A New Year

45/52 beach read

 

This is the view from where I sit on the eve of another year. Not literally, of course, but “literal” has never meant much to me. Literally, the view is more about scattered toys and laundry piles and cough drops (I’m trying and failing to remember a holiday season that didn’t feature some virus or other).

But, the real view, the shaped-by-a-river-of-prayer view? It looks like this: quiet, peaceful, empty, yet hopeful. There is something just over the horizon … I can sense it … almost see it. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know that it is good.

It’s a far cry from last year’s view. Having moved to Florida only a few months before, having just determined to take a break from university teaching, the future looked blank.

Then, it was emptiness. Now, it is expectation.

What happened in the between? What has brought me from one to the other? The answer, I think, is month after month of not-having and not-doing. Waiting, you might call it, though it often felt more like grieving.

I stopped teaching. I didn’t start serving in our new church. I didn’t make many new friends (though, there are a few – you know who you are!). I didn’t organize or join a church small group. I watched my husband volunteer in the kids’ classrooms while I moved in small circles between house and yard and house and library.

And what am I left with at the end of this year of nothing? A finished manuscript for a memoir, this blog, and many, many new plans and dreams. Dreams that are entirely unrealized yet somehow substantial in their promise and their beauty.

I am living the upside-down values of Jesus’s kingdom. That which looks empty is full. That which has died brings life. Beneath the piles of laundry and the scattered toys, between the crumpled tissues and half-empty medicine bottles, there is water becoming wine.

We may still be living in darkest winter, but I sense the nearness of spring. And, so, I dip my toes in the river and pray the season in. My prayers are merely a welcome for all that God long ago determined to give.

“Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime … He gives showers of rain to all people.”

Zechariah 10:1

 

 

Advent (Day 22)

National Cathedral

A prayer for the fourth Sunday of Advent.

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

from The Book of Common Prayer

 

Advent (Day 15)

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 A prayer for this third Sunday of Advent:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

 from The Book of Common Prayer

 

Advent (Day 9)

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I recall that the One to whom we cry is no longer an infant, and this feels both wonderful and terrifying. 

We begin to see him as he now is in dreams and poetry, for only metaphor can give us a glimpse of the truth: “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire … his voice was like the sound of rushing waters” (Revelation 1:14,15).

Here, on this second Monday of Advent, is a poem from Madeleine L’Engle. She who dared to imagine and yet still dared to pray.

 

          Come, Lord Jesus

 

     Come, Lord Jesus! Do I dare

     Cry: Lord Jesus, quickly come!

     Flash the lightning in the air,

     Crash the thunder on my home!

     Should I speak this aweful prayer?

     Come, Lord Jesus, help me dare.

 

     Come, Lord Jesus! You I call

     To come (come soon!) are not the child

     Who lay once in the manger stall,

     Are not the infant meek and mild.

     You come in judgement on our all:

     Help me to know you, whom I call.

 

     Come, Lord Jesus! Come this night

     With your purging and your power,

     For the earth is dark with blight

     And in sin we run and cower

     Before the splendid, raging sight

     Of the breaking of the night.

 

     Come, my Lord! Our darkness end!

     Break the bonds of time and space.

     All the powers of evil rend

     By the radiance of your face.

     The laughing stars with joy attend:

     Come Lord Jesus! Be my end!

                    – Madeleine L’Engle

 

Advent (Day 8)

white cosmos at dusk

A prayer for this second Sunday of Advent:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

from The Book of Common Prayer

 

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