For several years we have been worshiping with the stories of women in scripture under the guidance of Miriam Therese Winter's theological reflections, litanies and prayers alongside Meinrad Craighead's illustrations. Our focus for worship for the next two weeks is Rise Up, as we ponder the story of Tabitha(Hebrew)/Dorcas(Greek). Almost every week the lectionary texts support and enhance our chosen story. This week the prophet is told to "Stand and listen!" in Ezekiel 2:1-5 and he shares the experience of being lifted to his feet by the Spirit. In Acts 9:36-42, Peter lifts Tabitha, a beloved woman who was "...always doing good for others and had given much to the poor", from death to life. As we share in worship in the next two weeks we will ponder together how we are being lifted into a life of the sacred. What does scripture say to us of how we are to stand up and listen?
Last week as I was leaving the jail to be gone for a week to a workshop with Joanna Macy, an incredible spiritual leader doing good for others, there was a young woman whose mother is dying. Stand up and listen! I went to see her just after she was sentenced to several years in prison and her grief was overflowing. It was a blessing that I had spent an hour in spiritual care with her the previous week as she sorted out her pain. What was her primary need in this moment of despair as she cried out to me, saying "How did I get to this place; that I am in jail and cannot see my dying mother? She needed to see her mother one more time; to say what she so desperately needed to say. And perhaps her mother needed to hear what she had to say as well. That is a very complicated process when one is incarcerated. Upon return today, I learned that our hard work in the moments before I left, bore fruit and she was allowed to visit her mother's bedside. My prayer is that she will rise up from her grief and find new life in the difficult journey she faces and that she will stay connected through our sharing of letters.
Let our communal prayers rise up for this jail ministry and the many men, women and children who are affected by incarceration so that we may rise together in lives of doing good for others and giving much to the poor. May we stand up and listen as a daily spiritual practice.
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