by a family in our church. I was hooked and asked, “Dad, if the Bishop moves us to live on a farm, can I have a horse?”

Dad answered with full confidence, “Yes. If the Bishop moves us to live on a farm, you can have a horse.”

I never got the horse. Or had much opportunity to ride or be with horses over the years. But that part of me that loves horses has never gone away. So, Saturday afternoon, when I sat in row FF at the equestrian show, Odysseo Calvia, I was ready to move to a farm and spend the rest of my days grooming horses, mucking out stalls, and braiding manes.

I was surrounded by children, old and young, who felt the same as I did. Two girls in the row in front of me gripped their plush toy horses and waved their arms in the air at the wonder of it all. A young boy behind me wept in his mother’s arms as we were leaving; he didn’t want the show to be over.

What is it about these creatures that stirs our hearts in this way? I thank God for the gift of horses. And the gift of people who love them.