Prayer of Praise and Morning

WHAT A STREAM CAN DO

mISSISSIPPI-RIVER-HEADWATERS

Mississippi River headwaters, from Sources of the Mississippi River

Sometimes we are called to be with you—
called just when the sun is rising, first light
caught and let go at the bend in the river—
at the slow bend in the Mississippi River… .
Look at the glory that rolls in the ripples of
river. What a story they have for our ears!
“All is well,” they assure us—and they have
seen it all.
Haven’t they seen what a stream of deep
water can do, rolling on and on and on, serene
in the certainty this is its reason for being
on earth: rolling in glorious ease of divinity
from the beginning as it was created for?
They have seen what a stream can do.

We are called to walk alongside you
when we are afraid. We are called to lift our
brown wings as we have seen the
strong angels do, and fly with you.
Sometimes it seems, however long we try,
however hard, we can’t find you in the
old cities with our old eyes. Then a light like a
flame enters our vision—
Now we are not afraid.
You take our pain away, now and tomorrow,
even the agony of yesterday’s…
yesterday’s sorrow is carried away, to vanish
forever at the bend in the river.
Where we believed we were powerless,
now is revealed a perpetual current of grace.
What seemed timid there now shows its face.
Gone is our weakness. This is our hour!
Thank you, God of everything. Alleluia.
All creation, every gift we bring back to you,
who gave it in the beginning.

Sometimes we are called to sit with you—
called to sit and burn a candle in the evening,
called to give you all our old pain, to be
taken away by the Mississippi River.
See the glory in the ripples of river. What a
story they have to tell: “All is well,” they say—
Haven’t they seen it all?
Haven’t they seen what a stream can do as it rolls on
and on, calm in the certainty this is what
it was created
to do?

Sometimes we are called to receive your blessing
in the middle of an afternoon.
Sometimes we are called to lift our wings as the
angels do, and fly with you.
Sometimes you give us a glimpse of bright
places we sometimes call Heaven;
then you remind us we need not have waited—
it was there all along. It was not hidden.
You did not take it away. Did we wait too long?
You once accepted our pain—once and forever,
what was humility turned into beautiful
strength for the weariness, rest for the
feet that need not have walked on so far;
purpose and energy for adoration— what a
glorious day you have
made.

Gone is the pain of the injured;
gone the despair of affliction;
gone is the fever, strong are the sick who
yesterday lay in their beds;
all our distresses, made plain before us,
taken away by the Mississippi River.
Gone is our weakness. This is our hour!
Thank you, O God of everything.
Alleluia! Amen.

Sunrise-on-mississippi

It’s a Secret

Sister Alma Rose Writes Gospel Songs

Me, Fanny McElroy

Me, Fanny McElroy

Hundreds! Sister Alma Rose has written hundreds of gospel songs.

Who knew?

This is the one I like best. The music is pretty, but I don’t know how to reproduce it for you here. Later, I’ll ask Pablo. He knows how to do everything.

Somewhere Inside Me

riverside_walesHelp me, O, Father, go with me today.
It’s dark and it’s cold, and I’ve lost my way.
Life used to run easy, like water a-flow;
Where did my river of happiness go?

Somewhere inside me there still burns a fire;
Even in darkness, I feel it rise higher.
Warm and embracing, my soul does not weep.
Help me, O, Father, this spirit to keep.

rose1Help me, O, Mother, my comfort, my peace;
Kiss me with tenderness, sing me to sleep.
Birth me again, let me start my life new;
Sinless and pure, may I be e’er with you.

Somewhere inside me is joy I still feel,
Joy that the world and its greed cannot steal.
Warm and embracing, my heaven remains
Somewhere inside me, through fire and rain.

angel_gabriel_lucille_chabot_1939Help me, O, angels, please carry my sin
To my Creator, who dwelleth within.
Why does salvation seem so far away
Though it surrounds me and fills me today?

Somewhere inside me my God ever is;
All of my trials and sorrows are his.
Father and Mother, the clouds of despair
All float away in the clear, sunlit air.

istock_eagleSomewhere inside me, my soul never dies;
My heart is renewed like the eagle who flies
Higher and stronger, her fetters removed;
Like hers, O, God, may my strength be renewed.
Sinless and pure, may I be e’er with you.

* * *

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Sister Alma Rose Q & A

Dear Sister Alma Rose — Are you Born Again? —Wondering in Walla Walla

Forever Innocent

Forever Innocent

Dear Wondering — Oh, my, yes. As often as possible. Sister Alma Rose is new every morning — every minute, when she thinks about it….

Every time she thanks God for what is instead of fretting about what ain’t….

Every time she plunges into the still, healing waters of meditation and finds the unblemished soul….

Every time she packs her guilt and regrets, her worries and fears, into a prayer, and the angels scoop down and pick it right up and carry it away like a leaf on the wind….

Every time she opens her heart….

And here’s the astonishing thing: It’s never too late. There’s never a wrong time to reclaim y’all’s innocence.

Cleaning Baked-On Meanness

God, please let me not forget you when I’m feeling small or slighted or inept; and help me find delight in great achievements, mine or otherwise, and if a person I despise is recognized for some accomplishment I find astonishing (because, perhaps, I deem the credit to be mine), chastise me first for the despising, second for the pride, and then let my resentment burn until I plead for mercy, maybe longer. (If it doesn’t kill me it will make me stronger.)

The self-absorbed soon pay for failing to appreciate another’s greatness. They inflate their own importance and grow corpulent, so bloated that their eyes no longer open. Then they float away, and no one notices, or if they do, forget to mourn.

So move whatever bars the door aside and scrub my spirit clean of malice, jealousy, and pettiness. It’s an extraordinary mess you’ll find. An unsuspecting guest, just popping by, would stop and stare, and suddenly remember a forgotten obligation. “Look at the time,” he’d say. “I’ve got to fly,” and match the statement with the deed.

You’ll need more than a feather duster here to penetrate the grime; a vat of lye, perhaps, or hydrochloric acid must be liberally applied to baked-on meanness such as mine, accumulated since approximately June of Nineteen-Fifty-Five, when Jimmy Hoffa was alive — in fact, for all I know, he’s living still, stuffed in a sack beneath my bed, tied up and gagged and old and ill — worse yet, tied up beneath my bed, and dead.

I am reminded of an oven I attacked one Saturday, so black and thick with grease that you could only bake one cookie at a time. I scraped and chiseled, used a brush with metal bristles, left ammonia vaporizing in the oven overnight, and after many days of sweat and strife, I thought I saw a shiny spot — those tiny white-on-granite-colored dots and speckles, seeming to be taken by surprise, closing their little granite eyes against the unaccustomed light.

And thus, I fear most mightily, you’ll find my spirit, crushed beneath the weight of wickedness accumulated over decades, unregretted, unconfessed when it was fresh and could have just been sponged away. For I’ve been greedy when I needed nothing, feasted without gratitude and, still unsatisfied, I asked for more, and more besides, instead of being glad to be alive instead of lying underneath somebody’s bed, five decades dead.

May 2006

“Cleaning Baked-On Meanness,” from Unfamiliar Territory, © 2006, Mary Campbell and Zero Gravity

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