Faith · Life · prayer


Dear God,

The eclipse of the moon this morning was amazing.

Thank you that I have a job that gets me up early enough to see it. As I drove to work at 4:50 am, I looked at the sliver of moon and said to it, “How pretty you are!”

Thank you for my co-worker who asked me if I saw the eclipse. “I saw the moon,” I said. “It’s eclipsing,” he replied, and we walked to the window together where I saw a half-moon with a rounded edge between the black and white. If it had been a cookie, it might have been a reject; but it was the real moon and it was lovely.

Thank you for the big windows where I work. I walked to them frequently over the next 45 minutes and watched the moon wax. (Or is it wane? Or is there another term for the changes during an eclipse?)

Thank you for the camera that I carry in my pocket, a.k.a. my phone. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have been able to easily photograph moments like these.

Thank you, too, that I forgot about the camera in my pocket, so I stayed in the moment. This morning I didn’t snap a photo until it was almost too late.

Thank you for lousy photos that still help me remember a magical moment.

Thank you for the eclipses I see in people, like the grumpy man who growled at me that one morning when he first walked in and came back to apologize after his workout. Endorphins pushed the shadows back for him.

Thank you for endorphins, those neurotransmitters that trigger positive emotions. They relieve pain and stress. Exercise helps release them. So does chocolate.

Thank you for chocolate.

Thank you for co-workers who share their chocolate.

Thank you for the chocolate side of half-moon cookies, which I like slightly less than the vanilla side, but the chocolate makes me appreciate the vanilla.

Thank you for contrasts like that.

Thank you for the eclipse, for dark and light, earth and moon, people, chocolate, and life itself.


A to Z Blogging Challenge · Hutchmoot · prayer


On Mother’s Day, one of my children asked, “What’s something you like, Mom?”

“Ummm… I don’t know. I like you, ” I said. “I like my family.”

I kept thinking and started rattling things off. “I like pens. And I like paper. I like books. I like words.”

I definitely like words. So when I struggle to find words, I know that I am, in general, struggling.

When I first started blogging, words helped me to make sense of my mother’s slide into dementia. She was losing words. I was finding them and using them. A few years later, when my father followed my mother down the same road, the words didn’t come as easily. After he passed away, words slowed to a trickle. Occasionally I have enough to fill a post, but, obviously, not often, or at least not often enough to complete a blogging challenge.

But this is a post about words — specifically, liturgical words.

I wish I could say that Hutchmoot started me on my journey into liturgy as a spiritual practice, but I think it’s more like I met a bunch of companions who were traveling down the same road, and we’ve now traveled that way together for many years.

When I’m refer to liturgy, I’m talking about ritual, about scripted words, about reciting ancient prayers in unison — practices that we seem to have abandoned in many modern churches.

In 2013, my friend Alyssa — the one I met at Hutchmoot — gave me a “hijacked journal” for Christmas. It was a lovely journal with a rabbit on the front, and she had hijacked it by writing quotes from some of my favorite authors on many of the pages. I spent 2014 and 2015 filling those pages with prayers – a new one each week.

Most of the prayers in 2015 were ones I wrote myself. I wrote them and then I prayed them over and over. The pages are full of revisions as the praying helped me edit. Or, was it God?

At Hutchmoot 2015, on Sunday afternoon as part of our closing session, we joined together for “The Liturgy of Lost Rhyme,” written by Douglas McKelvey. When we walked into the sanctuary, we were handed a script and a slip of paper that told us the part we were to read.

We joined together reading old/new words, interspersed with songs, that told the story of our brokenness and our redemption.

In retrospect, I see how this was a prelude for one of the most important books to come out of the Rabbit Room — Every Moment Holy. (Rabbit Room is the “host” of Hutchmoot.)

Every Moment Holy, published in 2017, is a collection of liturgies written by Douglas McKelvey. It contains everything from table blessings that can be read by a group at a special dinner to a couple of prayers for before or after changing a diaper. He gives words of thanksgiving to God for the wonder of the first snow or arriving at the ocean, and prayers to offer when we hear sirens or find ourselves randomly thinking of another. Every moment truly is holy — and these are liturgies to remind us of that. They gives us words for moments when we don’t have words.

If I were to tell you to go to the Rabbit Room store and buy one book, it would be this book.

Every Moment Holy, Volume II: Death, Grief & Hope came out a month ago. It contains liturgies for when a person receives bad news, for caregivers in need of rest, for those who enduring lasting pain, for final hours. Having sat at both my parents’ bedsides when they passed away, I can tell you that words don’t come easily in those moments.

Back to struggling for words… This post has been in my draft folder for a full month. Hey, Doug — how about a liturgy for finishing an unfinished blog post?

Faith · family · prayer

Bedside Prayer for an Aging Parent

The following prayer was written nearly six years ago when my mother was hospitalized. She was eventually discharged, but then died later that year.

I share it today because I know so many people are now caring for their own elderly family members. I want to encourage those of you who are in that position to use those quiet bedside moments to talk to God. Offer your thoughts, your observations, your concerns and your memories to Him — maybe in gratitude or maybe as a way of reconciling. The single most important thing that got me through those days was prayer.

O Great Physician —

You love the hoary head,
including my mother’s silver waves,
now matted from too much time on the pillow.

As I sit beside my mother’s bed
and study her lined face,
I watch each breath pass through her lips
with an effort she did not used to exert.
Occasionally, her weary eyes open,
but, Lord,
she doesn’t even know me!

Heavenly Father, cradle her.
She worked hard in this life,
raising five children,
supporting her husband,
preparing meal after meal
for family, friends, and strangers,
using her nursing skills
to give hope to others,
using her tragedies
to encourage those
who encounter the same.

Let her know the rest
that only You can give.

While I sit here
don’t mind me.
I’ll just hold her hand
and weep a little.
I’m content to wipe her face,
give her sips of water,
and wait.


Faith · prayer


Arrogance is the opposite of humility. It compels us to treat our limitations not as unique openings through which God can reveal his goodness but as diseases to be cured.

Susan Annette Muto

O Lord
You made me flawed

I was about to say that You goofed
But You don’t blunder.

In Your blessed tenderness
You said,
“I’m going to make this one awkward.
When she speaks, her words will sound
On top of that,
she is going to make
A LOT of

Thank you.

poetry · prayer

Honest Prayer

We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.

C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm

Lord, tonight I’m tired and weak —
Accept these unpolished words I speak.
I pray for peace but I sing of woe
You watched it all.
I know You know
The anger,
The blindness,
Unholy portrayal
Of what it means to love You, Lord.
We fumble and fume in our discord —
As some say, “Hey, we’re doing this for You!”
But I say they’re liars because it’s not true.
For You are Truth and You are Light
Please, Lord, guide us through this night.

Faith · prayer


And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

John 9:2

O Lord,
I know it’s not a question of
Who sinned, or
Who made the first
False accusation

Do You really care
Who had the first violent protest, or
The most violent protest?

Do we need You
To point a damning finger
At one group
Or the other?

The question isn’t
“Who sinned?”

The question is
“Who is blind?”

The answer is
I am

Faith · prayer

Prayer for a Divided Country

… In the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail.

Book of Common Prayer, “For Our Country”

My heart caught in my throat when I saw the news yesterday afternoon. I couldn’t look away from those scenes I didn’t want to see.

Immediately I was back on September 11, 2001. Mid-morning that day, my brother had burst into our home saying, “Turn on the television!”

Over and over we watched planes crash into the World Trade Center. We watched chaos on the streets. Smoke. Confusion. Bodies falling. Then it would loop back again to planes hitting the towers. Our country was under attack.

I remember looking at my children watching the screen with big eyes and shooing them out of the room. Finally I shooed my brother out, too, and turned the television off.

But some things you can’t unsee.

I tried to fall asleep last night but the images of marauders scaling the wall to the Capitol Building kept playing through my mind. Their garish outfits, their over-sized flags, their fake patriotism. Ach — it was all too much.

Yesterday was a day of prayer for me. I fasted until 6 PM, praying often, especially when reminded by pangs of hunger. Around 3 PM, my words were gone, and I reached for Lancelot Andrewes to help me remember what words I should pray for my country.

In his prayer “For Our Country”, he says with, “Bless our ingathering, Make peace within our borders” — but peace doesn’t come without a cost.

Around the same time as 9/11, we had a terrible man as pastor of our church. He was divisive. He used the pulpit to bully and berate. I was called in for church discipline because, as chair of the Missions Committee, I questioned him, his motives, and his tactics. I’ll never forget sitting in his office for my “discipline” and watching him lean back in his chair and lace his fingers behind his head — the picture of pompous confidence — all the while saying untrue things. The Board of Elders sat by and said little to nothing.

Shortly after that — I think it was Palm Sunday — that pastor once again began making untrue divisive statements from the pulpit. This time the head of the elder board, a man named Zig, rose from his seat, pointed his finger at the pastor, and said, “You, sir, need to stop.”

Shouting ensued. I herded my children out of the sanctuary and into the nursery. I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t want my children to witness any of it. A sanctuary should be a sanctuary.

Zig passed away a few years ago but I thought about him a lot yesterday. He remains for me a picture of what it means to push back against a bully.

I spent time last evening intentionally reading posts of Facebook friends that I know to be Trump supporters. One by one, I prayed for them and then “snoozed” them. I ache for them, but I can’t fill my mind with their vitriol.

This morning I reached for The Preces Privitae of Lancelot Andrewes again and settled on this prayer — For Unity —

The Preces Privitae of Lancelot Andrewes, translated by F. E. Brightman

… If in anything we be otherwise minded,
to walk by the same rule whereto we have already attained:
To maintain order, decency, steadfastness…
With one mind and one mouth to glorify God.

Lord, our country is so divided. It will take a miracle to reunite us. I’m so glad You are a God who specializes in miracles. Amen.


God, I need Thee

God, I need Thee.
When morning crowds the night away
And tasks of waking seize my mind;
I need Thy poise.

God, I need Thee.
When love is hard to see
Amid the ugliness and slime,
I need Thy eyes.

God, I need Thee.
When clashes come with those
Who walk the way with me,
I need Thy smile.

God, I need Thee.
When the path to take before me lies,
I see it . . . courage flees–
I need Thy faith.

God, I need Thee.
When the day’s work is done,
Tired, discouraged, wasted,
I need Thy rest.

Howard Thurman, “Deep is the Hunger”

When I first came across this prayer/poem by Howard Thurman, I read it through multiple times. I can honestly say that I had never prayed for poise but it made so much sense. To start my day with confidence, even though it may seem daunting from the outset, seems so powerful.

Not in an I’ve-got-this way. Rather, a You’ve-got-this-therefore-I-can-do-it way.

I go back to this prayer regularly and pray for poise, for God’s eyes and smile, for faith, and for rest.

It is my prayer for 2021.

Faith · prayer

Every Moment Holy: When Something Is Lost

I lost my wallet.


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.


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.



Faith · prayer

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.