Prayer Thoughts

March 4, 2010

Discussing prayer tonight at a class.  Focusing on silent prayer.  I said this, but it’s surely not original with me.  Sorry I don’t know who to attribute it to, but it’s so true.

Stillness and quiet prayer with God is primarily about taking time to let God love you.

Reminded me of a discussion as part of our priest’s preaching learning group recently.  One member of the feedback group remarked that the sermons she preaches bring God closer that the sense or imagery of God he heard as a child/younger man.  He said something that it’s nice to hear it preached that God loves us, and not just aloof and far away.  I remarked, yeah, you can’t hear that preached too often, can you.

Take a little time each day to let God love you.

Peace be with you.

Advertisements

Excerpts of tonight’s personal journal

March 3, 2010

Recently I provided someone a moment of graciousness and kindness, and it was perceived as such by the person to whom it was directed, and encouraging.

I was a little ashamed at my felt sense of pride in that recognition of kindness and the other’s appreciation afterward.  But maybe it’s a healthy self-assessment in the face of so many other not so healthy judgments I’ve directed toward myself?

I recognize that I bask in the glow of being appreciated. Is that basking a “pure” kind of joy that is a normal and expected result of following God’s call to service, or self-puffery?

*********************

Lord, help me to be a blessing in the lives of those whom I touch.

Lord, help me to fix my gaze on you, and enjoy the pleasures in my self and with others that comes in serving, and, sure, even in being appreciated.  Keep me from both inordinate self-puffery and inordinately harsh self-judgment.

Lord, help me to be unafraid to trust you and freely and joyously offer my life for you to use me as you see fit, whether for public and greater or lesser recognized service, or for quiet unassuming care of those around me and in my personal prayers.  Help me to both recognize and accept the path you will continue to show me, all the days of my life.

Amen.


A Personal Review

February 10, 2010

Was looking over my last few blog posts.  Due to my infrequent posting, that actually took me back a ways chronologically.

I noticed my talk of piano lessons.  And my talk of getting Taize music for my mp3 player.

What prompted the review, was actually a lack of being gentle with myself over a lack of committed prayer. (another post about being gentle with oneself popped out at me.)

It’s true, I haven’t been praying as I ought.  But then I backed up a bit, and realized my listening, singing along, and now PLAYING taize music on the piano is not random.  I even believe there is a certain spirituality in the discipline of practicing any genre of piano music for me.  I’ve begun learning how to improvise,if you can use the term very loosely with me (particularly if you actually are a real jazz improviser!!!) on Taize music.  What an adventure!  What poetry does for some, music does for me.  It gets a litte frustrating sometimes to be unable to play technically the song in one’s head, just as it is to be unable to express in words the longing of one’s heart.  I believe there are real overlaps, but I think I have a better chance of overcoming the technical limitations, and allowing music to communicate at the heart level.  Makes one’s heart sort of yearn and ache.  The one I’m working with right now is called, “Jesus Remember Me.”  The lyrics are simple and repetitive by design.  The music combined with the simple lyric makes the heart to ache with longing…

Which brings me back to more traditional prayer and the longings of the heart.  I think that may be one reason why I avoid prayer.  Maybe?  Cracks you open to longings when it is sometimes easier to just keep busy, or even just be lazy with mindless entertainment, rather than be still and take some time to give God some access to your mind or heart.

I’m about to embark on a 12 week class as one of the co-facilitators for Community of Hope.  It is premised on the notion of being formed by prayer and silence, and encouraging that in the students who gather.  I’m motivated to dig in and return to  some of that, partly out of concerns of outright hypocrisy if I don’t, partly due to natural seasons of returning longings that happen to me sometimes.  But with this sort of strange feeling of trepidation.  What will happen if I pray?  (and/or what won’t happen?)  Will I find God in the ordinary, in the ways I profess to believe he is to be found and the Rule of Benedict from which our group will study asserts?  (Lord, I want to see!)  Will God confront me with something difficult to do, or ask me to change something uncomfortable about myself that I might prefer to cling to or hide behind? (“What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I beg you, don’t torture me!”)

Do you ever find yourself asking these questions?

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God,

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Something about that prayer speaks to me, with a certain assurance that the mercy is already ours, but asking for it still feels “right” and not “grovel-ly”. 

What do you think?

Be blessed!


Hellish or Heavenly?

January 12, 2010

Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. -C.S. Lewis

A friend of mine shared this quote with me a short time ago.  I had to ponder it a bit.  In some respects, I find it extraordinarily true.  In other respects, a little too black and white, a little too simplistic.  But mostly true.

I don’t necessarily know about the heavenly vs hellish dichotomy, but I absolutely, 100%’ly believe that our choices help form us, closing off some pathways that might have been present before.  Opportunity cost, I think I recall learning in high school accounting or freshman college economics.  The notion that there is a cost to choosing one thing over another, and that some choices close off other possibilities, maybe temporarily, maybe permanently.  Of course circumstances beyond our control can have these effects, too, but the important thing to take away from the pondering of this quote, I think, is that we have some degree of self-determination in forming that central thing inside us, for better or worse.  We have that responsibility and that power.

How am I choosing this day?

These Days?

Heavenly, hellish, or some delightful intoxicating combo of saved and sinner?  Hmm.

I’ve curtailed my church involvement quite a bit from say, the past 2-3 years ago.  Part of it was God-led for a sabbath season of sorts from that particular type of ministry involvement.  (Heavenly, you might say, and saying so with purity of heart, not a twinge of irony or sarcasm.  Really, prayed over that decision, and it felt “right.”)  Part of it was self-protective, and not just the innocent and beneficial stewardship of one’s time and energy.  Nope, the unvarnished truth was some of it was defensive and walling myself away from hurt, whether actual or imagined…the heart doesn’t necessarily care sometimes about factuality and objective reality.   (Hellish  <sigh>)  One ought to try though, I think, to be open to love and possibility and keep our walls to a minimum to live life to its fullest.  Hmm.

I don’t feel the same naivete and optimism I once felt about the Church, and even life in general the way I used to.  That’s disappointing to me, because I’ve always felt myself to be an optimist.  I’m not sure I like that change to my central thing…it feels like a shift is happening.  I think I should watch my choices a little more closely and with a sense of detached wonder and interest so I don’t find myself getting sucked into automatic reflexive decisions, instead of thoughtful choices.

How am I spending my opportunity costs now?  I’m “wasting time” (in a certain sense!) and “playing” in an adult sense that works for me.  Hellish or heavenly?  Time will tell, but I happen to think more the latter than the former.

I’m playing video games.   Yeah, video games!

I recently accepted an invitation from my elementary aged daughter to be part of a three-generation girl sleepover.  Yup, my daughter, myself, and my mom all slept in the living room after making truffles, other snacks, and playing on the Wii.

I got Dance Dance Revolution to play and exercise. (it really is fun!!!)

I’m taking piano lessons.  Yeah, me!  I had a few when I was younger, so I’m not a complete beginner, and I was a pretty good trombonist in high school, but I LOVE the piano.  It’s the kind of thing I can lose track of time while I’m at it. (in a good and holy way.)  Oh, is this ever FUN!!!  I’ve missed music and the tugs it makes on my soul…  It feels good and right to be back at it.

This playfulness and wasting time is heavenly and hellish at differing times.  And it’s changing my inner self.  My central “thing.”

I believe God’s going to use it for good, who knows how.  Let’s see how the next leg of this ol’ journey goes?  ;)


(verse on my mind)

December 7, 2009

“What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see.”

Luke 18:41

Yup.  That verse caught my heart tonight and wouldn’t let me go.  I mean, okay, I had to look up the verse number and all, but the general idea wouldn’t let me go.

Peace


Emotional Labor and Finding Renewal in God’s love

August 30, 2009

I have to complete continuing education courses to maintain my pharmacy degree. I was browsing online for some free ones to get a few of my credits in. I found one entitled, “Emotional Labor: How it can Affect the Practice of Pharmacy.”

I completed it, but I found it had application to anyone’s personal life, and probably lots and lots of people’s professional/career lives. Here’s a concept that I don’t usually hear, whether from work-related sources, or even the church much of the time:

Every patient feels that the doctor, pharmacist, etc., should care about their case like they do, but that would require far too much investment and effort. So many times it has to be “faked.”

I don’t know – last night I just found that kind of refreshingly forthright and honest. Saying aloud (in print) what we all already know. It is impossible to continuously feel what we are required/expected to portray to the outside world to whom we have covenental or contractual expectations to fulfill…those places where being genuine and letting it all hang out are simply not permissible. It didn’t say you can somehow get out of doing the right thing – acting in a compassionate, caring manner. Just acknowledging that sometimes it’ll amount to faking it. And it went on to give tips and strategies for having the best chance of having a recharged battery, and finding the wells that nourish and restore you…the places where you can let it all hang out.

Many would say faith in God is one of those places – in intimate personal prayer perhaps, where the hair can be let down, it can all hang out.   It’s hard though when you’ve spent a lifetime of acting your way into “really nice person” status and maintaining the veneer of nice respectable Christian person.  Where do you begin, and the act end, you might ask in one of your more anxious moments?  Would you like YOU, if you were able to peel away the act?  Many, and I include myself in that set, would say that true prayer is the place where the painful peeling can take place, and ironically enough, God gives reassurance that you don’t have to work so hard at being lovable.  That whole unconditional, all-forgiving love sort of thing.   And then paradoxically strengthened to return to the honest-to-goodness (sometimes hard!) emotional labor of being on for your patients and others in your life who really DO rely on you.  That kind of prayer requires courage to face yourself, and trust that God will do a good work in you and heal you.

Lord, give me courage and trust all my days.


New (for me) Prayer Idea

July 4, 2009

I just love the way God works sometimes!

I belong to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and got a discount on my vegetables by being the pickup site host…I call it my weekly veggie-sitting gig!

Anyway, I wasn’t too worried about the boredom of sitting around for a couple hours once a week…I’ve got books, mp3 player, a pad of paper and pen…I can easily entertain myself for a couple of hours, right?

Well, the pickup site is my church, so I have another way to amuse myself…a piano within eyesight of the front door that the veggie folks come to!

(yes, I play a LITTLE piano.  Emphasize LITTLE.)

Let me back up a little though.  I stumbled across this site for prayer on the mp3 when looking for the daily office as a podcast.  (note, this ISN’T a daily office podcast)

http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/

Now, I’m not sure this particular prayer podcast deeply speaks to me, but coincidentally enough, it reminded me of a prayer style that DOES!  Part of the podcast appears to be a rotating prayerful musical selection.  The particular Wednesday I was sitting there happened to be a week when Taize was the featured music.  I infrequently used to attend a Taize prayer service held at my church.  I think I want to get me a Taize album for my mp3 player!  If you haven’t heard Taize before you absolutely must give it a try!  Beautiful, repetitive, wonderful prayers set to sweet music that tugs at my heartstrings at least.

I’m trying to decide what album to purchase.  Anyone have any ideas?  I went to amazon.com and searched for taize as artist.  If you can recommend one album over another I’d love to hear your suggestion.  And if you’ve never listened to taize before you can go there to hear a brief clip to whet your spiritual appetite for more?

Pray without ceasing.  Let prayer pray within you.  That is most assuredly a niche for musical prayer (ever been unable to get a song out of your head?  Here are songs you want to feed into that endless repeat track!), and Taize is perhaps the perfect example of musical prayer!

Peace to you all, and I’d love to hear from you with opinions on this?

(bonus points for sharing your favorite taize chant with the cyberworld?  Bye again!)