Wednesday, December 6, 2017

All Flame

Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before people, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven. But everyone who denies me before people, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.     Matthew 10:32-33

Let me not be one who denies you with
my life, while professing you with
my voice. I want my heart to be
open always to you, to be
your dwelling place. I want you
pulsing through my veins, filling every
cell with your presence. And yes, I know
you are already present in these places.
Yet I want to feel you there, in my heart,
in my blood, in my cells. I want,
like Abba Joseph*, to be all flame with you.
May it be so today, gracious Christ.
May it be so. Amen.

*Abba Joseph was one of the Desert Fathers. The reference is to this saying about him:
Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


My heart holds things my mind
cannot remember, shielding me, perhaps,
from pain I cannot yet embrace.

My heart, the oldest part of me, knew me
before I was me. How does it beat
all this time, so steady through sorrow and joy,
suffering and liberation?

Every tear and smile it knows. While mind
can only hold so much, heart holds it all.

“Listen, listen” it says, “to my wisdom. I will not
forsake you. Tune your life to my rhythmic beat
as you did, once, in the womb. My knowing
can be trusted.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Thanksgiving Prayer

 This morning I rose from a bed,
drank clean water from a faucet,
ate breakfast in my home.
Thank you, God.
I have a toothbrush, soap and clothes,
friends, family and love.
Thank you, God.
My heart beats, my lungs swell,
my mind works, I hear birds.
Thank you, God.
Your colors surround me,
your love sustains me,
your peace fills me.
Thank you, God.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


“Show us mercy, Son of David.”    --Matthew 9:27

 Show us mercy, Son of David
   for we are blind and do not know the way forward.
Show us mercy, Son of David
  for darkness envelops us today.
Show us mercy, Son of David
   when we use scripture to justify sin and excuse our callousness.
Show us mercy, Son of David
   when our blindness is so deep
   that we call the bad good
   and the good bad.
Show us mercy, Son of David
   when we do not see the log in our own eye.

Show us mercy, that we may learn mercy,
   that we may love mercy,
   that we may show mercy
      to the hungry and the hurting,
      to the sick and the homeless,
      to the prisoner and the outcast,
      to the privileged and the proud.

Show us mercy, Son of David
   until we become mercy.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Time Change

Conversation in person and on social media the past few days has often included the time change from the past weekend. The darkness at the end of the day is a struggle for many, including myself, and though I enjoy the light in the morning, it does not offset for me having to move around in the darkness after leaving work at day’s end.

On Tuesday mornings I’m at the church early for our service of Morning Prayer. Depending on the season and amount of light outside, I see a squirrel whose morning ritual has become familiar to me. This squirrel is unfazed by the time change; his days are always marked by the rising and setting of the sun. We are the ones who artificially bend the day to our control, imposing our schedules on the earth’s pattern of seasons and days.

Our bodies know the earth’s rhythm. After the time change on Sunday, many of us have awakened earlier in the morning and been sleepy earlier in the evening because our bodies have yet to adjust to a different rhythm. Yet we adjust eventually to the time change, like adjusting to a pair of new shoes that are uncomfortable at first, then get broken in as we wear them.

Thomas Merton observes that each morning at the point between darkness and dawn, creation asks God for permission to be. However, we humans “have fallen into self-mastery and cannot ask permission of anyone. . . We know the time and dictate the terms.” I wonder how life might be for us if we lived like the squirrel, who rises when it’s light and goes to sleep when it’s dark. I wonder if we’d have less stress and more freedom if we didn’t force ourselves to live by artificial time.

 The squirrel I see on Tuesdays reminds me of the Rule of St. Benedict. Benedict’s monks adjusted their schedules by the seasons. The physical labor, the number of psalms recited daily, the number of meals—these components of the order of each day were different when the days were shorter.

Are there some small changes we can make as these days shorten, changes that help us honor the season and connect us more fully to the rhythms of creation around us? Maybe you allow yourself to go to bed earlier or read rather than watching TV. Maybe you avoid running errands in the evenings and spend time with family or drink a cup of tea. Can you think of how you might welcome the shorter days?

Thursday, October 26, 2017


If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.   Matthew 7:11

What is good does not always seem that way in the painful moments.

What baby, though cramped in the warm womb,
thinks being pushed through the birth canal is good,
thinks emerging into light and chill and noises loud and harsh is good?

Does the caterpillar wonder at the cruelty of having the build its own coffin,
the chrysalis that seems the end of its life of freedom?

Good can’t always be discerned, foreseen;
sometimes, often, it is entered into blindly.
It is not willingly chosen.

Transformation comes disguised as chaos, upheaval, disorientation,
fraught with questions beginning with

Sometimes good is only seen in hindsight,
as one flies on colorful wings,
or experiences the vastness of light and love.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Prayer to Know Myself

“. . . your Father knows what you need before you ask.”  --Matthew 6:8

You know me, God, inside and out,
better than I know myself.
You know my needs, and though I am often
blinded by wants,
you see clearly.
Draw me closer to you so I may see myself
as you know me.
Help me to parse wants from needs
that I may be content and grateful.
I want my prayer to be a song
sung to your secret tune for me.
Let my life follow your melody,
let my spirit resound with your song.