Prayer

Grace

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

~ attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

Awareness

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“Do not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” ~ James Thurber

fish flashing in lavender shadow

lily lifting  purple wonder

prayers unfurling

hope

Fair Hope

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“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.”  J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

at the end of a week marked

with  tragedy,  peril,  dark places

help me find the fair

 green pastures, still waters

 light overcoming darkness

 love greater than grief

Mary Ann Parker April 20, 2013

Smooth Stones

I keep a small basket of smooth stones, each marked with a word,  on the back porch which I use like prayer beads. Somehow, as I lift a stone and place it beside me with a prayer for each thing the word I have written there represents, I am able to focus more sharply and receive these gifts.  I keep the same list by the coffee pot in the kitchen and can cover it with the palm of my hand in my petition.  Laying the stones down is a random process, so I am drawn to the pattern on this particular day when I look at all of them together.   I begin with seeking Light and the progression leads me to the most important request, “Thyself.”  I realize that if I could have only one request it must be that, for it is in the presence of God I find the all the rest.

The poetry of John O Donahue helps me imagine he might have had a basket of stones, too.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,

Clear in word,

Gracious in awareness,

Courageous in thought,

Generous in LOVE.

– John O’Donohue

Breathe

When I visited one of the garden centers in Houston recently, this sign caught my eye since I had just written the previous post about fragrance.  Many of the plants in our back yard garden could be labeled “featuring fragrance.”  A plant that is new to me is actually a very old-fashioned one.  Sweet almond verbena reaches out to my nose with its sweet smell and a hint of vanilla.  It is no surprise to find that this reminds me to pray with each breath, inhaling God’s goodness and peace and letting out all my fretting. Remembering the Biblical references to our prayers as a fragrant incense, I smiled when I read that another name for this plant is Incense Bush.  Breathe!

Beginnings

At the beginning of a new year, I am not so much making resolutions as I am considering how I spent myself and a year’s worth of time in the year just past.  That leads to choices about spending time and personal resource in the present.  What do I need to keep or change in order for me to honor God, delight in His presence, and show my love to others in ever growing ways? 

 As I mulled these thoughts while packing away Christmas lights and garland, clearing table tops and starting the cleaning tasks which accompany taking down decorations, I saw the disappointing results of a gardening project I began around Thanksgiving.  Every year, I enjoy placing Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs into containers with stones and water.  They put down roots, send up green shoots, and always delight us with fragrant white blooms before Christmas.  Most of the bulbs offered beginning shoots of green. Some grew a few inches.  But none of them bloomed by Christmas, and in general failed to thrive.  Now, only one bulb appears to have the small swelling at the base of its leaves that tells me a flower may eventually unfurl.  I decided to remove the bulbs.  That is when I discovered that they never grew any roots.  Only the ones with more than an inch or two of leaf had grown the plump white roots which could reach down into the water for necessary nutrients. Beginning was all they did; then lacking roots and healthy growth they began to decay.

 That was an epiphany moment for me.  No matter how full I am of possibility and fresh starts, I can never grow if I am not rooted and absorbing the nourishment necessary to flourish. “Feeding myself” is never on a daily to do list.  But I realize I have little to offer others if I don’t choose healthy foods and activity for my body as well as take the time to begin my days with quiet time which feeds and grows my soul.  I love listening to a John Michael Talbot album called “Come to the Quiet” each morning.  As I listen and worship, I am fed.  My roots spread and deepen. I stretch and grow.  I can bloom!

Advent Lament

Bobby Gross, in his book Living the Christian Year, speaks of giving ourselves permission for both song and groan during Advent. The waiting, the yearning, longing element present in this time were in my thoughts here.

Advent Lament

We wait without words
Behind windows covered with curtains of darkness
With shoulders too weary to shrug.
Wearing shawls of worry.

Behind windows covered with curtains of darkness
Worried, wandering, worn.
With shoulders too weary to shrug.
Sanctus Deus, Sanctus Fortis, Miserere Nobis.

Worried, wandering, worn,
Wearing shawls of worry.
Sanctus Deus, Sanctus Fortis, Miserere Nobis.
We wait without words.