Neverending

God, this is the week that never ends, in the year that never ends.

Always, towards the end of the school year there is an impossible week.

Where spring and summer activities collide in their not quite done, and just getting started-ness.

Always there is a week where the schedule doesn’t work, every day has triple obligations, and on top of that everyone is cranky.

And then, someone doesn’t sleep, and someone else doesn’t feel well or the car has trouble or the pet has to go to the vet or the computer quits working or a something else impossible happens.

God, timing is everything.

And this year, when I have spent more time with parts of my family than ever, and seen other parts and my friends almost not all…

This year when vacations and retreats are just gasps of breath in the midst of survival mode…

This year when all the “fun things” I thought I was doing to have fun turned out to be coping mechanisms essential to surviving, as they have fallen by the wayside and the to do list somehow continues while these other things don’t..

God Almighty, You know, how this year has been never-ending.

Like a song that is stuck in your head, nagging at you day in and day out, that’s how the pandemic works–always in the background, giving your headaches and heartaches. Always on the calendar as you figure out what to do and how to do it.

The stress presses down, on my head, on my heart, on my soul.

God, I have been praying without ceasing this year. I have cried and sighed and laughed and zoomed and emailed and turned on cameras and turned off camera, have put on masks and then then washed the masks, every single day of this never ending year.

I have examined every ache and sniffed and listened to every lonely heartache of my friends and family…..and taken-just-a-moment-to-center-myself all in prayer.

I am living into the rhythm of prayer Lord–one that is both structured and spontaneous, one that has been out loud and quiet, one where I’ve known exactly what to say and one where I’ve murmured nonsense to the Holy Spirit.

It’s the longest week, in the longest year I’ve ever lived.

So I will continue to pray, and live.

Thank God you are eternal, thank God that prayers do not cease, and are picked up by friends and families and churches and strangers when mine falter.

Thank God you are the song that never ends God.

Amen.

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The Neverending Story, a Piece of Philosophy | by Alonso Monroy Conesa |  Medium

Pandemic Era Prayer

God, I am praying the prayer of an impatient people.

I truly feel that I am, and we are, the direct descendants of the Hebrews who grumbled and complained from the moment they were freed from Egypt. Impatient for the new beginning to start. I feel their pain.

I pray the prayer of chaotic leadership, lifting my prayer beside Moses and Aaron and Miriam and Tzipporah, who had to balance what the people want with what is best with the community, and the two often do not agree, and are almost always hard to discern.

God I’m praying the prayer of the weary, of Hagar alone and frustrated in the desert, of Abram and Sarai who had to move from place to place to place before finding a home and establishing a household. Is the end in sight? Can I recognize it when it is?

I’m feeling very anxious God. As the news of De-mask-us starts to filter out, and yet, and yet, I hold so many immune compromised people in prayer for cancer and surgery and long term illness. I’m praying the prayer of confusion as I try to sort out what is safe for my children and how to keep them masked, even as adults look forward to seeing one another face to face.

Lord, I’m praying the prayer of the privileged in a nation where vaccines a plentiful, and sometimes even wasted in the face of India’s medical catastrophe that on so great cannot help but spill over to her sister nations–a sharp reminder that it is already affecting us, and I hold onto my prayers for well resourced nations like Japan who, yet still, do not have access to the vaccines.

Lord, I pray the prayer of the brokenhearted, I shed tears with Jesus for Jerusalem and all of the violence that has been purposefully perpetuated against schools, hospitals and publishing houses in Palestine. I pray for the fight over land and water and occupancy that is being done in your name. I sorrow that oppression continues.

God I’m praying the prayer of ignorance, as one who has only been able to superficially take in what is happening in Colombia. Weary and heavy burdened I understand that police violence reigns terror in many places, including my own, and I do not even know what to do next to help to dismantles the powers and principalities as they exist now.

God I pray the prayer of a parent who has had a mere hours of true relaxation over the past year. Is that how it’s been for you God, have you been superbusy watching over us and drying our tears and helping us to clean up the messes?

God I’m praying a multitude of prayers today, as I face the window, a portal into a new era, uncertain as to what will come next, and still weary from what has happened. I am so ready to close the door of the pandemic, and yet am aware that this is not how things work.

So instead, I life this prayer of snips and bits to you.


Be with me in ::gestures broadly at everything:: I pray. Amen.

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A Week of Hard Questions: A Prayer

God, this week I asked hard questions

About love and tradition and cultural differences. I asked (rather timidly even) if race played a part to our reactions.

And soon I found myself hip deep in a quagmire of pain.

People were triggered. They felt they needed to defend their pain.

And it was hard God, and part of me wanted to take it all back. Because I don’t want to create heartache.

But then I remembered two weeks ago when someone asked me hard questions about love and inclusion and the brokenness of the system that I perpetuated.

And although that was embarrassing and hard. I lived through it.

And in reflecting this experience I remembered that part of why I asked the hard questions this week was because as of last week I was tired of us: me, the church, consumer culture, ignoring hard issues and perpetuating whatever was comfortable for us.

Did you ever notice Jesus really likes to answer a question with a harder question?

You deconstructed me Lord. And I confess I need you to bless this mess today, because I’m going to be in the deconstructed zone for a while.

Because once God starts to deconstruct you, it becomes easier for you to see other places where the threads of normal need to be pulled apart.

And you can choose to continue the work God started, but it’s up to you.

So I guess I’ve reached a new level of maturity, where I stay in the muck longer than is comfortable, and I feel the anguish of racism on top of the anguish of those in pain.

And as my heart aches, I am thankful for all the times I was able to say:

“I don’t know. “

And “I hear you.”

As I sat with the pain and let go of the reasons and the arguments.

Do you sometimes say I don’t know God?

I don’t know

But thank you for helping me to brave the muck; and help me to muddle through, or sit, or cry. Help me to do this hard questioning thing I pray.

Amen.

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Screw you 2020: A Psalm

Screw you 2020, May you disappear into the dusts of time.

God grant us long memories to prevent such injustice, disease and hunger that were given reign over us in 2020. It was always there lurking, and we let it sneak up on us, like a demon.

Screw you 2020, you and the bus you came in on, with fires in Australia, Hurricanes in the gulf and more fires in the Western US. Screw you and your human made explosions in Beruit, your stealing of children in Nigeria, flooding in Guatemala, and then the creeping pandemic that stole the breath of the elderly, and then the frontline workers and finally the general public.

May the taste of 2020 be washed out of our mouths by the clear and cool waters, let them roll down in justice. Let them wash away are bigotries and selfishness, and teach us the that shared water tastes the sweetest, and let us never sell water to one another, but instead give it with grace ever dripping, like the savior.

Goodbye 2020, and do not let the door hit you on the way out with your loneliness and horrible mental health days and having to say goodbye to our beloved through phones or windowpanes.

Let us welcome our new population–the long haulers, the disabled (who hey we might have finally noticed), the overworked and underpaid essential workers, the lonely, the newly estranged or divorced, the poor and impoverished, the teeming homeless and underused.

Let us gather these populations together like the siblings they are, and let us (when it is safe) throw a huge feast, where all are invited, welcome and accepted. Let us put our Black and Brown Siblings, Our Queer family and our Disabled Kin at the head of the table. Shut our mouths and give us ears to hear what it is they have been trying to stay lo these many years.

Goodbye 2020, we didn’t all survive you, but may we all learn from you.

Get out.

For me and my house, we follow the God of justice, who wants not hypocrisy or wealth, but acts of peace.

May we provide for every single person in such a way that they do not feel that they are only worth their productive value in society. For those who can and do work may we pay each and ever one of them a living wage, may we educate our children well and never begrudgingly and let us honor and value their teachers.

May we value science and learning over selfishness, and health over selfishness, and the community over selfishness, and those more vulnerable than us over selfishness.

May we be polite and respectful of food workers, mail workers, warehouse packers and custodians, for theirs is the work of the Lord. Stop up our mouths when we judge or disdain.

Who are we to be jealous when someone who is poor gets something good to eat?

Who are we to tell people they cannot work if they are disabled, and that they are worth only $300 and it works not for us for them to be married?

Who are we to devalue stay at home parents and caretakers of all kinds, and to say that the care is their responsibility and yet not give them even a crumb of bread to eat?

Who are we to judge the person who has to depend upon family systems to survive and live in intergenerational homes and then blame them for their close quarters?

Truly I say to you, God’s grace is infinite, and if Jesus were here he would be flipping the tables on 2020 and all that lead to it.

He would be feeding school children every day and supporting parents and caretakers.

Jesus would spread the wisdom of the gay community who survived the AIDs pandemic, and would empower those who live with disabilities to teach us not only to survive but to thrive within whatever our current confines are.

He would house the homeless, feed the hungry and clothe the naked, showing us how easy it’s always been!

Jesus would give rest to the Essential workers, he would comfort those who are working, living, breathing the hospital and emergent care, he would clean up on behalf of the custodial services.

Jesus would stop up the mouths of those who sing dangerous songs, but empower singers to share their art safely, he would encourage the artists, who gave us stories and virtual concerts and lessons and hidden rainbows to carry us through the storm.

If Jesus was here he would feed the food workers of the shut down industry.

He would find companionship and penpals and bubbles for the lonely, the elderly and the singles and the children and the ones who are outcast from their own family.

Jesus hates hypocrisy and would call out the politicians who speak a good game and then give more money to the entitled. He would especially tap the shoulders of those who follow Christ, reminding them of the humble path they are called to walk .

And Jesus would legitimize and celebrate the ways we’ve adapted and worked together. Jesus would encourage all the people who had good news, and tell them it’s ok to have bits of happiness in the midst of it all, and he would do it in such a way we would be inspired to share that happiness any and every way we can.

Jesus doesn’t stand for your nonsense 2020. You are a dumpster fire.

And if Jesus doesn’t stand for it, then I won’t either.

Screw you 2020.

From our Lips to God’s ears, we pray.

Amen

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A Puerto Rican Colleague Rev. Dr, Amaury Tanon-Santos translated to Spanish here.

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Tantrum Prayer

As my child is screaming Lord, I say a quick prayer.

Because really, I want to scream too.

On this day when we found a way to safely see our friends, we got lost.

And we are almost there, but the child is screaming, it’s pitch black out, and the roads are unfamiliar. And the other one is whimpering too.

And I’m trying to drive.

The third time we make a U-Turn and finally get through to our friends…

we can not longer hear the directions she is trying to tell, because the screaming is too loud, or the road is too dark, or the pandemic is too much.

God, this is my prayer to you, because in my heart I’m screaming. I’m screaming, lost in the dark.

And so we turn around, and go home–all of us crying, some of us out loud.

And truthfully, like a child I just want to scream,

until you pick me up,

put me to bed,

And Let me start again in the morning.

I am grateful that you are a God I can tantrum to, You are a place where I can admit that I am lost, you are the parent whom I can admit that I’m not hearing or seeing or processing well anymore.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

men.

The Mysterious Road From Edvard Munch's The Scream - DailyArtMagazine.com -  Art History Stories
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Tenterhooks

God, can we just say, tension is present

I’m wound really taught, and at this point even waiting for the good things feels impossible.

The social media reminders to unclench your jaw and roll your shoulders are so so necessary right now Jesus.

Jesus, how did you do this? How did you live in the tension–stepping into the gap between healthy and sick. Balancing the reality of being human and divine. Calling out hypocrisy and yet not shaming those in need.

How did you do that?

Holy Spirit, I could use some wisdom, if you are ready to supply.

Because the waiting for life to change, for the pandemic to change for the world to change as a result of ::gestures wildly:: all of this, is truly putting me on tenterhooks.

I looks at tenterhook today, God, I felt called to google the etymology and realized it was the hook that holds the tight tent, tight. So simple, so important.

But it also is what is holding things tight, while they dry out so that they are more flexible and able to take their proper shape.

If this means I’m a wet blanket. I’d believe it God. The days are short, the winter is long and the sort-of/kind-of quarantining we are trying to do is never ending.

How do I live into this tension? How to I do enough to survive, but not cut off the essential?

Jesus, the reality is that we all live in-between, it’s just our little human brains can’t handle it.

It’s like waiting for a baby to be born–perfect for advent–full of hope and trepidation. A time that is messy and where your whole body is stretched and changed, and your baby is between healthy and not because they haven’t even been born yet!

So help me, as I wait, as I’m no longer soaked but not quite dry either. Help me as this time of trial stretches me to my limit and pins me to the earth with an uncomfortable but necessary hooks.

And help all of my siblings on earth, because we all seem to be in the same place God.

Help us all, I pray.

Amen.

What Does It Mean to Be 'On Tenterhooks?' | Merriam-Webster

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Exponential Growth Selah!

God, I’ve heard on the radio that it’s hard for us to grasp exponential growth.

That the concept that a 2×2 foot closet can become the size of a country a week is hard for our meager human brains to grasp.

And here we are, face to face with a disease that has exponential Growth. And God as the numbers stare us in the face.

Remind us that our actions are exponential. Please God, help our, you know we are only human, brains to process.

Selah!

For we know we cannot take in the magnitude of the grains of sand in the world, of the variety of species and genders and loves and in the mulitude of stars and planets in the universe.

This is why it is so hard to understand your exponential grace God, for it is beyond counting!

God I admit, I have trouble even grasping what a million of something means.

Help us process the growth of this illness, help us to have eyes to see and ears to hear, and bolster our hearts for we are Covid-weary and slipping into habits that are not safe.

Remind us that just as COVID19 multiplies, every single act we take for safety also is multiplied. That when we was our hands, or wear a mask or decline an invite or meet outside we are protecting millions of people.

Multiply our intentions to care for one another we pray. Make them twofold, fourfold, twelvefold, a hundredfold, for you know we need the support!

Increase our fortitude so that it burns on even when we feel like we are completely out of oil.

Bolster our socialization, so that a little bit on zoom or through car windows or across a field, might be nourishing enough for us to make it through winter.

Increase all of the good in the world God, so that the evil that is this virus can be defeated, I pray, and as I pray increase my prayer so it is your prayer, and your neighbor’s prayers, and let it become the prayer of the world. Extend this prayer, so that as we see Coronavirus surge, our mutual uplifting will flood as well.

Remind us that many waters of Covid19 cannot quench our love, neither can coronavirus flooding the very hospitals that heal us, even then Love cannot be drowned out.

Intensify our love for one another, especially in the midst of this crises we pray to you Oh God.

We pray all of this in Christ’s name, and in the abundance of the Holy Spirit, Lord hear our prayer. Amen.

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This is not the character development I wanted.

Dear God,

How many people in the Bible said no to you? Jacob, the actual heel, Noah who didn’t want to get mocked, Moses who had a speech impediment

As I sit in the car as a part of my daily 3hr drop off and pick up run to avoid the bus and do what I can to limit exposure…emphasis on what I can….I am thinking that this is not the character development I wanted.

I did not, after an agonizingly and traumatically lonely Middle School experience and a long and tough climb into adulthood starting with 9/11 and then peaking with job hunting at the height of a recession, want to go in for more. I feel like I’ve done enough character development. Thanks for asking God.

I remember my Grandmother who helped every single person she met and also could not throw anything away if her life depended on it. I don’t think I realized those went together for her as a child of the depression, until now.

What am I learning right now God?!? And why oh why haven’t I learnt it already?

Probably the real question is what is it we have to learn and why haven’t we learned it yet?

God, I know we are living in the space of a grace note. I know you have already won and are going to win. And every second we have to learn is gravy

But gravy is messy! Grace is messy! And I really didn’t count on spending hours in the car and at home and on zoom relearning you’re grace.

Teach us what we need to learn about your grace, we pray.

Amen

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Communion Tastes Different Now

God, I have had many times when I realized I didn’t really know anything.

All the things I knew how to do have changed.

From going for a walk to grocery shopping.

And, so, Communion tastes different.

Do we even know how the economy works? I doubt anyone knows anymore.

Money and power become nonsensical, time itself has changed.

When I see two or three year olds wear a mask, without blinking, for three hours of nursery school.

I realize that they are the only ones who will know how the world works right now. Because they are growing into it.

Meanwhile ancient schemes are being broken

And the Holy Spirit is here, whispering new words on the wind.

And because I have changed, and I’m a part of communion, communion tastes differently now. The kingdom tastes different.

Because everything is being made new.

The whole world is indeed laboring in birth, and I am praying that somehow, all things are working together for good.

The thing about labor is, you don’t know what you’re doing

Parts of you die and parts of your body make room for the new thing, and parts of your body are never the same again.

It’s messy and bloody and it hurts like hell.

And when you are handed the child, whew.

You really realize that you really don’t know anything.

Mothering, swaddling God, tell us it’s ok if communion tastes different, it’s still communion.

Lord, teach us how to handle this new reality that is being birthed, I pray.

Amen.

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Here is the Link for Pandemic Prayers and Resources: Top Posts are “In an Abundance of Caution” “The Lord is My Shepherd: What kind of Sheep are You” and “Masks: A Prayer”

Procrastination as a Spiritual Practice

Lord God, I don’t know how you built us so that we will forever do one step above the hardest task before us to avoid doing that hardest thing.

But I know that cleaning the house, so I don’t have to write a difficult email…..

Or suddenly figuring out how to pitch another really important idea when I’m supposed to be working on the one in front of me is a uniquely human quirk.

Lord, I am practicing being thankful for the laundry that gets done when I’m avoiding something else.

I am thinking of the number of times I have prayed, desperately or defiantly because I don’t have the energy to do anything else at that moment.

How about you God? Do you save the most horrible tasks for the end? Did you play with judgement for a millennia before it suddenly struck you that you could delay the apocalypse by coming down to earth with/as Jesus’s humanself?

Are you breathing life into this grace period. This moment of waiting between Christ’s ascendancy and the second coming to save every last soul you can? Could procrastinating be in all of humanity’s favor?

My favorite is when I put off a task so long, that it feels too big to ever accomplish, and then I finally must, must do it and it takes mere minutes and does not in fact wound my soul.

Were you holding your breath in heaven, hoping not to have to send your only son, only to come down and realize that you love being human and 33 years is not that long to have after all?

Dear God, procrastinating is not always the best decision, but sometimes I take in the beauty that you designed us to give ourselves time to process things emotionally, that you allowed us to fill that time with more enjoyable or other important things.

And I ponder how, in the creativity of the Holy Spirit of procrastination, we are made in the image of God.

And I offer up to God my procrastinating as a form of thanks and praise.

Thank you God.

Amen.

Image found at https://clare-ofarrell.com/2018/06/01/map-of-procrastination/

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Here are Pandemic Prayers and Resources: Top Posts are “In an Abundance of Caution” “The Lord is My Shepherd: What kind of Sheep are You” and “Masks: A Prayer”