Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Prayer: Part Four

When people talk about the point of the book of Job they often sum it up as addressing such questions as: “Why do people suffer?” or “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?”

I think those are the wrong questions.

I’ve been thinking about my life lately, and if it was a story I was reading I would have to say it is fiction, and poorly written at that. But, as one of my favorite authors was fond of saying: “Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.” (Mark Twain)

There has been a lot of suffering going on lately. The United States has seen some of it. Katrina, Rita, 9-11. . . As bad as those were, the world often sees worse. The December tsunami, war, famine. . . And there are catastrophes coming: the African AIDS epidemic, the Asian flu. And worse is possible: collapsing ecologies, nuclear arming of rogue nations, near Earth asteroids, global warming, earthquakes in California, the impending La Palma volcano tsunami. . .

Christians posit that our creator is good, that He loves us. So how can there be so much heart ache, so much suffering? What of my own aches? Why did Willy have to die? Why are my children of such low intelligence? My heart is aching today with new challenges that frighten me, that threaten my family. Why would He let such things happen?

There is a song about starvation by Sade that nearly makes me weep:

There is a woman in Somalia
Scraping for pearls on the roadside
There's a force stronger than nature
Keeps her will alive
This is how she's dying
She's dying to survive
Don't know what she's made of
I would like to be that brave

She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives a life she didn't choose
And it hurts like brand-new shoes

Hurts like brand-new shoes

There is a woman in Somalia
The sun gives her no mercy
The same sky we lay under
Burns her to the bone
Long as afternoon shadows
It's gonna take her to get home
Each grain carefully wrapped up
Pearls for her little girl


She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives in a world she didn't choose
And it hurts like brand-new shoes
Hurts like brand-new shoes

This isn’t fiction. There are people dying today because they haven’t enough to eat, searching for grains of rice in the dirt. My own son has the marks of starvation on his body.

Is this right? Is this just? Why doesn’t He do something about it?

No. No. And, He is.

We were given a sense of right and wrong, and these things feel wrong. God gave us that inner set of balances to judge our world. And these things are wrong. But we live in a fallen world and it was inevitable that it would be. If it wasn’t Adam or Eve who broke the LORD’s commandments it would have been one of their children.

So what is He doing about it?

Well, what are you doing about it? The Bible says that we are the body. Our hands are supposed to be doing His work. And if we listen to Him, we will know what that work is. It is an amazing feeling.

As I have hinted things have taken another strange twist. And for now, hints are all I feel free to give. But the task before me is huge. Bigger than getting through the grief of the death of my first child. Bigger than adopting my next two children.

But though I am not big enough to handle this, He is. And I know that since He has given me this task, it will be accomplished. He will provide the strength, the patience, the endurance, the resources to do whatever He wishes to be done.

How do I know? He told me. I prayed that He would permit me to feel Him near, to let me know that I do not walk this path alone. And I do feel Him! There is a sense of peace about me that pervades all the tension, all the fears. I know that He will sustain me, protect me.

I know this because I have been praying. I have let Him into my life and He pours grace into it continually. It sounds nuts, I know, but I will not curse Him for I see that He is good. He works wonders continuously.

Here is a wonder that amazes me: He has forgiven me for all I have done wrong. Every selfish act I have ever committed He has forgiven. And I keep doing them! I try to obey, but I continue to fail Him, and when I go to share my life with Him, I find that He brushes aside my short comings with a fatherly smile and welcomes me back! He never tires of my coming to Him. He is always ready to hear what petty things seem important to me.

Prayer is what it is all about. And the more I pray the more I realize that the hurtful things that happen in the world are all about being a part of a mortal life that is full of selfishness, self-centeredness. And as far as that goes, I can handle a brief century of hard mortal experience, especially if it prepares me better to be of unique service to Him in an eternal immortal one.

He generally avoids the flashy setting of things straight with miracles, though I know He will do those in a pinch. If He were to step into the world and right every wrong it would be such an over abundant source of proof that faith would no longer be faith but merely sight. We need to believe in Him because we are listening to our hearts, not our minds. But the biggest miracles He performs are the quiet ones. The change in peoples’ lives. The softening of hearts.

That is a miracle all of us can have. And it is right there, right now. All that is needed is a quiet moment, and a repentant heart offered in humility.

So whatever path you are on, know that He wants to walk beside you. He is following your movements anyway. He just needs you to offer him a closer spot in your life and He will draw close.

Why do people suffer? Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?

A better question is why does He love me so? I am so fickle and self-absorbed.

The real question is why does He honor me so much as to give me difficult tasks to do for Him? What a privelege to be told that such mighty tasks are mine!

We choose to listen to our minds rather than our hearts. Our hearts are telling us a story of love, and if listen we will see that our hands are the hands of Him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Prayer: Part Three

The most fervent prayer I ever made, the most consistent, steady, intense prayer I ever lifted up to Him, was for a child.

“Oh LORD. Oh God. I want a child. Please grant me a son to raise. Please give me someone to teach and to love. Please, give me a child.”

It went unanswered.

I met my wife leap year day, 1980, and the years crawled past. There were hopes raised, and hopes dashed. B. became pregnant, but it was a tubal pregnancy. So I repeatedly asked God for a child. Whenever I saw little kids, and my heart ached, I asked God for a baby.

I hadn’t talk much to Him. I had spent most of my time doing the usual self-absorbed living our species does. But now I prayed.

“Oh LORD. Oh God. I want a child. Please grant me a son to raise. Please give me someone to teach and to love. Please, give me a child.”

It went unanswered.

We began attending a local church. Our first Sunday there the pastor spoke about the long awaited hope for a child suddenly being fulfilled. We went home, prayed and prayed and prayed.

And He granted us a child. A miracle of improbable circumstances, finances, and timing. I had been praying and reading in scripture about this. My biblical studies had focussed on the Abraham & Isaac story, and things (finances, spaces, food, clothing. . .) fell neatly, tightly into place.

And he died. The child died.

And I prayed.

I wept, and I grieved. I hurt with an ache that I had never felt before. I woke each morning with a heavy heart and I fell asleep each night wishing I was dead. I went for walks in the fields and woods in the middle of the night, and I felt like I would never smile again.

I walked across newly fallen snow softly lit by stars, I walked through rain, and I walked through fog illuminated with dawns’ first red light.

And I prayed.

I read Job and saw how he prayed: weeping, raging, quietly, and defiantly. I prayed likewise.

I struggled with the idea of a loving God who could permit this terrible anguish. I read the papers and the internet about Angola, and Haiti, and Afghanistan. I wondered at the immense suffering of people throughout the world, throughout time. How they suffer, how they are cruel, how they are evil. I wondered at the tragedies people go through and questioned why it should all be so ugly.

And I prayed.

I examined the beauty of nature, rainbows, sunrises, flowers and rivers and mountains and the cycles of the moon. I felt the stirrings in my soul of indescribable beauty and depression, and wondered at the range of emotions a human heart can hold.

And I prayed.

I prayed in groups and I prayed in solitude. I sang praises to the rising sun, and to the risen son. I prayed to the God who made me, and to the God who kept me breathing when I would rather be laid in a grave. I whispered prayer in the dark, and I shouted angrily in the dawn. I prayed in songs and I prayed in screams. On my belly, on my knees and standing defiantly on precipice.

I prayed.

I learned that I can pray through words, and songs, and whispers and shouts. I learned that I can pray through art and writing and even dance (if one could call my sideways shuffling a dance). And I learned an important thing about prayer.

It isn’t really about requests and praises and psalms. It is about communication. It is about sharing a life. . . my life. It is about sharing dreams and fears, joys and sorrows, love and anger.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9

This was the way we were designed to interact with God. Casually. Regularly. A sort of “See ya this afternoon! We’ll sit on a rock and chat.”

If you struggle with praying, don’t worry so much about the how. Whether it is The Lord’s Prayer or the Prayer of Jabez. Whether it is a humble "thank you" at a meal, or a whispered word of gratitude as you drift off to sleep, it doesn’t matter where you start and what is said. Just start. Just say something. Anything. Let it grow into something more. Let it grow into prayers of reflection and prayers of praise. Let it grow into rants and songs and adoration and whatever else you may feel.

Every relationship requires communication. So, pause, right now, this very moment, and whisper a “thank you,” or a “I wish to know You more,” or a “Our Father who art in heaven. . .

There is power in prayer. Things happen when we pray. And the most important thing that happens is that He and we get to know each other.

p.s.: If it helps to pray for someone else, I would be grateful for a prayer for my family and my health. Things have gotten a little rough again.

God bless.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Prayer: Part Two

It isn’t good news.


46 points.

Let me make this part of my essay on prayer the prayer I pray today. . .

Oh LORD. I am Your servant. What You would have me do, I will do. Sometimes it tastes of ashes, sometimes it is a stony path, but I will follow where You lead.

I love him LORD. I am grateful You gave me this child. No matter that my dreams turn to dust, I know that an eternity awaits and the events of a mortal life are brief.

Remember that my life is a breath. . . (Job 7:7)”

I begged for a child, and I am grateful that You gave me two (three). I fear the path ahead LORD, I know it will be difficult. And I ask no more than to feel You near.

You gave me intelligence, and I hoped to share my passions with my children. But I see now how that cannot be. Very well. I am Yours and I will obey.

Oh LORD You gave me so much more than he. I would give half of my mind to make his whole.

I see clearly who he is, the psychologist’s words ring true and I understand what I did not know before. Where I was blind now I see, even if it is through bleary eyes.

I rejoice in knowing You LORD, and I rejoice in knowing what is truth, even it is bitter.

I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit: I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. . . (Job 7:11).”

I wish I could teach him the things that I love. Ah. . . my LORD, my master. . . I will, none the less, teach him what is the most important thing You would have me teach him. I will teach him the only great truth that has ever been discovered.

That the LORD my God is a being of love. The LORD my God is the source of every good thing. The LORD my God has a plan for my life, for his life, that includes freedom. It includes freedom from all bondages. It includes the birth right that is ours when we are adopted into Your family.

By the claim I have in Your son, my brother in the ultimate family, I claim freedom for my son. I claim freedom for my child. I claim that good SHALL COME FROM THIS!



Saturday, September 17, 2005

Prayer: Part One

I want to share with you a few thoughts about prayer. But it is such a big topic that I am going to deliver it in segments. The last few years prayer has become a big part of who I am. Today I bring you the first piece, an event of nearly 30 years ago. . .

Part One: 1976

I was very sick once. I was dying. I had been living in a yogic ashram and had gotten carried away with meditation and fasting. I went weeks without eating. After a year or so of this my system had enough. It quit. I was extremely anemic. I had bouts of amnesia. I was no longer getting much nourishment from what I ate. I kept getting weaker. I was dying.

That was OK. I was ready. I felt it was just. I had abused my body, seeking spiritual visions and what not, and I was receiving the natural consequence for what I had done. I went off to die. I was staying in Ojai, California and when I felt it was over I went down to the Ventura river. In the summer it wasn’t much more than a creek running through a wide river bed.

I had spent a couple of months there. It was a good time for reflection, that summer of 1976. I had seen 14 of the last 24 condors alive in a tree there. I had stolen honey from bees, and sat under a fig tree and thought about the fact that I had spent so much time trying to reach some sort of spiritual enlightenment (they called it sammadhi), and had simply used my body up. There was a beauty in that dry place that I had become comfortable with, familiar with.

I had given up on the meditation and spent the time reflecting on life, nature, and praying. The praying was something I had stopped doing and now I had returned.

I wasn’t praying for my health. I wasn’t praying for much of anything. I was simply appreciating the beauty of the natural world and saying thanks.

I wasn’t sorry about dying. I was sorry for spending what I had been given on something worthless. I had forsaken the joys of a natural life for the pursuit of “astral planes” and “enlightenment.” I know, pretty hippyish. What can I say? I was a teen when “Kung Fu” was on the air and it sort of imprinted.

Dying was the just result of what I had done just as much as if I had spent my life on drugs and reckless living.

So I laid down on a sandy spot of the river bed, a few minutes before dusk, ready to pay for my foolishness.

I prayed.

“LORD, I am sorry. You gave me this body and I didn’t take care of it. You deserve more from me. Please forgive me.”

I felt a little vertigo, something I felt often, felt the breeze running through my thin beard, the sand under my head, and then a feeling that something was coming. Slowly I looked up the river bed and I saw the flood. Not of water, but of light. It was like a golden dust a hundred feet high and it rushed down the river bed and washed over me. And, almost audible, not with my ears but with my heart, I heard a voice.

“You are forgiven. There are things yet for you to do. Stop the foolishness you have been doing and get up. Go home. I love you.”

The point here isn't about a miraculous healing. I believe that the healing of my body was secondary to a more important lesson I learned. I learned something about love and gratitude. I was grateful for all He had given me. I had come to learn that I had been given wonderful resources and I had squandered them. I also learned that He loves me. Really loves me. He cares about what I think and feel and learn and do. He wants to be a part of a bigger story than the one I had lived for only twenty years.

Now I have added thirty years to that story and I understand much more about how He can be a part of a story that has helped me become something different, something better. I am still a foolish man. A mortal who gets off track and does silly things.

But the biggest part of prayers, then and now, is that they are not about requests or needs or sorrows or grief or even joy. Those can be a part of it, just as they are for any meaningful relationship. He wants to walk along side of me. To be my God, my master, my LORD, and my friend. He wants to share my life. He wants me to talk to Him. The point of prayer is not about achieving miracles, or even being obedient. The point of prayer is in being a part of a relationship.

So often our prayers are requests. I don’t think He minds listening to them. He wants to be a part of our lives, and our needs are important for Him to hear. He may even grant our requests for no more reason than persistence.

But I believe it depends more on whether or not what we want is truly in our best interest. What is important is that sometimes He goes beyond what we seek and gives us grace.

Things happen when we pray.


If you do not have such a relationship and would like to chat privately with me about it, leave me your email address and I will contact you. We can then delete your address so others don't send you spam. I am at your service in any way that pleases Him.

God bless you. Know that He loves you very much.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I am writing a new post for this blog (I have discarded two versions already), and I thought I'd just drop a note here asking for your patience. I try to post once or twice a week, but with school starting it is difficult.

I am writing about prayer. Types of prayer, effects of prayer, purpose of prayer.

If any of you have thoughts about it, I would love to hear them. Perhaps they will help me with this third version.

Thank you.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005


"At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place. Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding." --Job 37:1-5

A few weeks ago, just before the church service, two elderly ladies motioned me over. Sweet ladies, faithful. I was a little taken aback to learn they were unhappy with me.

You see, I had some coffee in a travel mug, and I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. They felt it was too casual for church, the coffee and the shirt. They meant well. They feel a sacredness in coming to church. (As they should, for He is there).

They also said something about how Jesus cast the money changers out of the temple because they were being disrespectful.

I think they were just feeling a little rebellious. A week earlier our pastor had spoken about how we sometimes focus on the wrong things, such as how people are dressed, or if they bring coffee with them to church. He also said something about all the stuff we owned and that he thought it would be great if we dragged all the things we don’t need down to the church, had a big sale, and gave the money to the poor. (I think that is where the money changers allusion comes in. It didn’t fit in real well, but they needed to work it in somehow.)

These little old ladies were taking a stand against the potential corrupting slide that may come from the relaxing of an unspoken dress code. They were striking a blow for the LORD, drawing a line in the sand, placing a little chip on their thin arthritic shoulders and daring me to knock it off. Kind of cute.

There are two points to this little interaction. First, they are wrong. Secondly, they are right.

They are right because we do feel too relaxed sometimes. We are coming to church and He is there. Right there! The living God, maker of all things, my creator, my savior. It is difficult to wrap my mind around the idea, but when I really consider who He is, I tremble. Sometimes during worship I shed a tear. This sounds a little melodramatic, I know. But I’m not talking about some fairy tale here. I feel Him near and it frightens me. It frightens me and it warms me.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” -- Job 38:1-4

We often show more enthusiasm at a basketball game than when we “worship” the maker of all things. So, my mug of coffee (I mix cocoa in it!) does seem a little casual. As for the Hawaiian shirt, it is brightly colored and does not connote a very serious attitude.

So, they are right. Church is where mortality intersects with immortality. Sinful beings are confronted with holiness. It is best to set the coffee carefully down, and look inward and upward.

But they are also wrong. There is something else happening in church. It is community. It is a joyful celebration. I see my friends there, my church family. There I am loved, and wanted. This is the church that has recently set aside its own discomfort, hurts, inconveniences from a fire my son started so they could embrace me and my family. This is a place where I am loved, and I’m not a conformist either. In some ways I am a square peg in this church. Some people think outside of the box; I’ve friends there who laughingly say I have trouble finding the box. I am loved.

I was so sorry about what had happened this summer. I kept trying to find ways to make things right. To apologize, to atone for what my child had done. Finally, our pastor told me flat out to stop saying “I’m so sorry.” And I did. I kept thinking it for a while. But it finally sunk in. The damage to the church is far bigger than me. I cannot fix it. And it is wrong to try. They are my family. It hurt them to see me hurting.

And then something wonderful happened. I started to laugh. I laugh all the time now. It’s nuts, I know. But it is all too big for me. And when things get to be too much, I laugh.

Today was our first day back at work (I’m a teacher.) Golly, what a schedule! I have four different classes to prep for each day. I have two after school programs I will run each week. I have a study skills program that I will teach next week and monitor the students’ for eight more weeks. I counted up seven meetings a month that I will be attending. It’s nuts! (LOL!)

I laugh! I laughed every time today I thought about my overwhelming schedule. And the reason I laugh is. . . because it is NOT overwhelming. No matter what comes, no matter what is asked of me, He will be there with me. He will give me all I need.

My hands itch, the skin is flaking, peeling, splitting, bleeding. It’s funny! Why should I concern myself over an itch when He is near?! That back ache still nags, but it is no problem at all. Just a small discomfort. (I hurt much worse when I think about New Orleans.)

Ah. . . but I digress. My point is slightly to the left of this situation. I want to consider those little old ladies some more. They may wish for me to wear a tie, and to be a little more serious about my worship (I am a tad demonstrative). But I think our pastor was right on target about how we worry about the wrong things. Let’s look closely at those in church. Maybe we are a little bit casual in our dress, but there is a hugely conservative dress code still in full force.

I don’t see anyone with facial tattoos there. There may be, here or there, a nose with a stud in it, worn by some teen desperately trying to prove how individual she is. But I don’t see any tongue piercings, or brandings, or anything truly out of the ordinary.

I don’t see anyone who is clearly a drug addict. No one I know of is a former prostitute or drug trafficker. They are all good, clean people.

Not the sort of people Jesus went out to dinner with.

He went to and ate with all the wrong people.

My aunt came up to visit a couple of weeks ago (she lives 1,000 miles away). She and her friend brought their two dogs and were on a road trip to see the northwest. I was thinking about inviting them to church when I learned that they were heading south again on Sunday morning to meet up with folks in northern California.

The reason I was thinking about asking them instead of just asking is because they are lesbians.

I wasn’t sure how they would feel in our church. I wasn’t sure how the church would feel about them.

I’m not saying that we should water down our faith so that everyone should feel comfortable. I strongly believe that if my faith does not challenge me, if it isn’t bigger than me, then it is worthless. Fortunately my LORD is much bigger than me and I find Him quite challenging. (LOL)

What I am saying is that if I feel comfortable, loved in church, that is a good thing. But I should not let the nice clothes, the wholesome affection, the atmosphere of a close family lead me to forget something very important.

Clothes are just clothes. The important thing is hearts. I need to look at the people in my neighborhood and love them. Period. Just love them. That includes the guy who tore off his roof nine months ago and hasn’t opened up the roofing packages to fix the biggest eyesore in the neighborhood. That includes the trio of lesbians that live a block and a half from me. That includes the teen walking around town with the dramatic velvet cape and heavy mascara. That includes the odd homeless guy who mumbles to himself and smells terrible. These people are also my brothers and sisters. They need to know that they are loved, wanted, respected.

As for the Hawaiian shirt. . . well, it is a little bright, but it is clean, it is one of the nicest shirts I own, and it covers a heart that beats for our LORD. I don’t feel bad about the coffee as I chat with my spiritual siblings before service, but when it comes time to worship, I am focussed only on Him, not my homemade mocha.

The early church met in peoples’ homes. They met where they lived. Where they disciplined their children. Where they raised their children. Where they made their children. It is where their friends came to see them. It is where they wept for loved ones lost, and sang praises for loved ones gained. It is where they held each other tight, and it is where they laughed.

It’s just the kind of place Jesus liked to visit.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Prologue: I few weeks ago I wrote about “The Watcher.” I was grappling with the idea of how the creator is intent upon us, watching us, trying to be a part of our lives without shoving aside our free will.

I noted how Job felt this intense observation and it made him squirm:

“I Loathe my life: I would not live forever. Let me alone, for my days are a breath. What are human beings that You make so much of them, that You set Your mind on them, visit them every morning, test them every moment? Will You not look away from me for a while, let me alone until I swallow my own spittle?” --Job 7:16-19

It is interesting to note the similarities of this passage and a passage from the psalms:

". . .What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? --Psalm 8:4

Job regularly set aside time for prayer (something that is a true blessing). Today’s posting is about a group of men who do that regularly, and what it was like slipping into the shadows to be a quiet part of it.


T. approached me briskly, a little excitement showing in his voice.

“Did you get my email?”

I mumbled some reply about not getting home yet. (I had been in the prayer room.) Something had been growing in my heart and I wasn’t sure about it.

T. asked if I would like to hear a “wild” idea. He invited me to go to the trappist monastery on Friday, early in the morning.

Flattered that he would ask, interested in the experience, and a little amused that this wild idea was nothing more unusual than getting up a little early, I said “sure!”

I’ve been trying to formulate what I felt about Lent this year. Perhaps I was trying too hard to make it mean something special, but I don’t think so. I’ve been feeling a sense that something was coming, something special. Last year I gave up a habit, but more importantly I had reflected over and over about our LORD’s sacrifice. It had been very meaningful. The year prior had also been special. What might I expect this year?

I had trouble sleeping that night (last night). I laid my clothes out on a chair in the dining room and set the alarm for 2:45. I woke up to the alarm and shut it off. I lay still for a moment, wondering if I had awakened Brenda. I sat up slowly and reached for my glasses to see the clock. It was 12:30. It wasn’t the alarm that woke me. It was a dream of the alarm going off. I smiled at myself. I used to do this to myself when my dad was letting me go with him to work. I laid back down, prayed a little bit and went back to sleep.

I woke up suddenly, fully awake. It was 2:30. I crept out of bed and turned the alarm off, a little pleased that I hadn’t awakened Brenda. I made some coffee and slipped into the shower.

T. arrived a little early. I think he was as excited about our expedition as I was.

The drive was quiet. He drove smoothly under the nearly full moon and I filled in the gaps in conversation (when I remembered to), falling into the habit/obligation of the role of a passenger as I had done 30 years ago when I was a wandering hitchhiker.

The moon has always been important to me. It was there, teaching me about perspectives and the distances of the real world when I rode with my dad before I was old enough for school. It was there when I hiked the John Muir Trail in my early adulthood. It was there when the LORD told me how much he cared for me when my first child had died. Last night it was there again, growing yellow as it glided along with us toward the west.

We found our way into the sanctuary. It was dark. There was a monk sitting not too far away from us, barely bathed in the light of a candle nearby. I watched my step carefully, I felt like I was intruding on his solitude.

As my eyes adjusted I noticed a few other monks.

A few minutes later more came in. Soft lights were switched on. Soon a steady stream of monks entered, none even glanced at us. I felt reassured that I was not intruding. Their internal focus didn’t permit it. Some had obviously just awoken. Some of the later ones did their crossing and bowing quickly, and slid into their places.

I felt warm, comfortable. It didn’t matter my brand of faith. It didn’t matter what my life. I was here, and so was the LORD. I felt the sense that something was coming, something important.

The muslims think of Christians as polytheists. That we worship three gods. Absurd or course. But still, I can see how they might get that idea. What an unusual idea, the trinity. A creator with three sides, three faces, three forms, one reality. A being able to create the universe, in all its complexities (quarks, sub-atomics, atoms, molecules, organisms, worlds, galaxies. . .) and yet so simple. Simply beautiful. As simple as the beauty of the moon.

This all powerful being, capable of anything except sin, and interested in ME. A triune God. . . .seeing through space, through time, through me. What did HE look like? Of course I can only think in terms of metaphor. Jesus looks like me. The Holy Spirit looks like a dove. God the Father looks like. . . no, not like that. Not the patriarch of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. Not a burning bush, or a pillar of fire, or anything my mind can conceive.

(And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD , in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.")

I felt the LORD. He is love. He cares for me. he looks like nothing I can imagine, and he looks like all the wonderful things that make my heart lift. He is the red sunrise shouting in crimson and orange and yellow. He is the intersection of the peaks along Bear Tooth Pass and the brilliant blue of a winter sky. He is the spark of wonder in an infant’s eyes.

The monks came to the end of their prayers. I was a little disappointed that it had ended so soon.

T. and I made a little small talk on the way back, small talk tinged with a little more meaning than the chat we had on the way there.

What is unique about human beings? How does our experience lend texture to our responses to God? Does it please Him to have us grow in such slow ways, in all our failings?

I looked at T.

“We are unique of all the creatures on this planet. Despite our animal natures we have something in us that is also divine. You never see a dog enjoying a rainbow.”

“That’ll preach,” he said.

"What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! ". --Hamlet: Act II, Scene II

Thank you LORD for how you have made me. I am wondrously made. Please forgive my pride for the gifts You have bestowed and teach me to always be Your servant.

Post script: It turns out that it was a very interesting year after all (see previous posts). I believe that the feeling I had for earnest prayer was a subtle encouragement for me to prepare my heart for what was coming. If you have any questions regarding any of the ideas here, please feel free to ask away. I am your servant as well.