intercessions

My friend Travis suggested I write out my “intercessions.” I’m not very good at them. But maybe this will help me pray.

God of travellers,

I’m in Union Station today, and there are so many people. I don’t know how to pray for them all. I pray they will get where they’re going safely and that they will find home or hospitality at their journey’s end. I pray your grace will sit beside them on the train, and that they will be able to see you. I pray they will hear a whisper of your voice amidst the noisy gongs and clanging cymbols. Help me to love the ones I rub shoulders with, espeically the pushy impatient ones and the ones who talk too loudly on their cell phones beside me. To my friends on the GO train, let me be an aroma, like the smell of Cinnabon in the concourse, the sweet smell of bread and love. Keep us all safe and bring us home to you.

Amen.

putting the bulbs to bed

Having a garden helps me understand God. This morning I planted bulbs. It was four degrees when I went outside, but the sun was shining and stirring up the sweet aroma of resting dirt and rotting leaves. I had on my long-johns and puffy plaid jacket. I felt my way through the squiggly worms and small stones of the little plot under the walnut tree, digging down deep enough to put the daffodil bulbs to bed. How odd to be planting when all else is dying. What a ridiculous sort of hope it seems. I sang them a lullaby, praying all would be well, that the squirrells wouldn’t get in and gobble them up. It’s somehow easier to pray with dirt under my fingernails. I pray not only for the daffodils, but for my own heart. I know it’s full of rocks and weeds and ravens. There are days I’m sure it’s frozen over, days when all seems dead. But by a miracle, God has made death his speciality. So I pray that God will feel like gardening this morning too, that his little spade is sharp, that he’s saved a handful of crocuses for me.

calling out your name

Call me Abraham. A crazy old geezer who picked up and went after some mysterious God of the wilderness. Ok, maybe not the old or the geezer part, but definitely the crazy. I’m drawn into his story, as if my star fell out of the sky and landed on the path out of Ur. I’m tagging along, one of the servants carrying the camel-hair blankets or something. I try and listen in on his whispered dealings with the smoking firepot, and I can see the blazing torch hovering in the night. We’re strangers and aliens, following the path between the cut up pieces of meat. It’s a strange path of sacrifice and having angels to high tea. It’s fearful and wonderful, and yes, crazy.

I don’t know how to get where I’m going, but I’ve seen it before. I can’t remember if it was in a dream, or when I was a little girl in Saskatchewan roaming the plains. It’s a hill, a moment of reaching its crest, the thrill of the wind behind me and the sudden opening of the sky above. The grass is long and rustling in the wind, and I think there’s a big rock, the kind you can sit on and pray. Maybe there are stars, billions of them, or it could just be a storm brewing. I’ve got that feeling that something is about to happen and yet I’ve never been more at rest. This is home. I know I’ll recognize it when I see it.

Is it a place of earth or is it on the other side of the door? I think Abraham probably asked the same question.

Rich Mullins wrote a song about the way I feel when I get that longing in my stomach. Here’s the last verse to “Calling Out Your Name”

From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever ’til you see
What time may never know
What time may never know
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope
To run wild with the hope
The hope that this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
And I feel the thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name
And I know this thirst will not last long
That it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain
I feel the thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And with the prairies I am calling out Your name

a certain November day

There was a certain comfort in the rainy November Monday. It was a sharing of sympathies. She let herself dissolve in its greyness.

Later on, at home, she would wrap the evening around her like a blanket, a muffled coziness. The cat liked rainy days too. Patch ceased her prowling and pouncing and settled herself into a rounded tabby cushion on the couch. Between the warmth of the cat and cup of hot Milo she was insulated against the demands of life.

But, this was still a dream as long as she had to tread the weary ruts of public transit. City buses, trains, subway, queueing in the rain juggling umbrella and backpack and tickets and a late supper from Union Station. All the cars were crowded and damp, but at least they were quiet.

She was taking up two seats, watching the misery of the expressway in the downpour. She was damp and dressed to the nines. The academic nines anyway. It had been a day of presentations and she had buttoned herself into the role of lecturer and expert, though she was not above shameless bribes of donuts for the class. The presentation went well, everybody clapped, the professor commented on “exceeding expectations,” and she had made a joke or two. But now she let herself unravel beneath her tailored tweed vest, allowing it to keep the shape of her studies while her mind wandered.

The commuter bus home was a non-place. She never felt quite herself. She could be anyone, going anywhere, and this thought unsettled her. It was easy to slip into unformed identity. Yet in some ways it was the best representation of the way things were. She was inhabitant of many worlds, circling circles, always moving and becoming the ideal citizen in each. She was rather good at it in fact. She slipped from one circle to the next, changing clothes and vocabulary and priorities. She got on and off the train at will, sometimes by sheer will alone, forcing herself to let go of certain worldly pleasures to pursue perfection in all.

Tonight the bus was wearisome. She wasn’t sure how much longer she wanted to commute, to change worlds. Which world was hers? Where was the windswept crest of the hill, the rock under the stars that told her she was home?