Play with me

playing on the beachI sit quietly beneath the oak, looking out upon the meadow, waiting for the arrival of the sun. Here it comes, pushing away the rim of night, unfolding the morning. It rises, slowly, adding inch by inch to its presence, proclaimed by crimson clouds and wispy streaks of gold.

Then, though my eyes can hardly bear it, I see an image within the brilliant glow of the sun. A form, immensely bright: it is the Lord, the God of this meadow, the very one whose hand called it into being.

He walks forward to the well and sits upon its rim. The sunrise is behind him and he looks around his meadow, and up the hill to where I sit. He looks at me; into me. Then he nods at me and smiles, beckoning me to the well.

I rise and walk toward him, and as I draw closer, I begin to run. It is as if I am pulled by a magnet, the closer I am, the stronger the pull. I run to him and tackle him in my exuberance and together we fall into the well. He wraps me in his arms and I feel a low chuckle.

We are carried away by the waters of the well and are finally washed up on a beach – upon a warm and sandy shore. Together we run along its edges, kicking at the waves, tumbling in the sand, throwing shells into the water.

We play and play and play. We run in rhythm with each other, ducking and dodging, each anticipating the next step in this friendly game of chase. Finally, we stop to catch our breath. He hugs me close and dusts the sand from my cheek. I am a small child standing beside him as he sits upon the sand. He has wrapped his arms around me and rests his forehead on my chest. “Thank you,” he says to me.

I am astonished. “Are you thanking me for the romp?”

“Yes,” he replies, “Too often I come and no one is waiting for me. No one is ready to rejoice with me in the wonder of creation. I can usually find a serious servant to follow my instructions, but it is rare to find someone to play with me in the beauty of this world. I hope that you will come to me again, sometime, so we can play once more.”

“I will,” I promise. “Cross my heart.”

“And mine” he replies.

2/15/95

[photo by insiyah amiruddeen per cc 2.0]

Weft of friendship

Warp and Weft

 

Once again my heart is melted with gratitude
Once again I am engulfed with the wonder of friendship
Once again I know that such relationships are the stuff of life.

As we prepare to welcome a new life into this crazy world,
It is the weft of friendship that fortifies my soul,
Gifts within gifts – to help a new life blossom.
And what a grace to see two generations of friendship
In deep and easy communion
Welcoming a third.

When I count my blessings
These are at the top of the list.
Thank you, my friends.

[image from wikicommons, with translation as noted in wikipedia]

Striving to be non-mean

anger's angst

One of my distinctions in religion is not liberal and conservative, but mean and non-mean. – Martin Marty

When someone is mean to you, it is way too easy to get locked into their mode of exchange – trading barb for barb. This is a particularly potent temptation in politics and religion, where the stakes seem so high. We shout at each other from different islands, each sure of our own stand and disparaging of the other.

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson tell us that we are stuck in this frame, in part, because of the metaphors we use. We think of an argument as a form of war – where we parry and thrust and go in for the kill. Even the title to this post is just a shade away from ‘strife.’ In war, it is win or lose, and the cost of losing is your life – or at least your way of life. Lakoff and Johnson wonder what it might be like if, instead, we thought of argument as form of dance.

And Julia Cameron suggests that anger is a signal that someone has crossed your boundaries. It provides a map to our psychological ‘safe space’ and tells us when its threatened. When someone makes us angry, they have crossed a line. When we see someone who is angry – they have revealed a bit of the map of their lives.

I wonder, with Martin Marty, what it might be like if we could approach our disagreements as a opportunity to deepen understanding. What if we treated our arguments as research – an adventure into the unknown?

What if we could learn to be non-mean in the face of disagreement? What if we could learn to dance? We seem so far from that today. Could you possibly start the music for me and show me a few steps?

[photo by Jake Miller per cc 2.0]

 

Grateful on Father’s Day

my Dad (and Mom) I want to thank my Daddy
For choosing me.

True, his first choice was my Momma.
And that choice has blessed my life as well,
Allowing me to grow up in the context of love.

But he also chose me – adopted me.
He gave me his name.
He gave me his time.
He gave me his love.

I was three when he came into our lives.
And, from that time forward,
He has been my Daddy, my Dad – ‘Poppy’ to my kids.
And a continual blessing.

Sometimes God’s love comes to us most tangibly
Through the smile, the hug, the steady presence
Of another, like my Dad.

Thank you, Dad.

a joyful gambol

laughing faunThe oak outside my office window is a bridge to the meadow’s oak – to the land where my imagination plays. Outside my window, the branches are tangible, but they hold the intangible, offering it before me. I slide into my meadow and I am home.

I sit at the base of that tree. leaning back in a restful pose, grateful to have let down my load for a moment, suddenly conscious of how long it has been since I rested. I need your rest. No wonder my mind is stodgy and inept. I need re-creation. So, I release myself into your meadow, our meadow, and feel the delicious smoothness of your rest, your peace. I hear a melody of love, though the notes are not clear. I feel the caress of the breeze and almost, almost, drift off to sleep.

But suddenly I am snapped awake. The melody has become louder. It is joyful, sparkling, a march of quirky delights – of jokes and puns of gamboling fauns and fairies, of a Narnian circle under the stars, where all the animals meet on midsummer night to play in delight at the simple fact of creation.

There is much to delight in, in your creation. I find myself in the circle, right between two giggling young fauns who can barely stand. They are so excited to be here. They play upon their flutes from time to time, but laughter keeps them from adding much to the song. Never mind, there are plenty of singers. I feel a giggle rising in my chest. I feel the wrinkle of a smile upon my lips. It seems strange, to smile a real smile, to laugh with delight, to release myself to joy.

Too much responsibility.   I take it off like a coat and kick it – yes, I kick it aside.

Now, I am dressed in nothing but a thin summer dress, a breeze of a fabric that follows my dance as I begin to twirl. The fawns take a hand on ether side and dance me around almost tumbling over themselves in laughter and exuberance. We twirl and twirl until, exhausted, we fall onto the ground. An older faun gives one of the young ones a mockingly stern look, and then laughs, too.

Sudden there is a solemnness that overcomes the circle. It is not a sad solemnness, but a deeply joyful one. It quiets the laughter and spreads deep smiles and sighs through the crowd. Jesus himself has stepped into the middle of the circle. Not Aslan, but the Lord himself, in human form. He sits upon the hillside, leaning back so that he can look out at the crowd; look up at the sky. My two young fauns scramble over to sit as close to him as they can.

He smiles at them, and then begins to sing. He tilts his head back and sings. The tones rolling from his tongue repaint the sky, retouch the leaves, renew my heart. It is a jubilant, triumphant, invigorating song. When he is done, he looks straight at me. And smiles. Suddenly my own form is enriched, my own colors deepen, my own self becomes more real, more me, than I have been for a long time. He smiles again. He blows me a kiss and is gone. The whole scene is gone, but the colors remain in my heart. No longer gray am I. Life is returning with the sunrise. Color blooms.

Thank you.

Amen. amen. amen.

2/5/97

[image filtered from photo by ketrin1407 per cc 2.0]

prayer’s quandary

prayerHow is it that I imagine
(Though it seems I often do)
That I could ever out-love God?

Somehow I think that I must remind God
To pay attention to those I love
And respond in the ways I would direct.

I hang on to those urgent, begging prayers
As if they are lifelines
As if their path is the only one worth walking.

And in that clinging urgency, I lose the opportunity
To join the deeper, fuller love that God
Is always, already, pouring forth.

When will I learn that true prayer
Is the place where I find God’s love welling up within me
And where I send it forth into the world?

Prayer stitches my soul into the fabric of life as it is
Adding one more fiber to the tapestry of love that God is weaving
And learning to rejoice as it unfolds.

[photo by Via Tsuji per cc 2.0]

Prayerful encounter

coals

Come.
Please.
Come.

Please do.
I wait for you.

Is it true?
Are you hoping that I come?
Can the turning of this one small heart toward you
Make any difference at all?

It can.
Let me show you how.
Come.

So, I do.
Best I can
I turn my heart toward you.
I sit in the anteroom of your great court
With anxious anticipation, hoping to be called.
So many others sit with me in this dark and quiet place
Their petitions in their hands, twisting them, folding and unfolding
Frantic hopes scrawled on scraps of paper
Or carefully worded bargains, expecting a price for any favor.

And then, in a far, dark corner I catch a glimpse of you.
This is no anteroom – this is the room, itself
The very place of encounter
But these scraps of paper are our barrier – the veil between.

There is a small brazier in the middle of the room.
Ash-dusted coals glow faintly in its metal frame.
I walk to it and push my own papers through the grate.
I cry as I let them go – they carry my desperation and desire.
When they catch flame, it is my heart that burns.

Yet when my focus is on them, I see you only dimly.
When I have let them go, I find myself within your arms.
You rock me slowly, crooning in my ear.
And, when I have, at last, relaxed a bit
You hand me a small package, wrapped in fragile whiteness.
Within it beats my heart, purified and tempered by the fire.
It glows in response to your touch.
It beats more slowly, more firmly,
Anchored in you.

It is not that my petitions are devalued.
Instead, they have been transferred from my hands to your heart.
You know them deeply; hold them close.
They find their true expression in your warm embrace.

Somehow, for just a moment, I know
That they are more deeply felt
More deeply honored in your hands
Than they would ever be in mine.

Your response is not simply an answer,
But a fulfillment
Not held at arms length, but drawn deeply in.
All is exactly as it should be, where it must be –
Held in an irrevocable, irrepressible love.

May it be so.
May I know the whisper of that truth.
May those I hold in prayer
Know it, too.
Deeply, fully, truly know.

Amen.

[photo by Matthew Peoples per cc 2.0]