Tell him what you want

Hiding Place (Psalm 32:7)

Ah, there are those days
When the best place to be
Is hiding out with you
Where stillness is to be found
And perspective from problems.
Where hope can be restored
And peace re-enters the mind.
Where joy waits to be savored
And mourning given her due.
Thank you for being my Hiding Place

Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name

It was just a couple of weeks ago that I had an amazing life intersection with my first grade teacher, Sr. Mary Amy. She is Sr. Joyce Rupp now, an author, a retreat speaker and the co-director of the Institute of Compassionate Presence. The passage above is from the September 18 entry from a devotional she wrote. And today, it put my own prayer into beautiful form.

Psalm 32:7 says “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverence.”

When I was a very little girl and I was sad or scared I had a hiding place that I never told anyone about. (Well, I told Steve recently. I tell him everything. Poor man…) I was scared of the dark when I was young. When it was time for lights out at the end of the night I always wanted Daddy to leave the hall light on and our bedroom door cracked open a bit so I could still see the light. That’s when I could fall asleep. It seems funny to me now. I saw the light. I closed my eyes and it was dark. I went to sleep. But it worked.

In the middle of the night if I woke up and got scared, I went to my hiding place. I got up very quietly so as not to wake up Susan and Jana, crept quietly down the hall so I didn’t wake up Sally and Cathy across from us or Heather and Heidi next to us, made my way stealthily through the kitchen and over to my dad’s room. Then I gently opened his bedroom door, and breathing as silently as I could, closed it behind me…and crawled under the bed. Not in the bed. Under the bed, with the box springs just brushing my face, I would lie there and wait for my heart to stop pounding and just rest knowing that my father was right there. Nothing could harm me or get me. I was protected from trouble, just like the psalmist says.

There is not a lot that scares me anymore. In that I mean I don’t feel afraid for myself. I feel fear for those I love – known and unknown to me – like Jana, the folks in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, the children at a school where a gunman shows up, journalists and relief workers being held and killed by ISIS.

But I am not afraid of the dark.

I am afraid of darkness, however, like the darkness that has come into our family through the murder of our little sister Cathy. I am afraid that this man has not only killed Cathy but has brought the darkness of what he did to her into our minds and our dreams. What if he gets out? What if he does this again to someone else’s sister or daughter or mother? What if? The light in the hallway is out and even though I remember the way to my dad’s room, he is not there anymore and I can’t crawl under the bed. Even if I could, I’m 55 years old for crying out loud and it hurts to get down that low.

But there it is in Psalm 32 verse 7 and brought back to me by Sr. Joyce this morning. My hiding place is not under a bed. It’s in the arms of my Father God. It’s in the midst of my prayers to him and the songs I sing for him and his arms as Steve holds me and tells me we will get through this together. All of us. He is under my bed and over my bed and beside my bed and he even crawls in there with me.

And he hears my prayers. He speaks with me. He answers. He calms. He offers his peace.

And here is where another intersection/intercession came for me this morning.

On Facebook this morning there was this lovely gift of a song, “Jesus on the Mainline.”

Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
Jesus on the main line, tell Him what you want
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want

You can call Him up, call Him up and tell Him what you want
You can call Him up, call Him up and tell Him what you want
Call Him up, call Him up and tell Him what you want
Go on, call Him up and tell Him what you want

His line ain’t never busy, tell Him what you want
His line ain’t never busy, tell Him what you want
His line ain’t never busy, tell Him what you want
Go on, call Him up and tell Him what you want

It was being sung by one of those people I love but I’ve never met, Tripp Hudgins, a pastor and doctoral student who blogs at I first read one of his posts at several years ago. I was totally blown away by his biography and his writing. He’s a Baptist pastor, serving then at an Episcopal church and writing about a Catholic saint. I printed out the post and shared it with George, my pastor at the time, because it was so ecumenical. I found him on Facebook, and God bless him, he accepted my friend request.

Tripp is a musician along with everything else he is and does. He regularly posts videos of his playing one of the stringed instruments he is such a master of. And he sings in this ocean-deep bass voice that can touch the high notes as well. He lives in California and apparently he gets up very early, as the video of this wonderful song was posted at 7:00 a.m. my time, which is Central, two hours later than his.

And he sang these words of the God who is my hiding place: His line ain’t never busy, tell him what you want. And so I did. “Please Father, send your peace. Send it to my family in the midst of the darkness of justice which is playing hide-and-seek for our sister. Send it to my brothers and sisters in the Middle East where the darkness of ISIS stalks and storms. Send it to a world that needs your light. Bring us out from under the bed into your arms of love.”

In your hiding place, in the dark, or in the sweet light of the sun, tell him what you want.

Glimpses from the first week of September

Calendar pageI don’t think of myself as a Monday through Friday kind of person, but I must be. When a Monday holiday happens like it did this week with Labor Day, it really throws me for a loop the rest of the week. I am disoriented about what day it actually is. To make this week even more off kilter, I was sick on Wednesday and out of the office on Thursday at a conference. So I am just trying to think about what happened in the past Monday through Friday cycle. Amazingly enough, there were sweet glimpses of the kingdom that came in the most disconnected of places!

Through email, I have been in contact with my first grade teacher, then known as Sr. Mary Amy, and now reintroduced to me as Sr. Joyce Rupp, a prolific and profound author who has blessed many with her poems, books, retreats and spiritual intercessions. I can only offer gratitude to God for this amazing gift. I ordered two of her books, one of which is a daily devotional about the names of God called “Fragments of Your Ancient Name.” The reading for September 4 (yesterday) sums up the glimpses of the kingdom I have had this week:

Irresistible Beauty (Wisdom 7:29)

You have overpowered my heart
In moments of unsuspecting prayer
By slipping into my fat distractions
And quietly closing my mind-door.
You have abruptly stunned me
In those moments with creation
When a look, a sound, a touch
Of the ordinariness before me
Breathed its adoration of you.
How blessed I am, how blessed.

Today: I find you in the ordinary beauty I behold.

At a women’s conference with my co-workers just yesterday, I found my nugget of the kingdom in a video about a handful of rice. Have you seen this? Have you heard of this? Amazing! You should watch it here:

The poorest of the poor in Mizoram, India, giving from what little they have back to the kingdom. They don’t come to church as consumers seeking to be entertained, to be taught, to receive services like weddings or funerals. They come out of gratitude and in thanksgiving to the one who meets all their needs: Give us today the bread that doesn’t run out.

At a retirement ceremony for a man I have come to know at church and call a friend, I experienced the love that others have for him. How I know Jeff is how others know him as well: a man with a deep commitment to those who have served, a heart of compassion for those he works with and those he works for, a wicked sense of humor, a way that invites everyone in and keeps no one out. A man who follows the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength and the one just like it, to love his neighbor as himself.

I have watched parents this week find their prodigal son and receive him into their arms as he left a jail cell, and then proceed to drive him miles from home to take up residence in a place where he can get the help he needs.

I have sat with another mother whose son has just lost a friend in a very avoidable way. And I pray for that young man’s family in their loss, and for all of his friends who will learn a hard lesson about life: our choices do matter. There are consequences and they are hard. But we have spaces to grieve together and God joins us there.

I have welcomed my brother home from his adventure of a lifetime in the desert of Nevada and know that he has participated in something that his heart and soul thirsted for that could only be found in that dry land.

I have seen another sister off with her beloved and their antique tractors to drive across a bridge in a state 1500 miles from where they live to pay homage to a more innocent time in our country, when we didn’t take simple pleasures for granted but celebrated them.

I have been loved by a husband who works hard all day and then comes home to listen to all this pour out of my head and heart. And even when it doesn’t make sense to anyone but me, still listens and shares the words I need to hear: “I love you, Julie. You’re not crazy. You have a big heart.”

“The ordinariness before me.” Indeed.

Thy kingdom come. Monday through Friday. Sunday and Saturday, too. Every day. In everything. Always and forever. Amen.