I Asked God

“So, what did you do this summer?”

September is typically the month when children, teens and adults are asked–in some manner–how they lived the previous 80 days.

“So, what did you do this summer?”

Typically, the answers include a list of summer want-to-do’s and summer have-to-do’s: summer trips, summer camps, summer adventures, summer gardens, summer fruits, summer vegetables, summer canning, summer projects, summer rituals, and summer traditions. And, typically, the answers include a summer surprise or two.

“So, what did you do this summer?”

The past three months have marked my third summer living in zip code 14569. I am native to the Mojave Desert in southern California, where daytime summer temperatures typically reach 115 to 120 degrees. A summer in a desert of California differs significantly from a summer in the farmlands of Western New York.

What did I do this summer?
I foraged my way through the rich intricacies and broad idiosyncrasies of summer life in Western New York: a Strawberry Social, a Fourth of July parade, a town festival, a Christmas in July, a county fair, endless yard sales, ceaseless fruit stands, countless vegetable stands, “Shake on the Lake,” Angel Action’s Divine

Delights, a summer reading list that included a half dozen books on sacred stories and spirituality, and…

…I asked God two questions:

“What would you have me do for you this summer?”

“What would you have me do for me this summer?”

The answer that I discerned for the second question involved personal and interpersonal “projects,” i.e., undergoing medical examinations as well as making relational reconnections with dear friends.

The answer that I discerned for the first question involved structural troubleshooting and spiritual planning for the life of our family of faith, The United Church of Warsaw. Divine guidance revealed some short-term snapshots and some long-term panoramas for our faith community.

One of the spiritual snapshots to which I was guided this summer was a poetic prayer printed in Weekapaug Chapel’s self-published Book of Worship. Weekapaug Chapel is a humble but hearty place of worship that principally serves summer visitors and tourists in Weekapaug, Rhode Island. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west, Weekapaug is a tiny beach-front community connected to Westerly, Rhode Island. In the winter, the population of Weekapaug barely hovers at 50. But, in the summer, its population easily swells to more than 300 people.

The following prayer is typically prayed aloud during the summer by worshipers in
Weekapaug Chapel. It is, however, a prayer for all seasons. I have adapted it for this holy space of reflection.

I Asked God

I asked God to take away my pride.
And God said, “No.
It is not up to Me to take it away but for you to give it up.”

I asked God to grant me patience.
And God said, “No.
Patience is a by-product of tribulation. Patience isn’t granted; it’s earned.”

I asked God to give me happiness.
And God said, “No.
I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you.”

I asked God to spare me pain.
And God said, “No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you
closer to me.”

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
And God said, “No.
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.”

I asked God to help me love others as much as God loves me.
And God said, “Yes.
Now you understand.”

****

In the month of September, we typically detach from the tempo of summer, and we reattach to the rhythm of routine. On September 14, Homecoming Sunday, we re-gather to reunite with our family of faith to rejoin our journey of faith. May you join us!

In this month, too, may you rekindle your own season of prayer. May you know that prayer is as much about your listening as it about your speaking.
Ask God.

Then listen for God’s answer.

Beside you in the journey of faith,
Rev. Barbara