Plagues and Pleasures

(Poems should stand on their own, but I want to share the prompt for this one. Rebecca reminded us that last evening began the Jewish Seder: “As part of the Seder ritual, we commemorate the ten plagues of the Egyptians by reciting them: blood, frogs, gnats, flies, death of the livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, slaying of the firstborn. With each plague named, you dip your pinky finger into your glass of wine, and remove a drop of wine, dabbing it onto our plate.” The Biblical reverence for the plagues is Exodus, chapters 7-12.)

Drop by blood red drop
We empty the cups of our lives
Of plagues and pleasures

Drop by blood red drop
We decorate our portion of time
With patterns of plagues and pleasures

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The deafening chatter of the family
+++++ The comforting murmur of the home

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The unexpected jerk of yet another demand
+++++ The exciting jump to something new

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The buzzing itching irritation of the mundane
+++++ The beautiful enveloping constancy of the necessary

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The petty distractions that can’t be ignored
+++++ The small diversions that relieve boredom

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The dreaded death of those we love
+++++ The welcome end of suffering for those we love

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The daily frustration of failing bodies
+++++ The always wonder of physical life

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The refreshing allurement of friends
+++++ The depleting demands of friendships

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The trivial eaters of our time and energy
+++++ The valuable enrichment of blank hours

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The shattering terror of the unknown
+++++ The gathering comfort of rest and renewal

Harden not my heart, O God

+++++ The bitter mourning for love lost
+++++ The sweet grief of love remembered

Let not thy plagues embitter me, O God
Let not thy pleasures weaken me

+++++ For I am pharaoh and prophet
+++++ Egypt and Israel
+++++ Wanderer and resider
+++++ Infidel and believer

Soften my heart, O God
Strengthen my will
Sustain my soul
That I might accept my cup and my portion
My plagues and my pleasures

Prayer on Fasting and Abstinence

My Gracious God,

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
Father, Mother, Brother
Protector, Comforter, Friend

When I abstain from food
Help me also to abstain
From judging myself or others
By body image

When I abstain from favorite things
Help me also to abstain
From judging myself or others
By achievements and acquisitions

When I fast, emptying my stomach,
Help me also to empty my thoughts
Of harsh judgments and unkind opinions

When I fast, emptying my stomach,
Help me also to empty my feelings
Of anger and envy, self-loathing and despair

Whether I abstain from food
And favorite preoccupations,
Whether I fast to empty my stomach,
Help me to fill my soul, my spirit, my life
More and more with Your Spirit,
Your Grace, Your Wisdom. Amen

A Woman’s Prayer

The gospel reading today is Mark 5:21-43: the story of the raising of Jarius’ young daughter, with the almost parenthetical story of the healing of the bleeding woman.

Reading this as an older woman, I experience an immense welling up of gratitude that on His way to raise the young to new life, Jesus paused to heal and bless an intrusive, desperate, devalued older woman.

My woman’s prayer:
Continue, please, Lord Jesus, to raise the young to new life and heal the wounds of the old.

Measurement

But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

(Ephesians 4:7)

What, then, is the measure of a gift?

Do I measure by satisfaction:
Is it what I needed?
Is it what I wanted?

Do I measure by comparison:
Is it better than other gifts?
Is it better than what others got?

Do I measure by value:
How much did it cost?
How special is it?

Do I measure by the giver:
How much do I care about the giver?
How much does the giver care about me?

Do I measure by the effect:
What does the gift do for me?
How does the gift make life better?

I have measured gifts
In all those ways
And more, at times.

I have felt hurt by gifts
That didn’t measure up.

I have hurt others
By my reaction
To their gifts
That didn’t measure up.

I have given myself gifts
That didn’t measure up.

“According to the measure…”
What is the measure of Christ’s gift?
What is the measure of my gratitude?

Ah, Paul, you tricky apostle.
There is no measure, is there?

An immeasurable gift
Calls forth immeasurable gratitude.

God, Person without measure,
God of steadfast love,
God of enduring faithfulness,
God of all my days and ways,

Let my response, my gratitude
Be as immeasurable as Your gift.

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

Doxology

This began during meditation after yoga, I found myself praying with my breaths :

Glory be to God my Father,
Glory be to God my Mother,
Glory be to God my Brother,

Glory be to God Holy Spirit,
Glory be to God Lady Wisdom.
Glory be to God Divine Teacher.

Glory be to God of enduring love.
Glory be to God of steadfast faithfulness.
Glory be to God of unfailing forgiveness.

Glory be to God of beginnings.
Glory be to God of now.
Glory be to eternal God forevermore. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer – More or Less

Creator God
Loving Mother and Father
Sustaining Spirit
My truest home
With me but not of me
Holy and wholly different
Grant me Your grace
To live embodying Your love
For all of Your creation
Each one of Your creatures
(myself included)
Nourish me each day
With Your sufficient, sustaining grace
Forgive my falterings and failings
Look lovingly on me
So that I may look lovingly on all others
Even those whom I feel do me wrong
Protect me from my demons
From doubt, depression, despair
From rage and bitterness
Protect me from all evil
Within and without
Please let it be so
Sovereign Creator
Omnipotent Redeemer
Glorious Lady Wisdom
From everlasting to everlasting
Amen

A Sunday Prayer

Lady Wisdom, guide me
Mother of all, hold me close
Father of all, protect me
Teacher of all, teach me
Creator God, grant me a share of Your compassionate love

Lady Wisdom, thank You for my faith, troubled though it be
Mother of all, thank You for holding me, even when I feel abandoned
Father of all, thank You for protecting me, even as I wander
Teacher of all, thank You for Your patience, as I forget time and again
Creator God, thank You for all that I am, all that I have, all whom I cherish, all my joys and sorrows, triumphs and difficulties, youth and aging, those lost and those found

God Eternal, accept my praise, though I be like the dust mote praising the sun that makes it sparkle

Amen

Aftermath II

The wind is stilled
The earth is quiet
The fire is quenched
I hear the whispered questions

Who will love justice
Who will carry the burden of injustice
Who will know their own failings
Who will walk on troubled waters
Who will reach for My hand
When sinking with the weight of sin
With the exhaustion of trying
With the failure of understanding

Let me recognize
My privilege
My prejudice
My racism
My failures in love
Let me grasp God’s steadfast love for all
And enduring faithfulness to me. Amen

Love for Your Sake Alone

“…give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace.
Give me humility in which alone is rest,
and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens.
And possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love.
Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love,
that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection,
not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity,
but for You alone.”

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation