Cross-Posting: Journeying

This prayer was first posted on the RevGalBlogPals site, a collaborative and supportive network of women clergy and their friends. On the “even” months of the year, I write a prayer for Fridays. Sometimes they are more liturgical in nature, sometimes they reflect the world and its hurts. But most of the time, they echo my own spiritual journey.

A week from tomorrow, the progressive Baptist church where I have been serving these last three and a half years is closing and selling the property to another congregation. For the last eighteen months, the church was not able to pay me. I stayed, as I was there on a minimal, part-time basis anyway, and had full-time employment as a hospice chaplain. Besides, they were my community, my church family, my friends. You don’t walk away from your friends who will be experiencing a death – in this case, the death of a church. (Ok – you CAN walk away, but not for any reason other than selfish ones.)

Now as we round the final turn towards the church closing, I am wrestling with all sorts of questions: Where will I go to church? Where will I find a place to serve? What is ahead for me in ministry? Do I stay in my work as a hospice chaplain, or pursue a full-time placement in a congregation? 

These are all unknowns. And I don’t really need the answers today. Where I will be this week is in the liminal space of the now and the not yet. If I am honest, it is every week of my life, But this week, with the pending change before me, it is more glaring, more challenging.

So I wrote this prayer for my friends at RevGals who may be in a similar space. But I wrote primarily for me as I walk this road with Christ.

SDG

Deb


Looking down a country road, bordered by trees.

Holy One,

The way ahead seems lonely at times, and I fear the unknown…

But You sing,
I AM with you, I am with you always. I will not leave you abandoned.

The silence is awkward at times, and I worry I am missing something…

But you whisper,
I AM calling, I am calling to you in this wilderness. I will make your paths straight.

I am impatient at times as I peer ahead to see what is just over the hill, just out of sight, wanting the future NOW…

And you say,
I AM, I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

And I know that I know that you ARE, you are with me.

Thank you. Blessed be.
Amen.

Here’s What I Know

At the airport

It was a seemingly random phone call as I sat waiting for my flight at the airport…

“Here’s what I know,” I said,
As I watched the criss-cross of people,
Hurrying here and there,
Carrying bags and talking on phones,
Rushing like there’s no tomorrow…

“We don’t know how much time we have,
So make every minute count.
Stay in the moment,
But think about how you act today
Will impact tomorrow.”

“Impact what?”

“Oh…” I said,
“Your loves.
Your goals.
Your standards.
Your heart.”

“But how will I know if I did the right thing?”

I sat for a while,
And rocked back and forth.
The smell of fresh pretzels
And the sound of wheelie bags overwhelmed my senses.

“I think it’s simple things,” I said.
“Whether you built a bridge or burned it
Whether you showed love or indifference,
Whether you showed grace or sat in judgement,
Whether you left people feeling welcomed in,
Or shoved out.”

“Those aren’t simple things.”

“No… they aren’t. But they are everything.”

It was just a random phone call.
But it turned out to be prophetic.

God, help me hear and respond with love to every call…

et lux perpetua…

Today during our Hospice team meeting, we stopped at the 10 o’clock hour to honor the lives lost in Parkland, Florida just two weeks ago. Just two weeks…

I re-lit our memorial candles to read the 17 names. After two or three names, I could not go on. So I passed the paper to a co-worker… and to another… and then we stood in silence. And tears.

At my regular team meeting, I read the names of recent deaths, and we have a moment to honor them. Sometimes I get a lump in my throat and feel a little sad. The stories and lives of our patients affect us deeply. We know we are in a sacred work.

But this… this was so very difficult. So very, very different.

This was random.
This was evil.
This was violent.
This was full of pain.
This was senseless.

Right before I blew out the candles, I said to my teammates, “May their lights continue to shine.”

Indeed.

…et lux perpetua luceat eis…

And let perpetual Light shine upon them.

Amen.

On the needles

Recently a family member had an outpatient procedure. We rushed to get out the door on time. Rushed to the office, only to be parked in the waiting area. After the prelims were done I had a lot of time just sitting alone. Waiting. Usually as I “hurry up and wait,” I’m knitting. And that was how I spent my time that day. (My other reflective crafting is coloring, but that’s a little unwieldy for your average waiting room chair. So I knit.)

I zoned out. I prayed. I tried not to worry. I counted the folks who got there ahead of us and hoped that I might hear some news soon. I wondered about the results. I thought about all the “what ifs” and “whens” and “what’s nexts”. And I knitted…

Now, if you’re a yarn snob, you’d recognize that the yarn on my needles is that commercially made “homespun” yarn. It’s acrylic. And I hear your eyes rolling. Can I be honest? It’s soft. It’s soothing. It feels sweet under the fingers. It washes and wears beautifully. And… it’s affordable. (This is especially true because I’m knitting from my stash this year.)

And as I sit and try not to stew, it comforts me, because its soft warmth covers my lap and my jittery nerves. Knitters and our crafty cousins, crocheters, keep our hands busy while the blur of the waiting room goes on around us. Usually, with knowing smiles, we check out each other’s yarn, needles and bags. On this particular day, a fellow knitter looked over and smiled, and moved into an empty space near me. We shared a chair between us for our  work bags.

Finally, she broke the silence. She said, “I knit to stay calm.”

I smiled. “Yes, me too!” I answered. “And I try to remember to breathe. And pray.”

She nodded sagely. We both return to our work… counting rows and stitches… praying… waiting… knowing God is there.

k3p3k3p3… k2tog… k 2 rows…

Time moves slowly. Three rows done. Twelve… I start a new ball, and am mid-row when I get the word… All is well. Procedure done. Recovery room soon.

As I let out the breath I had been holding unconsciously, my sister knitter smiled. “Good news?” she asked.

“Yes… good news…” After a pause, I said, “I’m glad you were here… It’s good to have company while you wait.”

“Yes, and someone praying beside you, too.”

Yes, indeed. Can’t ever have enough of that. The next time I’m in a waiting room with you, please know I’m praying for you, too.

Deep Peace

John Rutter’s setting of the Gaelic blessing, “Deep Peace” is playing in the background. I have finished some writing, some house cleaning, put away the laundry and reviewed my calendar for the week… and have a few moments to just sit and Be.

At the silent retreat last month, I had opportunity to do some journaling and praying. My prayers were answered, though not how I expected. Not at all. And yet as I re-read my journal entry, I realized the words were still true:

In God’s silence, in God’s seeming inactivity, so much is going on. Just like the frozen pond in winter, with the peepers and fish buried deep in the bottom muck, things may be still, but they are forming. Within me, there is also — a deeper, cognitive, spiritual and intrinsically peaceful level of change in my soul. 

Would I have known the depths of a yearning for this as-yet unknown Call had I not been still enough to hear it? The quiet is unforced, just as God’s leading, not changed by my wishes but shaped by God’s wisdom.

There is comfort in knowing this… deep within, All is Well. There is so much NOISE in keeping Silence. Well, non-noise, really. And in all of this non-noise, there are reminders of life and hope and peace… surrounding and filling me. There is so much to hear that I can only BE in it.

lichen

I know this Deep Peace, though I have no way of explaining it… only being IN it. Though I still wrestle and complain, (and yes, ask my ‘WHYs’ and ‘WHY NOTs’) I still walk in a place of abiding Love.

I share all this because, I suspect that you, who stumble onto this blog, have your own questions and doubts just sitting there, too. And I believe, down to my toes, that even with unknown answers, it is Enough to just Be. Here. Now. In the Presence of the Divine…

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ,
of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.