Winter Harvest

rabbit-in-winter-outdoorlife-comA Poem for the Sixth Day of Lent

What moves beneath the snow on this still night?
What quivers in the moonlight? Some brash
rabbit seeking vegetation that has managed to
survive the killing frost? Trees are brittle, Mr.
Rabbit, and the leaves are dead. You’d better seek
your den and save your energy for spring. The
cats are on the prowl tonight, and hawks wait
overhead.

But the rabbit is resourceful. There are frozen
berries, sparse among the shrubs, and tender
bark if one knows where to look. A clever rabbit
can live by his wits till spring comes with her
banquet of delights. Now we do the things we
must—a meager harvest is superior to none—
while even now, through winter’s long, cold
night, the earth prepares to greet the sun.

Advertisements

Supernova

Prayer for the Fourth Day of Lent

God Almighty, lift me up above the
muck and the cacophony of city
streets and alleys. Raise my eyes to see the
distant pines along the Catalinas’
rocky slopes, for I would squint at billboard
signs instead and think the world a cluttered
space, polluted with the dank detritus
of the disenchanted citizens who
dutifully make their five-times-weekly
tedious commute from dwelling place to
office, factory, or field and back again.

God, lift my eyes an inch, no more, from level
with the rooftops and the fences upward
to infinity, where suns and planets,
moons and asteroids abide, where stars are
born and die, not fading quietly, not
they—oh, no, with agitation, flash and
flare, spectacular displays of light in
motion, a magnificent explosion
called immodestly a supernova,
brighter than entire galaxies. Then
let me look again on humankind and
see not weary resignation but in
each an exquisite parade of color,
light, and form, a singularity
beside which all celestial phenomena
are seen to pall. We are created in your
image, God of Glory, after all….

Only Yesterday

Christ_Handing_the_Keys_to_St._Peter_by_Pietro_Perugino-1481-2

Christ Handing the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter, Pietro Perugino, 1481-1482

A Prayer for the Third Day of Lent

There are too many children in Heaven today,
and on the earth too many friends with broken
hearts and empty arms. Shadows lie too broad
and fade too soon as night falls early on a
wailing world.

Dear God, when will the grieving end? When can
we once again hear bright, clear laughter, songs
of innocence and curiosity, voices yet to deepen,
and not wonder if those voices will be hushed
before they mellow and grow wise?

The faces in the crowd are stiff and cynical,
uninclined to open to a stranger’s smile. We have
too much to carry now—suspicion, wariness, the
armored layers of our souls, which yesterday
were covered only with a scarf against the odd
chill wind. Spare us, God, the weight of
vengeance, far too heavy to be borne by mortals
such as we.

Where are whimsy, merriment, and joy today?
Do they patter with the feet of children on the
crowded streets of Heaven? Can’t you see we
need them here, before our sorrow palls the
feeble sunlight that remains?

Dear God, what would you have us do with all
the love we bear for those who have been torn
away? Might it find its way to someone whose
uneasy spirit even now turns poisonous? Can we
make, amid the flood of pain and anger, islands of
humanity where troubled hearts can lay their
beds?

Amen.

A Prayer for the Second Day of Lent

book-of-hours-du-barry-feast

Très Riches Heures du duc de BerryLimbourg brothers, 1411-1416

Lead Me to the Feast

Dear God, make me ready for salvation—
for the time when I can trust the guideposts
and not need to see the destination.
There are enemies around me, shadows
moving in the undergrowth, and I don’t
know their names, I only sense their sneering
hatred, feel a loathsome force that steals from
nature’s generosity and drowns out
her sweet song.

It is offered—freedom from all pain,
anxiety, regret—but I’m not ready
for it yet, and it is too genteel to
press. It waits, out in the clearing, like a
tree in richest fruitage, past midsummer,
brazenly displaying plump, pure
nourishment… but, unlike the orchard
down the road a way, this tree and its
companions will not drop their bounty
when the days grow short, the evenings chill.

Still I hesitate. Do I deserve such
freedom? What have I achieved to merit
love? Forgiveness I am hesitant to
claim while I continue to transgress, and
there is forage for the taking, too,
enough to keep a body from starvation…
food sufficient for the day.

But you have higher aspirations for your
children. You would more than satisfy our
hunger. You would have us eat of life
abundant, drink of grace, and drown our
senses in the sweet, clear nectar of
eternal love.

Dear God, make me ready for salvation.
Fit me for the garments you have fashioned—
joy, compassion, peace. Lead me, trusting,
willing, to the feast. Amen.

___________

Image from the Duc de Barry’s Book of Hours.

The book of hours is a Christian devotional book popular in the Middle Ages. It is the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript…. Each manuscript book of hours is unique in one way or another, but most contain a similar collection of texts, prayers and psalms, often with appropriate decorations, for Christian devotion. Illumination or decoration is minimal in many examples, often restricted to decorated capital letters at the start of psalms and other prayers, but books made for wealthy patrons may be extremely lavish, with full-page miniatures. —Wikipedia

New-Morning-Shine Medititation

Sister Alma Rose Has the Last Word

Sister Alma Rose Becomes a Ray of Sunlight

Source of Light and Life, may I be a sunbeam to shine for you today. Amen

Photo: Luc Viatour

This prayer-meditation is best done lying down. Sister Alma Rose always prefers to meditate lying down, though for some types of meditation it’s better to sit up. Unfortunately.

Do this meditation first thing in the morning, if y’all are not in a rush; or when you need a breather during the day; or at bedtime. What matters is that you have undisturbed solitude and time—ten minutes or more. Y’all can practice this meditation for as long as you like.

Play some lovely, light, floaty, instrumental music. (There’s hours and hours of meditation music at LifeIsPoetry.net. Click on “Meditation” in the navigation bar.) You don’t want nobody singing in y’all’s ear. You don’t want “Maple Leaf Rag” or “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Y’all…

View original post 599 more words

The Breath Prayer

fountain

Prayer Is to the Spirit as Water Is to the Body

In the church lost-and-found I came across a lovely little book: The Breath of Life: A Simple Way to Pray, by Ron DelBene. The author describes an ancient practice called “the breath prayer” and explains how to use it.

You know how you sometimes hear a song or a jingle (often an annoying one) and you just can’t get it out of your head? That’s kind of how the breath prayer works, except that it’s not “annoying,” because it’s one you devise yourself, based on your deepest need.

The breath prayer is a short, simple petition to God that works its way through your mind and heart to the core of your being. The author emphasizes that everyone must develop his or her own breath prayer. He gives examples, such as, “O God, let me feel your love.” He suggests ways to remember to say it, because reminders are necessary at first. He says that it is not a mantra, at least not in the way people often tend to think of mantras—but it really is a mantra, in the purest sense: sacred words that “protect the mind” (the literal translation of mantra).

From what does the mind need protection? Fear, a sense of isolation, irritability, anxiety, depression, cynicism, aimlessness, guilt, impatience—all manner of mischief, really.

Father DelBene, an Episcopal priest, recommends adopting a short, rhythmic prayer, six or eight syllables, that you can repeat while walking or doing other sorts of exercise, while waiting in traffic or standing in line at the market. I like to say it silently, synchronized with my breathing, when I’m falling asleep. It’s a lot better than the flotsam and jetsam that often bump around in your mind when you get into bed and turn off the light—the stuff you didn’t get done today, the stuff you need to do tomorrow….

Someone has said, “Prayer is to the spirit as water is to the body.” Drink up!

Guide Our Feet

Giotto_di_Bondone_051_Ascension_of_St_John_adjusted

Giotti di Bondone, Ascension of Saint John

Guide our feet, O God, into your heaven
where we find relief from fear and pain.
O, guide us through the wide, sere, blinding desert
into green, new grass, clear pools, warm rain.

Guide our feet, O God, away from death,
for we would dance with you, and so may we
not walk with tentative or fearful tread,
but confident that where we go, you lead.

Guide our feet, O God, for we would spring
from stone to stone, from tree to tree, and lean
upon our faith in you. Then may we fling
our spirits skyward—O God, give us wings.

Guide our feet, O God, into the way
of peace; from dark to light, from night to day.
May others, witnessing our joy, be led
unto your table, there with manna fed.

Amen.