You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples. You visit the earth … and water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty.
– Psalm 65:7-11a (NRSV, abridged)

There are tumultuous waves that are too jarring and too loud. They pop like gunfire, they scream like missiles, they weep like hunger, they groan like grief. With every crash of another wave, boats capsize, communities are dumped from their protection, and children’s cries are lost in the vast turmoil.

When the waves are unrelenting, we pray to God to calm the storms, to comfort the roars, to offer a lullaby against the tumult.

There are imposing cliffs that are too sharp and too steep. They rise relentlessly in the path of love, they stand grimly in the way of community, they cast hellish shadows over hope, they taunt new life with their parched landscape. To climb them is to become bruised and thirsty. To avoid them is to concede joy and possibility.

When the cliffs surround us, we pray to God to soften the ridges, to pour rain over the rocks, to nourish the soil for growth. 

There are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad seasons that are too harsh and too heartless. They cast mercy to the side, they upend schedules and savings, they measure each day with misery. They deny warmth from the sun and rest from the moon. 

When the days are overwhelming, we pray to God for the gift of grace, for the dignity of a deep breath, for the beauty of holy timeliness. 

Prayer: Silence the waves, erode the cliffs, and crown the year by your goodness, O God. 

cross-posted with the Daily Devotional

Stop the Clocks

Joshua said in the sight of the people, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stopped in mid-heaven and did not hurry to set for a whole day. There has been no day like it before or ever since, when God heeded such a prayer—because that day, God was fighting for the people. – Joshua 10:12-14 (abbreviated, adapted) 

I pray for the sun to stand still because my “to do” list is too long. I pray for the moon to linger in the sky because my body is too tired. I pray for the clock’s hands to freeze until my spirit has time to process an overwhelming world. I pray for the day to suspend its haste while my mind catches its breath. 

And God does not heed my prayers. 

In arrogant self-pity, I pout that my prayers must not be good enough for God to answer—as if God is (or should be) as myopically consumed by my needs and grammar as I am. As if the character of my prayers is the problem at hand, rather than the character of the clocks I follow. 

My “to do” list is a timecard that I punch to measure each day’s value on the clock of productivity. My body’s endurance competes against the stopwatch of age and expectation. My spirit and mind glance anxiously at the draining hourglass of perfection. 

These are not measures of time that the Almighty heeds. Internalized capitalism, marketable beauty, and mass production are not causes for which the Holy One sets aside time to fight. 

…or so I remind myself when the “to do” list is unfinished, when a completed project still has flaws, or when the day is too high a mountain to climb. I’m still praying to believe it. 

Prayer: Have mercy, O God, and relieve my inner critic of its micromanagement. Free me from the clocks that consume. Break open my heart to fall in love with the rhythms of sun and moon. 

cross-posted with the Daily Devotional

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