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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Last week, David Ker wrote a CyberPsalm in the form of a prayer for a friend and coworker, Ada, who is battling cancer. I also know Ada, though it has been years since I’ve seen her. Several mutual friends have written me recently, asking me to join them in praying for her.

During this same time, my heart has also been heavy for H., a man in the church I attend now, who is battling a similar cancer. I found myself struggling in my prayers for him, and that struggle was compounded in my prayers for Ada.

I have walked through some very painful things in the last few years. And through the process, I have experienced the Lord’s faithfulness as I have clung to Him. Having more or less come through the worst of that time, I do not necessarily find myself to be more confident in my praying. If anything, the only spiritual practice I find my confidence increased in is lamenting.

And so as I would try to pray for my suffering sister and brother, I could not find the words, only tears. Tears for them, for their spouses and children. I could feel edges of the pain and uncertainty and sorrows they and their families must be walking through. And yet the words to put in a prayer did not come.

During my most painful days, I struggled with the things that God does not do and did not do for me. Now, I think I struggle more with not understanding the things he does do, and with wondering how on earth my prayers are supposed to fit into all of that. I find myself feeling something along the lines of, Lord, I know you can do anything, but as to what you want to do and plan to do…I just don’t know.

And so my prayers (and some would say my faith) are weak and uncertain. And yet I continue to trust the Lord confidently with my tears–crying out and clinging to him, for myself, for my children, and in my longings and cries for Ada and for H. and for their families.

When my friends asked me if I would write a prayer for Ada and send it along with the prayers of others, I wondered how I would send a feeling-prayer, instead of a word prayer. I cannot bottle my tears up and send them in the post or via email.

I did, however, have a verse that kept running through my mind as I thought of the suffering and sorrow Ada and H. are facing, and of all my unanswered questions about how to pray for them.

A short while later, there was a beautiful photo* on my National Geographic Photo of the Day link. I ended up combining the photo with the verse, using my new Corel PhotoShop program.

This is the closest I can come to putting all of my questions, longings, trust and doubts into a prayer for Ada and for H.:

botswana river crossing color with brown

And just because my mood (and therefore my tears and prayers) are less colorful some days than others here’s the same photo, with a sepia effect:

botswana river crossing sepia lightened

Listening to Canon in D while finishing up these photos, I felt like I had just about  found a tangible expression of my heart’s cries and prayers. (If only talking with people was as “easy” as showing them a photo and telling them to listen to a song. There are days when, as hard as praying in words is for me, that I am so thankful the Lord sees my heart, understands the things I feel in response to a song or to a photo, and gets my prayer, after all, even without the words.)

~~~~~~~~~~
*This photo was  the National Geographic Photo of the Day for May 10, 2009. Here is the description: “A Mbukushu mother and child cross Botswana’s Okavango River, whose seasonal floods bring life to a parched land.” You can see five more beautiful photos from the same book, Mothers and Children, at this link.

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Romans 8 blog

…on behalf of some hurting people, for whom my heart is very heavy today. I do not have many or very good words or even much confidence in praying the words-I-don’t-have. But I have groaned to God for you throughout this day.

“And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

I do not know if that is a comfort for you. It is both comforting and hard for me. To trust without denying the questions is not an easy thing, but the questions for me end up forming the shape of my trust. And the groans, for me, find more or less confident expression, coming as they do out of the trust.

(verse selections from Romans 8 )

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…grant us courage.

Those two words are repeated in each verse of the hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory,” which we sang at the end of church today.

In the first verse, the song seems to be a corporate prayer from and concerning the church.

But as I sang and repeated again and again the line, “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage” with a different line following it each time, it became for me a very personal cry.

I was praying it for myself. I was praying it in the context of specific relationships. And I also was praying it in the bigger picture context of being one member connected to the others in the body of Christ.

Wisdom and courage. Lord, I need these from you.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of these days.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving thee whom we adore!

As we progressed through the verses, my heart moved from this being a prayer that came out of a sense of heaviness and neediness to a delightful proclamation and affirmation of my desire, as part of the body of Christ, to serve the one whom we, together, adore.

Even with the delightful confidence of asking for wisdom and courage to continue to serve the one whom I adore, that was not the verse of the song which impacted me most deeply.

I was most moved by some of the words of verse two:

Fears and doubts too long have bound us;
free our hearts to work and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.

I love the picture of being granted wisdom and courage to live these days. Living these days happens in the context of fears and doubts. There’s no getting away from them, I don’t think. But it is a hopeful distinction to me that I can live out these days, surrounded by emotions that go up and down in response to the difficult situations that have a way of coming along, but I don’t actually have to be bound by the fears and doubts. They are there. They are here. They are in and around me. But with God’s wisdom and courage, my heart can be and is freed to work and praise.

Sometimes I think we assume that if the doubts and fears are still around, something is wrong. But, I don’t think so. Doubts and fears can exist and affect me, but not necessarily bind me. I can be free to work and praise and live out these hard days in the middle of the doubts and fears.

I think, perhaps, it is a bit like the distinction I have mentioned several times on this blog, which Michael Card makes in one of his songs:

“When our questions dissolve into the silence of God,
the aching may remain, but the breaking does not.”

There is an aching without the breaking. And I think, similarly, there is a reality of doubt and fear that does not bind, but out of which can come a trusting (indeed, desperate trusting, during the times when the fears and doubts are biggest) that brings glory to God and is a beautiful way of living out these days.

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I was going to title this post, How I View God, but that sounds concrete and final in a way that I’m not intending.

As an analogy to how I’m thinking about God right now, I have a very dear friend. When I think about her, at times I use different descriptions. Sometimes I think of her as my first deep friend when I moved to this area from a foreign country. Other times I think of her as the friend who is always there when I need to talk (even late at night or early in the morning). Other times I think of her as my hilarious friend (because I’m very serious, and she can be very funny). She is the friend who has spoken up on my behalf on many times when I was being misunderstood, misrepresented and aggressively opposed by different people. She is the friend who feeds me on weekends when I don’t have the energy to make myself eat, let alone think about what to prepare. She is the friend who organizes other people to help me in practical ways in my struggling to make it as a single mom.  Ultimately, she is my friend in a very rich, full and complete way, but I think about her and the friendship she gives me from many different specific angles.

The same with God. He is God. That is very big and very profound. As a detail, not so big picture type of person, I find myself relating to him at different times, not from the starting point of what all that means, but from specific, concrete angles of how I’m relating to him at a specific time. When I was going through a drought time (personally, spiritually, relationally), I thought about him as the God who refreshes, who makes green, who gives life and revitalizes me. There was another time when I clung to the truth that he is the God who Sees. The God who Understands. The God who Cares. All of these are true. And so much more.

Lately, I’ve been singing a song over and over, which verbalizes how I see God right now. It is “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and is another wonderful find in the hymnal of the church I’m currently attending. I’m not going to quote the whole song here, mainly because where I’ve seen they lyrics printed on blogs, there seems to follow a lot of controversy and even argument about the politics and theology of this song. For me, it is not political, and I don’t really think about it as a theological treatise. The  song feels like an expression of my heart cries and a picture of my walk with the Lord in recent years. I encourage you to look up all the lyrics online. (And feel free to argue about them in some of those places, if you are so disposed 🙂 )

For now, here is the part that portrays God in the way in which I am currently relating to him:

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears

I’m so grateful that he is God in my weary years and in my silent tears, and tonight, as I have been over the past several weeks, I am lifting my voice and singing to him with gratitude for all that that implies. Some days recently, I have sung this song through not so silent tears and out of deep and painful questions. Sometimes the song is as confident of a proclamation as I can muster in my doubts.  I’m singing a “song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,” only it’s the dark present where my faith, right here and right now, is being taught and formed and tried.

The song also talks about “the days when hope unborn has died”. Have you ever been there? How have you experienced God in those times?

And one other part (if I keep going, I’ll end up quoting the whole song anyway, won’t I?)  which my heart joins in praying, asks God to

“keep us forever in the path…lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee; lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee…”

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A Nighttime Prayer

One of the things I have liked about attending different churches through the years is exploring each new hymnbook for songs I’ve never heard before. I’m currently attending a United Methodist church and the hymn repertoire is large and rich.

Here are some of the words from a new song I’ve discovered. Several nights a week I play it on the piano and sing it to my kids as a lullaby before they go to bed. The music is a beautiful, lilting Swedish folk tune.

Thy holy wings, O Savior, spread gently over me,
and let me rest securely through good and ill in thee.
O be my strength and portion,my rock and hiding place,
and let my every moment be lived with thy grace…

…And take into thy keeping thy children great and small,
and while we sweetly slumber, enfold us one and all.

I’m off to bed now, not having completed (nor even started to be honest) the work I needed to make a dent in tonight. I’m walking through a mixture of grief and burnout and joy and healing and sorrow. That rather intense combination seems to be messing with my nervous system, so in addition to being worn out, my legs are twitching occasionally. It’s not painful, but distracting and annoying. I’m praying for sweet slumber, enfolded in God’s love.

Tomorrow’s a new day to live every moment with his grace. Every moment. Not one exempt. Not one good moment occurs outside of his grace. Not any of my bad moments, not even the worst of the worst. That is part of what I believe and trust is true, in ways I can’t always clearly see or comprehend.

O be my strength and portion, my rock and hiding place…

(“Thy Holy Wings, O Savior,” by Caroline V. Sandell-Berg 1865; trans. by Gracia Grindal, 1983; p. 502, The United Methodist Hymnal)

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I love music. It touches and soothes the places in me that struggle to find expressions for all the confusing, contradictory, complicated things I think and feel. I love how artists can say things with just a few words and then make those words communicate to me on many different levels, because of the combination of the words with music.

I have recently discovered some beautiful and fun music from Zimbabwe. Two of my children and I were in Walmart, a place I try to avoid like the plague. But, we had gone to the next least expensive shoestore and all the shoes in my son’s size were too expensive. They grow out of shoes so fast that I couldn’t bear to pay the higher price. So, I went to WalMart, and sure enough, they had some fine shoes for half of what they were at the other store. Well, that was worth the trip, I thought, even if I do hate going into WalMart.

But then, something else grabbed our attention–loud music from one of those displays where they have 30 or so different styles of CDs, and you can listen to three or four samples of each one. We went over to it, and I’m so glad we did. My 11-year-old daughter, 6-year-old son and I spent a wonderful ten or so minutes together, listening to a wild, very eclectic variety of music. Kid’s music, exercise music (Latin, big band, etc.), Celtic wedding music, Celtic hymns, lullabies, music from various decades. We laughed, we cringed, we got excited, we had fun.

My son’s eyes lit up with one CD selection and kept getting brighter with each consecutive selection from that CD. He knew all of them, because his 1st grade teacher plays classical music while they write. I didn’t even know my son knew Canon in D, and here he loves it!

I felt so relaxed listening to selections from a CD of Celtic hymns, but they did not have that one in stock. My daughter really liked the Celtic wedding song arrangements, so we decided to get that one. I wanted to get two other CDs with beautiful arrangements from Pachelbel and Bach, but decided to exert some self control.

In the end, we did buy one more CD, and oh, I’m so glad. It is called Spirit of Africa: Insingizi. If my son’s eyes lit up when he heard the music from his classroom, his whole face was beaming when he heard the a capella selections from this CD. We listened to it on the way home, and it is rich and beautiful music. (Ironic, huh, that we went to WalMart to spend less on shoes, and then came out with shoes plus 2 CDs. So much for saving money. On a bigger level, it sure is nice to have something emotionally satisfying come out of a trip to WalMart!)

I always wondered when I saw those displays, if the CDs were just cheap, cheesy imitations of “the real thing”. Come to find out, this CD IS the real thing–an original compilation by Insingizi, a group of singers from Zimbabwe.  (Outside of the US, it was released as Voices of Southern Africa. The music is so full of rich rhythms and harmonies, clicks (wonderful phonemes that I have never been able to master, but which make me excited whenever I hear them), all combined to evoke  lots of emotion. And all of that without my even understanding a word.

I was, indeed, saddened that there were no lyrics or translation inside the CD cover. I found Insingizi’s  website and wrote and asked if they could send me a copy of the lyrics and translation.  One of the artists, Vusu Mkhaya, wrote back and sent a copy of the liner notes, which he said they were aware had not been included in the American release. When I asked him if I could post the song summaries on my blog and share the song meanings which fill out the meaning of the music I like so much, he graciously agreed.

So, I am posting them below, copied  from the liner notes Vusu sent me. But first, one more discovery that came about as a result of finding this CD and contacting Insingizi. At the bottom of Vusu’s email to me was a link to a website called MoZuluArt. If you go there, be sure to read about the project as well as listen to some of the selections. This amazing production is described as  “a fusion of traditional zulu music with classical music based mainly on Mozart” The whole thing threatened to blow a couple of fuses in my eclectic-loving brain.

I listened to some of the audio clips from MoZuluArt, and they make me cry in a very good way. Again, a few carefully chosen words expressing not only art, but deep meaning, in an artistic setting that sets my neurons jumping all over the place and makes me say, “Yes. That is what I feel. That is what I think. That is what I believe. And it’s okay that I can’t express it well, because somebody else does and they’ve done so in a format that I can share in.”

Okay, here are selections from the  liner notes from Spirit of Africa: Insingizi–songs and words which are touching my heart deeply, on many different topics I think about (faith, relationships, politics, family, hope, compassion), and expressing what I feel:

Insingizi have released this intriguing 17-track a-cappella album. The album has an inspiring message that has been built on lyrics that cover a wide range of challenges facing people today. The vocals are blended with so much dexterity as to bring out not only the message but to do so with captivating prowess.

Gershom B. H. Moyo

Imbube

Evidence of the exact origins of Mbube is lost in history. It is regarded as dating back in Zulu tradition to King Shaka, when the original style was adopted as royal music to be sung to the Zulu King in his honour by his male supporters. The style – originally a rich a cappella male choral approach usually sung in Zulu – appeared in the early 20th century as ingom’ ebusuku meaning ‘night music’. It became most popular with Zulu and Swazi industrial and domestic workers from the rural areas. In the early 1940’s, one of the Ingoni Ebusuku groups recorded a song called “Mbube” (‘the lion’) which became a model for the later international hit song “Wimoweh” (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) and since then this type of music has become known as Mbube.

THE SONGS:

1. Ingoma (Vusumuzi Vusa Ndlovu)–In a world where the hype of western music appears to be stifling the growth of traditional African music, Insingizi assert that African music holds its own. They acknowledge that this music is a heritage from our rich ancestry and that young people should embrace it with warmth and a sense of ownership. The chorus of this song proudly announces that they are going to sing this rich heritage with pride and spread it throughout the world – a task they are doing so well.

2. Amasango (Blessings Nqo Nkomo)“Amasango” is a si Ndebele word for the ‘heavenly gates’. This song is an appeal for divine intervention by a young man wishing to conquer his various challenges and enemies. It realises God as the ultimate answer to the world’s seemingly insurmountable impediments and obstacles. The background rhythmic percussion in this song is captivating.

3. Ibele le ndlela (Blessings Nqo Nkomo)–This speaks about the proverbial seed that fell onto the beaten pathway. While it grew and bore fruit, it never ripened because every bird and passer-by helped themselves to the yet unripe fruit. It warns young people of life’s impending dangers and exhorts them to prepare themselves for a long journey ahead. Not least of these dangers is the AIDS challenge that threatens to wipe out the productive generation in Southern Africa.

4. Jerusalem The English and the si Ndebele languages are inextricably blended in this descriptive piece that depicts Jerusalem, a longed-for celestial city. Far from talking about Jerusalem in the Middle East which is fraught with violence, it describes instead the heavenly paradise with fairy-tale mountains, valleys and rivers which will one day be our home sweet home.

5. Isqoqodo (Blessings Nqo Nkomo)Isqoqodo is a ‘hammer kop’, a bird that burrows through the hardest tree trunk until it reaches the juicy sap of the tree. This song describes how the hammer-kop burrows through countless trees on mountains. If anyone still doubted the prowess of the troupe in manipulating the click sound, then they are indeed hard to please!

6. Nanziwe (Blessings Nqo Nkomo)–A romantic nostalgia about past blissful days spent with a sweetheart called ‘Nanziwe’. Described as the man’s mainstay, she used to bring so much joy, love and satisfaction before the love fairy tale ended. Now a nonentity and demeaned by society because of the ended love affair, the man is making overtures to Nanziwe to come back and bring back the lost pride and restore respect to the man’s home. The lyrics and rhythm in this song make it a masterpiece and you will be left salivating for more.

7. Ngizobambelela (Dumisani Ramadu Moyo)Ngizobambelela means “I will hold on” to Jesus’ love. This short song describes Jesus’ love as infinite, deep, sweet and dependable. It is an everlasting fountain that is forever springing with life. This love is contrasted with humanity’s love which is undependable and short-lived.

8. Isiqholo (Dumisani Ramadu Moyo)‘Isiqholo’ is an extremely stubborn person who does not heed even the wisest counsel. The Ndebele nation has always believed that talk is over-rated as a means of resolving dispute. What this stubborn person needs is a knobkerrie, a menacing, traditional crushing weapon carved out of wood. It has a bulging head and a long handle and could be used to assist the aged with walking, or for annihilating an enemy’s head and knees. Its efficacy in bringing stubborn persons to line has never been doubted. The song discourages the use of guns in preference to this traditional weapon which over the years has come to be identified with the Ndebele nation.

9. Mama (Dumisani Ramadu Moyo)–This song would make a perfect present for Mother’s Day as it is a tribute to a mother who has given everything to her beloved child. She has nursed, loved, bathed, fed, changed diapers, given character and spent her last dollar on her child. Now successful, the child attributes the success to the dedicated mother and implores God to shower her with countless blessings

10. Ungangidluli Jesu (Gospel, arr. Dumisani Ramadu Moyo)–In a scene reminiscent of the leper crying out to Jesus not to pass him by but to put his hand on him in order to have his leprosy cured, this song is a cry to the Almighty. It is an appeal to God to attend to the poor person’s needs and to shower him with bountiful blessings. The person sees blessings being showered all around him but not an iota comes his way. It is a touching song that speaks to many poor people whose needs are evident but are surprisingly ignored by those blessed with the means. All they are asking, is, “God, while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.”

11. Yint’enjani (Ndlovu / Nkomo / Moyo)–This song is a riddle. It is a rhetoric question, asking what kind of food it is that is eaten only privately in the serenity of the night when children are fast asleep. People have many names for it but rarely are those names ever mentioned in public. What kind of food is this that people love so much but is consumed only in the heart of the night until daylight?

12. Uthando luka Jesu (Vusumuzi Vusa Ndlovu)–Insingizi have come out as the masters of the click sound. You will be intrigued by the art of blending the Ndebele language’s click sounds in order to bring out the exact description of how God’s love is superior to humanity’s ever diminishing love. While God’s love grows daily, a person’s love fades until it is infinitesimally small and unrecognisable. On the other hand, Jesus broke the chains that previously bound humanity to hatred and selfishness.

13. Siyabonga (Gospel, arr., Blessings Nqo Nkomo)Siyabonga is a song of gratitude. Thanksgiving – a trait that seems to have been forgotten by today’s society is a virtue that builds strong communities. The group is thanking their followers, parents and God for the good fortune they have had.

14. Uzoyidela (Vusumuzi Vusa Ndlovu)–This song is about justice – something taken for granted in most western cultures. The song talks about a cruel strongman who goes about beating innocent citizens, calling them names and doing everything derogative to bring innocent people to shame. Like death and taxes, the judgement for this despicable person is certain. Insingizi warn that he will be brought to book before a court and be tried for all his misdeeds.

15. Ko Bulawayo (Vusumuzi Vusa Ndlovu)— Bulawayo is Zimbabwe’s second city. It is proudly called by different names because of its size, its diverse people, its various exhilarating entertainment spots, its idiosyncrasies and its cosmopolitan outlook. It embodies a tantalising society which has broken from the past into modern sophistication, yet still proudly identifies itself with the richness of the past generation. It is home to the immortal soccer team called Highlanders, a gigantic team with a passionate band of supporters and a model for soccer administration. It has achieved the rare and unprecedented feat of being champions for five consecutive years. Bulawayo to this day is passionately called, among other names, the “City of Kings”, “Blue Skies” and a number of emotionally arousing vernacular names.

16. Vinqo (Trad., arr., Dumisani Ramadu Moyo)“Ama Vinqo Vinqo” are skin ripples of fat that are characteristic of bulkiness. Fatness in Ndebele society is a desirable sign of success and good health. This song is dedicated to Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, the late great former vice-president of Zimbabwe who founded the ZAPU liberation movement. He was affectionately called “u ma Fuku fuku” in reference to his large frame. Insingizi lament that since his departure, Zimbabweans have faced unimaginable suffering and despondence. We miss him greatly.

17. Mbonqane Groove (Dumisani Ramadu Moyo)–This is an instrumental masterpiece. The title suggests that the rhythm could have been carved out of Mbonqane, a Bulawayo peripheral suburb renowned for a lot of humour.

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My week has been a mumbled, jumbled and messy–but very much alive–mixture of grief, joy, longings, loneliness, delight, sadness, awe, pain, gratefulness, uncertainty…and the list goes on.

I deal with that mess in a variety of equally messy ways, some more honorable than others. Sometimes I face the pain, sometimes I deny it, sometimes I cover it up, sometimes I dive into it and bask in the misery. Sometimes I stay in my pajamas all day Saturday and indulge in what I call therapeutic depression (which fits my theory that the quickest way to happy is through sad.) Sometimes I sit at the piano and play and worship God.  Sometimes, I self medicate my pain with comfort foods like M&Ms and sweet ice tea. Sometimes I obsessively read other people’s blogs. And sometimes I indulge in my all-time favorite pain reliever–new books.

This week I’ve done all of these. And at the end of the day, I’m still left with longings and pain. I’m still left with choosing to trust God when things don’t make sense. I’m still left with the comfort and security of his love, even when I can see that, through the eyes of others, such comfort might seem like, at best, a crutch, and at worse, an illusion.

But, back to my pain relief of choice–new books. I was meeting with someone at a local seminary and stopped into the bookstore. The poster on the counter there always makes me smile. I couldn’t find the exact artwork, but here is a different print with the same quote by Erasmus:

book quote erasmus 

 

Back to books. Here are my two most recent “pain pills” picked up at the seminary:

StoryRuthSmThe Story of Ruth: Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life by Joan D. Chittister. I have mixed feelings about this book (but, hey mixed feelings are the story of my life, so what else is new?!) I don’t agree with some of the author’s premises, such as, “In the final analysis, the biblical women Ruth and Naomi are simply metaphors…” I tend to be cautious about definitively labeling stories as “simply” metaphors and also about reading too many lessons into stories in the Scripture.

But, at the same time, I can’t help seeking connections between the stories I read in the Bible and my own life. I find my myself fascinated thinking about what it meant for the people in that story to live well within their circumstances and to trust God in that context. And from there, I cannot help but find encouragement, challenge and application for my own story and struggle to live well and trust hard in the circumstances that I am in. Somewhere, then, in this tension of reading, understanding and applying Scripture, I am drawn to this author’s thoughts and interpretations from the book of Ruth. I am also moved and challenged by the connections to my life, illustrated so beautifully with words and pictures.

The author brings to life 12 themes she sees in the book of Ruth and weaves around them her own insights in response to the biblical story as well as bringing in scenes from the lives of women today. Some of the themes are loss, aging, independence, respect, empowerment, invisibility and fulfillment. 

The book is full of vibrant color, with borders on each page and a beautiful painting by John August Swanson at the beginning of each of the 12 sections. From the artist’s dedication:

“My interest in ‘painting stories’ or narrative art comes from my mother’s family accounts of their leaving Mexico during the revolutionary times….The inspiration for my art…is the refugees, immigrants and cultural groups who move throughout the earth in history, seeking a place to live in peace and dignity. Their stories continue and connect us to the journey of Ruth and Naomi. Another person who encouraged me to work on this theme is my pastor…who spent several years…working in U.N. refugee camps. His stories…helped me understand the courage, hope, and strength that are part of the journey and story of the refugees Ruth and Naomi.”

As I skim through the book, I feel like the author celebrates the beauty and value and impact and potential of women in a powerful way. I appreciate that she does not demean men, even while she laments, in places, what it means to have the gifts and values of women disregarded, devalued or simply ignored as irrelevant. Again, I’m not sure that all of her insights are present or implied in the book of Ruth. But, they are thought provoking and helpful insights in their own right, and I am looking forward to processing them in more depth. this-is-what-i-pray

The second book is: This is What I Pray Today: The Divine Hours Prayers for Children by Phyllis Tickle. It is a book of simple poem prayers, three for each day of the week. Each prayer is based on a Psalm and is softly illustrated by Elsa Warnick. I look forward to using this book with my younger children. They love rituals and find comfort in them. Creating those ritual moments brings rest and calm to days that can get kind of crazy. We do different things at different times and different stages (I’m not a very consistent ritual person, I suppose, if the rituals are always changing 🙂 ).

After I brought this book home, I read Lingamish’s resolutions for the new year. Although I don’t do resolutions, I appreciate reading other people’s and getting to know them better through what they want to work on.  Lingamish’s resolutions were a feast for my eclectic heart.  Number 7 especially touched me, and is also a longing I have for my family: I want to continue to welcome the Kingdom of Heaven in our family.

How that looks from day to day is quite varied. It is a mix of inward attitudes and outward expressions and ways of interacting with God, each other and those we come in contact with individually and as a whole family. For me, using this little prayer book is just one of the many shapes I see this longing taking in our home in the coming year.

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