a prayer for when creation groans

I felt the need to write a prayer this morning in the wake of so many destructive storms.  I will say, I’m no poet, and while I read a lot of poetry, don’t really know how versing things is “supposed” to happen, but this is how I felt I needed to write it.

 

Creator of All, when it all began, it did not
come
in heavenly splendor or spiritual glory.
You, Wild Spirit, came
hovering
over chaotic waters, speaking all that was into
being.

It does not matter that this happened over millions of years in
a process of ever-evolving creation.
What matters is that it did
happen.
Over the tumult of chaotic
waters.
Because it did, we are
here.
Because it did, you are
there.

Over the chaos storms
weave.
Over the destructive forces of
water and wind.
Over the fearful nights and
the sorrowful mornings of
lives, families, hearts
needing to be re-created.

But the remarkable thing is not so much
that you are over such things
the remarkable thing is
that you are in them as well.

Not as a vengeful force

not as an impotent spectator

not as a bored deity wreaking havoc for sport,

but in the earth recovering.
In a neighbor helping a neighbor
in a stranger helping a stranger
in the reality that yes, storms will
come
but that yes also, they will
pass.

So come, over and within,
Hovering God
for the thunder rolls
and the waters rise
and the winds roar.
Come
re-create once more
out of chaos

Light.

Come.
Amen.

i see me most clearly through you

Running into the gas station in town to grab a nutritious breakfast (of powdered donuts, sigh) and having the owner, who has become a friend, say how much he appreciated my sermon at the community Easter sunrise service.  My favorite part of what he said was, “My church is Pentecostal and they think Presbyterian just means (he mimed reading)…but I told them, no!  You have God with you!  I tell everyone — you are such a blessing to our community.”  What a kind and encouraging start to the day, which is perhaps a bit better for my wellbeing than those powdered donuts.

Catching up with a good friend I haven’t seen in a couple of months, and being delightedly amused at how parallel our lives are these days.

Forlorn train calls in the night. 

Crop Walk today!

Good morning!  As you enjoy breakfast, I’d encourage you to remember those who do without today.  I’m walking with CROP Walk today to raise funds for hungry folks in my community and around the world through Church World Service.  Want to join with me?  I’d appreciate your support.  So would those who are hungry.  Click the link above if you’d like to help.

Peace,

Whitney

s’more dreams

Sharing stories of Belfast, South Africa and Romania with a church group and feeling grateful for each part of my journey, and how it’s led me here.

A knock on the door. An invitation: “We’re making s’mores by the pond if you want to join us!” I accepted (of course).

A contentedly snoozing dog in my arms, twitching with dreams of romping in fields and chasing rabbits, no doubt.

far-flung color

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A gloriously bright Spring day with my office windows open, letting in the breeze.

A bird reveling in throwing pine straw as far as he could, in some sort of olympic competition with himself.

Coffee with awesome college students, and a laughter-filled stroll down familiar streets.

Rising Carolina


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A splendid time at a music festival being immersed in artful sounds with my fella, squishing through muddy fields in welly boots (okay, so that wasn’t the splendid part), waltzing under whimsically-striped tents and starry skies, and hearing Rising Appalachia, a dynamic sister duo I’ve loved for years.

earth day (should be every day)

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One of the painted barns of Cameron, NC.

POEM OF THE ONE WORLD by Mary Oliver

This morning

the beautiful white heron

was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this

the one world

we all belong to

where everything

sooner or later

is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel

for a little while

quite beautiful myself.

the strange and impossible story of easter

Happy Easter!  I was asked to write an editorial for a local newspaper on Easter, and thought I’d share it here, too.  May today bring you new life and light in surprising and ordinary ways.

Peace, Whitney

 

Easter is a strange story to swallow. Perhaps this is why we’d rather swallow chocolate eggs perplexingly hatched by a bunny rabbit. Give us chocolate over resurrection. Chocolate is sweet, comforting, predictably satisfying. The resurrection of Jesus sounds like something out of the latest zombie movie, and is full of all sorts of troubling things like earthquakes and the wounds of crucifixion. It’s no wonder we choose confectionary comforts over such a story. As outlandish as a human-sized egg-toting bunny rabbit is, that’s tame compared to God-With-Us dying an unjust state death and being raised again on the third day. 

But that is my story as a follower of this Jesus character, and perhaps it’s yours, too. Easter has to mean the outlandish reality of resurrection for me. It has to mean more than fake grass and pastel clothing. It has to mean new life breaking into this world in a shocking and radical way. It doesn’t have to mean this because my belief system will crumble without it, or because I feel the urge as a Christian to “defend” the real roots of Easter. I need Easter to mean resurrection because this world is so desperate for new life. Wars rage, the earth groans with disaster, children hurt children, parents are consumed by the gods of busyness, older folk face echoing loneliness, people struggle to know how they’ll pay today’s bills or deal with tomorrow’s troubles.

I need Easter — we need Easter — because when the forces of death seem so strong, we must celebrate and remember the Force of Life (and no, that is not a Star Wars reference). Easter is a strange story. Believing in resurrection is much more difficult than believing in chocolate. But we must trust that, belief or not, God brings new life to this world anyway, because that is who God is. God is not a God of destruction, God is a God of restoration. This is why Easter matters. And this is why Easter is so much more than just one day. God brings new life to us — all of us — often in strange and startling ways, just as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead with the women as witnesses. No matter which Gospel you read, the reaction to that new life is uniform: fear. 

Newness is terrifying. It’s why we buy the same breakfast cereal every week or call our best friend at the same exact time every day. We like routine, familiarity, predictability, and there is nothing routine, familiar or predictable about resurrection. God comes in terrifying and transformative ways to remind us, over and over again, that death does not win, even when it looks like it does. Life defeats death, love defeats fear, joy defeats despair, hope defeats depression, community defeats isolation, forgiveness defeats sin. This is the heart of the Easter story.

May this Easter bring you more than chocolate and bunnies. May it bring you more than big meals and pastel clothing. May it bring you new life, resurrection, in all the places where death deals, especially when it seems strange and impossible to hope for it. After all, strange and impossible stories really are the best ones, aren’t they? 

in search of new resurrections

ImageHello again, chickadees!  Well, somehow, someway, Holy Week is upon us.  Where has the whole of March gone?  And how is it April is halfway over?  I remember, at one point, commenting that Easter was “so late” this year.  Well, even though it is, it always seems to creep up.  But perhaps that’s the way of resurrection — it creeps up.  Perhaps stones aren’t rolled away with glowing angels perching on them anymore.  Maybe resurrection happens as new life is breathed into these dusty bodies of ours by the Divine all the time.  I’d like to think so (and so, of course, I will).  I’m in a tea-and-lemon-meringue-pie-fueled (oh YES, thank you community lunch today!) flurry of preparation for this week and was reading some Ann Weems poetry, thinking about using something from her as our Affirmation of Faith for Easter.  What I discovered was a bit too lengthy for that particular use, but it needs to be shared, and so here I will do that.  Have a holy Holy Week, y’all, remembering that “holiness lies spread over the surface of time and stuff like color.”  (That’s from another Ann, Annie Dillard).

IN SEARCH OF NEW RESURRECTIONS by Ann Weems

We in the church are in danger
of becoming a tearless people,
unable to rage even in a starless abyss.
We have imitated a smiling society,
glossing over the hurt, the oppression,
the peacelessness on earth,
or we have become caustic
and cynical and despairing,
insisting on looking the other way
as our church members crawl to the altar,
the scraps of their lives in their arms.

We were created for covenant keeping
and yet, we are in danger
of becoming a blindhearted people,
buying into the system,
placing our hope with kings and corporations.
Have we not seen?
Have we not heard?

We persist in clinging
to the way things are,
or eagerly placing our faith
in the newest religious fad,
the latest book on how-to Christianity
(in ten easy steps),
or the current slogans
presented as though they were
the Word of God.
We are programming and papering ourselves
into perpetuity,
and rationalizing and excusing
our immorality.
We spend our energy in complaining,
gloomily forecasting our future together.
We panic for positions
in employment and committee,
with each special interest group
vying for first place in the kingdom.
Perhaps it’s time for remembering
that Jesus stood in the Jordan
to be baptized with the others,
long ago casting his lot,
not with good church people,
but with the poor
wherever that poverty might emerge.
His name is Emmanuel,
and yet, individually and corporately,
we have named him “GOD-WITH-ME.”
Have we not seen?
Have we not heard?

In the light of the cross,
the alternative is anything but hopelessness.
On the contrary!
There is every scriptural indication
that we are called to change
who we are into the kingdom of God.
Where change is possible,
new resurrections loom!