Prayers from the Island Controlled Burn

Controlled Burn

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  There is a controlled burn on the mainland.  Acrid smoke hangs heavy in the air; its path covers everything and blurs my vision.  We’re told the burn is necessary because it destroys underbrush that catches fire far too easily, quick fuel for blazes than can then be controlled only with great effort and expense.  I have “underbrush” in my life as well—negative thoughts I’ve let accumulate.  Unless I ‘control burn’  them, they are fuel for fires that destroy my right relationship with God, with others.  They lie on the dry forest floor of my mind, fueled by thoughts that are critical, judgmental, hypercritical.  Only a spark of anger can set them ablaze so easily, but putting them out is difficult.  Please, dear Lord, help me burn away this debris so my relationship with you can be lush, green, and free of destructive negativity.  May the air I breathe, may the breezes that blow through my mind, flow freshly through the breath of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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  Each spring I carefully examine the golden sea oats as I climb the dune crossover.  Yes!  The new green shoots are visible, clearly spearheading their claim on summer.  I felt revived, grateful that a promise has been kept.  We don’t have the winter that northern climates must endure, but we have our own time of stilled life and increased darkness.  Winter is a season of tide fluctuations and unpredictable killing frosts.  Darkness persists into early morning hours, and showers are taking in a chilly room.  Winter here is a season for contemplation and thought, self-examination and analysis.  Winter is also a time when I try to reorder my priorities and establish a new order of importance.  I thank you, Lord, for the quiet season of winter; may the strength this season has given me clearly show in my renewed efforts to serve you. Amen.

Feeling ColdFeeling Cold

 As I walked today, my bare arms absorbed the sun’s warmth.  I felt the cold of a hard winter melt away.  Here on the island we take warmth for granted, but not all are so fortunate.  I read of winter storms, icy roads, and deaths from exposure or fires from faulty heaters.  I think too, Lord, of your birth when shepherds were gathered on a cold hillside to receive the angels’ song and hear directions to find their newborn Savior.  Warmth isn’t just a matter of temperature; it also is an extension of attitude and sympathy.  We can be cold to one another or warm, uncaring or receptive.  Father, please forgive me for the cold with which I sometimes treat others; help me, like the angels, to send a message of warmth and reconciliation. Amen.

Broken StarfishBroken Starfish

 Today I found three wounded starfish on the beach, each missing a leg.  They were touching one another.  I couldn’t determine if they had been one another’s victims or were tending to the pain of one another.  In either case, I was reminded that too often I mean to care for people but inadvertently end up hurting them instead.  I say things that I’ve heard others say without thinking how apt these words might or might not be.  Please God, help me know how to be loving, how to be gentle, how to be helpful without clumsily wounding by my actions and words.  I need to examine my own motives and then learn to love without hope of gain or profit. Help me to love as Jesus loved—openly and inclusively.  Amen.