Tag Archives: conversation

Prayer, Critically Speaking

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, November 3, 2018

candle, prayer, hands

Prayer, Critically Speaking

I realize I have been praying—on and off, and it seems more off than on—for a number of years. A long time. I have been engaged in a continuing conversation with God since my teens. But when Father Nouwen made one particular statement in his slim little book on prayer, I felt as if I could not measure up. No way, no how. He said, “As your life becomes more and more a prayer, you not only come to a deeper insight into yourself and your neighbor, but you also develop a better feeling for the pulse of the world you live in.” [1]

I am sorry. I cannot see any way I can measure up to such a person of prayer as Father Nouwen describes. What can I possibly do to atone for my shortcomings in prayer? I keep telling God I will spend time in God’s presence, but I just don’t get there. It doesn’t happen. I keep missing my appointment times.

Yes, this is a continuing conversation I’ve had with God for decades. I keep apologizing, and then apologizing for the apologies. The Lord must be so sick and tired of my foolish speech and thoughts. (Even now, I feel so apologetic, and I am really sincere about it.)

At least God knows I feel the need for communication, and I also feel the lack of it. I badly feel the absence of God at my side, the desire to know the closeness and intimacy of God’s presence. Yet, I keep forgetting to pray. (But, then, I’ve been forgetting to call my doctor all week to get the results from a routine test. I know those results will be there, but I keep on forgetting…)

Dear Lord, gracious God, I thank You for Your forgiveness and grace. I throw myself—again—on Your abundant mercy. I know You must be getting sick and tired of me and my excuses, my forgetfulness. Forgive me, Lord. Thank You for Your love. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 99.

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

baked-goods-photoMatterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 14, 2016

 

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

I found myself in the basement of a church this afternoon with a dozen other people, getting ready to serve at a soup kitchen. Marvelous operation. Worked like clockwork.

The tables, chairs, tablecloths and vases with flowers were already on the tables when we got there. We volunteers got out some serving utensils and set up serving stations for soup, bread, and beverages. We unloaded the back of a car piled high with breads, cookies, and various other baked goods and set them out on several banquet-size tables. Cheryl, the manager of the soup kitchen, made sure that all the volunteers were assigned to cover all of the various stations.

And then, the guests started to come in. The food kept coming out of the kitchen. The guests went down the line, and out to the tables. I kept busy, getting the guests drinks. Asking if they needed anything. Going back and forth, trying to be as friendly and helpful as I could.

We all did have an opportunity to sit for a bit and have a bite of dinner. (Which was superb!) I sat at a table with several guests, and enjoyed having some conversation with them.

I noticed some people did not meet my eyes, but instead kept their eyes lowered. I noticed some guests moved slowly, and a few even needed assistance walking. Or carrying their plates. Or both. I noticed after sitting at the tables for a time, and getting comfortable, some people really became engaged and animated.

How good to be of service, again. (I have not served at a soup kitchen for several years.) I so appreciate the First United Methodist Church of Des Plaines for hosting Bessie’s Table. Thanks to my fellow members of the Des Plaines Ministerial Alliance, who volunteered tonight. Thanks to all of the regular workers for giving of their time and talent. And, thanks to Cheryl, the manager of Bessie’s Table.

Dear God, I pray for all those in that church basement tonight. Encourage hearts, not only of the guests who were at Bessie’s Table tonight, but also of the volunteers and workers. For some, it might have been the very first time they had the opportunity to work at such a place. Please, God, help it not be the last. I pray for the guests, their loved ones, and for each situation each one finds themselves in. God, come alongside and comfort. You are our Refuge and Strength, always present in time of trouble, and when we have need. Thanks, God.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

No Time for Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, October 25, 2016

 

confession-forgiveness-contrition

No Time for Prayer

Shh. I have a confession to make.

I am not consistent with spiritual disciplines.

Yes, I know I am writing this blog about prayer. And, I love prayer. I receive such comfort through praying, and delight in the sometime-closeness to the Holy I feel. That is, sometimes. And, then, sometimes there is nothing. A dryness, or drought. I feel dull, or perhaps dim.

I am afraid to say that I often go in cycles. Cycling in and out of intimacy with God. (God, You know I do. You and I have had this continuing conversation for years. For decades.)

Today, I did pray a bit. In between running around. Oh, I went to a breakfast and lecture, ran to the gym, prepared some paperwork, worked on the computer (a lot), and got ready to take a trip. But, why is it that I feel as if I ought to be a person like Martin Luther, who was so busy he had to take an extra hour to pray?

However, I try to pray when I can. I have asked God to nudge me and remind me when I am to pray. Usually, it works out fairly well. But, still. Not consistently.

God, I am sorry. I feel my lack of prayerfulness. Forgive my hesitation, my forgetfulness, my busy-ness. Help me to attend to Your will and Your ways more diligently. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my hesitant, bashful prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE: Medicine of Mercy

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April 24, 2016

PEACE: Medicine of Mercy

I was struck by a phrase: “treats [people] with the medicine of mercy.”

Perhaps I ought to back up. I bought a book by Pope Francis called The Name of God is Mercy. I have just started to dip into it, and I was intrigued to no end by something I happened to see there.

This book is a series of conversations between Pope Francis and a journalist, Andrea Tornielli. In the forward to this book Tornielli writes about the centrality of the Pope’s message. So often his Holiness has referred to simple and profound words to promote mercy. “This is the face of a Church that doesn’t reproach men for their fragility and their wounds but that treats them with the medicine of mercy.” [1]

I was suddenly struck with the idea that PEACE and mercy run in similar veins. I do think that if people are considering mercy, why not consider peace, too?

Gracious God, help me to consider PEACE. Help me to be on the lookout for grace, too, which is the other side of mercy. All good things. No, make that all great things. God is gracious towards all of us, which is part and parcel of PEACE. Thanks, God.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy (United States of America: Random House, 2016), xi.

First Try at Ignatian Prayer (Using Inner Compass)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Virgin Mary praying mosaic

First Try at Ignatian Prayer (Using Inner Compass)

I’ve been hesitant to dip my toe into the imaginative style of prayer that St. Ignatius recommends in the Spiritual Exercises. This time, that is. Ordinarily, I find Ignatian prayer and meditation exciting, exhilarating, even intriguing. I appreciate using the abilities of my senses to assist in my prayer times.

But—there was something about the passage Margaret Silf chose for the first passage. The Annunciation, from the first chapter of Luke. That made me hesitate, for several days.

I finally pulled up my figurative-bootstraps and waded into the passage. That’s what it felt like, truly. At first.

I read it through, relatively slowly, three times. The first time, just to get a handle on what I was reading. The second time, to particularly notice things. Trying to imaging the setting, the house, the dusty road outside the door. Mary, a teenage girl, and her being frightened, startled. And the third time—the angel. I was arrested by the angel. The special effects in my mind must have been great, because I saw the angel as vaguely masculine but with a body of light. Corporeal, but filled with light. Or generating light from within. So awe-inspiring, and frightening.

I realized I was peeking into the main room from the adjacent room (a kitchen?). I saw the conversation between Mary and the angel, and I could sense Mary’s anxiety and fear. Yet, as the angel spoke of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth (which is my name, I think in retrospect), I feel a sudden kinship with Mary’s cousin. I don’t believe I ever have, before.

That’s all I got for today. That’s what the passage held for me. That’s a lot, too.

Let’s pray. Dear Mighty One, overshadowing all of Your children, You are loving and You see everything. You want each of us to say “I am the servant of the Lord,” don’t You? Help me to be willing to say that, on a regular basis. Thank You for the assistance Your Spirit gives to me, each day. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of us as we pray.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #27 – Widen Your Circle? Mine, Too.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 20, 2015

floating lantern festival

Day #27 – Widen Your Circle? Mine, Too.

I have been widening my circle this past week. I attended a yearly conference for substance abuse counseling. (I have a state certificate, a CADC.) So, I need continuing education hours. Lo and behold, I really enjoyed myself at the conference. Plus—I made some new friends.

So, yes. I did, indeed, widen my circle in the past few days.

Today, however, was another matter. I read the email from #40acts this morning, before I left the house. As I considered today’s suggestion, I became sad. You see, I had made plans to go see a dear friend, a senior who is seriously ill. This dear one will not be here much longer.

My circle is widening, indeed. To heaven, above.

Yes, I did make a visit. My friend was—to our eyes—unresponsive. But in some deep, profound sense, God knew I was there. And I hope my dear friend—in some way—knew so, too.

Last night, I attended a panel discussion on end-of-life medical issues, and the differences of opinion each of several different religious groups had on suffering, hospice, and end-of-life decisions. I was particularly struck by what my acquaintance Rabbi Joe said. (He got this piece of wisdom from one of his older rabbi mentors.) “Everyone has an expiration date.”

The expiration date is almost here for my dear senior friend. (You’ll be saying hello to God, soon.)

I know many people don’t even consider this aspect of widening the circle. Gee, for some, it’s enough of a challenge to say hello to a stranger on the street, or in a coffee shop! Yet, our circles continue to expand as each of us continues to try to stretch and grow.

Why not smile? Say hello? Go one step further, and strike up a conversation with someone. Anyone. Or, even invite someone new to coffee, or a movie.

I wish God’s blessings to you! Whether my expiration date is near or far, I hope and pray that you rejoice in the days God has given to us. I am trying my very best to rejoice in my days.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #25 – Serve the Server? Pray for Them, Too!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Day #25 – Serve the Server? Pray for Them, Too!

go where you're celebrated

I loved today’s suggestion! Right up my alley, too.

I am naturally friendly. I know I’ve mentioned my smile before. It just sort of happens. So, I share it with lots of people. And, I’ve been told a number of times that my smile brightens people’s days.

As far as engaging in conversation or smiling or being friendly with waiters, baristas, mail carriers, garbage collectors, or people going to a food pantry or clothes closet, I do those things. In fact, my husband and children shake their heads about it. I can fall into conversation with the checker at the grocery store, for example, and she or he can pour out their life story to me in the time that it takes to scan the contents of my cart.

I am serious about that. I struck up a conversation with a checker several years ago. She was about to go on break, and I was the last person she had go through her line. I was friendly, smiled at her, asked an open-ended question, and she began to tell me about a family concern she had. How this family member was making her very anxious, and how the situation was monopolizing her thoughts. I can’t remember quite how I responded, but I could see how much the checker appreciated my attention and my caring attitude.

This is not a rare occurrence for me. Not in the least! Sure, it takes an extra minute or three, but I make a human connection. God made other people just as much as God made me. Then, I am not just waiting idly, bored, impatient to get out of the store, or for the street light to change so I can cross the street. Instead, I usually look for opportunities to engage, to interact with others.

One of the few exceptions for these opportunities comes when I am tired. Especially, when I’m exhausted. If I am not at least sort-of alert and oriented, I find I don’t particularly like to engage with anyone! (I know. God, forgive me.)

I try to follow this suggestion, on a regular basis. Even before I knew anything about the #40acts. Maybe you could try one or two of these suggestions, too. See whether you get any enjoyment, encouragement, or nurture from this engagement.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .