A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Meditation Moment in Eastertide ~ Wednesday, Week 3: Morning, Open Eyes. First Thought?

April 17, 2024 ~ Wednesday, Week 3


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

        ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson* 

  Holy Creator of Dawn, Noonday, Sunset, and Night, 
      How I often I open my eyes upon waking and my first thought is to go through the day ahead with my agenda of things to do, places to go, and people to see without taking a moment to recognize the blessings of my life.  I'm always quick to complain, whine, or moan to You and yet while I might remember an exclamation of  "Thank God!" when something dramatic occurs (such as the birth of a child, an improvement in health, or a disaster averted), I'm less likely to remember to breathe a small prayer of thankfulness for waking to another day of life, for the light of this day, and for the stars of this night.              
     Whatever the circumstances of my daily life, I always have small moments for which I can be thankful. All I have to do is learn to remember. It's easy enough on Sundays to remember to be thankful for the Resurrection or the Nativity of Your Son, but please help me, Lord, to add thankfulness into my daily life many times, if only in small ways. While I'm not suggesting that You are the Do-er of all things, I do want to acknowledge the parts of Creation that impact me in positive ways as a thanksgiving for the miracle of life itself. 
       Lord of Heaven, Lord of Life, Lord of All, thank You for this moment, right nowamen.


*Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882] was a noted lecturer and leader of the Transcendentalist Movement of the mid-19th century. With a Unitarian background and Harvard Divinity School education, he came to champion the belief in the inherent goodness of people and nature, and, particularly, that only from truly self-reliant and independent people can genuine community be formed. A well-traveled and well-written life, Emerson forms the backdrop of American intellectual pursuits and long collegial relationships with contemporaries such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Henry James and other literary luminaries such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Thomas Carlyle. His work resonates to this day and speaks to much of our current experience and dilemmas.


Photo by Christina Brennan Lee, one Easter Sunday Morning in Rice, Virginia 

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Meditation in Eastertide ~ Tuesday, Week 3: Differently Blind

April 16, 2024 ~ Tuesday, Week 3

Believe, when you are most unhappy, 
that there is something for you to do in the world. 
So long as you can sweeten another's pain,
life is not in vain. 

~  Helen Keller *

Dear God ~ Straight up, I need Your help! I do my best to be a helpful person to family, friends, and even strangers (unless their driving is driving me nuts ~ I keep working on that). But the part that is hard is remembering to remember others when I'm feeling down and when I'm on top of the world.  Help me find a way to look outside of myself regardless of what is happening in my life. In the ordinary moments of life, reaching out my hand to another is easy. It is in the difficult times that I want to be thoughtlessly thoughtful, to hold my hand out to someone who needs me more than I need to think about myself.  Helen Keller, who gave new meaning to the word Visionary, saw and heard far more than I do with all of my senses intact. Please give me a hand with my being differently blind and too hard of hearing when I’m too busy with me, myself, and I. Thank You, as always. amen.


*Helen Keller [1880-1968] was born a healthy girl in Tuscumbria, Alabama and at 19 months old she contracted an illness that left her deaf and blind. The story of her extraordinary journey and that of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, has been depicted in the play and film "The Miracle Worker." An internationally known author, political activist, and lecturer, she was  the recipient of numerous honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon Johnson, elections to the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame. She was the first deaf/blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree upon graduation from Radcliffe. Her life and work are iconic in framing the concept of overcoming obstacles and as an ardent advocate on behalf of others.

Click here to see Helen and her teacher Anne: How Helen Learned to Speak

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Monday, April 15, 2024

Prayers of the People: Catching Up with the Flock ~ 4th Sunday of Easter '24 Yr B

For Sunday, April 21, 2024; Readings: Acts 4:5-12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders...This Jesus is 'the stone that was rejected by you...it has become the cornerstone.' There is salvation in no one else... [Acts 3:8, 11-12a] 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want...Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me...Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. [Psalm 23:1, 4, 6] 

How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. [1 John 3:17-18] 

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and the will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. [John 10:14-16]

    The poetry of Psalm 23 speaks to us in the simplest of terms that belie the intricacy of its depth. Jesus would, of course, have known the psalm and it is a perfect pairing to his continuing "discussion" with the religious authorities in this week's Gospel of John.
     The symbolism in this well-known Psalm is far more complex and fascinating than just the obvious image of a man walking down a country lane with a big staff and a dog, the shepherds of the arid regions of the middle east separating sheep from goats, or the pretty girl of nursery rhymes with a bow on her crook as the sheep dutifully follow. Along with the earlier verses in John 10 (which I encourage you to read), taken line by line we can see, feel, and almost hear Jesus, our Shepherd, with us, reviving, caring, comforting, and anointing. Watching over us, preparing our table, restoring us; nothing we need is withheld. 
     Our Good Shepherd's job is never done. The demands on real living shepherds are constant and endless. Sheep are peculiarly needy and helpless creatures, quite restive, and even self-destructive at times. They can stand still for hours or bolt into stampedes because an apple drops from a tree. The shepherd must keep continuous vigil against disease, insect infestations, predators, pecking-order fights, escape artists, water, and food supplies. Sheep will NOT lie down unless they are completely contented and secure. A special oil mixture that the shepherd prepares and swabs (anoints) around each sheep's head and nose keeps deadly insects from burrowing and causing panic, disease, and injury, and the sheep is calmed for at least a little while. Then there are shearing and lambing seasons...*
    The sheep know their shepherd's voice and it comforts them. Do we know the voice of our Shepherd? Do we stand by as those in our own or other flocks are in need and refuse, or neglect to give help? Jesus, as Peter told those in religious and political authority after the Crucifixion, was the Cornerstone of our Salvation rejected and executed by them. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd stood firmly, and peacefully, in the midst of their persecution, and laid down his life for us, his sheep.
     Some days I feel pretty sheepish and need that still small voice of God as a reminder to get back into the flock, to follow and, in confidence, abide in the one who abides in us. Time for this sheep to answer the Shepherd's call, again, and catch up with the flock. C'mon along!


*I commend to you a charming and interesting little book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller, himself a modern-day shepherd, for a closer look at the connections between the Psalm's imagery and real-life sheep farming, line by line.


Leader:  ~ Holy Christ, Loving Shepherd, lead our souls to Your verdant pasture to lay aside our earthly wants for your eternal shelter. May our hearts and minds be nourished by Your Word and Sacrifice, learn to know Your voice as You know ours, and answer Your call.

                                     Jesus, Cornerstone of our Salvation
 RESPONSE:          We live Your love by word and action 

~ Holy Christ, Loving Shepherd, in the violence, hatred, and desperation of Your times, You stood peaceably as those in authority maligned and executed You. Grant us courage and fortitude in our own desperate times to stand up, peacefully yet persistently, to urge the political leaders of our Planet, our Country, and our Community, to legislate and participate in peace, equity, and mercy, as well as racial, economic, and environmental justice for all. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Cornerstone of our Salvation
                                                       We live Your love by word and action

~ Holy Christ, Loving Shepherd, comfort the hearts, restore the hope, and give rest from anxiety, for all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and for all who provide love and support. We now join our hearts together to pray for those in need… add your own petitions 

                                                       Jesus, Cornerstone of our Salvation
                                                       We live Your love by word and action 

~ Holy Christ, Loving Shepherd, we give great thanks, through our mortal tears, for those who have gone through the darkest valley to now live again and dwell forever in the brightest light of Your Holy House. We pray especially for… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Cornerstone of our Salvation
                                                       We live Your love by word and action

~ Holy Christ, Loving Shepherd, we pause in this moment to offer You our other heartfelt thanksgivings, intercessions, petitions, and memorials… add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Cornerstone of our Salvation
                                                       We live Your love by word and action 

~ Holy Christ, Loving Shepherd, with glad and generous hearts our Earthly Pastoral Shepherds break and sanctify the Bread of Life to bring You to us in prayer and teaching. Bless them in their work with and for us, that together we may feed all Your sheep with goodness and mercy. We pray especially for: add your own petitions

                                                       Jesus, Cornerstone of our Salvation
                                                        We live Your love by word and action

The Celebrant adds: Almighty God, Master of Creation, as You have anointed us for all the days of our lives. Infuse us with the desire to walk the right pathways, gather all Your sheep into one flock, and to love, serve, and abide in and through the Risen Christ. We ask this though Jesus, our Shepherd and Redeemer; and the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of our souls; who together with You, reign as One God, forever and ever. Amen.

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Meditation in Eastertide ~ Monday, Week 3: Would YOU Do ALL THAT?

April 15, 2024 ~ Monday in Eastertide, Week 3

Josephine Butler [1828-1906] * 

"God and one woman 
make a majority."
    *An extraordinary woman in her time and ours, Mrs. Butler wrote more than 90 books and pamphlets relating to her various causes and also biographies of her father, her husband, and, St. Catherine of Siena. BUT SO MUCH MORE! It is well past time for her to be known much farther afield as her influence continues to this day. 
     A feminist from an early age, Josephine Butler became more involved in serious social issues about women after being devastated by the death of her 6 year old daughter. Early on she was co-founder of the North of England Council for Promoting the Higher Education of Women and, as a dedicated and committed Christian married to a Church of England clergyman, she also became a resolute advocate for the welfare of prostitutes. She believed that the double standard of sexual morality led to the exploitation of women and girls with no consequences for men. 
     Josephine was tireless in her efforts to have the terrible Contagious Disease Acts** repealed and was further helped in this effort by Florence Soper Booth, daughter of the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth; and the influential editor of The Pall Mall Gazette, William Thomas Stead. Stead had revealed an appalling ease of purchasing girls as young as 13 for sex and trafficking. The Acts were intended to thwart the spread of venereal diseases yet only women were being victimized by the requirements which often led to their imprisonment if infected, but men were not. In a public meeting she referred to some of the practices authorized by the Acts, such as humiliating physical examinations by police, as "surgical rape" ~ a shocking remark that resulted in her desired outcome when the Acts were repealed in England, Ireland, and British Raj India. Josephine also successfully undertook the effort to have the age of sexual consent raised from 13 to 16 to reduce child prostitution.
     At a time when women didn't have the right to vote, Mrs. Butler's efforts were compelling and considerable. Honored on the Church of England Calendar of Lesser Festivals, she is also portrayed in a window in the Anglican Cathedral of Liverpool [see above image] with Queen Victoria and other notable women of the time. A College at the University of Durham is named for her and she has been remembered and honored in many other ways and places in England. 

    God of All Women, All Men ~ All Human Beings, God of Earth and God of Heaven, God of all that is ~ Seen and Unseen,

   Your Servant Josephine led the way in her own time to courageously and relentlessly advocate on behalf of women and girls as fully human persons. From campaigning for higher education, pushing legislation to increase the age of sexual consent, and to succeed in having laws repealed that diminished and exploited girls and women, especially those engaging in prostitution, Mrs. Butler was a force beyond our comprehension for her time. Help us realize that we must continue her valiant efforts. Let us not avert our eyes to the very real, very prevalent issues of sexual violence and exploitation of all human beings in our own times ~ in the worst parts of the world and in the nicest parts of our comfortable lives. Rape as a political weapon, human trafficking for greed and lust, random gun violence, domestic violence, racial and gender identity violence, female genital mutilation, child pornography and prostitution ~ all and more are symptoms of a dissolving social ethic that only benefits the few who have power, and all thrive when we, the "good people" look away.
    Help us, Lord, to do the work You have given us to do and actively see to it that all Your children are safe and genuinely loved.  amen




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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Meditation in Eastertide ~ Saturday, Week 2: Overthinking?

April 13, 2024 ~ Saturday in Eastertide, Week 2

But don't believe everything you think.

~ Charlie Chaplin*


       I like Charlie’s thinking about this!  I'm always certain that my thoughts are on track and correct, except when I stop to think about my thoughts. Then, I realize I might, possibly, perhaps, have a bias or two, or, at the very least, an untested expectation that affects what I'm thinking. Often I think that she or he or they think that I should think one thing or another, but I've never asked her, him, or them so maybe they don't think that at all but something else instead. But if I ask them, will they think I just don't know what I'm thinking? All this thinking stuff gives me a headache. Can't I just breeze through life thoughtlessly? So many others seem to, or is that just a thought I shouldn’t think?


      Dear Most High Lord and Excellent Thinker of Thoughts, please help me to work more diligently on how to think critically, objectively, and constructively. Let me recognize and understand the biases and emotions that influence my thoughts and, after some analysis (which may include advice from several others), I hope to feel comfortable moving forward anyway or, to change direction somewhat or even entirely. I do know that my thoughts, human as they are, will always be flawed in one way or another. Grant me the ability to be open to changes in my opinions and positions based on new information, even if from people I don't especially like. (the “liking” being a decision of sorts based on whatever I’m thinking in a given moment) 
      Let me work through criticism of me calmly ~ fair or not (in my humble opinion) ~ and accept the outcomes of my actions (and my [sometimes?] over-quick mouth) while learning new lessons for the future.        Whether my thinking is inside or outside of any given box, let me not recycle the same ways of understanding life in ever smaller circles with ever smaller thoughts, or, in other words, please don't let me believe everything I think. amen. 


*Charlie Chaplin [1899-1977], born in England, was an actor, comedian, director, and writer ~ all of the first magnitude ~ with a huge fan base on both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere that helped him survive both adoration and significant controversy. His brilliance in his early silent films is still well admired today. His most famous character, The Tramp, propelled him to icon status. But his The Great Dictator, 1940, was quite amazing for its time in making fun of Hitler. Check listings, it is available on some streaming sites. Worth the watch!

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Friday, April 12, 2024

Meditation in Eastertide ~ Friday, Week 2: Remember?

April 12, 2024 ~ Friday in Eastertide, Week 2

Frederick Buechner*

     The time is ripe...not all the time, surely, but from time to time...to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember — the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.   

O Holy Comforter ~
     The calendar highlights the dates that are burned deeply into my heart with a mix of sweetness and sadness, mixed with smiles and tears. And on each of those dates I open the door to my inner room of memories and sit with them as if in a familiar attic. I sift through the virtual folders and boxes that hold remnants of the most meaningful people and times of my life that are now past. And on each of those days I need Your presence to surround me while winnowing through the highs and the lows of all that has been. Most importantly, please be here while I caress the remembrances of the all-too-brief moments with those now gone who I have loved and who have loved me. Remind me that in this room, there are no feelings of guilt or shame as You are with me and have always been, through all of my life. What is past is past, what is now is now, and, only briefly. 
    Fill me with Your peace from when I go from this room until it is time again to remember. Strengthen my resolve to walk more fully into today, loving and living into all that is now, and all that is yet to be. amen.

*Carl Frederick Buechner [1926-2022] was an American theologian, Presbyterian pastor, and author of more than 30 books in several genres such as fiction, autobiography, and sermons, and is well-known among readers of Christian meditation. He received the O. Henry Award and been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award among many other honors.

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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Meditation in Eastertide ~ Thursday, Week 2: Still Alive? Now What...

April 11, 2024 ~ Thursday in Eastertide, Week 2

Viktor Frankl*


Here's a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished:
if you're alive, it isn't.  

~ Richard Bach**  

Lord of Now, Lord of Forever, I'm still alive. Now what? 
     Some days it's hard work just to be alive. Other days go by so fast I hardly realize it. And then, someone you care about is suddenly gone and life takes on a new meaning, again. And just as suddenly it hits me: his/her/their mission is finished, whether s/he was ready for it to be or we who care about them were, it just is. And even if we can’t understand or figure out what someone’s life mission was, especially someone very young, even in our deepest grief we can seek a way to live in earnest, and in honest and loving purpose, because of their importance in our lives.
     Again I’m here, as I begin once more to re-evaluate and re-discover how I can live as if You, Lord, were with me every moment [as You are]. When I do come to You, I remember that I can worry less about doing stuff and think more about just being present, conscious, aware, especially with You, and then my honest and loving purpose ~ my mission ~ will become clearer. Of course I'll keep doing but I'm seeing again that if I spend more of life working to love You with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and my neighbors as myself ~ per Your instructions ~ that mission thing will take care of itself. Through that I will re-center my self, focus on being conscious in thought and action, movement and stillness, then perhaps more of what I do will then, simply, reflect the who I am continually becoming. Thanks for listening, as always. amen.

 *Viktor Frankl [1905-1997] was a survivor of Holocaust Concentration camps in Auschwitz, Dachau, and Theresienstadt, and Bergen-Belsen. After graduating from high school he studied medicine and between 1928 and 1930, while still a medical student, he developed a number of youth counseling centers due to a rise in teen suicide. Recruiting pyschologists and psychiatrists, by 1931 there were no more teen suicides. Later he lost his father to starvation in Theresienstadt, his mother and brother to the gas chambers in Auschwitz, and, his wife to typhus in Bergen-Belsen.  After the war he headed the Neurology Department at the General Polyclinic in Vienna and established a private practice and continued to see patients until retirement in 1970. He earned a PhD in 1948 and was awarded a professorship in Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Vienna. He was a visiting Professor at Harvard University, Southern Methodist University, and Duquesne University and was given an award by the American Psychiatric Association in 1985. He is the author of many books the most well-known of which is Man’s Search for Meaning.
**Richard Bach [1937- ] is an author best known for classic 1970s bestsellers:  Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, and later, There’s No Such Place as Far Away, and more. His books carry a philosophical theme that our physical limits and mortality are merely appearance. An avid pilot and love of flying nearly cut his mission short in 2012 as his small plane landed upside down in a field and he was badly injured but recovered and continues to write.

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