Archive | February 2013



Softly sinister, it paints my window gray and

drapes itself across the houses and the trees

that usually greet and smile at me each morning as I

sip my cup of white orange blossom tea;

the bright red shovel on my neighbor’s deck,

the solid rock that sits forever underneath my trees—

all hidden now, wrapped in steely shroud so

dense it turns my world into a place I do

not recognize; the sun, the sky, the clouds all

vanished—gone; yet strange how all these

missing things seem eerily more present and

more precious in their absence than when

fully, certain here.

I’m mesmerized by this fog, but also fear its

chilling gloom and wish I could just blow it all

away, as well as every other fog that will in time

wrap round the now familiars of my world;

I can’t, but when the next fog comes, and come it will,

spill from sky to mute the colors of my life, ooze through

illness, other woes, to still life’s music to mere

echoes from afar, or swirl in dust of grief and loss to

blur, distort the contours of my mind and settle

dry and gritty in my mouth; yes, come it will, but

when it comes, let me remember windy joys and

music from the clouds, bright red shovels and

forever rocks, and let me move into the

haze—cautious, anchored, firm; trust the Breath that

hovers close and blows me tiny specks of light to

point my halting way until I see again just where and

who I’m meant to be, until I find once more a

clarity and home.

Selections from a prayer by Thomas Merton

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself… [but]…I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Holy Imagination


“Like the Hebrew alphabet, the alphabet of grace has no vowels, and in that sense [God’s] words to us are always veiled, subtle, cryptic, so that it is left to us to delve their meaning, to fill in the vowels for ourselves by means of all the faith and imagination we can muster.”

Frederick Buechner, The Sacred Journey

Ash Wednesday


Good to begin Ash Wednesday with a reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”   Today many will kneel at altar rails around the world.  Today many will hear these ancient words as pastors, with the ashes of last year’s palms, mark the sign of the cross on their foreheads:

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.

Accomplish in us, O God, the work of your salvation.

Not difficult these days to remember that I am dust, that we all are dust and that to dust one day we will return.  Recently, I have watched loved ones and friends coping with intense physical and emotional pain.  I have been measuring out my own days in mere teaspoons of activity with the weakness of my CFS/ME.   As I’ve listened to the evening news, I have tried to imagine the agony of a young Syrian mother giving birth in a refugee camp after fleeing from all she had ever known and loved, or the distress of an Afghan father worried about finding money to bury his young son who had frozen to death in a Kabul shelter the night before.  With all that’s going on in my life and in the life of the world, I truly have to struggle some days to remember that God has indeed begun a good work in me, in all of us.  Struggle to believe that God is still at work to accomplish that good work and bring it to completion.  Easier these days—often—simply to feel the dustiness, the grittiness, the muddiness of life rather than to be aware of any glory of the divine at work within me and within our world.

Yet, as I kneel today and hear the beautiful words of the Ash Wednesday prayer, I find myself realizing that God is indeed at work in all our lives…

  • enabling us to trust as we grope our way through pain and weakness…
  • enabling us to keep hope alive amidst all the ugliness and fear so rampant in our world…
  • enabling us to see and cherish all the beauty that still shimmers and shines amidst the gloom…
  • enabling us to love and care for those who need our hearts and our hands.

Accomplish in us, O God, the work of your salvation!