this simple meal

deep within the woods

One day, this day, lies before me. One step, the next step, is to be taken. I have strength for only one. I have manna for one day only. If I try to grasp at more, it rots within my hands. One day, one step, one piece of grace to give me strength to face it.

I kneel at an oaken table, deep within the woods, deep within a clearing where the large stump forms that table and where the brightness of the day is obscured by the heavy canopy of trees. Only one shaft of light finds its way through and hits the surface of the table with a clear, bright beam. In the spotlight of that beam, centered within its ray, is the simple meal of manna, which is spread for me this day. A cake of bread, a glass of wine, a napkin unfolded underneath as a cloth for the meal to rest upon. Nothing beside these simple provisions.

I say my grace before the meal… my grace, my prayer for grace, sets my heart in tune with the meal itself, to receive its nourishment. “Oh, Holy One, open my heart to receive your blessing for this day. Open my eyes to see your will, my hands to carry it out.” I reach and take the bread, break it and hold it for a moment in my hands. “This strength of yours I eat. I ask that you help me to spend it in your service and on your priorities. Help me to know what I must do, and to separate that from what others would like for me to do, from what I sense as urgent, but do not have the wisdom to also sense as hollow – an empty, busy bluster with no lasting value. Feed me on wisdom today, my Holy Friend, and let its essence creep into my soul.”

One step, one beam of light to guide, one hand to hold. For as my meal is ended, you join me here and offer me your hand. I take that hand of love and rise to meet the day. My own shallow wisdom is not enough, but the love and the wisdom that you offer is more than enough.

Isn’t that, after all, the promise of the manna? Enough for one day. Enough.

3 28 95

[photo by Jaroslav Kuba per cc 2.0]

wonder’s dust

sunset in Marathon

Praise to God, to God, to God
Praise to God, my soul!

I can wiggle my toes into the edges of the ocean,
but never plumb its depths.

I can tickle the skirt of the sky,
and let it wrap me round
and let it enter in at every breath,
but even imagination cannot examine its bounds.

I can lean me back in your love,
and wake my soul to ever-new delights,
but it is more, is more, is more
than I can grasp.

Instead, it grasps me
and holds me
and stirs me to praise.

The edges of wonder dust my days.

I praise
and in the praising, stretch my soul
to gather wonder’s dust in sheer delight of you.

9 29 11

[photo is my own]

Friendship’s grace

tiny flowersI am in the mountains, in a high meadow, where the trail is clearly worn along one side. It leads my feet without much difficulty, few roots or rocks and no question of direction. That gives me the chance to catch the full beauty of the meadow, the tender plants that grow on marshy stems, where the moisture is gathered, green, into a living form; the vast expanse of plant after plant, dotted with small white flowers, ruffled by the fingers of the breeze.

Beauty opens my heart like a flower to the sun. Friendship shared in the presence of beauty is water at the roots. In that moment, the flower, itself, can acknowledge its own beauty as one indivisible part of the whole. And that wholeness is the heartbeat of beauty, itself.

I don’t know that I need some profound insight today. I need the presence of a friend to hold my hopes with me a while, to help me face my fears, my doubts, my failures and know that there is still a ‘me’ that makes them smile. They are not waiting for me to be perfect, and neither are you.  They delight in friendship’s dear embrace, where the beauty of each soul, reflected in the other’s eyes, is deeply known, confirmed, and grown.

[photo by Jessica Lucia per cc 2.0]

seeking wisdom

conversations of the spirit


If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.


In my earlier days, I suppose I thought that answers to prayers somehow came through a divine finger reaching from eternity into the fabric of the world to set things right. I would suppose that a prayer for wisdom would result in some great insight being planted in my brain – and I would suddenly see with great clarity and depth.

But it seems, for me, that wisdom comes, instead, through thoughtful listening to wise friends whose voices weave, a strand at a time, a tapestry of grace. And, see, such wisdom is deeper, fuller, more hopeful – the rich wisdom of community, welling up to joy.

Thank you, oh Holy One, for the generous and ungrudging gift of friends and the wisdom that comes in their company.


[image cropped from photo by Tuncay per cc 2.0]


Pausing for Joy

This is the way forward:
For just a moment to release my fears
And to turn in grateful joy to notice the kindness around me
And to smile and give thanks for its presence
To point it out to others
And to laugh together in the sheer delight of such beauty.

Help me salt my days with the recognition of these simple gifts:
A sip of cool water or warm coffee,
Someone opening the door for me,
A kind word,
A silly joke,
A true hug.

You are still here among us.
You have not given up.
Nor will I.


[photo by Riccardo Francesconi per cc 2.0]

the choice

gray choiceMy mind is pretty muddy lately
I wander in circles and find myself nowhere
Where did I put that bit of wisdom that I thought I held?

I need eyes that see – that clear the fog around me and pierce through to hope.
And yet, I have no secret in my heart to take me there.
I am bereft.

Is this where it ends?
Or where it begins?

It seems my impotent soul must make a choice –
The only power left to me –
The power to give up
Or the power to let go.

It seems the same choice, but it is not.
One leads to despair,
The other plants a seed for hope.
One leads only to ashes,
The other looks for a phoenix from the fire.

The idea of giving up
Sits on the edge of my awareness and grins it’s cruel grin,
Telling me that I might as well accept the truth of futility.
Why struggle anymore against the inevitable?
Why sacrifice if it leads to naught?
Better to hunker down and protect, as best I can,
What is still within my grasp.
It is the easy choice – requiring only the merest nod of agreement –
And the abdication of my faith.

But there is a false bluster in that specter’s grin.
It is not so confident as it seems.
It’s eyes are never smiling.
The upturned lips are really a scowl –
A mask it wears to fool the world,
Hoping to convince itself, as well.

If I am to die – and we all do –
Then I would rather die an open soul, held in relationship.
Than one curled tight around fear and despair.

And so, I release my small nothing into your grace.
And decide against despair.
I turn away from the hard, empty scowl of discouragement.
And seek the warm smile of friendship and of hope.
It is the best that I can do, today.

[image cropped from photo by Antoine K per cc 2.0]