Thought for the Day – August 16, 2022

Photo credit: Viktor Kirilchuk on Pixabay

The word “tree” seems inadequate to the task of containing all of these. The image of a tree painted in your mind may be very different from the image in my mind. How can we be sure we are talking about the same thing? Or is it sometimes less important that our ideas match and more important that we each carry our own?

In your plans for today, how can you be aware of the picture, in your mind or someone else’s, that grows out of a single word?

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Thought for the Day – August 12, 2022

Photo credit: Antonio Lopez on Pixabay

What color did you notice right away in this picture? Were your eyes drawn to the smooth shapes or the rough edges, the larger stones or the small ones? How long did it take for additional colors and patterns to emerge for you?

In your plans for today, how can you open yourself to be aware of more of the colors and textures around you?

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Thought for the Day – August 9, 2022

Photo credit: Sonja Lindberg on Pixabay

How far away that rose bud must have seemed when the ladybug was at its base, ready to start climbing. When you take on something difficult, do you focus on the challenge of the journey or the sweet reward at the end?

What plans do you have today that will help you and others around you to take on the challenge and move toward the reward?

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Thought for the Day – August 5, 2022

Photo credit: Rashid Asgher on Pixabay

Where is your place of shelter? Take a moment to think about what shelter means for you. How do you make sure you can always find your way back to that place?

What do you do when your place of shelter is no longer safe? When is it more dangerous to stay sheltered than to venture out?

How can your plans for today help someone else to find and appreciate their own place of shelter?

Thursday Prayer: Alone

Image by jplenio from Pixabay

[This is the prayer that I wrote today for the RevGalBlogPals website.]

I was listening to a podcast, and the speaker asked who we would want to be with us if we were stranded on a desert island. My immediate answer was “Nobody. Just nobody.”

Yesterday I said to a friend, “I love the work I do, if only I didn’t have to deal with people.” I was kidding… sort of.

I made the mistake of reading the comments on a social media thread, and I wonder how you could have created the people who are saying such hateful things.

A friend sent me an e-mail in which the wording was a little unusual, and I immediately felt attacked.

People are starting to talk about when we can resume “normal” activities, and I realize that I’m more afraid of engaging people than I was of the isolation.

Today, Lord, the prayer on my lips is “Spare me from your people.” But please don’t answer that prayer. Answer instead the prayer of my heart. Give me the gift of space to rage and weep and swear. Help me excavate the muck that is burying my love for your people. Then give me the gift of a deep breath to blow away the trash, the gift of a kind word received and a kind word shared, the gift of knowing again that I am your beloved child, the gift of loving your people again. Amen.

Even on Social Media

[This is a post I wrote for RevGalBlogPals. It appears in this week’s edition of the e-Reader.]

Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. (Joel 2:13)

Slow to anger… gracious and merciful… abounding in steadfast love… This scripture verse is sung, in the churches where I have worshipped, every Sunday in the season of Lent. The haunting melody has been playing in my mind recently.

Slow to anger… gracious and merciful… apparently God doesn’t read the comments on social media posts! I have been noticing lately how easy it is to slip into anger and judgment. I certainly see it happening in others when I read the comment thread following a social media post. If it’s anything more controversial than a picture of a kitten or a puppy, the anger and venom seem to start almost immediately. There is a whole buffet of name-calling, foul language, wishing ill upon others, and even threats to others.

I can’t simply shake my head at how awful other people are acting, though. As soon as I begin judging them for their hostility, I remember situations in which I am quick to flare up in anger and judgment. It may be a roll of the eyes at a comment someone makes. It may be a quick and snarky response in a social media thread. It may be frustration that’s way out of proportion to something that doesn’t work as I expected.

And yet, from the first stories of creation in the Bible, I am reminded that God created each of us in God’s image. I am created to be gracious and merciful, not judgmental and callous. I am created to be slow to anger, to overflow with love for all of God’s creatures. Even when I’m on social media.

Gracious and merciful God, remind me today that I am created in your image. Give me the words in the actions to display your steadfast love. Amen

The Blurry Line Between Fear and Compassion

coronavirus-4817450_1920I’m not usually driven by fear or exclusive self-interest. However, back in March I recall hearing accounts of doctors in New York City having to make triage decisions about who would get care and who would not. I believe that, based on my age and a couple of health conditions, I would not be in the front of the line to get treatment if I should get the virus at a time when facilities and equipment are in short supply.

That vision of being denied healthcare because  it would be against the odds touched a nerve of fear in me that I didn’t realize I had. For the last five months, my decisions have been largely driven by trying to avoid any contact with the virus in order to avoid being the subject of such a triage decision. I have essentially not left my home since the middle of March.

I have not written or spoken this directly about these feelings until today. A friend shared a question on her Facebook page that had been inspired by another friend’s question. “When you evaluate what coronavirus risks you’re willing to take, are you thinking primarily about the risk to yourself, or the risk to others?”

During the past few weeks, I have begun to feel uncomfortable with my set of priorities. I have begun to think of it as selfish to be sheltering at home while others deliver my groceries, pick up prescriptions, and run other errands for me. I understand the logic of putting on one’s own mask first; but it feels like I don’t move beyond protecting myself. I have remained safe, at the expense of others needing to deal with those public situations that frighten me.

I’m still not sure how I’m going to sort it all out, but I’m actively looking for ways to get out of the house at least a little bit. I’m taking the smallest of baby steps. I will probably switch from home delivery of groceries to curbside pickup. Next week I hope to  drive my dog to her appointment at the veterinarian and sit in the car while she gets  her annual shots and a nail trim. I will work my way up to picking up my own prescriptions and maybe venturing into the post office to mail a package. And of course I will wear a mask and have hand sanitizer at the ready for all of those adventures Some things are still beyond my imagining: I don’t feel ready for an in-person medical appointment, and I believe it will be a long time before I see the inside of a retail store or restaurant. My hope is to work toward a better balance between concern for my own safety and well-being and concern for those around me.

How are you handling all of this, friends? How do you juggle the similar-but-different concerns of protecting your own well-being and protecting the well-being of those around you?

(Photo: Gerd Altmann at Pixabay)

What Is It?

leaves-4673997_1920 (1)[This is a post I wrote for RevGalBlogPals. It appears in this week’s edition of the e-Reader.]

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone.

These words from a Joni Mitchell song (Big Yellow Taxi) capture my attention every time I hear them sung. Perhaps it’s the contrast of the gentle, lilting melody with the picture of loss and regret painted by the words.

In this time of our extended response to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps this could be one of our theme songs as well. We look back at precious times that we didn’t fully appreciate: visits with elderly saints in our congregations, coffee or a cocktail with friends, leisurely shopping at a farmers market, placing a bit of bread or a sip of wine in the outstretched hand of a fellow sinner and assuring them that they are loved and forgiven.

The people of Israel could have been singing those lyrics as they complained bitterly about conditions in the desert. They grew nostalgic about the big pots full of meat simmering over an open fire and the fresh-baked bread that could be used to mop up every last drop of the savory stew.

After hearing their complaints, Moses relayed God’s promise that thy would have meat that evening and bread in the morning. The meat showed up right on schedule; quail covered their encampment. Imagine the feast! Those fleshpots in Egypt had nothing on this dinner of quail, all they could eat. They could hardly wait for the bread that God would provide in the morning.

When they woke up and looked around, though, there was no bread. Nothing that could be toasted over a flame or given to a teething infant to chew on. All they saw was something that looked like frost, even though the weather was all wrong for frost. They were so perplexed that they actually named the white flaky stuff with a question: What is it?

We all have a vision of how we expect our lives to unfold. We think we know how God ought to respond to our prayers. We spend our energy calibrating how we can simulate the in-person worship services that we carry in our memories. Sometimes we get so fixed on our ideas of what would be good for us that we miss what God is actually doing. In our urgency to recreate pre-pandemic worship, perhaps we miss the unexpected blessings hidden in our new forms of worship. We get so busy looking for just one kind of bread that we completely miss the sweet coriander and honey manna that is all around us.

We confess, Lord, that we often don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone. Our lives get so crowded with other things that we don’t even notice the signs of your presence. Open our eyes, open our minds, open our hearts, to see your love and care all around us. 


A Prayer for Saturday

breakdown-984812_1920I am stalled.

I have been pushing too hard for too long.

I’ve given my life more gas than it can handle, taken on too much, tried to do more than I am capable of.

And now I’m sitting by the side of the road, unable to get started again, watching the smoke pouring out of my broken-down life, weeping with frustration.

Come to my rescue, O Lord.

Dry my tears. Dry my engine. Give me rest and cool water. Teach me about the limits of my body and my spirit. Help me heal.

And when I am ready, send me on my way again. Gently, slowly, trusting in your watchful care.



(Originally published at,  Saturday, July 13, 2019.)