God, In Your Mercy

  
We wake up to the news
Of another terrorist attack.
Ordinary people doing ordinary things.
Lives changed forever.

This place seems so far away this morning.
But we are joined in our fear,
Our horror, our grief,
Our powerlessness to stop the evil of this world.

And yet, in this week, we remember
That though there is evil in this world
There is a Love that is greater.
There is a Love that overcomes even death.

This world, so large,
Yet so small.
We are joined together across the globe
In our ordinary human lives.

For those who suffer, send comfort.
For those who fear, send presence.
For those who grieve, send healing love.

God, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Read more of Beth’s blessings in her book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings.

Repent and Transform

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I skipped yesterday’s word in Alive Now’s Lent Photo-a-Day spiritual practice. The word was “Repent.”

Today’s word, “Transform,” is so much easier for me to illustrate. I thought about the transformation that’s going on around me as Spring arrives. The daffodils started blooming three weeks ago. And because the weather has been just the right combination of warm days and cool nights, it seems that all the flowering trees are going to be blooming at the same time. From the star magnolias to the redbuds to the flowering pears. It’s going to be a wonderland here this week. (And a challenging location for those who suffer with allergies.)

But back to the word I skipped. “Repent” is a hard word to think about because it reminds me of the mistakes I’ve made, of the ways I’ve hurt other people, of the many times I think only of myself. Metanoia, from the Greek, means “a transformative change of heart.”

I may avoid it, but it’s what I want, truly, for myself, for this broken world. That I, that we, might have a change of heart that makes us better people, a more compassionate society, a more kind and just world.

Come, Holy Spirit.
Blow through my hardened heart
And transform it
Into a heart of love,
Of Kindness,
Of Compassion.

Come, Holy Spirit.
Blow through our broken world
And transform it
Into a world of caring,
Of peace,
Of justice.

Ignite our repentance
That we might turn toward you
And be transformed.

 

A note from Beth: Please join me in celebrating my new book, Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings. You are invited to an online party on March 17 at 7:30 (CDT). If you can’t be there at that time, please register for the free webinar, and a link to view the interview/party will be sent after the event.

My Heart Lives in the Sky

  
My heart lives in you, sky.
Dome of light, of darkness,
Canvas of clouds and stars,
Of swallows and eagles.

My spirit soars in your vastness,
Exulting in your beauty,
The predawn glow in the east
Or symphony of colors in the west.

The creator slings clouds onto your canvas,
Paints dreams with textures and colors,
Earth dust and meteor granules.
Each new day, a new masterpiece,
A landscape, unique and priceless.

Write my prayers upon the sky.
Let my joys, my fears,
My visions, my gratitude
Paint their way into God’s heart.

Joy and Sorrow

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Someone described yesterday as a day of “emotional whiplash.” From the declaration of love, justice, and equality by the U.S. Supreme Court to the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of those murdered in the hate crime committed at a bible study in Charleston, S.C. I believe, I hope, I trust that the presence of the holy was in these places both of ecstatic joy and of deep sorrow.

I sat in my office, weeping,
reading the live blog
from the Supreme Court.
5-4 in favor of same sex marriage.
Who could have known
this day would come?

Protection for families,
for children,
equal rights for couples.

Small things, so important …
A spouse’s name on a death certificate.
Two parents’ names on an adoption form.
The right to be by a loved one’s side in the emergency room.

The acknowledgment of covenant,
of commitment,
of love.

I sat in my living room, weeping,
watching the President,
family and friends and leaders,
mourn and celebrate the life of Reverend Pinckney.

Deaths too awful to comprehend,
meaningless, senseless,
lives torn asunder by racism,
an ugly, malignant tumor in our land.

I watch as this gathering, these witnesses,
transcend barriers.
I listen, and my spirit
rises out of despair and darkness
towards hope and light.

God, how can you contain
all of this?
All of this joy and sorrow,
all of this love and grief.
Be present with us in these days.
We need you now.

3 Things I Learned When Answering the Upper Room Prayer Line

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This morning when I got to work, The Upper Room Prayer Line was forwarded to my phone. After I panicked for five minutes trying to figure out how to make it stop, I accepted that I would be the Accidental Prayer Volunteer from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Acceptance. Sometimes things just get thrown my way whether I asked for them or not. I can get all excited and throw a fit. Or I can just accept it and do the right thing. Answering the prayer line and praying with the callers was the right thing to do.
2. Openness. I was afraid about what would happen when I answered the call. So I said, “Upper Room Prayer Center. May I pray with you?” And then people started talking about what was troubling them. When I let go of my fear and had an open heart, my mind, my heart, my mouth knew what to say.
3. Prayer time with people is holy time. What an honor it was to answer the phone and pray with a complete stranger, a person who trusted The Upper Room to hear the big and small, intimate details of their lives. They had a need and they reached out. And we were there — I was there — to say a prayer for that person. We sat together and God was present there on the phone — and in Nashville, Texas, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. God is present and sends God’s comfort right then and there through the voice at the other end of the telephone.

You can be a prayer volunteer. I recommend it. Learn more at the Living Prayer Center’s website.

Ash Wednesday Blessing

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Bless this day of ashes,
This space, this pause.

May we be open,
May we be honest,
May we be mindful.

May we be patient,
May we be quiet,
May we be gentle.

Facing fear,
Facing sorrow,
Facing joy,
Facing pain.

This life is yours.
This life is a gift.
We return it to you.

Bless this day of ashes,
This space, this pause.

 
 
Find more of my prayers in my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings.

I Hear the Sound of Breaking Hearts

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For John Mogabgab (1946-2014)

I hear the sound of breaking hearts
John – mentor, teacher, colleague, friend,
Has left this life and entered into life eternal.

I feel the ripples of a thousand broken hearts.
John, founder of Weavings,
Shaper of the Academy for Spiritual Formation.
Spiritual Abba to me and you and you and you.
Heartbeat of The Upper Room.

I know the pain of a breaking heart
The shock, the sadness,
the emptiness that can never be filled.

Do you now sit and pray and talk and laugh
With Henri, with Douglas, with Thomas,
With Howard and Martin,
With Brigit and Columba,
Benedict and Augustine,
Theresa and Hildegard and Julian,
Abbas and Ammas,
With others named John, and,
I humbly imagine, with Jesus?

Rest your weariness,
Sing with angels,
And, if you don’t mind, please,
Pray for those whose hearts are broken.

Thank you, John.
I am grateful.
I miss you.
And I feel your presence In this place.

Discarded

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I found a paper crane
Lying in the road,
Discarded, tossed away,
Tire tracks across its broken wing.

And I thought,
So this is what we’ve come to
In this broken world of ours.

Peace, discarded
and run over in the street.
Bombs falling on schools,
Refugee children dying in the desert,
Missiles blasting innocents from the sky.

Where is wisdom?
Who is the keeper of justice?
What has happened to the way of peace?

Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy.
Help us.