A Prayer for Unresponsiveness

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God who wound nerves throughout our bodies and gave us a “central computer” to connect our mind, body, and spirits, there are patient souls sitting bedside in hospital room chairs wondering and waiting to see if their loved ones will wake up.

These family and friends were just fine a day or two ago… and now they are a shadow of themselves. An accident or illness marred their brain health and function.  No matter what words or commands are given, they rest nearly lifeless.

And then there’s waiting… and testing… and waiting more.

For the waiting, we pray for patience. For decisions that may need to be made, we pray for clarity. For losses that may result, we pray for peace.

God, you run with us at our most active. You recline with us at our most unresponsive. No matter the state of our body, our soul is always alongside of you.

Amen.

*****

On September 18, my dad died unexpectedly. In his final days he was unresponsive due to a lack of oxygen to the brain after a cardiac arrest. This prayer was written remembering our needs and knowing other families are facing similar experiences.

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A Prayer as I Remember That Moment

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God who abides fully in the present,
I keep recalling that moment in my mind.

You know the one – the phone call.
The five thirty am buzzing which jolted me awake,
Wondering why and who and why again as I stirred from sleep.

Deciding I needed to pick it up because five-one-three numbers at five-thirty aren’t wrong numbers.
Thinking that it was him just calling because he was awake in his room,
And for one split second not wanting to deal with an early morning conversation.

For that moment, God, I am deeply sorry.

Oh how now I wish it was dad wanting a five-thirty am phone conversation.
How I would sacrifice an entire night of sleep for that discussion.

How I would rather have heard his voice saying “I just wanted to call” rather than the nurse informing me “his condition has changed.”

How I would have rather heard his voice asking me if I was awake rather than a stranger ask me if I wanted him intubated.

How that moment the last remaining garments of childhood which I still wore my soul stopped fitting.  How the tables turned and I was the one who made the decisions about his well being.

How the summertime of my life ended and the gray days of autumn begun.  How the warmth of daylight turned into the cold shadows of night.

Yes, God, that moment turned into all of this for me.  Innocence lost.  Childhood firmly found in the rearview mirror.  Daughterhood shifted.

God, there is little you can do for me to change my memory of that moment.  But, if you can, fill my soul with a little additional peace each time I remember it.

In time, this moment will lose some of its intense chill.  And maybe I’ll find a new level of innocence.

Amen.

A Prayer After Grief’s Trigger-Full Day

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God of the rising flood waters, yesterday was a day full of triggers.

It was the anniversary of his rapid decline. And a hospital visit three doors down from his room. And a conversation about what a father of the bride would wear at the wedding.

Intense sessions of crying drowned parts of my day. Yet tear after tear, I made it through.

Yesterday proved I’m nothing less than resilient. But I’m strong because you are my partner in this, God.

There will be more of these days ahead, and my lamenting may melt my heart. There will be evenings that linger forever as each tomorrow seems to delay its arrival.

But morning will appear. And the sun will break through morning’s densely hovering fog.

And you will be with me.

Amen.

A One-Month Prayer

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Divine Crafter of Time and Space,
It’s been a month.

Now, I know that it hasn’t been a full month since he breathed his last breath,
Or the last beat of his heart,
Or the very last time I saw him “alive,”
But a month ago we lost the him we knew and a life of familiarity.

We lost his laughter and his political grumblings,
The ability to ask him one more time what the Tin-Man symbolized in the Wizard of Oz,
As well as questions we never knew to ask him beforehand.

We lost his voice.
Of course, we have recordings from the past thirty years-
Videotapes from birthdays and Christmases.  Even a Facebook video or two on a needed Civics lesson.
But recordings, though sacred, just aren’t the same.

One month ago today,
I lost the blessing of receiving his hugs
And his constant reminders to gargle with saltwater
And to get my oil changed and have all of the fluid levels checked.

I lost the ability to see his eyes not only open
But look and interact with the people surrounding him.

His spirit ascended while we were left to descend into the valley of grief.

So until I can climb out of this valley under the dome of cloud-filled skies,
God grant me the strength I need to take life 15 minutes at a time.

Someday, we will find ourselves on even land again,
Even occasionally making our ways to mountaintops.
It will be a bittersweet journey upward and onward,
As I realize Your strength and his love are on this pilgrimage with me.

Amen.

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A Blunt Prayer in Grief’s Spiritual Block

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Hi God…

Where in the hell are you???

Seriously.

(I’m truly sorry to be so curt. I know you are here. In my mind, I know you are. I keep telling myself this over and over.)

But I must ask: is it grief that has taken a seat between us? Had grief become a wall, a partition that divides me from seeing you?

Then why are you not removing this barrier?

Again I say it: I know you are here. I know you are blanketing me with peace and filling my soul with strength. But from my throne of melancholy, my view is limited.

Shove me off of this throne of despair and may I find a new seat that will reflect your presence. Open my soul as a third eye- one that will see you surrounding me when the wilderness of grief becomes to arid or the swamps of mourning drown my sorrow-filled soul.

Amen.

A Prayer While Enduring Grief’s Physical Expression

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God, you created my skin, nerves, muscles  and linked them with my mind and soul. And for this I’m forever grateful.

But-

Today I’m struggling with this great body-mind-spirit connection. As my heart breaks like the waves crashing against rocks, my body says “no more.”

My neck seizes with the knowledge that he won’t be returning. My tears have been replaced by heart palpitations. My stomach churns at the dread of days ahead.

My mind can’t shake this anguish, and my body absorbs each droplet of grief’s mist.

Great Designer of my heart and brain and energy, wrap me in blankets of peace. May I stop feeling suffocated by squalls of despair, and may my body experience healing in this season of sadness.

Amen.

 

Cutting Evangelism

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A couple of days ago, we got word that my denomination, the United Church of Christ, was going to engage in additional cuts to jobs as they were restructuring departments.  It broke our hearts that many of our colleagues with whom we’ve worked closely would be no longer be partners in our journey together.

Word has been released that many of the positions cut focused on communications and publishing.  I had worked with some of these amazing staff members on various projects, and it saddened me to know that they would no longer sharing their talents with the denomination.

Now, I understand that there isn’t as much money flowing upward to the denomination.  With each of our churches growing smaller, individual congregation are not able to send as much money to the denomination, and the current structure is not sustainable.  I can imagine that these choices were extremely distressing to the decision-makers who are faithful people yearning to always make the best decisions possible for the denomination.

But I also know this: with less people attending church, the materials published by the denomination is a primary way for us to communicate and spread the good news of God’s love, grace, and acceptance.  I know cuts needed to come from somewhere, but I am saddened that this is the department that is receiving drastic cuts.

I started out as a PR person in my younger days.  I worked for non-profit organizations, sending out press releases, crafting newsletters, finding additional ways to spread the word about our message and mission.  This year, I was working a few hours per week for a local non-profit.  When restructuring was done for that organization earlier in the summer, my position was cut as well.  (I still work full-time as a local church pastor but last year was offered an additional part time job utilizing my PR skills.)

So with marketing and communications cuts by all types of non-profits, we are slashing efforts to send out any good news into our world.

Evangelism (or PR and communications for God) is one of our calls as people of faith.  Evangelism isn’t our efforts to convince people to believe what we believe but to simply spread the word about God’s unconditional love and grace.

Mark 16:15 notes that Jesus said to his followers “‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.”  We too are given this directive – whether by our preaching, our teaching, our mission and justice work, or our writing.

I know that the people who remain in the department are remarkable, and they will use their gifts to their full potential.  But recognizing that 21st century Church is mostly being done beyond each of our local church walls, I still need to ask: are one or two or three people in our organization enough to share this radical message of love and justice?

So progressive Christian writer friends – this is a call for us to find new mediums or create new avenues to share the good news.  With marketing, communications, and church continuously evolving, let’s ensure that we are continuously sharing our gifts in these areas as a primary goal instead of burying these talents outside of our shrinking congregations.

A Prayer for the Shock of Grief

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IMG_4395Impromptu God who goes with our flow- it’s time to figure out life beyond the state of shock.

Dad’s not here right now. Or for the rest of my life. Honestly, that is a long time to live with this hole.

He will be missing every boring detail and peaks of joys that I experience.

But here I am with the sheet of shock that surrounds me melting. And as the fading layer grows thinner and thinner, my reality grows clearer.

God, may these flashes of reality and shots of grief be manageable. May I take 15 minutes at a time without him instead of looking at the next ten or twenty or thirty or forty years.

And thank you for the 44 years I had with him.

Amen.

A Prayer When I Want to Scream Out My Grief

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woman-2377068_1920God, whose presence vibrates between my vocal chords,
Yesterday, I wanted to SCREAM.

I’m not exactly sure what possessed my soul to enter the shadows-
I was standing in the glue aisle at the craft store-
But in that moment of retail therapy
All I wanted to do was scream!
And cry!
And stomp my feet!
And jump up and down!

Glue-shopping usually doesn’t do this to people – nor to me.
But my inner two year old was wrestling with the things I can no longer have.

It wasn’t the first time I was in a craft store after Dad had passed.
Nor was it the first time I was buying adhesives.
But as evening was swallowing the day
Grief swallowed my emotional boundaries.

God, may my screams be internal.
May they not be eternal.
May my desire for screams melt into tears.

And if I need to scream-
Help me to find a serene open space that will welcome my vocal punches.

Amen.

*****

My father passed away on September 18, 2017 after a sudden illness. In the coming days, more prayers and posts which I’ve written recently or that I will be writing will be included on this blog.

A Prayer in Grief’s Mental Haze

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God of the details, of the inspired work we do-

My mind churns overtime to focus harder on the words others say. But the mists of grief dampen my thoughts. I sense that my brain has turned into a bowl of oatmeal or pea soup.

Through this haze that hovers around my head, give me the clarity to focus on what needs to be completed today.

And whatever mistakes I make or whatever lacks completion, gift me grace until tomorrow… when, hopefully, the fog will be less intense and more rays of the sun will trickle through.

Amen.

*****

My father expectedly passed away on September 18, 2017. In the coming days, more prayers and posts which I’ve written recently or that I will be writing will be included on this blog.