Prayers from the Island Thinking Through Trash

Thinking Through Trash

This week’s rough wind and waves have torn piles of sea grapes and left them strewn on the shore. I picked my way along their drying heaps thinking of how unattractively they litter the beach. Then I noticed shore birds pecking through the sea grapes, finding bits of food among the tangled leaves and stems. I’m surprised to see so much bounty being discovered, and I’m led to wonder about the litter in my life—what can it be made to yield? Often it has been a crisis that tempered my judgment and brought me closer to God. I spent six months in a body cast, confined to a hospital bed, and learned more from that experience than any university course or self-help book. My father’s early death taught me about faith and forgiveness and the importance of living each moment. Maybe I need to re-examine the detritus of my own life more carefully, identifying the nourishing insights it might produce. Please help me, Father, to see your hand in everything that happens; may I use my life in accordance with your will and in your service. Amen.

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Yes, It’s RealYes, It’s Real

I saw an oystercatcher today, a large bird that inhabits tidal flats.  A friend bought me a dish in a local gift shop with an oystercatcher painted on it, and insisted that we had to see one for the dish to be ‘authentic’ as a souvenir.  I had to laugh with her; so often I too have my tests for authenticity; I must see before I can believe something is legitimate.  I’m reminded of Doubting Thomas  who couldn’t accept the disciples’ word that Jesus had appeared before them.  Thomas insisted on actually witnessing the risen Lord, touching the wounds and verifying them for himself.  Jesus didn’t even berate Thomas’ doubts; he understood that faith grows by testing and wondering, even by doubting.  I thank you, Lord, for today’s oystercatcher sighting, and for your patient understanding of my own tests of faith.  While I may doubt you, I know your love for me never wavers.  I thank and praise you. Amen.

Quiet TimesQuiet Times

   There are days when I walk on the beach and greet everyone I pass with a smile, a nod, and a brief “Hello!”, Other days, like today, I feel cocooned in my own thoughts, almost oblivious of others as they pass me.  Like the sea itself, our energies and thoughts sometimes ebb and flow, focused inward or outward, depending on the day’s needs.  I ask you, dear Father, to make both perspectives profitable.  May I have quiet time when I can turn my thoughts inward to touch your face and feel close to the Christ who lives within me.  But may I never lose balance—may I also remember to turn my energies outward, reaching for the Christ who resides in others.  Help me, like the sea itself, to maintain a measured balance.

ChangeChange

I received a letter from an old friend today.  Her health is not good, and I worry about her future.  I don’t want things to change!  Living on an island I have grown accustomed to change, difficult as that may be.  The beach itself varies from day to day, widening and narrowing the places I walk, removing vegetation or depositing new seedlings.  And yet I want to hold unto the known and the familiar, reluctant to release what I have come to love.  O Lord, please help me see that change is the essence of our earthly lives.  I need to appreciate with more open awareness the beauty of the moment so I can recall its absence with love and happiness.  Forgive me for holding too fiercely to the past, blinding myself to the future joys prepared for me by you.  I pray that you would open my clenched fists—may they be hands stretched wide to embrace each moment of my life—hands open to reach out for your hand. Amen.