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Still our prayer, for 2015…


For the New Year 1981
I have a small grain of hope–
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.

I need more.

I break off a fragment
to send you.

Please take
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won’t shrink.

Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.

Only so, by division,
will hope increase,

like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source–
clumsy and earth-covered–
of grace

~Denise Levertov


The darkest time in the year,
The poorest place in town,
Cold, and a taste of fear,
Man and woman alone,
What can we hope for here?
More light than we can learn,
More wealth than we can treasure,
More love than we can earn,
More peace than we can measure,
Because one child is born.
— Christopher Fry, One Child Is Born

Called to Christmas


After an early freeze this year, there is more intense color in our Texas Gulf Coast trees than I remember seeing in 20 years.  These Bradford pear leaves glisten in cold drizzle, their red and green echoing Christmas colors appearing inside our home.   As I turn the pages of our calendar and my Advent readings, I feel called to Christmas, beckoned to astonishment once again.

Prayer from the Unsettlng Season, by Donaald J. Shelby

“Lord, the calendar calls for Christmas. We have traveled this way before.During this Advent season we would see what we have never seen before, accept what we have refused to think, and hear what we need understand.  Be with us in our goings that we may meet you in your coming.  Astonish us until we sing “Glory!” and then enable us to live it out with love and peace. In the name of your Incarnate Word, even Jesus Christ.  Amen”


006Advent is a season of anticipation, of expecting, of waiting for birth.  My first response to the noun expectancy points to waiting in anticipation of important creation and change. I am reminded of my pregnancies – the anxious wondering of confirmation followed by wonder, amazement, and yearning for birth, then holding my sons to my heart.

Then, my grandchildren have been welcomed with joy in planning, preparing, making room!  For each of our granddaughters, I have begun writing a letter as soon as I heard the announcement of their conception.  I write that letter during our time waiting for them and give it to their parents when they are born to be kept until they are ready to keep it themselves.  I am journaling right now to the girl child who will come into our arms in the Spring. She is already in my heart.

Advent is like that journal for me – an expression of unconditional love and longing, a looking forward to the promise of a coming that will forever change our lives.

Fear Not


When an angel

snapped the old thin threads of speech

with an untimely birth announcement,

slit the seemly cloth of an evern more blessed

event with shears of miracle,

invaded the privacy of a dream, multiplied

to ravage the dark silk of the sky,

the innocent ears, with swords of sound:

news in a new dimension demanded

qualification.  The righteous were

as vulnerable as others.  They trembled

for those strong antecedent Fear nots,

whether goatherds, virgins, worker

in wood, or holy barren priests.

In our nights

our complicated modern dreams

rarely flower into visions.  No contemporary

Gabriel dumbfounds our worship,

or burning, visits our bedrooms.

No satellite signpost hauls us, earthbound

but star-struck, half around the world

with hope.  Are our sensibilities too blunt

to be assaulted with spatial power-plays

and far-out proclamations of peace?

Sterile, skeptics, yet we may be broken

to his slow, silent birth, his beginning

new in us.  His big-ness may still burst

our self-containment to tell us,

without angels’ mouths, Fear not.

God knows we need to hear it, now,

when he may shatter, with his most shocking

coming, this proud, cracked place,

and more if, for longer waiting,

he does not.

Luci Shaw, Accompanied by Angels:  Poems of the Incarnation

Breathing in Spring


“Sweetly breathing , vernal air,

That with kind warmth doth repair

Winter’s ruins; from whose breast

All the gums and spice of the East

Borrow their perfumes; whose eye

Gilds the morn, and clears the sky.”

When I read that Thomas Carew wrote this in the 17th century, I liked thinking how throughout time Spring has brought gladness and gratitude to men’s hearts.  I grew up in Northeast Texas where Redbud trees are among the first signs of Spring.  I have one planted in my front yard here, and I always watch for those first purplish buds to swell – sign of resurrection, of new life, promise of the greening to come.


I have previously written about my love for feathers, how a long time I ago I began to recognize the finding of a feather as a small signal that God is present.  Often when I pray for myself or others I pray for hiding under the shadow of His wing.  It is very simple, I choose these tiny found objects as reminders of how God has been and will be with me.  This is not the only reminder, there is evidence all around me in my home and garden.  Recently as I was reading passages in the Old Testament which speak of the stone markers erected to remind both present and future generations of God’s help, I realized these and my feathers are doing the same thing – simply saying “remember!”

“Samuel took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer—”the stone of help”—for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” —1 Samuel 7:12, NLT

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood. —Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Ash Wednesday

In a journal from three years ago, I found thoughts about Ash Wednesday that are much the same I would write today.  “Lent, Day 1.  We are adding readings from Psalms to the few minutes we have before Joe leaves for work in the mornings.  In all my Protestant years growing up, Lent was little recognized most of the time.  I have grown in need and appreciation of these set apart days approaching Easter and in all my observation of the liturgical year.  I crave the structure, need the framework for deepening spiritual sensitivity and awareness.  So begins arranging days and heart and home in new awareness of Eastering.”

Crosses of ashes,

sign of beginning journey,

mark Lenten promise.

Advent Lullaby

Advent Lullaby

I think of promises when I think of Mary. She was from a people promised by God. She was promised to Joseph in betrothal. She alone was promised in a new way by God that she would conceive a child that would be Himself. Then she herself promised to participate in this mystery and miracle.

I think of waiting when I think of Mary. The world waited for thousands of years for One who would help them turn around right.
Mary waited her 40 weeks of pregnancy. Did she smile in wonder? In those times when a baby-in-waiting was hidden, there was no sonogram, no medical reassurances. Wondering was different then. Waiting was for the unknown.

I think of songs when I think of Mary. She said “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:31) The next words we read , she is singing praise that sounds like “Joy to the world, the Lord is coming! Let every heart prepare him room. My heart already has!” This was the first lullaby for Jesus. He who neither slumbers nor sleeps and keeps me, chose to enter the form of a helpless baby who needed keeping and sleeping.

Did Mary press her hand to her belly in amazement? As this sweet mystery grew in her womb, did she sing still? As the little butterfly kicks began did her eyes grow wide and weepy? The biggest thing that ever happened to her was so small it could not be seen. As her body and her heart made room did she laugh and cry equally as often and pray to understand?

Did she talk to her baby and confess:
“I’m not the least bit ready,
But come, come anyway.
I’m not the least bit worthy of you,
But come, come anyway.
You need to know that I
Can hardly wait to see your face
So come, come anyway.
– adapted from the song Come Anyway by Carolyn Arends, and
– printed in the book “We’ve Been Waiting For You”

As the birthing began and song became breathing and bearing, in the mighty work and pain, was God magnified still?
As the minor lament changed key to major praise, did she once again sing with exultation? Did she hold Jesus close and rock side to side in that instinctual gesture all mothers do? Did she whisper her love lullaby and tenderly cradle him as she pondered? Did she remember the prophet Zephaniah’s words? “He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

I sing Mary’s songs. I wait. O come, O come, Immanuel