Daily Prayer :: Water

Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Author: Circle of Hope (page 1 of 318)

July 20, 2019 — Our ongoing connection, humility

denes

Agnes Denes, Wheatfield, 1982, Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects in Huff Post

Today’s Bible reading

Read Romans 8

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

More thoughts for meditation

In Romans 8, we, as Christians, are assured of the love and grace of God. With that grace, we are called to live life in and of the Spirit and not of the flesh. This passage fits with this call to be better stewards of the earth by reminding us that we are not here to live in excessive material abundance, but to carefully use our possessions as part of our prayerful life with God. Our rewards will be great if we humble ourselves as Jesus did, limiting our wasteful habits.

In 1982, Agnes Denes planted 2 acres of wheat in lower Manhattan in the shadows of the World Trade Towers. She tended the fields in a bold confrontation between contemporary commerce and land use.

Many of us tend small (and not-so-small) green spaces throughout our urban landscape in practical attempts to keep grow food, grow communities and reduce the heat traps of concrete and tarmac. These efforts are bold testaments to a commitment to live humbly against the pull of agribusiness and other commercial interests. We keep trying to humbly plow the earth and resurrect its gifts.

Sharon Olds writes an Ode to Dirt:

Dear dirt, I am sorry I slighted you,
I thought that you were only the background
for the leading characters—the plants
and animals and human animals.
It’s as if I had loved only the stars
and not the sky which gave them space
in which to shine.  Subtle, various,
sensitive, you are the skin of our terrain,
you’re our democracy.  When I understood
I had never honored you as a living
equal, I was ashamed of myself,
as if I had not recognized
a character who looked so different from me,
but now I can see us all, made of the
same basic materials—
cousins of that first exploding from nothing—
in our intricate equation together.  O dirt,
help us find ways to serve your life,
you who have brought us forth, and fed us,
and who at the end will take us in
and rotate with us, and wobble, and orbit.

Suggestions for action

In what ways are you growing new things from what God has given of the land, water and sky? In what concrete ways can you plant seeds that further nourish our walk on this planet? Contemplate and act toward humbling yourself in living lighter and growing more of what you need.

Pray: “Lord, thank you for being the dirt beneath us. Let us grow from your abundance. Let us appreciate all that is there for us to care for. Let us renew and replenish the ground, the water, the air all around us.”

July 19, 2019 — Our urgency and action

sulova

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Acts 9

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And
hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

More thoughts for meditation

Referring again to Patricia Hull and her work, Inhabiting Eden, she writes, “Scripture itself provides models for finding guidance in unprecedented times.” We might consider how to model ourselves as the Good Shepherd that Jesus is as we consider the crisis of environmental degradation and the need for action, and we should. However, we also need to consider the radical and instantaneous transformation that Saul underwent when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. There was incredible power in that encounter which lead to the founding of the early church and much of our New Testament teaching.

If we might all consider the power behind such transformation and find within us the same courage to accept our present situation and create immediate change. We are the Good Shepherds in Jesus’ image, but not just of the flock of family, friends and neighbors, but of
neighborhoods, communities and places far and away.

The image above is by the street artist, Aida Sulova. Her paintings on garbage cans in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan are a vivid reminder of what we are doing when we throw anything away. It may seem to vanish from our home or person, however, it has very visceral consequences. If we could all hold that in mind as we move through our day and as we do things with larger consequences such as vote or go to the beach, we might find ourselves facing the urgency and making different choices.

Suggestions for action

Consider all the ways that you can reclaim a green space and reclaim the way we use our earthly resources. What are the ways that you can make immediate changes in your daily habits that might have bigger consequences such as refusing plastic bags and water bottles? What are the larger ways that you can inspire us as a community to be part of action that creates lasting change such as watershed stewardship, composting programs and such? Can we begin a dialogue with each other to encourage all the steps that fuel that urgent need for change? Let’s start that dialogue and not let it die down.

Pray: “God of creation, let us respect and renew the Earth” — from Caritas.org

July 18, 2018 — Awe and wonder

Image result for ansel adams half dome 1938

Half Dome, Merced River, Winter, Yosemite, 1938 — Ansel Adams

Today’s Bible reading

Read Psalm 8

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

More thoughts for meditation

Ansel Adams might be one of the first artists to whom the “environmental art” movement can be attributed. His sublime images of the American landscape from the turn-of-the-century made the vast, diverse land across North America accessible to the masses. Images such as the one of half-dome served to inspire many to travel to our National Parks and even hike and climb to be part of the majesty and experience awe first-hand.

Summer is a time when many of us hit those trails, whether by foot or vehicle to touch base with the experience of awe and wonder in majestic places. It is my hope that this compels our connection and drives us to seek beauty all around us while exposing us to the realities of God’s nature that we cannot control. The experience of the sublime is the experience that nature is all-powerful, and truly has dominion over us, no matter how hard we try to master it.

Mary Oliver writes in her poem, Dogfish:

Some kind of relaxed and beautiful thing
kept flickering in with the tide
and looking around.
Black as a fisherman’s boot,
with a white belly.

If you asked for a picture I would have to draw a smile
under the perfectly round eye and above the chin,
which was rough
as a thousand sharpened nails.

And you know
what a smile means,
don’t you?

I wanted
the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, a wing, like the part of the song
where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life, I wanted to know,
whoever I was, I was

alive
for a little while

It was evening, and no longer summer.
Three small fish, I don’t know what they were,
huddled in the highest ripples
as it came swimming in again, effortless, the whole body
one gesture, one black sleeve
that could fit easily around
the bodies of three small fish.

Also I wanted
to be able to love. And we all know
how that goes,
don’t we?

Slowly

the dogfish tore open the soft basin of water.

You don’t want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway

I don’t want to tell it, I want to listen

to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.

And anyway, it is the same old story—
a few people just trying,
one way or another,
to survive.

Mostly, I want to be kind.
And nobody, of course, is kind,
or mean,
for a simple reason.

And nobody gets out of it, having to
swim through the fires to stay in
this world.

And look! look! I think those little fish
better wake up and dash themselves away
from the hopeless future that is
bulging toward them.

And probably,
if they don’t waste time
looking for an easier world,

they can do it.

Suggestions for action

Like Mary Oliver, like Ansel Adams, like so many others day-in and day-out, look at the world with awe and wonder. There is beauty in small places, there is beauty in the Sublime Landscape of God’s hand. Take it in this day, this week, this summer and see it as a call to stop wasting time. Appreciate the beauty that God created and bring it into your daily actions to keep urging action toward stewardship and engagement with the world.

Pray: “Lord help me look, help me to see the divine wonder in creation, help me wake up and dash into action, without delay”

July 17, 2019 — Grief for the Earth

#Strawpocalypse

Benjamin Von Wong

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Job 38

Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.

More thoughts for meditation

The story of Job is a great lament, where Job, having lost his family wrestles with God repeatedly while he grieves. Throughout the lamentations, Job’s feelings are exuberantly, irrationally expressed and God speaks to him to settle his effusiveness and focus in on the deeper reality of creation and death — all of His doing.

Grief often hits us hard, like a strong wave at the ocean, pulling us under and away from the shore. It makes it difficult to be present for the rest of life around us. However, when we allow grief to have its time, sit with it and see at as part of the story of creation, we become more grounded in existential purpose, what God is calling us to. Grieving helps to give us perspective on working toward connection and love.

The artist Benjamin Von Wong has amassed hundreds of thousands of straws to help us see the realities of some of our smallest choices. His wave, “strawpocalypse” installation in Vietnam was created with brushstrokes made from straws he and a team gathered over 6 months (not purchased). It overwhelms a person with its scale and might serve as a reminder to grieve the negative impact that thousands of small choices have on the earth’s biosphere and the humanity that is interrelated.

We all need physical reminders of the grief and loss cycle to feel that help us imagine the impact on our own lives and on the lives of others like us (aren’t they all like us?) in order to be called into action toward love.

Suggestions for action

Sit with the grief that you feel for the environmental degradation. Put into your mind the ugly sights of woundedness and death that are part of our thousands of small choices that we make everyday toward in our interrelationship with the biosphere. Let the grief wash over you like a wave and settle not into angry indignation but powerful action. Resist giving in to small gestures that amass to large consequences. Find the will to take small steps toward change for the common good.

Pray: Cry out to God, like Job. Wrestle with your frustration, hurt and anger. Then settle in to grief and pray, “Lord, be with me in my grief, be with me in my love for the world and all its inhabitants. Lord, help through this struggle, help me resist and help me choose love and connection over ease and convenience. Help me love the world.”

Today is Peter Waldo/St. Alexius Day. Honor our radical spiritual ancestors at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.

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