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You’re always welcome to pray here
And other invitations to pray when you’re bored or feeling down
Welcome to Walk & Talk, my monthly newsletter to share stories, inspiration, and hope. I’m Kim Knowle-Zeller, mama, pastor, and writer. I’ve lived in West Africa and one summer hiked 500 miles across Spain, and now I call Cole Camp, MO home with my husband, two children, and dog. I love to walk, talk, and share stories. Thanks for being here!
An hour north of Minneapolis, where the skyscrapers have been replaced by wildflowers and glistening lakes, and the prairie grass sways in the wind, a community of prayer lives. At St. John's Abbey, a community devoted to monastic life - the monks live, work, pray and serve together. They welcome visitors into their sacred spaces to experience a life rooted in prayer.
At the end of June, while visiting on a retreat with Stephen, I joined the monks for evening prayer. Sitting in the stillness of the sanctuary, the bell tolling, I watched the brothers enter one by one in their black robes. At their seats, they bowed their heads to the cross.
Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
I let the soft chanting wash over me. And I also looked into the eyes of the monks: eyes that looked tired, even possibly bored, bodies that most likely came from hours of work, minds that probably pondered the tensions and events of the day. In a sense, they held the feelings and emotions of everyone else who gathered to pray this evening. But they were there. They showed up and will show up day after day, hour after hour, to pray. They were speaking the words and inviting others to join them in their prayers. And if they couldn’t find the strength to muster the words at that moment, the community around them, their brothers, were praying on their behalf.
I didn’t make it to prayer the rest of the time we were at the Abbey, but the monks never fail to show up. Isn’t that a gift? Somewhere, someone is praying for you and for the world. Someone is holding space for the aches you hold and the yearnings of your heart. Someone is pleading on your behalf for healing and wholeness.
They may be bored or tired or uncertain, but day after day they show up. And so they inspire me to keep coming to God with my fumbling prayers and my early morning yawns when I’m wrestling with writing prayers.
A few days later we visited the sisters of St. Benedict. Touring their chapel, one of the sisters pointed out a statue of a dying woman held by other sisters. “This same scene happened this morning, too. One of our sisters, in her 90’s, was surrounded by the women praying and singing around her. We prayed her to the next life.”
We prayed her to the next life. A life devoted to prayer carried and held by the prayers of others when her voice could no longer offer them.
I wish I could sit across the table with you and ask what prayers you’re holding. What desires you have and what keeps you up at night. What I can do is hold space for you. And I can point you to the truth that our prayers never go unheard. I can remind you that someone is praying for you. And I can encourage you to come with your prayers, doubts, fears, and joys and lay it before God.
*As I’m writing about prayer, this summer I’ve been reminded that sometimes we need more help when life is hard. Did you know you can call 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline) anytime of the day and always be connected to someone who will talk with you through a crisis or simply be a presence with you. They are also there to help those walking with friends in need of help and resources.
My Favorite Things
My son turned 6 this past month! In honor of his birthday, I wrote a blog post using one of his favorite things to do right now — experiment!
“A summer of faith is less a program and more a reminder of God’s ever-abiding presence in our lives. It looks at our lives, which are filled with doubt and worry, to-dos and busy schedules, and says you are loved just as you are.” Read more from my latest Growing Together column for Living Lutheran.
Right now people love to pray for/with/at me: Thy will be done.No, I think. We have the order all wrong. Pray first for the Kingdom to come. Pray for everything broken to be made whole. Pray for the sick to be healed, the lost to be found, the sorrowful to be comforted, the last to be first—pray for all that. Then we will discover God among us, all along.
“What’s your memory of Vacation Bible School as a kid? Maybe the smell of paste used in craft projects? Or certain songs with hand motions? It could even be the combo of fruity juices and graham crackers. Well, we thought we’d take you back to the best of VBS, but designed for you as an adult.” I love this resource for an Adult VBS from the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Speaking of the Women of the ELCA, my co-author Erin and I are thrilled that we’ll be offering a writing workshop at the upcoming Triennial Gathering in Phoenix this September! Tell Your Story: A Writing Workshop for Women will celebrate stories only women can tell — coming-of-age stories, faith stories, love stories, motherhood stories, and more.
“The process of gardening is becoming a necessary creative practice for me. It involves faith, messes, showing up to do the hard work, and watching in wonder as beauty begins to emerge.” Love this reflection on sunflowers, Van Gogh, and the work of cultivating beauty.
Looking to infuse more delight into your life? This post by Shauna Niequist reminds us all why we need delight and how to search it out.
This poem from Rupi Kaur is a great writing prompt, but also good advice with a list of things to heal your mood.
What I’m Reading
The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray is a work of historical fiction about J. P. Morgan's personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white in order to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation.
Famous for a Living by Melissa Ferguson is a delightful RomCom (perfect for a summer read) about a NY influencer who heads to Montana and finds herself wondering if she can love herself without all the trappings of technology.
To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers and Liturgies for Parents by Kayla Craig. I keep this book at my bedside table and it’s a welcome companion to pray when I don’t have my own words. We gifted this book to the families in our congregation and I look forward to knowing others are praying along with me.
What I’m Cooking
For my son’s 6th birthday party at the pool he requested Peanut Butter Cupcakes and these did not disappoint!
I really have no other fun recipe to share as it’s the end of summer and we’re subsisting on peanut butter and jelly, carrots out of the bag, hot dogs, and an abundance of cucumbers. Send help (or recipes) please.
It must be a great disappointment to God if we are not dazzled at least ten times a day.
-Mary Oliver, Good Morning
So grateful for you, friend! I’ll be back in your inboxes the first Wednesday in September!
P.S. I have a favor for those of you who have read The Beauty of Motherhood. Would you be willing to write an Amazon review? They are so helpful for getting others to know about our book! Anyone can review on Amazon whether you’ve bought the book from them or not. Thank you!
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