Chatter

Dear God,

Where are you? I travelled halfway around the world in both directions to get some time together. But it’s like there’s been too much chatter, or static, or I don’t know. Landscapes take my breath away in ways I wasn’t expecting. Lifelong longings make me goofy and giddy as they become reality and a photo op. But why can’t I find you? I said I wanted that, needed that, expected that, hoped for that most of all – to find you. I know you are here. I don’t doubt it one bit. But why can’t I feel you? Why can’t I hear you? I have been quiet and waiting. Please, we are running out of time. Come into the quiet, come into the chatter – boom or whisper or just overwhelm my senses in a way I won’t be able to describe. Please don’t let this chance pass us by. 

Amen. 

Oceans 

Dear God,

I have never been south of the equator. And I have never flown over any part of the Pacific Ocean. So, this is kind of a big deal for me and your Creation, today, God, as the plane descends into Sydney. 

When we first got on the plane, I looked up at the flight status map that shows your location and realized there would be hours and hours flying over 500mph over only dark ocean on that screen. And I asked Rachel if she knew the Hillsong song “Oceans,” which suddenly felt super pertinent. Not just for the Pacific and not just for the fact Hillsong is from Australia, but because yesterday’s news had me wondering how I can do Ministry with a people so divided. 

The airport in LA had tv screens full of protestors in the US upset about the election, burning Trump in effigy, and news of places around the world bracing for what this means for the world. For my own part, God, you know my heart. You know what I long for when it comes to my own nation and the world. You know how that’s been a passion for so long. You know how it is written into my very body. You know also my deep desire and idealism that longs for unity and the ability to disagree and embrace each other not in spite of difference but because of it. 

So, having just touched down in the plane on land again after crossing the biggest ocean in your Creation, let me say that no matter what happens,

“I will call upon your name/ and keep my eyes above the waves./ When oceans rise,/ my soul will rest in your embrace/ for I am Yours and You are mine.

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders./ Let me walk upon the waters/ wherever You would call me./ Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,/ and my faith will be made stronger/ in the presence of my Savior.”

I’ve crossed one ocean. A big one. What’s next in the adventure?

Amen. 

Restoration

Dear God,

I’m on an airplane right now on the way to Sydney, Australia.

I am so grateful to and for Rachel, my champion and cheerleader, my second mother and favorite sister, my warrior and worrier. She’s worried about me and all that’s gone on in this past year of my life. She’s spent only You know how much to make this trip happen, this childhood dream and sister adventure come to be. I don’t know how to thank her and you enough. She is good, generous, protective, under-appreciated, and she deserves to have a good time, too. Help her to relax, not to stress about pleasing me, not to worry too much about her beautiful babies at home and Richie, too. Please take care of them and mom who is helping take care of them, too. 

Thank you for times of rest. And for restoration. And for the things that come next for which our rest prepares us. There are big things I want to get moving at the church in Edinburg, and it’s hard to let go to enter this time. It’s hard to let go of those ideas I believe you e given to me. I want to restore a fire and passion for your will and your people –all your people– but I also know it’s not always our work to do. Help me to accept the role you are giving me. Help to accept the rest you are giving me. 

May your will for creation and your people be restored. 

Amen. 

Herstory

Dear God,

I wish I could be with my mother right now.

I am grateful that she is just hours away, and not gone from this life like other friends’ mothers, but today I wish I could hold her hand and cry together. I wish I could squeeze her tight and tell her to her face, looking into her steady brown eyes, how wildly and deeply grateful I am for all the ways she has worked to fight for people to have better lives, to know they are loved by you, to live as though they know that love and believe others should know that love, too. I want to thank her face-to-face for all the ways she has sought justice, freedom from oppression, and a life full of joy for all and not just for herself. I want to thank her for all she has endured her whole life long as she spoke out for civil rights, carried a reusable bag for her groceries before it was cool (or the law) because she cares about your creation, and kept her given name because it is who she is – married or not – and she has always lived into that identity that you first gave her.

I want to hold her and tell her that her assault experience at the hands of someone in authority who told her no one would believe her anyway if she said anything was not her fault. I want to cry with her because she was brave enough to speak out eventually and to encourage other women to speak out. I want to cry with her because my own assault experiences are largely quieted away because I fear what people will think of me and because somehow, with all my liberal arts education and belief in the value of women and upbringing with such encouragement and empowerment, I still feel ashamed of myself that they happened at all, I feel ashamed for feeling ashamed because I should know that I did nothing to deserve what happened except be a woman, and I feel ashamed for feeling ashamed because I should be angry and outspoken instead. I want to cry with her because women are still not believed, just like that man said to her forty years ago. Just watch the news, God. You know.

I want to pop a champagne cork with my mother, who doesn’t like champagne near as much as I do but who has always been an enthusiastic laugher and encourager and has celebrated me in my accomplishments, because today there is a woman running for the highest office in our country. And it doesn’t matter what she’s done or how people feel about her, how I feel about her. Less than 100 years ago, women couldn’t even vote, were not even treated as valuable enough for a voice in the political process, how we live out living together in this land. Women, half of the population, so many of them devout women of faith who know that how we live out our lives together needs to be something that starts with what we believe about you and how YOU want us to live out our lives together, had no way to exercise that in the way we live together as Americans in these United States. I want to pop a champagne cork, not because a candidate makes everything okay (no candidate can make everything okay), but because I still get called a “lady pastor” and see the surprise on people’s faces when I introduce myself, and have to repeat to them that I am THE pastor of the church I serve. But a woman has run for president. 

Do you remember when I was a little girl, God? Do you remember how fearless and confident I was? Before I learned how to internalize the shame others would want me to feel for my body being big or my voice being big and my thoughts being many and smart? Back when I saw how strong and determined my mother was to be who you created her to be and believed that’s how life simply is for us all? I’m sorry I let her go away in the face of words, experiences, and learning that life simply isn’t that way for so many because freedom isn’t equitably lived in this place. I’m grateful that my eyes were opened to realize that great as this nation I did nothing to be born a citizen of has been in some ways, there are so many ways that “greatness” has been built through the oppression of so many freedoms and the preservation of inequities and iniquities for the benefit of a few or a simple majority. I’m sorry I couldn’t be stronger and more sure of who I have always been in you. Today I am remembering it all, and I am remembering who I am in you a bit better. And I am forgetting the horrible words that have been hurled at me because of daring to be different from a standard of subservience and daring to serve in roles men have long dominated. I am setting the weight of experiences and learned shame down, and standing on top of them for a better view of the world around me and the many other people who still bear the weight of injustice, oppression, and despair. I will stand up for a better position from which to use my voice to feel empowered and even better to empower others. I want to be like my mother.

Thank you for her. Thank you for her story. Thank you for letting me be a part of her story. Thank you that I still have her hands to hold and eyes to look into, even if I can’t do that today. Thank you for calling me your precious child, too. Thank you for giving me a voice. Thank you for bringing me through so much and for all the things I haven’t had to face by your mercy and by circumstance. Thank you for letting me be a part of herstory today, too. Help me to keep making herstory for the sake of the story you would have the world share for your glory, your joy, your will.

Amen.

Dry Days

Dear God,

It’s raining just a bit – thank you – in that good way that isn’t too much at once but gives the land some time to take it all in. There’s the hint of a rainbow in the corner of my piece of sky, and I am grateful for the reminder of your promise never to completely flood the earth again. It makes me hope that things just won’t ever be bad enough for you to want to do it, though that probably has already been true again and again, and so thank you for being so amazing. 

This feels weird to say, but in one way, I feel like there is so much dry, cracked, parched, desolate, droughted emptiness within me lately that I could use a flood to soak it, fill it, even drown it. I feel so dry. I feel so different from who I want to be. 

It’s like I want to cry – about how I feel, about how I see myself these days, about the state of the world that you won’t flood even if you want to, and I can’t even do that. 

When will it rain again? When will life feel less dry?
…Amen. 

Early Mornings, Sunday Mornings

Dear God,

As you know, I’m not much of a morning person. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the morning in one sense – the freshness of the day is a wonder to behold. I just wind up staying up so late enjoying the evening. I’ve always loved the stars, and I get such little time to wonder at them (in many ways).

So it is funny to me – is it funny to you? – that Sunday mornings, no matter how late I stayed up, I am almost always up by 5am thinking about the people, the words I will say and pray and preach, the work God is already doing. It’s such holy time for me.

Could this be a piece of other mornings, too? Would you wake me so we can share this time together? I mean, maybe not 5am every day when so often I’m up til 1… but I guess maybe I’m praying a request for help, for intervention. Help me to sleep and help me to wake in ways that open up more holy time like this with you.

Amen.

Palabras para the Word

O Dios,

I’ve been working on my Spanish.  Which, of course, you know in part because I’m spending a lot less time on my walks and drives talking [directly] to you and more and more time listening to Pimsleur lessons.  It’s been so exciting and amazing lately to listen to people come into the office asking questions and be able to answer… in ways people seem to understand pretty clearly!  I wish it was as simple as Pentecost, that I could just speak clearly in the language of another without having to think about it.  Wouldn’t that be amazing in the most basic sense: to speak just the right words someone needs to hear or needs to understand something as amazing as grace?

…   …   …   …   …  …   …   …  …   …   …   …   …   …

Do you get frustrated with us when you speak again and again and we somehow do not hear?  I mean, I know you hear and understand and speak all words of all languages and you speak planets into motion… but humor me with this metaphor, please, Lord.  When I’m frustrated that someone can’t understand what I mean, that the way I’ve chosen to express myself isn’t clear enough for their ears, is that sort of like how you feel when you express yourself in the fullness of time and space throughout all of creation and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and somehow we just aren’t hearing it clearly with our hearts?  God, that’s so frustrating.  How can you stand it?  I just want to say what they need to hear to understand and be helped.  And it’s just so awful when it doesn’t happen.  I’m so sorry, God.  On the other hand, it’s so exciting when someone understands me, and they smile, and they say “Thank you” or “Gracias” or “Dios le bendiga” and I think “¡Sí!” and “alabar a Dios” and “yaaaaaaaayyyyy!!!”  Is that how you feel when we all finally get it?  When grace kicks in and we’re graceful to someone else and sometimes ourselves?

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …

God, what is it like to speak all the languages there are?  What kind of beautiful cacophony are you listening to at all hours of the day?  I bet somehow it’s better than Miles Davis.  Do you like Davis?  Do you love listening to all of us?  I’m sure you wish we would all listen more.  And not just to you, but for the you that is in familiar and foreign words alike.

Amen.