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Archive for the tag “friend”

Jessica’s Prayer – by Naomi Kirstein 9/11/2015

jessica sleepy

As I was wrestling with what to pray during Jessica’s memorial service, I thought again about the night of her younger sister Rebecca’s birth.

When Rebecca was born, I was privileged to have the task of coming to get Jessica when Mom and Dad were ready to go to the hospital.

I went to visit Jessica a few weeks before the birth to talk through the details with her. I did not want her to be afraid when I came to pick her up. I explained it might be in the morning. It might be in the afternoon, or night, or even in the middle of the night. She would need to pack her suitcase so that she was ready to go. She sat attentively on the couch listening as if she was picturing the possible scenarios. After the brief conversation I asked her if she had any questions. No. And off she went to play.

One night soon after we talked, the phone rang: “It’s show time!”

“On my way,” I said as I got up from the chair.

“Oh and so are the Medics. We might have this baby on the kitchen floor!”

“Oh OH! I’ll be right over!”

When the time came, it was not at all how I had envisioned it! As I drove to their house I prayed and hoped that Jessica would not be scared by all the commotion that must be going on in the house as Medics arrived and her mom was in the final stage of labor.

I walked down the hallway to the bedroom to wake her.

She rubbed her eyes, and saw it was me.  She looked up with her big blue eyes, “Is it time to go now?” as if she had practiced the line.

“Yes.” I softly said.

She crawled out of bed, pointed to her suitcase and reached up for my hand. She calmly walked by the EMT’s.., firemen.., strangers streaming through the front door.

Jessica calmly held my hand past flashing lights on fire trucks in the driveway and sirens in the distance. She reached her arms around my neck without hesitation as I bent over to pick her up and securely place her in the back seat of my car so that I could take her away from the “emergency” and swirl of activity.

As I pictured this again in my mind again a few nights ago, a deep hunch settled in……. I wondered if this was how she crossed over. It is not how we plan our leaving, but life has its way with us…… the timeline of our experience here on earth can be broken at any moment.

I see her rubbing her eyes as the hand of Grace comes to her. She knows what to do. It is time. The inner compass has been honed throughout her life by the love of parents, step parents, a history of faith stories and people who have been a part of her support and friendships. She reaches out and holds the hand of Grace who carries her across the threshold to the reality of a new way of being.

After the hunch came I knew where to find the “prayers of the people” for her memorial. I went to her Facebook page.

In a culture that tends to give a polite nod to creation, Jessica was an exception. There are few selfies of Jessica on her face book page; she understood deep in her bones that she was not the center of her universe. With her camera, she documented what meant the most to her in life such as family, friends, the sky (stars, meteor showers and rain storms), flowers, butterflies, hummingbirds, marching bands, drum lines, jazz, rock and roll, faith, and Christmas. How we live is how we pray. It seems we can learn to pray authentically from Jessica’s camera lens on life; about what is essential to living in the midst of chaos, beauty, and connections.

And so, tonight I will use the lens of Jessica’s camera, “her photos she shared on Facebook” and the hundreds of comments about her kindness, to shape our prayers for the living. When I am finished with each request I will say, “O Lord, help us pay attention” and I invite you to repeat that same phrase. “O Lord, Help us to pay attention.”


Leader: God of Love and Grace, we are here because we are alive and being called by the gentle presence of Jessica’s life to wake up. We ask for forgiveness when we rush through our lives and fail to see the large as well as intricate beauty of your creation. We ask forgiveness for times we do not express and appreciate the love we share with friends, family. We ask forgiveness for times we are too busy to be kind, too focused on our success to pay attention to the stranger, the misfit, and the beauty that shows up at our doorstep.

(People) O Lord, Help us pay attention.

Leader: When we hear the drum line of a marching band help us loosen up and feel alive again as the pulsing of rhythm and sound moves down our backbone ….. embrace it as it vibrates through our bones until we feel our feet move and our torso sway inviting us to cheer or dance for those who are on our team.

When the sound of the brass and reed instruments in the marching band lift our spirits, dear God, help us to listen for the lyric breath of music coming from the flute section that will carry us to the sky.

(People) O Lord, Help us pay attention.

Leader: When we leave for our work day help us not to be so preoccupied that we would not notice a big green fat caterpillar crawling on our garbage cans.  Give us a new appreciation for the diversity of creation to stop, wonder, take a picture and proclaim our excitement to our world of friends, “This is the fattest caterpillar I have ever seen!”

(People) O Lord, Help us pay attention.

Leader: When the yellow hue of a flower garden fills our eyes, help us to be still and quiet so that, possibly one day, we may encounter a moment when a tiny vibrant green frog emerges on a singular petal of an effervescent yellow flower.

(People) O Lord, Help us pay attention.

Leader: When we see a storm coming on the horizon, give us courage to be still….to lift up our eyes and not be afraid of the drama between the sky and the earth.  Help us to not be afraid to feel the power of something greater than ourselves. When lightning drops from the heavens and strikes the earth….when thunder rolls through the skies, may we stand in awe, fear and humility……realizing that once again, by grace, we have survived the storm in spite of our smallness.

(People) O Lord, Help us pay attention.

Leader: Slow us down God. Help us learn the wisdom that was in the heart of Jessica, the young woman behind the lens of a camera who saw the beauty of life, creation, sky and universe. Help us learn the wisdom of one who was willing to wrestle, to cry, to laugh and to love….. Who lived herself into being a blessing and an act of kindness to those who crossed her path….. Who lived with Jesus’ teaching held as treasure in her pocket, so she might show love and kindness to both friend and stranger.

(People) O Lord, Help us pay attention.

Leader: Oh God, may we learn from the rich treasures that Jessica left with us: the wondering eye, the joy of discovery, her fear and reverence for the storm, and her ear for music and drama.

And at the end of the day O God, may we have our bag packed… for whatever journey life brings to us. When our time on earth is over, may we be resolute and calm. May we reach out with courage for the hand of Grace that will take us over the threshold from life as we know it to another way of life and being.

(People) O Lord, Help us pay attention.

O Lord, help us learn the wisdom that Jessica has left with us.

(People) O Lord, Help us pay attention…….Amen


40 Days

Ridin’ on a dark road

‘most forget the light

Lookin’ at the long goodbye

Do not miss that fight

I’ll climb on up toward Zion

Make the journey mine

Relax into the promise

One dream at a time

   Forty days… longtime gone

   Forty days… waitin’ for the dawn

Doesn’t make a lot o’ sense

But love sometimes just don’t…

Keep you in the present tense

And bein’ honest won’t…

Make you rich or make you brave

Win the day or make the save

But honest is its own reward

When you’re walkin’ forty days

   Forty days… longtime gone

   Forty days… waitin’ for the dawn

When the thirst and loneliness set in

You want to hold a hand

Reach for a drink of love

In the eyes you name as friend

Scuffle down a dirty road

But best not go alone

When you’re walkin’ forty days

From nameless into known

   Forty days… longtime gone

   Forty days… waitin’ for the dawn

Arm In Arm… by Randy Creath

waitin’ for a cue and warmin’ it up
lookin’ for a secret in an empty cup
runnin’ from the dark into the light
claimin’ I’m brave to stave off the fright
surfin’ out ahead of a hurricane
hangin’ on the edge of the wave’s chicane
ugly stares from the far right-wing
as I open my heart and start to sing
pretty words to tickle the ear
lies and innuendo to feed the fear
take your pick of poisons my friend
the message you choose, you’ve got to send
mystic bullshit or specious hope
drinkin’ brown liquor or smokin’ green dope
drown in the cesspool or make a choice
use your words or lose your voice
the time-liars tell you it’s all gonna end
the truth is more like it’s time to make friends
be like the good guy you’d like to be
walk out of the darkness, choose to be free
ain’t no shadows gonna hide the truth
ain’t no lies to deny the proof
just livin’ wise and spreadin’ sails
arm in arm on an unseen trail…
into tomorrow

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