Friday, April 19, 2013

Prayers, Pencils and Markers...Oh My!

I don't know about you, but sometimes when there is a major tragedy, I don't know how to pray. This week, we've read about the explosions at the Boston Marathon set intentionally. We've read about the explosion in West, Texas - not intentional but killing and hurting many people. We've read about an explosion set in a coffee shop in Iraq killing 27. When did it get to be that you cannot run a race without the fear of violence? You cannot drink a cup of coffee without wondering if the next customer ordering a Skinny Latte is contemplating what it will be like to blow you up? It is overwhelming. The state of the world can be overwhelming.

Sometimes, I just want to turn the news off. Close my eyes. Pretend that as long as things are ok at my home address, that is all that matters.

I struggle with prayer during these times. Actually, prayer is an ongoing struggle...but since Advent, I've been experimenting with different ways to pray. Started with my old stand-by of silence, psalms and writing. In the last month, I haven't felt as close to God as I've continued in my routine. Purchased a book called 50 Ways to Pray, and wow, that has been a great resource for just settling down my stirred up mind.

BUT, yesterday, I received a book called "Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God" by Sybil MacBeth. I know it sounds weird, but when you are practicing God stuff, sometimes you do weird things. Anyway, this book is about using colors and drawings (doodles really) to create prayers. I tried it this morning, and would you believe 50 minutes went by before I remembered to check the time? It worked for me today. It was powerful for me today.

Maybe because with explosions and stuff, I just don't know how to pray. Comfort? Strength? Justice? With the state of our nation, I just don't know how to pray. Sometimes, I don't know the words to say or write...but these colors, these little sketches brought new words to my mind. New phrases. New questions. It worked for me today.

So, I splurged...bought brand new fully sharpened colored pencils (24 of them), markers, and a sketch pad. It was the same excitement I had as a child when I got a Crayola Caddy for Christmas.  I had to remind myself that I was just starting, and I do not need to purchase the entire store.

I like to try different ways to connect to God. And, colored pencils are kind of fun.  Maybe one day, I will post one of my visual prayers...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Goodbye Cokesbury

Today, I made what will be my last trip to the Cokesbury store in Raleigh. They are closing all of the stores and going internet only. I received a card saying that all of their merchandise was now 50% off, so I drove over to check out their supplies and books. I did not expect to see so many empty shelves and empty walls, nor did I expect to feel sad about it...but I did.

I became a frequent visitor to Cokesbury 13 years ago when I started seminary. Our class books were ordered through their store, and they gave all of the students a small discount. When I was ordained, I went to Cokesbury with my mother and pastor to pick out a robe. You may think that all black robes are the same...but they are not. Mine is made from a soft, breathable fabric that feels like peach fuzz. Because my size was in stock that day, they gave me a discount.

When I began serving as a pastor, I went to Cokesbury for commentaries, preaching material, curriculum, personal devotional books, Advent and Lenten resources, stewardship supplies, and sometimes I went just to check out the newest authors for my own reading. Since I've been at Drew, I've been to Cokesbury for class books and research materials.

Today, Jeanne waited on me - and she has helped me before. She has ordered books for me. Engraved them for me...and just taken care of things. I realize the world is going to the internet, but what the internet won't be able to do, is call me by name - well, ok, maybe the internet can remember my name, but the internet cannot recognize me with eyes. Jeanne can. Molly can. And, the internet cannot give me that personal touch, one on one help when you need a Bible for a pre-teen or when you need some kind of curriculum that might appeal to boys or whatever. And, the internet cannot tell you if you are about to accidentally by some religious hoo-hah.

So, although their selection had started to dwindle by today, I managed to purchase $158 worth of books today - actually, I suppose that is $316 worth since they were all half off. Some of it was pastor's class material, books on the Holy Spirit for an upcoming paper, a bible study book for tweens, and several books that I hope will challenge my own spirit and my prayer life.

I am thankful to have shopped at Cokesbury for these many years, and I will miss them.