Tag Archive - Faith

Of Paradox and Palms…

hosanna

Lent is perpetual paradox. The church is dressed in somber purple. We are a people of longing. Yet, we meet on Sundays to celebrate Resurrection. The Resurrection that has been, that is, that is not yet. In between, we lament, we fast, we wait.

This weekend the church was all dressed up in gold again. We commemorated the raising of Lazarus and the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. After this morning’s service, we formed a corridor out of doors with candles and palms, and as the priest moved among us with the icon of the feast we cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!” We were Jerusalem receiving our King. We were all joy.

Tonight, we prayed the poignant and lovely Bridegroom Matins service. The purple is back. The hymns are somber. The coming days will be dark.

Palm Sunday has been melancholy for me for some time. Mostly, I blame it on the flannel graphs. When my children were little, I told them Bible stories using flannel graph pictures. A sweet remnant from my own childhood. It always troubled me that I was expected to use the same crowd of people who shout “Hosanna” to later shout “Crucify”. Truth is, they were the same people. And He knew it. Even as He moved among them, even as He received their adoration, He knew.

And I want to be angry at them. For breaking His heart.

Til I remember.

I am them.

I receive Christ with gladness. I adore Him. I long for Him with all that I am. Until I don’t. Until I become arrogant. Again. And seek my own way. And though I do not call out for His physical death, I close the gate against Him and behave, in that moment, as though He were dead.

Lord have mercy.

Tonight, in my head, songs of the triumphant King riding into Jerusalem on a colt mingle with songs of the suffering Bridegroom who gives Himself for the beloved. And my heart is restless as the paradox that was Lent spills over into Holy Week…

 

Boston

A week ago yesterday, while my husband attended the home opener of the Boston Red Sox, my son and I climbed to the top of the Bunker Hill memorial, photographed squirrels playing in Boston Garden, and strolled along the wide lanes of Commonwealth Avenue, just a block and a half from where two explosions rocked the world yesterday.

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I grieve for those who lost their lives, and for those who love them. I grieve for the injured, some of whom are fighting for their lives even now. I grieve for runners who dreamed of this day all their lives – a dream I understand only too well – who trained for months, years maybe, just to qualify, and had the clean joy of this moment stolen. Mostly, I grieve for a world that is broken. A world where hate is sometimes nourished to a point that this is an inevitable result.

And yet, even in the grief, there are reasons to give thanks: For first responders who once again ran toward while most of us would run away. For capable, dauntless medical teams on the ground and in hospitals who provided, and continue to provide, the best medical care in the world. For ordinary heroes; runners and spectators who put themselves in harms way to aid the injured, doctors and nurses who flew back from vacations to assist, hundreds of volunteers, including marathon weary runners, who are offering to donate blood.

The running community is a generous community. Always. Being part of it is one of the things I love most about being a marathoner. But this is far bigger than that. At the precise moment when we witness the worst of which we as humans are capable, we see, in startling relief, the most ordinary, extraordinary heroism. The mark of God in us all.

May all of us seize this opportunity to love better. To feed generosity and not hate.

“Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother.”
~
from the Lenten prayer of St. Ephrem, the Syrian

My love and prayers are with those who grieve in Boston and beyond, and with those who continue to care for them. Shalom.

Artful Extravagance

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While God puts His lovely fingerprint on all of creation, it sometimes seems as though He spends extra time in certain places crafting an extravagance of beauty. Artful, elegant, and so exquisite it creates a pang in the heart. Bermuda is one such place.

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Sapphire skies hover over an impossibly turquoise sea that rushes toward pink sand beaches in a flurry of foam. Dark stones lie strewn about the shore and shallows like left over toys. The water hurls itself against them, spouting skyward in great white flumes.

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Along the beach, we discover treasures from the sea. And, even as I mourn their death, I marvel that God graced a creature that would rarely be seen with such extraordinary loveliness. Prettier than it has to be.

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Sea Glass Beach yields treasures of another sort. Trash, broken bottles and the like, rolled around by the waves, pummeled against the sand, wash up onto this beach smoothed and remade. We brought bits of it home. As a reminder. Fragments of resurrection for the garden path.

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The beauty of the natural world seems to inform and inspire the works of man. The houses that cling to the hills look like they spilled out of an Easter basket. Gardens and flower boxes are a profusion of texture and color. And we climb the world’s oldest cast iron lighthouse to find a most utilitarian beauty. The prisms that help magnify the light bend land, sea and sky into a marvelous upside down landscape.

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There is even a nod to whimsy. This is Kenzie’s favorite of my photos from Bermuda. The creative impulse is a one of the surest imprints of the Creator within us, even when the form it takes is unconventional. And Rastafarian. And awesome. 🙂

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The sun is painting with pieces of glass. She flings them like spatters of watercolor against the window frame with a Kandinsky-like exuberance. I can’t not look at it.

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Doors are flung open to breezes blown up from the sea. The song of them blends with voices in the liturgy. A curious mix, this. And wonderful. Like the languid, feathery palms swaying against the outside of this great stone church that looks as though it were plucked from the English countryside.

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Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Collision…

annun

It is an unforeseen serendipity, really. In Orthodox practice, there are intersecting cycles of worship. Some are fixed and some float according to where Easter falls (and it falls really late for eastern Christians this year: May 5th). But, somewhere in this seemingly random whirl of rubrics and such, two observations collided this year. The Sunday of Orthodoxy and the Annunciation. And I can’t stop thinking about this.

In the early church, an iconoclastic faction arose, a group that contended that to use images of Christ or of the saints in worship amounted to idolatry. It is an opinion that some might support even today. The church council called to consider this ultimately decided that the use of icons is appropriate because since Christ became man in the flesh, it is reasonable to depict Him in images. These images facilitate our worship. This decision is what we celebrate in the “Sunday of Orthodoxy”.

Of course, without the Annunciation there would be no Incarnation and Christ would not have become man. Therefore, the two are already intertwined in theme. But last night, they were intertwined in practice.

In a beautiful vesper service, members of several different Orthodox congregations in the Nashville area converged upon our church. We sang and prayed together. There was singing and commemoration in Greek, Russian, Serbian and English. We processed with icons. We broke bread together afterward. And woven all through this evening was the celebration of the blessed moment when the angel gave the news to Mary that she was to be the sacred vessel that would contain the Son of God.

I cannot tell you what it meant to be in that place. To experience a foretaste of the Kingdom where all tongues and tribes will sing together. To remember the great condescension in which God became like us so that we might one day be like Him. To commemorate the purity and the devotion of Mary, of her willingness to be the handmaiden of the Lord. The very first to welcome Him into her heart. Into her body. Into her life.

This morning we will celebrate liturgy for the Feast of the Annunciation. And we will remember the moment when Christ began His physical movement toward us. To step into our lives. To be God with us. To redeem us so that we might be with Him…

Thanks be to God!

 

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A Ballade of Place…

We almost missed it. Many people do.

It was our last morning in Paris, and we had seen everything on our list. We had one ticket left on our City Pass. Sainte Chapelle. A church. We had a little time to spare and it was near by.

Sainte Chapelle was built to house relics brought back from the Holy Land, including what was purported to be the crown of thorns worn by Christ. It was constructed at the pinnacle of the Gothic age when architects had perfected the flying buttress system to an art. Hence, the church is filled with windows. Three walls of her are very nearly windows only, beginning a few feet of the floor and soaring into the heavens, separated by only the finest ribs of support.

It is made even more dramatic by the fact that you reach it by climbing a dark, close spiral staircase. You wind your way up and up through the darkness until you are suddenly turned out into a magnificence you could never have imagined.

Standing in that place was, and still is, one of the holiest moments of my life. God was a presence that could be touched and breathed and worn there. His grandeur leaked from every pane of glass.

I have never explained that moment to my satisfaction, though I have tried. My latest attempt at giving it voice was inspired by a creative lectio experience with my beautiful friends Nita and Patsy. It is, perhaps, the closest I have come. Yet.

Sainte Chapelle

The steps have been hollowed out
by centuries of use. Still they spiral
upward through the dark, close
column of stone till they spill me out
into the upper chamber.

I am assaulted by color.
Jeweled windows hang
suspended from the sky.
Sunlight scatters the jewels across the floor
and in my hair
and on my skin.

And I find that I have forgotten
to breathe. And my face is wet.

And I think of poor, hungry peasants
who gave of their meager means to build
great edifices for God, and how I scorned
their impracticality.

And I realize I would gladly starve
to stand, just once, in a place
where holiness rests
like jewels
on my skin.

 

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sainte chapelle ceiling

stuck

stuck. surrendering to despondency. numbing myself to the creative impulse because i am afraid. i feel tired and empty. nothing to say. where to start?

i watch others. new content, brilliant life-giving thoughts beautifully articulated day after day. a seemingly endless supply. i envy them. i hate them. a little.

god forgive me.

i blame my circumstances. so busy. so many demands on my time. but who isn’t busy? i imagine stephen king sitting in his utility room, typewriter on his lap, after a long day of teaching, crunching out novels. i watch friends who work full-time jobs, raise families, and write books. and i feel like a sluggard.

but mostly i’m a coward.

tentative, whipped, barely holding things together myself. how do i give anything to anyone else? paralyzed by my inactivity. inertia feeding inertia.

once upon a time i created every day. was most of it garbage? or did creativity beget creativity? did surrendering to the flow mean that the flow carried me? and now i am the artless swan, hauling my clumsy heft, afraid to surrender to the very flow that would carry me if i let it.

i don’t trust it.

i fear i will drop down in and there will be nothing there. and no one will read. and i will have no excuse. and it’s safer to pretend that i don’t want it, or that it is impossible, or that it is someone else’s fault, or that if circumstances were different, i would be different.

i am weary of myself.

weary of excuses. weary of lazy. weary of blaming.

ready

to surrender.

The Swan

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.

Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. Robert Bly

swan

a mostly unedited, stream of consciousness blather, lifted from my morning pages.

Mad props to Nita Andrews and Patsy Clairmont who shared this provocative poem with me. It has been good food for thought.

The Fiction of Speed

heart

Yesterday was a day for talking about love. Facebook and Twitter were full of sweet tributes. Two of my favorites were unlikely stories. Couples who shouldn’t have made it, but have.

K talked about the gift of being married to the love of her life. This, in the midst of a heroic, difficult battle against cancer. A battle they are fighting TOGETHER. And this in spite of the fact that there was a time when she did not cherish him and what they had together.

W spoke honestly of her personal hell year. The year she hated her husband. In the thirteen years since, she and he have worked to build a beautiful, real, deep love that only seasons and grows with years. They have added three chosen children from Ethiopia to the two born of blood. Theirs is a radiant, vibrant family. It is impossible to say how many lives have been changed…are being changed…daily…because of them.

Both of these women were important voices in my life during the season when I wanted to chuck it all and have done with being married. They were generous enough to tell their stories. They were kind enough to listen to the nonsense that I believed at the time…all my arrogant, petty protests about what I “deserved”. Then, they were wise enough to tell me the truth. In love. To challenge me to do the hard thing. And the hard thing after that…

There is something lovely about young love. The giddy excitement. The breathless wonder. I have a friend who is living in this world at present. It is great fun to watch. But I have come to have a high regard for old love. The sort that is fermented. Tested.

Not everyone goes through a season, like Mike and I did, where they can hardly tolerate the very presence of the other. But everyone who is married will have periods when something is more “urgent” than tending the marriage. New baby. Illness. Job loss. Death of a parent…or a child. Something that seems to take all you have. This is where the battle is won or lost.

This is when you give without demanding return. This is when you daily throw yourself on the grenade for the good of the other. This love is not sexy or convenient, but raw, and rugged, and real.

This kind of love creates a safe place to become. A safe place to dream audacious dreams. A place to dare that which you would never have dared alone. A place to be chiseled and refined into something glorious. Where life reigns regardless of circumstances.

I want a love like that.

Don’t you?

I have these young friends. Too young to be as wise as they are. But they sing a song about this very thing. I kept playing it yesterday, and reading the stories of long love, and my heart celebrated men and women who are courageous enough, and stubborn enough, to hang in there long enough, to tell a great story with their lives. I share the song with you. I dedicate it to K and G, to W and B, and to all those who daily choose to die to self in order to love well. May your tribe increase.

*Post title borrowed from the song by Lulu Mae. If you like this song, you will love their album The Mockingbird and the Dogwood Tree.

Thin Places…

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The walls of the ancient church are impregnated with incense. Candles flicker before the icons. Faded frescoes of Saints crowd round us; on columns, walls, ceiling. And in this moment I am aware of a palpable Presence. Centuries of worshipers have stood where I stand. Liturgy. Eucharist. Body and Blood. I hear them still…

The storm raged all afternoon. Dark as night. Rain hurling itself against windows. Thunder shaking the house. Explosions of lightning. Now, its fury is spent. And like a child who has cried itself all out, the world is soft. Clean. Curls of mist rise toward a sky that is painting itself in swirls of violet and azure, with flecks of gold. I stand barefoot in the wet grass and am completely lost in the extravagant glory of this…

We fall to our knees, faces to the floor, as the priest intones a lament, “Today is hung upon the Tree, He who did hang the land in the midst of the waters. A crown of thorns crowns Him who is King of Angels…” When the singing ends, silence lays heavy…like a blanket. Then the silence is rent by hammer slamming against wood. And I feel each blow like a kick to the stomach. And I am there, kneeling in the mud of a Judean hillside as the sweet body of the Lord is brutally nailed to a cross…

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“A sacrament is when something holy happens. It is transparent time, time which you can see through to something deep inside time…you are apt to catch a glimpse of the almost unbearable preciousness and mystery of life.” ~Frederick Buechner

The Celts called them thin places. Sacred thresholds where the veil between us and the world beyond dissolves…for a space. Much of the time, they just happen. They are gift. We cannot construct them. Or reconstruct them. Most of the time, we cannot even adequately explain them. All we can do is ready ourselves to receive them.

“Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?”
“As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.”
“Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?”
“To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.”
~Zen master to his disciple

Herein I recruit voices of wise ones to speak to some of the practices and ways of being that tend to make us ready for these up close encounters with the Holy.

Silence

Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals…
~Henri Nouwen

The Father spoke one Word, which was his Son, and this Word He speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must be heard by the soul.
~St. John of the Cross

Stillness

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be.
~ Richard Rohr (from Psalm 46:10)

Awareness

We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery.  God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.
~Kallistos Ware

…Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes…
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Humility

Give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me the humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens.
~Thomas Merton

The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality.
~Richard Rohr

Contemplation

Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being.
~Thomas Merton

…I don’t know exactly what a prayer is
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
~Mary Oliver

In the beauty of God’s own economy, these encounters are not gift for us alone. As these moments spent in the Presence permeate our being, we become gift to others.

If our lives are truly “hid with Christ in God”, the astounding thing is that this hidden-ness is revealed in all that we do and say and write.
~Madeleine L’Engle

God utters me like a partial thought containing a partial word of Himself. ~Thomas Merton

If the idea of thin places appeals to you. If you crave a space to be refreshed and inspired…to converse, to commune, to be… I invite you to join me at Luminous. I am especially excited to hear from one of my artist heroes,  Makoto Fujimura. I have written about his remarkable illuminated gospels HERE, and his intriguing talk on Liminal Spaces (a prophetic/creative slant on thin places) HERE. The painting at the top of the post is Fujimura’s “Still Point Evening“.

*This post was inspired by the Luminous Project. Luminous is a creative spiritual event in Nashville May 1-3, 2013. To find out more, check out luminousproject.com. You can use the promo code ‘BRINGitHERE’ to get 35% off the registration price.

Favorite Literary Companions of 2012

A good book is like a good friend. It helps you to see the world more clearly. Perhaps it makes you laugh. Or cry. It nourishes your dreams. Very often it reveals to you a bit of yourself you did not know was there. And, as in the case of a good friend, I am sad when we come to the end of our time together, and I continue to think of it fondly in days, and years, to come.

Here are some of the more memorable encounters from the past year, in strictly chronological order as they came to me.

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor’s wordcraft is a cauldron of conundrum, brilliant characterization, and truths so deep they defy reduction. Her stories have a meandering way of taking us inside ourselves, preparing us for “almost imperceptible intrusions of grace“.

A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

His words are sumptuous. His descriptions of Paris in the 1920s with her rain-washed cobblestones and sidewalk bistros and cafes are perfectly delicious. And his intimate reflections on the literary luminaries who were his friends, priceless. I found myself dreaming of living in a little garret in Paris myself with daily strolls through those same avenues, the gardens, the museums… And, always, I love peaking inside the creative process of genius. I remember him speaking of how he could not write about Paris while in Paris. He needed distance to see it properly. This, I understand.

The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky said of this novel that he wanted to write one character who was completely without guile; innocent and good. Gentle Prince Myshkin allows himself to be thought foolish so that he may make others wise. It is a beautiful, redemptive story. An elegant counterpoint to Crime and Punishment.

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson

A chronicle of genius. Albeit eccentric, unwieldy, arrogant genius. A man who thoroughly changed the face of communication in our time. Isaacson weaves an engaging narrative about his enigmatic subject. I found myself laughing frequently. Deeply saddened sometimes. But mostly awed by this man who so often saw the not yet as though it already was. And as I have watched my one year old granddaughter navigate my iPhone over the past few months, it has been clear that his passion for intuitive design was spot on.

 Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultra-marathon Greatness, Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek is one of my heroes. Partly for his freakish ability to run obscene distances really fast, but also for his practice of foregoing a shower and sleep to hang at the finish line for hours congratulating finishers who have been on the trail far longer than he. This book tells the story of a spindly legged kid from a family with its fair share of challenges who grows up to be one of the most remarkable ultra runners the world has known. Jurek writes with great good humor and a deep sense of gratitude. He also includes some of his favorite (vegan) recipes.

Wounded by Love, Elder Porphyrios

Whoever wants to become a Christian must first become a poet…The soul of the Christian needs to be refined and sensitive, to have sensibility and wing, to be constantly in flight and to live in dreams, to fly through infinity, among the stars, amidst the greatness of God, amid silence.

Do you see why I love this man? This is one of the most significant books I have ever read. I know I will revisit it often. Elder Porphyrios’ writings on love have been both nourishing and challenging. It was his belief that if we pursue love only and our hearts become filled with love–for God, and for others–that everything else takes care of itself. This is a very pedestrian reduction of his beautiful words. I invite you to come to know him yourself.

Lit: A Memoir (P.S.), Mary Karr

Liar’s Club, the story of Mary Karr’s rough and tumble childhood in Texas, is credited by many with starting a memoir revolution. This third in the a series tells of Mary all grown up. Of her ‘fairy tale’ prince, of the son she adores, and of the demons that will not leave her alone. It is raw and honest, tragic and hilarious. Ultimately it is a compelling, marvelously crafted story of perseverance and grace.

Lifted By Angels: The Presence and Power of our Heavenly Guides and Guardians, Joel Miller

“This is the staggering asymmetry of God’s goodness. There is more grace than envy, more love than hate, more heaven than hell.”

I read the whole of it in one day. I just couldn’t stop. Joel Miller’s narrative is enthralling, his theology is sound, and his subject matter fascinating. Read my review in its entirety HERE.

A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver

I bought it on Kindle. For my phone. So it is always with me. I can’t tell you how often I pull it out. Just a poem or two. Or all of them at a go. Gift. This voice. That penetrates to the very essence of things. And renders them in such lovely expression. Par example

I HAPPENED TO BE STANDING

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance.  A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep.  Maybe not.

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why.  And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t.  That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self purpose.

This is the line that caused me to buy the book. (Thanks, Karissa) The Night Circus is an enchantment. Mysterious. Beautiful. All done out in black and white. It is a feast of imagery and imagination. Read it for the artist in you. The part of you that still traffics in magic. Or wants to.

Lord, You Know

“You carry so much stress in your body!” they both say to me. (The chiropractor/kinesiologist who has been treating my ailing ankle, and the massage therapist who once a month or so tries to untie the knots into which I tie myself.)

My first thought is, “Like I can do anything about that!” But then, I begin to wonder, “What is it, really, that I have to be so stressed about?”

I…am a worrier. I never thought it would happen to me, but it has. And what’s more, I am coming to see this worry as sin.

Hear me out…

I learn my child or my friend is in crisis. I immediately absorb this crisis into myself. My stomach hurts. I can’t sleep. Because I need to fix it! I begin rolling the situation around in my head. What should I say to them? What can be done? Who should I talk to on their behalf? What if they won’t listen? What if they persist in self-destructive behavior? What if someone hurts them? What if they do not understand how serious this is? (Read this faster and faster getting louder with each phrase and you will have some notion of the cacophony in my head.)

Do you have any idea how long I will stew over this before it occurs to me to mention it to God?

And even then, I have to say it just right. I need to present Him with a solution and implore Him to implement my plan. Is this arrogant? Is this foolish?

Truth is, apparently, I trust myself more than I trust God.

Ouch.

Fortunately, He has been good enough over the last few years to provide me with some situations that are completely out of my depth. Slowly…slowly…I am learning a new way to pray.

Lord, You know.

Someone I love is making choices that have potentially devastating consequences. I struggle with what to say and what not to say. I am terrified for him. I have NO answers. So I offer him to God. Every morning. I have stopped telling God what to do. Lord, you know. That is my prayer. Lord, you know how to help him. Lord, your resources are illimitable. Lord, please make haste to help him.

Every time I think of him throughout the day…every time I am tempted to begin scheming about how to fix this…I pray.

Lord, you know.

And in the night when my restless mind presents to me a laundry list of dear ones who are hurting…

Lord, You know.

I am sleeping better than I have in a long time.

But, far more important than that, I am reminded every morning and all throughout the day that God has each of my beloveds under His wing. That the power of heaven is being unleashed on their behalf. And that is worth far more than any “solution” I might come up with.

Does this free me from the responsibilities of being wife, mother or friend? Absolutely not. And I will still serve those I love with all I have. But I am letting go of the arrogant notion that it all depends on me.

With silence, tolerance, and above all by prayer we benefit others in a mystical way…What we are unable to do, His grace will achieve. ~Elder Porphyrios

P.S. I use the following prayer from the Orthodox prayer book every morning to bring before God the names of my family and my very close friends, along with others who I know to be at a point of particular need. They are the words I would pray if I were smarter. I am glad someone wrote them down for me. I offer them to you…

O God, our heavenly Father, who loves mankind and art a most merciful and compassionate God, have mercy upon Your servants (Name those whom you wish to remember) for whom I humbly pray to You to care for and protect. O God, be their guide and guardian in all their endeavors, lead them in the path of Your truth, and draw them nearer to You, so that they may lead a godly and righteous life in Your love as they do Your will in all things. Give them Your grace, and mercy so that they may be patient, hard working, tireless, devout and charitable. Defend them against the assaults of the enemy, and grant them wisdom and strength to resist all temptation and corruption, and direct them in the way of Salvation, through the goodness of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and the prayers of His Holy Mother and the blessed saints. Amen.

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