Hello again…

I didn’t realize how long I’ve been silent. I’ve been a little overwhelmed by the rapid pace of the news out there and the challenges (health-wise) to my family. I’ve also gone quiet (as I sometimes do) because there’s a hermit’s instinct in me that occasionally takes over.

I don’t have to say it — we all know it — but I’ll say it anyway: these are emotionally exhausting, difficult and trying times for everyone all around the world. Here at home in America we’re being hit with a “perfect storm” of triple crises, and I constantly wonder, how much can I add to the relentless efforts of the best journalists to tell us the truths we need to hear and to encourage us to endure patiently and to act faithfully? I’ve been discouraged, praying for God daily to save our nation and restore us after all this, purged and renewed, “a more perfect union.” But I’ve also lately been thrilled to sense that some sea-tide is turning in our national life; my hope is quickened, my heart lifted.

I thought I’d share with you today my prayer (which is pretty much what I ask for every day, though with different nuances as they come to me):

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.

Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today the nourishment we need, the Bread of Life, for body and soul.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who’ve transgressed against us. Forgive, and send your Spirit to help us amend our lives.

Do not lead us into times of trial, nor let us fall into temptation, but rescue us. Rescue us from the evil that lurks within and the evil that assaults from without.

Rescue our nation from the greed, corruption, cowardice, willful blindness, and power-lust that have beset us so strongly, and re-form us into the nation we aspire to be. Bring forth justice and peace in our day.

Good and gracious Lord, deliver us all from anxiety and distress. Bless with your consoling grace those who languish in pain or suffer from disease, hunger, oppression, loneliness, or despair. In your merciful love, bless the dying and comfort the bereaved.

Help us to see clearly as we look on one another, and keep our eyes open to your presence among us. May we honor you in all that we do. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours and yours alone, now and forever.  Amen.

The Desire to Share

man and women holding hand
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

When I lived in Kansas I often visited Northern New Mexico. There in the Chama River Canyon, which cuts deep into the high mountains northwest of Santa Fe, is a rugged and beautiful landscape. Cliffs rise from the canyon floor until they shine in the sun, their sheer sides lined with striations of pink, rose, brown and tan, revealing the ages of the earth and its upheavals. Scattered in these cliffs are crevices and caves, and sometimes if you climb up to the top of one then descend down its face, you can find a cave that’s reasonably accessible to explore.

My friend, on a day of hiking, found such a cave and spent the long afternoon there listening to the sounds echoing up from the canyon below: the wild horses running, coyotes calling across the canyon, the voices of monks at prayer singing chants in the chapel below, singing birds and whispering trees, and water running fast in the river far below. A symphony of great beauty.  When he came back he told me about it and tried to show me where it was, so I could go there.

He was alight with the joy of his day, filled with the wonder of it, and he wanted to share it with me. We both stared at the face of the cliff wall as he tried to direct my eyes to the place where the cave lies hidden in plain sight. He kept describing it and pointing to it, saying, “There, see, just under where that scrub pine is growing, not far from where that footpath ends above it – can you see it?” and I’d say, no, I couldn’t; and he’d try again. “There,” he’d say, “you can barely make it out, it’s just a line in the rocks, very faint; can you see it now?” And, of course, I still couldn’t see what he so much wanted me to see and appreciate. We went on like that for a while, him wanting so much for me to see what he was trying to show me, and I completely unable to make it out amid the shadows and lines etched on the rough cliff wall.

I’ve thought about that experience often over the years. There’s a powerful poignancy in the memory because it mirrors a deep longing that I believe many of us have: to share our experience with someone else, to share the beauty we find in the world. Poignant because that longing too often meets a sad inability in those of us asked to receive the gift to recognize and embrace what is offered.  We miss the chance to experience communion.