Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Prayer

silent morning breaks

silent morning breaks
my refrigerator hums
one more soul departs

Each death is singular and tragic, especially as the numbers continue to climb precipitously.

This isn’t voluntary mass suicide. It’s a tragedy long in the making, now playing out minute by minute as our current POTUS refuses to face reality about the 2020 Election or Covid-19.

Then there are his very public caretakers. I’m tempted to mock them. But I can’t. For whatever reason, they, along with millions more, have latched onto DT as their hero, even though he can’t deliver on his promises. Another tragedy in the making.

In addition, death by Covid has become so ‘normal’ that I find myself more horrified by daily data updates than by singular tragic deaths.

What happens to our souls when we learn to live with nonsense? Or turn to data more quickly than to human beings and their families struggling to make sense of nonsense? I know I’m guilty. The sheer horror of what’s happening right now in our country is a nightmare gone berserk.

Today I’m praying for singular souls that depart due to Covid-19 or any other cause made more difficult because of Covid. I’m also praying for the aching souls of relatives and friends mourning their deaths.

Who knows? Any one of us or our loved ones might be next.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 November 2020
Photo of sunrise on the East Coast found at tripadvisor.com

Dear Mr. Trump, | 2017 revisited

This morning I woke up wondering how much longer we can survive as one nation. Making it to November’s election feels sketchy. Here’s what I wrote in September 2017. 

Dear Mr. Trump,

I woke up today wanting you to know that I’m praying for you, and how I’m praying for you. Hence this open letter.

As I see it, we have two kinds of leaders in the USA: those elected to office, and those who elect them. Clearly, given your electoral college votes, you won the vote, and were duly sworn in last January as President of the United States.

We, as unelected citizens, are also leaders. Did we not go to the polls and exercise our guaranteed right to lead by casting our votes? No matter who wins the election, we citizens lose if we vote carelessly or not at all, assuming we’re given a fair opportunity. We also lose if we fall back into apathy or cynicism and wait things out. Or try to take things into our own hands.

As a follower of Jesus, I am exhorted to pray for you as the President of the USA. I can’t say ‘my’ President, because you serve all of us.

As our President, you have visible power and office. That means you have access to your executive pen, the bully and praise pulpit, the power to hire and fire designated people, and a stage that magnifies your voice far beyond what it would be if you were not President of the USA.

As President, you might be tempted to think you’re in control, or that you can change or ignore situations to your liking. Or at least do what you can to make things more comfortable for you and yours. You might also want people to like you. Especially the people to whom you made promises. You might even hope for some to hate and fear you.

And so I pray for you the way I pray for myself as a citizen leader. I pray you and I will let go of our desires for power and control, esteem and affection, safety and survival, and especially the desire to change situations not in our control. The most important thing you can do is lead well, as the follower of Jesus you say you are. Which would be the most important thing I can do, as well.

Right now, even though it’s stormy, you’re a mighty visible oak. Still, tree rot often begins on the inside. Then one day, often without warning, the mighty visible oak crashes to the ground, often taking with it trees close to the mighty oak.

Gone. Not with a whimper, but with a resounding earthquake that travels to the other side of the world and back, creating tsunamis and chaos in its wake.

I like to think of us citizens and residents of the USA as tiny acorns that survive. Not all of us will make it. But the future does lie with us, doesn’t it? Which is why I can’t pray for you alone.

Please know that we’re trying to make as much sense of life as we can, hoping and praying you will grow into your office one day at a time, one step at a time. No matter the cost to your personal comfort or reputation. Which is what it means to follow Jesus.

Respectfully,

Elouise Renich Fraser

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 September 2017, reposted 19 August 2020
Photo taken by DAFraser, 11 September 2017, Longwood Gardens Meadow

Subdued Monday

Subdued
I close my eyes
And wonder
Where and who
I really am

One day comes
And another goes
Only to begin
The same story
Yet again

The sun
Teases me with
Rays evoking
Dreams of
Carefree days

The apples
At the market
This week were
Less than I’d
Hoped for

Voices
Of commentators
And politicians
Drone on
And on

Is there is
A theme in
All this waiting
For the next shoe
to drop?

A pandemic is bad enough, all by itself. In a presidential election year, however, it’s poison. Especially when the current POTUS keeps feeding frenzies alive and well. As if COVID-19 weren’t bad enough, we now have an uncivil war on our hands, stoked and encouraged by POTUS.

Today I’m praying for responsible public servants of any political persuasion, medical personnel, organizations, businesses and citizens doing their part to support us. IF, as POTUS says, this is a “war” and he is a “wartime President,” he has a most disconcerting, disruptive, disastrous way of leading the troops. Sadly, those would be his core of faithful followers, NOT those actually on the front lines serving the public good.

Thanks for listening and doing what you can to make a difference, no matter what your political preferences are.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 April 2020
Photo of Sunny Spring Morning found at dezinerwallz.com

Wayward sheep and frolicking lambs

Equanimity —
They say it’s
Calm composure
Regardless

Drowning in pain
Ecstatic with joy
Beginning a journey
Relaxing into dusk
Fighting for my life
Bearing life in me

I want to stand
before You
With calm composure
Because You alone
Are my advocate
The gracious Shepherd
Of wayward sheep
And frolicking lambs

Dear Shepherd of sheep and lambs,

Is it well with You today?

It’s easy for me to experience equanimity when the sun is shining. Right now it’s gorgeous. Bright, warm and inviting.

Yesterday was a drippy mess of clouds and chilly air. Music helped. So did writing. And making a big pot of soup. Yet in the end, even this can’t last forever.

I wonder what You did when things didn’t seem to go as planned? I already know You prayed a lot. What else did You do as You approached death?

You see, I don’t want to die. I don’t think You did, either. Even before the birth of COVID-19 (such a cold name for this vicious virus), I didn’t want to die.

Before You were so rudely arrested, were Your tears a sign of calm composure? I wonder if equanimity in the face of death is overrated. Not necessarily bad, but overrated. So many people are dying ‘early’ these days.

Please advise.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 April 2020
Photo found at edgarsmission.org.au

Sunday morning musings

Sunday morning
Sitting near the back row
In a neighborhood church
Pondering the reality
That I am now one of the
Old Folks at Home
An aging white woman
Wondering what on earth
I have to offer this generation
Drowning in possibilities
I never dreamed about

A life —
That’s all I have
A life already lived
Partially grieved and celebrated
Now halfway resting
In this odd space
Called retirement with
all the time in the world
yet no spare time to be found

So what’s left to offer?
Just one thing comes to mind —

Smiles
Free smiles and maybe a kind word
No manipulation
No smirking
No hesitation
No holding back
No looking away
No pretending not to see
the child or young person before me
carrying an invisible cup running over
too often with confusion, self-judgment or worse

Smiles
That’s all I have to offer
Smiles that say
With or without a word
I’m so happy to see you today!
Smiles that reflect our Creator’s delight
in each child or young person’s beauty
whether they get this yet or not

Simple things. That’s what I can do. No promises made. No lists of things to do after this moment. Just a smile and a silent prayer for that child or teenager already dealing with the heaviness of being in this world. Who can’t relate to that?

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 February 2020
Photo found at pinterest.com

Morning Poem | Mary Oliver

No “orange sticks of the sun” this morning. Just rain, gusty wind, and the nonstop sound of water draining from the gutters. Nonetheless, Mary Oliver’s poem invites me into a world waiting with open arms. My comments follow.

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches –
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries in it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead –
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging –

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted –

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

© Mary Oliver, 1992, in New and Selected Poems, Vol. One, pp 106-07
Published by Beacon Press

I don’t have to feel happy and upbeat every morning. This poem isn’t about how I feel. It’s about what I’m already being offered, and what I already need no matter how I feel.

I don’t even have to pray. The gift is already there. Ready and waiting for me to discover it. The answer to what I’ve always wanted. The world re-created overnight. Wild and beautiful. Carrying on with or without me. An answer to a prayer I never even prayed.

I’m encouraged when I think about Mary Oliver’s life. She left everything in order to make a life for herself. One day at a time. Heading upstream. One small observation at a time, plus a few words ‘thrown together.’ Mary Oliver lived what she wrote, and wrote what she lived.

No magic wand or mantra can make it all come out right. Still, each morning we’re offered the gift of another day. Plus imagination to look beyond the heaviness of today, and see that dark pond of water lilies blazing with color.

Praying you’ll have a glimpse of blazing lilies today.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 27 October 2019
Photo found at etsy.com

To the Gardener after reading Psalm 1

Your words, so beautiful to read,
Crush me beneath the weight of
Life already lived – a great muddle
Of garden-rich vegetables plus toxic
Stew of tongue and cheek hurled
My way, often from my own mouth.

At this age I’ve little left but memories,
Plus ever-present directives from
Well-meaning people and ill intentions
From the other kind. To say nothing of
My own sometimes distressed mind
And body seeking solace and reassurance
That I matter to somebody if not
To myself.

Here, then, is my request:
I long to start over as a small tree
Planted by rivers of clear, pure water,
Guarded and pruned by Your hands
Alone. If this is not possible, I would
Also settle for a long and lovely
Winter’s nap.

From one of Your elderly fans,
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 June 2019
Image found at JackMaxwellArt.com

gray clouds

gray clouds
hang overhead
ready to burst
at will

my umbrella
small and fragile
the only solace
I might carry
hangs on a doorknob
in my bedroom

unknowns pile on
one after another
an alphabet soup
of indecipherable
medicalese pointing
to things I cannot see
in this dim light

How long oh Lord?

brinkswomanship
does not become me
with so much planning
and packing to do
before that last trip
home

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 July 2018
Photo found at AccuWeather.com

In the presence of my enemies

It’s January 2006. I got to my office early, and was preparing to drive to the airport and catch a flight to Houston, Texas, to be with my sister Diane who was dying of ALS. She had opted for comfort care at home. No food and no medication. Just fluids and whatever would comfort her. This might be my last visit with her.

As I was about to leave my office, the phone rang. It was D. His premonitions were correct. The president of the university had just requested D’s resignation. So here it was, after several years of difficult personnel and budget issues.

No, D didn’t want me to cancel my flight. Instead, I flew to Houston in a stupor of spousal pain and rage, and gave D a call that evening. I continued as dean at the seminary. D was now free to follow his heart and eventually accepted a position with an international organization he’d helped birth.

Now it’s August 2008. I’m on a platform in the university gym along with other dignitaries. We’re in full regalia, ready for the fall convocation, installation of new faculty, and installation of the new chancellor of the university. The man chosen as the next provost, one of D’s friends and faculty colleagues, would be installed as the new chancellor. My job was to offer the installation prayer.

Inside, I was a mess. When the time came, I stood at the lectern facing the university faculty along with our seminary faculty. A number of university faculty had been unhappy with D’s administration. Some bitterly so.

On the outside I was a professional. On the inside I was in melt-down, shaking in my spirit and fully aware I was facing some university faculty who felt like enemies, along with many others who still grieved D’s resignation.

The newly minted chancellor stood next to me, and I invited everyone to stand with me for the prayer. It was simple and direct. And yes, it was a prayer for me and for D, not just for the new chancellor.

The prayer made use of Psalm 23. I couldn’t find the original script. It went something like this:

Because the Lord is your shepherd and knows everything about you, you will never lack for anything you need.
When you’re weary, may you find rest in green pastures, and follow your shepherd to pools of quiet waters.
When your soul is troubled, may you find restoration, and be guided in paths of right relationships that bring honor to your shepherd.

When you go through times of deepest darkness and despair, may you fear no evil;
Your shepherd will be with you, to find and comfort you no matter what happens.
When your shepherd prepares a banquet for you, and your enemies are looking on or sitting at the table, know that you are an honored guest in the Lord’s house, worthy of the best wine in the world.

Finally, remember that this goodness and mercy will be with you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord, your good shepherd, forever.

Amen

I don’t understand all the dynamics of this event. Nonetheless, when I sat down I was calm inside, ready for whatever came next.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 June 2018

Yesterday evening – a prayer of lament

Most evenings I take time to jot down how I’m feeling. Sometimes I’m so weary I can scarcely keep my eyes open.

But yesterday evening was different. I’d spent time that evening going through old files from years of teaching and being a graduate student. Part of me was laughing and enjoying seeing some of the cheeky things I’d written in my younger years. The other part of me kicked in near the end—a little voice that wouldn’t let me go.

So when I sat down in the late evening with my journal, this is what I wrote to God—a prayer of lament, I think.

Oh God, I feel so empty tonight—so out of touch with the woman I am today. It seems my best work and my most memorable efforts are all in the past. Filed away in boxes of paper crammed with words—so many that I scarcely recognize myself back then.

Where did they all go? — Those words, ideas, images, insights, sparkling clear roadmaps to my past life and thinking and feeling.

They seem much more alive and important than anything I might manage to eke out today or tomorrow. Such high hopes and noble ambitions. And now this?

Please look kindly on my confusion through the eyes of Your merciful providence, and give me gratitude.

Then I went to bed and promptly fell asleep. A bit sobered, yet grateful for memories of so many good women and good men. And for the privilege of having touched their lives, and been touched by theirs.

I’m not the woman I thought I was when I arrived at the seminary to study or to teach. Or even when I began this blog.

Today I’m working on a piece for later this week. It’s about one of the most difficult subjects I’ve had to deal with personally and institutionally, as a member of various churches and as professor and dean at the seminary. Sexuality.

Thanks for reading and listening. And for helping grow me into the woman I am today.
Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 March 2018
Photo found at pixabay.com

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