Today the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II will be joined by members of the Poor Peoples Campaign to demand justice from the Trump Administration. My thoughts and prayers go with them because this administration has no respect for the poor or disadvantaged. We have seen in the deserts of the Southwest how they have criminalized compassion and, as a result, I do not expect Dr. Barber or the Poor Peoples Campaign to be welcomed with compassion. I offer this prayer for their safety and that closed hearts will be opened.
WE COME THIS DAY
We come this day to the Father, We come this day to the Son, We come to the Holy Spirit powerful; We come this day with God, We come this day with Christ, We come with the Spirit of love and kindness.
We come this day to open closed hearts to the Creator, We come this day to heal wounded hearts of hate and fear, We come this day to heal the blind, to see Jesus in our brother, our sister, We come this day to set the fire of holiness in each other. We come this day to shout God’s words of justice, mercy and compassion.
God, and Spirit, and Jesus, From the crown of our heads To the soles of our feet; We come with our reputation, We come with our testimony, We come to you, Jesus; Jesus, guide us, shelter us. AMEN
Over the years I have practiced many different types of
meditations. However, in the last year
or so my meditation time has become erratic, as a result so has my well-being. So
I recently began to meditate again, and being the crazy person I am, I volunteered
to lead a six-week Centering Prayer session at my church, Queen Anne Christian
Church. Which has me working really hard
to re‑integrate prayer into my daily schedule.
You would think that wouldn’t be hard for me as I am retired and haven’t
many obligations outside my home. I
should have plenty of time right. But never underestimate the power of
procrastination or the ability of a retired person to fill up their days. Besides,
I’ve done this before, this should be easy, right, NOT.
The process of Centering Prayer isn’t difficult, but it is
hard, and I know that’s a contradiction. I have learned it is harder to give up
control and enter into a meaningful and restful prayer time than it is to read
about it. There is a reason such prayers
are called “practice” because that is what you have to do. Our post‑modern
minds resist the act of sitting in silence and letting go of daily matters, it
wants to control our time, and it will fight back when we do practice a
meditative prayer. A minds rebellion takes the form of “monkey mind” or having the
inner voice inside of our head keep up a running chatter and we can’t get quiet
in order in meditator. This is where that annoying word “practice” comes in.
Practice is the only way shut down the chatter, when you finally
succeed then you will experience the quiet that allows you to ‘hear’, feel the
presence of God? One thing I do when I am
starting, or restarting, a new meditation practice is to limit the length of
time I meditate. Currently I am only meditating for 20 minutes at a time. Any
longer and I can’t keep day to day, mundane things from intruding. In centering
prayer, you select a word or short phrase, repeating it softly to help focus
the prayer and settle the mind. I admit to making good use of my centering word
in fact, when I first restarted my centering prayer, I think I spent the whole
20 minutes saying it and still the day’s trivia called to me.
One addition to my prayer time is helping me along. I am holding my Chihuahua’s as I meditate.
Their soft breathing /snores, and warm, soft bodies provides an extra barrier
to daily interruptions. I know many
can’t hold a pet, but, if you have a pet you can hold or have sit near you,
they are a comfort.
If you live with
someone they can, and often do, become an obstacle to meditative prayer. You need to spend in prayer should be a quiet
time, with no distractions. However, when there is someone else you need, or
wants, will intrude on your quiet time, especially when you have children. Husbands, wives, and children often don’t
understand why you want to sit in silence and have time alone for 20 or so
minutes. It is not just yourself who must work to enter into a rhythm of daily
prayer, your family also has to know about, understand and accept that for 20
or 30 minutes a day you are unavailable. That is, unless someone breaks a bone
or is bleeding, I end my meditation for those. We all have those events we
cannot nor should ignore and that is perfectly OK. After all prayer time isn’t something we have
to do, it something we want to do and enjoy while we do it. I have found that setting up a space designated
for my prayer/meditation time. I have a table,
candles, a chair with a soft blanket and a dog bed for my meditation partners.
It’s one of my favorite places.
Those are my struggles with centering prayer. I’m sure
others will experience different issues. I know many who struggle with “monkey
mind,” and I have troubles with monkey mind as well. Over time, with practice,
I have been able to somewhat quiet the babble in my head. It will happen for
you as well, just don’t dwell on it and realize that it is a normal response when
If any of you practice a contemplative spiritual practice or
are starting one, I send you my prayers for peace, silence, joy, and rest. May you find your moment with the Holy Spirit.
Thomas where were you
when Jesus came?
What was so important
you couldn’t stay for a while longer?
Did you have to do that
laundry, or groceries, or maybe clean a closet?
What could have drawn you away?
I know how it is to have all those tasks
to always have no time to finish those all important tasks.
I understand you
I am like you, . . .
to busy to stop
to busy to listen
to busy to wait
You won’t believe
unless you see
you must feel the wounds to have faith
Oh so like you am I . . .
I too wasn’t there to see and touch the master
and sometimes I find it hard to believe,
to just have faith.
It took you the touch of the Master to believe I have the words he spoke to my heart to believe It took you putting your hands in his wounds to believe I have his love warming my spirit to believe I have not seen the Master as you have done But I have seen the Master in the face of a newborn child, in the morning sunrise and evening sunset, Yes I’ve seen the Master, for the he is all around me If you weren’t so busy you would see the Master too
Birthdays make me reflective and as I get older the more
reflection I seem to need. I just had my birthday and I have been contemplating
memories of the last 72 years. I find it
hard to believe that I’m in my 70th decade and it is even harder to
believe I survived all those years.
Have you noticed memories are kind of weird? We never really
remember them as they were but as we want them to be. I also don’t remember
them in order and one memory seems to trigger another that may have happened
years before or years after. But, the
act of remembering is a re-membering of me.
It is a process to remind me from where I came and how each memory
created me. It is a little like a yearly
‘Examen.’ It isn’t just remembering but an accounting of my life. It is an opportunity to remember the good
times and the bad, to forgive others, and to be forgiven, and to offer myself
I find God’s grace in memories, grace I hadn’t noticed when
I was living them. I sometimes discover angels who have been my guides or
protectors that I didn’t recognize when they entered and left my life. Each
grace and angel helped form me into the person I have become. Unfortunately, I
have also recognized a few individuals who lead me from my path, and I had to
struggle to return, often with the help of one of those angels. It is one of
God’s enduring graces that angels come when we need them and it’s usually when
we have gotten everything all wrong.
I have been rescued so many times that my guardian angel carries
an extra-large emergency kit. I am sure
she is grateful I haven’t needed to be rescued for a while. I started very
early with getting my self into trouble. I was 6 when I pulled a deep-fat fryer
down on top of me, resulting in 2nd and 3rd degree burns
over 75% of my body. My memory of the incident is I wasn’t alone, I was being
told I would be alright, and I was. An
angel in the shape of a plastic surgeon came and volunteered to perform all the
skin grafts, paying for the hospital himself, and not charging my parents. Without the skill of Dr. Meany, I would have
been severely crippled. I would have been unable to live a normal life. My
gratitude for the Doctors and nurses who worked so hard to save and heal me has
no bounds. To give back the gift given
to me I have tried to be present to those who have been burnt, giving them
comfort, and sitting and listening to their fears.
Passing on the gifts of grace has become part of who I am. I
have been on the verge of homelessness a couple of times in my life and each
time one of those angels was sent in to help. To pass on that gift I have
helped others who have been on that edge, never expecting I will be repaid but
always expecting that they will pass on their gift of grace. If everyone did that no one would ever be
Those are nice memories, but I also have memories I am not
proud of. In my early 20’s I worked with
a woman who could be abrasive and, quite honestly, we didn’t just not get
along, we disliked each other intensely. I am ashamed to say that I started a
not so nice rumor about her. There was a small, very small, bit of truth to it but
essentially it was an exaggeration of the facts. I never apologized to her, in fact it wasn’t
long after it happened that I left for college. I regret that. I will never see
her again, I don’t even know if she is still alive. A few years ago, during a
ritual of forgiveness, I asked God to let her know, wherever she is, that I am truly
sorry. I also offered a prayer to forgive myself in order to let go of the feelings
of guilt, and, anger I had felt towards her. It took a while to feel within the
forgiveness I sought but eventually I did.
Memories are funny things, I don’t remember the same ones
every year but the ones I do seem to be the ones God wants me to remember. As I am 72 I have a lot of memories, I sincerely
hope I have enough time in the life left to me to ask for forgiveness, and to
express gratitude for those I haven’t remembered yet. Only time will tell.
Birthdays are not something I celebrate, but I find them useful. They offer a time to recognize grace, ask for forgiveness, and find peace in a life that has seen some rocky roads. I have no idea what memories I will form in the next years and I hope they will be good ones. I also hope they won’t be too embarrassing, but if they are, I know God and the angels will be nearby. After all my guardian angel has that huge emergency kit just waiting for me to mess up.