Prayer for the Woman in the Minivan Putting on Her Makeup at the Stoplight

I blame my friend, Tanya Marlow, for forcing me to make room to write this one out. You can blame her, too.

Prayer for the Woman in the Minivan Putting on Her Makeup at the Stoplight
After Brian Doyle

I will say, at first, that I’m glad you weren’t checking social media or texting or even reading email while you waited, which is what I see so many people doing these days while driving, and even myself, I confess. Father, forgive me. And I know you will probably be embarrassed that I saw you leaning into the small mirror in the visor before you, carefully dragging the mascara wand through lashes you most likely think are too thin or not curly enough or too short. But in seeing you in that moment I saw the vast and vulnerable humanity of us all—caught in between here and the world to come—trying desperately in our own small and humble ways to make the world a little bit more beautiful, a little bit more worthy of being looked at in the eyes when being talked to, a little bit more redeemed. However misguided our fumbling attempts, however we contain the sunsets with gilded frames and inspirational quotes—as if the glory of the Heavens needed a paint job—we are still trying, all of us, our engines idling in the rush between dropping off the kids and getting to the meeting, to bring the world into focus, to call forth something magnificent. And you did, you know: you and Cover Girl. You showed me the face of God. And so, amen.

A Picture of Ash Wednesday

Maybe it’s the way the sun is shining today. Maybe it’s the tired ache in me, the ache that longs for life and restoration. But when I saw this video, just after returning from an Ash Wednesday service that reminded me repentance is not about getting things right for God, but allowing God to come and rescue me, I saw Christ all over it.

Yes, there are loving men and women in these stories, and I don’t want to minimize them, either. Because when we become people who have been restored to who we truly are, when we are rescued and loved and held and know our worth to the One, we become people who rescue and restore and love. That’s what Lent is all about, and this is a beautiful picture of Ash Wednesday.


Let The Church Brokenhearted Sing

Today I attended the funeral of a dear friend, a life cut short, but lived so well. Last night, I got a message from a friend who was in lockdown on the campus of Seattle Pacific University, the site of another school shooting. In the evening, students gathered to pray on the lawns as their classmates struggled for their lives in a local hospital. Today’s service was beauty and grief intertwined—as a colleague, friend and spiritual director said to me, “This sucks. And this is glorious.” Something that our friend herself would have said, I’m sure. As I wept and sang the songs of worship that she loved, I was filled with the reality of how music becomes our Pentecost reality—speaking across nations and cultures, tongues and tribes, theological interpretations and views on Scripture. It was a holy place, and out of it comes this prayer, for me, for us all, as we commemorate Pentecost this Sunday.


A Prayer for Pentecost Day
on the occasion of the funeral of my friend, Heather

Let the Church brokenhearted
sing. Not in triumph as we enter
the gates of the city, waving our
victory like so much oppression. Not
in despair, downtrodden, exiled and
wailing for the rivers that ran sparkling
through our camps. No. Let the Church,
brokenhearted sing
hope through our pain, though
death come, though
we grieve and mourn, wearing ashes
that betray the tracks of our tears, let
the bright tongues of fire alight over us
as we sing in the tongues of all
created things yearning toward home,
let us sing the songs of Pentecost believing
that holy language will visit us, that we will
become a bright flame of love, our grief
burning into something beautiful.

Oh, yes.

Let the Church, brokenhearted,


With Loud Cries and Tears by Jan Richardson

image source, used by permission

On The Night He Was Betrayed – From The Archives

On this Holy Thursday, this day of love, of service, of betrayal, I thought I’d repost this reflection from the blog archives. It was on a night such as this…

• • •

My jaw spasmed, clenching tight. Pain rippled through me.

Maundy Thursday. My favorite day of the year.

I had taken the driver’s seat on the way to service. We were late. I drove aggressively. Careless enough of the cares of others on the road that my jet-lagged husband mentioned it. I hate being late.

And so I speed walked my way to the chapel, trying to control the pace, refusing to reach out for my husband’s hand, he who I had been without for nearly two weeks, who I professed to missing more than anything in the world. I needed to be on time. I need to be in the right.

But we weren’t late. Not really. I had read the time wrong, and we were half an hour early, there for rehearsals, instead. It was then the first pain shot through my jaw. I rubbed at it absently and went to help fill the tubs for the foot washing with hot, hot water. Hot was we could stand. It would cool as the service progressed.

Continue reading “On The Night He Was Betrayed – From The Archives”

Why I’ve Been Silent

Friends, an apology.

I know it’s not necessary. I know you will understand. I know because of the beauty of your souls and the glory that is in each of you, the shimmer of God’s image that graces you every time you smile. I know.

But I wanted to say it (write it! per Elizabeth Bishop), because I had the best intentions for Holy Week.

Instead of writing out a reflection on each of the icons for Holy Week, a kind of guide and confessional, a sense of watching the mystery unfold together, I’ve been thrown into a living icon of this week. One I didn’t choose, but chose me, chose us—which is what Holy Week is all about anyway.

On Tuesday, my beautiful community of stumbling saints and sassy sinners lost one of our own in a horrible accident. Kevin leaves behind a deep-hearted wife and a 5-year-old pixie girl, and our community reels, our hearts smashed.

Kyrie eleison
Christi eleison
Kyrie eleison

That’s what we’ve been breathing in and out, what I’ve been breathing in and out—gasping, hoping, living this week together.

There are no meditations on icons here this week because I am living in one. It is holy. It is hard. It is hopeful.

Tonight we will wash one another’s feet, and watch the cross covered as Christ is taken away to be tired. Tomorrow, we will gather in solemnity, knowing His is crucified. Saturday, normally a day of holy silence, we will break the hush to honor the life of a man we love, whose life has been cut short. And Easter we will gather again—holy, hopeful, broken and brave.

I’ve been here, in this place, and not with you all, on this blog. I know that you understand, that you will pray with us and you know I am praying with you as you each journey into Holy Week in your own way.

Thank you for your grace as my plans were taken over by His plan. May that always be true of us.

It is hard. It is holy. It is hopeful.

Maternal Womb by Sieger Koder
Maternal Womb by Sieger Koder

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

A Mother’s Love

Today’s icon for Holy Week is called “The Bridegroom” and is a central image for this week.


The image represents the watchfulness of Christ, His presence and His coming, as well as our own responsibility in keeping awake for His coming. The parable of the ten virgins will be our icon for tomorrow, but today, we gaze on Christ.

Interestingly enough, March 25 is also the Feast of the Annunciation—the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary. The Church celebrates this feast exactly nine months before Christmas, which finds us on the first Monday of Holy Week this year (a relatively rare occurrence.)

I’ve been reading Luke 1:26-28 in light of this concurrence of events, and as I stay with this image of Christ, I’ve begun to wonder how Jesus would have seemed to Mary this week. Would she have known, deep in her somewhere, that just as the angel came to tell her of His birth, that this week’s events were foretelling His death? What would a mother’s love have seen in this icon? What does that invite us to see in Him today?