On Mothers’ Day at DCCRC there was a skit in which a couple’s electricity went out. The husband went to the closet for candles and found three (women with paper flames attached to their heads.) As he “lit” them, each turned around and spoke, asking to be left in the closet, giving excuses: the first needed to read and study more about various preparations and methods; the second was too busy meditating, enjoying her inner light; the third trilled her lines melodiously, “My gift is muuusic, not shining.”  She got all three singing “This Little Light of Mine” even as he blew each of them out and they turned around. The husband told his wife and they remembered, “Those candles were from a church that was closing.”

Maybe churches that only serve as sanctuaries (reliquaries?) for pious, studious, outstanding people need to close.

Why do we “go” to church, attend or participate in worship services?  To feel God’s face shining on us? Yes, but we can realize God’s blessing smile anywhere, anytime we recognize Holy Spirit fire magnifying our little light, anytime people see us reflecting (or see through us to) Jesus, the Light of the World. Hopefully this happens at church, as long as we’re not trying to outshine anyone.

Live music does help. Maybe there’s a connection between light and sound waves? In Mulled Words I recalled several “shine” songs from childhood. The green book, Sing! a new creation, has three contemporary favorites.

First, for a time of confession and assurance of pardon:

                           See my heart, for I repent; hear my humble plea to renew your covenant. Jesus, shine on me. In your mercy I implore, make the darkness flee. Heav’nly light upon me pour. Jesus, shine on me. New beginnings light my way toward eternity. Lead me in your light today. Jesus, shine on me. Shine on me, shine on me; Jesus, shine on me. Through the darkness of my heart, Jesus, shine on me.

For Epiphany Season (also on Fr. Tom Ryan’s yoga prayer DVD):

Blest are they, the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of God. Blest are they, full of sorrow, they shall be consoled. Blest are they, the lowly ones, — they shall inherit the earth. Blest are they who hunger and thirst, — they shall have their fill. Blest are they who show mercy, mercy shall be theirs. Blest are they, the pure of heart, — they shall see God. Blest are they who seek peace. They are the children of God. Blest are they who suffer in faith, — the glory of God is theirs. Blest are you who suffer hate, all because of me. Rejoice and be glad, yours is the kingdom; shine for all to see.  Rejoice! and be glad, blessed are you, holy are you, rejoice! and be glad! Yours is the kingdom of God.

And finally, also for Epiphany, a great praise song:

                          Lord, the light of your love is shining in the midst of the darkness, shining. Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us; set us free by the truth you now bring us: Shine on me. Lord, I come to your awesome presence, from the shadows into your radiance; by the blood I may enter your brightness; search me, try me, consume all my darkness: Shine on me. As we gaze on your kingly brightness, so our faces display your likeness, ever changing from glory to glory, mirrored here may our lives tell your story: Shine on me, shine on me. Shine, Jesus, shine, fill the land with the Father’s glory. Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire. Flow, river, flow, flood the nations with grace and mercy. Send forth your Word, Lord, and let there be light!


God’s gifts far surpass our receptivity. How can we grow as appreciative receivers? Friendship and marriage teach us receiving is not all passive; receiving is the complement not the opposite of giving. With God as with people can we become more gracious receivers, less mere receptacles, getters or takers?

Moses received the stone tablets of the law inscribed by God’s finger only after a 40-day mountaintop fast. By then he was ready to receive them not only physically but more importantly to listen, receive and accept their God-breathed message. Could solitude, being outdoors, and going without physical food increase receptivity to God?

Maybe sometimes for some people. Yet others receive the Word in crowds or where two or three are gathered, in prisons, hospitals, homes or churches, with full stomachs and even in conditions of extreme sensory overload.

Jesus is the key to clear reception. Listen: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And later: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses….to the ends of the earth.”

There is probably no image that expresses so well the intimacy with God in prayer as the image of God’s breath. We are like asthmatic people who are cured of their anxiety. The Spirit has taken away our narrowness (the Latin word for anxiety is angustia /narrowness) and made everything new for us. We receive a new breath, a new freedom, a new life. (Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out)

May we all be in training as wide receivers!


Deep in the soul minds, tongue-tied by remorse, “They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say”(Nehemiah 5:8).  Henri Nouwen wrote in The Way of the Heart,”Silence is the furnace of transformation.” In her book, Search for Silence, Elizabeth O’Connor links honest, humble confession with stillness. “What is our confession? It is that we do not know how to love.” Yes! In my quiet times, in turbulent insomnia, whenever I’m caught up in torrential word-storms, O God remind me: “If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”(1 Corinthians 13:1).

Preemptively the Prince of Peace addresses storm-surging brain waves: “Quiet! Be still!”(Mark 4:39).  Compassionately he invites crowd-stressed troubadours: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”(Mark 6:31). Sternly and again preemptively he commands schizoid demons: “Be quiet! Come out of him!”(Luke 4:35).

Blessed quietness, holy quietness, what assurance in my soul! On the stormy sea He speaks peace to me; how the billows cease to roll!

Master, the tempest is raging! The billows are tossing high! The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness, no shelter or help is nigh; carest Thou not that we perish? How canst Thou lie asleep, when each moment so madly is threat’ning a grave in the angry deep?                                  The winds and the waves shall obey My will. Peace, be still! Peace, be still! Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea, or demons, or men, or whatever it be, no water can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies; they all shall sweetly obey My will; Peace, be still! Peace, be still! They all shall sweetly obey My will: peace, peace, be still!

                        Bedtime                                                                    Can’t sleep, don’t know where to put my arms; can’t sleep, examining today’s charms. Will sleep — breathing uncongested. Can’t sleep, wishing I’d not said, done that. Will sleep — food, words, deeds digested. Like You slept in that storm-attacked boat I’ll sleep away in unseen arms.


May all who appeal to God publicly, as in yesterday’s National Day of Prayer or the World Day of Prayer on the first Friday in March, still sincerely honor Jesus’ counsel: “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen.”

Prayer is being soul-naked before God. If my words try to dress up my true self or if my prayers aren’t backed up with actions, they only separate me from the One to whom I pray as well as from those for and with whom I pray.

Mom has been my most faithful prayer supporter and partner throughout my life. When we were very young she started writing “messages” to each of her children. As we became adults she gave them to us and kept writing letters, now emails at least weekly. In her first message to me she wrote:

I pray for you and the other children so much. While I am young and have my own experiences fresh in my mind, I want to tell you, from time to time what comes to my mind as I work and pray. May these messages, if you some day read them, be used by God to help, strengthen, and encourage you when you are lonely or in trouble. You are just 4 years old now. Tonight you heard me read your Sunday School lesson about storing up treasures in heaven. We can do this by much prayer, by loving and helping others, and by giving of our money to the Lord. You said, “When I help you, Mommy?” Yes, the Lord will reward in heaven when we “store up these treasures.” Tonight you asked to pray the hymn, “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us.” In whatever circumstances you may be, this prayer will give you joy, Margie.

Tomorrow Mom and I will pray over the phone over the week’s joys and sorrows as usual. Tonight Jim and I will pray for each of our (now 8 as we count spouses) children and two grandchildren as usual. We pray for others too, people in need whom God brings to our attention in many ways. We pray for each other and for ourselves, knowing “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Prayer can come alive in new ways with each new season of life according to each person’s needs. In yoga, centering and body prayer the Spirit takes me beyond words in adoration, humility and contemplation.  In journaling, writing out daily prayers of thanksgiving, confession and petition for his eyes alone, Jesus has become my best friend. In researching online I discovered Praying in Color and am eager to plunge back into visual arts.