Prayer for the Church and the Compost Heap

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O Holy One,
Who stirs over the face of the waters,
Who created at the beginning, the garden,
Who gives us this vision of a heavenly city,
With a garden in the middle of it. 

May we, each individually and collectively,
be present,
with the journey of compost. 

May we be present with the decomposition,
to grieve,
to celebrate,
to let go. 

May we be courageous and active to being fertilizer for the next generations.
May we be purposeful and bold,
making choices not out of survival or comfort,
but from our love for all that is good and true.

And may we be curious, engaged, and on the lookout for new growth.
May we be delightfully surprised, and touched to the core of our heart,
When we see how you, O Holy One, are birthing Your New Church. 

We see a garden ahead of us,
The garden of the New Jerusalem,
with the river that flows through the city,
giving truth and quenching thirst,
to all who seek it.

The trees with leaves that heal the nations.
We see twelve gates,
welcoming all to enter and
come and take the water of life freely.

This garden,
where there is no temple,
where God is the center of the city.
And in this garden,
I do believe,
there probably is a
Compost Heap.
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Read The Compost Heap and the Church

God of Possibility


O Holy One,
With what abundance You create community,
You gather together those who light up as they follow You.
You weave together people and place,
History and future,
Practical and ethereal.
All for the gift of the interconnected,
And the Whole. 

O Holy One,
God of possibility,
God who dreams dreams,
And gives visions.
May I be attune and open,
With hands held out,
Free and ready to receive
with joy.

O Holy One,
God of the questions,
The Sacred Mystery,
The now and not yet.
Hold me in Your Great Unknowing.
Calm me when I want to leap,
Nudge me when it’s time to move,
Assure me in all that is possible
in You.

It is with gratitude,
and hands open to the questions,
in service to the Holy and humanity,
I pray,


Prayer on Waking

Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 Series 

One of the projects I was working on throughout the cross-cultural theology class to the UK was to develop some prayers for personal daily practice. These were developed orally, particularly during our time at the Iona Abbey. I’ve written some of them down to share here.

2013-06-09 14.18.18Prayer on Waking

Good morning God!
Breathing in,
O Holy One.

Thank you for rest,
Restoration to your Whole.

 Fill me with Your Light.
Fill me with Your Light.
Fill me with Your Light.

Align me in your presence,
Align me with your purpose,
Align me in your energy,
Align me for your movement this day.


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Traveling Sacred Space

Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 Series

This chair has taught me. It has held me these last two years as I have explored spiritual practice. In this chair, I did my homework for Dr. Carole Spencer’s Spiritual Formation and Personal Practice class. Part of our homework: 1/2 an hour a day of spiritual practice. The Daily Examine; an evening reflection of gratitude and self-examination. Sitting in the silence. Training myself little by little to be still and know God. Reflecting on scripture or sacred texts, and journaling. Each practice done with various degrees of consistency and success. More and more regularly as it slowly moved from “have to” to “get to.”

Spirituality and Peacemaking class with Dr. Lonnie Valentine broadened the definition of “spiritual practice.” I played my guitar, walked and sat in nature, did yoga, wrote, and started painting. This chair where I picked up paints and found a form of prayer.


Next to this chair you would find my craft table. Two stack of plastic tubs, the closet door I took off the hinges, all disguised with fabric, (the magic elixir for a decorator on a budget). This table held my paints and brushes, paper and pens. Ready and waiting for me to sit down in the chair, set the timer and melt into my time set apart.
The time always started with lighting a candle, and breathing a prayer of remembering the sacred at the altar. The altar that shifted and changed with flowers and shells, icon, roaches and art. Always holding the possibility of invitation to sacred space.

This chair. This table. This altar. My sanctuary. This sacred space and time that has become food and lifeline, sanity and gift.

And now it’s time to pack up and move. To leave the chair behind for the next tenants and to pack my large tablets of paper and altar art into boxes. I know it’s not really the physical things that make things sacred. Yet there’s something sacred in that which we dedicate as such. And there’s something that happens when my fingers guide that color-filled brush to the paper, the pencil to the journal page, the sound of the wick bursting into flame.

And so, I’ve been gathering. And when the cloths came down and the boxes sealed, two little pouches were already carefully stowed in my suitcase. My traveling spiritual practice kits.

Ready to be unpacked wherever I am, breathed on, and opened into the container for a time set apart.

Prayer for Boston

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For the runners,
Legs outstretched,
Finish-line in sight,
We pray.

For all who felt,
The ground shake,
Who heard the blast,
And blast again,
We pray.

For the emergency personnel,
Who sprung into action,
Coupling training and courage
To respond,
We pray.

For the loved ones,
Near and far,
Eyes glued to the screen,
Waiting to hear the familiar text tone,
Longing for the message of
“I’m alright,”
We pray.

For unknown persons,
For faces not yet reveled,
For motives not known
And causes yet detected,
We pray.

For the many who pause,
As news of a tragedy appears
On our newsfeed.
Just close enough to feel it,
Just far away enough to
Wonder how to respond.
We stop.
We breathe.
We invite Compassion
Healing and Peace
And we pray.

Praying the News

Last Friday the Earham Community was rocked by the news that three students were hit by a train, one died on impact and the other two in critical condition. The following is an offering to grapple with the impact on the community as some of us experienced it that day.


We feel the familiar heart-catch when we see the headline,

But this one we can’t brush aside,
And merely send up a prayer for
unknown faces in some other city.

Someone’s loved one, yes,
but by luck, or grace, not our own.

Today the news has invaded our boundary,
of safety,
of being exempt from the tragedies that make headlines.

the news starts with “Earlham Community in mourning after…”
And that is you and me.

Reporters down by the giant Nutcracker in the corner of the furniture gallery that you walked by last week to get to Roscoe’s.
Faces of the injured on CNN.
Faces you’re used to seeing at the gym,
the library,
and walking by
on campus paths.

This news is not to pray and send good thoughts from afar.
This news is news to walk in and with.

People die every day,
63 train deaths in Indiana so far this year.
We can’t stop the world for each.

But today.
We know these faces.
We share campus paths,
gym equipment,
and library books.

We can’t stop the world at every tragedy.
We stop our campus today.

Our prayers are lifted up as we gather.
I light four candles.

Christ Light.

One for Therese, or Tracy, as her friends call her,

One for Lenore

One for Graham

Flowers by each candle.

Yellow: Hope and healing, for two.

Purple: Lament and remembrance, the third.

We walk, prayer in each step.

only broken by the crunch of leaves
beneath our mourning feet.

Our hands join those gathered in–
The Heart–pulsing,
with hearts beating and breaking
for heart stopped
and hearts struggling to be strong.

People connected.
Barriers broken down.
Spirit present.
I am present,
Aware to the aliveness around us,
Brought clear by the loss of life.
Tears move down my cheeks with those who weep.

We walk.
Side by side in silence.
Through the pine blossoms falling from the sky,
Even the trees are crying.

As are we
as we lift up the parents with our words
and imagine the phone ringing at 1:00 am.
Becoming the night they will never forget.

A quick tight squeeze, her arm around my waist,
the world needs to slow,
when one breath stops.

I call one of my younger brothers,
the one at college thousands of miles from home,
To hear his voice and know that for him it is just another day.

Anna Woofenden 2012

Praying the News: Disrupted

“Life (as usual) Disrupted” 

God of continuity, God with us in disruption.
We come to you claiming your Name as a Being of Love,
not a being of destruction.

We call to you as the force of Good,
and Life.

We call to you as the God who is present in loss,
and disruption.

We recognize Your presence in the rays of Light,
As neighbors connect to neighbors,
As help and relief come together and are offered,
As four-year-old’s learn what it is to be without electricity,
As front loaders roll through rivered streets,
picking up grandmothers off of porches,

As we watch the news on our laptops,  from our cozy  homes in Indiana, Colorado, California and Montana and we pause,
and connect to those we know and do not know,

As priorities are examined,
And we hold those we love close,
As we slow and bow in awe and humility at the force that Nature is,
As we wonder, the parts we play in the interconnected world we live in,
As we are interrupted,


1. to cause disorder
2. to destroy the normal continuance or unity; interrupt.
3. Break apart
4. Broken apart

When we are disrupted,
Shine Your Light into our hearts and lives,
Show us Your Way as you bring healing in the cracks and crevices,

May we notice,
and be present to,
the precious,
the sacred,

When disruption comes,
May we use it,
Breakthrough our apathy,
Crack our stagnancy,
Shatter our certainty,
Crumble our consumerism,
and slice through our isolation.

May we be present
alongside our fellow sojourners on this planet,

present to the interconnectedness of all,
conscious in our actions and thoughts,
purposeful in our choices and intentions,
awake to life.

Awaken us, O Holy One,
When life is disrupted.


Praying the News

Last night in class my professor used the term “praying the news”. We were discussing the devastating effects of the hurricane and our various reactions. Drop everything and get in our cars and go help? Retreat into the overwhelm of our own end of semester worlds of papers and coursework? Pray the news? She offered the idea watching/listening/reading the news with a prayerful heart and noticing if there is a specific story that tugs on our hearts and then to hold that story in Light and prayer.

I’ve been praying in paint recently.

An expression of “praying the news” today.

The story of the babies in the NYU Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that had to be transfered during the hurricane has been lodged in my heart since the storm.  

Sitting with the loss and chaos,
the fear and uncertainty of the storm,
and the fragility and vulnerability of each tiny baby. 

Picturing Light and Warmth surrounding those that are vulnerable.
Offering honor and thanksgiving for the medical and emergency staff.
Honoring the tenacity and strength of human life–even the tiny-tiny ones.
Praying for comfort and healing for families.

O Holy One, hear our prayers.