Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lean on me

In one of the Psalms, the writer says, "The Lord is my strength and salvation...."

Daily, I rely on the Psalms in my spiritual journey. They are like food and drink for this weary soul.

When I am scared, weak, confused, facing darkness of many kinds, I find the Psalmist usually speaking to my heart.

Actually, God is speaking to me in the Psalms (and in other words of the Holy Scriptures), strengthening me.

Medieval wall on Iona
In fact, just the other day, I read one of the Psalms--I can't remember which--wherein the Psalmist affirms "God strengthens" me.

God does the same for me again and again and again.

That strength is his grace or supernatural help. His grace it unseen, usually, except when I receive it in the consecrated Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Communion.

Seen or unseen, God's grace is powerful. It excerts the necessary pull or push in me so that I can do what I must do, bear what I must bear, persevere when it would be so easy for me to give up on God, turning instead to my own feckless power, intelligence, will.

Whatever happens, then, I know God will give me his fortifying help. I know it because I believe it.

I make no apology: I need God to lean on.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A pilgrimage of trust

Jesus is always urging his followers to trust the providence of his heavenly Father. He knows he can.

On the cross, he lets go of self-possession fully and slips into the eternal life of God. His earthly birth, living, and death are acts of his daily surrender to the goodness of God. Jesus knows that God is with him always, and he can count on God always.

I am learning the same lesson again and again--certainly not in the glorious way of the Savior, but in the way that is my own--struggling against the strong winds and high tides of anxiety and fear and stumbling forward, I hope, ever deeper into God's safe embrace.

Iona from the Sound
On Saturday we left the Holy Isle of Iona in Scotland's Inner Hebrides for a long ferry and car trip--some 12 hours by our journey's end: in the Outer Hebrides on the Isle of Harris (home of one of my favorites, Harris Tweed jackets) and Lewis.

Main Street Iona
As we journeyed, I secretly worried--my response to feeling out of control--about making all the tight and complicated transport connections, which included collecting the car before the car hire office closed.

And what shall we do for food, arriving late on Saturday in Harris, after closing time?
What about Sunday, when shops and petrol stations will be shut? Will we find a Scottish Episcopal Church for Sunday worship?

All the while I am worrying, I am also praying. I am putting everything into God's hands. I cannot help my worrying, for I am human, but I can help myself to God through prayer.

As we travel, God is taking care of Penny and me beyond all our expectations. We make all our connections with time to spare. We meet wonderful travel companions along the way. We have time to buy some groceries in Uig before we take the ferry for Tarbert on Harris. We find our Saturday evening meal on board the ferry, thanks to the purser who says we might want to eat on board, because nothing will open in Tarbert. He is right, of course.

We have enough petrol to get to our seaside cottage in Grossebay and are safe on the perilous drive through thick darkness and sheeting rain and gale force winds. We get into the cottage and settle in for the night. Ours is an ancient and sturdy house, a former shepherd's cottage, or bothy, and a metaphor I think for my relationship with God amid the storms of life.

In the morning, which breaks in gloom and rain, we improvise a service of the Holy Eucharist on the kitchen table, Penny's Gordon clan scarf being our fair linen; oat cakes bought in Oban our Communion bread; a cup of champagne from the bottle left by the cottage owner for us, his guests for the week, our Communion wine. Little tea candles provide the light, and a Celtic cross from Iona makes a perfect altar cross.

And thus Christ provides all we need for this holy meal, our Eucharist, our thanksgiving to the God who is always with us, protecting and providing for us and his whole creation.