Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will come often. It is my hope that these stories and reflections will be helpful in your spiritual journey. I look forward to your thoughts, questions, or suggestions. Please leave your comments and join as a follower so I will know you were here. It is a privilege to share the journey with you.

If you wish to know more about me, spiritual direction or retreats visit my website. www.bunnycox.com. Blessings, Bunny

*See first posting in January, 2011 to learn why this blog is called "From the Big Red Chair."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Parable of the Geese

Porches are portals of welcome and good-bye, keepers of memories, listeners to stories told by those who gather after dinner on summer nights. The front porch of the historic home in Falls Church, Virginia where I waited for my daughter Brynnan's return from her post-college internship brought back childhood memories of my grandmother’s porch in North Carolina. Unlike evenings spent in communion with family as my grandfather regaled me with tales of magic and stories of fairies, I was alone with only the swish of tires on pavement from the occasional passing car to keep me company.  A book randomly selected from a bookcase in the foyer lay unopened on my lap.

Almost a year had passed since Tara’s death and since her baby daughter Alden died. Repeated phone calls and pleas to speak with my grandson Spencer were denied. He too seemed lost to me forever. The sharp pain of new grief was now a perpetual ache that saturated my being and soaked into my bones. I wondered if my living children could see beyond the mask of well-being I wore in hopes of sparing them the burden of my grief. 
A cold wind that hinted of coming winter tugged on the branches of a nearby oak and plucked the last vestige of summer.   Brown, dead leaves fell to the ground and fluttered and flapped across the steep slope in front of the house. I moved my chair into a shaft of light that threaded its way through the swaying boughs of a nearby hemlock. Raising my collar to the chill, I clutched my jacket to my throat. The sun's rays could not penetrate the winter spirit within me or shine light upon the path that was lost to me. 

A sound in the distance severed the quiet. What is that, I asked myself? It came closer, louder still.  A chorus of discordant, raucous barks joined in refrain--a-hink a-honk a-hink a-honk.  I’ve heard that sound before, I thought, but I can’t name it. The syncopated cries rose to a crescendo as wild geese in V-formation sliced the air above me. They honked as if to encourage one another. Keep flying, they seemed to say.  A-hink a-honk a-hink.  You can make it. Don’t stop now. On they flew toward their preordained destination, the geese in the rear gliding effortlessly on the draft of those who flew before. As they passed, the air closed behind them, and silence rushed in to fill the space. I watched as they flew from sight, my loneliness heightened by their parting. 

With no interest in its contents, I opened the book in my lap and gasped at the coincidence of words before me:  

"Look at the geese of the sky. They neither worry nor are anxious about the winter warnings of their life, for they know within their deepest selves that their journey will take them to a place of shelter, comfort, of nourishment, a place where winter harshness cannot reach them. See how they fly, winging homeward with sureness, with trust in their hearts’ instinct. If these geese, who have not the faith and grace of human hearts, can follow the mystery and secrets of their deepest selves, cannot you, my loved and chosen ones, you who I care for as my very own, cannot you be in touch with the mystery of your hearts? Cannot you trust in me to guide you on your journey of life? For I have promised to give you rest in seasons of tiredness, comfort in seasons of sorrow, peace in seasons of distress, strength in seasons of great weakness.  Trust in me.  Do not be afraid.  I am with you.  I will be your peace."*

I wiped tears from my eyes remembering the day I heard a silent voice ask, “Do you trust me?” In pain I answered, “I want a relationship with you, but trust you? No. I don't think I do.”** Could this be God’s tender response?

When does a random occurrence have meaning beyond the realm of happenstance? When is a coincidence more than a coincidence? When do two events converging in one unlikely moment in time become an intervention of grace?  Perhaps it is on an early winter day, when a porch becomes a sacred place of hope, the language of nature becomes the voice of the holy, and the story-teller is none other than God.


If I flew to the point of sunrise, or westward across the sea, your hand would still be guiding me, your right hand holding me. ~Psalm 139:9-10

wild geese
wing their way
to a farther shore.
At their call
we leave
our fearful lives
and follow.   
     ~In the Presence of Flight by Nancy Compton Williams

Prayer for Trust: 

O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of Your presence, Your love, and Your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to You, we shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things. Amen   ~St. Ignatius of Loyola 1491-1546

 -Is there a scripture passage that comforts me in times of despair?
-What role does trust play in my spiritual life?
-Does the voice of nature speak to me of God?  If so, how.

*Excerpt from Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp

**Uncensored Prayer - From The Big Red Chair, December 1, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Uncensored Prayer

Photo by Grace Gilchrist
A single lamp cast yellow warmth into the room’s semi-darkness. I settled into the big red chair, my feet tucked under me, a blanket over my lap. Exhausted from the emotion of the day but unable to sleep, I waited for drowsiness to overtake me. Quiet settled over the house.

The moonless night beyond the window obscured the barren branches of the peach tree and hushed birds that nestled against the cold until first light.  I envied their ability to sleep.  I feared lying awake in darkness with nothing to dull the sharp edge of grief. 

A box containing sympathy notes and expressions of condolence lay on the table beside me.  My once-a-day trek to the mailbox to retrieve them was my only foray into the outside world.   I pulled the box onto my lap and unfolded a many-times-read note penned by an old friend. One phrase leapt from the surface and captured my attention. All others fell away. “Don’t lose your faith,” it warned. 

I initially read those words as well-meaning, but dismissed them as unnecessary. Now, I pondered their significance. My heart was frozen by the chill of emptiness and loss. Prayer seemed pointless.  Had I lost faith?

A speechless voice emerged from the stillness and hung in the winter air. In a crystalline moment of comprehension, I knew it was God.

“Do you trust me?” 

“You have got to be kidding!” I said aloud. My voice rose, choked with tears and fury. “How could you ask thatI begged for the life of my daughter Tara, and she died.  I prayed for her baby girl Alden, and she died.  I prayed for my grandson Spencer, and he was taken away against his wishes, and I was powerless to protect him.* And, now you ask, “Do you trust me!”

Judging my outburst of negative emotion inappropriate when conversing with God, I struggled to regain the proper decorum. How do I feel, I asked myself. Numerous false starts later, I begrudgingly responded.

“I suppose I still love you. . .and I don’t want to live without you, but do I trust you? No . . .I can’t say that I do.”

True intimacy cannot exist until we abandon the mask of pretense, risk vulnerability and dare to state the truth. In that moment of raw, uncensored authenticity, I unwittingly stepped from behind the hiding place of propriety, discarded words measured to please, and experienced my first truly honest conversation with God.

Gifts are hidden in brokenness.  I realize now I was not asked if I trusted God would ensure the outcome for which I prayed.  I was asked, “Do you trust me enough, love me enough, to tell me the truth even if the words are not pretty? Do you trust me enough to allow me to share your pain?”

During that winter of spirit, I discovered God’s faithfulness transcends anger, and truth is the gateway to trust.  


“Only by expressing our anger and resentment directly to God in prayer will we come to know the fullness of love and freedom.”~ Pierre Wolff

“Trouble is part of life. If you don’t share it, you don’t give the person who loves you a chance to love you enough.”~Dinah Shore

“To have real conversation may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.”~Thomas Moore

“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.” ~Psalm 118:5

-Do I speak honestly in prayer, or do I weigh my words carefully?
-What are my thoughts about prayers that seem to be unanswered?
-How does prayer influence my faith?
-How does faith influence my prayer?

Prayer: (Excerpts from “Psalms for a Stalled Heart”~ Edward Hays)

Send forth your spirit
     to revive my heart
Spark it with a relish for service,
     with a longing to pray
May I seek to love and serve you
     even when my wintry heart
     declines to dance with
     springtime grace. Amen

*Thin Boards, Sept. 21, 2011