Considering a Decision

Loving God of Justice and of Mercy;

Show us when to shake the dust from our feet in Your Name, turning our backs on hypocrisy and oppression, shame and abuse,
And when to stay, invited to be transformed through your limitless healing.

Show us how to love those who answer both calls, to respect their obedience to you.

Give us the integrity to act and speak at all times only as you bid us, not as we, led by ego and insecurity, might do.

And in the midst of discernments, teach us to love both the shaming and the shamed, the abuser and the abused, knowing that each of us is both.


Wednesday Prayers: Keeping Body and Spirit Together

No, this isn't about food (though many of you know I'm usually an excellent eater). Nope, in my prayers today I'm thinking about our tendency to try to divorce our bodies from our spirits-- nurturing one, while denying the other. It's not a separation that works for me.

Mr. M and I have recently started lifting weights together. We'd talked about it for a while, and both finally got up the nerve to join the big burly guys at our gym. (Ever notice how much gender segregation there is at your fitness club? Men by the free weights, women on the cardio machines?)

I've run for a while, and practiced yoga for a while, but lifting is giving me a new perspective on what the body that God created for me can do. It's interesting to discover which parts started out stronger (my calves), and which ones are only beginning to develop strength (my biceps). We could easily make a metaphor about exercising spiritual gifts and practices, and taking inventory of the places we're called to grow, but I want to leave that alone today. I want to pay attention to the way our bodies are uniquely precious. I believe it's holy to celebrate them, use them, thank God for them, and listen to them. They do tell us things about our spirit (why do my arms tingle when I'm overwhelmed?!), but they can be speak for themselves, too.

Some of us have felt (I know I have) like only one part of our bodies defined us (he's bald, her nose is crooked, they have bellies). That's so rarely a positive experience-- even when the attribute is being praised! If we don't want one part of our body to define the whole to the exclusion of the rest, it doesn't seem that we should let our spirits define our selves to the exclusion of our bodies. I believe in wholeness.

So this week, my prayer is gratitude for physicality. I've got a cranky iliotibial band and a hamstring that I have to keep an eye on, but I'm so glad to run, to laugh with giggles that shake all of me, to pet the cats, to hold my friends. I'm glad to have a face that I can scrunch up in concentration, cold toes to slide under my husband, knees to kneel during confession. Thanks be to the God of our bodies.

I'll be giving thanks for your whole selves this week, too. Your fingers that tap keyboards, your hands that garden and sauder and stir stew, your feet that jazzercise, your arms that lift babies, your feet that drive cars, your ears that hear birds, your vocal cords that vibrate, your hearts that swish oxygen through you. I'll be happy to offer thanksgiving or supplication for anything else, too, if you let me know what you need!


Wednesday Prayers: Light in the Rearview Mirror

I was talking to an old college friend a couple of months ago, and she said to me (about a particularly difficult time in my life) something about my wishing I'd never gone through the whole thing.

I was caught entirely off guard. I'd never felt that way. There were times, in the midst of it, that I wished it was going differently, but it never occurred to me to wish it hadn't happened. There were good pieces and bad, but the things I discovered in myself during the difficult pieces were invaluable. I feel sturdier now, I know myself better, trust myself more, and have more peace.

In addition to those perks, I also have more confidence in God. I look back on two specific phases in my life that were unusually hard, and in retrospect, can see God in them. I could not, necessarily, at the time. Now I feel like I can anticipate that hindsight (did you follow that?), which may help to carry me through other hard times when I don't see God.

I talked to my spiritual director about this yesterday morning, and then later in the day found this poem:

We travellers, walking toward the sun, can't see
Ahead, but looking back the very light
That blinded us shows us the way we came,
Along which blessings now appear, risen
As if from sightlessness to sight, and we
By blessing brightly lit, keep going toward
That blessed light that yet to us is dark.
-Wendell Berry, from Given
Isn't that gorgeous? The more I read it, the more joy it brings me.

So, I'm feeling good about what lies behind, but would still like prayers for discernment-- not so much for the big picture of what lies ahead, but one-day-at-a-time discernment, the kind that keeps me close to God in each moment. I'd love your prayers for me in that.

Are there any ways that you need prayers to keep you "going toward that blessed light that yet to us is dark?"


Zippy Pouch!

I finally made something with a zipper (instructions from Stitch magazine)! It is... erm... imperfect, but lately I'm embracing imperfection.


I Can't Imagine

Mother's Day is this weekend, and it has me thinking about a number of different women in my life-- none of whom are likely to have an easy time with the holiday this year.

A college friend lost her mother suddenly in January.

A really wonderful blogger lost her son a year and a half ago.

My favorite girlfriend's mother lost her husband last fall.

Another college girlfriend lost her mother back when we were in school, and still grieves.

My husband struggles with the mothers in his life.

I love my mother, and am trying to live with some extraordinarily difficult things in our relationship.

Another blogger struggles with her relationship with her son, which is nothing like what she expected.

A friend from a former congregation still grieves not being able to have children.

Another friend has shared about her experience with the "mommy wars," and how hurtful women can be to one another about their mothering choices.

One of my oldest friends isn't in contact with her mother, after years of emotional abuse. She struggles with that absence, and also with the hostility with which people react to her estrangement.

This is not an easy holiday, and it reminds me of something one of my favorite bloggers writes about. She hates when she shares about her family's tragedy, and someone says, "Oh, I can't imagine what that's like for you." For the longest time, I couldn't understand why this was so upsetting to her. After all, I don't want to presume that I do know what she's feeling! And, because I respect her so much, I sat with the idea during my quiet time one day. Praying with it was like having a dam burst open-- I felt like the words delivered a huge wave of isolation, condescension, pity. "I can't imagine" suddenly struck me as code for "that sort of thing couldn't exist in my reality, it doesn't happen to people like me." I've had some experience with that. There are wounds in my own family that carry stigma, and people don't want to be able to relate, they don't want to imagine that the grime and the pain could touch them.

On this Mother's Day Eve, I'm holding all these people listed (and more) in God's light. It's a weekend of deep and ongoing prayer for me. There is a great need for tenderness and nurturing right now. Will you join me in my vigil?