Mar 24 2013

A Prayer Booklet for Holy Week

With Palm Sunday, we enter into the Passion week, a Holy Week, remembering the Lord’s final days and building in anticipation toward the Resurrection.

For the world, this is much like any other week, and paradoxically, for ministers and others working in Christian contexts, it can be a week with little time for prayer and reflection.

To counter-act what feels like a break-neck race to Easter, I long to pause and rest in ‘unforced rhythms of grace’; to walk with Jesus through these days and let his Spirit transform my DNA; to practice a new way of thinking by remembering my small story in the midst The Story; to be patient on the hard days before the Glory, even as I learn to be patient in the whole of an often Holy Saturday life.

We live in death. We see it all around.

We live in-between. We are residents of  the Now but Not yet of the coming Kingdom. We live in that moment of baptism, under the water, the moment between death and resurrection.

Yet we also live resurrected in promise and hope, taking in that wonderful first gasp of earthly air as we rise from the baptismal water. One day we will take in that full sweet heavenly breath as we rise with Jesus.

I’m a rushing wind through life right now, a whirlwind of activity blowing through, a Tasmanian Devil of the old cartoons, and I’m not remembering to breathe earth’s air, and even less of heaven.

Last night at 3am, I woke to blessed silence and lit a candle and made some tea and journalled the Spirit’s prayer in me: Your life is wonderful–two awesome jobs and a wonderful community–but it is not sustainable. Pray and reflect, but use your night hours to sleep and learn to pause during the day. 

Let Me be the wind and you breathe Me.

I’ve read enough books on prayer and gotten myself into this kind of pickle too many times to know that pausing in the midst of being a one-woman tornado of activity is easier said than done.

But I also know that our rich prayer tradition offers centuries of helps for just such a situation.

One way to pause, to mark the days and hours of Holy Week, or any week, is to join with the wider Church in the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours. For centuries, the Office was the prayer of  Benedictine monks and sisters, but then the Office moved into the lives of laypeople.

This week I will take a couple moments to pause and pray the Hours. Would you join me?

Here is a simple Liturgy of the Hours  for Morning, Noon, and Compline prayer, starting with Palm Sunday evening.  It offers a pattern based on the full Liturgy of the Hours, some simple chants, and scripture passages from The Message translation of the Bible.

I invite you to mark this week with me as different from the world’s calendar, to enter into the Now, but Not Yet, to pause and rest, and breathe in the wind of the Spirit as we are caught up in our Savior’s story.


If you want to print the PDF, select the file and choose booklet settings on your printer. It should print two pages horizontally on  8.5 x 11 paper in the proper order so you can fold and staple it. Or enjoy it as a digital prayer book on your phone or tablet.


Oct 21 2011

{Day 21} Friday Florilegium

In honor of hearing Eugene Peterson speak at Seattle Pacific University Thursday evening, today’s florilegium quote is from his book, The Contemplative Pastor:

What does it mean to be a pastor? If no one asked me to do anything, what would I do?…

I can be a pastor who prays. I want to cultivate my relationship with God. I want all life to be intimate–sometimes consciously, sometime unconsciously–with the God who made, directs, and loves me. And I want to waken others to the nature and centrality of prayer. I want to be a person in this community to whom others can come without hesitation, without wonder if it is appropriate, to get direction in prayer and praying. I want to do the original work of being in deepening conversation with the God who reveals himself to me and addresses me by name. I don’t want to dispense mimeographed (!) handouts that describe God’s business; I want to witness out of my own experience. I don’t want to live as a parasite on the first-hand spiritual life of others, but to be personally involved with all my senses, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.

I know it takes time to develop a life of prayer; set-aside, disciplined, deliberate time. It isn’t accomplished on the run, nor by offering prayers from a pulpit or at a hospital bedside. I know I can’t be busy and pray at the same time. I can be active and pray; I can work and pray; but I cannot be busy and pray. I cannot be inwardly rushed, distracted or dispersed. In order to pray I have to be paying more attention to God than to what people are saying to me; to God than to my clamoring ego. Usually, for that to happen there must be a deliberate withdrawal from the noise of the day, a disciplined detachment from the insatiable self.

Jan 3 2011



Toward the end of the year, I start to reread my journals from past Decembers and Januaries–comparing what I was thinking and feeling then with life now.

It’s always humbling because I find I write the same things, struggle with the same questions, or learn the same lessons over and over, just in different situations.  After an hour or so of reading, I’m utterly tired of myself and imagine a big bonfire of burning journals.

This year was different. Well, I still got tired of the monologue, but rather than being saddened by the broken record of my journals, I was comforted that God sticks with me and keeps speaking, keeps forgiving, keeps showing possibilities in every moment. I’m starting to see my journals as a 25-year record of God’s faithfulness in the midst of my often melodramatic prose.

I also saw that there were certain resolutions that didn’t make it on the official lists, but were quiet and patiently relentless in the background. These were the ones that survived past January.

Two years ago, starting The Contemplative Cottage, was one of those resolutions that didn’t really feel like a resolution. Yet, if I were to list influential practices of the last two years, submitting to the blank page of the blog post is one of the most important.  The call to write, to reflect on contemplative living, to share gratitudes, knowing you are reading, has been a life-changing discipline. Receiving your comments and emails have spurred me on.


At the same time I started writing here, I started taking digital photos–ostensibly for the blog posts. I discovered a whole new world of light and color and way of seeing God’s creation and people, that still stuns me and fills me with awe.  Photography didn’t make it on my list of resolutions that year, but nonetheless, its impact has seeped into every corner of my life.

Photography made it into my prayer–“God, use this joy, please.”

Taking photos has become a way I worship God.  The surprises and joys keep coming.  This Lent, I’ve been invited to be Artist-in-Residence at St Paul’s Episcopal Church, taking photos in response to the Sunday lectionary texts and sharing them in worship. I cannot begin to describe the JOY and the wonderful-terrified-humbled feeling at being given this gift.

I’m also praying about how I might combine photography and short-term missions, a direction that could literally take me anywhere in the world. Joy. Wonderful-terror.

As I read my journals, I began to see a larger pattern in how I approached  life.  The main tasks, such as exams or dissertation writing, I lived in opposition to, so my resolutions were mostly about what I was going to do to take control and get things done.  But then there was  a whole world of un-resolutions, from which God’s cultivating hand brought fruit–joy and grace and LOVE.


While I needed to take some action, there was an indirectness about it all,

a certain hidden grace-full-ness.

Eugene Peterson talks about the relationship between work and grace.  Whatever task before us that God has placed in our lives can be a container for His grace. A concrete action, gift, task, or situation, can become a way to experience God’s grace operating in our lives and in the world.

The blog writing, the photography…I got out of the way and these became containers for grace. And God’s grace does amazing, joyful and transformative things when we let it.

What would it be like to live this way? What it would it mean to approach all of life like these quiet but relentlessly patient un-resolutions?


To get in on the action, but out of the way of God’s grace.

To no longer live in opposition to life,

write no more take-control-lists,

but bring it all in worship to the foot of the Throne,

and see what God does….

(to be continued!)


Today, I am thank-full:

God’s faithfulness through the years. And the un-resolution of 25 years ago to start journaling, so today I have a record of His faithfulness and patience.

God’s grace and all the containers He fills to overflowing.

A new way to think about the dissertation writing….as worship!

My camera, every single day.

My parents singing to me on New Year’s.

Young Jack singing to me O Come All Ye Faithful, two verses memorized!

The community of St Paul’s Episcopal and their faithful welcome.

Dec 13 2010



A quiet day of sunshine, writing and prayer…deep in Advent waiting, working on my dissertation and cooking a batch of soup.

“Instead of asking why the help has not come, the person at prayer learns to look carefully at what is actually going on in his or her life,… and ask, ‘Could this be the help that God is providing?'” (Eugene Peterson, Earth and Altar, 76)

Meditating on this poem by Teilhard de Chardin as I write:

    Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
    We are quite naturally impatient in everything
    to reach the end without delay.
    We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
    We are impatient of being on the way
    to something unknown,
    something new.
    Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
    by passing through some stages of instability
    and that may take a very long time.

    And so I think it is with you.
    Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
    Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
    Do not try to force them on
    as though you could be today what time
    — that is to say, grace —
    and circumstances
    acting on your own good will
    will make you tomorrow.
    Only God could say what this new spirit
    gradually forming in you will be.

    Give our Lord the benefit of believing
    that his hand is leading you,
    and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
    in suspense and incomplete.

In gratitude for….
Sunshine after a pouring rain weekend.

Singing in the Bethany choir and the little community we are.

Words. No matter how much I wrestle, I still love them.

Lovely dinner with Anna, Maggie, and Erin at a yummy vegan restaurant, Plum. Who knew faux cheese could taste so good?

Delightful conversations at church yesterday.

Ornament making with Jack and Jane, with Sam and Alex.

Glitter–everywhere, especially in hair as a shimmery crown.
A wonderful sermon on Peace.

An interim pastor comes January 10th!

The worship song, Hear us, a prayer for when I don’t know what else to do except pray.

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