Every Moment Holy: When Something Is Lost

I lost my wallet.

Again.

I started to write out the sequence of events that led up to the last time I remembered holding it in my hand, but none of it really matters. The important part of the story was that my wallet — a nice little clasp purse made by a dear friend — was missing.

At 5 AM, I was searching, trying to be quiet while the rest of the people in the house were sleeping, but I had to be at work at 5:15 AM and was starting to panic.

My mother often said, “It’s always the last place you look.”

The morning schedule was tight:  lifeguarding at the pool from 5:15-7:15, go home, eat breakfast, leave by 8 AM to take Laurel to the dentist which was an hour-and-a-half away.

Every Moment Holy, my new favorite book, sat on the table where I had finished my morning readings. Was there a liturgy in there for lost things?

I searched through the Table of Contents, wasting valuable other search time, looking for a prayer to fit this occasion.

Nope.

But the beauty of Every Moment Holy lies in the title. Every moment is holy. Even the anxiety-ridden ones.

Before I left the house, I tip-toed into my father’s darkened room with a flashlight to see if perchance he had picked it up. My mother, in her dementia, used to squirrel away all sorts of treasures, and my father has started doing similar things. She had opted for shiny things — silverware and napkin rings, but he liked books and pens and shirts. My wallet wasn’t in his room, though.

I drove into the pool, worrying, and trying to allay my worries with words that could go into The Liturgy for Searching for Lost Items.

I got to the pool only to find the service door locked.

“Sorry, Sally,” said the woman at the front desk who let me in.

“No worries,” I said. It’s my standard response. Even when I’m worried.

And I was quite worried.

But the liturgy for lost or misplaced things was starting to take shape.

I found that when I started feeling the worry rise, it helped to think about what the Bible said about lost things.

I had two hours at the pool, three hours in the car, and an hour sitting in a dentist office to think about it. Six hours of pushing worry into prayer.

My initial thoughts:

O, Lord — I know You care about lost things
You talk about a shepherd leaving ninety-nine sheep to search for the one lost lamb
You talk about a widow searching for a lost coin

My later thoughts:

Lord, I’m holding on too tight to the temporal, to things that don’t last.
If I never find that wallet again —
If every worse case scenario I imagine comes true
If it was dropped and found by an unscrupulous person
Or taken because I wasn’t paying attention
If my credit cards and, worse, my identity are stolen,
It’s okay
Because I have everything I need in You

My hands are open, Lord.
Whatever You want from me is Yours
It was never mine to begin with

Truly my morning was holy.

Anxious — but also holy in a way I couldn’t have imagined.

My mother was right. It’s always in the last place you look. Sometimes it’s in a place you’ve even looked before.

I found it when I got back home. Even though I had looked there previously, it was in my father’s car.

Matt Canlis said at Hutchmoot that God is closer than you think and in places you don’t expect.

I realized that all my searching wasn’t about my wallet. It was about God guiding me into truths I need to learn.

 

 

Every Moment Holy: When Technology Fails

Yesterday, I was frantically looking through my newest favorite book, Every Moment Holy, by Douglas McKelvey. Two of my sons were trying to get my computer to interface with the flat screen monitor at the church so I could do a presentation about my trip to Bosnia.

More and more, when young people talk technology around me, it sounds like a foreign language. As in Bosnia, when I used my minimal Croatian to pick out words and phrases that sound semi-familiar, I tried to understand what my sons were talking about as they worked. It turns HTMI doesn’t mean “Hey, Too Much Information” because it’s really HDMI and it’s a cable and it didn’t work for our situation.

When Philip asked me if I had a firestick, all I could think of were matches. I didn’t have any, or a Fire TV Stick for that matter. Karl drove to my brother’s house and borrowed his Google Chromecast doohickey, which would have worked, if I could download the app onto my computer, which I couldn’t, because no one knew the WiFi password at the church. Then, the hotspots that Philip set up on my phone kept failing.

Pastor Tom asked me if I wanted to wait until next week.

“No,” I said, “because some of my children drove down from Syracuse for this.”

The truth is that I didn’t want it lingering in the back of my mind for another week. My poor youngest children had lived with an irritable mom long enough.

I brought Every Moment Holy with me because I planned to close with a prayer from it. It’s a brand new book from Rabbit Room Press, with liturgies for nearly every occasion — for setting up a Christmas tree, for doing laundry, two for changing diapers, for the paying of bills, for stargazing. One hundred liturgies to practice the presence of God in the midst of our daily lives.

Surely I would find a liturgy for those moments when technology fails.

While my sons worked and talked techno-gibberish to each other, I searched the book.

I finally settled on “A Liturgy for a Fleeting Irritation” which mostly fit:

I bring to you Lord, my momentary irritation, that you might reveal the buried seed of it — not in the words or actions of another person [or, I added, in the failure of technology], but in the withered and hypocritical expectations of my own small heart…

I read through it once, twice, thrice, trying to calm my anxious heart, and hoping a miracle would occur.

While I ended up doing the presentation awkwardly holding my laptop so the front row could see the pictures, and though I couldn’t hold the computer and my notes so I did a fair amount of babbling, my words were mostly well-received.

Still, I feel like there’s a need for a liturgy for when technology fails — so I wrote this prayer.

For the next time.

Almighty God
You, who spoke worlds into being
Who, with Your own finger, wrote on tablets of stone
And later wrote lost words in the dirt –
You never required the technology that is so much a part of our lives today.

We carry miniature Towers of Babel in our pockets
And turn to them far more often
Than we turn to You.
Forgive us.
Forgive me.

Remind us, Lord, that we are made in Your image.
You have equipped us with everything we need
To complete the work You have called us to

Let us acknowledge Your presence in our midst
Even when technology fails
Especially when technology fails.

And help us to BE present to those around us.

Amen

G is for Giggle

Here’s what I see in this collage: The rabbit is giggling because it sees the bigger picture. The man is so annoyed at the rabbit, probably because it had wreaked havoc his garden, that he is unaware of the wolf on his roof.

I can remember watching a bunny nibble all the pansy blossoms in my garden and I was helpless to do anything because I was nursing a baby. If I got up and shooed the rabbit away, I would have disturbed the baby. So I just watched as the rabbit hopped, lippity-lippity, from plant to plant, nibbling away my pretties.

Sometimes, though, we can be so distracted by the little problem that we miss a bigger one — like the wolf preparing to head down the chimney.

The bunny thinks it’s funny.

The man can’t get over his annoyance — and that makes him clueless.

Lord,
help me to keep little things in proper perspective
so that I can be aware of what’s most expedient.


Background from Mother Night by Denys Cazet

House and wolf from The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf illustrated by Keiko Motoyama

Man in the window from A Boy Who Wants a Dinosaur by Hiawyn Oram and Satoshi Kitamura

Rabbit and bushes are from two different books, but I don’t remember which ones.

Prayer of Confession

In the Book of Common Prayer, the morning prayer of confession begins,

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep…

I was interested to read Lancelot Andrewes note on this prayer —

We have wittingly and willingly run from Your ways like an untamed heifer

img_0672Last summer, on my walks, I often saw the cattle in a neighboring field.  Sometimes they would run up to the fence as I walked past. One liked to lower his head and shake his horns at me threateningly.img_9663 I tried to reassure him that I meant no harm. I was simply out for a walk.img_0675

My bovine friends — or not-friends — became a fixture on these walks. I would scan the field to see where they were grazing. When one escaped, I tried to encourage him to go back with his compadres, but it’s hard to encourage an 1800 pound animal and keep a safe distance. img_0504

One fall day, Bud was working in the barn across the street when he heard the screech of tires. He ran out to see a woman, wide-eyed, sitting in her stopped car in the middle of road, staring a herd of cattle thundering toward her up the road. They ran past the house, tipping the mailbox as they went and disappearing over the crest of the hill followed by men in pick-up trucks.

“I had seen them trying to load them into a trailer earlier,” Bud told me. “Must be they decided to get them to the other farm the old-fashioned cattle drive way.”

That evening, when we went for a walk, we saw the guys in the pick-ups sitting outside the pasture that had once held their steer.

“That was something else,” Bud said to them, “watching them run up the road.”

“They didn’t want to get on the trailer,” one guy said, “and broke the fence. If you see ’em, let us know.”

“You weren’t herding them?” we both asked.

“Hell, no,” the man replied.

About a dozen steer were now on the wild in Otsego County, including the one who occasionally menaced.

As best I know, they were never found — although I did hear of occasional steer-sightings.

I pictured them when I read Lancelot Andrewes words.

Breaking through the fence — wittingly and willingly.

Running from the livestock trailer — running from Your ways

Like wild cattle — like an untamed heifer

It’s quite an image.

Almost exquisite — if one can use that word for cattle.

Resurrection Branches

OsterpostkarteI was delighted to learn that the pussywillow is waved on Palm Sunday in many Eastern and Slavic churches.

“The Pussy Willow is also our Easter symbol,” said Father Czeslaw Krysa, rector of St. Casimir’s Church in Buffalo, in a 2013 article. He said that it is “one of the most prominent Easter symbols, because of the fact out of this dry, kind of twig all of a sudden bursts forth this beautiful flower of life, and it is the first bush that blooms.”

They call them “resurrection branches.”

Reading about them reminded me of a poem/prayer that I wrote back in January.

Oh Lord
I need a pick-me-up
For I am feeling down
Outside the snow is glittering, cold,
Inside my heart is brown
And dry and brittle, mostly dead,
Like last month’s Christmas tree
Weeping prickly needles
Which need be swept by me

IMG_8480I know You can’t restore the tree
To vibrant verdant green
— Well, yes, You could
And yes, You did
When Aaron’s rod was seen
Budding,
Blossoming,
Bearing fruit
— Can You do that with me?
Of course, You can —
but would You, Lord?
Miraculously use me?

For, Lord, You know I have this fear
I’m one of the eleven
Sticks that stayed quite dead and brown
Not bearing fruit for heaven

I fear I too am dead inside —
Like Lazarus, I stink —
Roll back the stone –
Call out my name –
Pull me from this brink

Of hopelessness
Of deadfulness —
I need to be made new
Please water me
Sunshine me
And let me grow in You.

Today the rocks and stones and pussywillows are crying out “Hosanna!”