Monday, June 27, 2011

A Prayer for the Departed

Last Wednesday night as I was falling asleep I began to think about the film The Departed.  That film troubled me so deeply that I wondered if one could develop PTSD from watching a film.  Perhaps I could coin a new term “Post Traumatic Film Disorder.”  Anyone who knows me well may wonder why I even saw the movie.  The problem with being pretty detached from mainstream culture is that when my husband and I went out on a date to the movies about 5 years ago we had put so much energy into finding childcare and getting to the theater that we didn’t even think about what movie to watch.   The only information we had was the line-up of stars and the critical acclaim, so we thought we’d go ahead and watch it.  About two hours and too many murders later I was shaken to the core by the cruelty, greed and power of the character played by Jack Nicholson who was based roughly on Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.   I was equally troubled by a group of young men in the audience that laughed out loud at just about every killing.
So as I lay in bed last Wednesday night trying not to think about the scary images that still come back to haunt me I began to pray against the stronghold of violence in our culture.  I prayed for peace and justice and that such a mean and wicked man could be brought down.  The following morning as I was washing up breakfast dishes and listening to NPR I stood hands deep in soapy suds in utter amazement.  They had announced that James “Whitey” Bulger had been caught in LA on Wednesday.  It is moments like these that affirm my belief that our thoughts are not random and that prayer can connect us to the heart of God and to the needs of people we may never meet here on Earth.  He would have already been arrested when he came to my mind that night, but I still think God brought him to my mind on purpose.  I know that the arrest of one man and the prayers of one woman will not bring sudden peace to crime ridden streets, it won’t stop violent media from streaming into hearts and homes, it won’t make those young men in the theater weep instead of rejoice at suffering.   But perhaps troubling things come to our minds so that we can join the fight against them and their destructive power.  Rather than being paralyzed or overcome by fear we can be stirred to action, even if that action is as simple as a prayer.   So the next time my mind is assaulted by some troubling detail of the state of the world today I will turn it into prayer and not be too surprised when God hears and answers it.  Imagine if we all prayed more.  Oh and Michael and I learned that we are better off spending our date night money on nice restaurants, or concerts or contra dancing - things we KNOW we’ll enjoy and not trust Hollywood to entertain (or terrorize) us.   

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”   (2 Timothy 1:7)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spring Migration Song

Over my head                  
                I know the hummingbirds are back
I hear music in the air                   
but not exactly here
Over my head                                
 swarming 4-wheelers buzz
I hear music in the air                    
engines rev in annual courtship display
Over my head                                  
low flying helicopter breaks sleep sirens wail
I hear music everywhere             
soon I will migrate
There must                                        
to a place so quiet
Be a God                                             
 that I heard and saw
a hummingbird hover
Over my head  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mourning Cloak

Yesterday, March 28 marked the three year anniversary of two deaths. One of my friends lost her father to cancer and my cousin lost her husband and the father of her young children to a trucking accident.  It also was my husbands birthday and very close to the birthdays of my own children.  I wrote this poem about grief and rebirth two years ago.  The mourning cloak is a kind of butterfly that my friend saw on the day they buried her father. May this poem be a blessing to you as well this day.

Isaiah 6:2
Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew

Psalm 30:11-12
You have turned my mourning into dancing;
You have taken off my sackcloth
And clothed me with joy,
So that my soul may praise you
And not be silent.
O Lord my God I will give thanks to you forever

Cloaked in mourning
You will rise today
Allowing the Constance
Of breath to carry you through

Swaddled snugly in grief
You will move through this day
inching your way
toward and
away from  
thought after endless thought

You will see in your face
His face
You will hear in your voice
His voice
You will continue to breathe
And continue
The life that he helped to create in you

Wound up in silvery threads
of tears and snot
You will open puffy red eyes
and find
that this grief
will not break you
that it can be borne
as you were born
and will be born
again and again

And, yes you will lament
that you are unraveling
The threads of sisters mother brother
Stand parallel
In tension
Disconnected without the
Woof of papa to hold them together

You hope
that time and memory will
rebind you
and the distance will not grow

And yes, you lament
that your feet will not stand
on one year old grass
Beside the stone that
marks your remembrance
but you accept
that they will tread the streets
of this city of brotherly love
and find solace

And you will stretch out
This blanket of grief
And find that though
It seems as constant as breath
It will not bind you.

You will hear on your lips
Words of praise
And thanks
For life
And you may shield your sorrowed face
And you may cover your weary feet
Yet still you will spread out wings
And rise to greet this day


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

farts, earthquakes and prayer

I was at the kitchen sink making an attempt to bring some order to the chaos, while a pot of rice, beans, and leftover chicken simmered for dinner.  My nearly 3 year old daughter was at the counter measuring teaspoons of sea salt and brown rice into a dry measuring cup (one dump through the sieve will sort it out fine).  She began to sing to herself the first line of a song my son brought home from camp last summer, “Oops I farted, an earthquake started….”
A few moments of silence, scooping, sorting, washing, rinsing, then, “Mommy, I was singing that song cause there was that big earthquake in Japan.”  The song continues, though she had not sung “and that’s how the dinosaurs died out.”  Had she begun to connect dots and wonder if somehow a natural act of her own body had caused people in Japan to suffer? I assured her that that song was pure fiction and that the disaster in Japan was not a result of her or anybody passing gas.  She honestly seemed relieved to hear this assurance from me.
Soon she was on the dining room potty releasing the cause of the fart.  I took a few moments to look at the computer.  “Mommy, God really loves those people in Japan……he really cares about them….and God really loves us too. We should pray for the people in Japan.”  So I drew near to her and I prayed for people in Japan to have homes, to have enough food, to have comfort, to trust that God and his love are real.  “Mommy, God is so so good! Lets sing that song about that. ” So we sang “God is so Good” in English and in Japanese.  She asked me sing it in Spanish too so we sang a verse in Spanish.
I don’t believe that farts cause earthquakes but I do believe that the heartfelt prayers of a child can cause blessing to people all the way over in Japan.  They can even cause a harried mother to stop flitting from one incomplete task to the next and to pause long enough to remember and trust that God is indeed good.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome to my table

At the end of the day I often sit with a cup of tea and talk over the day with my husband.  My kitchen table is the center of my home where most of the meals, teaching and conversation happen.  The hope of this blog is to create a gathering place where I share a bit of what is happening in my center.  Welcome.