Tag Archives: memories

PEACE – Feeling God’s Presence in the Garden

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 1, 2016


PEACE – Feeling God’s Presence in the Garden

A snowy, icy, sleet-filled day today. A day quite the opposite of the personal definition of PEACE I’d like to highlight.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. As I continue my listening tour, in my efforts to pursue PEACE, I come to another point of view. Another opinion of PEACE. This one comes from Jane McInnis, who says “PEACE is feeling God’s presence in the garden.”

I appreciate Rev. Joe McInnis’s invitation to attend the church he pastors, in Wilmette, Illinois. I was glad I had the chance to worship with the congregation, too. After the service on Saturday, Pastor Joe’s wife Jane gave me her view.

I asked her to elaborate on her definition. “Being out in a garden, either working with the soil or arranging things to bring about a beautiful result. These things bring such a feeling of peace. There are lots of parallels. You have to dig a little deeper to get good results. When you plant, sometimes you have to dig to set the plants properly. Dig deep so the plants can take. Sometimes you even dig to reach that peaceful place.”

I’ve seen the skill Jane has with growing things and gardens. She can bring wonderful things out of very little, indeed. And, getting down to basics? Green things, growing in the rich soil. Such a metaphor for us and our lives before God. I am afraid I’m a beginner (at most, an advanced beginner) at this garden stuff.

Yes, I used to help my mom dig up the garden and plant young plants at the house where I grew up, in Chicago. However, it’s been more than ten years since Mom died and the house was sold. Quite some time since I dug in the soil.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for this deep and touching analogy. All kinds of emotions are tied up with my memories, remembering how I used to help in the garden. I also appreciate Your multi-faceted bounty of differing kinds of plants. Growing things. Help me to stay green and growing. Help me to be nurturing, kind and loving to all who come within my reach. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.


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

Reflecting Further on the River. Bittersweet.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, May 11, 2015

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Iceland  credit - I Love Nature

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Iceland
credit – I Love Nature

Reflecting Further on the River. Bittersweet.

I didn’t want to leave the metaphor of the river yet. I know, there’s a great deal of the book ahead, and I am only in the second chapter. But . . . the river seems to me to be a telling, insightful way of describing my journey. My life.

The path of my particular river has not always been even and smooth. No, there have been rough patches. I have even lost my way, following beside the river, since it has gone underground or through brambles and thorns on the way.

I appreciated several of the questions Margaret Silf posed, as she gave suggestions for those reading her book. Among those questions, the first significant one was: “What kind of obstructions or hazards has [your river] had to negotiate?” [1]

Ah, this brought back memories. And, very few were pleasant. For example, when I was in school as a tween and teen, I was a lonely child. Extremely isolated and awkward. I don’t often wish to go back there in my memories.

The second question had a more positive spin to it. “As you let your mind wander back along the riverbanks you have known, what landmarks make you feel glad and grateful? Perhaps particular people or experiences? Have you ever told those concerned what a difference they made to your journey?” [2]

Yes, I have let several people know how much they have meant to me, over the years. I am so glad I did. They supported me and encouraged me when very few people did. However, there were those who I never had a chance to thank. I feel so badly. Especially for two seniors, Miss Rose and Grandpa Ray. God rest their souls. They were always so encouraging and supportive to me. I thank God for them, whenever I remember them. Wonderful people.

And, yet. Thinking back on my life—tracing back the riverbanks—I find I am torn. Yes, there have been good times. But, a goodly portion of my life has been negative, for several decades. And, yet. One particularly positive thing I can say is that there are more good things going on now than bad. I am jumping for joy over that. (Modified rapture.) You can be sure.


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 .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 16-17.

[2] Ibid.

Carrying Baggage

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, January 8, 2014

smiley ball

Carrying Baggage

My memories are powerful. When I experience life today, I can’t help but think of today through the lens of my memories.

Emotions get involved, too. For example, I can talk to a family member and at the same time remember past interactions I’ve had with them. Happy, sad, angry, or frightened. These memories might color the present conversation I’m having today.

Sound, sight, hearing, understanding, aspects of my body—all of this affects my memories, too. I was particularly struck by Tilden Edwards’ comments on Re-membering from his book Living in the Presence. Instead of positive memories coloring my understanding of today’s happenings and conversations, our memories can be haunting. Running the old tapes over and over reinforces negative thinking. It might affect my perception of today and cause it to become unhelpful, unfruitful, even painful.

As Edwards suggests, God wants us to come closer. To draw near. To “participate in making all things new (Rev. 21:5).” God offers fresh moments to each of us, each day. I don’t have to carry all kinds of baggage with me—whether physical, spiritual, mental or emotional. I am urged to put down those old bags, those raggedy, tattered bags, those stinky, rancid bags. God can make all things new. God can make me new, each day. Can free me from carrying a heavy pack  on my back. God can make you new and fresh and free, too.

A clean slate, new every morning. Thank You, God!

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for Your promises, new every morning. Thank You for your faithfulness to each one of us, every day. Forgive me for fleeing from You, for staying in my own head, and running those negative tapes over and over. You want to free me from all that! Thank You for urging me to put down all the unnecessary bags I’m carting around. Thank You for making all things new. Including me. Amen.


Passing Through – Sojourners and Strangers

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, November 23, 2013

The last Sunday of this liturgical year is at hand. Tomorrow, the church where I worship celebrates a special Sunday. This church is steeped in both the Lutheran and the German Reformed traditions, so tomorrow is “Totenfest,” or the day the church remembers all members (and in some churches, friends of the church, too) who have died since the last Sunday of the liturgical year, 2012.

So the church remembers. The recently departed are still fresh in many people’s memories. But not only people depart. The year departs, too. The close of November is the close of the growing season, where the growing things out of doors lose their leaves, shrivel, dry up. Or, go into hibernation and stasis, until the spring comes again. This is a quiet season, a contemplative time. So it is with Totenfest tomorrow, too.

Psalm 39:4 says, “Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days.” Such sober thoughts are a bit challenging. Not the first verses suggested for beginners at this business of prayer and meditation. However, this season and tomorrow’s commemoration of Totenfest encourage us to meditate on verses like these.

Perhaps a verse from the Apostle Paul will be more accessible. “For we are well aware that when the tent that houses us on earth is folded up, there is a house for us from God, not made by human hands but everlasting, in the heavens.” (2 Cor 5:1) Here, Paul talks about our temporary housing, the tent that can (and will) be easily disassembled. We can meditate on the time when our measure of days comes to an end, and look forward to that house from God, where we will dwell with our God forever. No longer sojourners, passing through. We’ll have a real home-coming, to our everlasting, heavenly home.

Let’s pray. Dear God, we remember those who have passed through this life, especially those who died this past year. We celebrate their life and commemorate their blessed memory. We pray for those who mourn, who grieve not only the passing of loved ones, but the passing of the year. Help us to remember that our measure of days is in Your hand, and that You will surely welcome us into our everlasting, heavenly home. In Your mercy and peace we pray, Amen.