Sep 30 2011

Friday Florilegium

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This past week, dealing with job searching and rejection letters, a Patty Griffin song has been my companion. The song speaks about Mary, a woman who lived with uncertainty and loss, yet even now, her presence of faith and strength shines. I’m reminded that there are greater forces at work, that we are all surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

Mary’s role in my life was solidified long before I knew about doctrines. She led me to Jesus through the cross on a sky blue rosary when I was 4 years old and, without a doubt, praying the rosary helped me through my high school years. When I happen upon little wooded prayer spaces, like the one above at Seattle University, I feel her presence encouraging me to take a deep breath and remember what is important.

Protestant or Catholic perspectives aside, she birthed and raised the Savior for the life of the world, and lived through all the joy and sorrow that calling entailed. I believe she is somehow still involved in mothering the world and pointing the way to Jesus.

And even more, Jesus would have first learned to pray by her example, so I figure that if I can ask my friends for prayer, then I can ask for hers.

(If you would like to listen, turn off the Music for Dreaming to the right, and then click here.)

Mary by Patty Griffin

Mary you’re covered in roses, you’re covered in ashes
You’re covered in rain
You’re covered in babies, you’re covered in slashes
You’re covered in wilderness, you’re covered in stain
You cast aside the sheet, you cast aside the shroud
Of another man, who served the world proud
You greet another son, you lose another one
On some sunny day and always stay, Mary
Jesus says Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer
Flys right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary, she moves behind me
She leaves her fingerprints everywhere
Every time the snow drifts, every time the sand shifts
Even when the night lifts, she’s always there

Jesus said Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer
Flys right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary you’re covered in roses, you’re covered in ruins
you’re covered in secrets
You’re covered in treetops, you’re covered in birds
who can sing a million songs without any words
You cast aside the sheets, you cast aside the shroud
of another man, who served the world proud
You greet another son, you lose another one
on some sunny day and always stay
Mary

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Friday Florilegium 1



Sep 2 2011

Friday Florilegium

This week I reread David Hansen’s book, Long Wandering Prayer. Eight years ago, when I first read it, it drastically changed how I approached my “quiet time.”  The common understanding of prayer as only a silent, mental exercise disconnected from the body bored me terribly and seemed so artificial. My best times of prayer have always been while wandering city, hills, forests, and meadows. Hansen’s book gave me the freedom to embrace this way of praying, a way I had been praying since childhood, but never felt fit in the quiet time box.

If you find that prayer seems dull or disconnected from your life, I invite you to walk your prayer–wander your house, your neighborhood, your church building, and pray with your eyes open. Pay attention to what you see and let it lead you into prayer. Pay attention to the sounds, the noisyness of life, and let the Spirit speak to you through the noise. Kids are best at having noisy times with God. Pray with a young person in your life. Dance. Talk out loud to God. Talk back to God. If you need some inspiration, try reading a couple psalms–the psalmists loved to pray with their eyes open and use the created world for prayer images, and they also were not shy in talking to God!

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From Long Wandering Prayer by David Hansen:

“The body matters in prayer, as does the physical world around us. We know this yet many of us understand prayer as an exercise in which we should ideally subdue, quiet or otherwise discipline the body so that it reamins dormant while we engage in the spirtual exercise of prayer. There is no question about the fact that prayer is a spiritual exercise. Prayer is in its very essence our soul in communion with the Spirit of God.

The fallacy lies in the idea that the body must be subdued in order for the soul to commune with the Spirit of God.  The very term quiet time (the fullest term being quiet time with God) implies this very thing–that we go to a quiet place and quiet the body so that we can be with God in quiet. Why can’t we call it noisy time? Why can’t we call in moving time? Why can’t we say, ‘I had a great noisy time with God this morning.’ I know of no biblical mandate for quiet time. For me, quiet time always turns into sleepy time. I think what we have be calling quiet time should really, be termed alone time.

Doesn’t Jesus tell us to pray in our prayer closet alone? Indeed. He tells us, “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’ (Mt 6:6) Jesus tells us to pray in secret, not in quiet. How quiet would that room be? He was probably referring to the pantry or storage room of a small house. The house filled with children, animals, neighbors, and street noise would have provided precious little quiet time. However, alone in the pantry, hearing the glorious cry of a child at play, the parent might well have prayed more fervently for that child than if they had been praying in an insulated room.

Did not Jesus go to the mountain to pray? Absolutely. When did you last pray on a mountain? I prayed on a mountain yesterday, alone. Birds whistled, the river roared, the wind howled, and my heart thumped as I climbed the mountain. Alone with God, I felt quite free to speak out loud. It was not quiet–and my body was not subdued…

Doesn’t it say ‘Be still, and know that I am God’ (Ps 46:10)? Yes, it does.  But in the context of Psalm 46 the injunction means ‘be still’ in the presence of war’s violent destruction and mountains that are shaking and falling into the heart of the sea. It means to be still in the midst of chaos.”

Friday Florilegium 1


Aug 12 2011

Friday Florilegium

On a recent visit to the Seattle Art Museum, I enjoyed their exhibit, “Beauty and Bounty,” featuring 19th century west coast landscapes by artists such at Albert Bierstadt, George Inness, and Frederic Edwin Church. These paintings were instrumental in gaining support for conservation projects and the formation of national parks.

Mountains Albert Bierstadt

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. –J. Lubbock

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Happiness is sharing a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry with a shade tree.  He doesn’t eat much and doesn’t read much, but listens well and is a most gracious host.  –Terri Guillemets

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Nature has spread for us a rich and delightful banquet. Shall we turn from it? We are still in Eden; the wall that shuts us out of the garden is our own ignorance and folly. –Thomas Cole

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A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.  But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.  Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves.  No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself. –John Muir

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Friday Florilegium 1


Jul 29 2011

Friday Florilegium

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I’ve listened to and sung this hymn for years, but recently, it finally took up residence in that deep space of my heart where only a few songs gain entrance.

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

(Rev. Maltbie Babcock, 1901, wrote this song inspired by a place he would hike in Lockport, NY)

Friday Florilegium 1


May 7 2011

Friday Florilegium

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A florilegium of quotes, some snippets of what I’ve been reading this week….

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run , that ye may obtain.”   –1 Cor 9:24 (from my hundred year old King James. Ah! The romance of an old bible!)

“When I meditate on the annunciation and try to find my place in it–for I am convinced that we all experience our own small annunciations–I wonder what I would do if I found an angel waiting in my kitchen as I burst through the door, already late in starting dinner. Or lounging in my study when I need to write a lecture for tomorrow morning. Or already sitting in the taxi when I am on my way to the airport. I would be tempted to say, ‘but you haven’t made and appointment. You should have called first. I ‘d love to oblige, but this just isn’t a good time. Maybe later…’ But annunciations cannot be scheduled in advance…The angel–whatever form the bearer of tumultuous tidings might take–rarely carries a lily and practically never appears at a convenient time or place. Like Mary, as I imagine her, we would be quite happy to continue in our decent ordinariness. And yet the greeting comes: Hail, O favored one. Make a place for him within you. Get ready for your tranquility to be shattered. put yourself aside, let your life be changed.”  –Margaret Guenther, The Practice of Prayer (one of the best books on prayer I’ve ever read!)

“What do you want your home to be? What does God want it to be? Waste no time wondering if you can do it. The question is simply, Will you? Your weakness is itself a potent claim on divine mercy.” –Elisabeth Elliot, The Shaping of a Christian Family

“Our true aim must not be to work much, and have prayer enough to keep the work right, but to pray much and then to work enough for the power and blessing obtained in prayer to find its way through us to [all people].–Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer

“I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use and that He found me.”  –Hudson Taylor (It’s been over 20 years since I wrote my undergrad history thesis on missions in China, Hudson Taylor and Gladys Aylward. Their witness never fails to inspire me.)

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” –Hudson Taylor

If you have quotes or verses that you’ve been reflecting on, please share them in the comments!

Friday Florilegium 1


Apr 15 2011

Friday Florilegium

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“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.”

–James Michner

Friday Florilegium 1

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