Let My Worries Be Prayer

When I wake up in the middle of the night
Weighed down by news of illness, hate or war
Let my worries be prayer

That beloved one in the hospital
Let her be free from pain
Hold him if he is afraid
Thank you for all those working to comfort, care, and heal

So many signs and sounds of war
Send wisdom to the leaders of the world
Protect the vulnerable who sit or live or walk in harm’s way

Hatred and fear divide us
Friends, families, communities torn apart
Heal us, hold us
Help us see that we are more alike than different

When I wake up in the middle of the night
Weighed down by news of illness, hate or war
Let my fretfulness be time with you
Let my fears be intercessions
Let my worries be prayer

Old Friends and New

a quote from Sarah Parsons about Lent beginning in the wilderness

Years ago when I was editor of The Upper Room’s website, I began collecting my favorite quotes from Upper Room Books and sharing them in the “Seasonal Reflections” emails. These quotes and their authors became friends I relied on when I hit difficult stretches of life.

It was so satisfying to pick out a selection of these “friends” to include in the pages of Walking in the Wilderness. And I was able to add some new favorite quotes and authors from more recent Upper Room publications.

I hope that you also learn to feel that these faithful friends are waiting to share their wisdom with you when you hit life’s difficult seasons.

Here are just a few …

We are invited simply to be with God. … Crawling up in the lap of Love, resting our head against Love’s breast, and taking comfort in that slow, steady heartbeat of grace that says, This is where you belong.
-Roger Owens, What We Need Is Here

God, collect our tears … And pour them back on us as life-giving water!
-Safiyah Fosua, The Africana Worship Book: Year B

Dear God, help us to see that we are more more than our scars.
-Michael W. Waters, Freestyle

Faithfulness is consecration in overalls.
-Evelyn Underhill, Writings of Evelyn Underhill

All things come and all things go over and over again.
-John S. Mogabgab, Weavings

Grief is such a messy thing.
-Roberta C. Bondi, Wild Things

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Lenten Practice

“I never aspired to write a book for the Lenten season. I have always been so much more attracted to the softness of the season of Advent. In fact, I may have been heard to say, ‘I will never write a book about Lent.’ But here I am, writing a book for Lent, this season of wandering in the wilderness.”
-Introduction to Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent

As I was considering my Lenten discipline this year, I decided to read my book in a different way. I’m finding that way to be creating a collage each day. This practice is keeping me grounded, letting me hear these words as if they were spoken to me.

Each day’s entry in Walking in the Wilderness includes a quote from an Upper Room author, a scripture reading, a reflection and prayer from me, and a word to carry in one’s heart through the day. As I tear apart the pages of the book, different elements speak to me and arrange themselves on a page.

I offer to you some of these pages. May the Holy One guide you through these days.

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Walking in the Wilderness

More and more in these days of social, political, religious, and spiritual upheaval, I find myself feeling that I have entered an era of exile, wilderness. … I’m not sure exactly when we arrived here. It might have been around the time that the 24/7 news cycle really got going. … Or when our earth began to groan and we could no longer ignore the effects of climate change. … Or when the global crises of rampant xenophobia and overt racism made us cry out. Or when the pandemic arrived.
-From the introduction to Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent. Print book or eCourse.

It was over a year ago that I turned in the manuscript for Walking in the Wilderness. I had no idea that by the time Lent 2021 arrived, we would be walking through such a perilous desert.

The path we are traveling is lonely, difficult, heartbreaking. We do not know from day to day what new challenges or disasters that we will hear on the news or confront in our lives. So many of us are stretched to the limit, barely able to keep up with life. And, yet, like the Hebrew people wandering in the wilderness, when we look up, we see that we are not alone. We are a community stuck in the desert together. And the Holy One is traveling with us. Watch for the signs of God’s guidance — the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Listen for God’s presence in a the quiet of the evening, in a scripture verse or song that brings you to tears, in the voice of a stranger or the laugh of a child. Remember and remind yourself each day that you are God’s beloved. And you are not alone.

I invite you to travel with me through the days of Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 17. Gather a group of soul friends and study the book together. Or join us in an online course.

God makes a way for us through the desert. We are beloved. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God during Lent: Print book or eCourse.

My New Book – Walking in the Wilderness

We may be traveling in the wilderness, but we are not alone. We travel together, holding this sacred space for one another. And the Spirit travels with us into our wilderness journey. “Introduction,” Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent

I’m excited to announce that my new book has arrived. Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent is published by Upper Room Books and available now from your favorite bookseller.

We may be traveling in the wilderness, but we are not alone. We travel together, holding this sacred space for one another. And the Spirit travels with us into our wilderness journey. “Introduction,” Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent

Many voices join mine in guiding us through this perilous season. You will find familiar friends and new ones. Prophets, teachers, and wise ones from whom we hear just right the words. Roger Owens, Juanita Campbell Rasmus, Stephen D. Bryant, Roberta Bondi, Safiyah Fosua, Michael Waters, and many others lend their wisdom.

On the six Sundays of Lent, I offer spiritual practices that I hope will help guide us through these difficult days. These practices are Being Present, Lament, Lectio Divina, Trust, Compassion, and Hospitality.

Blessings to you during this time of chaos and turmoil. Never forget … You are not alone. You are beloved. Thanks be to God.

Days Run Together

IMG_8664Days 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.

#pandemic

New Release: The Words of Her Mouth

Last summer, just as I was preparing for my writing retreat at the family cabin, I received an invitation from Rev. Martha Spong to contribute to a book project. Spong is the Executive Director of RevGalBlogPals, founded in 2005 to minister to and with clergy women around the world.

The Words of Her Mouth is a collection of 150 original psalms written by ten women who are Christian pastors and leaders representing diverse races, orientations, and denominational affiliations. Each writer composed fifteen psalms in conversation with the Biblical texts.

The writing assignment was the most writing fun I think I’ve ever had. I was assigned one of my favorites — Psalm 63, the psalm we often sing in morning prayer service of the Academy for Spiritual Formation. (The other psalms with which I dialogued for this book are Psalms 9, 20, 28, 37, 48, 56, 72, 83, 92, 101, 114, 121, 135, and 144.)

These words from Psalm 63 caught my attention: “I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” Then I wrote about how, when I can’t sleep at night, I think of and focus on everything else except God! (What funny creatures we are!) My Psalm 63 closes with this intention, “Next time I cannot sleep, may I remember the saints through the ages who awoke in the night.”

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing for it. You’ll find it at Amazon and your favorite booksellers.

For Lovers of Weavings Journal

I’m excited about two recently released books with connections to Weavings.

The Upper Room Disciplines 2020, a lectionary-based daily devotional, features 53 writers who were contributors to Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life. I’m honored to be one of them, writing the meditations for the week of October 12–18, 2020. Marjorie J. Thompson writes the foreword for the book. The 53 authors include many friends and beloved writers, among them: Kathleen Flood, Luther Smith, J. Barrie Shepherd, Wendy Wright, Roberta Bondi, Michael Downey, Rachel Hackenberg, Don Saliers, Jan Johnson, Kristen Vincent, Gerrit Dawson, Marilyn McEntyre, Mark Burrows, Deborah Smith Douglas, and Kara Lassen Oliver. Available now at your favorite bookseller.

The Wondrous Mystery: An Upper Room Advent Reader. This daily Advent reader incorporates articles from Weavings. Writers include Barbara Brown Taylor, Henri J. M. Nouwen, Sue Monk Kidd, Wendell Berry, Wendy M. Wright, and other writers. Now available.