a quiet life

the shadow of a leaf

How blessed I am to live a quiet life
To feel the brush of eternity in clay
To know your smile
To seek your heart
To leave a whisper of that joy
In the ears of the world.

My call reflects both my essence and yours.
How beautiful.
How grateful.
How full of grace
That we could dance together now
And evermore.

[photo by Sam Cox per cc 2.0]

risk the dance

dancing in the rainMy dear one,
Thinking about dancing is not dancing.
Those perfect spins and turns in your head
Do not even stir the dust at your feet.

It is the faltering steps, themselves,
That bring the dance to life.
It is in dancing that you learn to dance.

But I know I’ll get it wrong, 
And step on your toes, 
And bump into others. 
What then? 

Then … you keep dancing.

It is not the choreography
That delights the soul.
It’s the soul’s delight in moving together
That fills our steps with life.

I can redeem every bump and bruise
But I do need to start with something.
Until you begin to move, I dance alone.

Remember – I came teach you to dance,
To come to joy within my arms.
So, won’t you let your feet dance with me?

Let my movement take the lead.
Let me direct your feet, your heart.
Your head can follow, later.

We will already be laughing together
By the time it comes around.

[photo by Heather per cc 2.0]

 

sorry

a tearful eyeSometimes I get frustrated
With how little my actions really do for good.
And then, when I screw up,
I’m grateful that I’m not so powerful.

I want ‘what I deserve’
Until I don’t.
It’s hard to step outside the mindset
Of quid pro quo and reciprocity.

I’ve been so thoroughly trained
In the framework of good versus bad
And the myth of my own superiority
Where my ‘goodness’ sets me apart.

Forgive me, oh Holy One.
Teach me, instead, to be a grateful, gracious part.
Help me not forget to live your love.
Mend my brokenness and the brokenness I cause.

Please.

Teach me how to live, even as I falter and fall.
Help me to accept and to pass on your forgiveness.
Help me to live in this world of scarred beauty
And give you room to make the scars sacred.

I release my mess to you.
It’s all that I can do.

Amen.

[photo by Elba Fernández per cc 2.0]

grace embodied

women in prayerWhen we think of you,
We remember how your faith unfolds into works of love;
How you persevere in hope, even when times are tough.

Your hope gives us hope;
Your joy brings us joy
Your faith inspires faith;
Your life shines life into our lives.

No wonder we give thanks to the Holy One
Whenever we remember you.
You embody the Spirit of grace
Who makes us one within the One.

No one can say, ‘Look! I made the candle burn.’
Instead what burns in you lights up another
And it goes on and on.

[a meditation on 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3]
[photo by Gregory Gill per cc 2.0]

stumbling into praise

an aspen groveI find myself in a yellow aspen grove,
Engulfed within joyful cascades of clapping leaves,
They brush my ears with sweet delight
And fill my eyes with beauty

It is a pure, deep gift of grace.
How can my heart but leap with hope?
I find the secret wonder of praise,
Released within my soul.

Somehow, I always thought that praise
Was a duly grateful, ‘thank you.’
But it is so much more.
It is a slide into pure joy,

It is a sudden recognition
Of your overwhelming goodness
Swallowing up the daily sorrow
And muddy deceits of satan’s whispers.

All that is wrong in the world
Is swallowed up in one sweet glimpse of you;
Of your power and holiness and —
Oh my, of your unbelievable love.

You direct that love outward
In a vast, creative embrace of all that is.
It shows itself in the trill of the bird.
It springs forth in song in these aspen leaves.

And, sweet wonder, you direct that love to me.
Praise sweeps humility off its feet,
As that great love enfolds me,
My small heart beating in time with yours.

 

Praise to you, Oh Holy One,
The pure delight of all the skies,
The maker of each atom and each star,
The lover of life, the author of hope.

You dance with all of creation,
Having made her for yourself.
Praise to you for such a dance.
And for my place within it.

Praise for what is
For what is promised.
Praise to you for solid hope.
The recreation has begun.

All praise.

another aspen grove

[1st photo by Dennis Grice per cc 2.0]
[2nd photo by Mitch Barrie per cc 2.0]

the cave

entrance to a caveI find I am still standing at the mouth of the cave. I tell myself I will go in; I will explore its depths. But then I see a shiny stone or a bit of grass or a tiny flower and I let myself be distracted. And here I am, still dawdling at the entrance.

Then the sky darkens and it begins to rain – a blowing rain that drives me into the cave. I step, at last, within the shadows and shake my arms and brush the wet from my hair. And sigh. With one last glance to the world outside, I turn to face the cavern that opens behind me.

I reach out my left hand to touch the cold stone wall beside me and use its surface as a guide to move a bit deeper into the cave. I move slowly, giving my eyes time to adjust; giving my heart a moment to still its racing.

I feel sure that there is something within the cave that waits for me – but I am not so sure I really want to find it. I am old enough to know that any encounter changes me. I have floundered enough to know that I am not always up to the adventure.

Yet, here I am. My hand plays along the wall. I press my lips into a hard, tight line and take the next step, mumbling a bit of a prayer within my heart.

‘Help me, help me,’ I mutter. It’s about the best I can do, these days, when it comes to prayer. I hope it is enough.

So, having braced my heart a bit, I move on. As I go deeper into the cave, I imagine that I will lose the ability to see. But my eyes do adjust and I find a small luminescence – some tiny bits of a lichen that seem to hold a light of their own, dotted along the path before me. They lead me deeper and deeper in.

I can barely see the step before me, but when I take it, the next one becomes clear. One step at a time; one small breath of hope; one by one, I move along.

After a bit, I begin to wonder, am I actually going somewhere? Is it somewhere I should go – or am I just walking in circles or wandering into trouble? What made me think the venture into this cave was right?

Ah, my mind is so very good at second-guessing. It’s almost as good as finding distractions to keep me from moving forward.

Trust is harder. But somehow I begin to realize that that it’s not the path that I must trust. It’s not even the sense of call or the tiny lights along the way.

It is the promise of companionship. I am not alone in this cave; nor was I alone at its mouth. Life is always in motion. There is no standing still.

But there is a difference between moving forward and just moving. And ‘forward’ is always toward deeper relationship.

When my desire is toward you, and I take a step (could it be any step, in any direction?) you are there. It is the direction of my heart, rather than the direction of my feet, that marks my progress.

I think I can see you smile. I reach out my right hand for yours and feel its warmth. I drop my other hand from the wall of the cave and trust your warmth to lead me. We walk the path of tiny lights together.

As we round a corner, we come into a space where the cave opens up from above in a cascade of light. I step into that flood of light. I have to close my eyes against its brilliance, but I lift my face and let it bathe me. I let it fall around my form. We both smile. We are both grateful for this small moment of connection.

I am at home. It is, as it has always been, within your embrace. You are my home, my path, my destination.

Thank you.

Amen.

[image modified from photo by Elroy Serrao per cc 2.0]

too patient

patient as a sunsetSometimes
I think that the Holy One
Is way too patient:

Too willing to let the world
Find its way;

Too tolerant of the anger and vitriol
That floods the hearts of those
Who cannot find the universal love
That is right there with them, ready to embrace;

Too able to bear their destructive fury,
Yes, even to the point of death
(His and theirs and those they trample).

How can such infinite patience
Really be what is right?
How can the Holy One wait on us,
All the while enduring the evil we create?

So, I am often convinced that the Holy One
Is way too patient with everyone.
(Except with me, of course,
The patience toward me is just about right.)

It is as if the end is sure,
Despite the length and terror of the trail.

It is as if the moments of love that we return along the way:
The moments we see the beauty;
The moments we use our creativity to bring joy;
Are all a part of the culminating grace
That will bring us home, at last.

It is as if the Holy One
Has enough patience
And enough love
To bring us all
Every one
Through the fray
And into the deepest heart
Of eternal love.

It is as if
No price were too high
To bring us all
Home.

 

[photo by Marlon Malabanan per cc 2.0]