Daily Bread March 22

Diane and the Christ-Spirit
Susan Oxley of Seattle, WA, USA

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
  and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
  and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
  and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
  and sinners will return to you. -Psalm 51:10-13

During the pandemic, I began curbside pickup of groceries. I noticed a woman in a lawn chair near the parking lot, wearing a surgical mask the color of her eyes and a gray hoodie. We exchanged waves as I drove past. One day, I stopped and offered her some money. “My name’s Susan,” I said.

“I’m Diane,” she replied. “Thank you for stopping to talk to me.” She didn’t thank me for the donation, but for the brief conversation.

A week later, rain fell as I picked up my groceries. “Diane, aren’t you getting wet?” I asked.

“It doesn’t bother me,” she said. “A man is bringing me hot chocolate to warm me up.”

“Great. Well, here’s an umbrella to keep off the rain.”

Diane’s eyes opened in surprise. “Thank you. Would you like to hear a poem?” I nodded. Diane rattled off the titles of several poems, and I chose one at random: “Western Skies.”

Diane recited the poem with yearning and hope, a tribute to the beauty of nature and the connections of memory. Her voice, filled with peace, captured me. “Did you write it yourself?” I asked. “Oh, yes, a long time ago, but of course I changed the words a little, and it comes out differently.” Her account was confused and contradictory. I promised to return to hear the other poems, and we parted. I looked up “Western Skies,” a 2018 song by the British band Mostly Autumn. I recognized Diane’s poem in the lyrics.

I watched for her during two winter months but didn’t see her. But there she was again on an unseasonably warm day in January. She told me about her early school days and recited a poem called “Bus.” I feel a kinship with Diane and whatever mysteries her life holds. The peace of Christ lives within her, a place of sanctuary and calm in the storm of life. The Spirit in her and the Spirit in me unite us in hope, and I am humbled and blessed.

Prayer Phrase

Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?

Spiritual Practice

Gospel Contemplation (John 13:1-15)

Each week during Lent, you are invited to pray with a different gospel story from the life of Christ. Use your senses and imagination to enter the text. Allow it to come to life in you, observing details, noticing interactions, even engaging in dialogue. Notice where you find yourself in the story and how you feel about what is happening. Notice what it evokes in you or invites of you. Take time to journal or enter silent prayer to reflect on your experience and to sense where the Spirit may be leading you through this scriptural encounter.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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