Am I learning to live with the horror?


You can learn to live with anything 
   - when it happens by degrees...

Those were recurring words in the song I chose for yesterday's Night Prayer: By Degrees.
Even as I posted the song I thought, "Well, I'm not really learning to live with what's happening in schools and other public places around the country."

But then I questioned myself: 
How and when did the phrase "school shooting" 
   become an accepted phrase in my vocabulary? in our American vocabulary?  
How did I come use and live with the horror of those words?  
How did these words come to slip off my tongue as easily as
   school bus?  school teacher? school vacation?  
By degrees - that's how - by degrees... 

By Degrees by Mark Erelli
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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 5/27

    Image source
If you haven't already, you'll soon hear that this  Memorial Day weekend is the "unofficial start of summer."  Well, summer doesn't officially begin until June 21, so that's still three weeks away.  But this weekend IS an "official" time to slow down, pause, remember and pray for men and women who have died for us, in the service of our nation.  It's all about making and taking time for reflection in a world whose fast pace often leaves such oppor-tunities in the dust.  This poem isn't a prayer (although I find it prayerful) nor is it about Memorial Day.  It IS about slowing down, pausing, taking in what we often miss and savoring all that soothes the soul, remembering, prayerfully, those who loved us with the whole of their lives...

Four Kinds of Lilacs

"Why don't you turn at the next corner,"
she said, "and take another road home.
Let's go past that farm with all the
different colored lilacs."

"That's seven miles out of the way,"
he said. "I wanted to plant the rest
of the corn before evening. We
can look at lilacs some other time."

"It'll take only a few minutes"
she said. "You know that lilacs
aren't in bloom for long—if we
don't go now, it will be too late."

"We drove past there last year,"
he said. "They're like any other lilacs
except for the different colors. The rest
of the year, they're all just bushes."

"They're lilac, purple, white, and pink,"
she said. "And today, with no breeze,
the scent will hang in the air—no flowers
smell as good as lilacs in the spring."

"I thought of planting lilacs once,"
he said, "for a windbreak in the grove.
The good smell lasts only a few days.
I suppose we can go, if we hurry."

"Now slow up," she said.
"Last year, you drove by so fast
we couldn't even get a good look.
It wouldn't hurt to take it easy."

"Well, there they are," he said,
"and looking pretty scraggly—past
full bloom already. You should
have thought of doing this sooner."

- Leo Dengel, in
Home from the Field: Collected Poems





NIGHT PRAYER: Thursday 5/26

There's a wide range of ideas, Lord,
on how we might best respond
in the face of the loss of innocent life,
so much in the news of late...
Some say, "Pray!" but others say, 
"Prayer's become a cop-out:
    it only  keep the status quo,
    and keeps it - oh, so quo."
Well, here's my take this evening Lord:
    tonight I'll pray again
        for an end to all the violence;
     tonight I'll pray again
        for those who've died and those who grieve;
    tonight I'll pray for those whose twisted thoughts 
        may lead to killing;
     tonight I'll pray that change will come,
        that I'll share in its making;
    tonight I'll pray to find and keep
        the strength of my convictions;
    tonight I'll pray that I'll speak out 
        when lies and bias pass as truth,
    that I'll support and vote for those 
        who'll change what must be changed...

Help me see, Lord, 
    that if I'm not a part of the solution,
        I remain a part of the problem... 
Help me see, Lord,
    that if I don't work for change
        innocent blood stains my hands...

Help me see, Lord,
    that there's change within our grasp
        if we'll but reach and work to make it...
Help me see - how much we need to pray -
        for on our own, Lord 
             - we have failed...

Protect me, Lord, while I'm awake,
watch over me while I sleep,
that awake, I might keep watch with you
and asleep rest in your peace...

Tonight's music isn't a hymn, nor is it an answer to the crisis facing our nation.  It is, however, a warning, a reflection, a comment on how tragedy becomes our daily reality when we allow that to happen - by degrees...

By Degrees by Mark Erelli
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Ascension by Salvador Dali


Today's Ascension Thursday
when we remember Jesus ascending into heaven.
(Note: in many places, Ascension will be celebrated on Sunday 5/29.)
The Dali above images what Jesus' friends saw as he was lifted up:
 the soles of his feet!

Just 40 days after Easter, Lord,
you brought your friends together, one last time,
to say goodbye, to bid them farewell...

Parting's such sweet sorrow, Lord...

Taking leave's 
   the sad part 
and the sweetness,
   the memory of what was, 
   the promise of what's yet to be, 
   the pledge that on a day to come 
      we'll be together once again...

Coming and going, 
meeting and knowing,
saying goodbye,
sadness and sorrow,
hope for tomorrow...

You left your friends, Lord, 
but you did not abandon them:
    you promised your Spirit, the Spirit of truth 
    to lead and guide, to comfort and console,
    to show us the path we're called to walk,
    the way that leads us home to you
    and to that day, still yet to come,
    when we'll all be together, once again...



I Will Rise: Easter and Ascension Hymn 

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NIGHT PRAYER: Wednesday 5/25

After the devastation in Uvalde, 
words are hard to come by, Lord:
    thoughts and prayers, 
    straight from the hearts of millions,
    rise in tears and muffled silence
    while gunshots echo, echo, echo  
    in the soul of a nation still unable,
    still unwilling
    to change what must be changed...
For all who died:
    Lord, have mercy!
    God, help us! 
For all who grieve:
    Christ, have mercy!
    God, save us!
For the nation we call home:
`Lord, have mercy!
`Save us from ourselves!
Protect us, Lord, protect us, Lord,
protect us, Lord, while we're awake...
And watch over us, Lord, watch over us, Lord,
watch over us while we sleep...
That awake, 
    we might keep watch with you
and asleep, 
    rest in your peace...

I cannot think of more appropriate  music
    for tonight's prayer... 
There Is A Place by John Bell
If a video doesn't appear below, click here!

There is a place prepared for little children
Those we once lived for, those we deeply mourn,
Those who from play, from learning and from laughter
Cruelly were torn.

There is a place where hands which held ours tightly
Now are released beyond all hurt and fear
Healed by that love which also feels our sorrow
Tear after tear.

There is a place where all the lost potential
Yields its full promise, finds its lost intent;
Silenced no more, young voices echo freely
As they were meant.

There is a place where God will hear our questions,
Suffer our anger, share our speechless grief.
Gently repair the innocence of loving
And of belief.

Jesus, who bids us to be like little children
Shields those our arms are yearning to embrace,
God will ensure that all are reunited;
There is a place.





Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 5/26





NIGHT PRAYER: Tuesday 5/24

Sometimes, Lord, I realize
there are words I've prayed for decades
which I've never really stopped to think about...

For instance?  
Well, every night I pray
    that I might keep watch with you:
that I might sit at your side
    as you survey the world around us;
that I might take in the day's events
    from your perspective, with your wisdom;
that I might see, as you see,
    all my neighbors' joys and sorrows,
that I might observe, as carefully as you do,
    the little things that matter 
        and really make a difference;
that I might watch and be open
    to the ways I might serve others;
and that when my eyes grow heavy
    I might lean upon your shoulder, nod
        and fall asleep, in your peace...
Help me listen to, learn, know and understand
    the words I pray each day, Lord...

Protect me, Lord, while I'm awake
and watch over me while I sleep
that awake, I might keep watch with you
and asleep rest in your peace...
Be Still for the Presence of the Lord  by David J. Evans
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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 5/24

For the gift of people who listen to me, 
for the mercy of folks who forgive me, 
for the wisdom of all who correct me, 
for the arms of those who hold me,  
for the kindness of friends who endure me, 
for the hands of those who guide me, 
for the patience of those who stand by me,
for the care of all who love me, 
for the grace of all who pray for me: 
   I praise and thank you, Lord!

In return, Lord, help me to
listen, forgive, correct, 
hold, abide, guide, support,
care and pray for others
as patiently, as faithfully 
as I am loved and blessed...





NIGHT PRAYER: Monday 5/23

Tonight, a meditation 
    on some beautiful wisteria I encountered in West Concord...

    Photo by CP

These beautiful flowers exist 
for the simplest, most noble of reasons:
    to reveal the glory of God's own face,
    to share with bees in the circle of life,
    to spend themselves in giving joy,
    to dance on the breath of a passing breeze,
    to be all they were created to be
        - nothing more, nothing less, nothing else...
And me, Lord? I'm also made 
for the simplest, most noble of reasons;
    to reveal your beauty in my words and deeds,
    to reverence creation: your work, my home,
    to spend myself for others' joy,
    to move where your Spirit leads and guides,
    to be all I was made to be
        - nothing more, nothing less, nothing else...
May I be as faithful to my calling, Lord,
    as wisteria is to hers;
by your grace, help me be 
    who you made me to be
        - nothing more, nothing less, nothing else...
Protect me, Lord, while I'm awake
and watch over me while I sleep
that awake, I might keep watch with you
and asleep rest in your peace...

In The Bulb There Is A Flower by Natalie Sleeth
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                                           Video by CP




Monday Morning Offering: 5/23

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

Today, Lord,
I offer you my gratitude
    for all the blessings, gifts and graces
for which I've failed to give you thanks
because it seems I've been too busy 
wanting, wishing. even praying for
    other graces, more gifts and different blessings
than the ones already mine...
Give me pause today, Lord,
to consider, ponder, to discover (rediscover?)
    all the blessings, gifts and graces
already in my lap and for which I owe you thanks...
Open my eyes and my heart, Lord,
lest I miss even one of your many
    blessings, gifts and graces
and if I pray for more today
I pray for nothing more today 
than an attitude of gratitude
to offer thanks and praise for all the
    blessings, gifts and graces
in my past, now in hand,
and all those yet to come...