What I Heard When I Prayed

I do not promise healing now
Only holding (whether you feel it or not)
I do not promise knowledge now
Only wisdom (sometimes)
I do not promise success now
Only contentment (sometimes)
I do not promise power now
Only purpose (sometimes)

I do not ask for greatness now
Only gratitude
I do not ask for achievement now
Only effort
I do not ask for riches now
Only generosity
I do not even ask for faithfulness

For I am faithful (always)
With enduring faithfulness
I am loving (always)
With ceaseless loving
I am salvation (always)
Once and for all

So you can
Live
As best you can
Knowing
I am power in weakness
I am success in failure
I am knowledge in ignorance
I am healing in sickness
Soon and forever

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Passion (Palm) Sunday, March 25, 2018

Happy are those
Who do not follow the advice of the wicked
Or take the path that sinners tread
Or sit in the seat of scoffers

In the beginning
I held high a palm
[Am I doing it right?
My arm is getting tired.]
In springtime cool weather

A proud child
Celebrating Palm Sunday

With others
I sang and swayed

Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

As we processed
Into church
Celebrating
Palm Sunday

Decades of life later
I held high a sign
[Hell no, we won’t go
Bring our boys home]
In springtime cool weather

An angry college student
Protesting war

With my friends
I sang and swayed

We shall not,
We shall not be moved

As we were
Carried off to jail
Protesting
War

Decades of life later
I held high a sign
[They called B.S.
We betta listen]
In springtime cool weather

A retired professor
Protesting gun violence

With thousands
I sang and swayed

We shall not,
We shall not be moved

As we moved ourselves
Marching for our lives
Protesting
Gun violence

One morning later
I held high a palm
[Jesus silent before Pilate
Emma silent before crowds]
In springtime cool weather

An uncertain Catholic
Celebrating Passion Sunday

With other worshippers
I sang and swayed

Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

As we processed
Into church
Celebrating
Passion Sunday

Signs raised in protest

Palms raised in hope

Echoes reverberate

Growing stronger

We shall not,
We shall not be moved
We shall not,
We shall not be moved
Like a tree planted by the waters

Which yield their fruit in its season
And their leaves do not wither

We shall not be moved

The wicked are not so
But are like chaff that the wind drives away…

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous
But the way of the wicked shall perish

Psalm 141

O God, please hear me and help me
Let these prayers be my incense and sacrifice
Pleasing to You
Guard my thoughts and words
Guard my heart and actions
Give me patience and understanding
Give me generosity and wisdom
Do not let me turn from You
Do not let me become preoccupied
With my problems or my achievements
Let Your Word guide and correct me
Never let my own worst tendencies win
I pray, I pray, I pray always, please
Shatter my terrible Ds
Break apart my discouragement and doubt
Let me turn – metanoia – again and again to You
Be my refuge, my defense
Keep me from my own traps and snares
Ensnare my worst, that my best may escape
To live freely in and with You. Amen

Psalm 142

Here I am, again, God, crying to You for help
Complaining, reviewing all my troubles and failings
Because where else can I go but to You
On my own, I fall into my own traps, again and again
I cannot find the help I need
In any philosophies or psychologies
I cannot think or work my way out of distress
So I come to You, again, counting on You
Please help me for once again I feel trampled on
Brought low by my own failings
Those failings that are too strong for me
Those failings that imprison me
Without You, I have no hope
So please help me and I promise to be grateful
I hope to live within Your righteousness. Amen

Psalm 143

Would You please listen and answer me, God
I am trying to believe in Your faithfulness
That only in You is righteousness
I hope You are not judging me
Because right now I feel like I would not fare well
I’m tired, I’m sick and tired, and I’m angry
Here I am in darkness and doubt again
Feeling crushed, feeling pursued by my own failings
And feeling unheard
I have this appalling feeling that there is no one to hear me
I remember those times when I am sure of You
When I don’t doubt Your reality
When I find peace and pleasure just in praying
In writing these psalms, in preparing Sunday School
In reading about You
But right now, all I feel is dried up and parched, again
I try to find You, but all I find is emptiness
Come on, God, I am tired of being polite
I am tired of being here again and again
I am tired of worrying again about Your existence
Tired of wondering if I am a fool
I can’t find You, I can’t hear You
Can’t believe in Your steadfast love
I want to trust You, trust in You
But if You hide from me, how can I
How can I even pray for You to save me
When I can’t even feel Your existence
Come on, God, come on, show up
If You are my God, then be my God
Act like it, show me how to be Yours
Lead me in Your goodness
Save me, save me, save me
Get rid of these troubling thoughts and feelings
If Your love for me is steadfast
Then why won’t You end my struggles
Why won’t You let me live quietly
Quietly and surely as Your own. Amen

Five Sentences on Sunday Morning

As the final hymn begins
I leave church,
smiling at John,
our friendly and familiar usher,
to hurry to the car
to pull it up near the door
so my almost 94 year old mother
won’t have too far to walk.

I back out of the parking space
and pass the parked cars
of those still singing the final hymn together
as I drive forward
away from the exit
towards the door,
lowering the visor
because it is a sunshine soft spring day.

My mother, who has walked part way to the curb,
stands leaning on her cane,
her face lit with joy and laughter
as she talks with a little girl
and her toddler brother
who buzz around my mother
like bees around a bent sunflower.

I sit quietly for a moment
watching my mother,
my white, deep South, segregation,
Jim Crow born and bred mother
laughing in the sunshine after mass
with two small black children.

Big things are still wrong
with the church and the world
but this morning I am grateful
for grace
in sunshine
in a new memory,
an outward sign
of God’s presence and power.

Psalm 144

Blessed be God, the bedrock of my peace
God who supports my best efforts
God who delivers me from my worst failings
God who alone gives my spirit refuge
And subdues my terrible Ds
O God, how can eternal You notice ephemeral me
Can You really care for me when I am just a dust mote
Taking shape briefly and then blown away
And yet, I dare to call upon Your help
Burn away my mountains of doubt
Pierce my darkness
Rescue me from drowning in my failings
Save me from my own deceits and pride
Then this dust mote will sing with Your grace
Though I have no talent, still I will hum and vibrate
With Your forgiveness, Your unfailing love
As You rescued David, as You were with Ruth
Claiming her for Your own
So You rescued and are with me
Save me from my own deceits and pride
May the thoughts that are born in my mind
Reflect Your truth and Your grace
May my actions towards others
Reflect Your love and Your support
Fill my life with Your goodness
Increase Your presence in my consciousness
Help me to share in creating Your peace
Do not let me wander far from You
Because only with You is my true happiness
Only with You is my assured peace. Amen