Prayers from the Island Deep in the Night

Deep in the Night

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St George Island at Night Last night a barge passed by my house, though it was difficult to see, so deep was the darkness.  The sound of its engine cut into my sleep, and I could almost feel the throbbing vibrations of the tug’s powerful engine.  I stared into the night and finally spotted the outline moving slowly across the horizon, lights distinguishing shape.  While I surrender to sleep, there is a ‘night world’ which moves in the darkness around me on land and sea.  I wonder at its rhythms and patterns, so foreign to me.  Perhaps someone on the ship watches the shoreline, seeing dim outlines of houses, scattered lights, silhouetted tree shapes.  I ask you, God, to be with those who watch in the darkness, that their way be guided and made safe.  I entrust them, those unknown watchers, into your hands.  May they be alertly awake while I sleep. Amen.

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Dear friends are arriving tomorrow, friends who have been part of my life for years and years. This will be their first trip to the island, and I want them to see it in its best light. I hope the beach will be clean, the weather warm and sunny, the flowers in bloom, the house shiny and clean, the meals delicious. And yet I know note of this will matter to them; they are coming to be with us and share time. All trimmings are secondary. When I was on the Worship Committee at church, I sometimes worried about all the trappings of the service—were the altar cloths correct? Were the Communion elements properly placed and covered? Did I have enough bread/wafers and juice? Was the altar rail in the right position? And yet I knew full well that what really mattered is that each of us was about to share a holy meal with God; nothing else mattered, not really. Forgive me, Lord, when I become so fixated on the trappings that I overlook the substance. Please help me serve you and concentrate on what is important. Amen.

Wearing the BeachWearing the Beach

I came across a broken whelk case on the beach this morning, twined in the sand like an intricately coiled necklace. I think of all the jewelry designs borrowed from sea shapes, the coils and scallops and stars that lie at my feet. How beautifully detailed these small shells are, their precision and beauty breathtaking upon close examination. It’s no surprise that the local souvenir shops are rich with seashore creations; sand dollars, starfish, and hundreds of shelled bits of jewelry appear in designs for hair, throat, earlobes and wrists. Why? Is it that we want to adorn ourselves with pieces of the island to take back into our day-to-day lives? Do we ‘wear’ the shore so others will know where we’ve been? How blessed I am to discovery such small but impressive examples of God’s design, and how rarely I express my gratitude. Dear Father, I thank you for the gifts of the shore and for their incredible beauty made visible as an act of your love. May I see in their careful design your love for the world and your design in my life as well. 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.