Tuesday, 25 October 2016

mother's prayer :: holiness for them

Can you take this mother-wretch and make me holy?
Not for my sake, but for theirs?
I can live with my ugliness, but they do not deserve to. 
Take the bitter, the sharp, the crushing, 
and make me sweet, smooth, uplifting. 

There must be grace for this,
grace greater than the gaping hole of my failures.
There must be holiness for this,
holiness purer than my puffed-up self and gnashing flesh.

Holiness for them.

Not for me to spit and polish and show off - 
But for their beauty. 
Only your spit and mud salve can make me see, 
make me clean, make me a fitting funnel for your kindness.

Oh Lord, you who wash our feet,
let me stoop with you awhile. 
Let me not lord over them with my airs,
but serve them with your graces.
Even now you pour the water on my cracks and callouses,
reminding me where the power of authority begins. 
I will lay aside the garment of my false entitlement.
Toe by toe, you make what I have trampled into holy ground. 
Hear the heart’s cry - Not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.
When I am at the end of myself, you can begin, even again. 

Let me love them to your ends. 


Sunday, 16 October 2016

noon prayer :: autumn bounty

Christ, our God, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise:

For the small, warm hollow of my baby's neck
For hot pink beets dug fresh from the cool earth
For a living blaze of orange in the farmer's field
For spiced tea and flavourful conversation
For flannel sheets flying high on the line
For the scent of the forest floor as children crush leaves underfoot
For neighbours' fires rising like incense in the dawn
For the table, hand-hewn strong, to carry these armfuls of thanks



Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A Renewed Prayer Habit: Gathering Treasures at Noon

It's no coincidence that this time of year turns my thoughts to thankfulness. It is well known that a habit of gratefulness has many benefits. This time of year we are also still working to get our new routine into place, finding our rhythm in this particular season of life.

I thought it would be a good time to become a little more intentional with another habit of prayer - noon thanksgiving. (To read more about habits of prayer, click here.)

For me, thanksgiving is a fitting way to mark this "hour" of prayer. Here's why:

1. Noon is usually busy! We are finishing up our morning activities and moving into lunch preparation. I'm usually in the kitchen, often multitasking. But offering a few words of thanks to God does not actually take that much "extra time." It's something that can be woven into whatever I'm doing. (This is an example of how we can practice the presence of God.)

2. Noon is usually visible. 12:00 is easy to spot on the clock. Everyone sees the hands pointing up and they get hungry. It's a good trigger to pause. It's a good reminder to lift my thanks up. It's also tied to the eating of lunch, and one of the best ways to get a new habit going is to piggyback it onto a well established habit. (I won't be forgetting to eat lunch anytime soon, trust me. I'm a hobbit at heart.)

3. Noon can be a little stressful. By this point, enough things can have gone wrong to start to sour the day. But a little thanksgiving can rescue it. Gratitude fills my thoughts with the good, the true, and the beautiful. Gratitude can change perspective, and that can change my attitude (coincidently, the only one I can control).

And so it seems a fitting time to give my thanks and praise.

A fitting time to gather the little treasures of the day and turn them over in my hand.

A fitting time to take note, to take joy, to take part in all the goodness the Father lavishes on us.

A fitting time to look up and simply say, "Thank you."


Monday, 10 October 2016

The Deepest Secret of Joy

The bread is warm, and the coffee is fresh, and morning prayer is sung by a cooing six-month old. Outside the rain is pounding and drumming, but inside we are snug and safe. What more could I ask for? I have been given this, and so much more. At times I wonder why - why me? Why so much? The baby smiles at Daddy, and I think my heart just burst for joy. 

I have not always felt the joy. There have been seasons where the discouragements loomed large and shut out the light. There have been days when all I have been given has been a burden I nearly collapsed under. There have been times when joy was hard won moment-by-moment. I do not take it for granted. 

And yet, here it is. I have chased it down only to find it handed over as pure gift. I have felt its call from the far country, and sold everything to dig for the pearl of great price. I have known it as the tender unfurling of a fruit blossom, fragile and quiet, and I have known it as a great thrumming song of victory wild. 

I have learned I cannot create it. I cannot conjure it up. Its essence is otherworldly, yet it takes on form in such ordinary pleasures. It is embodied by what I can sense, but it is not limited by circumstances. It is one part of the Spirit-life that grows only when the seed of all I am falls into the ground and dies, hidden, waiting, waiting for resurrection. And yet I can, and must, cultivate it. I must tear away the vines that choke, grasping the thick trunk of mistrust to pull it up by its root. 

It is not sadness which is joy’s great enemy. It is lack of trust. Sadness is a rain that can water the ground and make it soft, make joy bloom all the sweeter for its flood. But disbelief is true lack - lack of water, lack of light, lack of compost. Disbelief is drought. Disbelief is darkness. Disbelief takes the discarded scraps of life and holds them bitter tight, squeezes them into a putrid slime that is death to the struggling seedling. But trust - ah, here I am only beginning to learn - trust takes the fallen leaves and embraces the decay of my frailty, entrusting them to the earth’s slow renewal. 

Trust is surrender, and surrender is the beginning of birth. Surrender is the beginning of beauty, even in what’s broken. Surrender is the beginning of joy. 

The baby laughs, and I hear the voice of my Father in her. Even her cry is His benediction, as I embrace the life He has given me and seek Him in her eyes.

Today, joy is my companion by the fireside. And perhaps tomorrow I may have to go out into the storm to follow its call. But I am learning to trust. Learning to take joy even when the winds are howling. There is a path of life wherever God is present. The deepest secret of joy is its Source, and He says, “Lo, I am with you always.”



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