Help Me




It’s the Palm Sunday shout of jubilation, or so I thought. Originally, the word meant something like “Come to our aid!” or simply, “Help us!” The Hebrew priests would chant hosanna on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while they circled the altar seven times praying desperately for rain. But as the Feast of Tabernacles shifted from a liturgy of petition to a feast of praise, so too the simple cry for help turned into a shout of jubilation.

That sounds pretty much like everybody I know. If there ever was a time when we could cry for help, we can hardly remember it. Little children instinctively cry for help. They don’t care if they appear helpless or vulnerable or in great need. Soon, though, we learn not to ask for help. In fact, we develop a remarkable ability to smile and laugh as if things were just peachy even in the midst of struggle and suffering. Help! is expressed as I’m fine!

The mystery of our salvation is this—we must want it, cry for it, allow it. God helps those who send up an S.O.S. Don’t ask me how this works. All I know is, our cry somehow topples our willfulness, our egoic sense of auto-power, and opens our hearts to receive the gift of divine presence.

Hosanna. That is my word for this week. Help me. I invite you to make it your mantra too.

Remember, as well, that if you need help, so does everyone around you (even though they are smiling valiantly and keeping up appearances). Look with compassion on your loved ones, your friends, strangers who somehow sit next to you on the train. In the end, as Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Moving Maggy

Eight boxes. That’s how many they packed for their last move to a new apartment in Manhattan. Thirty boxes. That’s the number for the move three years later. On Saturday, Pam and I helped our daughter and son-in-law, Maggy and Andy, move into their new apartment in New York. After years of renting, they finally…

“What kind of bread is this?”

Giving people communion—as any clergy will tell you—is one of the blessed gifts of ministry. People come to receive the life of God in all of their humanness. They stream to the altar, the hopeful and harried, the world-beaters and the unemployed, the believers and skeptics alike. I walk down the line and here are…

Smile (Even if You Don’t Feel Like it)

What if the frown on your face is not the result but the cause of your unhappiness? I read it in yesterday’s paper. Doctors took a group of 75 people suffering from major depression and randomly assigned them to receive either a Botox shot in the forehead muscles that make it possible to frown, or…

The Empty Boat

A man is having an enjoyable boat ride on a river. It is dusk. The man looks up to see another boat coming down the river toward him, and his first thought is how nice it is that someone else is out enjoying the river and the beauty of a summer’s evening. Then he realizes…