I spent a week in North Carolina at a retreat called Credo. The word Credo is Latin and means “I believe,” or as William Slone Coffin said, it means “to ascribe to.” “Ascribe to The Lord!” the Psalmist writes. “Faith is a verb,” one preacher said. Faith is a verb, a response. An action.
I promised myself I would not get too carried away this week. No crying and carrying on. Nope. I would be stoic. Put together.
God had other plans.
The first prayer came on the first flight to Atlanta.I thought I would have a whole row of seats to myself only to discover just as the doors were shutting, a loud-voiced woman and smaller man walking down the aisle. The woman crammed next to me, as she shouted at her husband to “sit down!” And “watch where you are going!!” The small man obliged. I plastered myself against the plane window as we flew into dark clouds and potential storm as the woman berated her husband, I prayed, “please God, don’t let me die next to this horrible woman.”
As the flight came to an end I heard more about their story. They were talking about her medication and her wig and her tumor and their family and I prayed, “please God, heal this woman.”
Every evening after dinner, I would take my devotional book for a walk and pray. One evening I sat on a hill and asked God to silence all the voices that kept me from Him. I asked God to turn off all the swinging thoughts that kept me off-balance. “Shut me up, Lord, so I can hear you!” “Dear God, I want to be close to you, please show up!” I stood up, walked back to the lodge, not really looking where I was going. Suddenly I heard, “aauchh” or something like that. I looked down and there was this huge turtle right in front of me saying, “look where you are going!” I jumped back and screamed and then started to laugh. I laughed and laughed at myself for being afraid of a turtle. “I’m so sorry!” I said. “I didn’t see you there!” “I’m so sorry dear Lord, I didn’t see you there. You see I was moving too fast and you were always there.”
The next day I visited a Native American store. Turtles mean perseverance, resiliency and adaptability. If a turtle crosses your path you are to slow down. I bought a little onyx turtle.
One morning we had a service for wholeness and healing. We could, if we wanted, go to prayer corners and ask for prayer. I found a prayer stone, held it in my hand, and braved myself to a corner. “How can we pray for you?” They asked as they looked upon me, with earnest love. “Oh, I’m ok,” I said. “I can be lonely sometimes.” And then I cried and I cried and I cried. I cried so hard the name on my name tag was smeared with tears. I confessed that I missed God so deeply. I wondered if He had given up on me. I wouldn’t blame Him if he did. It had been so long. They told me to step out of the darkness into the light. One step at a time. They told me God had been waiting for me all this time and that He still loved me, always had, always will. Loved me so. Loved me so. Loved me so.
The next day in worship a friend of mine and I were talking about all the processing and intensity of the week. It was a serious conversation, but something I said struck him as funny and he started to laugh. The music was starting, the room was somber, he was laughing. I started laughing. I could not contain myself. I laughed so hard I bit down on my knuckle and thought about when my dog died. I could not stop laughing. He was laughing. Worship peers around us started giggling. Suddenly we were all laughing. With great joy.
Best prayer of the week.
Sabbath day. I hiked a mountain. When I reached the top I practiced yoga. Doing a sun salutation thanking God for the beauty of the day. A friend said as we hiked the mountain,
“To have a meaningful life with God we must have the courage to See. The courage to Feel. And the courage to Act.” We sang the Doxology as we descended the mountain. This is what I believe.
A Psalm of David.
1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,*
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
worship the Lord in holy splendour.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl,*
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, ‘Glory!’
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king for ever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!