• Art and Prayer,  Praying Scripture

    Listening and Hearing

    I’m at our daughter’s home meeting our newest granddaughter, Sylvia, and helping out with her and two-year-old William this week, which means not much downtime, but lots of laughter with a toddler and sweet snuggles with a newborn. Our wonderful son-in-law, Howard, wanted to be sure I got some of the alone time I need, so he hung a hammock chair in the woodland garden he has been making in their woods, and I spent some time sketching there this afternoon. As I sketched a couple of trees, I enjoyed the sound of many birds ringing through the dense woods. Mostly what I heard were the nearly continuous, loud singing…

  • Art and Prayer,  Visio Divina

    Holy Week Musings in Words and Pictures

    I’ve been pondering the events of the final week before Jesus was crucified, what we call Holy Week, mulling over the words from the four gospels and sketching some of the scenes. The book He Was One of Us, by Rien Poortvliet, a Dutch artist whose work I find inspiring, is a beautiful and poignant presentation in Poortvliet’s words and sketches of the humanity of Jesus throughout his life on earth. I find that Poortvliet’s sketches help me realize more deeply the truth that Jesus was fully man as well as fully God, and therefore felt emotional and physical pain as we do. And that leads me to ponder how…

  • Art and Prayer

    Sabbath- a Cathedral in Time

    Sabbath– the word takes me gently by the hand and leads me away–away from the clutter of a half-done to-do list; away from the clamorous “musts” and “shoulds” of phone calls, emails, and other social demands; away from the guilt-tinged drive to make myself better; even away from the internal pressure to make the most of my “free” time. As I step away from the things that hem me in, my breath comes deeper and slower, my shoulders relax and I stand straighter, no longer pressed down. My soul simultaneously sits quietly and dances exuberantly, sings with joy and listens for a still small voice. I’ve heard the Sabbath described…

  • Art and Prayer

    Out of the mouths of babes

    I’m in Texas spending time with our son Nathaniel and his family and getting to know our newest grandchild, Mary. I’m loving the sweetness of holding a newborn snuggled in my arms, as well as the enthusiasm, boundless energy, and creativity of Mary’s three older siblings. But my heart is also heavy with concern for dear friends back home and their family members who are battling Covid right now, and for two other friends who are hospitalized with very serious heart issues. This morning I was sitting with Paul, Elizabeth, and Samuel while they were eating breakfast, and at one point, was silently praying for our friends and feeling the…

  • Praying Scripture

    My Own Devices

    I set yesterday aside to be a Quiet Day– a day without texting, emailing, or phone conversations, in order to rest in soul and body and quiet myself in God’s presence. For years I’ve tried to schedule a Quiet Day once a week, a sort of Sabbath, but recently I’ve been finding that appointments of various sorts and other commitments and communications have taken over my resolve to stay away from my phone or email. As a result, I haven’t taken regular chunks of uninterrupted time for reflection, rest, and prayer. So yesterday I was finally to have a proper Quiet Day. I like to start my Quiet Days early,…

  • Art and Prayer,  Praying Scripture

    Apple of God’s Eye

    I decided to do something different this week; rather than daily prayer suggestions, I sketched what jumped out at me from my psalm reading yesterday morning. I’ve been meditating on these verses, and sketching slows me down and helps me visualize something from Scripture in a way that makes it stick in my mind more clearly and for longer. I may do more of this sort of prayer in the coming weeks. This week I’m sharing my sketching meditation on Psalm 17:6-8. If anyone reading this would also like to sketch it, I would love to see your sketches, if you’d like to share them. I call on you, O…

  • Praying Scripture

    Marvelously Made

    You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.You saw me before I was born.    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.Every moment was laid out    before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:13-16 Fifty-four years ago this past week my sister Megan Ariel was born. Megan has lived in heaven for all but six weeks of these fifty-four years, because of a heart defect she was…

  • Praying Scripture

    Pure Joy

    A friend and I have been memorizing the first chapter of James recently, so these verses have been on my mind. I also know quite a few people who have been going through very challenging situations recently including loss, difficult surgeries, Covid-19, injuries, shingles, and other trials. And of course, we are aware of the terrible challenges facing Christians in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world, so these words of James’ seem particularly applicable. We also recently remembered the attacks of 9/11, which showed us, among other things, that even when we appear to be strong, we are still vulnerable and not in control of nearly as many…

  • Praying Scripture

    Rest for Your Soul

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 I went away by myself for a personal retreat this past week, and one thing I realized was how weary I have been. It seems that sometimes I can go from one activity to the next and I just keep going without realizing how tired I’m becoming. When we take time apart, as I did, we can…

  • Praying Scripture

    Riches, Roots, and Love

    I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3: 16-19 Monday: Praise God for his glorious riches that he so generously offers us– his grace, his love, his mercy, his Spirit.…