Monday, August 31, 2015

Psalm 72

Psalms for Praying
Nan C. Merrill 
Long may you live in our hearts,
may praises be sung to You.
May our prayers rise up before You
and blessings of love be 
freely rendered. 
May we be ever grateful for the 
grain of the fields, 
for the fruits of the vine
to be shared with all; 
And may the people blossom forth 
in the cities, 
like flowers in the meadow.

Blessed be the Beloved, the One 
who dwells in open hearts, 
who guides us along the way.  
Blessed be You, who come in the 
Name of Love;
may your glory fill the earth. 


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Psalm 71

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 

I praise you in the Silence 
of my heart, 
for your steadfast Love, 
O my Beloved; 
I offer prayers of gratitude, 
O Holy One of the universe.   
My heart leaps for joy, as 
I whisper to You in the night -
my soul also, which You 
renew within me. 
And I tell my friends  
as well as strangers
of your abounding grace 
and kindness.   
For my fears have diminished, 
my strength has returned;
I will live my remaining years in peace. 
Blessed be the Beloved, 
who dwells in all hearts!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Psalm 70

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill  
You take delight, O Radiant One, 
in gracing us with new life! 
O Beloved, come and renew us. 
Let us face our weaknesses 
and all that confuses us, 
that keeps us from joy. 
We seek forgiveness  
for our wrongdoings, 
we desire only You.       
Today's psalm has been adapted from the singular to the plural.  I think we wear purple and sunlight  rather well! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Yearning for a Table

August 23 was my last Sunday with New Community of Faith.  I found serving a church in Santa Clara county more and more difficult; I simply am not part of that community.  A pastor does need to at least live close to the community he or she serves.  While 45 miles is not much of a distance on Sunday mornings, those miles are very congested most of the week, and it is not unusual to need close to two hours to travel them one way.  New Community of Faith needed more than just a Sunday preacher.   
 Yet, there is something that I will miss very much about serving a small church.  I really loved Sunday mornings in the kitchen.  As I baked biscuits or scones, and put the finishing touches on a soup or salad, I thought of those I was cooking for. It became a special time of prayer as I pondered the joys and the concerns of the community.  I have said more than once that my next church should be a soup kitchen.  While I might not be ready for that undertaking, I will need to find a way to fulfill that need within me.    
Yesterday, I sat with some residents of an assisted living community that is struggling with staff turnover and low morale.  Our conversation turned to food.  One of the residents is of Portuguese descent, and she talked about how important food is to the Portuguese community.   We laughed and made ourselves quite hungry as we talked of cioppino and steamed crabs, and community gatherings around tables laden with salads and grilled meat.    
As I stood up to go talk to the activity director, Betsy, who is very ill, said, "Please keep coming back. We need these conversations."  I shall indeed keep coming back. I need them as well.    
Yet, for now, while it is somewhat still cool, I think I shall turn some aging bananas into a banana bread. As the wonderful hymn goes, "It's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer."  May we all be blessed to share our prayers and food today.   
Let me come once again to your Table, 
forgive all that separates me from You, 
that I might be made whole. 
Let me see with the heart's eye; 
let me hear through the heart's ear. 
Give me the sensitivity to hear your Word, 
and the courage to speak it. 
May my home become a house of prayer, 
that others might come to bask in your Presence. 
May those who have been oppressed and persecuted 
come and find safety and solace within its doors.  
Psalm 69
Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill  

Psalm 69

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill   
O Beloved, create within me 
a clean heart. 
Let me live simply, sharing what I have 
with those in need, 
that the abundance of your creation 
might be reflected. 
Let me speak out of the Silence, 
that through the words given, 
others will praise Your Name.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Psalm 68

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill   
O Comforter, 
let our fears be transformed; 
let all that keeps us separated  
and confused flee! 
As smoke is blown away, 
so let our fears rise up before You; 
as wax melts before fire, 
let our fears be melted by Love. 
Then we will be released from bondage; 
we will exult before the Beloved; 
we will be jubilant with joy.  
Yes, the Beloved will empower us 
with love, 
as we face the fears within. 
Love even whispers, 
"I will break down the walls of illusion, 
I will shatter the fears that bind, 
That you may walk in a new dawn, 
that you may dance with light hearts
and spread peace throughout the earth."  

Blessed be the Beloved.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Psalm 67

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
The Beloved is gracious to us
and blesses us; 
the Radiant One shines upon us. 
O, that Love's Way be followed 
in all the earth, 
Love's saving power among all 
the nations.  
May the people rejoice in You; 
may all people sing with gratitude 
to the Beloved.  

Holy God, may we hear your voice of Wisdom. Help us to remember that the difference between the quiet strength of wisdom and the clamorous din of arrogance is compassion.  Help us to remember that your saving power is for all.    

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Psalm 66

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 

I enter your house with gifts; 
I commend my soul into your keeping; 
all that my lips uttered and 
my mouth promised when 
I was in trouble and pain, 
I offer up to You; 
I abandon myself into your hands. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Psalm 65

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill  
Praise to You, O Indwelling Beloved, 
and to You we commit our lives, 
to You who hear our prayers.  
To You we come when we go astray; 
When our transgressions fill us with guilt, 
You do forgive us. 
Blessed are those who draw near to You,
those who dwell in Your Heart. 
Awaken us to your kindness, 
enter into Your Holy Temple, 
our heart. 
Through pain and suffering, your 
Presence sustains us, 
O Merciful One, our Comforter, 
You the hope of all the earth, and 
of the farthest seas; 
Who by your Light created the mountains, 
being guided by Love, 
You still the roaring of the seas, 
the pounding of waves, 
the tumult of the peoples; 
So that those who dwell even at the 
earth's outer bounds 
recognize and reverence You; 
At the rise of each morning, and 
as the sun sets at night, 
the people bow their heads 
in reverent gratitude. 
You visited the earth and slaked our thirst, 
offering Living Streams of water; 
You fed the hungry, 
and taught Love''s way. 
You watered hardened souls, 
filled with stone and weeds, 
softening them with kindness, 
and blessings their growth. 
You crowned your years with abandonment, 
inviting all to Eternal Life. 
In the desert flowers comes forth, 
the pastures flourish 
giving food to the poor, 
the valleys rise up. 
May all the peoples dance and sing 
together with joy.     
This is a very beautiful psalm filled with so many images that it was difficult to choose one.  If I have used this photograph before, please excuse.  However, I love its exuberance - a reminder that we are called to life. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Psalm 64

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill   
Let those who have awakened rejoice 
in the Beloved, 
let them celebrate with glad hearts. 
Let all who know Love give witness 
to our birthright.   
Finished up my ministry with New Community of Faith with the baptism of a long-time member.  Such a sweet moment of witness and testimony.  The party was nice, too!  I am grateful for it all.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Psalm 63

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
O Love, You are my Beloved, and 
I long for You, 
my soul thirsts for You; 
All that is within me thirsts, 
as in a dry and barren land 
with no water. 
So I have called out to You in my heart, 
sensing your power and glory. 
Because your steadfast love is Life to me, 
my lips will praise You. 
I would radiate your love  
as long as I live, 
becoming a blessing to others  
in gratitude to You.   
May it be so.   


Friday, August 21, 2015

These Times

Today, one of our long-time volunteers told me that it was time for him to retire from volunteering.  I knew this day was coming, but as the saying goes, I did not expect it today.  However, lately  I have been thinking about the volunteers with whom I am blessed to serve, so perhaps God has been preparing my heart. Perhaps. That does not take away the sorrow I feel.  But then, that is generally not what God does.  
When I first began serving in the ministry, I don't think I really thought too much about what it might mean to serve with volunteers over time.  I know I completely underestimated how deep the relationships could grow.  After all, some people I see only once a month. Yet, over the course of years, that is more than enough time to laugh, cry, wonder, pray, get frustrated, sing, hug, celebrate good news of all kinds, mourn, and cry all over again. I don't think I gave much thought to the fact that together we would face health challenges, spiritual challenges, and loss.  I certainly miscalculated how much I would need their laughter, their patience, and their encouragement.  And how much I could miss them, even in the first few minutes of their being gone.      
A young staff member came up to me after one of our services today, and just held on to me.  I put my arms around her.  She said, "Can we pray right now?"  I asked if she had a particular concern.  She quietly replied, "My life is falling apart."  So we held on to one another, and prayed.  We held on so tight, one might think we were in the midst of a hurricane.  She probably thought she was.  After the prayer, she paused for a few moments, said thank you, wiped her tears, and then set about once more gathering up the residents.  She asked if I were coming back.  I assured her that was certainly my plan.  Then one of the residents grabbed my hand and asked the same question, "Are you coming back?"  Again, I said yes.    
Of course, someday I will not be coming back.  However, in a ministry such as SpiritCare, the hope is that there will always be someone willing to step in and pray, hug, cry, and share all that human stuff that we need so much.  
And then, there is Sylvia, who today, after years (yes, years) of refusing communion, replied,"Yes, it is time."  
Maybe that is what ministry is really about:  showing up in this time, knowing that at times it will be confusing, and at times it will hurt, but mostly it is just about love.    
Just in time.  That is what God does.  

Psalm 62

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
For You alone my soul waits in silence; 
my hope is from the Beloved. 
Enfolding me with strength and steadfast love, 
my faith shall remain firm.  
In the Silence rests my freedom and my guidance; 
You are the Heart of my heart,
my refuge is in the Silence.   
Once You have spoken, 
twice I have heard;
Our potential gifts belong to You; 
to You, O Beloved, 
belongs our faithful love. 
For You render to us all that 
we offer to You - 
fear begets fear, 
love begets love.  
For You alone my soul waits in silence; 
from the Beloved comes my life. 
Holy God, Heart of my heart, and Soul of my soul, when the rowdy intruders of frustration, anger, and despair come banging and howling at the sanctuary door, help me to remember to quietly welcome them in. It is futile for me to try to hold them at bay, but together we can sit in your loving silence and be transformed into wholeness.  Help me to remember, O Holy One.  It is so easy to forget.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Psalm 61

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill 
Hear my cry, O Merciful One, 
listen to my prayer. 
From the depths of my being 
I call you You, 
for my heart is faint.   
Lead me to the Rock that 
is my strength, 
for You alone are my refuge, 
your steadfast love conquers 
my fears.   
Let me dwell in your Heart forever. 
Oh, to be safe under the shelter 
of your wings. 
For with mercy, You have heard my prayers.
You have shown me the heritage 
of those who know your Love.  
Commit my ways to my birthright, 
that I might be a co-creator through 
all generations. 
As I walk your path forever, 
fill me with abiding love 
and understanding. 
I shall sing praises and blessings
to your Name, 
as I abandon myself 
into your Heart day by day. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Psalm 60

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill  
O Beloved, why do I believe that 
I can separate myself from You?   
On Tuesday I was blessed to see dozens of these beautiful creatures darting about on a fence covered with blooming passion fruit and honeysuckle.  A reminder that, even now, we can make a way for all to thrive.  We are connected, so let us tend to one another with the love and care that God gives us.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Pause and a Prayer

Dear  Friends, 
I am having some issues with my computer, so I will try to finish up some work in the next couple of days and then off it goes to be repaired. It may be time to replace it.  Fortunately, when it comes to computers, my needs are fairly modest.  Regardless, I plan to be back with you at the end of next week, but as migrating birds might tell you, the journey can take longer than planned  Blessings to each of you in this time and always.       

As migrating birds fly directly 
to their winter homes, 
those who dwell with love 
are led to safe places. 
Instead of a house of fear, 
they live secure, 
giving thanks to the One 
who abides in their hearts forever.  

Nan C. Merrill, Meditations and Mandalas 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Psalm 59

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill   
And I will sing of your kindness; 
I will sing aloud of your
steadfast love. 
For You have been my Rock 
and my Refuge in the days 
of my distress. 
O my Strength, I will sing 
praises to You, 
for You, O Beloved, have 
renewed my life; 
You have set me free to live 
in gratitude and joy.     
I am grateful to start my day reading one of Merrill's renditions.  We are almost two months into this journey, and I do think I am bit more courageous because of it.  Lately, I have been thinking of this poem by Rumi.   While generally I do not wake up in fear, thank goodness, it is easy to get distracted almost immediately.  Schedules, emails, weird and troubling news on the internet are noisy contenders for our attention.

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

From The Essential Rumi, translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, 1995.   

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Psalm 58

Psalms for Praying 
Nan C. Merrill
O Beloved, open our eyes;
break through the darkness of 
our ignorance, 
tear down the walls of our fear. 

Awaken us to the interconnectedness of all beings, 
to all that fly and swim, 
to all that walk and crawl upon the earth. 
Those who know Love will rejoice as 
the nations learn to cooperate, 
as the peoples of earth recover 
their true heritage. 
People will say, "The time has come 
to dwell in peace and integrity; 
to walk together in the light 
of the Most High, 
Heart of the Universe.

A mighty river is polluted.  Communities are ripped by violence. Children go hungry.  Insults are hurled and guns are fired. Surely the time has come to find a a better way.   It is always there for us.