A Prayer for Awareness

The Girl at the Mirror, by Norman Rockwell

The Girl at the Mirror, by Norman Rockwell

A Prayer for Awareness by Ken Gire

Thank You, O God,

For seeing beyond the surface of my life
   to the child sitting at the mirror.
Thank You for sitting down beside me,
   putting Your arm around me,
      and speaking to me with such tenderness,
         such compassion, and such understanding.

Help me to be ware of the pictures in my life
   that are everywhere around me and at all times
      showing me something I need to see,
      telling me something I need to hear,
      offering me something I need to receive.

Help me look beyond the surface of those pictures to see windows.
Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to receive
   what you are offering me though those windows,
      that I might sense what is dear to You
         so that it might become what is dear to me…

Ken Gire provides tender insight in his book “Windows of the Soul.” He writes about this Rockwell image in which the girl sits in front of her mirror, her doll cast aside, as she rests a magazine on her lap.

“There is something about this girl, this girl whose arms are held close and whose hands are curled inward like the petals of a flower. She is somewhere between bud and blossom. Somewhere between her last doll and her first date. Somewhere between dressing up and growing up…

The girl is on the threshold of her life, standing on very tentative legs, now sitting.  She knows it is a threshold she will have to cross, but she’s hesitant, unsure. Her body is tugging at her, pulling her through the door, but something inside is pulling her back…

We go from threshold to threshold with something pulling us forward and something pulling us back. We sit in front of a mirror, tentative, hesitant, unsure…”

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I Walk Alone

green-day-boulevard-of-broken-dreamsGreen Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is a prophetic instalment into modernity’s bleak wasteland of empty streets, shallow hearts, and lonely walks.

With the cover of his album featuring a graffiti of a downcast angel with eyes crossed out in somber anonymity, it is a song that has lost touch with the transcendent.

In one sense this is a song of truth – of life without the One who made us for Himself. In another sense, this is a song of lies – for it fails to recognize:

God made you a little lower than the angels and crowned you with glory and honour.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s only me, and I walk alone

I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one, and I walk alone

I walk alone, I walk alone
I walk alone and I walk a

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone

Ah ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah

I’m walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line of the edge
And where I walk alone

Read between the lines
What’s f#@ked up and every thing’s all right
Check my vital signs to know I’m still alive
And I walk alone

I walk alone, I walk alone
I walk alone and I walk a

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone

Ah ah ah ah ah
Ah ah ah ah ah

I walk alone, I walk a

I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one, and I walk alone

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone

Written by Michael Pritchard, Frank E., Iii Wright, Billie Joe Armstrong • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

This might be the truest lyric of the song:

My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone

Indeed, till then – till “someone out there finds” him, he will (as we all do) walk alone.

Will you hear His voice; for He is walking beside you even if you don’t know it.

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A Blessing for Mothers

mother-and-child-shutterstock

Mother and child on the water, Shutterstock

To bless Mothers:

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart. We remember you.

We celebrate all mothering for the ways it reflects the Imago Dei (Image of God) by bringing forth new life, and nurturing life to those around them.

As one family, we pray

May God grant you wisdom
to know and share gospel values to those you nurture.

Together we say… AMEN.

God, the giver of all life,
We thank you for these women who share with us their wisdom.
Help them to be ever mindful of your wisdom.

Together we say… AMEN.

God, you gave us Mary as the mother of Jesus and his Church.
May Mary continue to be a role model for all mothers.

Bless and console those women who struggle with this day due to loss of a child, lack of children, unexpected pregnancies, or the death of a mother.

Together we say… AMEN.

God continue to bless these women,
who have had children, adopted children, loved and cared for children and those people in their lives.
God bless these women with courage and a generous heart.

Together we say… AMEN.

Loving God,
As a mother gives life and nourishment to her children,
So you watch over your Church.

Bless these women, that they may be strengthened as people of faith sharing life with those around them.
Let their example of faith and love shine forth.

Grant that we, their sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, friends and family – honor them always, with a spirit of profound respect,
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

AMEN.

Source: Holy Family’s Mother Day Blessing

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Get Down to The River

joran-felizIn this day and age, how did “The River” by Jordan Feliz become a chart topping song?

It hints to our hunger for home; it sounds an ancient theme; it invites us to where he says, “I know a place…”

I invite you to join him in getting down to the river to pray:

 

 

The River, by Colby Wedgeworth, Joshua Silverberg, & Jordan Feliz

I know a place where we can go
To lay the troubles down eating your soul
I know a place where mercy flows
Take the stains make you whiter than snow

[Pre-Chorus]
Like a tide, it is rising up deep inside a current that moves and makes you come alive
Living water that brings the dead to life, oh-oh-oh-oh

[Chorus]
We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

I’ve seen it move in my own life
Took me from dusty roads into paradise
All of my dirt, all of my shame
Drowned in the streams that’ve made me born again

Like a tide, it is rising up deep inside a current that moves and makes you come alive
Living water that brings the dead to life, oh-oh-oh-oh

We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

Let’s go down
(Huuuu- huhuuuh)
(Huuuu)
Let’s go down
(Huuuu- huhuuuh)
(Huuuu)
Let’s go down

We’re going down to the river
Down to the river, down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water and rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (You will leave changed)
Let’s go down, down, down to the river (Never the same)

Goo down
Ooooo ooooh
Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river
Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go in amazing grace

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The Three “Bene’s” of Gratitude

soul-keepingThe secret of gratitude – of living life with thankfulness – is worth finding. Even more-so as we age –  since we might encounter people (ourselves?) locked in regret or bitterness – or we may be blessed to know elders who live with humble gratitude.  John Ortberg writes “The Soul needs Gratitude” in his book Soul Keeping:

“More gratitude will not come from acquiring more things or experiences, but from more of an awareness of God’s presence and his goodness. It’s a way of looking at life, always perceiving the good. Gratitude is a by-product of seeing things, and it always involves three factors (from the old Latin work bene):

First, the benefit. In order to be grateful, you have to receive and recognize a gift that you believe is good… God does all this. These are the benefits he gives us, and the soul responds with gratitude.

Second, gratitude requires that there be a benefactor…  one who does good, a little factory that produces good. To be truly grateful you must not only recognize the benefits or gifts that come your way, but that they are not just random acts; they are not accidents. They are coming from Someone who has good intentions for you. To be grateful as a Christian, you must believe that the good that is in your life comes from God…

In addition to the benefit and the benefactor, there is the beneficiary: the one who receives the good gifts of God. And that’s you. You are the beneficiary of the benefits of a God who has your best interests at heart, and this is going on all the time. When we take that for granted or believe we deserve his gifts, we are no longer grateful; you can’t be grateful for something you believe you are entitled to, and without a grateful heart the soul suffers. Because the soul needs gratitude.

This is where many of us fail the gratitude test, because we tend to look around us and believe all that we have was gained by our own resourcefulness. Or that we’re entitled to the blessings in our lives. But gratitude always comes from a posture of humility…”

Training for Gratitude

Ortberg finishes his chapter with suggesting that in Jesus’ day, he would have been in a milieu of training for gratitude since:

“… every devout Israelite would pray what was called “The Eighteen Benedictions“… In Hebrew, a benediction was any prayer that began with the word bless. In the morning when they woke up, they would pray eighteen times, “Blessed are you, God.” At night before they went to bed they would prayer eighteen times, “Blessed are you, God”… the Hebrew benedictions connected the gift with the Giver. It reminds the citizens of Israel that all that was good came from God.”

Therefore, go forth and practice Gratitude.

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Reveal through Story

Reveal through Story, by Ken Gire

Dear God,

Reveal to me through stories something of what it is like to walk around in someone else’s shoes.

Show me something about myself in the stories I read, something that needs changing, a thought, a feeling or attitude.

Deliver me from myself, O God, and from the parachial and sometimes prejudiced views I have of other people, other nations, other races, other religions.

Enlarge my heart with a story, and change me by the characters I meet there.

May some of the light from their lives spill over into mine, giving me illumination where there was once ignorance, compassion where there was once contempt.

For more see “No Storyless Prayers.”

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Echoes of Mercy

today.salve.edu

today.salve.edu

Who, but Fanny Crosby, being blind almost since birth, could be more attuned to the sounds of God’s goodness so as to draw our attention to “echoes of mercy and whispers of love?” Thus this well loved hymn written in the midst of the shadow of the Civil War (1873) is itself a “foretaste of glory divine.”

Blessed Assurance, by Fanny Crosby

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

To hear “Blessed Assurance,” go to this rendition by Third Day.

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