A New Song
When Mary the mother of Jesus learns that SHE is carrying the Messiah, she opens her mouth and sings a new song: one of joy, wonder, and radical transformation of the world. A world in which God chooses an unwed teenage mother living in poverty as the very bearer of hope.
So much is out of our control. What we can control: our thoughts (somewhat, let’s be real…). Our posture. Our groundedness and center. There’s not a lot I can do as an individual about nuclear weapons. But there is a ton I can do to help myself not live out of the fear that if I do or don’t do x, that I am somehow a less beloved child of God.
Let’s talk about gratitude. It’s November, after all, the season of giving thanks. And I could happily talk to you all day long about the virtues of gratitude; the benefits to our own hearts and minds; the joy we spread to others when we practice giving thanks.
I don’t pretend to have the answers to the overwhelming needs around us. And I know that the potential to eat, period, and the choice about what that is and where and when we can access it is an immense privilege. But I do wonder that if one small step is to follow in Jesus’ steps and eat with others.
What is Prayer?
I do NOT work happily within the dark and hidden places of God. I want my mustard plant to grow bushy and full and wild NOW. I want to see what I can’t and know the future is secure.
And yet...I know this isn’t how gardens grow. Or paradise comes to be. The work in the dark is holy. Planting seeds is fruitful (even and especially when we don’t know what will grow).
When Scarcity Creeps In...
Do you know exactly what a prayer is?
My daughter, who is four and a half (the “and a half” is crucial!), has a simple answer: prayer is talking to God. Duh, mom.
But how? When? With whom? Using words? Or silence? Or stillness?
Do you pray by walking or sitting or standing? Kneeling or dancing?
When you need something? Are grateful? Angry? Sad? Overwhelmed? Filled with joy?
Do you know exactly what a prayer is?
Practice, Practice, Practice--Part II
These days, scarcity creeps in like an infestation. It starts with one thought: you don’t have enough time for your kids and work. And then invades my whole being: You don’t have enough hope. Enough faith. Enough closet space. Enough love. Enough exercise. Enough discipline….and before I know it, the voices of scarcity drown out the shouts of God’s expansive, radical, all-encompassing love.
Practice, Practice, Practice--Part I
There are many ways to read the Bible: for edification, encouragement, academic study, inspiration, form analysis….you name it. These are important and useful in their own right.
Lectio Divina is a way of reading scripture, not for information, but to to listen to what God has to say through the reading. The practice is about reading, reflecting, responding, and resting in what God has to say. Saint Benedict of Nursia, whose communities solidified this practice in the 6th century, called it “listening with the ear of the heart”.
I’m a firm believer that spirituality, drawing closer to God, ourselves, each other, and our world, is a journey. A life-long journey that takes: practice, practice, practice.
Religion, Politics, and Bears--Oh My!
I’d rather find what feels good--seek God on a mountaintop, by myself, alone with my thoughts, feeling loved and creating God in the image I need--than be challenged in my faith to the point of sweating it out. And while time alone with God, seeking what I know I need and feels good, is a part of the faith journey, it can’t be all I do.
As a minister in D.C., I get asked, a lot: How can we keep religion from being political? It’s a genuine, fair, insightful question. And I think underneath it is: how can we make sure Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all have a place at the table? How can we keep ourselves from aligning with one political party, as if our hope and meaning lies in an American institution rather than a radically loving God?
I wish I had tips and tricks to share to make silence possible for you and for me—wisdom gleaned from my theology degree and years in ministry. Right now I simply have an admission (a confession?)—it’s hard as hell. I’m disciplined in all kinds of ways but making the time and space for silence eludes me.
What is God's Plan for my Life?
God doesn’t love us because (because we do x, y, and z with a cherry on top); God loves us because God is love. Period. Full stop.
Pray for your Enemies
I wish, so badly, that we had an app for making the right choices. Could order up vocational clarity as easily as we order dinner. But God is not an app or a puppet master or a benevolent dictator.
Our practices form us (as any Crossfit junkie will tell you). Praying for my enemies week after week formed me as a young person with a posture towards compassion, even and especially when it was hardest to do.