O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
-Psalm 63:1, NRSV
I sip coffee, dark and smooth with a hint of cinnamon.
The wrens scold me as they carry food to their young the bird box on the front porch.
I lie in the lawn chair and watch clouds form, transform, and disappear.
I stack a smooth river stone to the pile on top of the bridge over Cave Creek.
The river roars in the canyon below. Its sounds lift my spirits, my heart.
I walk to the river at dusk and watch the ouzel hopping from rock to rock, stopping to preening its feathers before roosting for the night.
I smell the cool, earthy moisture by the river and the hot dustiness in the kitchen.
Vivid memories inhabit me. I breath them in with gratitude. In this place, I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
Drink deep from the present moment. The living, healing Spirit lives here.
How strange and wonderful that I can wake up in the hot, humid south and go to sleep in the cool mountains of Colorado.
Today is my first full day of seven here in this beautiful place.
I took two naps after lunch and then walked down by the river to see what was blooming and what I’ve missed in my two-year absence.
I stopped to visit with my favorite wildflower. The shooting star by the river was still there, yellowing and dying back so that it can bloom again next spring.
What comfort to find this place of stability in a world that is ever-changing and often feels out of control.
Now I need to unwind, to let go of the chatter, to be let myself be fully present to this time of rest.
Dear Doughnut Fairy,
I don’t know who you are, but I wanted to thank you for this amazing gift you left for me this morning with the security guard.
The guard was so responsible. He did not eat the doughnut, but, instead, called me to come get it.
I am so grateful to know that Good Still Exists in this crazy world of ours. And yes, there ARE STILL Magical Doughnut Fairies spreading joy and doughnuts throughout the universe.
For beauty, friendship, and hope. For justice, prophets, and healers. For eyes to see and hearts to love. For peace and wisdom and safety. For these things we hope and pray. Amen.
Last night I performed the marriage of Brian and Sarah. It was a beautiful ritual celebrating the love and commitment of a special couple. In the ceremony we called the name of Brian’s mother, Linda, whose memorial service I assisted in last December.
Many of the same people gathered again … this time to witness, to promise support, to toast a new family being woven together in love. There were times of great joy and times of tender sorrow.
As I prayed a blessing for Sarah and Brian, a single tear rolled down Brian’s cheek. Sarah reached up to wipe it away. How can I doubt the power of love when standing next to such amazing grace, incredible beauty, vibrant life which moves forward even in the midst of the brokenness and death of our world.
God, you are amazing.
You created us to love,
To live, to laugh, to heal.
Open our eyes, our hearts, our spirits
To your Love working
In our lives, in the world.
Brush away our tears
With your gentle spirit
And infuse us with the hope and assurance
That in the end, love is always there.
The saints sing loudly on tune (and off)
Welcoming their newest colleague.
“Phyllis Natalie Alexander Tickle,
You are finally here.
We’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”
“Sit down with us on the porch —
Here, you take the rocking chair —
And tell us one of those stories from the farm. …
And your laugh — it’s as great as they said it would be!”
“Oh. You have an appointment?
Well, what are you waiting for?!
You’ve got people to see.
Come back here at sit with us anytime.”
“You’ll be back? It reminds you of home?
Well, thank you kindly.
Bring your husband next time …
And anyone else you’d like to bring.
So glad to have you here after all this time.”
“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”
– The Book of Common Prayer
Quoted by Phyllis Tickle, 1934-2015
in The Divine Hours
Photo: Taken by Beth A. Richardson at The Upper Room’s SOULfeast 2010.
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.
Took walks up and down the river canyon.
Poked around and remembered.
Watched the chipmunks.
Knit a prayer shawl.
Played with pine cones.
Went to my happy place in gratitude.
Every year, as a Clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church, I travel to Colorado for Annual Conference. This year I was delighted that the conference was held at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Not only is it one of the most beautiful settings in the world, it is a place important to my family, a destination for a yearly pilgrimage when we came to Colorado for summer vacations.
Our family’s Colorado roots came from my dad’s two summers of working in the kitchen at the Y-Camp when he was in college. He fell in love with these mountains and, when the chance came to purchase a run-down cabin in the mountains the year I was born, he and Mom cashed out a $1500 life insurance policy and bought the place.
When I sat in Hyde Chapel the other day for our clergy session, I remembered attending church there while we were on vacation. (It seemed much smaller than when I was a child.) I remember Dad being invited to preach there one summer.
He wrote about it in our cabin’s log:
August 13, 1968
I had the privilege of preaching at Hyde Chapel at the YMCA Camp near Estes. It was an experience I have secretly entertained a hope for. It was fulfilled through Dr. Finis Crutchfield’s recommendation to the selection committee.
As I sat in the chapel I thought on all these things with gratitude. Thank you, Dad and Mom, for this gift, this legacy that has brought me such joy and happiness and meaning. I’m grateful to be a member of this conference in this place which is my spiritual home.
I wait each spring,
watching the buds grow
on Grandpa’s peony,
flown from Oklahoma to Tennessee,
tucked in a plastic grocery bag
when I came home from his funeral.
These fuchsia petals,
these golden stamens,
these rich green leaves,
are the colors of memory.
Grandpa carrying in a bucket
of yellow sweet corn,
giant red tomatoes,
and fuzzy green okra.
Grandpa planting in black earth,
Oklahoma red clay
coaxed into fertile soil
by years of care and compost.
Grandpa in crimson on game day,
in dark suit on Sunday morning,
in carpenter khaki off to work.
Grandpa in my heart, in my mind.
Grandpa love, Grandpa wisdom.
Grandpa always present, steady
like the peony bloom
that opens every spring.
Thank you, Creator.
Thank you, memory.
Thank you, Grandpa.
Find more of my prayers in my book Christ Beside Me, Christ Before Me: Celtic Blessings.