On Earth

Thy will be done on earth

We need you, Highest Living God;
all of life needs you!
Can’t you hear the lament of gray whales
as Korean warships pace overhead?
Haven’t you noticed the shrimp fields
smothered by oil,
not to be renewed for generations?
How long will the razorbill choke on volcanic ash
or the earthworm gag in toxic soil
before you rescue the earth from her agony?

On earth as it is in heaven

If the moaning of creation doesn’t cause a rise in your Spirit
(in our spirits),
what will?!
Must the seas also rise and envelop the shores?
Will you (we) wait until even the rocks cry out for salvation?
Are you waiting for the sparrow to fall
before you collect your indignation
and restore the nesting ground of leatherback turtles
or the forest sanctuary of the harpy eagle?
Come o come, and all living things will bless your name!

For thine is the kingdom and the power.

Before Pentecost

Ah, blessed and beautiful Spirit of God!

If you were a flowering azalea,
I would be a butterfly
resting on your petals and savoring your perfume.

If you were an expansive ocean,
I would be a kid on the beach
chasing the tides and dipping my toes in the surf.

If you were a thick novel,
I would be the avid reader
feasting on your words, delighting in your story.

If you were rich brown coffee beans,
I would reach for you daily
loving your strength, eagerly awaiting your rush of energy.

But for now, before Pentecost, you are the absent companion
and I am the meandering, lackluster disciple
needing enthusiasm, longing for your nearness.

Seeing Clearly

At first I want to rail against the fog
(as though it will make a difference)
and cry “My God! My God! Why can’t I see my way clearly?!”
. . . until I stop long enough to realize
that I can see:
the blown-away seed of a dandelion at my feet,
the leaves on the lowest maple branch overhead,
the silhouetted street sign at the sidewalk’s corner.
Then, more wonderfully!, I notice the details of the fog itself:
near-snowy white haze,
an internal luminescence,
evasive shadows at the edge of sight,
. . . and You!
You: not just present with me through the fog,
but the essence of the fog as well:
the mystery
the questions
the wandering
the aura of light.
And suddenly the fog is not a wall but my atmosphere for traveling,
not my enemy but my companion for the journey,
and You have shown me a new way
for seeing clearly.

On Ascension Day

God of heights, lift us up:
We are crawling in the mire of everyday routine.

God of the heavens, lift us up:
We are overwhelmed with the attention required by the things of this earth.

God of the stars, lift us up:
We cannot see past the clouds of “truth” that some would have us believe.

God of the sun, lift us up:
We are dazzled by the false jewels of society.

God of the moon, lift us up:
We are taxed by others’ demands for us to shine for them.

God of the universe, lift us up:
We want to stretch and breathe and see and be awe-struck.

God of heights, lift us up.

(How does one quote oneself? I’m not sure, but you can also find this prayer in Before The Amen: Creative Resources for Worship [The Pilgrim Press, 2007].)

Vanilla (or: A Parent’s Prayer When A Pet Dies)

From one parent to another,
O Holy Mother-Father,
I reach out for the strength
to bear a brokenhearted child’s tears
without solutions
without heart splints
without easy fixes
just tissues.
If ever I needed you to be near, it is now,
but not for me.
Bear near to one who is feeling death afresh.
God, I would skim past the passing
of a rodent that died in its sleep
— but oh! how I fear that this death
has stirred the aching waters of other deaths!
Here is a child who knows death’s sting
(no, “sting” is too poetic: death’s stench)
and the very real suckishness of loss.
Be close,
please be close!
I cannot bear her up on my own
though I try.
Flow with fresh and healing waters
to flood this child’s tears
with your blessing
and gentle comfort.
She has not lost hope —
I see it, even through her sadness —
while I am struggling simply for the faith
to tell her a resurrection story
about a hamster
named Vanilla.