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

Prayerful Decisions – Prayerful Tuesday

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. – 1 Corinthians 13:1

 

Photo by Joe Beck, Unsplash
Photo by Joe Beck, Unsplash

Today is Super-Tuesday, a day when political parties in mostly southern states choose who they want to run as their Presidential Candidate.  So far in this election we have heard the traditional political rhetoric and a great deal of speech filled with anger, hate, bigotry, greed and plan nonsense. My choice of candidate is not important, no, rather what is important is that each of us look carefully at who is running and who has the American peoples best interest.  Not just white, male, and wealthy, but all Americans regardless of socioeconomic status, choice of faith, where they come from, color of their skin, age, or gender identification. All Americans regardless of whether or not they have U.S. citizenship or hopes to attain American citizenship all must be considered equal participants in our society.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” We cannot serve the people, the Divines own people, if we serve our own self interests. When we love power, money, and status more than we love the people of God, whoever they may be, pain and suffering will be, has been, the result.  We  who call ourselves followers of the Divine, with whatever faith tradition we  choose, must not let those whose primary interest is greed, hate, and power, and not the American people, or the people of the world be elected into a position where they could destroy the fabric of our nation and world.

So today, offer prayers for those voting, that they think carefully of their choices.  To refuse to let false, hateful and self-serving rhetoric sway them.  Rather pray that all people will stand together to push back the evil we are seeing displayed during this election year.

My prayer:  May the hand of every voter be guided by the desire for a country that holds sacred the lives and well being of all who live in American and beyond.

Ruth Jewell, ©March 1, 2016

Gratitude for Family – Prayerful Tuesday

16But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
 
17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the
 Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’
— Ruth 1:16-17

Jewell Family, 2013 at Mt. Rainer John Paul, Mark, Laura, Liam, Shannon, John (the patriarch), Kent, and in front Amelia
Jewell Family, 2013 at Mt. Rainer
John Paul, Mark, Laura, Liam, Shannon, John (the patriarch), Kent, and in front
Amelia

I have been blessed in the last 16 years to have had some lovely people in my life.  Most of them are not related to be by blood. I seem to make ‘family’ from the people I meet rather than from people I am related to. You see most of my closest blood relatives have passed but regardless of that I was never close to them.  They didn’t understand who I was or what I was.  In my eyes they were often quarrelsome and petty, easily offended and really only wanted me around if I could do something for them. The very idea of simply enjoying each other’s company just for the fun of it never entered their minds. At least that is how I perceived fit.  It is always possible that I was just overly picky.

So I created my own family groups from people I enjoyed being around and who enjoyed being around me.  Most of the time it was a small group but over the last 16 years my ability to create family has reached new heights.  Now I have a very large extended ‘family’ made up of a few cousins I’ve reconnected with, my husband’s family, and those who I have been adopted, and those who have adopted me. It is a rather happy group of people who enjoy each other’s company, even if we don’t always agree on politics or religion or liking chocolate (actually our disagreements are what is the most fun). As a result I am blessed by friendships that go much deeper than being just a friend.  These are people who when I need them they are there, and when they need me I am there for them.

I have never believed the people we meet and interact with in our lives are the result of a coincidence.  No, I believe we are drawn to those who the Spirit knows we need, or who need us, at just the right time. The people who are the most important to us, whether they are relatives or not, are often the ones the Spirit uses to speak to us or provide us with that essential ingredient of life, love.

The lovely people in the above photo are my husband John 2 of his sons, 4 grandchildren and a daughter-in-law what are closer to me as family than most, not all because I do love my newly discovered cousins, of the group I was born into.  They have been there when I am ill, at the celebration of  life’s grand markers, and when I just need someone to talk to. God blessed me with their presence and I am grateful for each of them, they bring joy into my heart.  As Ruth says to Naomi “where [they] go, I will go.”

Your prayer this week is to offer prayers of gratitude for those in your life who have blessed you with their presence.  They may be a relative, or they may be good friends but all are blessing in your life.

My prayer, God I am grateful for the people in my life who I call family.  You, Great Spirit, have blessed my life with compassionate, joyful, generous of heart people, I thank you for each and every one of them. Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©February 16, 2015

Prayers, Wildfires in Washington and Oregon – Prayerful Tuesday

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

Table Mountain, Smoke Plume, KOMO TV
Table Mountain, Smoke Plume, KOMO TV

A wildfire burns behind a home on Twisp River Road, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015 in Twisp, Wash. Authorities on Wednesday afternoon urged people in the north-central Washington town to evacuate because of a fast-moving wildfire. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
A wildfire burns behind a home on Twisp River Road, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Hotshot Firefighters Pausing to Honor Fallen Firefighters Okanagan Co. WA ABC TV, August 19, 2015
Hotshot Firefighters Pausing to Honor
Fallen Firefighters, Okanagan Co. WA
ABC TV, August 19, 2015

Today I am asking you to offer prayers for those in the fire zones in Washington and Oregon and for the families and friends of the three firefighters who lost their lives in a fire storm August 19, 2015.  These men and women turn and run into the fire to protect, our homes, our loved ones, and the forests and animals that live there.  To them we owe our gratitude and prayers.

So today I ask you to offer a prayer for our all our fire fighters many who come from across the country and the globe to help protect our homes and planet, May the Holy Spirit keep them safe. Offer prayers of comfort for those who live in the fire zone and have lost their homes to the flames.  Offer a prayer for the environment and the creatures who live there. And finally pray for rain, soaking rain, without lightening, to give our land rest.

Ruth Jewell, ©August 25, 2015

Healing Hands – Prayerful Tuesday

Jeremiah 33:6a Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them

Hands of God and Adam Creation, Michangelo
Hands of God and Adam
Creation, Michangelo

In 3 days I am going to enter the hospital for back surgery.  This is an eagerly anticipated event because I have been in so much pain for such a long time and this is my best chance at relief.  But it got me thinking about healing and the value of touching and holding those in pain.  It is not uncommon to be afraid to touch or hold a person in pain, either physical or mental pain, because we don’t want to cause them any additional discomfort.  But, when it comes right down to it those of us who suffer chronic pain want to be held. To feel the gentle touch of another person helps us to know we are cared for and loved, that we aren’t forgotten or discarded.  You see there is much power in the touch of the human hand.

The hands of the surgeon will move across my back and do their best to heal the damaged spine.  The hands of the nurses will offer comfort with a warm blanket, a cool cloth for my head, or simply to touch and let me know I am not alone.  My husband’s hands will hold mine before and after surgery and they will convey his love without words even if I am unable to respond to him.  The hands of the physical therapist will hold me and support me as I regain my strength.  The silent touches, hugs, and holding all convey the message of I care for you, I love you, and you are not alone.

My prayer practice for you this week is to be aware of those in need of your healing touch.  Hold those you love in your arms,  give a hug to someone struggling to make it through the day, or gently touch someone’s hand and let them know they aren’t alone.

I also am going to ask for prayers the surgery on Friday, that it will be successful and that I will be relieved of chronic back pain.

Thank you all, blessings and peace for the coming week.

Ruth Jewell, ©July 7, 2015

My 2015 New Years Resolution – Prayerful Tuesday

Cape Cod, Ruth Jewell 2008
Cape Cod, Ruth Jewell
2008

I have been contemplating making a resolution this year.  My track record for keeping resolutions is poorer at best as I rarely make it past Jan 2nd but, maybe this year will be different. You see I am actually thinking about a resolution that fits my life style rather than dramatically changing it. Keeping expectations low can’t hurt this process.

My 2015 resolution is to deepen my prayer life.

I am going to accomplish in two steps.  First I am going to carry a small blank book with me at all times where I can record names of people I am asked to hold in prayer.  That way I won’t forget the name of the person needing prayer even if I don’t know them well or not at all.  I already set aside a portion of my meditation time for intercessory prayers but I often forget the names of those who have asked for prayer.  When that happens the best I can do is a general prayer that holds up everyone who is ill and suffering, while this is lovely and includes the individual it has lost the personal feeling for my prayer.

The second act is to begin practicing a new spiritual practice called “Dedicated Suffering”[1] presented by Jane Marie Thibault in her book Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life, co-authored by Richard L. Morgan.  The purpose is to take the energy surrounding my suffering and asking Christ to ‘transform it into loving-kindness for the chosen person or group being held in prayer.

In the last few years I have had an increasing amount of physical pain in my life and a lot of my life energy is involved with minimizing that pain.  Ms Thibault developed a way to dedicate that energy to Jesus as a gift, then asking Jesus to change that gift into love for a person being held in prayer.

Since I have been doing this only a few days I can’t say I notice major any changes in my life but like all spiritual practices you have to do for a while before you see anything new.  That is why it is called ‘practice.’

As we grow older chronic pain and suffering increases and often limits what we can accomplish each day.  The practice of Dedicated Suffering offers a way to extend our prayers to others and puts the energy of our pain and suffering to good purpose. I offer the following instructions so you may try it for yourselves.  Maybe at the end of 2015 we can compare notes and see how gifting our energy to Christ to provide loving-kindness to those in need has changed our lives.

Dedicating Your Pain and Suffering to Help Others

  1. Find yourself a quiet corner where you may sit silence for a few minutes. Focus on your pain and the energy you are expending to minimize it.
  2. Offer your suffering energy to Jesus as a gift.
  3. Select a person or group in need of your prayers then ask Jesus to accept the energy of you suffering and change it into love for that person or group.
  4. Spend a minute or two imagining Jesus sending love and help to the person or group.
  5. End by offering Jesus a word of gratitude.[2]

While I haven’t been doing this practice for a long time yet I do find that I feel less encumbered by my chronic pain and have just a bit more energy to be the person I am meant to be.

Ruth Jewell, ©January 6, 2015

 

[1] Thibault, Jane Marie and Richard L. Morgan: Pilgrimage into the Last Third of Life, Upper Room Books Nashville TN, 2012, Pgs 112-115.

[2] Ibid. pg. 113

A Candle in the Dark – Prayerful Tuesday

It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness
It is better to light one candle
than curse the darkness

 

The news stories of the last few weeks have broken my heart.  Seeing the pictures of wild fires, immigrant children, Palestine, Iraq, and the Ukraine simply overwhelms me with sadness and despair. I think how can one human being do these things to another human being, especially children. I keep asking myself when will this come to an end?  I know it seems as if prayer doesn’t  makes a difference and so it feels like a waste of time to offer your prayers.  But heartfelt prayer often leads us into action and that is prayer indeed.

You see when many people offer prayers they, we,  form a community of prayer and as a community we can do much.  We can write letters, become involved in interfaith and cross cultural groups standing with those who are victims, or we can help with support first responders of a disaster, or help provide long term assistance in the recovery phase of a disaster.  Each action becomes an act prayer offered by each individual and the community they belong to.

Today I am asking you to light a candle and hold the wounded, the lost, the victims, the perpetrators, all who are involved in some way with the violence of this world and the wildfires claiming so many homes.  Hold them in your heart and lift them up to GOD.  As responses to your prayers become involved in ways that will help promote peace, and well being. Choose the level of involvement that you are most comfortable with, the choice is yours.

Ruth Jewell, ©July 22, 2014

Prayers of Compassion, Visio Divina – Prayerful Tuesday

In the last week I have watched the reports from the mudslide in Oso Washington and my heart is filled with sorrow for all the victims lost and recovered alive. Last night I used this picture as my prayer focus and found it rich in prayers for all the victims and the responders of this terrible disaster.

1. As you gaze at the picture what feelings come up for you?
2. Do you have something you want to tell God?
3. What words of comfort would you offer to the victims and the responders in Oso?

Other areas have also experienced natural disaster. Los Angeles has been experiencing earthquakes this week and adverse weather due to climate change has plagued the areas east of the Rockies all winter.

4. End you time of meditation with a prayer for all who have been affected by disasters and extreme adverse weather conditions around the world?

Mudslide Oso Washington,  photo from Headline and Global News,  March 27, 2014
Mudslide Oso Washington,
photo from Headline and Global News,
March 27, 2014

 

Ruth Jewell, © (except for picture) April 1, 2014

Prayers of Intercession and Petition – Prayerful Tuesday

dove

Ephesians 3:16-19  16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Paul’s prayer to the readers of the Letter to the Ephesians is an intercessory or petition prayer to the Holy Spirit, offered by Paul on behalf of the believers of Ephesus.  This prayer strikes a deep cord within me today because I am often asked if praying for others is actually beneficial or just words.  According to some prayer does. Richard Schiffman, in a 2012 post on the religious page of Huffington Post[1], makes the case that those who pray are healthier. In fact he states “It doesn’t matter if you pray for yourself or for others, pray to heal an illness or for peace in the world, or simply sit in silence and quiet the mind — the effects appear to be the same.”  Now I’m not calling Mr. Schiffman the world’s best expert but from my own experience I have to agree with him, prayer does help me and does provide comfort for those I pray for.

So why is Paul’s prayer touching me today? Well because today I have been offering a number of prayers for people and so form of prayer is weighing large on my mind today. I offer prayers for others and I keep a prayer list with names of those who ask me to pray for them. However, and I try to be gentle with those who request prayer and let them know that intercessory prayers may have a downside to them, at least from my perspective.  If we expect G-d to answer our prayers the way we do when we order something on Amazon, then we have a deep problem.  A problem that can harm those we offer prayers for and ourselves.

There is an old hymn that says to “take it to God in prayer” and the implication is all will be made well if we pray.  Now I like that old hymn but I also know that God isn’t going to answer my prayers in any way I expect.  Yes, sometimes there is no answer and that is probably God saying “no” to my request, but, sometimes the answer comes in a way I don’t recognize or expect.  It may not be until long after the prayer I understand what the answer is.

Before we go any farther a word of caution, and I want to make this very clear, my experiences are mine, your experiences with pray are yours. The meanings I receive for my prayers will not mean the same thing to you.  So don’t expect what I learn from my prayers will fit neatly into your frame of reference.

That word of caution is what I am trying, in my inept way, to say. Intercessory pray can become wish list for things you want God to fill.  We all have done that, when I was 8 I prayed for a pony and needless to say I didn’t get one and was very disappointed, going in tears to my father asking why God wouldn’t give me a pony.  He words have stuck with me to this day: “God doesn’t give things we want, God gives us the things we need.  God also gives her gifts in her own time, not mine, God listens but picks the moment when what she offers will do the most good for my life with her. I won’t always recognize her gifts right away, but if I am listening and watching I will see them eventually.”  Now I have to admit I had no idea what he was talking about, all I knew was there wasn’t a pony at the end of my bed the next morning.  But I’ve remembered those words and at this stage of my life I am finally learning what he meant and how to offer a prayer of petition, or intercession, for myself and others.

Today I would like to offer Intercessory and Petition Prayers as today’s spiritual practice, it is an important one to learn not just for yourself, but for those you carry within your heart. How I pray may not work for you but I am sure you will find what works best for you. Unplanned prayers happen when there is a necessity for them.  I have offered a prayer at the bedside of someone who was ill or dying, or when something happens that touches me deeply and I feel the need to offer that prayer.  Those prayers are unplanned and speak from my heart.  I don’t know how to give you instructions for those except to listed for the words and they will come.

Most often I offer prayers of intercession and petition following my daily meditation when I am fully centered in God’s presence. For these Prayers or Intercession and Petition I use the following Celtic Circle Prayer[2], a form of prayer used by early Celtic Christians called the Caim or encircling prayer, which goes like this:

Pray for ourselves

Circle me, O God, encircle me with your presence.

Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for those on our heart

Circle, O God, (name the person(s) you are praying for), encircle them with your presence.

Keep wholeness within, keep sickness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep peace within, keep turmoil out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for Peacemakers

Circle, O God, those who work for peace (you may wish to specifically name people), encircle them with your presence.

Keep wisdom within, keep folly out;
Keep strength within, keep weariness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

For those victims of violence and injustice

Circle, O God, (name people and places), encircle them with your presence.

Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep love within, keep hatred out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

For those who commit acts of violence and injustice

Circle, O Holy Spirit, (name people and places), encircle them with your presence.

Help them to see the truth and to turn away from falsehood;
Help them to learn compassion and leave hard-heartedness behind;
Help them find the courage to turn away from evil;
May they feel your love in a world filled with hate;
Help them to see your light in the darkness.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

I don’t always use every one of these prayers at one time sometimes only one or two, but I find that I am less likely to petition God for selfish reasons when I use this prayer.  If these prayers are helpful for you please feel free to you them, but, you may also have or find a prayer that works better for you and that is just as much a blessing.

My prayer for all of you this day is:

Circle, O Holy Spirit all who read these words, encircle them with your presence.

Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©January 7, 2014


[1] Schiffman, Richard, Huffington Post, Religious Page, January 18, 2012
[2] Based on a Prayer from the Gethsemane Chapel, Wells Cathedral, Wells UK.