Sunday, April 24, 2011

Prayer #162: Leavened

Easter bread, mid-rise. Taken April 2011.

Assorted thoughts for a gorgeous Easter Sunday:

"For all of us there is the painful paradox of living in a world that is incredibly beautiful yet hopelessly violent at the same time. Death and life are never far apart in our world, it seems. But that is not the whole story. Easter proclaims for all to hear the one thing that really matters, the one thing we need to know above all else: that death does not have the last word. Life does!"
-- Rev. Msgr. Jameson, rector at St. Matt's Cathedral

"If only I could remember that the mystery which frightens me -- the vanished body, the empty fear -- also consoles me. That each disappearance promises deliverance. And that tombs are nothing but dark rooms with light a mere wall away."
-- Prayer #61: Roll Away the Stone

"May I rise to meet Your challenge, Lord. May I leave in the tomb the shrouds that obscure my faith, and find You on the sunlit road."
-- Prayer #108: Once Lost, Now Found

"Glaze the bread once it has risen (like our Lord!!!)."
-- Easter Bread recipe from my mother

Prayer #162: Leavened

I am spending this Easter Sunday afternoon making bread for the first time. In the quiet of my house, with only the sound of trees budding outside, I watch yeast bubble to life and dough form beneath my knuckles.

To hear You tell it, I could make my life on Earth just as simply -- follow Your recipe, combine ingredients, wait to rise. But it doesn't really pan out that way, does it? Our dizzying secular world demands my attention. I have trouble discerning how to use the gifts You've granted. Doubt besets me; I fear not hell, but nothingness.

Lord, this Easter, leaven my bread and my heart. Knead my teary, distracted soul until I expand to fulfill every design You've ever had for me.

Hope is a divine lightener. May it raise me to dizzying heights.

Alleluia, Amen!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Prayer #161: Palms Up


Do you know the full meaning of the word hosanna? I always thought it was a fancy way of saying Yay! Yippee! You go, God!

I wasn't completely wrong, but I wasn't complete either. At Palm Sunday mass today, Fr. Greenfield shared that hosanna also translates as save us. (More etymology here.) Which makes it a cry for help, a call to revolution, and a prayer for power all at once.

For me, this puts quite a different spin on the Biblical event that kicks off the Easter Holy Week for Christians. What I previously viewed as the palm before the storm (ha!) is really a boiling point. People are appealing to this radical man in broad daylight at the top of their lungs. Only he knows what's coming, and he's scared half to death. Fear and danger and hope and adrenaline are overtaking the city.

And now there's me sitting in a pew in downtown DC, thinking that sounds a lot like my morning commute.

But seriously, how does hosanna translate in our modern lives? Where do we find the palm-strewn Jerusalem in our own backyards?

Leave it to Fr. Greenfield to put it in perspective once more:
"We live life between hosanna and Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani [my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?]."
Ah. So we're not too far off after all. The adrenaline still courses. The tension still pulses. Our decisions, our dreams, our devotion -- they all exist between the palms and the passion. Between trust and trepidation. Between revolution and revelation.

No wonder the people shouted.

Prayer #161: Palms Up

My God, my God, do not forsake me. Mystify me, challenge me, test me, but please don't avoid me entirely.

Yes, I'm begging-bordering-on-beseeching. How can I not? I've been told You're the key to all that's worth having, but I'm not sure what I should do with that knowledge or how I should do it or even if I can do it.

This is my hosanna, Lord. I'm sitting here on the curb, waiting for You to pass me. My palms are facing up. I've got nothing in 'em. (Well, nothing except the weight of a thousand unanswered questions.) They're ready for You to fill them.

I think.

I hope.

Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Prayer #160: Friendlies

J, R, and J after their 'pie for breakfast' excursion, April 2011.

Though cities exhaust me
And work just compounds,
Though home life absorbs me,
Distractions abound,
Though miles stretch onward
And visits are rare,
I never am fazed ...

I know you're still there.

So thanks for pajamas
and overnight stays.
Thanks for long walks
on budding spring days.
Thank you for listening
and sharing as well.
Thanks for our friendship --

I still think you're swell.

K and J welcome spring in Central Park, April 2011.

***

Other friendship posts you may enjoy:
Prayer #124: Friended
The New Adventures of Old Rag (and Emily)
Prayer #10: All Aboard the Friendship


Prayer #160: Friendlies

God, You loved us so much, You gave us friends to prove it.

Thank You for overflowing my life with bright souls -- people who brim with hope and energy, who strive to improve the world, who make time, who make jokes, who make me see You.

May I be that same kind of friend for them, Lord. May I do so with honesty, responsibility, and affection. May I do so in Your name.

Amen.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Prayer #159: Reunite

Dance With Me?

Purple is nobility of spirit

I accidentally wore purple to my 10-year high school reunion -- an unconscious pull from the closet that reflected four years of purple and gold everything, from balloons on lockers to chipped nail polish to hair ribbons in all my classmates' hair.

White is for ideals high and pure

I stepped back in time when I walked through the door. The entire school was freshly painted with updated photos and trophies scattered among the familiar faded art and religious statues. I was so young here, so naive, in the best and happiest way possible.

Gold typifies staunchness that lies

My decision to attend an all-girls' high school -- made at a time when boys were just appearing on my radar screen -- set in motion my adult womanhood. I rarely wonder what my life would have been like otherwise, because choosing plaid skirts, leadership roles, and confidence in all I was formed my life.

In every heart steady and sure

My best friend walked in beside me. We met on the first day of freshmen year, the only two girls on the bus. One by one I said hello to my former classmates, and with each hug memories hit me like a monsoon. She sat next to me in class. She was in my retreat group. She was always so friendly. She and I used to be good friends.

May we all be worthy of its colors

The first words out of many classmates' mouths to me were, "I read your blog! I see it on Facebook!" Maybe Facebook will make reunions passe, instead keeping us abreast in real time of the ups and downs we now digest in one lump sum every five to ten years in the school gym. I hope not. Seeing these women again reminded me that profile pictures are not the same as real expressions. We may not be good friends. We may not even be good enemies. But we owe it to ourselves and our shared pasts to acknowledge our bond -- at least over wine.

Noble, pure, and loyal for aye

We all came in packs -- with the friends who visited our college apartments and stood in our weddings. If the last 10 years have taught me anything, it's that we can't predict our relationships. Who from the hallways will be standing with me at the 25th reunion? The 50th?

With this motto e'er before us in life

I can make a pretty good guess. But there might be a few surprises too. That in itself wouldn't surprise me. Classmates are people, and people evolve and move and stretch in directions you can't predict. Someone may fit me best later. Others will fit me best always. That's the beauty of remembering and reuniting.

Spes messis in semine.

The hope of the harvest is in the seed.

Prayer #159: Reunite

Lord, bless the currents of people who move in and out of my life, each attuned to their own rhythms, each flowing at their own pace.

Run us perpendicular when we need each other. Run us parallel when we don't. But always keep them in my sight -- and Yours -- even if only to smile and wave hello.

Amen.