Prayers from the Island Yes, It’s Real

Yes, 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.

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Breath of GodBreath of God

Prayer about the Holy Spirit

Dear Heavenly Father, as a child I was afraid of suffocating. My older sister would come up behind me, covering my nose and mouth with her hands, watching me squirm and squeal. I was a reluctant swimmer, cautious about putting my head under water, always fearful I’d drown. Even now, I get panicky when I have a head cold, lying awake, monitoring my breathing.

What about those suffering from COVID-19 and the symptoms they may experience?. Problems with breathing, loss of oxygen in their blood, and the need for supplementary oxygen. Some even undergo intubation so a ventilator can breathe for them. How terrifying it must be to lose the very breath of life!

Lord, You have given us a ventilator that infuses us with Your breath–the Holy Spirit. This is Your true presence, filling us with Your purpose and love. In Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was a rush of wind, inflating the souls of the disciples, giving them the gifts of language to speak Christ’s message. I crave that same spiritual fulfillment so I too can speak more effectively of Your love. Now, more than ever, I am gasping for Your presence—fearful, weak, alone.

I recognize , Lord, there are those suffering from a spiritual virus. They may choose to wear symbolic masks of doubt and rejection, closing themselves to Your life-affirming Spirit. Some experience spiritual hypo-ventilation, the failure to breathe in the breath of God. Reluctant to accept the gift of God’s inspiration, choosing to live lives apart from God, they never appreciate Your gifts of love and hope, Your promise of salvation.

During these crucial times, Lord, we need Your Holy Spirit more than ever. Just as virus patients may require supplementary assistance in breathing, we too need the support and the vitality Your breath provides. Because we can’t gather to reinforce one another’s faith, it is more important than ever we seek Your supply of the Holy Spirit. Studying the Bible, especially verses like the 23rd Psalm, provide comfort, linking us with the Holy Spirit. Connecting with one another by whatever means possible provides the spiritual ‘oxygen’ our souls require. And most of all, prayer is the ‘ventilator’ of spiritual connection. When we pray, deeply and honestly, we can find an infusion of Your spirit, giving us the strength and courage to carry on, no matter how overwhelmed we may feel.

This is the time to inhale deeply, to fill ourselves with Your blessed Spirit.

I remember the lines of one of my favorite hymns:

“Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew

that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.”

Friend and FoeFriend and Foe

When we moved to FL from MI, we were given weird tales of flora and fauna.  Gators that lurked everywhere, dining each evening on cats and dogs.  Snakes, all poisonous, hiding under each leaf, eager to puncture and inject their venom.  Poisonous plants and trees, scorpions and centipedes, millipedes and giant cockroaches—creeping, crawling, and flying horrors that seemed overwhelming.  I’ve lived here now for 24 years, and my life is one of peaceful détente. Yes, there are poisonous creatures, but their poison is chiefly a defensive mechanism; if left alone, they tend to hurry away.  Should such a creature be more persistent, the hose usually does the job.  There are, it’s true, some unwelcome creatures here that bite with unpleasant consequences, but similar creatures exist in most other places as well.  All in all, I am in awe of the world around me.  Live and let live is our general philosophy since we are the newcomers.  To see the beauty and variety of the world around me is to see God in all of His creative energy.

God’s GraceGod’s Grace

The island is awash in wild flowers now, splashes of color line the road, displaying their palette even in the piney woods on the bay.  No one plants these seeds, no one tends them; they must endure drought and cold, surviving intense heat and salt spray, super-heated summer winds.  They are a gift, these lovely flowers, a gift given freely and generously.  I think of them as a reminder of God’s grace, free for the taking, available to all, a gift that exists under the most severe and extreme conditions, outlasting any other gift possibly conceived.  Thank you, Lord, for these blooms that sweeten my days, and thank you for the gift of your grace that promises me an eternity shared with you. Amen.