Reflectionary

Psalm 128, Reflectionary, The Words of Her Mouth, UCC Daily Devotional

Around the Table

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. – Psalm 128:3 (NRSV)

In these early weeks of the school year, I remember one long-past when my second son went off to an arts high school far from home. We flew from Maine to Michigan. I made his bed in a tiny shared room, then attended a meeting that rated the kinds of helicopter parents we should avoid being: a Black Hawk helicopter, a traffic copter, even Harold the helicopter (friend of Thomas the Tank Engine). When it was time to say goodbye, we stood near the lake on campus, and I put my hands on his face and prayed for him, words of blessing and benediction.

I remember the feeling more than the words, a strange mixture of pride and grief, excitement about his possibilities for learning tempered by an awareness of how much I would miss his voice in my house and his face at the dinner table. I made a commitment to be available but not to hover, to park my helicopter in the hangar.

I know better than to read the words of Psalm 128 as materially literal, a prayer that assures us that if we walk in God’s ways, we will prosper. But that son is 30 now, a parent himself, holding his own child and murmuring words of blessing into her ears. And there are few joys greater than sitting around the table and hearing her infant laughter, a song of praise and wonder reminding us of what it means to be happy: to look at the faces of those we treasure and know what it is to love and be loved.

Prayer

Holy One, all the tables where we gather are your tables. Our fruitfulness is from you and for you. Amen.


Written for the United Church of Christ Daily Devotional.

Ministry

Minor Cracks

Every Monday I get an email from our CSA with a list of the fruits and vegetables we will receive that week. One recently included this wisdom:

Some of the blueberries have a little crack in them – they are still OK. They were just picked. Sometimes when the weather is very dry and then all of a sudden you get a lot of rain fruit will crack because it is trying to absorb so much but it can’t grow fast enough. It’s like blowing air into a balloon and it eventually pops. They’re minor cracks and the berries are definitely good – I just wanted to explain why it happened. 🙂

Relatable, isn’t it? I feel a little like this every day, trying to absorb what is going on in the world and expanding my mind and heart to process the current troubles.

I can’t always grow fast enough; maybe none of us can. And so we feel the cracks developing in ourselves and see them in others, too.

A resource that has helped me in recent months is the book Burnout: the Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, written by sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski. I read it in 2019 and then read it again this summer for a book discussion. It meant more to me the second time as I was reminded that conversation with people we trust is one of the most important tools we have for healing and thriving. We may not be able to solve what is overfilling us, but knowing we are not alone and that others care, too, helps us move stress through our bodies.

We may show some minor cracks, but together, we are still okay.


Prayers for Pastors, The People Pray

Just Breathe

Spirit of God,

Sometimes it’s hard to breathe,
deeply,
in and out,
as if something in my body resists
the way breath moves inside me,
blocked by exhaustion
or resentment
or disappointment.

Help me to just breathe,
to settle my body in its space,
to let the air fill my lungs.

Help me to expand
with the breath
and be open
to your possibilities,
to your healing,
to your love.

Help me to
just breathe
and rest in you.

Amen.