Days run together
And soon I don’t know …
Is it Wednesday or Saturday?
We step through this disorienting, timelessness
of social distancing, quarantine, isolation.
I watch the news, increasingly grim,
And realize that we all will know someone
touched by a COVID-19 death.
And this grief overwhelms me,
Knowing that things will never be the same.
There will be suffering.
There is suffering. Right now.
Can we trust that humanity will get through this?
Like we got through the Black Death?
Like we got through the Great Wars?
Like we got through unimaginable disasters￼?
Tenacious human spirits hang on.
We adapt, we hope, we move, always, towards healing.
I woke up this morning to a world without you.
You were my bright morning star and confidante.
Cheerleader and librarian.
Theologian and comic foil.
When we sat down to talk,
No time was wasted on chitchat, sports, or weather.
We took deep breaths and dove deep.
Last week in the hospital,
I asked, “Are you scared?”
“Yes,” you said.
“Shall I say a prayer?”
“Loving God, give wisdom to the doctors
and comfort to your beloved one.
Let him know he is not alone,
but is surrounded with love and light.”
The last few days you haven’t been responsive.
But yesterday, hospice on the way,
You squeezed my hand and turned your face toward mine,
Giving me the gift of your blessing.
I prayed for your final journey.
“Loving God, give comfort to your beloved one,
To the family and friends who love him so much.
Let him know he is not alone,
but is surrounded with love and light.”
Today you sit down to talk with angels.
No time is wasted on chitchat, sports, or weather.
You are taking deep breaths and diving deep.
Remembering my saints this weekend.
On All Saints’ Day, it is not just the saints of the church that we should remember in our prayers, but all the foolish ones and wise ones, the shy ones and overbearing ones, the broken ones and whole ones, the despots and tosspots and crackpots of our lives who, one way or another, have been our particular fathers and mothers and saints, and whom we loved without knowing we loved them and by whom we were helped to whatever little we have, or ever hope to have, of some kind of seedy sainthood of our own.
Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days
I’m at my annual conference — Mountain Sky — in session in Billings, Montana. There is so much uncertainty, anxiety, and pain in this place. And yet there is such love and joy that comes from being together in the beloved community. Wherever we are, wherever we are going, we go with this community of beloveds.
These words from Tilden Edwards have spoken to me and to this time of uncertainty in the church. Prayers for all those who are working to try to help us find our way.
Edwards writes about the process of discernment. [From pp. 64-65 in Spiritual Director, Spiritual Companion. Copyright © 2001 by Tilden Edwards.]
In approaching the Spirit’s movements … [we are called to] a habitual leaning into our souls in God, with a quality of trust in the abyss of divine love there, wanting to see our desires transformed in the light of God’s desire for us. We rest attentively in that abyss ultimately without knowing anything except our desires to embody those qualities of soul in our lives. …
Often we are not given … clear sight and [must] rest in our trust that we will be given enough of what we need to see as we go along. … Sometimes decisions need to be made without clear sight, but with just enough light to take a first step in one direction or another, trusting that the Spirit will shape our path with us as we go along. …
[The discernment process] may well not provide clear specific discernment, but over time … it can provide a way of approaching decisions that frees us from a focus on “getting it right,” that is, finding out just what God wants, or else we will be lost. Instead, we become free for a focus on an ongoing divine/human dance together … one that keeps us living out of our deep souls no matter how vague our sense of what decision to make. …
When we live out of our souls in trust, we become looser about knowing, and willing for a blind walk when that is what is given.
Let us trust in Divine Love to guide our steps in these days of struggle. May we allow our spirits to sink into the abyss of divine love, trusting that we will be given “enough of what we need to see as we go along.”
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.
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
Let us hang on to
Let us know when to
Stay in the present moment.
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?
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.
In this season of blooms,
The hard work
Of birthing, growing, transformation,
Forgotten in the moment of metamorphosis.
God’s miracle of creation
Illustrated in color,
In delicate arrangement
Of petal, pistil, stamen,
One who created me,
Who shaped me before I was born,
Be in my heart, my mind,
Be in my voice, my hands,
As I step into this new job.
I am yours.
This week I began a new position at The Upper Room: Director of Prayer and Upper Room Worship Life. I continue to mourn the loss of Weavings and Alive Now, but I remain grateful for the ways these publications shaped me and live on in the person I have become.
In the evening
we will be judged
on love alone.
– St. John of the Cross