Fog Clouds

Fog Clouds post thumbnail image

  Another dense, foggy day.  Everything seems unsubstantial.  How strange the world looks, so soft and fuzzy, when I know from experience that it is hard and firm.  I hear cars inch past on the road, drivers hesitant to go fast in case a biker or an animal is ahead.  My faith is sometimes like that—there are times when I know it is strong and substantial, but other times I feel it becoming gauzy and slick, almost slipping from my grasp as I despair or fret.  It is then I most need your help, Dear Father, to assure me you are there with me, not only in the fog, but particularly in the fog!  Please help me to trust you when I can no longer see you, hear your voice, or feel your presence.  Be with me as I grope in the fog; may I draw comfort from your strength that is always extended to me, even in the gray fog of doubt.

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LossLoss

A neighbor stopped by this morning with the sad news that there was a drowning yesterday on the island.  High winds and rip tides made the gulf water dangerous.  Apparently one person was in trouble, and another went out to assist but he was pulled into the waves and vanished.  How terribly sad!  What was obviously intended as a wonderful day of laughter and fun, of a picnic lunch and swimming turned into a day of tragedy and loss.  In the midst of life we are in death—suddenly the hours are robbed of their joy, only grief and sadness left in their wake.  We live in a broken world, a world where our human frailty Is most evident.  I think of this family whose lives will change because of this day; I think too of God who grieves with them, whose love for the lost individual exceeds their own.  My prayer, Lord, is for peace, comfort and strength in the days ahead.  May those who mourn feel your presence; may they, even in the midst of their loss, find reasons to celebrate a life filled with joyful times.  Only you, dear Lord, can bring them your peace and courage for the hours to come. Amen.

 

Don’t Touch!Don’t Touch!

Today, early in the morning, I approached an unfamiliar object on the beach, just above the water line. Its label warned that it was dangerous, phosphorous-filled, and should not be touched. The finder was asked to notify the police or military. The discovery saddened me. In the midst of so much serene beauty, under skies still washed with dawning light, I had stumbled upon something that hinted of death and destruction, something unconnected with the morning’s beauty. I remembered the passage from Philippians where we are told to think of what is pure and lovely. I tried to fix my thoughts on the right, the pure, the admirable, the excellent, and the praiseworthy. As I reported the object to the park ranger, my duty was complete. But now I need your help, Lord to find a way to live in this world with its unpleasant realities and still reach for you and your perfection of goodness and beauty. Help me find beauty even in the midst of ugliness. May I put aside this ugly object and try to be an agent of peace and beauty in a troubled, violent world. Amen.

After Easter PrayerAfter Easter Prayer

An After-Easter Prayer

Behind him [John] came Simon Peter, and he went straight into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the cloth which had been around Jesus’ head. It was not lying with the linen cloths but was rolled up by itself” John 20:6-7

Dear Lord, I’ve always wondered about this detail in the Easter story. John describes the cloths so carefully, as if they have significance. What if the new year begins the day after Easter? Jesus went through abuse, torture, and crucifixion for my sake, because He valued me highly. Why? Why go through all that agony for me? Having learned of His sacrifice, what’s expected of me? How am I supposed to live my life Post-Easter?

The period following Easter is the perfect time to self-examine, determine the issues and problems that trouble my life. There are weaknesses requiring treatment, behavior I need to cast off. Those discarded funeral wraps Jesus left behind are a symbol of sins in my life, sins making my life tattered and soiled. As an example, forgiveness is difficult for me; I claim I’ve forgiven individuals, but again and again I focus on their behavior and become angry once more. It’s not only others I can’t forgive, Lord. I accept your forgiveness, I try to convince myself you’ve washed me clean, but things I’ve done still trouble me, making me ashamed. I need to take off that wrapping of guilt and hardness of heart—leave it behind and work to forgive myself and others.

We’re told to love; love is the most emphasized gift of the Holy Spirit. I know this and yet I love like a miser, carefully weighing slights, balancing my love against the love I receive. I accept the endless love you have for me, Dear Lord, but I distribute love as though it’s a finite amount, against your infinite love. My failure to love with abandon is another layer of torn wrapping that needs removal, cast off and left behind in an empty tomb.

Judge not, we’re told, but my judgment is immediate and stern. How easy to win my approval—do what I do, think as I do, and behave as I prescribe. For ‘the other’, those who don’t behave as I like, my judgment falls hammer-like. I understand in my heart it’s wrong to be self-righteous, but breaking away from old habits is difficult. This too, Lord, needs to change. I want to accept others without assessing their ‘value’ to me. Help me strip away my soiled coat of judgment, leave it behind, old and out-dated.

I know, Lord, change will be difficult. How can I battle these old, familiar sins and become the resurrected woman you want me to be? Please lend me that linen cloth, a cloth that covered your face, a cloth so carefully folded and set aside. Let me use that cloth to cleanse, to give me a clean purpose once I’ve discarded those raggedy clothes. Only with your help, Lord, can I dress myself in a new Easter outfit, clad in your gift of redemption and grace. With your help I leave behind the tomb rags of the past and move into new life.