the hound of heaven returns

Fear keeps me from you, my holy friend 
Not fear of you but fear of you seeing me, knowing me
Fear of your disappointment and your deep sigh
Fear of the recognition of myself within your eyes
Ashamed and sad.

How can I flee the love that would bring me to life?
Why turn my heart from dear embrace?
Like a small child, covering my eyes so you can’t see me
I plug my ears and hum, forgetting that every molecule is sourced by you. 

Oh, hound of heaven, chase me down
Until I turn at last to find you dancing in delight
Until you lick my face in joy
Willing, again, to humble yourself in incarnation
Whatever form it takes to free my love. 

image from flickr by Elizabeth per cc 2.0

December Blessings

I receive the blessings of December
•	Deep cold and warm sun, scattered across my days 
•	Baking cookies with my mom and sisters 
•	A fire in the grate and the warmth of family beside it
•	The true gifts of presence – of hugs and smiles and openhanded generosity 

And offer this blessing in response
•	May your heart receive the gifts that come your way with joy. 
•	May you spill your own gifts into the world with abandon - and there find even deeper joy.  

November Blessings

I receive the blessings of November
•	Taking time with family, with all the bustle and with moments of quiet relaxation
•	Rediscovering gratitude as part of the glue that binds hearts to one another
•	A beautiful fall in Texas, right outside my door.  Full of red and yellow, full of quiet joy.

I offer this blessing in response
•	May you find the time to see the interrelatedness of all creation, where each heart’s gift calls another into the dance. 

October Blessings

I receive the blessings of October
•	The birthday gift of presence from my family, willing to join me outdoors despite the wind and unexpected heat
•	The whimsy of encounters with armadillos and cows
•	The crunch of leaves underfoot

I offer this blessing in response
•	May you catch the eyes of a friend, this day, and see within in them a reflection of your worth to them – and give in jubilant response, the confirmation of their worth to you. 

September Blessings

I receive the blessings of September
•	The giggles of little girls tumbling together in play
•	The wonder of growing bodies, growing bones, growing minds, growing hearts pulled by the sheer exuberance of life – full and free
•	The first sight of the ocean, a brisk walk, visiting with friends in Maine
•	Glimpses of wildlife – turkey, deer, fox, eagle – anchoring me to a world more grounded than the insistent call of the news

I offer this blessing in response
•	May you hear the whisper – or the shout – of life within you, joyfully calling you forward into this day, this very day

August Blessings

I receive the blessings of August
•	The rhythm of rain upon the roof after so many days of dry and hot
•	An escape to the mountains with friends, hiking trails, catching sight of such majesty, listening to the chatter of a stream
•	Sharing a dinner with friends, flavored with fond memories and the simple gestures of kind and faithful love 
•	One cool morning back home, that feels a bit like a taunt, but holds real promise

I offer this blessing in response
•	May your heart know the blessings that hide inside your challenges and hold to the deep assurance that your own path leads through beauty and bends towards home

July Blessings

I receive the blessings of July
•	A walk in the early part of the day, catching a deer and a mother possum with babies on her back
•	Air conditioning and fans – and gratitude for a way to escape the heat
•	Watching our kids guide their kids through the challenges of life – knowing that their job is not to make the path smooth, but to teach them to face the challenges with courage

I offer this blessing in response
•	May you find cool in the midst of heat, peace in the midst of challenge and joy among the small kindnesses that come your way. 


[photo from Flickr by Steve Rainwater per cc 2.0]

June Blessings

I receive the blessings of June
•	Watching the granddaughters play together – focused, joyful, creative
•	Nestling into a family vacation where we discover, again, the blessing of each other’s presence
•	Listening to my mother and aunt remember their childhood days
•	Watermelon as the taste of summer

I offer this blessing in response
•	May you weave life and hope into each story that you tell, remembering with both honesty and grace the moments that shape your soul

[photo is my own]

May Blessings

I receive the blessings of May
•	Thundering rainstorms healing the cracks in the dry ground
•	An unexpected cool spell following unseasonal heat – both reminding me that, thankfully, my sphere of control is limited and the choice to respond is where my heart can find peace
•	A four-generation picnic, with cascading delight, heart to heart to heart

I offer this blessing in response
•	May this very moment whisper life into your heart as you stop to take a breath – in and out – and find that there is time enough for gratitude, even today


[Photo by Ian Sanderson on flickr per cc 2.0]

the cave

I am sitting deep within the cave of my heart. It is dark. I glance around myself and see the dim edges of rocks and tunnels. I think I should be scared but I am not. It is so deeply quiet here, so still.

I am sitting on a small ledge that overhangs a pool of still water. It lends a dampness to the cavern that touches my skin and coats the inside of my lungs as I breathe slowly in and out. I stretch my legs and lean back a bit on my arms and listen and wait.

I am waiting for you. For your deep whisper in my heart. For the promise of your own heartbeat within me.

I have forgotten how to seek you, how to wait for you, how to trust your coming. Yet somehow, even after so long away, I trust your coming.

It is not my conjuring or my protocols or rituals that call you forth. It is the shape of how things are, of who you are. It is the very shape of life itself that brings me to you – for that is the truth of it. It is not so much that you must come to me. You are here. Always. At the very center of all that is. How could it be otherwise since you are life itself?

How then can I lose you? How can I live without noticing your heartbeat? How can I let myself be so distracted by the scurry and cries and bustle around me that I forget your unshakable love?

And yet I do forget. And though my own heart blames me for such neglect, your heart surrounds me with welcome. You don’t want our time together to be swallowed by focus on my failures. You simply want to love me and for me to receive and return that love.

After some moments of repentance – which I see as a required penance, but you see as simply clearing space – I let go all the chatter of my soul. I simply breathe, in and out. I count to five, each breath a bit deeper and slower than the last, and I slip into the pool. I float, suspended in the water. Even if I momentarily sink beneath the surface I can still breathe deeply. The pool is liquid grace. I take it in with grateful ease. It fills each cell. I am awash with life, with love … with you.

Amen.

[Image from photo by Jess Ayotte on flickr per cc 2.0]