Tag Archives: God’s creation

PEACE in the Eye of the Storm

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 19, 2016


PEACE in the Eye of the Storm

As I reflect upon my discussions with the young people at St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights, I am grateful I had the opportunity to engage with anyone who came up to the table I had set up on one side of the large lunchroom.

I’ll be featuring two personal definitions of PEACE today; a great chance to talk with young people and get their viewpoints on PEACE.

First, Simon’s personal definition: “PEACE is back to nature.”

Intriguing definition! I wanted to know more about it. Simon said, “I think nature is more than just what is outside. I’m getting back to how God created the world, and getting back to human roots.” Simon told me that all creation is important to him—creation and humans’ part in it.

Elias also had a personal definition: “PEACE is the eye of the storm.”


I really wanted to know more! Elias told me, “Peace can be found in the midst of turmoil, personally, for me. Peace can also be found in the middle of really busy tumultuous times. By acts of God, too.”

Both of these definitions refer to the natural realm. God’s creation. (That intrigues me.)  Such wonderful images are held in both of these definitions. It’s good for me—it’s good for all of us to step outside of the common every-day, and talk about PEACE in a different kind of a manner. God willing, may it continue!


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

PEACE is a Quiet Stream

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 26, 2016

stream in the mountains

PEACE is a Quiet Stream

Continuing on my Pursuing PEACE Project. I feature a fabulous personal definition of PEACE.

(And, thanks, Oakton Community College, for allowing me to come in to the space next to the cafeteria and set up a table. I appreciate members of the Oakton Christian Fellowship for sitting by me and providing a welcome, too.)

This definition comes from a woman who is a bit older than the typical student in their twenties. She gave me her name, her definition, and a whole lot more! Her name is Mack. Her personal definition: “PEACE is a quiet stream.”

When Mack was little, she had a creek in her back yard. Really clear water! She would sit by the water, and watch the water splash over the rocks. More than that, as she got older, she would wade in the water, build dams across the creek and stone forts beside the flowing water (using the mud, of course).

Whenever Mack gets close to water—even today—she plays! She’s walked the Appalachian Trail a number of times, and always takes time to play in the rushing streams near the trail. Every chance she gets, she slows down and heads to the water.

She reminds me that it still works today, too. Streams still bring Mack peace, and an opportunity to slow down, to play.

Thanks to Mack for a poignant, evocative definition of PEACE.

Gracious God, what a description of Your creation. What a marvelous understanding of the world You created. Thank You for simple pleasures, and thank You for people with the wisdom and insight to see the boundless beauty in nature. Praise God.


(Reminder: I will be posting more from the young people at St. Viator’s High School next week, after Easter. Have a great Spring Break and a joyful Holy Week and Easter celebration!)

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

A Sustainable PEACE for All

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rev. Terry Gallagher, definition of peace 2016-3-3

A Sustainable PEACE for All

I am taking a break from my posting of personal definitions of PEACE from St. Viator’s High School. Going back some days, I had the opportunity to hear Rev. Terry Gallagher speak at a ministerial meeting here in the Chicago area at the beginning of March. This personal definition of PEACE is more political than many of the other definitions I have heard, so far. (Just letting people know.)

Terry is some speaker. Trained as a chemical engineer, he came to the ministry late. Went to seminary in his fifties, and now serves as a United Church of Christ minister. He is also the Chair of the Environmental Task Force of the Illinois Conference of the UCC. He knows what effects various chemicals have on the earth, the plant life, the water, the animals—everything.

He shared a specific situation involving a group of indigenous people in Latin America and mining practices of a foreign company who owned the mine outside their village. How the mining company kept gradually poisoning not only the miners, but also their families. And, the air, the water, the plant life, the animals, and the general state of public health for the whole area around the mine.

Terry broadened his talk to cover God’s Creation, how it was created as very good, and how humans are to be stewards of the earth. And, finished up with a whole list of excellent—and simple!—ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Ways to educate, and to facilitate learning in large groups.

I asked Terry for his personal definition of PEACE. He was intrigued, and told me he would like to think about it. Several days later, he sent me an email with this excellent definition. Terry said: PEACE is the just sustainable access to the life systems of God’s Good Creation for all creatures now present and for eons yet to come.

He also sent me an impactful photo along with the email. I was also intrigued, and asked where it was taken. His response: “It was taken several years ago in front of the White House as part of the protest against building the Tars Sands Oil pipeline known as the Keystone XL. 1073 of us got arrested over a 10 day period, and that was a significant factor in the stoppage of this particularly obscene destruction of Creation.”

Terry, God bless you for your work. God bless you for your tireless commitment to the betterment of the planet. Even though different people have deeply held political stands on some of these issues, still. Dear God, thank You for Terry’s integrity and strong love for Your creation.


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

God’s Fingerprints on the World

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 3, 2015

bluebird and lilacs

God’s Fingerprints on the World

Today was Wednesday. The day I meet together with a group for bible study. While we were talking in the study, lots of questions came up, including how God made the world. And, I loved each and every question!

I told them I could get all theological and explain different views of different deep thinkers over the centuries to them. Or, I could give them a brief explanation, and we could go back to the topic of the day (the first part of the Lord’s Prayer). The consensus was for the short explanation, then back on topic. As I explained yet again, once we open up the Bible, its various topics are incredibly interconnected!

When I read today’s chapter from Handbook for the Soul, I was reminded so strongly of this explanation. Today’s chapter was written by Rabbi Harold Kirschner on nurturing the soul in the everyday. Yet—what happens when the everyday is normal? Or, so-so? Or, God forbid, less than good? Let’s see what Rabbi Kirschner says:

“We must remember that everything in this world has God’s fingerprints on it—and that alone makes it special. Our inability to see beauty doesn’t suggest in the slightest that beauty is not there. Rather, it suggests that we are not looking carefully enough or with broad enough perspective to see the beauty.” [1]

I need to reflect on the Rabbi’s wise words. God’s fingerprints alone make things special, or of wonderful beauty. Even when God’s creation does not have particular exterior beauty, God still made it. And, that ought to be reason enough for me to marvel in it.

As Rabbi Kirschner said further: “Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted—a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” [2]

I can strive to see the wonder in God’s creation. I can choose to marvel at God’s intricate handiwork. God willing, may I be blessed with the ability to see all the wonder in the everyday.


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] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 19.

[2] Ibid.



A Prayerful Look at the Marvels of Nature

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 11, 2015

bluebird and lilacs

A Prayerful Look at the Marvels of Nature

My prayer guide was specific today. Check out nature.

Watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset. (It was cloudy and overcast today, so no luck there.) Or, contemplate the waves of the ocean, a mountain lake, a waterfall. (Sort of difficult to do, seeing as I don’t live by either the ocean or the mountains. I could have gone to Lake Michigan today, but it was really blustery, and the temperature was dropping. It will be in the single digits overnight.)

Another suggestion was to look closely at a tree, a leaf, a beetle, or an animal. I did the next best thing, on this windy and chill and blustery day. I looked at a bird’s nest. My son had found a bird’s nest on the grass under a tree some two years ago. He still has it in a drawer in his room. So, I looked at the nest closely.

My instructions? “As you contemplate God’s creation, try to come to a better appreciation of God’s beauty, power, goodness, love, wisdom.”

I examined this nest—this creation of one of God’s creatures—with great interest. I’ve always been interested in birds and their nests, ever since I found one up in the cherry tree in my mom’s backyard in Chicago. (I found a nest, I mean. Not with a bird in it.)

This particular nest is in excellent condition. I suspect it could be used by any bird of the right size this coming spring. Just looking at it, the nest seems to fit a bird about the size of a robin. (I know smaller birds use smaller nests.) Marvelous construction! Larger branches are used at the bottom. Mid-sized branches and twigs daubed with some kind of mud hold the whole thing together. Plus, swirled, dried grasses line the inside of the nest to make a soft cushion for the eggs, and afterwards, the newly hatched chicks.

I am reminded of where Jesus talks about birds of the air in Matthew 6. He mentions that God the Father watches out for them, just like with this nest. Yes, I am in awe at this nest. This home for a bird, and resting place for eggs, and later, baby birds. Such a wonderful method of construction, and made with economy of materials. I would like to see humans make as functional a home for a bird in such a neat, tidy and well-made way. (Kudos to all of you, birds!)

God, You said You would watch out for me just as much as You watch out for all the birds. I know I have nothing—well, very little—to complain about! But Lord, please, help me to have faith in You. Give me the patience, hope and perseverance to keep on keeping on. And, thank You for such a marvelous object lesson from a bird’s nest.

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

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

How Majestic is God’s Name—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 4, 2015

girl praying

How Majestic is God’s Name—in Prayer

For those who are wondering, Bella has come through a lengthy surgery with success. The doctors were able to remove all of the brain tumor. Praise God!

I can pray for Bella, as well as for her parents and all those who love her and care for her. Please, continue to pray. I know they would appreciate any earnest prayers, good thoughts, and heartfelt wishes of encouragement.

How all of our lives can be interrupted! They might be interrupted, like Bella’s, with a surgery. Or hospital stay. A continuing illness, or perhaps something internal. Like an emotional, behavioral or psychological diagnosis.

I checked out the second prayer reading this evening and I found it was Psalm 8. Several verses struck me as I read them. Especially in light of Bella and the brain tumor that has been removed today. “O Lord, our Lord. How majestic is Your name in all the earth.”

Yet, I know that some people did NOT call upon God as Holy. Or majestic. Or powerful, mighty, or anything of the sort. I know I could be asking God WHY. Why Bella, and not another child? What does God think to have King David write all about the wonders of the heavens, and still the have children and babies contract horrible diseases? Like Bella?

But—not now. I want to rest in the fact that God is sovereign. Glad that the Lord is not only mighty and powerful, but a great Creator as well. Very glad that David declared that the praise of infants and children are to be encouraged, so that God’s name might be praised throughout all of God’s creation.

And—I also won’t ask WHY, God? I won’t ask those questions of theodicy that come to my mind, periodically. Like, now. (Why? Oh, why, God?)

I can praise God’s name, in the meanwhile, using the glorious words of Psalm 8—and thank You, God, for Bella’s successful surgery. Thank You.

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

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

Waiting, Praying and the Labyrinth

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Today, I wanted to go to the convent several miles away where they have an outdoor Labyrinth, a replica of the one laid into the floor of the cathedral at Chartres. I wanted to walk the sacred path again.

Today was a temperate day, for December, high 40’s and misty. I never made it, because of work and other urgent matters, but I wanted to.

God, does that count?

I’ve known about this Labyrinth for almost ten years. Now, I walk the Labyrinth several times each year, in different kinds of weather. Sometimes warm, balmy, cool, bracing, or even downright cold. Since it’s out of doors (in the rear, nearby the extensive convent gardens), I can see the changes of the seasons and the beauty of God’s creation. When I walk, I sometimes pray. At times, I halt at each twist and turn of the path. Sometimes I walk steadily. A very few times, I have felt like the walk is plodding—my walk has not been easy. And I pray. Even when my walk is not easy, especially when my heart is troubled.

In this time of Advent, does my want to count? I know I am waiting. I know God is with me, but even still—I am waiting for something just over the horizon. Watching. Wanting. Waiting. I suspect that this is how God desires me to be, the reason God wishes for me to approach. Nearer, deeper. As C.S. Lewis said, “Further up and further in!”

Let’s pray. God, thank You for Your invitation to approach You in prayer. I feel the need to come close to You. Forgive me when I ignore Your repeated promptings to come close. I appreciate the words of Prof. Lewis that urge me to go “further up and further in.” In this Advent time, I watch, I wait. I want more of You. Thank You for Your presence with me, each day. Every day. Amen.