Let Me Live Grace-fully

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A Summer Prayer by Ted Loder

Thank you, Lord, for this season

of sun and slow motion
of games and porch sitting,

of picnics and light green fireflies on heavy purple evenings;

and praise for slight breezes. It’s good, God,

as the first long days of your creation. Let this season be for me

a time of gathering together the pieces into which my busyness has broken me.

O God, enable me now
to grow wise through reflection,

peaceful through the song of the cricket, recreated through the laughter of play.

Most of all, Lord,
let me live easily and grace-fully for a spell,

so that I may see other souls deeply, share in silence unhurried,

listen to the sound of sunlight and shadows, explore barefoot the land of forgotten

dreams and shy hopes, and find the right words to tell another who I am.

Posted on June 1, 2017 .

Retreat for Perspective

I was headed south on the Appalachian Trail from Carver’s Gap near Roan Mountain. The first few miles were some of the grandest views I’d ever seen on the Blue Ridge, and the 360-degree spans sweeping off the grassy balds made me giddy with delight. From there, though, it was another 5-mile push through dense forests before I once again broke out on top of Little Hump where I pitched my tent for the night.

Standing at my campsite, I could see miles east to Table Rock and Grandfather Mountain…and as many miles west over layers of ridges and hamlets. The vastness of the Appalachians was breathtaking. And I had a thought: if I were actually standing on the ridge of Grandfather Mountain, I would have no way of appreciating the landmark profile; it was only from miles away that I gained perspective. And that’s the thing about perspective: it takes distance and elevation to see clearly.

Posted on December 2, 2015 .

Retreat for Connection

I had been eyeballing it for a year and a half: the Empty Nest was approaching, and it was coming fast. Our job had been to prepare our three kids with the character and tools necessary to step out on their own…and all things considered we were thrilled with the results. Still, I found that as that last high school graduation drew close, I felt strangely unsettled. As it turned out, for good reason.

Just weeks into the newfound house-of-two, Kellie and I were on each other’s last nerve. Seemed like we couldn’t turn around but for creating some new tension. What the heck is going on? I wondered. We have had a solid relationship, intentionally cultivated and protected over many years…but now I was actually a little scared.

Posted on November 17, 2015 .

Retreat for Transformation

I froze. I was talking with a close friend on the phone recently when she said the ten words that make my heart stop…or at least skitter: “There’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about.” I don’t know about you, but when I hear that, I don’t imagine words of congratulation or appreciation. No, I usually cringe, expecting I’ve done something wrong.

I attempted a casual tone. “Of course. I want to hear it.” It wasn’t an outright lie; I want to be the kind of guy who wants to hear it! What made it worse was that neither of us had time right that moment to get into it. Fortunately we set a time later that evening for another call. Now for the real test: how would I manage my soul around it?

Posted on November 4, 2015 .

Retreat for Recovery

I was working with the worship team for a new church plant, the last stop before heading into a month-long personal retreat in the mountains of Tennessee. Saturday had gone well, I thought. Feeding off the enthusiasm of these young musicians, I engaged first with the leaders and then facilitated a couple hours of conversation with the full team. Heads were nodding, hearts seemed inspired, and we ended with a short worship time together that lifted my soul.

Half-way through lunch in a crowded, noisy restaurant, however, I was drifting, and despite the calorie boost, I could feel my energy leaking quickly. I gutted it out through the afternoon, knowing that these good people deserved my best. Sunday morning though I was little improved and coasted through the worship service on auto-pilot. What was wrong with me? I wondered.

Posted on October 22, 2015 .