On the California Zephyr …

from Denver to Moab
I see the a herd of elk running
beside the last car of the train,
and suddenly I am seeing
the path of their hooves
in the snow everywhere.

Not a mile of travel passes,
without my recognizing their prints.

Sometimes all a person needs
is to see God,
in order to recognize
holy footprints all over the world.

Somewhere someone is waiting,
for you to lend God your face.

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“Can these bones live?” – Improv on Ezekiel 37

Speak to the bones, the broken bones
of those who have been abused,
or fought in wars,
or eaten so little, joints crumble,
to the bones of those
with rheumatoid arthritis,
all its arthritis siblings,
osteoporosis, bursitis, lupus,

and prophesy to them hope,
for they will be knit in spirit,
in spite of lives changed by pain,
with blessings as deep
as the rattling
of remembered joints.

Speak to the breath,
the gasping breath of those
with asthma and pneumonia,
with COPD, bronchitis,
emphysema, cystic fibrosis,

and prophesy to them,
that all the winds will blow through them.

Speak even to those with bone cancer
and those with lung cancer,
and say to them that they
are God’s dancers,
the keepers of the world’s song,

and prophesy to everyone who asks,
“Do these children of God live?

Saying, “O God, you know us.”

(with thanks to Eric Anderson who inspired this and it may be helpful for you to know that I have Osteoarthritis and COPD and my partner has rheumatoid arthritis, so this passage has been a blessing to us in more that the more usual biblical interpretation.)

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Ramadan Mubarak, 2023

Ramadan Mubarak, my neighbors,
so near to my home,
and in many places
all around the world
where sunset comes at different times.

May there be deep sanctity in the fasting,
followed by sweet evenings
of community and kindness.

May there be holy memories,
a reminder for generosity
that stretches out heart and hand,
and the return to Tarawih.
May the beauty of Quran
fill any hunger.

And may those of us in different faiths,
and those with no faith,
pause at your sunset
letting the sanctity
of your time of holiness,
touch our lives with blessing.

(Sunset over the Marsh, Nancy Donovan)

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Prayer for the spring in Wyoming

God, for the beauty of spring in Wyoming
we give you thanks –
the shining mountains,
the migration of animals from valley to mountain,
the sage grouse strut, waking bears,
new-born moose and deer, bison, elk,
friends dear to me,
shaking out their Easter hats,
green of new grass,
white snow on mountains,
surprise snowstorms still possible any day.

And in this time of equinox,
we pray for those who lose their equality,
and for the sadness of so many,
in the wake of the laws passed,
against those who are vulnerable,
for they feel the blizzard
when they were hoping for flowers. amen.

Photo by Amaury Michaux on Pexels.com
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For those who embody this Sunday’s familiar old psalm

Blessed is the parole officer,
for I shall not be wanted.
Blessed is the field-work supervisor
who trains the green pastors,
and the AA sponsor
who leads past distilled waters.

Blessed is the therapist who restores my soul,
the guidance counselors and case workers
who direct along right paths.
all the folks at the hospice house
who guide through the valley
and the funeral director
who eases the shadow of death.

I will not be afraid, for You are with me,
through all of your shepherds.

Blessed also is the trail guide
whose staff and compass, energy bars
and ability to find the huts comfort me.

Blessed are the booths in the small diner
that cross ethnic boundaries
the barbers, beauticians and massage therapists
who anoint me with oil,
and the barista who knows my cup
and has a running-over smile.

Truly these too are no less a part of
divine goodness and mercy.

And surely a CNA will protect my dignity
all the days of my life

and some local church pastor is always
opening church doors to everyone saying,
“This is God’s house and yours – forevermore.”

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Praying for Georgia

God, you stand at the crossroads of Tbilisi –
in the midst of unrest, grant peace.
When the danger is to human rights, grant justice.
In the balance between the border with Russia
and connection to the European Union, grant wisdom.

For those who must walk the streets
and those who worship
in so many different ways,
grant courage in prayer
and safety in the places of prayer.

Steady the hearts of those who fear,
guide the words of those who speak,

Be not far, but near as breath,
to those who need your love,

and hold in your hands the Peace Cathedral. amen.

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Hunting for Isaiah 55:1 …

It happens in homes where prodigals return,
and it happens when the pinch-hearted
are coaxed into a smile.

It happens in soup kitchens and coffee hours,
on the decks of friends, at book groups of libraries,
and back doors of bakeries.

It happens when the synagogue
shares Seder with the Baha’i community,
and when the Crop Walk raises the blisters
that sink a well far away.

It happens on ritual tables in sacred places,
where silver service or straw baskets
hold wafers, loaves, bread cut like Lego’s
beside a deep chalice,

and someone says these consecrating words:
“This is my gluten-free Body given for you.
This is my Cup of the new covenant
poured out safely even for you
my children who live one day at a time.

Blessed are all those who prove it —
There is a free lunch.

(Isaiah 55:1 Hear, everyone who thirsts; come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.)

photo by David Mankin
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Cross Friday

not Good, that strange
completely unbiblical,
not to speak of theologically incorrect,
for the Friday.

I will not say or write or pray
that torture and killing are “good,”

though Jesus anticipated it,
God worked with it,
and the Spirit wasn’t nicknamed
“Comforter” for nothing.

Calling someone “martyr”
is not defining a saint,
but just our hunt for the deepest
“Thank you” we can offer.

Naming the places of crucifixion
in the midst of our world is
holy pilgrimage, Via Dolorosa,
not Good.

Call a cross a cross.

St. Brigid’s Cross
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Confession and Assurance for John 3


I am embarrassed by seeking you,
and I am still confused
by the language of “born again”

I am terrified of vulnerability,                       
and suspicious of anything windy,
agenda-less, and out of my control,
like the Holy Spirit.

I am not sure you really love the world,
all the world – everyone, every creature,
the air, the water, the soil —
and in a very deep way
I am not sure you love me.

Assurance of Grace

God is not an explanation.
God is a wind-blower;
God is a birth-giver, and I can be born,

if I just can remember
I’m not the one in labor.

“Breathe, God, just breathe.”

Nicodemus – John 3:1-21 Jesus Mafa Cameroon, with permission from the Vanderbilt Divinity School
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Beatitudes for small saints

Blessed are the riders of bicycles.
They spin from here to there,
mud-spattered, smelling conifers and grass.

Blessed are the borrowers in libraries.
They share page and media,
book group, teen hangout and mahjong club.

Blessed, too, are the librarians.
They teach themselves new tricks each year,
and treat kindly the lonely and lost.

Blessed are the takers of pictures.
They help us see beauty
in saguaro, stars and age spots on old hands.

Blessed are those who rise early
to work in bakeries,
those who drive hope at night
with flashing red lights,
those who call the afternoon bingo
in the assisted living facility …

for they take another person’s hour
and treat it with reverence.

And blessed are you when you recognize
the holiness – not just in the most likely,
not just in the least likely …

but everyday in a handful of ordinary people.

Who needs a blessing today? Please add in comment.

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