Monday, October 25, 2010

Prayer #137: Community Unscripted

This week's reflection is coming to you live from Austin, Texas, where I'm running around like a madwoman with work folks for both our Austin Unscripted campaign and the upcoming National Preservation Conference.

Here's a taste of what I'm working on (and eating) ...



Overall, Austin Unscripted has been a fantastic way to explore a new city and hear countless stories about community, tradition, progress, and the tensions/balances that reside therein. I'll post more on the project when it's complete, but for now, I give you a prayer gleaned from the thoughts and experiences of these whirlwind days.

Prayer #137: Community Unscripted

Lord, hear my prayer for place ...

That planners and policy makers engineering physical growth design roadmaps not just for highways, but for the next generation.

That businesses powering local economies watch the sidewalk scenes outside their storefronts to remember their context.

That neighborhoods linking residents recall their own histories and embrace how it can inform their futures.

That property lines drawn on old hurts and long memories, railroad tracks and overpasses, language or income, are redrawn through thoughtful reconciliation.

That citizens driving daily life see their communities as extensions of themselves and treat them accordingly.

That people spilling over with stories of home find willing ears to hear them and active minds to consider them.

And that You guard all places -- real, intended, or desired -- where people strive to live in You.

Amen.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prayer #136: Flagged

The other day, I was standing in front of the office bathroom mirror and raised my arms over my head to fix my hair. That's when I saw them: the Italian flags.

For those not in the know, Italian flags are oh-so-attractive waddles of skin that appear under your triceps. They wiggle and jiggle whenever they feel like. Light breezes flap them. They are nature's way of telling Italian women that we might as well dress all in black and stop bleaching our mustaches because it's all downhill from here.

I'm not surprised they appeared. I've been struggling to maintain a steady exercise schedule this past year, and I can feel my body slowly shifting as a result.

I don't kid myself -- I've never been buff -- but I at least felt like I was keeping the pulls of time and gravity in check and my systems in good working order.

Then a job search and a new job and travel and allergies and excuses took over, and the workout routine fell right off my radar.

You know where it went? To Italy. To find those flags.

In this respect, Italian flags are the worst kind of reminder. They're the kind that pinpoints exactly what you've been neglecting, advertises exactly where you've been failing. And then they literally slap you in the face when you try to exercise to fix the situation.

I'm not a fan.

So today's prayer is about acknowledging restraints beyond your control and focusing on factors that are. It's for all the things you sometimes have to put off until you're ready to commit again. It's about self-awareness, discipline, and forgiveness.

Because this is one set of flags I'm not quite ready to fly yet.

Prayer #136: Flagged

I've flagged a problem, Lord.

My get-up-and-go got up and went. My balance toppled. My drive parked. So now my inner propeller is a spiral.

At what point do I drag myself beyond the flagging enthusiasm and do what's best for me in the long-term? Or at what point do I cease the self-flagellating and do what's best for me in the short-term?

God of cycles, help me discern Your terms. Advise me on how to invest my time, energy, and willpower so I emerge in optimum shape to serve You.

And please be flagrant about it. Clearly, I need a kick in the pants.

Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Prayer #135: All Good Things

the "underappreciated" Empire apple * tonno sorpresa * Pumking beer * double date * scenic route(s) * mesh sculptures * closing down Borders * floppy cat * morning tennis lessons * new blinds * Trader Joe's run-ins * ponytails * hats that fit * fortuitous parking spaces * hippie parades * leaf-peeping * sudden and unexpected naps

What's on your bliss list right now?

Prayer #135: All Good Things

Hi Lord.

So far today my email has reminded me of one flight, my calendar has reminded me of three meetings, and my notebook has reminded me of five chores.

Yet none of these tools has reminded me of my most important to-do: to thank You for the moments of glory that grace each day and tell me You are alive and active in my madcap world.

So before I rush back into the fray ...

THANKS.

You're swell.

And I appreciate it.

Always.

Amen.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Prayer #134: Comes the Fall

Sweet Gum

Autumn is genteel.

It doesn't drop rain with spring's blustery enthusiasm, or raise the sun with summer's sticky languor, or blow through overcoats with winter's standoffish chill.

Instead, it waves to the riotous leaves with a white-gloved hand and looks away when they fall exhausted to the hardening ground.

For autumn knows that silence is respectful, and it reminds us to bow our heads.

Prayer #134: Comes the Fall

I listen to the brisk rain fall outside my window, carrying a memory of summer sweat and a hint of winter breath, and I know You are exhaling within it.

I spot Your handiwork in the arboreal fireworks along the highway. I hear You rustle and scuttle across the sidewalk on darkening afternoons. I notice how still-warm sun lures me, but then crisp shade reveals You.

Just as the earth anticipates its dormancy, I too should reflect on all that makes me vibrant and verdant -- be it seen and unseen.

So God, I ask You to wrap me up in Your intentional decay. Remind my vulnerable spirit that barren limbs are no less alive than decorated ones. Prepare me for revelation.

Amen.