Blog Break

I will be away from the blogging habit for a while.  I hope to fill in posts during the next year with a monthly rant at a minimum.  I’ll be writing a lot of non-public writing as part of the residency in clinical pastoral education.  And between my other classes, a new peer group, and church work, I won’t be able to give you access to my scattered ramblings on the blog.

I did have other hopes.  But my limits are clear.

Take care until later, blog of mine.

A Prayer For All Our School Starts

O God, you know “our ends from our beginnings” as my elders used to say.  You know our downsittings and our uprisings.  Our futures belong to you.  Our futures are with you.

Look ahead into this year and bless us with all the growth that would make you look good and make us look more like who we really are.

You know that this year will have shifts for us, changes to our schedules, and that we’ll need you, it seems, more than before.  We submit to you and how you’ll work through the long pulling that will come.

Call us and speak to us and journey with us.  Live in and through us so that we might bring light into darkness.

Give us grace that we might be full of love.  May our days begin and end with you and be punctuated by love and grace.

Where we will learn to write this year, give us ready pens and appointed words.  May the strokes coming from our fingers spell words that cause ourselves and others to flourish.

Where we will learn to count this year, make us ready to notice things, to add things to our lives what you bring and to patiently suffer through any subtraction for the loss it will be.

When we learn to work with others, make us prepared and mature enough to reconcile, to be humble, to practice silence even if it’s only holding that last word or that convincing, if sharp, retort.

When we listen, slow us down and open us to be so generous that what things people say and write and live become gifts which we cherish and steward and protect.

And finally, may you grant us these particulars:

That Bryce may have a fun year, one full of learning leaps like last time, loving his teachers and developing friendships with his classmates and collecting all those good words we say about him as a brilliant, beautiful, beloved boy.

May you grant Dawn the repeated remarkable brilliance of all her previous courses, giving her the steady help she needs as she prepares and sits for her comprehensive exam.

May you go with me daily into the learning rooms of the seminaries, into the peer work and ministry in the hospital, and into the regular course of growth that is my church ministry.

May we labor for you and with you and may we be marked with memorable moments we’ll never forget.  Will you change us for the better, sweetening me, preserving the best natures of my wife and son, and turning us continually toward you as a family.

For us all, give us an abiding sense of your presence, reminders of your unfailing nature, comments and signposts along each path that you are active, boldly bringing about healing for people, growth in us, and justice for the world.

Amen.

Among Many Tasks

The fall will bring a slightly different schedule for me.  The whole thing holds together and will open me to new ways of deepening my vocation and the little works which make up my vocation.  I’ll be doing a lot, and I’m looking forward to it.

Perhaps it seems inappropriate to hold this poem on this blog, but it seems a striking reminder for me as a parent.  In the end, as I see it and believe it and imagine it, all our small works turn to one task of continued self-surrender, continued dying.

That dying sits at the bottom of my faith, though that bottom would quickly, almost too effortlessly, be named as living.  That eternal life only comes after one has regularly and daily passed through the gates of death.  Life comes from death, says the One we follow.  May this poet’s words be a reminder of these things to me:

Among Many Tasks

Among many tasks

very urgent

I’ve forgotten that

it’s also necessary

to be dying

frivolous

I have neglected this obligation

or have been fulfilling it

superficially

beginning tomorrow

everything will change

I will start dying assiduously

wisely optimistically

without wasting time

Tadeusz Rozewicz (From The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry)

Keep Going

It is a powerful thing.  May it never cripple you.

It is a present visitor, even if it’s deep under your skin, deeper than your muscles, your bones.  May you always find its root.

It can be an enemy that takes you by the feet and pulls you down into the ground and below the dirt.  May your strength be better than its grip.Looking Up

I’m talking about fear, son.  May you rise above fear, each fear, and may it only be a good teacher to you.  May fear be your best inspiration.

I thought of you when I heard all the cheering for the Jackie Robinson West team today.  Named and unnamed people congratulated them for their win, for their courage, for their consistent and elegant boyishness.

And I considered your future and how you would be like those boys, triumphant after having practiced and worked and played a game for fun and for sport and for your own sake.

ReachingI remember when I couldn’t cajole you into reaching for this sliding contraption, when you only looked at it with something like confusion or wonder or fear in your eyes.  And look at you, growing beyond what once made you afraid.

Keep going.  Keep looking up.  Keep being guided by your mother and me.  Keep doing what seems out of reach.