Nesting Time

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Counselor of the Exiles, who leads us to our true home,
Sometimes we grow weary of living in the tension of the reality we perceive and the future we hope to enter. Refresh us with this pause in our day, to take in to our beings all that you are providing and to send away from ourselves all that holds us back. Help us to listen more deeply to your silent song. Show us the creative threads you provide for us to use and then build in our hearts a place for new life to emerge. Amen.

Uncover Us

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Hidden God, whose depths are infinite,
Help us shed our outer layers in this silence. Uncover the stranger that is within. Living on the surface, seeing only what is visible, can blind us toward the very thing we need to recognize. Rather than the condemnation we claim upon ourselves and others, guide us to deeper truths though which life emerges. Bring acceptance, clarity and peace up from the sacred chaos. Amen.

Growing Season

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Renewing Power, who brings all things into being,
Gather us toward you in this silent pause and ready our souls for this day.  Cleanse us by your loving Presence. Strengthen us to enter into the unknown. Remind us that there is nothing in this world better than being claimed by Love. Use us in this growing season. Scatter our spoken words like seeds for generating compassion toward one another.  Make us mindful that our deeds reveal our hope and commitment. Amen.

I Thirst

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I thirst.

It’s a hot 90 degree day, you have been working outside, covered in dust and dirt, smeared on your face and in your hair. You notice a garden hose, or a spigot,  water dripping out across the sidewalk, you reach down and pick it up, just a sip, just enough to wet your lips brings you relief.

Jesus calls out from the cross, “I thirst.”

Below him, someone steps up with a branch of hyssop and wine vinegar, and touches his lips.  Wine vinegar diluted with water was called posca, the drink of choice because it was thirst quenching, inexpensive and made river water more palatable. They soldiers at the crucifixion weren’t getting drunk on it, just using it to quench their own thirst.

Lifting the sponge soaked with posca with the branch of hyssop was necessary to reach Jesus’ lips. For those watching, the hyssop would remind them of the washing of the sacrificial blood of the lamb over the door posts in the Passover. Even in the midst of human failure and sin, here at Golgotha, a new Passover was being initiated.

As a nurse in the hospital, I had many occasions to put a cup of water, or straw to the lips of a thirsty patient, perhaps someone had surgery, or a stroke and could not lift the cup. I remember one patient in particular whose broken bones kept him from moving his arms and legs. Can you give me a drink? Thirst is the universal experience essential for sustaining all human life.

John’s gospel likes to point out the many ways Jesus’ humanity is revealed; he weeps, he gets angry, he thirsts. I think here on the cross however, when Jesus said, “I thirst,” rather than revealing his humanity, I think Jesus was revealing his full divinity. 

God on the cross, the divinity of Jesus exposed there, the love that held Jesus to the cross, became the liquid poured out for our sakes. It’s the water that is separated for our baptism, it is the water that brings forth the new creation. Jesus’ thirst fulfilled the revelation of scripture, Psalm 69:21 “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.”

Rather than posca, the liquid Jesus thirsted for that is essential for life is love. And here’s the thing: on Good Friday, we acknowledge that the crucified God still thirsts for our love. What makes our love available to God, what quenches God’s thirst is our complete trust, our faith.  God thirsts for us to love God with our whole lives. Not just sharing ourselves a sip at a time.

There on the cross is not the only time Jesus asked for a drink. Do you remember Jesus in Samaria, “Give me a drink?” Jesus greets the woman at the well. He was certainly able to get his own drink. And the woman is already suspicious, what did Jesus really want? She asks, why are you asking me for a drink?

It doesn’t take long to realize the way to care for those who thirst is through a relationship. She has the longest recorded conversation with Jesus found anywhere in scripture. She accepts the truth he gives her and she is so transformed that she goes back into her village where she was an outcast and brings many out to meet Jesus. She has fallen in love with yet another man, Jesus.  She has fallen in love with truth, with the way and with the life.

This question, “give me a drink,” was the very question I heard when my relationship with Jesus deepened.  Why are you asking me for a drink? What kind of relationship are you calling me to?

What Jesus was asking the woman at the well for was this: give me what I am thirsting for most, let go of your past, your five husbands and give me your whole life. He told the woman, “when you drink the water I shall give, it shall become in you a well springing up to eternal life.” You see when God gives us water, when God gives us his love, love that is essential for life, there is none of this sipping out of a hose, God is like a three-year old and pours that water over us until we are drenched in love. God is the ultimate fireman, a big huge hose of water poured out to save our lives.

Jesus Christ thirsts for more than our doing good things for others, following Jesus means placing our full trust in his love that gives life.  Following Jesus means that our lives are filled with love. Our one single aim is to quench Jesus’ thirst on that cross, to relieve his suffering, to give him our love and our lives.  Your cup and mine, Jesus wants to drink deeply of the love that places our complete trust in him.
(Photo Credit, Casey Boga)

Pilgrimage

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Celtic spirituality offers us some added disciplines to grow in our understanding of God’s faithfulness. For the ancient Celtic monks, pilgrimage was the art of leaving the comfortable and familiar of home to encounter God. Pilgrimage was often used as a way to share the gospel or to walk in the footsteps of a holy person.  Many Jews and Christians participate in pilgrimage by traveling to Israel. Pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the pillars of Islam. We do not need to travel to the place where our faith originated to accomplish pilgrimage. When on pilgrimage, the exposure to creation reveals the Divine Presence through plants, animals, landscapes and natural designs. Each person we meet on the road may carry a divine message.

Pilgrimage begins with preparation. Where are we going and why? We prepare our hearts and minds by establishing an intent, a reason for becoming a pilgrim. Do we have a yearning that needs to be addressed? Is it to watch for God’s Spirit in the world? Or is it to learn about faithful saints, or spiritual leaders? Preparing helps us to set aside other aspects of our life so we can give our full attention to the Spirit that beckons us on the journey. The act of physical packing only the essentials of what we will need is part of pilgrimage. During your time of preparation, be sure to plan a couple of stops during your pilgrimage to visit a special place or take time for reflection.

I believe that we can take on a pilgrim’s heart each time we leave home to accomplish our daily activities. If we leave home expecting to encounter God, there is a good chance we will be open to noticing God every day. No matter what the challenges of our circumstances at work or at school, with our health or our relationships, we can be pilgrims learning from those who walked the path before us. The best part of pilgrimage is bringing home the boon. What did we find while we were away from the comfortable and familiar? Sharing what we learn with others deepens our understanding.

During this Lenten season, I encourage you to practice the discipline of pilgrimage, leaving home for the unknown might open the path for an encounter with the Divine.

Fasting Is Slowing

Lent is the season to grow in our relationship with God. Prayer and fasting are good starting places for attending to God’s presence in our lives. Fasting from things other than food can be very helpful in providing us time to focus instead on God. Where do you spend your free time? How you spend your free time reveals where your priorities are. Often, we find ourselves wasting time without realizing it. Television, gossip magazines, Facebook, Twitter, internet games not to mention addictions like alcohol, pornography and gambling steal our time.

Listening in silence is one way to fast. It invites us to let go of our many distractions. Do not try to evacuate your mind, rather listen for the word that continues to surface that reveals the Divine. Use the Simple Prayers on this site to lead you into a time of silence.

Replace the things that steal your time with an intent to notice God in simple activities like  taking a walk, breathing consciously will re-establish the connection between your body and spirit. Practice taking each step gently as an effort to offer peace in our world.

Fasting in these ways can actually produce a slowing. We notice things we otherwise might overlook. Fasting is not very comfortable, because it reminds us how empty we are. I encourage you to empty out, my friends, slow down and fill up on the presence of God.Image

Interior Space

One Wall at a Time

If we spend any length of time exploring our interior lives, deep where the Spirit of God exists, we get to know our boundaries and our limitations. Each time we come up against a wall, we find that it is there for a reason. It might be protective. It might support other structures. It might be a place of review, scanning moments in time before turning a corner. There comes a day when the walls do not seem to do their job, they crumble and we fill with despair. This is a vulnerable time. Only when we recognize that God is necessary in the process of rebuilding can peace, security and hope be restored. Rebuilding takes time and attention to detail.

My office has two windows and a door, at least that is what I thought. Until during this renovation, we uncovered two windows leading into the sanctuary behind a case of bookshelves. Interesting. Our souls need to be permeable for the Spirit of love and mercy to flow freely. Windows for the soul might be prayer, artistic works, dreams, memories or spiritual friendship. Perhaps there are some windows I have not yet explored, so I am excited about the possibility of restoring windows, especially those that help me see into the sanctuary, amongst God’s presence and God’s people.

This Wednesday, ashes will be imposed and we will begin the forty day journey of Lent. Forty days is symbolic of the time needed for God to accomplish God’s purposes. May you explore your interior lives, get to know your boundaries and limitations, inviting God to help rebuild any walls that don’t bring peace to your soul. May you find new windows for mercy and love to flow freely.