Tag Archive | My Personal Daily Prayer Book

The Best Thing about Darkness

There seems to be much more darkness in the world today than there was a week ago, when I last posted my thoughts on this blog.

Clock and Calendar

In the most literal sense, the sun rose 9 minutes later today than it rose a week ago, and it will set 7 minutes earlier than it set a week ago – a net change of 16 minutes more darkness today than last Tuesday. By next Tuesday we’ll lose another 15 minutes of daylight. I don’t know how these times are calculated, but I trust the chart that is displayed on www.SunriseSunset.com. And, in a general sense, these times are confirmed by my personal observations. I’ve noticed that it’s getting dark a lot earlier in the evening, and I’ve noticed the same thing has happened this time of the year every year of my life. We’re moving into a season of darkness, a time when there is more darkness than light.

In a global news sense, the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night have brought a terrible sense of darkness across the whole world. How can there be so much hate in the world that people kill other people that they don’t even know? I don’t understand ISIS. But I don’t understand how we can turn a blind eye to people who don’t have food to eat and who will soon starve to death, either. And I don’t understand why there is extreme poverty in the world, in the United States, in Wisconsin, and yes, poverty, hunger, and homelessness even in my own home town. All around, we’re in a season of moral darkness, as well as having fewer hours of daylight.

eiffel-tower - night

The Eiffel Tower in Paris – the City of Light

Adding to this season of darkness, a friend of mine posted an entry on www.CaringBridge.com yesterday.

The days are darker and time seems to be going fast. After several consultations with my radiation oncologist and others on my cancer care team, I have chosen to start radiation once a day for 15 days. The team thinks it may shrink the [brain] tumors enough to slow down some of the cancer progress and symptoms. Discussion indicates possible life expectancy of two weeks, or two months, or who knows.

RuthAnn WilsonWell, those are all guesses. No one knows, of course. I will live every day the best I am able….

So far I have minimal pain and very loving care.

I have received many precious cards and letters from many of you. I treasure each one, and I enjoy reading them over and over, or having them read to me. I wish I could answer each one of you. Please know that I appreciate you so very much….

My friend is an inspiration to all of us who know her. Even though she is walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” she knows that God is with her, and she is comforted by God’s presence. Her strong faith and positive attitude are truly a comfort to all of us.

Lots of darkness is surrounding me today as I write this, but the best thing about a season of darkness was highlighted to me this morning as I read My Personal Daily Prayer Book by Christine A. Dallman and Margaret Anne Huffman.

Small deeds of goodness in the aftermath of trouble, like fireflies flickering against a dark sky, can blanket the world with sparkling lights.

When Mim and I still lived on the farm, sometimes on summer evenings, after dark, just before going to bed, we would walk our dogs to the end of the driveway to look across the road at the soybean field, glowing with hundreds, maybe thousands, of fireflies hovering just above the plants like silent fireworks. It was a beautiful sight, one that could only be seen in the darkness.

Fireflies over field

I can’t stop the days from getting shorter this time of year.  I can’t stop terrorists from killing. And I can’t feed everyone in the world who is starving. But I can listen to someone who is grieving. And I can send a card to let someone know I’m thinking about them and praying for them. And I can donate to the local food pantry.

I like the image of being one of the fireflies hovering over the dark field. Care to join me? Together we can make a marvelous display of hope above the darkness.

Fireflies close up

Frustrated?

Frustrated bodyHave you ever had one of those really frustrating days? Nothing is going your way. The clock radio was full of static when it woke you up in the morning. You were out of milk for breakfast.  The traffic was heavy and slow, and someone just cut you off. You can feel the frustration growing in you and you need a release.

Prayer BookOne morning last week I came across a prayer for that kind of day. I haven’t said much about the prayer book that’s part of my daily devotional reading for this year, My Personal Daily Prayer Book by Christine A. Dallman and Margaret Anne Huffman (©2003 Publications International, Ltd., Lincolnwood, IL). Each day’s page begins with a Bible verse and then provides a prayer. Sometimes the prayer is a quotation. Sometimes it’s written by the authors of this prayer book. Usually the prayer is very informal, very personal.

Here is the page from May 12, last Tuesday:

They refused to obey… they stiffened their necks…. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them.  [Nehemiah 9:17]

The people around me are driving me nuts, God. Traffic was backed up on the tollway, the checkout counters were flooded with carts and strange characters, and the sidewalks were crowded and crunched. My mood overtook my manners today, and I stubbornly refused to say “after you,” “excuse me,” and “please” until I heard a three-year-old in the parking lot say politely to her mother, “Thank you.” With an apology on my lips, help me climb out of this rut of irritation and shame and make amends. Help me learn from my mistakes and do better for the rest of this day.  

frustrationThe next day, May 13, the authors were still talking about having a bad day. The Bible passage was:

Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. [Habakuk 3:17-18]

The prayer was:

Murphy’s law sometimes seems to characterize my life, God, but I don’t want to have a defeatist attitude. You allow difficulties to come my way to refine my character. Help me see setbacks as challenges and not as curses. Help me approach problems as opportunities to learn and grow and not as insurmountable walls. Teach me to have a tenacity of faith that can find a reason to be happy, even in adversity. Amen.

Frustration signSome days an extra comment or quotation follows the prayer. On May 13, a short poem (almost a limerick, except the first line doesn’t rhyme) ended the page:

‘Tis easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows along like a song;
     But the man worth while
     is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong.
    [Ella Wheeler Cox, “Worth While”]

I smiled when I read that. The inevitable experience of having a bad day on occasion doesn’t mean I can’t smile and make the best of the situation. Despite everything that seems to be happening around me, I know God still loves me, and that should help lighten my mood.

Fortunately, I’ve been having lots of good days lately, and very few bad days. However, I’m going to try hard to remember the pattern of the prayers (and the near-limerick) from May 12 and 13, and to pray a similar prayer the next time my day starts with static on the clock radio, no milk for my cereal, and way too many rude people crossing my path.

Nothing ever frustrated Megabyte more than the monstrous vacuum cleaner!

Nothing ever frustrated Megabyte, our first dog, more than the vacuum cleaner monster!