Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Spiritual Focus of the Day
by Keli Shipley Cooper

When I was young, my dad and I would pray together every night before I went to sleep. I prayed out loud for all my friends and family, my two dogs, my teachers, and concluded with  “thank you Jesus for loving me. And I pray for every person, place, and thing in the whole entire universe. In your name we pray- Amen.” 
Realistically, my dad and I prayed every night before I turned on the TV once my parents were asleep. This became our nightly rhythm. As a child, I felt overwhelmed to pray for everything. I avoided sleep and anxious thoughts with TV. I didn’t want to miss any thing, hence the “whole entire universe” part of my prayer.
I feel overwhelmed now. 
At night, anxious thoughts jump over me like the sheep I'm supposed to be counting. Well, sometimes they run into me. I often turn to one of my favorite farmer-theologians,  Wendell Berry  and his poem, "The Peace of Wild Things." For those who prefer to listen, click  here
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound 
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake 
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the presence of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 
Do you have a nightly rhythm?

What do you do when you feel "despair for the world?"

What would it look like "to go and lie down where the wood drake rests" while practicing physical distancing?

Can we "rest in the grace of the world?" If so, how? 
We've been adjusting and adapting at home and at work. My tendency towards perfection has been creeping in… I want to do everything without error, especially typos (...impossible).

In this time, we are enough. May we continue to do the best we can, remembering "every person, place, and thing in the whole entire universe," which includes ourselves.
I invite you to pray this prayer written by   Nadia Bolz-Weber , an ordained Lutheran pastor: 
"God who made us all, 
Our healers are exhausted, God. 
Give rest to those who care for the sick. 
Our children are bored, God. 
Grant extra creativity to their caregivers. 
Our friends are lonely, God. 
Help us reach out. 
Our pastors are doing the best they can, God. 
Bring unexpected play and joy and dance parties to all in need. 
Our grocery store workers are absorbing everyone's anxiety, God. 
Protect them from us. 
Our elderly are even more isolated God. 
Comfort them. 
We haven't done this before and we are scared, God. 
I don’t' even know what else to pray for." 
My name is  Keli Shipley Cooper  and I am the Minister for Faith Formation at St. Paul's. I look forward to sharing stories, readings, Scripture, and practices with you all in the coming weeks. In this time of physical distancing, we still join together through prayer and technology as we continue to be the church from at least six feet apart. 

We are glad that you are here.

If you would like to respond to or discuss any piece of these devotions, reply directly to this e-mail to connect with Keli Shipley Cooper.
To receive the "Spiritual Focus of the Day" e-mail each Monday, Wednesday and Friday- click the subscribe button and choose the " Spiritual Focus of the Day " list. 
Reminder of Online Opportunities

Check our website under the ChurchAway page for more information- this is where we will post the links to the online gatherings by the day of the study.

  • Morning Prayer on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.
  • Evening Prayer on Monday through Friday evenings at 6:00 p.m.
  • Spiritual Focus of the Day coordinated by Keli
  • An e-mail devotion sent every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • These will also be posted on our Facebook page
  • Psalms Study with Charlie on Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 25th/ Scripture for this week: Psalm 23
  • Lectionary-Based Gospel Study with Rainey on Thursdays at 11:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, March 26th/ Scripture for this week: John 11:1-45