CORPORATE PRAYER

By Lisa Huddleston

For burning fires, for drowning floods
For washing sins away in blood
For sicknesses and hope for health
For joblessness and enough wealth
For aching sadness, for despair
For brokenness and for repair
For all these hopes and
All these things …

“Now let us stand and
Continue to sing”

 

(This idea popped into my head Sunday morning, October 15, 2017,  as both our curate and our worship leader used the same phrase following our time of congregational prayer: “Now let us stand and continue to sing.”  I thought of how difficult it is to sing in times of trouble, but how miraculous it is that as believers we can still do it! “By the rivers of Babylon … how shall we sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land?”)

 

Advertisements

TWO DEATHS AND DEGREES OF SEPARATION

By Lisa Huddleston

 

I held his hand for hours the day my father-in-law died

Not continuously but anytime others left that spot on the side of the bed empty

I jumped up to fill it

I hated for him to open his eyes and not see two eyes looking back

Understanding and showing compassion, giving honor to his final day of hard work

They said he wasn’t aware, but when I said, “I love you,”

He patted my hand

Releasing his still-strong calloused grip long enough to pat, pat, pat

He heard me and

He knew

 

 

When my father died I was not there

He lived two states away and the distance between us was great

When I did visit we made bawdy jokes and laughed with wide-open mouths and teary eyes, coughing and gasping and spitting out our love, trying to breathe

But in the end I could not talk on the phone

Not understanding his mumbled words, not knowing what to say, or how to bridge the gap

So when she begged me to call I didn’t

I wrote instead sending my final words by email for her to read to him in another voice

I could not go, I could not call, and I would not be there when he died

I hope he knew

SEPTEMBER MORNING

By Lisa Huddleston

September brings glorious, chilly mornings, the hint of color to come and already present in the trees, full fields ready to harvest, and the promise of change. Either a promise or a threat. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I know change is coming.

Before I couldn’t wait for change. I measured my age in half years, and anxiously anticipated every change in my own children: eating solid food, walking, potty training, learning to read, getting their driver’s licenses, going to college, getting married … each step leading them further away. But there was joy in the change.

Now change feels like fear. We have lost half our parents. The other half ages before our eyes. And I watch their faces, my mirror, and the news with anxious eyes and ears, and I want to stop the clock. Crazy men with bombs speak of fire and fury with threats that could kill us all, could stop the comforting change of the seasons that have always before promised to return. This harvest could be the last. Could always have been I suppose, and I am forced to chuckle at my dire response to beauty.

So on this early morning, I sit alone on my screened-in porch, breathing under heavy blankets and reading the morning words. God sees and knows and speaks: “The Most High God rules the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them” (Daniel 5:21). And I breathe and know what he says is true, before and now and still to come. And I hope to be caught up in the harvest. To be judged as fruit and not as chaff. To abide in him and with him through seasons, and changing times, and end of time.

And September mornings are glorious still.

TAKE THIS CUP AWAY

By Lisa Huddleston

Verse 1

There now are wars
And rumors of wars

Take this cup away

But who knows what
We’re fighting for

Take this cup away

When all sides think that
Might makes right

Take this cup away

Gotta walk by faith
And not by sight

Take this cup away

Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away

Verse 2

There’s a man in the north
Who’s reaching forth

Take this cup away

And a man in the west
Who thinks he’s best

Take this cup away

Big men who seek to
Settle scores

Take this cup away

Both think they’re right
To break down doors

Take this cup away

Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away

Verse 3

Gotta turn our eyes
To the eastern skies

Take this cup away

Just the fear of the Lord
Will make us wise

Take this cup away

When that bright star comes
Then all will see

Take this cup away

He’ll break our chains
Set all men free

Take this cup away

Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away

Verse 4

Until that day
Gotta see it through

Take this cup away

Their bombs may
Blow this world in two

Take this cup away

Until then grace
Around us pours

Take this cup away

Still time to learn
Not mine but yours

Take this cup away

Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away, Lord
Take this cup away
Take this cup away

PERSPECTIVE

By Lisa Huddleston

Sitting on the screened porch looking out across layers of diminishing domesticity:

the furnished porch,

the dogs in the yard,

the goats in the field,

the deer beyond the field,

and the woods …

Still lovely dark and deep.

 

Interesting layers of an onion halved.

 

I wonder if the woods look back and think they, too, are the center of the universe?

THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY

By Lisa Huddleston

Perhaps the greatest pain is to be misunderstood by someone you love. By misunderstood I don’t mean that they didn’t clearly hear something you said or that they got the details to a story confused. No, the misunderstanding I mean is a misjudging of your character, your soul. A lack of familiarity and recognition of who you always thought you were—both in relationship and isolation.

Now it would be presumptuous of me to assume that there can only be one correct perception of ME and that I am the only one who knows it. I acknowledge that how I am perceived is at least as important as the ME I think I am. After all, true communication must have a message clearly sent, clearly received, and clearly understood.

But it hurts to find the message of ME twisted into a form I no longer recognize.

You know my name, Lord. You knit me together in the womb and touched every part of the person I am. Please, open my eyes. Show me the wicked ways within me and give me the will to change. And then, only then, help me clearly to express a SELF that is not selfish, a ME that is not mean, an I that is not an idol but a flesh and blood message of understanding both given and received. Insomuch as this is humanly possible and for the glory of God.

Amen and amen.

LETTING GO–AGAIN

Not me!

By Lisa Huddleston

This morning I took the risk of pushing my 56-year-old body up into a backbend. It took a lift from my yoga instructor and a lot of courage from within to accomplish, but there I was, upside down looking back at the wall. I had been afraid to try, afraid of the brittleness I’ve been experiencing, the stiffness of my self. But the stretch felt good as I let go of my practical doubts and pushed up.

On my drive home, I listened to NPR’s “On Point” host a discussion of the television series, “13 Reasons Why.” I will not get into the debate over whether or not the series is positive or negative in this post, but I do want to record a small epiphany that occurred as I listened to a high school student share why she was drawn to the idea of suicide. And this may be obvious to everyone but me, but she said that she had contemplated killing herself in order to gain control over her situation. It was all about control!

Aha! Control, my old familiar nemesis, rears its ugly head once again. As I said, although it may have been hiding in plain sight, I have missed it before this morning. And, big duh, suicide really is the ultimate step of mastery over one’s situation—at least for that moment.

So much (God?) has been pointing out to me my desperate desire to have self-determination in a world that feels so out of control. We humans search for purpose and meaning and happiness and beauty and wealth and power–whatever will control the fact that we are from dust and to dust we will return. Pippin’s four weeks of dying naturally were a microcosm that let me vicariously (and actually as one who could have chosen to end his life) experience letting go. And yesterday I attended the funeral services of a wonderfully warm and brave family member (Jerry Denton) who chose to forego extreme medical intervention and let nature take its course in his dying—or rather living all the way until he died. I remain so moved by his courage and example of trust. I know it must have been unbelievably hard to let go of the reins of control, feeble though they are.

And this morning this aha. Control is a mirage anyway. Fear is a faker. Letting go and pushing into the moment is the courageous choice and the only honest way to live all the way stretched up and into the space of the day. Why is it so hard to do?