Two blessings for your week


woodsI wrote these two blessings during my spiritual writing mini workshop at the women’s retreat last month. They are raw and unedited. I offer them to you with the hope that they will nourish you during your Lenten journey.

May your purpose continue to be revealed, and may your heart feel strengthened as Easter nears.


God, come bless me in this circle of prayerful women.
Bless my pen.
Bless this day of unmatched socks and warm sun through the window
on my neck.

In this ink—your guidance.
On this page—your forgiving nature.

God, you’ve never been an editor.
You put it all on the forest floor—
dead leaves, broken branches,
squirrels who fight.

Your way is messy.

I am too attached to periods and
line breaks and
let’s make the language clean

Your language, Lord, is happiness.
You always seem to be running toward me.
When did I get caught up in reading signs
about what was allowed?
You are always giving me permission
to run

to run

to run across the page


May the Lord bless these women gathered
in the holy act of opening to words
opening to the Word
who was
before the first person spoke and
a great star broke

Lord, bless us in our twingey places and rattly worries.
Bless us in our worm-filled yards and birdfeeders.
All the places we seek life.
All the ways we seek each other.

I wanted to climb every fence for you
and not little fences but
the metal razor wire.

I know we put you far away.
I know we make you sit alone,
laying without clothing,
with hunger, Lord.

Yet you bless us in noise and trash cans.
All the while you bless the trash
because it doesn’t seem like trash to you.

You don’t call it trash.

That’s our word.

You, who broke open the first star and
saw no trash—
only the holy

Tell me your thoughts!

Do you ever feel unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness? What helps you to stay grounded in your faith when life gets hectic?

From dust to dawn: my reflections as Lent begins

Hand with ashes

Hand with ashesThere is something—a practice, a way of praying, a letting go, a new dependence, a gift you need to give—that will bring you closer to God.

What is it?

Lent is the time to ask this question. Then it gives you 40 days to change, to prepare and to open your heart to the Lord.

Of all the Christian seasons, Lent is my most beloved. It demands a stripping of pretense. It reduces the indulgent bloat of my life into a lean and meaningful structure.

I started practicing Lent wholeheartedly four years ago. My mother and brother had died within five months of each other. I knew the feel of a life reduced to ashes in my hand. I lived in the agony of raw loss. How could the world continue on? And yet it did.

Its regularity and continuation also offered a vague comfort. It didn’t matter that some days I only went through the motions. The momentum of the world carried me along with it. Stores stayed open and sold grapes. I bought them. My family had needs. I met them.

The start of Lent with the imposition of ashes on the forehead with the words of you are dust, and to dust you shall return reminds us to relinquish the unnecessary and devote our full power to loving.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!”

Peter loved his teacher. He promised that he would love him and give his life. Every time I hear the story I want Peter to do better. This time! Let him be true to his word and live up to his promise. Let him be a loyal friend. But he fails. He fails to love as well as he should.

We fail to love as well as we should. But shouldn’t we keep trying? Before we return, shouldn’t we throw open our arms and hug one another while we can?


Lord, we think so often of ourselves.
Bless us with reminders of how our greatness
turns to dust,

Bless us with reminders of how the love we nurture lives on.

A woman with a generous spirit treasured her friends
and handed out her abundance: time, affection and baby aloe plants.
Her friends took her plants and passed them on.

I did not know her, but I received a plant from one of her friends.
From a tiny plant the size of my finger, it became 24 hand-sized plants in less than two years.
This Sunday, I repotted them so they can stretch out and keep multiplying.

Lord, let our acts of love thrive in your light.
From one small act, make it grow to 24. Then 240, then 2,400,
then so many acts of love we lose count.

After we return, let us be remembered
for our friendship, our faith and our love.
And if we’re not remembered, may we leave something good behind—encouragement,
a smile to soften someone’s hard day,
a gleaming green plant growing toward the light.

Before we return, make us doers of uncountable kindnesses.

Tell me your thoughts!

What act of kindness can you perform today that might be multiplied tomorrow? What have you chosen as a practice for this Lent? If you are local to Columbia or Moberly, would you like an aloe plant? 😀

Three ways to make poetry a spiritual practice

lenten rose

lenten roseHow has your Lenten season been? As my spiritual practice for Lent this year, I’ve written a free verse poem every day. I approached this practice with a willingness to let it change me.

What have I learned so far? First, commitment counts! I can write when I don’t feel like it. Many evenings, I didn’t feel creative. I could still create because I made the commitment I would.

Second, when I focus on the process—doing and relating, it’s harder to worry about results and effects. These poems were meant to bring me closer to God. I didn’t need to worry about who would think what about them.

Third, a “we” voice lives within me. If you’re familiar with my poetry, you’ll know I’ve been an “I” person in my poems for the past 20+ years. Each time my hand wrote “we,” I wondered where it came from. It’s a nice surprise to write from “we” and not “I”. May it continue past Lent!

Would you like to try something enjoyable and thought-provoking? I invite you to try making poetry as a spiritual practice! You can take as little as five minutes. This is my process.

Read it

I begin with reading Scripture. Before I read, I settle myself and breathe. One of the great problems of our time is our pace of life. I have to slow myself down before I read sacred words. It’s no good skimming!

Use spiritual literature that you find meaningful. It might be your holy book, a poem or a devotion. Meditate and rest in the tiny garden made of wisdom and alphabet letters that seems larger once you are inside it.

Respond to it

After I take in a small amount, I let the words digest. I imagine the scene and inhabit the feelings.

Ready yourself to receive a new understanding.

Ask yourself, What is it like physically? How is the air, the light, the water? What am I experiencing inside the words?

Write it

Then I tip my pen over and let my words pour out.

You might have a critic in your mind who is quick to judge and say, “That’s stupid!” as you write. That’s OK. Say, “Oh well!” right back to the judge and let the words spill onto the page anyway. This is between you and the Holy Spirit. Your inner critic is not part of this particular conversation.


Here are a couple of examples from my Lenten journey this year. These are unedited, raw words as I wrote them.

February 26, 2013

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
Psalm 23:2

It was a dusty, long walk. We had so much grit
in our throats, we felt like our throats had turned to
sandpaper and we sanded our own
surfaces when we swallowed.

Our feet had long since stopped hurting.
They’d gone past tired to become
wooden boats we drug over rough dirt,
the road a dry stream bed.

We smelled the heat as much as felt it.
It dried our noses and eyes.
Everything had that overbaked smell and
things fluttered in the hot wind.
When he led us to the green meadow,
we collapsed more than lay down.

We put our heads next to the sparkling stream
as if it were a long love song that
we couldn’t hear enough of.
We listened to it sparkle and flirt
with the shore, playful in its splashing.
It was not a stream in a hurry.
It meandered and strolled.
We drank and drank more.
We smiled again and talked.

March 19, 2013

I have so much to write to you but
I would rather not write with pen and ink; instead
I hope to see you soon and
we will talk together face to face.
Peace to you.
The friends send you their greetings.
Greet the friends there, each by name.
3rd Letter of John 13:15

We were full with words, like an Easter basket
so filled with eggs that
the slightest bump tumbles them out.
We couldn’t wait to be together and laugh in person,
about the misunderstandings,
the unneeded worries,
the overlooked grace.

Final thought

May the hope of Easter live in your heart this week and always!

Open love letter to the people of the world

Today is Ash Wednesday and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

These are both important days because one is about life, death and love, and the other is about life, death and love.

Poems for Lent

As my spiritual practice for Lent this year, I will write a poem every day. Prayers and poems are good friends, sometimes one and the same. In writing poetry during Lent, I hope to grow closer to the light.

Poems as gifts

Have you already picked out something to give to your Valentine? Why not add a poem? Don’t worry about not knowing poetry. You already recognize a good poem without having to think about it or spend years working at it.

Poetry is a God-given right

The essence is in you from birth. You can refine your abilities, as a reader, writer and listener, but you already have poetry in your heart, passed down from the time you lived beneath your mother’s heart.

My poem for you today

I want you to know
I’ve had a good time here so far.
You open the door for me and
I notice your thoughtfulness.

Thank you for making this a world where doors open.

I want you to know
you belong here.
How you are and who you are matters.
Those around you today might not be the same people around you tomorrow.
Tell them today why you’re glad to see them.

Thank you for being part of this time on earth.

I want you to know
you’re not alone.
Someone else is awake at 3 a.m. You’re not alone.
Loneliness doesn’t have to be a killer.
It can be the start of a friendship
if you give it words.

Someone I didn’t know well called and asked how I was doing.
“I’m lonely,” I said.
“I’ll come over,” she said.
She brought a pizza. We became friends. We had babies.
Our babies played together. It started with saying, “I’m lonely.”

Loneliness comes to everyone. Single people
might think marriage is an answer but if you
know enough married people, you know
loneliness can live there too among the married.

Give the loneliness a place to be. Put it in words.
Put it in art. Put it in song. You can make something
out of your loneliness. Be an alchemist.

Thank you for not giving up because of
moments of loneliness. Thank you for staying.

I want you to know
your feelings have value but not always meaning.
We have times we feel abandoned and betrayed.
Go on. Don’t let pain be the end of you.
Make peace with it.
Sometimes it’s just a feeling and it doesn’t mean anything
about you.
Feelings are clouds passing by.
Some are bright, some are thunderheads.
Let them all pass by. You’re a sky, not a cloud.

Thank you for living in a world of feelings
even when they’re hard feelings.

I want you to know
there’s more to find out.
Keep looking!
Keep finding out!
Splash your face with curiosity and
wake up!
Go toward the thing that makes your heart pound.
Get to know what you fear.
Keep finding things to wonder about.

Thank you for teaching me that it’s interesting to live.

I want you to know
I appreciate you believing in me
when I didn’t believe in life.
You, the people of the world, did this for me! You gave me the sense
I was part of something important, this adventure where we pack our
bags with different items but we all have stories.

Thank you for trusting me with your real stories.

I want you to know
I notice all the big and small things you do.
You help me with my zipper when my own hands can’t do it.
You feed me when I’m hungry.
You say, “Don’t worry about your life.”
You give me a ride when it’s cold and rainy out.
You ask after me.
You know my favorite kind of donut.
You go out of your way to make sure I’m safe.
You smile.
You bring me my favorite drink, hot tea with sugar.
You are patient with children and tender with the old.
You say my name with affection.

Thank you for making my life lighter.

I want you to know
I like hearing you laugh:
children, friends over lunch in a restaurant,
people reminiscing how their loved ones were,
missing them but still
laughing because they could be so funny
about sand in the house or about the speed of the coffee maker.

Thank you for the sound of laughter. Thank you for
remembering those who have gone.

I want you to know
love still matters.
Look around. Who do you love?
Tell them. Tell them in a hundred ways.
Enjoy them! Hug them, serve them food,
forgive them, write them notes. Say,

This is what I see in you.

You try hard. You get frustrated and discouraged but you go on.
You might have times of feeling alone or in pain but go on.

Thank you, world, for going on.

Go on.
Go on.
I love you.
God bless you.

Go on.