Other People’s Words by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

Today’s post is by Kimberlee Conway Ireton, author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year and a newly released memoir, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis.

Butterfly_on_beach

A friend tells me she has no words left. I get it. Oh, do I get it. She tells me she doesn’t even have words to pray. I get that, too. I’ve been there more times than I can remember, when the words just won’t come, when I stare out the window at the blue or the gray or the black sky, wanting to pray, and I have no words.
I’m there now.
I sit at my computer, staring out the café window at the blue awning of Ken’s Market and the yellowing birch trees beyond it and the clouded sky beyond them, and I’m supposed to be writing a post about prayer, and I have no words. I spent them all on my book.

What do you do when words fail you? What do you do when you can’t pray?

My friend who’s run out of words tells me that for the better part of a year, her prayer life consisted of reading Streams in the Desert day after day after day.

And I realize that I do that, too—turn to others’ words when I don’t have my own. It’s why I’m such an avid reader, and why I own so many prayer books. When I can’t generate words of my own, I simply read the words of someone else. If I have enough energy, I ingest them. These days, I don’t have enough energy. So I just murmur the words on my lips or send them silently from my eyes to my brain. It feels so…not enough.

But I’ve been here before, so I’m learning that this weary wordlessness will pass and that keeping the faith is not a matter of generating anything at all, not emotions, not passion, not desire, not even words. It’s a matter of faithfulness. Hence, faith.

So I open Daily Strength for Daily Needs, and I read these words of Julian of Norwich:

He showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel-nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as meseemed, and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereon with the eye of my understanding, and thought, “What may this be?” and it was answered generally thus, “It is all that is made.”

I marveled how it might last; for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding, “It lasteth, and ever shall: For God loveth it. And so hath all things being by the love of God.”

In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is, that God made it. The second is, that God loveth it. The third is, that God keepeth it.

For this is the cause which we be not all in ease of heart and soul: for we seek here rest in this thing which is so little, where no rest is in: and we know not our God that is all Mighty, all Wise, and all God, for He is very rest. God wills to be known, and it pleaseth Him that we rest us in Him. For all that is beneath Him, sufficeth not us.

And I trust (sort of) that God will hear these words on my lips and know that I want to believe them, want to ingest them, want to make them mine, even though I’m feeling listless and stale and oh so tired. I want to find my rest in God. I do. Because I am that tired. I want to know God loves me. Because I am that vulnerable and small right now, a mere hazel-nut of a human being. I want to believe that God made me. Because the voice of materialism hisses in my ears, trying to tell me that I am dust, no more, no less, and certainly not God-breathed.

And so I read Mother Julian’s words, again and again and again. I have no words of my own. But I have hers. And since we are both in Christ, we are the same body. Her words are my words, the cry of my heart, the longing of my soul, the prayer on my lips.

For anyone who finds no words to pray, there is a wealth of riches in our heritage as Christians. I highly recommend Daily Strength for Daily Needs and Streams in the Desert as well as The Book of Common Prayer and Phyllis Tickle’s three-book series The Divine Hours. All have Scripture, prayers, poetry, and prose to feed your starving soul during those times of spiritual drought that we all encounter from time to time.

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More Prayers for the Journey

This week has been a very active one on the Light for the Journey Facebook page. I hope you enjoy these prayers.

As we enter a new day – we take time to prepare our hearts for all that lies before us.

Prayer to greet the day!

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace,
help me in all things to rely upon your holy will.
In every hour of the day reveal your will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all.
In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will, teach me to pray. And you, yourself, pray in me. Amen.

Eastern Orthodox Prayer,

Posted by Contemplative network

God may our eyes be opened 

to see the threads of your glory
intertwined in our lives.
God may our ears be unstopped
to hear the whisper of your grace
comforting those we meet.
God may our hands be liberated
to share the generosity of your blessings
full measure pressed down
overflowing into the world we love.

Christine Sine 

Let everything within me cry holy,
Let everything around me cry holy,
Let everything above and below cry me holy.
God the maker of heaven and earth is worthy,
Of praise and worship and honour,
Let all that is, all that was and all that will be cry holy.

Christine Sine

May the God of grace
lift you from where you are
and raise you onto higher ground.
May the God of peace
still the anguish of your soul
and bring you to a quiet place.
May the God of love
who warms our fragile hearts
be the strength you find today.

(http://www.facebook.com/faithandworship)

God interrupts
inviting us to pause
and notice.
God interrupts
inviting us to listen
whispers quieting our hearts
bells ringing in our souls
God interrupts
inviting us to pause.
Use it as you will
but remember always
God interrupts
inviting us to life.

Christine Sine https://godspace.wordpress.com/

From Parker Palmer’s Facebook page

 

Creator God,
on windswept beaches
your saints of old
held their hands up to you
in wonder and amazement,
felt your power through the roar
of wind and surf and,
exposed to the elements
felt a oneness
with the One
who had created all things.
This world does not often allow us
such intimacy with you, Father,
we are crowded out
by circumstances of our own choosing,
seeking fellowship with each other
rather than with you.
Forgive our unwillingness
to follow in the footsteps of your saints,
to meet you in the solitude of your creation.
Forgive our unwillingness
to get our feet wet

© John Birch – http://www.facebook.com/faithandworship

Lord may I take time today
to be alone with you.
May I create the discipline of presence,
Knowing that inner retreat,
regardless of outer circumstances
is a gift worth pursuing.
May I remember that in the midst of storms
you slept in perfect confidence
rocked to sleep by your faith.
May I take courage when the waves swamp me
Knowing that to our cries of terror
you respond
be not afraid.

Christine Sine

Seize God,
the weaver of heaven and earth.
Bring your past,
Bring the present day,
Bring the promise of the future,
before the Eternal One.
Seize God,
choose love,
seek the holy presence,
Let the Lord,
make your life extraordinary.

Christine Sine

Bless to us, O Lord,
the earth on which we walk,
each mountain top,
sunlit sky.

Bless to us, O Lord,
the beauty that we see,
soaring eagle,
butterfly.

Bless to us, O Lord,
the peace within our heart
when filled with joy
or sorrow.

Bless to us, O Lord,
the journey that we make,
the footsteps that
we follow.

©John Birch: http://www.facebook.com/faithandworship

 

Stop the Madness – Return to Our Senses in Advent.

I am delighted to announce that November 16th we will hold our first ever retreat to help participants prepare for the season of Advent and Christmas. I hope you can join us.

In The Liturgical Year, Joan Chittister, says: “The function of Advent is to remind us what we’re waiting for as we go through life too busy with things that do not matter to remember the things that do. Advent asks the question, what is it for which you are spending your life?”
 We all desperately crave more meaningful, less cluttered, lives, yet we rarely take the time to slow down and ask this question.

We invite you to prepare for Advent and Christmas this year by refocusing your life on what really matters. Take time to renew, refresh and restore your priorities.

Join us November 16th at the Mustard Seed House for a contemplative retreat Stop the Madness – Return to OUr Senses in Advent which I will facilitate. This retreat is based on my book, Return to Our Senses: Reimaining How We Pray.

(Read the most recent review here)

When: November 16th : 9:30a.m. – 12:30p.m.
Where: The Mustard Seed House, 510 NE 81st St, Seattle WA 98115

Cost: $25.

Include a copy of Return to Our Senses for only $10 more!

Snacks and coffee will be provided.

Prayers for the Journey

It is almost 2 weeks since I last posted the prayers from Light for the Journey.  Some were St Francis Day prayers which I have already posted but here are some of the others from this period. I will do another post tomorrow with the remainder of these prayers – the contributions are so rich that I do not want us to miss out on any of them. Also if you would like your prayers to be considered for inclusion on this page please email with a sample of your prayers or a link to your site where they are published. The increasing popularity of this page makes me realize how desperately many of us crave daily prayers that help us to pause and recentre our life on God.

First from Parker Palmer’s Facebook page:

Inspired by Psalm 121
O God Almighty,
Creator of the heavens and the earth,
You hold me firmly in place
And never let me fall.
You always keep your eyes on me
And never drift off to sleep.
You hold me close at all times,
Your shadow provides a place of cool shade.
From my first breath to my last
You O God eternal are with me,
You keep me safe
From this day and forever.

Christine Sine

Lord God almighty
I breathe in the fragrance of you love,
And whisper thank you.
I breathe in the sweetness of your grace,
And shout thank you.
I breathe in the wonder of your mercy
An cry thank you.
Lord God Almighty
Thank you , thank you, thank you,
For love and grace and mercy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you,
For life and forgiveness and renewal.
You alone are God eternal
You alone are worthy
Of praise and worship and honour.

Christine Sine 

May the whisper
of the Father
be the one that wakens you;
the open hand
of the Son
be the one that raises you;
the prompting
of the Spirit
be the one that sends you;
this morning
and all mornings,
and leads you safely home.

John Birch 

For your people, wherever they might gather
Be the one who stands beside
For your people, wherever they might journey
Be the one who is our guide
For your people, wherever they might suffer
Be the one who keeps us safe
For your people, wherever they might struggle
Be the one who gives us faith

John Birch

God Almighty, creator of all,
Your voice resounds through the heavens,
Your ways are proclaimed through the earth,
Your Word has never been silent.
For your ways are rooted deeply in justice,
Your paths are lined with compassion and love.
May we journey though life
by the light of your face,
And live always as followers of your ways.

Christine Sine

A prayer to end the day.

My Day Is Ending

Lord,
You have been with me all through this day,
stay with me now.
As the shadows lengthen into darkness
let the noisy world grow quiet,
let its feverish concerns be stilled,
its voices silenced.
In the final moments of this day
remind me of what is Real.

But let me not forget
that you were as present in
the stresses of the day just past
as you are now
in the silence of this night.

You have made me for
day and for night,
for work and for rest,
for both heaven and earth.

Here in this night
let me embrace and not regret
the mysterious beauty of my humanity.
Keep me in the embrace of your Reality through the night,
and the day to come.
Surround me with your silence
and give me the rest that only you can give–
Real peace,
now and forever. Amen

Posted by The Contemplative Network

God almighty,
Holy and eternal one,
Creator of the universe,
Trustworthy at all times,
Faithful in all seasons,
Loving, caring, redeeming One.
You are the only one
worth listening to.
You are the only one
worth following.
You are the only one
Worth committing my life to.
God almighty
Creator, redeemer, sustainer,
Lover of my soul,
You are the only One.

Christine Sine

Lord God Almighty, Eternal and Holy One,
In whom I live and move and have my being,
I breathe in your presence
and hold it deep within me.
I breathe in your love
and hold it deep within me.
I breathe in your life
and hold it deep within me,
All I am, all I do, all I will ever be
flows from you,
and I hold it deep within me.
Thank you for your presence,
Thank you for your love,
Thank you for your life,
May I always hold them deep within me.

Christine Sine

A prayer at the start of the week from St Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite reformer and nurturer of St John of the Cross.
I am Thine, and born for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Sov’reign Lord upon Thy throne,
Endless Wisdom, One and Whole,
Goodness that does feed my soul,
Good and great, One God alone:
Vile Thou seest me, yet Thine own,
As I sing my love for Thee.
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Thine I am, for Thou didst make me;
Thine, for Thou alone didst save me;
Thine–Thou couldst endure to have me;
For Thine own didst deign to take me.
Never once didst Thou forsake me.
Ruined were I but for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

What, O good and loving Lord,
Wilt Thou have this creature do?
This Thy slave, a sinner too,
Waiting till she hears Thy word?
With Thy will in close accord,
Sweetest Love, I come to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Take, O Lord, my loving heart:
See, I yield it to Thee whole,
With my body, life and soul
And my nature’s every part.
Sweetest Spouse, my Life Thou art;
I have given myself to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Let me live, or let me die;
Give me sickness, give me health;
Give me poverty or wealth;
Let me strive or peaceful lie.
Weakness give or strength supply–
I accept it all of Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Fame or shame I may be given;
Chasten me or make me glad;
Comfort me or make me sad;
Send me hell or grant me Heaven.
Sun, with veil forever riven,
I have yielded all to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Teach me, if Thou wilt, to pray;
If Thou wilt not, make me dry.
Give me love abundantly
Or unfruitful let me stay.
Sov’reign Master, I obey.
Peace I find not save with Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Give, I pray Thee, wisdom true,
Or remove it all from me;
Plenteous years I fain would see;
Years of drought and leanness too.
Days of light and darkness through,
Send me where Thou’d’st have me be:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

If in ease Thou’lt have me lie,
I accept it for Thy love;
If my constancy Thou’lt prove,
May I suffer till I die.
Tell me, sweetest Love, I cry,
How and when to die for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Waste or fruitful land be mine,
Tabor’s joy or Calvary’s Cross.
Job be I, with pain and loss,
John, and on Thy breast recline.
Sterile stock or fruitful vine,
As Thou will’st it, may I be:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Joseph, captive once in chains,
Rule in Egypt over all.
David, held in cruel thrall,
Soon a crown and kingdom gains.
Jonah suffers direst pains;
Then is cast up from the sea:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Let me speak or hold my peace,
Rich or barren as Thou wilt;
Let the Law proclaim my guilt
Or the Gospel give release.
Let me joys or pains increase.
All my life I live in Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

I am Thine, and born for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Posted by The Contemplative network from http://spiritualsynergy.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

A Prayer by Teresa of Avilia

This beautiful prayer was posted on Light for the Journey by Micha Jazz this morning – enjoy

Santa Teresa de Avila, pintura vidrio en Convento de Santa Teresa. From from the Wikimedia Commons.

Monday is here and so an appropriate prayer for the week from St Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite reformer and nurturer of St John of the Cross.

I am Thine, and born for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Sov’reign Lord upon Thy throne,
Endless Wisdom, One and Whole,
Goodness that does feed my soul,
Good and great, One God alone:
Vile Thou seest me, yet Thine own,
As I sing my love for Thee.
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Thine I am, for Thou didst make me;
Thine, for Thou alone didst save me;
Thine–Thou couldst endure to have me;
For Thine own didst deign to take me.
Never once didst Thou forsake me.
Ruined were I but for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

What, O good and loving Lord,
Wilt Thou have this creature do?
This Thy slave, a sinner too,
Waiting till she hears Thy word?
With Thy will in close accord,
Sweetest Love, I come to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Take, O Lord, my loving heart:
See, I yield it to Thee whole,
With my body, life and soul
And my nature’s every part.
Sweetest Spouse, my Life Thou art;
I have given myself to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Let me live, or let me die;
Give me sickness, give me health;
Give me poverty or wealth;
Let me strive or peaceful lie.
Weakness give or strength supply–
I accept it all of Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Fame or shame I may be given;
Chasten me or make me glad;
Comfort me or make me sad;
Send me hell or grant me Heaven.
Sun, with veil forever riven,
I have yielded all to Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Teach me, if Thou wilt, to pray;
If Thou wilt not, make me dry.
Give me love abundantly
Or unfruitful let me stay.
Sov’reign Master, I obey.
Peace I find not save with Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Give, I pray Thee, wisdom true,
Or remove it all from me;
Plenteous years I fain would see;
Years of drought and leanness too.
Days of light and darkness through,
Send me where Thou’d’st have me be:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

If in ease Thou’lt have me lie,
I accept it for Thy love;
If my constancy Thou’lt prove,
May I suffer till I die.
Tell me, sweetest Love, I cry,
How and when to die for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Waste or fruitful land be mine,
Tabor’s joy or Calvary’s Cross.
Job be I, with pain and loss,
John, and on Thy breast recline.
Sterile stock or fruitful vine,
As Thou will’st it, may I be:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Joseph, captive once in chains,
Rule in Egypt over all.
David, held in cruel thrall,
Soon a crown and kingdom gains.
Jonah suffers direst pains;
Then is cast up from the sea:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Let me speak or hold my peace,
Rich or barren as Thou wilt;
Let the Law proclaim my guilt
Or the Gospel give release.
Let me joys or pains increase.
All my life I live in Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

I am Thine, and born for Thee:
What wilt Thou have done with me?

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
http://spiritualsynergy.blogspot.co.uk/

A Prayer for the People of Kenya and Pakistan

Micha Jazz of the Contemplative Network posted this prayer on Light for the Journey yesterday. May it remind us of the heartache suffered over the weekend by so many in Kenya and Pakistan. May it stir within us a deep desire for peace and a longing for God’s world where violence and war will no longer exist

Let us join our prayers for the people of Nairobi tonight.
Let s pray for peace and comfort for all those facing bereavement in Nairobi. Let us also pray for the perpetrators and their families. Lord have mercy.

Kikuyu Peace Prayer

Praise ye Lord,
Peace be with us.

Say that the elders may have wisdom and speak with one voice.
Peace be with us.

Say that the country may have tranquillity.
Peace be with us.

And the people may continue to increase.
Peace be with us.

Say that the people and the flock and the herds
May prosper and be free from illness.
Peace be with us.

Say that the fields may bear much fruit
And the land may continue to be fertile.
Peace be with us.

May peace reign over earth,
May the gourd cup agree with vessel.
Peace be with us.

May their heads agree and every ill word be driven out
Into the wilderness, into the virgin forest.

Prayers for the Journey

The weekly round up of prayers from Light for the Journey includes two that I posted as separate posts during the week. However as these have been extremely popular prayers I thought that I would include them here for those that missed them.

A blessing

John O’Donohue,

May the nourishment of the earth be yours, may the clarity of light be yours, may the fluency of the ocean be yours, may the protection of the ancestors be yours. And so may a slow wind work these words of love around you, an invisible cloak to mind your life..

Posted by Contemplative Network 

This prayer inspired by reading the various views about food stamps and who is responsible to help the poor.

God you call us your friends,
Not just one but all.
Not just the rich but the poor,
Not just the powerful but the marginalized,
Not just the vocal but the voiceless.
Befriended, made family together,
One in you, responsible to care for each other.
God we all live in the light of your goodness,
We all rely on the light of your love,
Renewed as we share the mind of Christ,
Renewed together with the abandoned and abused,
Welcomed, cherished, restored,
With transformed minds and renewed hearts.
One in you, made family together.

Christine Sine 

I love to start the day with a breathing prayer – reminding myself that I am created by the breath of God. Here is one I wrote at the beginning of this week:

Breathe in the love of God,
Let if fill you will grace and mercy.
Breathe in the life of God,
Let it empower you with truth and justice.
Breathe in the peace of God,
Let it sustain you with faith and hope.

Christine Sine

For the many who battle with dementia and feel isolated, frightened and alone, a prayer written by one who suffers with them. Let’s be the church that prays because we care and cares because we pray.

Oh dear Lord, hear my prayer,
And show me that you really care,
Trouble is I can’t remember,
All my prayers for you to tender,
Will this matter, on the day,
When we meet, what will you say?
If I didn’t have dementia
I would recall my holy Venture,
If I don’t pray, from time to time,
Remember that my minds not mine,
Please forgive me, as you know,
No matter what, I love you so.

Norman Mc Namara

Posted by The Contemplative Network 

I feel the older I get that life requires tremendous courage on behalf of every person. I came across this lovely Lutheran prayer for courage, and having prayed it myself I offer it as a prayer for each one of us.

Lord God,
you have called your servants
to ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths as yet untrodden,
through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with good courage,
not knowing where we go,
but only that your hand is leading us
and your love supporting us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted by The Contemplative Network 

Rhythm of Life.001

God you only will I serve,
Through faithfulness and righteousness.
God you only will I follow,
Through justice and in truth.
God you only will I exalt,
Through praise and worship.
For you alone are worthy,
You alone are holy,
You alone are eternal.

Christine Sine

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
Be still
Be

Posted by The Contemplative Network 

God may we look to eternity,
With hope and not with fear,
With expectation and not with dread.
May we see the tree of death
on which our Saviour died ,
As a tree of life connecting heaven and earth.
May we see the wind
that whispers through the trees,
As your life giving Spirit
Breathing your life through all the earth.
Amen

Christine Sine 

Last but not least I wanted to make you aware of a resource available from John Birch, one of the regular contributors to Light for the Journey. His new book God of Compassion is currently available for download for £1 (about $1.60 U.S.) I love his prayers and have thoroughly enjoyed his previous books Heart2Heart and Prayers for the Journey