The first day. Day One. As your Spirit, Creator God, hovered over the vast and dark seas, so sweep over me on the beginning of this week. Re-create me. Shape and configure my days not so much that I avoid suffering as that I fulfill my life and all that is within me, a still unshaped potential.
Resurrection Day. Gardener, Good Shepherd, you were meek as you ambled among us and though you conquered death, your meek and humble presence led Magdalene to mistake you for a gardener. Tend to us and bring us into the sphere of your humble life that has overcome the world.
Sunday. Fountain of Light, fill this day and may your boundless love radiate throughout its unfolding so that we, your creation, might awaken to the light within us and stop harming ourselves, our families, and our world. Light of Light, remove the darkness and bitterness from us. For another day and week of second chances, we give thanks. Amen.
After the kingfisher’s wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.
t. s. eliot, from Four Quartets, Burnt Norton IV.
The sound of silence on the seventh day! Listen. This is prayer. Listen. This. is. prayer.
Hallowed is your name. Blessed are those places so sacred because we, in our labyrinth wanderings have suddenly encountered you there. We thought we were alone and abandoned, Holy One. We were certain all of this, all of this–was some accident without purpose. And then a bird hidden in a tree sang and the song of other birds, these were twined to stars barely visible in the dawn and somewhere human voices were interchanged within the grand landscape of it all and we awakened. To presence. To the sheer, staggering beauty of it all and the truth that it did not have to be. But it is. And I am.
Guide me through what the world calls Friday. Help me now to be rid of things that have kept me preoccupied and unfocused so that I give up what was vitally important for what was trivial or secondary or even mediocre. I would lay these aside like a swimmer discards the weight of clothes and objects in order to glide through the life world. I can see the sabbath rest breaking over the horizon. Rest, restoration, healing these are near.
For the Day of Rest, Lord God, we are grateful. For the end of the sixth day, its lengthening shadows arrive not as darkness but as measured rest and reprieve. I don’t need to work now. No more delusions about my work saving the world. I will ponder the Creator and Sustainer and the Liberator. To all your creatures, great and small, Lord God, bestow Sabbath rest. An end to work for a while. A reprieve from suffering. A gate opened to candles lit and friendships kindled and family embraced. Let the day begin. Let the sixth day end. Hallowed be your name. Amen.
Midweek. The 4th day. Wednesday. Halfway home to Friday though, Sabbath God, we of the 21st century have lost sight of the star of the Sabbath to guide our paths. Darkness was separated from light on the fourth day, so place in our dimly lit lives a window opened to the light. You, who created suns and stars on the fourth day and separated darkness from light, help us at this midpoint in our week to remain silent at the still point of your rest. We breathe deeply and in silence, whispering your Holy Name. Fountain of light, fill us with light.
We are middling and middled, if that be a word; we are stuck in the in-between and have woven ourselves into plots and schemes; we are twined by events and schedules and we pray and plead on this Wednesday that you would, like a mother, bend near us and untie the knots that have begun to tighten. Reassure of us of your love and that you walk this journey with us. God, come near.
In the midst and middle of our week, in the midst of the crowd, we are raising our hands and saying to you God, here we are! Alas, you know us and are aware of our coordinates. Help us to find you for it is we who are lost to ourselves, tracking the path of this week across the field of Wednesday, the earth resolutely spinning and not consulting us for its journey. We of the midpoint seek you, whose circumference is nowhere, whose center is everywhere. Amen.
For the earth that is round or seems to be and goes round and around so that its rotation is somehow synced to my life in ways that defy complete comprehension but this I do know, that seasons come and go and my life is lived out in days whose completion is the setting of the sun and whose beginning is the rising of the sun—so for these mysteries of interconnection and for life, I give thanks.
For my body and five senses though these are gifts that betray me in the course of a day and a week, I give thanks, Lord God. When I can stand on my two feet and walk, when I can eat from the fruit of the earth and its harvest, when I can feel the healing power of hot water on my face or on my aching and arthritic shoulders, as light enters my eyes and images of the earth are conveyed to my mind via light, I am deeply grateful.
For my mind that is a mysterious gift that defies reductionist science, that cannot be reduced to an analogy with computers, that allows me to critically engage the world around me and most mysteriously, like a three paneled mirror allows me to step out (ex-ist) of my being and behold myself, I give thanks. For minds that communicate with me from centuries and even millennia ago through scriptures and books and now through media of all kinds and above all, Holy One, for this mind that allows me to speak and hear your Mind. Selah.
On this Monday when the wicked swarm the earth and the politicians in high places prepare to cut the cords of covenantal obligations to our fellow citizens thus ratcheting even tighter the barbed springs of suffering, O Just God, empower your people to heal the world and cause princes of terror to stumble so that peace and justice might anoint the low, the humble and the outcast. Have mercy on us, Lord Christ, Good Shepherd, Lamb of God, Child of Mary and Joseph, Light of the world. Have mercy. Amen +
In Washington DC, the swirling currents of power and those who want it or those who attempt to live near it, threaten to overwhelm and diminish everything else. It is difficult to maintain balance and perspective.
Reduce by half the time you spend watching the news. I use “news” in its broadest terms as an entertainment product produced by a range of radio, print, and internet media. Reduce the time you devote to that by half.
We have had illustrated for us in recent weeks how a hurricane can inundate every aspect of a person’s life. The power, the devastation and ruin are so vast that persons living within that matrix are in danger of being swept away by the sheer number of issues and tasks they must undertake to regain their lives. In such times, you must focus on the most immediate tasks that will insure your safety and health. Find those few things that you must accomplish this week and then bracket out all of the other issues until such a time arrives that you can sort through them. And while weather reports are important (anyone who lives in a hurricane zone will have to keep an eye on the weather reports), watching those reports on the hour every hour will actually paralyze you. Reduce your time watching reports to morning and evening and in between, get on with your life.
This is applicable to we who live in D.C. There is an entire world that can be explored. There are other dimensions of your life that need and deserve attention. The political vortex of “news” however can pull you in and deplete you of the joy of living in balance.
I pastor a church on the corner of 7th Street and Maine Avenue. Currently we are building a new sanctuary. And as we do, we worship across the street at Jefferson Middle School. Every Sunday, at 10 a.m., we dial down the noise and rhetoric and dial into the still, small voice of a merciful Shepherd. We sing, we pray, we live in the light of a greater Good. Peace like petals from tree blossoms fall around us. Dignity and blessing are handed out by hands and hugs. If there is one thing in your routine that might immediately propel you out of the raging currents into a harbor of peace, worship is it. ~See you Sunday, 10 a.m.