The Man Who Fell from a Cliff, a Parable

A man was walking along a trail high on a cliff when he slipped and fell.  As he fell, he managed to grab a tree root.  The terrified man had no way of getting back up, so he started praying.

“Please God, come and save me! I know you will come. Please come God!”

From the top of the cliff he heard a voice call down, “hello, I have a rope and I am going to throw it down, grab a hold and I will pull you up.”

The man said, “No that’s fine, God will save me, I know God will come, I’m a good person, God will come.”

“Ok” said the voice.

The man continued to pray, “Please God, I know you are there and can hear me, please come and save me!”

From along the cliff face the man heard a voice, “Hello, I’m rock climbing and can come over and help you get down, can you hold on for 10 minutes?” 

The man said, “No I’m fine, God will come and help me, I know God will come.”

“Ok” said the voice.

Now the tree root was getting a bit weak and the man was getting worried God might not show up in time. So, he prayed, really hard.  “Oh God, please, please! I’m begging you to come and save me!  My tree root is weakening, and I am so afraid! Please God come save me!”

A third time the man heard a voice, “Hello up there, we have gathered some friends and we will get a lot of hay and pillows below you to break your fall. In just a few minutes you can let go and we will catch you.”

But again, the man said, “No thanks, I’ve prayed, and I know God has heard me and God will come and get me down, thanks anyway.”

“Ok” said the group of voices.

Suddenly the root broke and the man fell to bottom of the cliff and died. When he reached heaven and saw God he asked.  “Why didn’t you come and save me, I prayed and prayed?”

God smiled and said, “I did come, I sent a man with a rope and you turned him down.  I sent a climber and you turned her down. I sent an entire village, but you turned them down as well. I simply assumed you wanted to die.”

The moral of this story is our prayers are answered always, but often not in the way we expect.  This story also illustrates a point for today’s world.  We have the answers in front of us, we just don’t want to see them. The Holy Spirit has given us the tools to fix our problems but if we don’t wish to use them, then well, She is going to assume we simply want to die.

P.S.: Notice, It was a man who fell from the cliff, if it had been a woman, she would have grabbed that rope in a heartbeat. Women understand a gift when it is given.

Ruth Jewell, ©June 2, 2020

Photo: Microsoft Word, Stock Image

Some Quarantine Observations

In the roughly 2 months since the stay home order was given, I have made some very un-scientific observations:

  1. I haven’t been much affected by the stay-at-home order.  It is what John and I did before this started. Except for going to church and groceries we didn’t go anywhere.
  2. I have actually heard from more people in the last 2 months than we had all last year. 
  3. Wearing a mask while shopping is kinda weird, I keep wanting to go into a bank, not to do anything, just go in.
  4. I am shocked at the level of ineptitude we, as a nation, are accepting from our federal government.
  5. I am totally grateful for the leadership of our faith community, my state and local governments. They deserve medals.
  6. I am heart broken by the number of people who have been exposed to and sickened by the virus, some because of people so selfish that they pass the virus on only because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by a face mask or a stay at home order.
  7. I am amazed and stunned, by the heroism of the nurses, doctors, medical house cleaning staff, postal carriers, grocery store clerks, police, and fireman who have continued to be the front line of defense. (I apologize if I have forgotten anyone.)
  8. I am angered by those who, with guns and lawsuits, attempt to intimidate our hero’s. They also sadden me because they are being manipulated by wealthy, greedy, power hungry, men who are following a corrupt leader.
  9. I have discovered some wonderful benefits to being told to stay home. I have been able to attend and participate in the Westar Institutes Seminars online and will take a poetry class this summer from the Grunwald Guild. All via ZOOM.  I would not have been able to do any of that if this hadn’t happened. (One of my questions even lead to a commitment to include gender roles in the next phase of the Westar’s Christianity Seminar, WOOT!)
  10. I have also been able to see all of our family, from across the country, on a regular schedule because of ZOOM meetings.  It has been so much fun to see everyone.
  11. I love it that I have a legitimate reason to read books by the bushel, as if I ever needed one.
  12. My garden is amazing, our garage is now cleaner that it has been in 40 years, and I have developed 5 new recipes that came out really good.  I have also created more that a dozen really bad recipes.  I am pleased that John has been a good sport and eaten the good and the bad.
  13. While church has been a bit weird and awkward, it has shown me how much our weekly sessions mean to me. Seeing each congregation member and our devoted and amazing pastor Luke and his assistant Mary make my week.

What does any of this mean, well, probably nothing. I keep trying to remember that none of us are alone. We have each other and the Holy Divine still walks with us. Still despite all that I know, have seen, and experienced I am sometimes afraid. Afraid for our grandchildren, and the children of our friends.  I am afraid for those who work with the homeless with little to no protective gear and pray every day for their safety.  My fear leads to anger when I hear of the lack of concern for our indigenous neighbors, all people of color, people who are disabled and therefore especially at risk, and the elderly who, unlike John and I, are confined within an institution.

I am also afraid for our nation, I am afraid for my family, and I am afraid for my community. I do not know what the future will bring. I pray, I hope, I pray,

Ruth Jewell, ©May 24, 2020
Photo: Troublesome Creek, WA, 2006, by Ruth Jewell

A Prayer for the Journey

As we continue to struggle with isolation, fears surrounding Covid-19, too much information, the lack of information, and misinformation I offer this prayer as we all journey the road together.

Ruth Jewell, ©April 28, 2020

Photo: Bryce Thompson Arboretum, Arizona, 2005, by Ruth Jewell.

I Thought I saw You

I thought I saw you
down there at the end of the lane.
Was it you I saw
holding a violet to you breast?
Was it you I saw
gazing into the distant hills
with such a far away look?
Were you waiting
for someone you love
to come and hold you?

I thought I saw you
down there at the end of the lane.
Was it you with tears
filling your eyes?
Did I see you reach
into emptiness hoping
someone would reach back?

I thought I saw you
down there at the end the lane
waiting for someone.
I saw you kneel in the grass
with violets all around and
I watched you pray.
As you stand and walk away
I prayed for you.

My spirit reaches out to you,
surrounding you, supporting you,
loving you, sending your heart strength.
It is all I have to offer
I cannot promise
all will be well.
I can only watch and guard.
I can only send courage and walk with you,
wait with you.
I cannot give you all you want.
All I can give, from my end of the lane,
is love and hope.

Ruth Jewel, ©March 16, 2020
Photo: The Guardian of the Woods

Prayers: Moral Witness Wednesday

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

-Adapted by Ruth Jewell, June 11, 2019

Ruth Jewell, ©June 11, 2019

My Struggles with Centering Prayer

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. 

Esmerelda and Louis

  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 starting meditation.

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.

Ruth Jewell, ©June 3, 2019

Grief

Tiko Giorgadz, unsplash

She sat in the corner
eyes dry, there are no more tears
her heart ached for her baby boy
the world so bright now dark
“my baby, my son”

“A sword will pierce your soul,” he said
he came to die they said
but, . . . .
I carried him under my heart
I cradled him in  my arms
he was my son, my first born

~Ruth Jewell, ©April 20, 2019

New Years’ Day Prayer

Circle us, Lord, on this New Year’s Day
Circle us with the light of your presence, bright in a world going dark
Enable us to overcomer fear and temptation
Enable us to have courage to overcome despair and apathy
Enable us to become that which you would desire
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle us with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord, each day of the New Year
Circle our families within the shelter of your outstretched arms
Protect them in each moment of their daily lives
Guide them in the decisions they face
Protect their homes and relationships
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our families with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord, each day of the New Year
Circle this nation, with your unconditional love and hope,
Create a desire to listen to each other
Create a willingness to understand and respond
Create a need to reach out to you, Lord, for strength and courage
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle our nation with the light of your presence

Circle us, Lord, each day of the New Year
Circle this world with the joy of your Salvation
Where there is sickness and disease bring healing
Where there is hunger and despair bring hope
Where there is torture and oppression bring release
Lord of creation, Lord of Salvation
Circle this world with the light of your presence

Ruth Jewell, ©January 1, 2019