26 July 2014
There is this awful
bending towards God that
my soul takes of its own
a defiant motion set spinning
that like a swirling eddy
draws in – with gentle motion – all
the doubt, errors, frailties
This bending leaves me
aching and rent,
in heart and body.
But bend I must to this
Divine Love or
25 July 2014
This poem is from one of my favorite poets, May Sarton, whose clarity and authenticity were Inspiring. EnJoy!
Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before—”
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted so by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!
18 July 2014
We pray for another way of being: another way of knowing. Across the difficult terrain of our existence we have attempted to build a highway and in so doing have lost our footpath.
God lead us to our footpath: Lead us there where in simplicity we may move at the speed of natural creatures and feel the earth’s love beneath our feet.
Lead us there where step-by-step we may feel the movement of creation in our hearts. And lead us there where side-by-side we may feel the embrace of the common soul. Nothing can be loved at speed.
God lead us to the slow path; to the joyous insights of the pilgrim; another way of knowing; another way of being.
Amen [So BE it...].
Source: The Prayer Tree
12 July 2014
Meister Eckhart once said “theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.” I believe that language to be Divine Love.
I find this quote tantalizing because the early followers of Jesus were known more for their radical love whereas today ‘Christians’ are known more for what we are against than for our expressions of unconditional (i.e. Divine) love. There is much talk amongst theologians and religious people in media about the nature of God and God’s love, but I confess, it all leaves me dry once we start pontificating on God’s ‘unconditional love’.
Because many speak and write of unconditional love in the abstract, but when it comes down to it, we humans interpret and express divine love through the lens of dogma and cultural bias. Do you believe what I believe? Do you subscribe to my particular finite branch on the Tree of Life? If you do, then you are a recipient of the unconditional love of God; if not, then you are danced around with trite phrases like “love the sinner but hate the sin.”
Let me state my ideas unequivocally: it is impossible for fallible humans to separate the “sin” from the sinner and thus we “throw out the baby with the bath water” – meaning when we despise the sin we are despising the very sinner that is loved unconditionally by God. And lest I forget, all have sinned and all are fallible, and all are loved unconditionally.
It would seem that we are quite uncomfortable with unconditional love. We need to codify it, commodify it, qualify it and regulate it. And in so doing, we put a fence around the limitless and all embracing love of God. We find it virtually impossible to just simply, lavishly and indiscriminately share and “throw” around God’s love with reckless abandon. God forbid…even though that is all God asks of us.
If we gave love so freely, without judgment or dogma, our faith would become dangerous like a feral lion but instead we are afraid to truly love and embrace everyone as they are without any reservations and thus our love becomes a domesticated, declawed house cat.
We blatantly disregard the words of Jesus (thereby placing nationalism, patriotism and politics above the love of God): we do not love our enemies (real and/or supposed); we cannot even show unconditional love to Christians of differing denominations; we show no love or compassion to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters; we hate Muslims; we ignore and patronize Buddhist and Hindus; we loathe atheists; we cannot even show love to our red state/blue stated neighbors and family members. ‘Christians’ rage against children coming across borders and even threaten politicians who speak of limiting access to assault weapons. And in all of this, the greatest power ever – the burning love of God – gets swept aside by religion viewed through the lens of whichever flag we hold dear.
In all truth, and this is my truth and experience, we have absolutely no earthly idea just how unconditional God’s love is. If I am honest, it scares me, it scares all of us.
I struggle and stutter, I stammer and falter in truly fleshing out God’s lavish and dangerous Love: a Love that emanates from God’s very Being; a Love that whispers perpetually throughout all of Creation, saying “All are loved. All is forgiven. All are welcome. All are brothers and sisters. All is well. And all the way to heaven is indeed heaven.”
P.S. 12 years ago today, my son Quinn, died. I grieve hard. I celebrate fully. I am grateful to his Mama and to God for the Gift that experience holds for me. I miss you every day and see you in the butterflies and hear your laughter in the breeze…
5 July 2014
I’ve been musing on grace a bit lately, most likely because I am ‘feeling’ so fragile-ugly-not-even-a-speck-of-dust-in-the-universe-but-oh-do-I-NEED-God’s-grace.
So, more musings.
I have said previously that I felt grace was hard to define. But being me — an obssessive control freak who has to have the last word, I think I do have a Word definition of grace, namely that grace could be defined as the place and space where God’s Fullness meets up with and fills my emptiness. And in that space there is a miraculous culmination of God’s being completing, stretching, tearing apart, and healing my being; and simultaneously living in and through me.
When I say ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’, I am saying there I go and God – Who dwells in me – goes with me as well. Everywhere I am is the moment of grace, given and received, because it is no longer I who live “but Christ who lives in me.” So as the spiritual equation goes, Jesus said he and God were one, and now Christ dwells in me and because he dwells in me, therefore the utter fullness of God dwells in me always.
Mind blowing isn’t it; downright heretical as well.
If you knew me the way God does, it would seem heresy for me to say that God and I are one; and that because God and I are one (remember, the same is true for you), everywhere I go, God and his infinite grace go. I have the power as it were to release and surrender to grace at any chosen moment. Unfortunately for me, and many others in my life, I am not always choosing to release God’s grace.
Most of the time, God’s grace is perpetually operating not because of but rather in spite of my conscious efforts.
The good news of grace is that not only is it available to anyone, anytime, anywhere, but that we can be filled and refilled with grace daily. God’s grace is like the ‘free’ refills of soda at restaurants – all I have to do is ask for it and it happens.
So, God’s grace dwells in me (as both recipient and giver) and the power of his grace is limited only by my open-mindedness and open heart. In this we should be humbled, for God has actually given us quite a bit of power. And even though I am powerless over my addictions, I am not powerless to choose to be a vessel and recipient of grace.
I am called to be filled and to fill, then be re-filled and to refill…grace is all there is and in the end Love.
So…anyone need a refill?
25 June 2014
Religion tells us what to do with the realities we face. God gives us the strength to change those things that can and must be changed. And God helps us to confront those things that happen unfairly, for no good reason.God helps us deal with what is beyond our control, what can’t be changed.
I used to think that we are where we are for a preordained reason. But I no longer believe that is true. We are where we are, and it is up to us whether there is a purpose in it or not. Places, circumstances, and encounters aren’t inherently meaningful; we make them meaningful, we give them purpose.
24 June 2014
Hard to define, even harder to truly explain, but when I am in need of it, the clarity of this grace is sharp and penetrating.
Grace fills in the gaps of my utter humanity, my well-worn flesh as it were. Grace is the feisty thread refusing to let go of its task of holding my tattered stuffing in place, velveteen rabbit that I am.
Grace is old wisdom found in rooms down in the basements of empty churches.
Grace is me, slowly but surely, coming to accept and embrace the truth that my faith is messier than most. It is hard to pin down but like an invisible thread, it is woven throughout my being. Yes, my sins are great, and the every present threat of my addictions even more so at times, but my recovery is more and more velveteen real each day precisely because of this grace that fills in the gaps.
But there it is again: grace filling the gaps; making up the small measure that is my faith; filling the cracks and crevices of my days; being the hope in my hopelessness; the light in my darkness; the beauty in my supposed ugliness.
While circumstances bat me around like a whiffle ball in a hurricane, grace is the sure-footed love of God. This God who tells me I am loved no matter what – regardless of feelings or facts; this God who chooses me, draws me in, and loves me tenderly and more faithful than any words could describe.
This God of grace who fills in my gaps, leaving me sated so that I may sate the thirst of others like me, this God do I give thanks to with all my heart.
23 June 2014
I read this at Heather Kopp’s great blog, Sober Boots, so I thought I would re-post it. It was originally written by Mark Nepo
Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.
Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.
The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.
One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.
It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give.
Mark Nepo is a cancer survivor, a poet, and philosopher.
8 June 2014
“Surrender means laying down everything – including clarity – and trusting God to lead you.” ~ Nate Hanson
Well that quote just blows everything out of the water; all my preconceived notions of spirituality and what it means to know, love and trust God.
Because I want clarity.
I desperately pray for it almost every day. And it goes something like this: “please God, let me know for sure, without any doubt, that I am supposed to _____________ (fill in the blank).” Nate Hanson is telling the truth. Clarity is not what is needed as a pillar of the spiritual life, trust is. For if I trust God, that means that there is some level of love and knowledge therein; since I cannot trust anyone or anything unless there is some level of love involved.
So, today, I will not pray for clarity.
I will pray for my trust in God to grow. And that, my friends, frightens me…
5 June 2014
I learned a little bit more about my inner world today: that the opposite of TRUST for me is a place called Guilt and Shame. When the latter is absent, the former is present and operating.
So, when I do not trust people, it is mostly because my feelings of guilt and shame are stronger than my feelings of trust.
…and that just opens up the whole can of worms about trusting God, or myself even before I can answer the question of whether or not I am going to trust you.