God In My Lips

God in my life,     God in my lips,     God in my soul,     God in my heart.

[For the complete prayer, click Prayers from the Hebrides above.]

O Lord,  I need your presence not just in the words that slip so easily past my lips, but in my lips themselves. Unspoken things pass through my lips, for good or ill.

May my smile be genuine, and my compassion for your world always in my expressions.

Keep me from those subtle clicks and noises, the puffs of air that offer judgement and lack all courtesy. 

Keep me grateful for the gift of words and expression, and aware of the power they have to wound as well as heal. 

God in my lips. Please.

God In My Life

God in my life,           God in my lips,     God in my soul,     God in my heart.

Wednesday, October 14

My two sons are on the last leg of a five day, cross country drive. Last Saturday morning, my husband and I stood in the driveway and waved them good-bye. Once inside our home, I realized that this five day stretch would be the longest time we’d been by ourselves at home in almost twenty-three years. Sure, we’ve been away for some days here and there, but not at home together. Together with only each other has been the exception since having children – and what Dave calls a preview of things to come.  This will end in a couple of days when our younger son flies back to resume his virtual classes at UMass, Boston. But even when neither son lives with us full time, they will always be in our lives.

Nothing can alter their presence in my life because they have taken root within its geography and chronology.

My grandmother Grace used to say that having a child meant one thing: you’ll never draw another free breath. I don’t think she meant it in a burdensome way – just fully aware that there’s not undoing it when another life enters your own.

I doubt God has drawn a free breath since life itself came to be. God in my life, to be sure. Just as true, though: my life in God.

The same goes for you, too.

And every other member of God’s beloved creation.


God in my hoping

The small park across from my grandparents’ house had seven trees – tall, with limbs just low enough to reach, strong enough to bear my weight, offering a few comfortable places to sit and enjoy the view. I loved the climbing, and I loved taking in my own little piece of the world from a leafy perch. The rough feel of bark and the constant, gentle swaying were so different from my usual feet-on-the-unbending-ground reality. Mindfulness was a tree climbing requirement; carelessness was rewarded with a quick and sometimes painful return to the dust of the earth. I loved the trees all the more for spending time in their embrace, and I loved the ground all the more for spending time away from it.

Some people may consider hoping just day-dreaming, wishing against all good sense that gravity won’t shatter the ideas we throw into the air. I think it’s much more tangible. Hoping is tree climbing. It’s making an effort to leave behind the well-trodden ground and usual vantage point, to find a resting place that bends and sways and moves me even when I am at rest. True hoping requires mindfulness if it is to be more than wishing. But like climbing a tree, it offers something for the effort: love for the time spent in its lofty embrace, and greater love for the grounded daily life for being away from it. If it ends in greater love for the effort, God is in my hoping indeed.

[Photos by Jared Fredrickson]


Prayers from the Hebrides: Watching

God in my sleeping, God in my waking,

God in my watching, God in my hoping.

I’m sure it wasn’t the original intention, but asking God to be in my watching brings screen time to mind. How would my life change if I allowed God into that time? Would I fill my time with violent images, insulting speech, and all the ads that come along for the ride?

Why is it that I invite God in my watching when I am reading, working, walking, and weeding – but I haven’t done the same for my screen time?

With cold weather on its way and a pandemic keeping me at home, it’s time to send God that invitation.

Waking Up

God in my sleeping, God in my waking, God in my watching, God in my hoping. 

[For the full prayer, click Prayers of the Hebrides above]

It doesn’t happen often, waking up in the middle of the night. A combination of seasonal allergy sniffles, ambulance sirens, and an upcoming project had me awake at 3am a few days back. After half an hour of trying to get back to sleep, I gave in and got up.  At 5:30am, I finally dozed off, adding another hour to my night’s sleep.

I wish I could say that I did something productive with that 2+ hours of being awake, but I didn’t. I watched the end of a movie I’d already seen, then flipped back and forth between ER reruns and Guy Fieri’s Triple D. I didn’t commit to sleep and I didn’t commit to waking: I just passed the time, waiting for my yesterday to end and my new day to begin.

When I wake up in the morning, I say the same prayer: God, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. In all things, help me to rely upon thy holy will. In every hour of the day, reveal thy will to me….Why didn’t I do the same when waking in the middle of the night? If I’m honest, I’d say that I didn’t have God penciled in. Between sleeping and my scheduled waking time, God showed up, as always. I just didn’t open the door.

[Sunrise in Plymouth Photo by Donna Eby]


Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

God in my sleeping, God in my waking,

God in my watching, God in my hoping.

[For the whole prayer, click Prayers From the Hebrides above.]

God In My Sleeping

Sleep is where we work out what’s been lying heavy on our hearts, minds, and souls. In a dreamscape, our minds aren’t quite so narrow, and we can take a swim in the creative sea of images common to humanity – the collective unconscious. Sometimes, solutions come from this deep place, surfacing in our conscious when we are ready for them.

The usual rules don’t apply in our world of sleep. We don’t have the same boundaries, and our sense of self is, perhaps, just a bit more permeable and open to change. But that openness might be to darkness just as much as it is to light.

If I need God anywhere, it’s when I am open to things in this deep, deeply human land we call sleep. No matter how old, I’m young enough to pray this child’s prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

Angels guard me through the night (If I die before I wake),

And wake me in the morning light (I pray the Lord my soul to take.).


What Am I Thinking?

God In My Thinking

There’s a spiritual exercise that a professor of mine used to recommend: every time you encounter another person, visualize Christ in the space in between – the space that connects or divides that is normally thought of as empty. For her, it was a way to remember that there are no meetings that occur in a world absent of God.

Asking God to be in my thinking is asking a lot more than God’s presence in my behavior. I can think all kinds of awful things about someone and still act with kindness. It would be an act, of course – my inner reality would still be harsh, critical, and judgmental.

God in my thinking places my mind within God’s grace and love, and asks that something of that grace and love be the foundation of what goes on within it.  Without such a foundation, my keenest thoughts and most creative ideas can be used for ill as easily as for good.

 [Image by Margaret Hill]

God, preserve me from intellect without love. And preserve the world, too. Amen.

God In My Speaking

God to enfold me,          God to surround me,         

God in my speaking,          God in my thinking.

[The Eye of the Eagle, David Adam; London, United Kingdom: Triangle, 1990, p. 83]

God in my speaking: not just in the words that come from my mouth, but the ones that come from my pen/keyboard. It’s easy to forget that words may have unintended consequences as well as intended ones. Kind words, loving words – even taken out of context, they do no harm. The same cannot be said of harsh words, insulting words. Neither kind can be taken back. I would do well to remember this.

May my speaking be sincere. May my humor be without rancor or bitterness. May the words of my mouth and the words of my fingers be acceptable in thy sight. Please, God.


God To Surround Me

What surrounded me today?  Images on screens, traffic, Ikea shoppers, clothes on the drying racks.

What surrounded you?

I wish I had taken the time to ask for God’s presence in what I saw on various screens, on routes 495 and 24, in the aisles at Ikea, and in my bedroom. But I didn’t.

Lucky for me, God is willing to work with what’s here rather than waiting for the state of my soul to improve.

That’s true for everyone,  including you.

Thank God.

The Deer’s Cry, The Pilgrim, Rita Connolly, Shaun Davey, 1994

The Notorious RBG

She didn’t set fashion trends, but she did change her collar in coordination with her opinion. She went to law school when women just didn’t do that. In the past few years, she was the subject of several books and a couple of films. One of her best friends and coworkers held radically different views, something that made them both better professionally and personally. She died a few days ago.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for the rights of those who most needed a champion. She faced strong opposition, but managed to stand her ground with dignity and with respect. She made constitutional law interesting.

The world is a better place for her passion and compassion.

Check out these books about her life and work:

Levy, Debbie; I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams; My Own Words

Kathleen Krull; No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Marc Cohn; The Things We’ve Handed Down

Moving into God’s presence through words