Category Archives: prayer

The human chain of life

I had a dream, under a cloud be-speckled blue sky

that we all joined hands
with our nearby neighbors,
to the right and to the left,
whose opinions, possibly,
probably, almost certainly,
differ from our own.

Me with thee and thee with thou
until we reached the end of the lane,
the boundaries of the neighborhood,
the extent of the town, 
the limits of the principality, 
across the borders of countries,
over the oceans, lakes and rivers
until we encircled the world.

We formed a human chain 
spanning races, nations, cultures,
crossing opinion, without distinction 
... gradually, 
incrementally, 
hardly noticeably;
bridging every gap,
    grip by grip,
person by person.

No one concerned about
contaminating viruses 
sticky fingers 
or dirt under the fingernails.

So grateful were we 
for the touch of another human, 
we gave no thought to 
where the chain would lead,
how or where it would link up
with the other side
on the other side 
because there would be no other side.

Just the one continuous connection.
Incremental effort,
tugging us in 
each others' direction,
extended arms 
encircling Mother Earth.

She, who has the final word;
Her Pull is the gravitational hug that grounds me, 
as the strength of connection tugs me
toward you on my right and you on my left --
and you toward your neighbor,
whose hands you hold
for the sake of all life.

A Perfecting Time

My hair is long
My nails unkempt
My clothes askew
My face unwashed
Thus unadorned
I go before my day.

This day, 
as the last
and the one before it
and the one 
before 
that.

How many more?
I cannot say
I have no say
Lord, how long?

Instead, 
You turn me to me
And I dare to look;
one me upon the other,
at the we that is only me.
And I am

I, 
the one you love,
have loved
still love.

Take me to then,
that then when 
it was just you and I
and I was perfect.

My hair askew
but you were all I knew.
My skin aglow
when you're all I know.
Naked and fresh
Unwashed and penniless.

That beginning time
when You were mine
and I was thine.

And everyday hence
that You proposed I go;
Including this day
when wilderness itself
greets me at my front door
and I step willingly into it.

I,
Worn plain
Yet Your love is the same.
Perfect
and perfecting still.





Pass the Peace, Please

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~ John 14:27

This devotional meditation was originally written in December of 2019 and published in the Devotions for Lent booklet created and distributed by The Church of the Good Shepherd UMC — before the world changed for us all. It appears as the reading for today (April 4, 2020). I pray the words may offer you a peace that passes all understanding in your time and place this day.

I’m well acquainted with sweeping things under the rug to “preserve the peace,” buttoning my lip in order not to “disrupt the peace” and occasionally inserting myself to “restore the peace,” but I confess that being asked to “pass the peace” during a church service leaves me somewhat uncomfortable. While others seem to revel in the greetings with warm handshakes and hugs, I suspect there is more to this than well-wishing and the opportunity to visit with those in the next pew or across the aisle.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. When Christ offered these words of comfort to his disciples he was preparing them for the days he knew lay ahead. We are heirs to this same peace, one that is both personal and relational, a shalom. Because the Light of Christ has come into the world we are invited to enact that peace, offering it to each other in an expression of warmth, comfort and welcome.

This is such a simple act, yet brimming with faithfulness and trust, because how well do I really know you? True, you are my pew-mate, my neighbor, my co-parishioner or perhaps my guest, but what about the politics you practice, the parenting style you’ve adopted and the lifestyle you lead? Whoa, what a risk Jesus took in leaving His peace with us!

I do not give to you as the world gives. This is not a worldly peace – nothing so temporary as a ceasefire or a cessation of hostilities, nor so transient as a handshake or a hug. The peace Christ gives is insurmountable and uncontainable, yet when I hold it in my hand it weighs nothing and means everything. It is the peace that settles on a prayer-filled room where everything is at stake but there is nothing left to be done. This peace passes all understanding, yet it extends tangibly and undeniably from hand to hand and heart to willing heart.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. As I extend my hand to offer the peace of the Living Christ to you, my friend, my neighbor, my companion on this journey of faith, may the weight of our world be lifted and the love of Christ take its place both within us and between us. For there is nothing in the universe as constant as the presence of Jesus who promised that “where two or three are gathered in my name I am there with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Today: Consider these words of remarkable dialogue from the beautifully conceived play, Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson: “I choose to measure you in light.” If the hand we extend is filled with the peace of Christ, how now may we see the other by the Light of Christ? Blessed indeed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.

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