Tuesday, July 22, 2003

If We Really Believed Our Prayers Were Answered...

There would be no sickness, no hatred, no wars, no poverty. There would be nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to wait for, nothing to want. We would smile with understanding when a friend seemed to have a bad day, whisper a quick prayer, and say with confidence, "Things will get better now." We would beam at each other with the Love of God because we'd know That's All There Is. We would notice the ripples in our day--a broken garbage disposal, a funny clunking sound in the car, a burnt piece of toast--but recognize them for what they are: little details that are handled easily, not the "final straw" that breaks the camel's back and sends us into the doldrums of worry for an entire afternoon. We'd know in our heart of hearts that God's got everything covered and that we are his children, each and every one of us--none of us more than another, and nobody ever less.

When I follow this IF all the way out to its logical conclusion, I see an image of a peaceful world, filled with kindness, cooperation, and love. Maybe I don't need to pray more. Maybe I need to believe more in the prayers I pray and in the promises of the One who listens.

Blessings on your day! :) k

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

A Prayer for Work

Just a few minutes ago my son Cameron and his friend Justin appeared in the door of my office. I'm sitting here writing, trying to get an article done by the end of the day.

"Would you take us to the pool?" he asked, hopefully.

"I can't, honey..." I said. "I've got to work."

"Well, Justin's dad might do it, but he's on the Internet looking for a job."

Only a 10-year-old could throw that out, so unflapped by the significance of the information. He was just interested in going to the pool. But suddenly I was washed through with a wave of compassion for Justin, for his dad, for their entire family. And I reeled for a moment, thinking of all the people I know right now who are out of work. Several people in my immediate family are struggling, out of work, or looking for work. Every which way I turn, people are experiencing layoffs, downsizes, or company reorganizations. Most of my work comes from the technical publishing industry, and we've all been hard hit in the last two quarters--some people are saying computer publishing is down 50% across the country. These are not just numbers. They represent great anxiety, family troubles, bad moods, and huge looming fears for the future.

I've been self-employed for 15 years, and a single mom for most of them. I know what it means to go out to the mailbox, reminding myself with each step, "My checkbook is not my savior." I remember the feeling of relief when the check would finally come and the feeling of worry as I watched it go immediately out again. I lived through those late night panics when I would suddenly sit bolt upright in bed and look at the ceiling and say, "You do have a plan for this, right? I mean, I know you have your eye on the sparrow--but you're not going to forget my mortgage payment, are you?"

Trust in God is the single best investment I have ever made. We draw heavily on our trust when we move into the uncertain and unpredictable situations in our lives. When we're out of work, our feelings can overwhelm us--it feels like we'll never find work again. But I hold to the belief that God knows what he's doing. We don't always understand the plan in the moment (or even afterward), but I trust that if he can keep a whole generation alive in the desert by delivering daily bread with the morning dew, he can figure out a way to keep our finances afloat until the next position or project appears. I just stay very close to God in prayer and do my absolute best with any work I have; then the rest is up to him. And even if he wants to change my priorities, moving us to a smaller house, causing us to shed some of our debt, helping us to refocus ourselves on him instead of our income, we know he'll be with us to face whatever lies ahead. I'd like to offer a prayer for all those who are seeking work and going through worrysome financial times (please join in if you feel so moved):
    Dear Father, help us to turn to you in the big and small things of life. Give us a real sense of the abundant universe you have created; help us to notice the richness in our lives and the many, many gifts you place in our paths every single day. Please comfort us and make your presence so real that we know you walk with us always. And help us not to place our belief in the scarcity we see, but to affirm, like the king you told to dig ditches in the desert before the rains began, that you are surely bringing good to us. Also, Lord, remind us of the many things we give each day--service to others, love, encouragement, forgiveness, blessing--and protect our hearts from becoming miserly in fear. Giving is your way. We know you are total love and total blessing. We thank you for your love and guidance, and pray that this time will bring us ever closer to you, dear God. Amen.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Understanding Deeply

Today I had the wonderful experience of taking a walk with a dear friend--someone I've known since high school, someone I've traded husband stories and kid stories and life stories with for a span of decades. We walked together on this beautiful summer morning--cool and cloudy--and I listened to the joyful things happening around her and felt how in love with life she was. I heard myself offering stories from my own life and learning right now, but I was very aware of something different--on a deeper level, in our hearts, there was such a feeling of connection and understanding that the words I used seemed so little and weak in comparison. I'm a person who works with words for a living and I know the power we give them--words can join and words can separate. They can bring reconciliation or division. They can carry thoughts of love or judgments that wound. But today, walking and loving, I understood clearly the difference between experiencing joining and talking about it. Lord, keep me close and draw me to continually understand you better--not just talk to and with and about you. :) k

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Lift Me

A wonderful piece of a poem from St. John of the Cross (also from the book Love Poems from God):

    Lift me into your arms, dear Lord,
    Like something precious that you dropped.

May we each be lifted above our circumstances today and feel the safe and constant comfort of his presence.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003


Moments ago I was sitting out on the deck, reading Love Poems from God, a collection of poetry by Rumi, Hafiz, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, when my Japanese neighbor, Madori, called over to me. She is wonderful and sweet--we've found our way through several conversations, gesturing and finding words we can share to make ourselves understood. Our interactions are always filled with smiles and laughter and those moments of Aha! when we realize we have found the right words to connect. Today her musical voice lifted my attention from my book and I looked over and smiled. Seeing that she wanted to ask me something, I got up from my chair and walked over to her yard. She reached for the words: "You like your book?"

I smiled and said yes and explained that each morning I come out with a cup of coffee, and read and write in my journal.

"What do you read?" she asked.

"Books about faith," I said. Her eyebrows drew together as she tried to decipher what I meant.

"Books about God," I said, trying again.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, smiling. "Yes!"

God, I just wanted to say how nice it was to see you in my neighbor's eyes. You flow across all barriers, you light up all things, and when we look closely, we find that you're there before us, smiling, waiting for us to recognize you. :)

Divine Opportunities

Do milk weeds grow where you live? Here in Indiana, in the mid- to late summer, milk weeds grow tall and brown and stalk-like, reaching toward the sky. They develop pods with a hard casing, large enough to fit in the palm of your hand. When I was little girl, I would sometimes walk to a friend's house through a field filled with milk weeds--the prickly exterior of the pods would catch on my shirt and hair as I made my way down the path. But late in the summer, something magical happened. The pods opened by some unseen force and inside revealed a beautiful white cotton--the bed of an angel, I imagined.

This summer seems to be a time of breaking apart for many people. Jobs have been lost, illnesses diagnosed, accidents experienced. Relationships are strained by stresses and the weight of the unknown future. Daily, faithfully we try to see and hear and know God, a little more, and then a little more. This morning I had a sense that this breaking apart is really an opening, like a milk pod, that comes when we're ready. Our circumstances break open--the illness, the job, the accident--and inside, we see that God is offering us an opportunity--to heal, to love more truly, to be free of circumstances that don't fit us, to remove every obstacle that gets in the way of our growing experience of him.

May we each be awake to every divine opportunity we are given today and cup each unexpected challenge gently in our hands, waiting patiently for God to open the pod of our circumstance and reveal his soft comfort and tender love within it.

Blessings on your day! :) k