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Stay in the presence of God

I love the way you worship, I told him.
Because I did.
I enjoyed the freedom he had
to raise his hands
shout his praise
demonstrate his love of God Almighty.

I get embarrassed, I told him.
Because I do.
I worry about what others might think
if they saw me with raised hands
speaking out
demonstrating my love.

I love the way you worship, I told him.
But … How?
How do you dismiss
what others might think
what others might say
how they might react to your free expression?

He said:
Stay in the presence of God.

When your mind wanders
Stay in the presence of God.

When your heart questions
Stay in the presence of God.

When your spirit darkens
Stay in the presence of God.

When your strength fails
Stay in the presence of God.

Stay.
Where you are.
Where God is.
Hovering over you
A covering over you
Protecting you
flames will not burn you
waters will not overwhelm you.

Stay and worship.

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Prayer for a Day Worth Thanking God

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

In gratitude, Lord, I offer it to you.
That the rain has stopped.
That I have a moment’s peace to recall
That you know exactly what lies ahead, so into it we run, blindly, belatedly, but freely.
Bring back to our minds, Lord, the times we have felt closest to you.
Bring back to our hearts, Lord, the moments we have felt most loved.
Bring to our souls, Lord, the very sense that we take our every breath in you.
Praise you, Lord, that you have brought us to this day and,
knowing this,
That you will bring us through this day, under your wings.
Thank you, Lord, for friendship, both human and divine.
Help us rest in you.

Amen

It just looks like exercise

I wonder if the people who drive by my house think I am crazy. I am out on the front porch with my exercise band, stretching it, lifting it, pulling, twisting, raising, lowering. Sometimes I sing “Spirit of the living God” out loud; sometimes I just hum it to myself. It probably just looks like exercising on the front porch to them. They have no idea its prayer. That would be even crazier, right?

So, today I am trying to imagine what they see when they see me, the exercise-er. And it gets me thinking about the me they don’t see…the pray-er.

One of the reasons I love the exercise bands, especially using them with one body part holding and the other body part pulling, is the continuous loop they make.  When I hold it in both hands, the “line of pull” is hand to hand but the shape of the motion – to me – is a loop. A continuous communication. First, from brain to hand about the force to be used and the rate of speed of the pull and the exact muscles and in what order they are to be recruited. Then, the hand responds with where it is in space and how fast it is moving. This is happening nearly instantaneously. And so important, so the brain knows where the body will be when it sends its next instruction. So the relay connection is uninterrupted.

It’s like the quarterback and the wide receiver. The QB calls the play and the receiver runs the route, but the QB doesn’t throw the ball to where the receiver is. If he did, by the time it got to him, he would be long gone. No, the QB must gauge how fast the receiver is running and on what trajectory and then throw the ball to where the receiver will be.

And when they connect, it’s a thing of beauty. When they do it again and again, QB and WR seem to have a second sense with each other. But this is the stuff of many, many practices and many, many plays. It requires incredible accuracy and athleticism for execution. And trust. (This has me wondering how many lead passes I am missing while I am waiting for God to hand it off to me so I can run with it. But that is the fodder for another blog post!)

So the relay of movement, your body does this perfectly, constantly. We move with flow and grace. Not jerkily like a robot but smoothly, without interruption. This give and take. This send and receive. This speak and respond. Even the greatest of athletes cannot reproduce this with a teammate, but inside us, this plays out.

And so, as I move my exercise band, I imagine this looping. In fact, my mind draws continuous loops, circles of movement. Okay – I just saw the Star Trek movie yesterday, coils of transporter beam – coils around my movement as I move through the prayer. (visual artists, a good drawing would be welcome here…)

A column of coils, wraps me upward.
A crown of round flips onto and over my head.
A coil behind my shoulders is pulled, pulled outward to a plank, whose endpoints are hand holds in the palm of each hand.
Wings of coil move from out to in to over my head, removing my crown, tipping it forward and down.
A waterfall wave bends and falls before my eyes and down to my waist.
Resting the band down at my thighs, I pull it taut and backwards, engaging the backs of my arms and my shoulders.
A coil like a sash criss-crosses me, hands to waist to shoulders and scapulae.
The circle of motion encloses me.

Somehow, what began as exercise has become prayer. Christian prayer.

Here is the video again. If you try it, please share your experience.

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