Prayers for Santa Fe, Texas

“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

Søren Kierkegaard


(Julie Cook / 2018)

I was a high school art teacher for 31 years.

I loved my kids and I struggled with my kids.

The gifted,
the complicated,
the defiant,
the quiet,
the creative,
the difficult,
the angry,
the arrogant,
the athletic,
the popular,
the shy,
the academic,
the immature,
the kind,
the thoughtful,
the thoughtless,
the selfish,
the forgotten,
the struggler,
the spoiled,
the average,
the happy,
the sad,
the hard to crack…

My heart aches for Santa Fe High School and her entire community.
For those who have loved ones who will not be coming home at the end
of this school year.

Once again we are a nation wrapped in our shock, our sorrow, and our grief.

There are no clear-cut answers or explanations.
Anger, resentment, hate, indifference, intolerance, evil…
these are not simple issues.
Issues with no apparent clear-cut single solution …

Yet before we point our fingers, rile in our righteous indignation,
demand change or drown in our own emotionalism…
let us remember the families who are hurting…
families who are going through the unimaginable weight of unspeakable loss.

Let us mourn with them and for them.
As their arms ache to hold those they love just one more time.

May we ask a God, who is far greater than ourselves, to help us find our way.

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord;
he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;
and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth;
and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God;
whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold,
and not as a stranger.

For none of us liveth to himself,
and no man dieth to himself.
For if we live, we live unto the Lord.
and if we die, we die unto the Lord.
Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord;
even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors.
The Book of Common Prayer
Burial of the Dead, Rite I

intercessory needs

“We never know how God will answer our prayers,
but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer.
If we are true intercessors,
we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.”

Corrie ten Boom


(a single tattered azalea bloom / Julie Cook / 2018)

I have been made keenly aware that we all have certain needs in each of our little
corners of the world.

Needs which are vastly different from what would be considered typical wants.

Yet within those needs, there is indeed a form of want…

We want to be healthy.
We want to be made well.
We want to be healed.
We want to be employed.
We want to be able to pay our bills.
We want to be able to feed our families.
We want for our children to be happy, healthy.
We want to succeed.
We want to be safe.
We want to be whole.
We don’t want to be alone.
We don’t want to hurt.
We don’t want to worry…

We each have varying needs, wants, desires.
Some more pressing than others…

We pray, we implore…and we are asked to trust.

Time seems of the essence.
Yet God who is outside of the realm of both space and time…
sees and knows far more than we can grasp…
and thus we who are of both space and time…fret…worry…

And so we pray earnestly and we intercede on the behalf of those in need and want…

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for the people…The Book of Common Prayer

Sometimes God just grabs you by the collar…

“The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.”
William Hazlitt


(yellow finch / Julie Cook / 2018)

If you are familiar with the prayer practice of Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading,
then you understand what it is to be reading a piece of scripture only to have a
portion, or entire sentence, just jump right off the page demanding your full attention.

According to BibleGateway…
Lectio divina (pronounced “lec-tsee-oh di-vee-nah”),
Latin for “sacred reading,” “divine reading,” or “holy reading,”
is a spiritual practice that has been in use for over a thousand years.
It was originally practiced by monks (Benedictine*) who spent a large portion of their days
praying and reading Scripture.

While reading they noticed that at times individual words, phrases, or verses seemed
to leap off of the page with a special personal importance.
Have you had the same experience?
These special words or verses can give a sense of encouragement,
comfort, thankfulness, or conviction that often applies to present situations
and can draw us closer to God.

Lectio divina is an intimate way of communicating with the Lord.
All too often in prayer and worship, we talk to God but don’t give him a chance to
communicate back to us.
Lectio divina employs God’s own words to have a personal conversation with him.

(*my insertion)

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/scripture-engagement/lectio-divina/home

I have read many a book about this ancient type of prayer but have not been as “religious”
in my own practice of such.
Probably in part because I tend to not be as disciplined as I should with Divine reading…

Oh don’t get me wrong, I do have my morning prayer routine where I read scripture and
then pray the Divine office as I then move on to begin on my own personal prayers.

But neither time nor life has ever afforded me the opportunity to actually sit
and ruminate for any real length of time.
Rather the demands of the day usually force me to move on while the ruminating lingers…
banging on the back of my brain until I finally zoom my focus on that banging noise.

However, yesterday morning as I began reading the daily reading and came to the Psalm
verse used for the refrain for the Morning lessons, I was met with one sentence
that grabbed for my attention as if pleading with me to stop.

“I will bear witness that the Lord is righteous;
I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High”

Psalm 7:18

And it was that second part of the sentence, the “I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High”
that seemed to be vying for my full attention.

And maybe that’s the thing…I’ll admit that I don’t praise or offer thanksgiving
as much as I should because it seems that I’m spending most of my time busying myself
entreating God to please, oh please, hear me and hear these prayers of mine…
these prayers of need…

As it is always the prayers of ‘need’ that seem to take precedence…needs for health,
needs for jobs, needs for watchfulness, needs for protection, needs for safety,
needs for guidance…

Prayers not so much for me mind you but for those whom I’m praying for…
all of which, I suppose do, in turn, bring me into the picture as I’m the one imploring
because of a vested interest…

So since it seems that God has been throwing out a few signals my way…
A prayer of petition followed by a big loud “Thank you!!!” is obviously in order…

So Thank You, God!!!
Thank you for hearing my petitions and for knowing long before I do,
how it all turns out despite my fretfulness!!!

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.

Psalm 113

God consciousness

Paul believed that in the whole field of Christian experience the first
step is with, and remains with God.
Thought, feeling and endeavor must find their basis and inspiration in,
the sovereign mercy of God.

Duncan Campbell


(image of Rodel Chruch, Lewis and Harris courtesy the web)

A couple of weeks back, my friend David, over on Ebbs and Flow, offered a couple of posts
regarding a bit of obscure history in his recounting of the tale of the
‘Revival in the Hebrides.’

This “revival” actually took place on the island of Lewis-and-Harris
during a time period running from 1940-1953.

I was not familiar with this “revival” but my curiosity was piqued–so I ordered the two books
David had recommended regarding this spiritual phenomenon.

The impetus…two elderly octogenarians, one blind, literally laid on the floor prostrate
before God immersed in a state of deep and earnest prayer…seeking a promise.
They did this for three nights each week until their prayers were fulfilled.

David offers a bit of background…
These ladies carried a burden so great that they prayed on their faces in front of the
peat fire in their crofter’s cottage three nights a week.
Three nights a week for months on end these two ladies persistently cried out to God in Gaelic
claiming a promise from Scripture:
I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon dry ground (Isaiah 44:3).
Their burden was for the folk of their parish, especially the young.
They had no idea of when God might answer their prayer,
or of how God might answer their prayer.

https://nwelford.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/clean-hands/
https://nwelford.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/a-distant-generation/

With my small corner of the world being currently consumed by all things new baby, I’ve
not had the time nor opportunity to delve further into the story of the Revival nor of the
Scottish minister, Duncan Campbell, who played a key instrumental part in the Revival.
Not until last evening when I finally managed to crack open the small blue book,
The Price and Power of Revival by Duncan Campbell, taking in a couple of pages before
closing my eyes from the weight of a month plus of pure exhaustion.

When I first read David’s initial post regarding this revival and of these two
elderly women who came before God entreating Him to fulfill a promise…
the promise of pouring water and floods upon a dry thirsty ground,
I was actually moved to tears.

Whereas their prayers were for their entire community, their focus was primarily
on the youth of their community.

These two humble elderly women believed God…without doubt…
and they believed in His promises…
so it was only natural that they went about imploring God to fulfill His promises.

The faith of a mustard seed…
a tiny smallness in which greatness is found.

Oh so simple and yet oh so profound.

They believed.
They prayed.
Their earnestness and honest heartfelt prayers, in turn, answered in miraculous fashion.

Duncan Campbell offers the following…

The Divine in the human:
In God’s creative plan, man holds a unique place,
distinct in this respect that he alone of God’s creation is capable of God-consciousness.
“This consciousness, or feeling,
is as much a verity as any other fact of human consciousness:

The notion of ‘God-consciousness’ is something that I think lies buried within the heart each
and every human being…be it dormant or not.

And it is the moving of the Spirit which awakens this sleeping giant.

I’ve recounted this little story before but it came flooding back when I
had read David’s post…

Years ago when I was a teenager, still in high school, I was running errands with
my “godmother” who was the wife of the dean of our Chruch. Ours was an Episcopal
Cathedral so the lead priest of an Episcopal Chruch is known as a dean.

They were a deeply spiritual couple who were actually actively involved in the current
spiritual revival taking place within the Catholic and Episcopal denominations known
as the Charismatic Movement.

This was during the mid 70’s…it was a time of cultural settling yet spiritual growth
following the contentious 60’s.

I don’t recall how our conversation got on the subject but my godmother commented
on the obvious curiosity behind my apparent draw to a deeper spirituality…
this given the fact that I was an angst-filled teenager whose family was not exactly
the most religious–
So how in the world I had stumbled upon my current path of a Spiritual journey,
all of which seemed more than a bit odd, was beyond her soul…

But she had a clue…

From first glance, I was not exactly one who others would imagine to be a deeply seeking person…
seeking deeply what Catherine Marshal called “Something More” —
which was the title of one of her numerous books and one that I just happened to be reading.

Knowing my history…that I had been adopted, my godmother turned to look me in the
face and proceeded to tell me that she believed someone who had known of me and of
my existence had prayed…
that someone had prayed for me for all these years…
as those prayers had been directing my path all these years…

And so yes, we pray earnestly because we have been told to pray without ceasing…
God has made us a promise and He will not turn a deaf ear to that promise…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

little flower

“He does not come down from Heaven each day to stay in the gold ciborium.
He comes down to find another Heaven He cherishes infinitely more than the
first, the Heaven of our souls, made in His image,
living temples of the Most Blessed Trinity!”

St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 31
Meditations with the Little Flower


(the blooming quince, a sign Spring is nigh / Julie Cook / 2018

“If a little flower could speak,
it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it,
without hiding any of its gifts.
It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty,
or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals,
or the storm bruised its stem,
if it knew that such were not the case.”

― Thérèse de Lisieux

emotional reactions and directions

“This is no surprise to me at all.
Something has happened in the last 30 years or so that makes it increasingly difficult
to separate emotional reactions from ideas,
and emotional reactions from our assessment of other peoples’ humanity or lack of it.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden


(it sure looks as if this winter worn shrub is more of a hand pointing toward something /
Julie Cook / 2018)

Earlier this week I wrote a post in which I stated that there would inevitably be
“someone to jump on a soapbox scolding me”…reprimanding me regarding my post
that particular day…
And low and behold there was….but, as I quickly discovered,
it really wasn’t about my post.

The scolding quickly dissolved into a diatribe of what all is wrong with and about
Christians…in particular American Christians.
As even gun control and the President was thrown in my face…
not because either one was a part of my post but rather because I paused Thursday morning
asking that we remember the families of and the individuals who had lost their lives in the
shooting Wednesday afternoon in Florida.

The comments became rapid fire and somewhat more and more bizarre.
It went on for two days.
A few others joined in the fracas and were indeed most welcomed to come on over
and sit a spell.

I saw the questioning and demands for answers, answers to open-ended questions
that really have no answers…
As this was more diversion than substantial thought and idea.
More attack then substance.

It was with all of this monkey business, of which I am calling ‘Christian mongering’,
along with several thoughtful comments offered during my foray into the world of
Christian trolling, that I found something of keen interest in the recent posting
by our dear friend the good Bishop Gavin Ashenden…
Who by the way is prayerfully recovering from another detached retina surgery.

Yet the good Bishop did manage to offer his readers an article that had appeared recently
in one of his local papers.

The article was based on the observed change that has been taking place in “our”
collective social conversation.
Of which is not a pretty picture.

The article focuses on the obsession our society has with sex…a slippery slope topic
which dissolves into the emotionalism of same-sex marriages, spiraling into
transgenderism as it swirls down even further to the growing notion of things beyond.
We are reminded how emotionalism, connected to such an emotional
topic, creates its own barrier as the voices of support work to silence the
voices of opposition–
As freedom of speech becomes the first casualty and victim of the war.

And so I was reminded of the tit for tat diatribe which had been taking place
in the comment section of my previous post the past couple of days—
Freedoms, thoughts, beliefs being questioned.

All of which will soon be spilling out into the outlets of all things news as
Wednesday’s horror consumes us while we desperately try to find answers…

The greater community and our legal eagles will not be willing to truly explore the
obvious as it is of a Spiritual base…as they will simply not go there…
for in their minds that has nothing to do with any of this…
But the nagging question remains…Does it not?
Does it not have everything to do with the Spiritual and that which is lost?

You may find the Bishops full article here:
‘Sex’ is no consolation for the loss of free speech, and the capacity to test & discover the Truth with each other.

And whereas I agree wholeheartedly with everything the Bishop says…
it is to the more nuanced observations that actually caught my eye…
that being the notion of emotional reactions.

We all have them…emotions and emotional reactions…
and they are both good and bad, happy and sad.

Striking a healthy balance is key.

When we see, read and or witness such events as what unfolded at
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl on Wednesday—
our emotions are consumed–as well they should be.
For if we didn’t feel pain, sorrow, suffering, and empathy…
then that’s the time to worry.

We cry as we see the faces of those who were killed.
We ache reading their individual stories.
We yearn to embrace their surviving loved ones and friends who are experiencing
inconsolable anguish.

That is our nature as humans.

That is…for most humans.

That was not the nature of the young gunman in Florida.

And yet we must allow our emotions time to do what it is they do…
which is often taking us on the roller coaster of drastic highs and
sinking lows during these sorts of tragedies.
We will be angry and we will be sad.

Decisions that are often made at the height or low of an emotional roller coaster
ride are not always the wisest decisions made.
And that is because we are leading with more of a feeling of heart and even guilt
versus that of a more rational thinking brain…
History tells us that is best to use both.

Yet not all of us, as we witnessed again Wednesday, have the correct heart response
or logical brain response.

And now we owe it to our children to do something to change this ongoing madness…
A change that uses both heart and brain.

And it was in the midst of the arguing going on in the comment section over on cookieland, as
well as the raw emotions we Americans were feeling Thursday morning, that a wee small voice
managed to find it’s way to the surface…and this voice had nothing to do with the
latest breaking news or the rabid dog chatter happening in my small corner of blogland.

Out of the blue, a small voice had risen to the top of the clanging gongs…
a missionary working with orphans, widows and the poor in India.
They asked for prayers and offered me their own…
and I was deeply moved.

It was the humblest of the voices that I had heard the loudest.

It was as if God was gently yet strongly redirecting my focus.
“Get off the cerebral world’s merry-go-round for just a minute Julie and see…
See and hear…
Hear the reality of others around this world.
Those who are doing My work for and among those in desperate need…
Hear the need of prayer…know the power found in that prayer…
Yet be mindful… there must be more willing to pray and work…
and pray without ceasing”

Here is a snippet of what this gentle voice said…

I, bound by the spirit and preaching the Good news among idols and gentiles and
poor and for orphanages.
I know afflictions wait for me– but all afflictions allocate as joy for
the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is my aid and weapon?
And all secret is known to God– that is without ceasing prayers day and night and fasting,
with tears of prayers.
Hallelujah and praise his holy name.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.
In whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation my strength and stronghold.

Oh, my Dear Heavenly Father,
I know that you open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing in the world.
Please open doors of mind through your righteousness of right hand for my ministry
desires and vision.

MY Vision: (Romans 5:8) The God Jesus Christ is love to all in the world and I want to
share his great love to all creatures and in way of Salvation.

(cleaned up grammatically just a tad)

And throughout the afternoon, these small voices continued percolating to the top
over the din of maddening chatter…

More signposts pointing to God and God alone…

The idea of water pouring and flowing outward…literally manifest itself.
As well as an all-consuming cleansing of water…
Holy.
Flowing.
Living Waters…

And finally much later in the day, gratefully, I read these words on a fellow bloggers post…

“Richard Alleine expresses that feeling in this way,
“He who knows what it is to enjoy God will dread His loss;
he who has seen His face will fear to see His back.”

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:13