It is Good?—Prayerful Tuesday

Garden of Eden, Jan Brueghel, 1612
Garden of Eden, Jan Brueghel, 1612

“And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:10b

In the last weeks God’s creation has seemed anything but good.  Terrorist attacks, ambushing of police, and police shootings of unarmed young men continue to rent the very fabric of our society.  Yet God did not create an evil world, in fact God proclaims this world a good world where everyone, and I mean everyone, has what they need to live and be the person they are meant to be.  It is our choice’s, not God’s, that have created a world that is unsafe.

Spending time in silent contemplation with a focus on what we could have been, and still could be, seemed the only way for me to center myself and see the world as good.  So today I offer as our prayer of the week another Visio Divina using the above painting of the Garden of Eden by Jan Brueghel.

Prayer Practice:

1. Study the picture slowly, taking a first glance noting the colors, the placement of the plants, animals and, people.  Remain with the image for one to two minutes. If you would like, jot down a few words about the image.

  1. Take a second, deeper, look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges? What feelings about the world rise in you? Are there any images that you are particularly drawn too?
  2.  Respond to the image with prayer for the world. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Offer that prayer to God.
  3. Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.

Please do not let your belief, or non-belief, in the Garden of Eden and the subsequent fall from grace prevent you from seeing the good things in creation. Our world is in need of prayer right now.  All of our people, all of creation is crying and in pain.  Let your prayers go out into the world and let them lead you to be the person God has always wanted you to be.

Peace, Blessings

Ruth Jewell, ©January 13, 2015

 

A Conversation with a Psalmist –Prayerful Tuesday

Come Lord Jesus, hear our prayer
Come Lord Jesus,
hear our prayer

As I am personally preparing for  Christmas I have been disturbed by the amount of violence and death around the world.  Peace on earth does not seem near. So as part of my morning ritual I have been doing Lectio Divina with the Psalms.  They have brought me some comfort but this Psalm struck a chord within me and I wanted to share that with you.  So this is a little different from most of my postings, as it is part of my journaling during my meditation. I am letting you in on a small part of my conversations I held with the Psalmist and God.  They are my insights of the moment, so if I say something you disagree with please be gentle, it is after all a private conversation you are overhearing.  At the end of my journaling you will find the steps for Lectio Divina.  For your own Lectio Divina meditation you may use the whole Psalm, as I did, or only a verse or two.

Psalm 10, The Message (MSG)

 1-2 God, are you avoiding me?
    Where are you when I need you?
Full of hot air, the wicked
    are hot on the trail of the poor.
Trip them up, tangle them up
    in their fine-tuned plots.

I am in the process of preparing for a Longest Night worship service and in reading this Psalm I was struck by how it matched my gut feelings this Advent.   Every day the news is filled with stories from around the world of someone killing someone one else, often many someone’s.  Just last night news came of a hostage situation in Sidney, Australia, just one more story to add to the Ferguson, New Town, Cleveland, Seattle, Portland, Houston, Afghanistan, and Iraq stories of the last number of years.  The list is too long, too many people have died, and too many children have died.  Like the Psalmist I am left wondering “where are you God.”

3-4 The wicked are windbags,
    the swindlers have foul breath.
The wicked snub God,
    their noses stuck high in the air.
Their graffiti are scrawled on the walls:
    “Catch us if you can!” “God is dead.”

This is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration but I do not feel like celebrating.  Our elected leader’s mouth words from the Bible I read every day, yet, their actions tell me they do not believe what they speak.  Are they wicked?  Are they windbags?  Well the wicked part can only be determined by God but the windbag part . . ..  Yes they are windbags, hoping that we who at least try to live a life of compassion will not notice their plans to take the last ounce of God’s abundance all for themselves.  They write bills and say “try and stop me, from denying the basic necessities to those who cannot help being poor, sick, elderly, or a child.

5-6 They care nothing for what you think;
    if you get in their way, they blow you off.
They live (they think) a charmed life:
    “We can’t go wrong. This is our lucky year!”

These insufferable, so called leaders lie and twist the truth until even the best of us are confused and dazed by the avalanche of untruths they let loose on the public. Whether they are religious fundamentalist, political leaders, in the United States, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, British Isles or anywhere they claim the spotlight and they believe no one can stop them.  They are on a role and the rest of us “be damned.”

7-8 They carry a mouthful of hexes,
    their tongues spit venom like adders.
They hide behind ordinary people,
    then pounce on their victims.

They mark the luckless,
    then wait like a hunter in a blind;
When the poor wretch wanders too close,
    they stab him in the back.

10-11 The hapless fool is kicked to the ground,
    the unlucky victim is brutally axed.
He thinks God has dumped him,
    he’s sure that God is indifferent to his plight.

The words they spit from their mouths cause fear in those who have minds that are weak and malleable. Letting these poor souls do the violence they pretend to abhor only to turn on them when they caught in their snares.

12-13 Time to get up, God—get moving.
The luckless think they’re Godforsaken.
They wonder why the wicked scorn God
and get away with it,
Why the wicked are so cocksure
they’ll never come up for audit.

We wait for you O God to respond, to let us know you haven’t forgotten us.  We wait and we wait.

14 But you know all about it—
    the contempt, the abuse.
I dare to believe that the luckless
    will get lucky someday in you.
You won’t let them down:
    orphans won’t be orphans forever.

The Psalmist sings of your knowledge of the violence we see every day.  But do you really hear the cries of the children who have lost limbs to bombs, to parents who have watched as their children are killed in front of them, as ISIS hangs those with different beliefs, as children shoot children?  Have we not sent enough children, parents, loved ones to you to serve as a sacrifice?  Do you care?

15-16 Break the wicked right arms,
    break all the evil left arms.
Search and destroy
    every sign of crime.
God’s grace and order wins;
    godlessness loses.

My heart wants to believe as the Psalmist did that you will intervene in the bloodletting of this world, but I know you will not.  It is not up to you, O God, to set this world back on the track of compassion, justice and peace.  That really is our job.  We are the ones who created these people who mock everything you have wanted for all.  We are the ones who must “gird up our loins” and speak out against injustice, violence, hatred, and war.  Only we who believe in justice, mercy, kindness, peace, compassion will change the lives of those who are oppressed, abused, injured, and starved by those who mock the world as you, O God, planned it.  We must stop cowering in our homes and our places of faith and become the prophets, the messengers, the hands, feet and voice that will bring down those who would enslave us to a life of poverty and misery.  Then, and only then, will the Psalmist’s dream come true.

17-18 The victim’s faint pulse picks up;
    the hearts of the hopeless pump red blood
    as you put your ear to their lips.
Orphans get parents,
    the homeless get homes.
The reign of terror is over,
    the rule of the gang lords is ended.

Gracious Spirit I thank you for this time of blessed meditation.  May the words and images I have seen transform my actions into walking with you in greater joy.  AMEN

Practicing Lectio Divina

  1. Choose the portion of the Scripture you wish to pray.
  2. Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent, focus for a few moments on your breathing.
  3. Read the chosen text through, slowly and gently. Listen to yourself read, let yourself to savor each word and phrase.
  4. Read the text a second time. What words or phrases stick out for you? Remember God speaks to us in silence and in our listening. The words that pop out do so for a reason, pay attention to them.
  5. Read the text a third time. Are there any other words that speak to you?
  6. Sit now in silence, letting the words you have heard, speak to you and for you in your prayer, your conversation with God. What images, ideas, words spring forward?  Or maybe all of them are present in mediation.  Sit with those insights as you experience the presence of God.  Give your insights to God.  Do the insights give you new meaning or transformation of your actions, or prayer life?
  7. Now rest in God’s arms. Let God’s presence give you comfort. Do you feel the pull to return to your meditations? Then begin again. If not close with a prayer of gratitude for the time you have spent in God’s presence and the insights you have received.

Ruth Jewell, ©December 16, 2014

All Means ALL

All means ALL
All means ALL

My thoughts over the last couple of months have been over whelmed by the violence, the bullying, the tragedy, and the anger that has played across my TV screen, computer, radio and newspaper in the last couple of months.  I have seen the quote by some famous person that reads “those who keep silent in the face of evil are giving their approval,” or the pictures’ displaying one perspective versus another and which one has the greatest validity.  I am left speechless and in pain.  Yes I have heard that even one small act of mercy changes someone and I have used those very words myself many times. Do what you can and ‘wait,’ wait for minds to change, or for hearts to open,  . . . wait for what.

The scripture for Sunday came from Isaiah and begins with “Comfort, O Comfort my people” (40:1), but, I’m sorry I don’t feel that comfort.  I offer prayers, I read, and I listen.  I volunteer at the King County Juvenile Detention Center, here at church, and lead the occasional spiritual retreat and labyrinth walk, yet, except for Juvenile Detention CTR, I feel as if I am “preaching to the choir,” so to speak.  Where in all of these days of suffering, and confusion does the offering come that provides more than my comfort and brings a justly faithful, hopeful, loving comfort to those who do not share my skin color, or language, or culture, or gender, or abilities, or whatever makes them different from the so called “main stream” of the population.

This meditation was intended to be an inspirational moment.  But I am not feeling very inspirational, just too much has happened in the last couple of months.  So I ask your forgiveness for talking through some of my thoughts.  I live in a world that appears to be falling apart as I sit my comfortable, warm home.  I keep asking what will stop the building blocks our lives from tumbling into the abyss.

I am afraid we are headed into a storm of our own making that will destroy us.  We won’t need to be invaded, no; we are doing a grand job of destruction all by ourselves.   Voices of change and compassion, justice, mercy, and peace are drowned out by hateful speech by bullies in high places.  The actions and words of those high placed bullies give permission to those who fear the unknown to be violent and destructive at the ground roots level.  Hateful speech and actions becomes a cancer eating away at our will to fight against justice and mercy.

So I sit in my little home office, offering prayers, and volunteering when the opportunity arises.  I do my small acts that I pray are being added to other small acts, but I don’t know if any of it will be enough. Our denominations GLBQ organization used the slogan “All Means ALL” at our last national General Assembly.  They wanted to get the message across that everyone matters, despite gender identification, skin color, religion, or culture everyone is important.  There are very few slogans I actually believe in, but I believe in that one.  If I can do nothing other than let each and every person know how much they matter in my life, in the life of my Faith Community, and in the life of the greater community we are all part of then I have done the best I can.  That will have to be enough.

Ruth Jewell, ©December 8, 2014

Visio Divina, a prayer – Prayerful Tuesday

sodiers in mist

Today is Veterans Day and I would like us to practice Visio Divina using the above pictures by David Bowie of the United Kingdom of Soldiers in the mist that touched me deeply.  Take a few moments to study the picture, breathing deeply and begin your Divine Reading. Think of Visio Divina like this–putting on God-glasses to see how an image illuminates Christ for you.

  1. Study the picture slowly, taking a first glance noting the colors or lack of color, people, places and things.  Remain with the image for one to two minutes. If you would like, jot down a few words about the image.
  2. Take a second, deeper, look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?
  3.  Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Offer that prayer to God.
  4. Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.

I offer the poem below as a testament to what I “heard and saw” within the photo and my heart; and as an offering to all who have served, fought, and died in conflicts across time and the globe.  Peace be unto all

a prayer

They walk
into the smoke
filled
mist

The wounded,
the dead,
the lost,
walking to their destiny

They fought
they gave their all
for love
of wife and child
of Parent and sibling

The mist is filled with voices
well done,
thank you,
I love you
I miss you

Each voice a prayer
to send them on their way
to let them know
they are not forgotten
they are loved
that all is OK
despite they suffering
despite their sacrifice

Poppy’s held
music plays
hearts send love
no you are not forgotten
you are always with us
in our hearts
in our souls
in the lives you died to protect
go to your rest
knowing we are
grateful for
the love you gave
the life you gave

We who remain
are blessed by
You who walk
yesterday, today and tomorrow
it is not good-by
it is only until we meet again

Ruth Jewell, ©November 11, 2014

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

Never Forget – Prayerful Tuesday

Working Military Dog
Working Military Dog

Yesterday was Memorial Day, the day we remember the service of those who have fought our wars and protect our borders.  We sometimes forget there are more than men in the line of fire. Women are now serving in positions where they too are potentially at risk.  And, there have always been animals, pigeons, and dogs who have laid down their lives for a cause they cannot understand and they do it for the love of the soldier partner.   Today I am asking you to remember in prayer those faithful winged and 4-footed creatures who have willingly give up their lives.

  • As You gaze at the picture take a deep breath and let it out slowly, take a second breath and let it out slowly, let your shoulders relax and your gaze soften.
  • Look deeply at the picture and let the colors and image enter your imagination. What feelings does this bring to the surface?  What memories or stories?  Imagine you are walking are a soldier whose lives and works with this faithful dog, what does that look like and feel like to you.
  • Respond to the image with a prayer for all God’s children who serve in dangerous places on this earth.  Offer a prayer of intercession and gratitude for the service men, service women, and service animals who protect us while we sleep.
  • Continue to gaze at the picture, breathe deeply and rest quietly.  Let God pray in you in silence beyond words.

Ruth Jewell,  ©May 27, 2014

PRAYERFUL TUESDAY, Sept. 24, 2013

A PRAYER FOR PEACE

Genesis 9:13
Genesis 9:13

I have set my bow in the clouds and it will serve as a sign
of the covenant between Me and the Earth Genesis 9:13 (Torah)

This last past week has been especially disturbing with gun violence in so many places that I have lost track of where they all are.   I can’t even be sure that all have been reported by the ever present Sad News Division of our national media.  There have been simply too many acts of violence to report.

All I can do is offer prayers of comfort and safety for every person on the planet because I can’t name all the communities, families and individuals affected by gun violence this week.   I don’t think that has ever happened before.  One of my greatest fears is that massive gun violence, or violence in any form will become the “new normal” for our lives and we will begin to ignore these incidents because they become common.

Every day I pray to the Divine Spirit of us all that we will stop killing each other long enough to recognize we are brothers and sisters.  I pray that, knowing that while my prayers may be heard by the Spirit there is little hope of them being answered unless we all of us, hear that prayer and yell “ENOUGH!”   The killing will not stop until we, the people, say we have had our fill of guns in the hands of the mentally ill, of the glorifying war and banditry to entice our children into these acts as play, and of having our children shot, bombed, starved, and abused all for the glory of some pathetic so called religious or political despot.   So today on this our Prayerful Tuesday I would like to offer the following prayer of peace, petition and intercession. It is called the Caim, the encircling prayer, a form of prayer used by early Celtic Christians.

Circle Prayer of Peace, Petition and Intercession

Putting Ourselves in the Holy Spirit’s presence

Circle me, O Holy Spirit;
encircle me with your presence.
Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep wholeness within, keep sickness out;
Keep wisdom within, keep folly out;
Keep strength within, keep weariness out;
Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep peace within, keep turmoil out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Parent, Child and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for those in my heart

Circle, O Holy Spirit, (name[s]),
encircle them with your presence.
Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep wholeness within, keep sickness out;
Keep wisdom within, keep folly out;
Keep strength within, keep weariness out;
Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep peace within, keep turmoil out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Parent, Child and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for Peacemakers

Circle, O Holy Spirit, those who work for peace,
encircle them with your presence.
Keep wisdom within, keep folly out;
Keep strength within, keep weariness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Parent, Child and Holy Spirit, Amen

Circle those who are victims of violence and injustice

Circle, O Holy Spirit, (name people and places),
encircle them with your presence.
Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep strength within, keep weariness out;
Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep courage within, keep fear out;
Keep peace within, keep turmoil out;
Keep love within, keep hatred out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Parent, Child and Holy Spirit, Amen

Circle those who commit acts of violence and injustice

Circle, O Holy Spirit, (offer name[s]),
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 Parent, Child, and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Prayer of Blessing
The peace of the earth be upon you
The peace of the sky be upon you
The peace of the sea be upon you
The peace of the holy Spirit be upon you
upon you and all of G-ds creation

The love of the earth be yours
The love of the sky be yours
The love of the sea be yours
The love of G-d, Christ, and Holy Spirit be yours
and all of children of the Holy One.

AMEN

Ruth Jewell, ©September 24, 2013