Swim With Me, God

Transitions have not always been easy for me. Like many others, I like to be comfortable and tend to fear the unknown. Yet over the years I’ve discovered that times of transition always provide opportunities for spiritual growth. As we move from one stage of life to another, God often appears in the unlikeliest places if our hearts are open and our eyes are focused on the love of Jesus, which will never let us go.

I wrote these poems as part of my 2015 book, Recess; Rediscovering Play and Purpose, which was published by Cass Community Publishing House and is also available through Amazon.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 19: The Pavilion of Wings & Live Animal Presentation held at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum on July 19, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging) LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 19: The Pavilion of Wings & Live Animal Presentation held at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum on July 19, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)
God of Small Doses

Small images here and there of a God who longs to be seen;
God in excellence, God in music, God in people, God in the world;
Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart as best you can.
Signs of the holy are everywhere.
Don’t let God pass you by.
Stop.  Look.  Listen.
Butterflies again – they chase me; my head is a landing strip.
A continual emptying of self makes room for God.
Can I still see God in the midst of long days and a myriad of demands?
Do I work at my play?
Worship my work?
Play at worship?
Maybe there is another way.
Give surprise a chance.
Work at work,
Play at play,
Worship at worship.
Small doses of a God who longs to be seen.

Moving to a new job or location is often unsettling, and we ask ourselves, “Will I find friends? Will I be successful? Will you go before me, God?” Andre Gide’s words give me hope and remind me how important it is to trust that God goes before us, “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

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Swim with Me

I don’t want to lose sight of the shore, God.
I’m scared that I won’t be able to find my way back.
Frankly, God, I’ve never done transitions well.
I’d much rather stay in my comfort zone than discover new lands.
So why am I putting myself through this?
Why do you put me through this?
I want to stick close to shore.
Keep my feet on the ground and my head above water.
What do I need to learn about you, God – and about myself?
The disciples put their nets out into deep water when you asked.
They couldn’t even gather in all the fish.
I’m afraid of losing control – of letting go – of trusting you totally.
Maybe you’ll just have to push me into the water, God.
Just don’t leave me, please.
Swim with me.
Keep my head above water.
Flood me with a cold, sea-sharp wash of relief so that I can see my life more clearly.

Today I am going home to Pennsylvania to reconnect with my past and remember who I am. I will be visiting my father and the rest of my family saints, those who knew me from birth, formed me spiritually and have always loved me unconditionally.

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For All the Saints

Where would I be without the saints?
The great cloud of witnesses that cheers me on.
Nurturing and guiding me, modeling what a Christ-like life looks like.
My beloved grandmothers, Mary and Martha, reminding me of the importance of both action and contemplation.
My mother and father, without whom I would be nothing;
Joan, whose tragic death inspired me to dare to sit on an organ bench and carry on her legacy;
The faithful in my home church, encouraging me, showing me what a faithful life looks like.
The nameless people whose kindness touched me when I was in need.
Why was I so blessed?
How many lives have I touched on my journey?
How will I be remembered?
She was too busy?  She never stopped to talk?  She didn’t know how to let go?
All I want, God, is to love you and bring in your kingdom on this earth for all people.
May I be faithful to you in one life I have.
More hugs, more smiles, more mentoring, more inspiration;
More of you, less of me.
For all the saints who have gone before and blazed the trail;
A path of wisdom, love, courage, strength and spiritual wisdom.
I mean to be one, too.

As I prepare to move to a new home in Iowa, may I remember that I am always at home with God. Grateful for old friends from many different locations, I look forward to making new friends, embracing new adventures of faith and seeing new glimpses of the kingdom of heaven on earth. Swim with me, God.

11 thoughts on “Swim With Me, God

  1. Indeed may they affirm you, even as your saintliness has affirmed others of us. God is with you, God is before you, and God will guide you.

  2. Sending love and prayers to you as you follow God’s path. We feel so blessed to have had you here with us, and will miss you and your wonderful sermons.

  3. Godspeed, Bishop Laurie! Thank you for your leadership and for your blog. You have let us see you and God through you. Blessings.

  4. Laurie,
    Jack and I were hiking in Wales and Ireland at the time of your celebratory party and show of support as you become a bishop. We are very pleased with your election.

    Aldersgate’s Stewardship Committee is working on this fall’s program using a theme of Ubunto, “I am who I am because of who we all are.” Desmund Tutu
    I just read your blog, “Swim With Me, God” and wonder if we could use your section “For All the Saints” with your name

  5. Bishop Laurie,
    That rolls off the tongue so well. I have been blessed to know a few people that I have considered saintly or touched by the Holy Spirit, because of the way they have affected my life. You are one of them.
    It seems that I struggle more when I feel that I am doing what God is asking me to do, but I keep thinking that it is me I am hearing not God. Through your blog, sermons, study leadership, and personal conversations you have helped me work through my doubts. Ninety percent of the time I didn’t even have to tell you. Your ability to alert all of your senses during a dialogue is unequaled.
    You cannot really leave us, because we all have a part of you in our hearts and minds. Think of this move as expanding your real estate of influence.
    Blessings.

  6. You have definitely modeled what a Christ-like life looks like to me, Laurie. Your words have made a huge difference in my life. Those kind, genteel Iowans will love you!

  7. I will miss your Sunday messages challenging me and the way I perceive the words in the book called the Bible. You always made them personal— directly to me!! Your blogs made you more personal to me. I have been a member of First Church for over 50 years and grew to expect ministers to come and go but for the first time will miss the expectation of what will be said in the pulpit Sunday morning!! I know you are following God’s call to do more and greater works for him.

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