June 2011


Actually wrote this a couple days ago, just posting today:

I’ve been using Forward Day by Day (www.forwardmovement.org) off and on for years as a supplemental daily meditation to the office.  And June 1, my neighbor (from a very different tradition) gave me a copy of Our Daily Bread (www.rbc.org) – a counterpart in use at her church.  I’ve been using both this month.  Today there was an interesting correspondence between them.  (This is a bit of a surprise, since Day by Day is a commentary based on the lessons in the Episcopal Daily Office Lectionary, and Daily Bread seems to seems (I may be missing something) to be a thematic commentary on a randomly chosen passage of scripture.)

Our Daily Bread uses the first verse of Psalm 57 as its scriptural base.  In theSt.Helena Psalter (which I use) the verse in question reads:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful,

for I have taken refuge in you; *

  in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge

  until this time of trouble has gone by.

In the meditation (by Dennis Fisher) what is quoted is “My soul thirsts for you … until these calamities have passed by.”  What he says is that if we have inflexible expectations of how God will work in our lives, we can run into trouble.  And he compares this to how the engineers who built the Trans-Alaska Pipeline used “Teflon sliders” to ease the shock of earthquakes on the pipeline.  In the 2002 earthquake, the ground shifted 18 feet to one side without damage to the pipeline.

He suggests that we move our focus from our problem to God, trusting God to get us through painful and confusing circumstances.

Forward Day by Day uses the tenth verse of Psalm 77 as its scriptural bases.  Again, in the St.Helena Psalter it reads:

And I said, “My grief is this: *

  the right hand of the Most High has lost its power.”

As it notes, this is a rather stunning verse.  Many of us sometimes feel this way.  Few of us are really willing to give voice to such a thought.  But, as the writer (unknown to me) notes, the psalmist not only voices the thought – voicing the thought is a turning point for the psalmist.  In the next verse, the psalmist commits to remembering the works of God (in the past).  And from there the psalmist the next nine verses talk about the power of God.

And the suggestion is that bringing our grief to God can be a comfort.  But the challenge that follows is to set aside grief and trust God’s power – no matter what the situation.

These are different approaches to dealing with troubles in our lives.  At least they are framed differently.  But it seems to me they supplement each other.  There is a kind of correspondence between them.

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PAYING THE PASSAGE

Make way!
Make way!
Make way for the image of God.

Sometimes
my brother
I thought you would live forever …

Oh!
That’s right!
You will …

Be at peace my brother.

May this day find you
in good cheer
and in little pain.

Warm the home fires for me
soon.

May you find enduring peace
in the fire
of God’s consuming love.

Remember me
if you will
as you feast
at his table.

I wrote this yesterday, with the following introduction:

This started this morning (in bed) as I imagined sending an email to my friend, Leo Joseph, a Franciscan monastic and an Episcopal Priest, who is, still, to my knowledge, nearing the end of his battle with cancer.

Overnight I received word on how Brother Leo is actually doing:

John, Susan Reeve said something about an email I was supposed to have received from you this AM. I told her I hadn’t received any such. She then showed me a copy of your thoughtful prayer for Fr. Leo. Thank you for it. We ended up actually not using it for now, because, as I explained to the group, Leo, while terminal, has been chugging along for almost a year since diagnosis (even tho at one point I thought he’d be gone by last Christmas!). At this point, death doesn’t appear to be imminent yet. He continues to celebrate weekly Sun. Eucharist at St. John’s, attend Vestry meetings, take short trips & visit friends occasionally, etc. His attitude is good, he’s alert & hasn’t lost his wicked sense of humor. To look at him externally, you wouldn’t really guess he has cancer; he’s actually gained some girth because of the swelling. That being said, he tires very easily and has to pace himself, and realizes that his present condition can change on a dime. I just wanted you to know that his current status isn’t presently quite as dire as it sounded from your note. There will, I’m sure, come a time in the future when your wonderful prayer will be most useful. Harry