Tag Archives: prayer

New Song for Sunday Morning

Quaking Bog, Wirth Park in Minneapolis, MN

Leaving the car parked as the sun tops the autumn trees

We walk into what was the very first Sanctuary:

A quaking bog with

Towering tamaracks

Birches, oak, maple, and even buckthorn

Cattails, lady slipper, and moss as old as my family tree

We walk on water, carefully and tenderly

One foot in front of the other

In a slow march for a

Slower life

A gentler way

In our minds we hum a tune

And our steps find each other’s match

Silent prayers hover above our heads and we suddenly find ourselves

At least for a moment

With the One we came looking for.

As if a deer had flagged its white tail

Everyone pauses

Knowing glances are exchanged as some linger longer than others

Again, each finding their careful stride

Paying even closer attention

Nothing happens by accident on a Sunday morning

In a quaking bog.

How to Keep the Faith

How to keep the faith

after fundamentalism was revealed a power structure designed to subjugate,

raise money

raise structures

raise men

All in the name of Jesus

In the spirit of greed, shame, and tyranny.

To this day, it is no longer natural to say, “I believe in God” without wondering if that means I believe in

Systems of exclusion

Prayer for the purpose of imperialism

Worship of drawn boundaries

Spirituality of capitalism

Politicking pastors and priests

But faith must be deeper than the skin of religion or propositional truths of the West

II.

Do I believe in God?

Ask me while my wife is in labor, at the first breath of a new life

Ask me when my grandfather lay dying, pleading the words “I love you”

Ask me as I put a wooden paddle into the quiet waters of Cedar Lake

Ask me at the twilight call of a loon

Ask me when the homeless man tells me he prays every day, and he’ll pray for me

III.

I believe in the spark that lit this soul

In the very first seed

In whatever it is that binds me to you

In the mystery of prayer

In systems of inclusion

In a spirituality of wholeness, nourishment, and equality

In worship as action on behalf of the oppressed and suffering

which welcomes my own story of oppression and suffering

which will beat every gun into a garden shovel

which will turn every corporation into a co-operative

which will transform every church into a neighborhood pub

which will make fellow Pilgrims out of politicians and corporate executives, religious radicals and heretics, rich and poor,

you and me.

This is the place where I can quietly, contentedly say that, yes

I believe in God.

Open My Eyes To…

Below is a prayer I wrote in response to an article at Read the Spirit. Readers were asked to start with the lines, “Open my eyes to…”

Open my eyes to Christ in me and Christ on the margins

Christ left behind
Christ demonized
Christ ostracized
Christ pushed out

Open my eyes to myself on the margins
Myself left behind
Myself demonized
Myself ostracized
Myself pushed out
So that may have compassion, strength, and grace to be in Solidarity with Christ on the margins.

Open my eyes to Christ in me.

Prayer Before Sharing a Meal

While on Iona, I was asked to pray for one of our meals and after receiving some feedback, I decided to write it down.  I’ve probably lifted some lines from Wendell Berry or the Iona Community Prayer Book, but nevertheless, here it is:

Loving God, help us to share this meal together

with respect for paradox

Make us mindful of those who are without a meal today

Those sleeping on the streets

Those caught in the midst of war

And as we prepare to eat a meal of organic vegetables and free range meat

We thank you for the farmer who is now able to sustain a healthy farm

For the careful treatment of animals

For the migrant worker who is paid a living wage

For the gardener who has a warm bed in which to sleep

May the food give us energy and strength to work towards this coming Kingdom of Peace, Harmony, and Justice.

In the name of Christ, amen.

Today, 31 Years Since his Assassination

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

Amen.

Today marks the 31st Anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

H/T: sojo.net

Finding God in Technology?

But ask now the beasts,

And they shall tell thee;

And the fowls of the air,

And they shall tell thee:

Or speak to the earth,

And it shall teach thee:

And the fishes of the sea

Shall declare unto thee.

Job 12:7-8, KJV

 

I don’t recall one time where I had a spiritual experience with my computer, or my iphone.

Could you imagine Jesus saying, “Go to the Apple Store and you will find rest for your souls”?

But I actually live my life as if this were the case.

I have a hard time sitting still. I like to check things: blogs, status updates, news. Something is always happening and I want to be the first to know. Quite often I will loose track of time and realize that I had spent the last HOUR spying on facebook pages or watching stupid youtube videos. By this time my eyes are dry and I feel totally unsettled, like I had just stepped off a long train ride. I had a good reminder to get off my iphone a couple weeks ago when my three year old said flat-out, “Dad! Put down your phone!”

Right.

What I really need is a long walk in the woods. To “speak to the earth” as Job puts it. Or as Sigurd Olson writes, to listen to the “singing wilderness.”

In the woods I feel free. It must be some sort of time warp extension of the Garden of Eden. I went to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for the first time last fall, and my first thought was that this is the way things are supposed to be. If a man walks carefully, quietly, and respectfully, there can be a real sense of freedom and contentment. No need of excess things. No pursuit of success. No jockeying for power and position. I heard the words of Wendell Berry, what we need is here.

And so short walks along the river, and extended trips into the wilderness have become a sort of spiritual discipline for me- where I watch the beasts and speak to the earth. Where I practice in this life what I think might be little glimpses of the next: beauty, presence, and connection.

The Singing Wilderness, (Knopf). The Selected Poems of, (New York: Counterpoint) 90.

From Yard Signs to Candlelight: Why I Practice Spiritual Direction

I grew up obsessed with two things: politics and religion. There was only one way to be a good little Christian, and that was by being a good little Republican. I read my Bible and handed out yard signs. I really was convinced that this would make the world a better place.

The problem was that the politicians broke their promises, and reading Leviticus wasn’t really helping me grow in kindness or compassion. I tried changing political parties, reading different passages, and visiting new churches. The problem still remained the same.

 

A DIFFERENT WAY

About five years ago, I was offered a free session of Spiritual Direction with the director I still see today, Tom Allen. He lit a candle to begin our time together and I started to unload. As the next few years unfolded, I barfed up my doubts about God, frustrations with the church, and anger at politicians. As we delved deeper I found a safe place to talk about mistakes I had made, broken relationships, and subtle but bright hopes for the future. I had discovered a friend who would not judge, try to fix, or smother me with opinion. Tom sat with me in silence, listened to my story, and kept a prayerful and present watch.

It is difficult to overstate the sort of impact this experience has had on my life. In an article published in Weavings, Douglas Steere says, “To listen another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.”* I really believe that this discipline is making me into a better husband, father, neighbor, and friend… that the powerful combination of reflection, self-disclosure, and openness to the Holy Spirit really are helping me grow in kindness and compassion.

FROM YARD SIGNS TO CANDLELIGHT

Nowadays, I don’t put up too many yard signs and I’ve learned to approach my Bible in a different way. And by far the most important work I do (outside my family) is lighting candles. Candles that bring pause, quiet, reflection, and light for the soul.

Sure, I absolutely continue to engage with the political process and I’ve finally begun to settle into a church community. But the most exciting part of my life is when I get to sit with someone else and be the one to listen, watch, and pray. The sort of transformation that occurs is as slow as molasses in the middle of Minnesota at the beginning of January. But slow as it may be, change is really happening. I doubt you could say the same for reading through Leviticus, nor the last candidate for whom you voted.

But if you could, I’d be more than willing to listen.

*Gleanings: A Random Harvest, April/May 1994