Wednesday, June 29, 2016

God of hope; God of mercy . . .hear our prayer!
Prayers in Times of Terrorism
Litany of Lamentation

For those who are suffering.
For those who are injured.
For families that are separated.

For firemen, police, emergency medical workers and all public officials.
For those who serve in the armed forces.
For those who answer the call to comfort and give aid.
For those who provide support thru their prayers.

For those who are dying.
For those who died while saving the lives of others.
For those who have died from acts of terrorism [or natural disasters] around the world.
For all who lost their lives.

For those who survived.
For the children who have been orphaned.
For the men and women who have lost their spouses.
For all who mourn and those who comfort them.

For peace in our city and in our world.
For unity among faiths.
For a greater appreciation and love of all humanity.

For patience and perseverance.
For calm in the midst of fear.
For forgiveness and the grace to overcome adversity.

For generosity of spirit.
For hope in times of despair.
For light in the darkness.

Gracious and Loving God,
you are our comforter and our hope.
Hear your people's prayers as they come before you.
Strengthen us in this time of need.

Inspire us to acts of charity and generosity
and give us hope of a brighter future.
We ask this in Jesus' name.
- Joseph P. Shadle

Prayer for Victims of Terrorism
Loving God,
Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism.
Comfort their families and all who grieve for them.
Help us in our fear and uncertainty,
And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love.
Strengthen all those who work for peace,
And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts.
We Pray
We pray,

O God,
for all Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews
whose hearts are consumed
by a zeal that has hardened them;
whose vision is partial,
whose mind is narrowed,
whose perceptions are simplified,
whose soul is poisoned.

And yet,
O God,
we read of Jesus that
"zeal for your house consumed him".
His life teaches us that
without the zeal of a burning love for you
that will endure through
the night-time of our enmities
we shall not see your kingdom come.

So we ask,
O God,
that you give us
a zeal that insists on acceptance
a commitment that endures in non-violence
and a patience that works for your coming;
and teach us to hate
only our tribalism and prejudice
which separate us
from those different to us.
We ask it in the name of the Prince of Peace,
Jesus Christ
Our Lord,

Monday, June 27, 2016

God, hear our prayer!

God of No-sides Prayer!

God of our side, and God of our enemies’ side,
hear our prayer:
we need your help here on planet earth.
With heavy hearts we confess
the brokenness of our beautiful blue planet
which is spinning out of control.

Hear the sound of gunfire,
see the bomb craters,
taste the bitterness of people hating people,
smell the fear that permeates our lives,
touch the hearts of the wounded.

Hear the sound of children being hurt,
see people running away from their homes,
taste the hopelessness of shattered communities,
smell the despair of refugee camps,
touch the inconsolable on both sides.

Feel our pain as we spin through space.
Touch the pulse of the earth as it beats wildly.
God of our side, and God of our enemies’ side,
you are the God of no sides at all.

You call us to a new place,
to step with faith outside this world of taking sides.
You lead us to an inside out world,
an upside down kingdom,
where our enemy is our brother,
where our foe can be our  fondest friend.

You call us from the sidelines,
to centre stage,
to be a community of global resurrection,
firm believers in love that cannot die,
love that cannot be killed,
love that never lets us go.

You call us to be firm believers
in the one who crossed heaven and earth
to show us that even between God and human beings
there are no sides.

It is in the name of Jesus Christ,
whose arms embrace us all,
that we pray for peace today.

Carol Penner - A Mennonite Voice

Thursday, June 23, 2016

God, Our Visitor . . .


You came down from your throne and stood at my cottage door.
I was singing all alone in a corner, and the melody caught your ear.

You came down and stood at my cottage door.

Masters are many in your hall and songs are sung there at all hours.

But the simple carol of this novice struck at your love.

One plaintive little strain mingled with the great music of the world,
and with a flower for a prize you came down and stopped at my cottage door.

Song Offerings

God in Poetry!

God speaks to each of us as God makes us,
 then walks with us silently out of the night.

 These are words we dimly hear:

 You, sent out beyond your recall,
 go to the limits of your longing.
 Embody me.

 Flare up like flame
 and make big shadows I can move in.

 Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
 Just keep going.  No feeling is final.
 Don't let yourself lose me.

 Nearby is the country they call life.
 You will know it by its seriousness.

 Give me your hand.

  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
 (Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)
Photo by Doris Klein, CSA

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

So rare . . .

The night of June 20, 2016, had the first strawberry moon in decades. It's when a full moon happens on summer solstice.



A Summer Celebration!

The first sunset of the summer season in the northern hemisphere  . . .   
a Solstice Celebration!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Welcome, Summer - again and again!

A Summer Prayer

May you breathe in the beauty of summer with its power of transformation.
May this beauty permeate all that feels un-beautiful in you.

          May the God of summer give us beauty.

May you seek and find spaces of repose during these summer months.
May these moments refresh and restore the tired places within you.

           May the God of summer give us rest.

May you be open to times of celebration and recreation that are so much a part of summer.
May you find happiness in these times of play and leisure.

           May the God of summer give us joy.

May your eyes see the wonders of summer's colors.
May these colors delight you and entice you into contemplation and joy.

           May the God of summer give us inner light.

May you feel energy of summer rains penetrating thirsty gardens, golf courses, lawns and farmlands.
May these rains remind you that your inner thirst needs quenching.
May your inner self be refreshed, restored, and renewed.

May the God of summer give us what we need for healing.
May you savor fresh produce that comes to your table and enjoy the fruits of summer's bounty.

May the God of summer give us a sense of satisfaction in the works of our hands.
May you find shelter when the stormy skies of summer threaten your safety.

May the God of summer give us shelter when inner storms threaten our peace of mind and heart.
May you enjoy the unexpected and find surprises of beauty and happiness as you travel the roads on summer vacation.

May the God of summer lead us to amazing discoveries as we travel the inner roads of our soul as well.

By: Joyce Rupp

Joyce Rupp

Welcome, Summer!

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of               
up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and                    

complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly                       

washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,                                      
how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~ Mary Oliver

Photo by Joni L.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Words within the deep . . .

Let's remake the world with words.
Not frivolously, nor
To hide from what we fear,
But with a purpose.

As Wordsworth said, remove
"The dust of custom" so things
Shine again, each object arrayed
In its robe of original light.

And then we'll see the world
As if for the first time.
As once we gazed at the beloved
Who was gazing at us.

~ Gregory Orr ~
 (Concerning The Book That Is the Body Of The Beloved)

Photo by: Doris Klein, CSA
In our souls everything
moves guided by a mysterious hand.
We know nothing of our own souls
that are ununderstandable and say nothing.

The deepest words
of the wise person teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind when it blows
or the sound of the water when it is flowing.

~ Antonio Machado ~

(Translation by Robert Bly, in The Enlightened Heart,
edited by Stephen Mitchell) 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

For Grief . . .and relief!

“For Grief”
by John O’Donohue,
from To Bless the Space Between Us

When you lose someone you love, Your life becomes strange, The ground beneath you gets fragile, Your thoughts make your eyes unsure; And some dead echo drags your voice down where words have no confidence.

Your heart has grown heavy with loss; And though this loss has wounded others too, No one knows what has been taken from you when the silence of absence deepens. Flickers of guilt kindle regret; For all that was left unsaid or undone. There are days when you wake up happy; Again inside the fullness of life, Until the moment breaks, And you are thrown back onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back, You are able to function well, Until in the middle of work or encounter, Suddenly with no warning, You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.  All you can depend on now is that, Sorrow will remain faithful to itself. More than you, it knows its way, And will find the right time to pull and pull the rope of grief, Until that coiled hill of tears has reduced to its last drop. 

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance, With the invisible form of your departed; And when the work of grief is done, The wound of loss will heal, And you will have learned to wean your eyes from that gap in the air, and be able to enter the hearth in your soul where your loved one,  Has awaited your return, All the time.

Rising from the landfill . . .

The Gate-Crasher!

“You have your own brave story.  Risking the anger and the ridicule of those around you, cloaked in their shallow respectability, you broke through their righteous ranks, slipping your silken veils past their long stiff robes, gate-crashing the patriarchal party, bearing, tight to your bosom, your rich and precious perfume. . .

 They did not know who you were, only what you had done. It was enough to leave them aghast at your intrusion and your daring. But you were driven by something far deeper – a passion that poured right out from your belly and flowed into warm tears that fell upon the feet of Jesus. Your tears were your story, told for the first time to the man who looked upon you with compassion – illuminating your soul, and revealing all the longing breaking from within it.

 With eyes that penetrated he knew who you were, and he loved you for yourself. . . The lovely smell of your perfume rose from the feet of Jesus, assailing with floral bouquet the outraged dignity of the dinner guests. Disapproving, brows furrowed, they mumbled about the poor and the wanton, inappropriate waste of expensive oil poured on the body of Jesus.

 So you knelt, expectant of compassion, at the feet of the one who knew you and loved you for yourself and for your inner truth. Like the perfume you unstopped, it was for you a moment of release as all the crushed and wrapped up pain within you dissolved, all the insults and blows of the years you had borne, faded now – dispelling all despair forever in a moment of grace and honesty. Now you are free – your story told, your love revealed to all of us.

 Our invitation is to look deeper than we do, to intuit and honor what so often lies beneath a surface of denial, anger and diminishment, grace pulsing to break through.”
 From: Soul Sisters by Edwina Gateley

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Blessing our world . . .allowing transformation!

Blessing Our World Now by John O’Donohue

Sometimes when we look out, the world seems so dark. War, violence, hunger, and misery seem to abound. This makes us anxious and helpless. What can I do in my private little corner of life that could have any effect on the march of world events? The usual answer is: nothing. We then decide to do what we can for our own and leave the great events to their domain. Thus, we opt out, and join the largest majority in the world: those who acquiesce.

Believing ourselves to be helpless, we hand over all our power to forces and systems outside us that then act in our names; they go on to put their beliefs into action; and ironically these actions are often sinister and destructive. We live in times when the call to full and critically aware citizenship could not be more urgent. We need to rediscover the careless courage, yet devastating simplicity, of the little boy, in the middle of the numbed multitude, in na├»ve Socratic fashion, blurts out ‘But the emperor has no clothes.’ When spoken, the word of truth can bring down citadels of falsity.

Real presence is the ideal of all true individuation. When we yield to helplessness, we strengthen the hand of those who would destroy. When we choose indifference, we betray our world. Yet the world is not decided by action alone.  It is decided more by consciousness and spirit; they are the secret sources of all action and behavior. The spirit of a time is an incredibly subtle, yet hugely powerful force. And it is comprised of the mentality and spirit of all individuals together. 

Therefore, the way you look at things is not simply a private matter. Your outlook actually and concretely affects what goes on. When you give in to helplessness, you collude with despair and add to it. When you take back your power and choose to see the possibilities for healing and transformation, your creativity awakens and flows to become an active force of renewal and encouragement in the world.  In this way, even in your own hidden life, you can be a powerful agent of transformation in a broken, darkened world.  There is a huge force field that opens when intention focuses and directs itself toward transformation.
(From To Bless the Space Between Us)

Photo by SJH ~ OSU

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Being sharp . . . being effective . . .being happy!

Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.

His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he was supposed to work.

The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.

“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”

Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.

“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.

“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”

Our lives are like that. We sometimes get so busy that we don’t take time to sharpen the “axe”. In today’s world, it seems that everyone is busier than ever, but less happy that ever.

Why is that? Could it be that we have forgotten how to stay “sharp”? There’s nothing wrong with activity and hard work. But we should not get so busy that we neglect the truly important things in life, like our personal life, taking time to get close to our Creator, giving more time for our family, taking time to read etc.

We all need time to relax, to think and meditate, to learn and grow. If we don’t take the time to sharpen the “axe”, we will become dull and lose our effectiveness.
Author: Stephen Covey
From: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Rocks, pebbles, and sand . . .

A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items on the table in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, about 2 inches in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up the remaining open areas of the jar.

He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “Yes.”

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter – like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff.”

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, or fix the disposal.”

“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
Author Unknown