Praying My Memories

Sunday mid-morning
Front porch drenched in sunshine
Or not
Or not
Front porch with the dirty white railings
The small metal what is that French word
Corner plant stand
Wrought iron furniture
The rock we brought back from 
The beach in Homer, Alaska
The pottery bowl
On the plant stand
Small stones and dry leaves 
Not filling the inside but there
The old tall brown milk jug
That my friend whose name I can’t now recall
Brought me flowers in
When she learned my father had died
Even though I hadn’t seen or spoken to my father
For what was it 3 years
Before sitting at his deathbed
With that skeletal remnant of my once
Tall father, striding home from work,
On long legs
But then the drinking
The hurts
The threats
The arrest
The time in jail for threatening
My mother
Trying to extort money for her safety
From my sister and me
We had to testify in a courtroom
Where my father sat
Seventy years old
Orange prison jumpsuit
Between two guards
Orange was not the color of love
That day
The milk jug is part of the porch
With the small animal figurines
That grace the French whatchamacallit
Corner plant stand
Figurines from my mother’s front porch
In Mississippi before she moved here with us
The rough wooden cross
That Woody made for my Sunday School class
Now sits on the small table on the small porch
Where Bev brings Mom Communion every Sunday
While I bow my head and pray my memories

From Neurotransmitters to God

Steadfast, pleasing dopamine
Soak me with contentment
As I eat
As I sleep
As I shower

Saucy, natural oxytocin
Suffuse me with love
When I reach out to friends
When I pet a dog
When I help someone

Sweet, necessary serotonin
Steep me with well-being
As I walk through sunshine
As I pause to breathe deeply
As I move through asanas

Strong, happy endorphins
Saturate me with pleasure
When I exercise
When I laugh
When I dance

And when I pray?
When I remember 
My generous generating God?

Whose gentle breath
Created a world
Whose dragon breath
Consumes only as a lover
Enflames the heart
Strengthens the will
Emboldens the soul

Steadfast God of dopamine
Grant me the wisdom to care for myself

Saucy God of oxytocin
Grant me the love to care for others

Sweet God of serotonin
Grant me the appreciation of your world

Strong God of endorphins
Grant me pleasure through my years

God of my needs
God of my wants
God of my satisfactions
God of my pleasures

Grant me your grace

Making God Happy

You know the great thing about God?
She isn’t easy to offend.

I haven’t quite figured out
How to reconcile my easy going deity
With Yahweh the Terrible
Ready to command the slaying of multitudes
Often reluctant to forgive
Without extravagant penitence
Sending His people into exile
Because they just didn’t measure up
Requiring the sacrifice of His own Son
As a criminal on a cross
With lots of blood
In atonement for an ancient offense

I learned that God
I knew Him well
Through a fearful childhood
Never dared turn my back on Him
Not for one nanosecond
He would strike me down in His great wrath
So I decided I had better become a nun
Because what else chance had I
Of earning heaven 

A little later
It was years of lonely non-faith
Because I gave up
Easier to stop believing
Than to I accept that
Nun or not
I had NO chance of earning heaven
I just wasn’t ever going to be good enough

But then
A little later again 
Hey Presto! It’s OK!
Remember that gory death
Of God’s own Son?
Well, God Himself 
The Great Yahweh
Earned heaven for us
By that ugly death

Say what?

More years of confused faith
Before I realized that
I might as well believe someone
Earned my height for me
Or my eye color
As earned heaven for me

Back in those heavenly realms
God the Eternal is 
Forever patient with me
She waits while I ignore Her
She waits while I confuse Her
With theology and theocracy
She out waits my anger
She out waits my preoccupations

She positively lurks
In the corners and shadows
Of my life

And then
When I am ready again
When I greet Her
She grins from ear
To universe-spanning ear
She does a cartwheel over the sun
And tosses the moon from hand to hand
She juggles a few stars
And throws down a sunbeam or two
Weeps torrents of joy
Claps her hands in time with the thunder
Dances through the green grass
Gyrating and grinding like a rock and roll star

Just because She is happy to see me again.


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Prayers After YouTube

[We have to create peace and reason within our own hearts and homes. Madeleine L'Engle]
We made a decision
A few weeks ago

Not to stop watching
DCI Banks and Bones
NCIS and The Durrells in Corfu
Those wonderful shows
Where crimes are solved
Arguments are resolved
Happily ever after happens
In less than 60 minutes
Each night

But one night a week
We tell YouTube to educate us
About food insecurity
Climate change
Sustainable farming
How to feed nine billion people
Many of whom want more red meat

But also India
India, with one-fifth the land of the United States
And about the same population as China
We tried to imagine 2 million people
Instead of 150,000 in our little city
Wearing masks, trying to keep distance

Today, just a little while ago, I said
“YouTube Israel Palestine history”
(OK, I admit I added “please”
But I muttered it quietly)
What we saw was instructive
But not hopeful
The narrator seemed to think
It would be more hopeful 
If we only understood
That it was not a religious conflict
Just a land and water rights conflict

So my prayers, morning and night,
Are somewhat angry these days
I know the world is as it has ever been
And my awareness has little to do with
The goodness or troubles of God’s creation

But it has everything to do with 
My own creation of peace and reason
Within myself, within my home
How do I model myself --
In love, justice, mercy -- 
On an all powerful omniscient Creator
A divine person who, I am told, is my 
Personal lord and savior
To be welcomed into my heart
But who does not protect Their own creation?