Celebrate Earth Hour TODAY with millions of people around the globe by turning off your lights for one hour, beginning at 8:30pm. For more information, see www.earthhour.org/ AND www.worldwildlife.org/focusearthhour. Thousands of cities and towns in almost every country and territory in the world will participate. "Earth Hour is the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world. Born out of a hope that we could mobilize people to take action on climate change."
Here’s what’s going on with me prayer wise today. Maybe you’ve been in a similar state of unrest. Yesterday I starting worrying about a little situation in my life, and with that worry, guilt decided to come in (or maybe I let it in). As I began perseverating about it, my prayer became all about me, not about God in my life. (Actually it wasn’t as dramatic as all that, but you get the point.)
Then grace came in, and I remembered this prayer by Wayne Dyer. What a shift—from all about ME, to God working through me.
This is God.
I will be handling
All of your
I will not need
Your help, so have
A miraculous day.
I often send this prayer to friends the day before they face a specific challenge-- a job interview, an important exam, a confrontation. Last night I sent it to myself.
I believe I blogged about Wilderness Blessings when it came out last year but I can seem to locate it right now. Whether I’m posting again or for the first time, I am convinced than that this is an important book.
Before I finished reading it four months ago, I gave my original copy to my niece who is a cardiologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston. As I continued reading last night, I came to Jeff’s discussion of prayer-- his understanding of prayer and how prayer affected him during Jacob’s second surgery. I’ll write about that in the next few blogs. Here’s today reintroduction.
Yesterday Jeff Gallagher and I got together at his church office in Kittery Point to catch up and talk about writing. Jeff went to divinity school with me and was a field education student at my church. He is now the father of two boys, Noah a third grader, and Jacob a kindergartener, who has Down syndrome. In 2013 Jeff published Wilderness Blessings: How Down Syndrome Reconstructed Our Life and Faith, a book about his (and his wife Kristin's) early experiences parenting Jacob. It is a book about love, parenting, Down syndrome, medical wonders (specifically at Children's Hospital in Boston), faith and so much more. It is how all these aspects, especially the ‘wilderness’ ones, can become blessings.
My church offers a Wednesday evening service. The invitation is as follows:
Join us Wednesday nights at 7pm for worship at "The Well." Throughout Lent these intimate and informal services will look at different spiritual practices that can be used anywhere: including church, home or work. Spiritual practices can be helpful to relieve stress, seek guidance, and give thanks throughout your life.
Last Wednesday we experienced centering prayer. I do my own version at the cottage, but seldom do I pray in this way with others. Praying in community is mighty powerful and very different from praying alone. We pray with others in church, but centering prayer isn’t part of the service. I’d love more opportunities but I don’t want to commit myself to something formal or scheduled. Um, how self-centered is that? Much to consider.
I’m in awe of the number of people on my prayer list. Friends, friends of friends, citizens of the world. Do our prayers turn the tide for them? Will my friend get an all clear report on her thyroid condition? My daily ‘top ten’ list is selective, but it doesn’t mean others aren’t on the list in my heart.
I have to assume that those of you reading this blog have your own list of ten. Yesterday 882 different people click on here. That adds up to 8882 prayers offered from just this little sampling of praying diary people. And what about all of your friends who pray but who didn’t read this yesterday to get counted? One could get discouraged by the enormity of prayer needs.
But God is bigger, more mysterious, more omnipotent, and more loving that anything we can even begin to imagine, which is a good thing. Then there is lent where suffering is held by God, which is another good thing. And then there is Easter where suffering is released. And that is a very good thing.
Oh, one more good thing: 8882 prayers is better than none. Every prayer is important. Don’t give up.
This was so true for me today, but just reading it helped me get back on track, at least a little. I always experience an adjustment period when I arrive back at the cottage after a weekend away.
The brethren asked Abba Agathon: “Amongst all our different activities, father, which is the virtue that requires the greatest effort?” He answered: “Forgive me, but I think there is no labor greater than praying to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies the demons try to prevent him; for they know that nothing obstructs them so much so much as prayer to God. In everything else that a man undertakes, if he perseveres, he will attain rest, but in order to pray a man must struggle to his last breath.”
Saying of the Desert Father, quoted in The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime, compiled by Phyllis Tickle
This picture that I just took out in the backyard reminds me of a comment a friend made to me years ago. We were driving along surrounded by a splendid sky, with the sun shining through the clouds.
“Just look,” she said, “there’s God shining down.”
Last evening I was listening on my computer to a two minute talk by Br. Curtis Almquist of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. These daily talks are part of the Brother, Give us a Word Lenten series offered by SSJE over the internet.
Br. Curtis’ message was clear:
God loves you.
Nothing new here; we hear it every time we go to church, and if we’ve been church goers for a while, it is in our unconscious--which is a good thing. Could it be that since I have heard so often that God loves me, I’ve stopped paying attention to the message? Last night was a perfect example. I listened and then deleted the message; this one wasn’t going to be a keeper.
At least that’s what I thought as I continued on with my evening. But what Br. Curtis said about God’s love kept rerunning in my mind:
I think love is ultimately not a feeling it’s a decision and it’s God’s decision and God adores you.
I try so hard to feel God’s love but it doesn’t happen. No wonder, that’s not the point. It is not up to me to feel, or not feel, decide or not decide, adore, or not adore. God does all of that. It’s all about the grace of God’s love. I just have to do my best to co-operate with God.
God is operating with love in your life and your response to co-operate with the truth of it.
You can read Br. Curtis’ talk below. I strongly encourage you, however, to sign on for the daily word that the brothers offer. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Transcript: God loves you and you may be, at this moment, or you may be able to remember some moments, where you felt that to the core of your being. But what happens when the weather changes and that feeling has gone away? Well, I would say two things. One, I think love is ultimately not a feeling it’s a decision and it’s God’s decision and God adores you. You make God’s day. You’re the apple of God’s eye. God loves you. That’s the truth. Some days you may get in touch with the feeling that encompasses that. But I would say number one, cling to the truth. That’s of your essence. You are loved of God and God has hopes of spending eternity with you. Second of all, especially if the feeling of love is lost on you right now, write this on a piece of paper “God loves me” and keep that piece of paper with you. I’d encourage you to cart that piece of paper with you through the day and tuck it under your pillow at night. And you might say, “And when I do that will I feel that God loves me?” I don’t know. I don’t know if you will or not. But I think the truth of that has every potential of sinking into the reality of your being because it’s a decision and its God’s decision and the invitation for you is to cooperate with that decision. God is operating with love in your life and your response to co-operate with the truth of it. You’ll catch on. You’ll catch on.
- Br. Curtis Almquist
Love Life: Living the Gospel of John
As I walked along the beach yesterday I got thinking about The Lord’s Prayer. “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It was easy for me to feel God’s kingdom as a walked along. Let’s face it, a beautiful day on the beach, like many other beautiful walks, brings us to it. Put yourself in nature; how can it fail?
But what if I bring people into the scene? What if I have to compete, share, and negotiate with others? What if I have to give up control and surrender to others? Can God’s kingdom come then? My answer is that it has to, although admittedly it is much harder, and often pretty much impossible for me to envision it. That’s the challenge.
As I ended my walk I decided that God’s kingdom coming on earth isn’t something that I finally attain once and for all, and then there it is forever and ever. Rather God’s kingdom comes and goes. It’s up to me to let it in. It’s worth trying for repeat performances, alone along the beach as well as in all those communities of mine out there in the world.
I am participating in a Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast sponsored by the United Church of Christ. Along with the specific suggestion that pops up on my screen every morning, I am also told to share what I’m doing with someone else and invite them to join me. So here I am, doing just that.
When I think of fasting as ‘holding onto’ something, I’m reminded that I want to hold onto my commitment to hang my laundry to dry and thus use my dryer less. This morning it’s a challenge. After all, daylight saving time has just robbed me of a precious hour. How pathetic is that for an excuse? Very.