Prayers from the Island Wrapping a Gift

Wrapping a Gift

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  I wrapped a birthday gift for a friend today, and wanted something special with which to decorate it.  I thought of lavish bows or artificial flowers, but they lacked appeal.  Suddenly my eyes fell on today’s stash of sea shells; their beauty and grace captivated me.  I glued them on the wrapped package, joined by streamers of colored ribbon.  The shells captured the beauty and delicacy of the sea, intricate husks of once living creatures, still incredibly lovely in their opalescent splendor.  I thank you, dear Lord, for the exquisite beauty of these shells, for the complexity, their abundance, their grace.  You bless our world anew each day with gifts of delight.  Like these discarded sea shells, may our bodies too be made beautiful by the message we carry. Amen.

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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.

Fog and FaithFog and Faith

  What a beautiful morning!  We walked on the beach bare armed and bare footed, catching our breath when the cold water washed over our feet.  By noon a thick fog began to roll in, penetrating spaces between trees and shrubs, lowering its drape over the water.  How quickly the weather can change here, shifting from mood to mood.  How quickly my faith can change too!  I commit myself totally one minute, and just a brief interlude later find myself doubting and questioning.  Dear Father, you’ve given us a changeable world with changeable weather and changeable fashions.  Remind me that even my questions and doubts are part of my faith, encouraged and enabled by you, steps leading me deeper into the true belief you offer. Amen.

Controlled BurnControlled Burn

  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.