the question

reachingSo, God …
If you are not depending on me to save the world,
What then?

If I am not the one who must uphold your honor,
If I am not the one who must proclaim what is true,
If I am not the one who will make all things right,
What good am I?

Funny how it seems I either think that I am God,
Or presume that I must do the work of Jesus.
Either I must tell you how to make (or fix) the world,
Or I must save it.

On second thought, it is not really so funny.
At best it is sad and delusional,
And sets me up for utter failure.
At worst … well …

Jesus, himself, says, ‘No one is good but God.’
Perhaps this is not a differentiation
On a scale of goodness.
(God is good. You are not.)

Perhaps it points to a difference in role.
In fact, all the stories in Luke 18
Might be read as a suggestion of this difference.

The unjust judge grants the woman’s pleas just to stop her pestering.
It is the tax collector, not the Pharisee whose prayer does its work.
It is in becoming like a little child that you enter the kingdom.
The rich young ruler, who has fully obeyed the law, is unwilling to give up his money, his power, and simply follow and rely on God.
Jesus tells the apostles of his coming crucifixion, which they cannot understand.
The blind man begs for sight, and though they try to quiet him, he continues to beg and is blessed.

None of these stories make sense when measured in terms of ‘goodness’ and ‘deserving.’

I must admit that, at first, I was not sure I liked this arrangement.
If it were about deserving, and if I were good enough, I could demand certain actions from God.
Then, after sixty-some years of trying to be good enough, I am slowly recognizing that there really is a better way.

So … What good am I?
Not good enough.
Good thing that’s not what matters.
That’s not even the right question.

When I’m reaching for assurance,
I don’t have to depend on me.

Whew!

[photo by Valerie Everett per cc 2.0]

a blessing for your morning

whisper

May the soft breeze of God’s whisper
Lift your heart as you arise.

May God’s dear smile
Play across the faces of your friends,
As you greet each other along the way.

May you find yourself joyfully engaged
In those tasks most suited to your gifts.

May you deeply know, even in the midst
Of troubles and questions and seeming failure,
That you, yourself, will never be abandoned.

May you see that any gift,
Given in love into the hand of God,
Softens the edges of reality,
And widens the flow of grace.

Each act of love
Is a step
In the redemption of the world.

[photo by Styleღwithღattitude per cc 2.0]

bullseye

bullseyeThey say that the word for ‘sin’ can be translated as ‘missing the mark.’
But what do you call it when you make a direct hit – on the wrong mark?
What do you call it when you strive for ‘rightness,’ rather than relationship?

What happens when I delude myself into thinking that the way to God,
Is right living, right acting, right believing?
Somehow I miss the insight that the road to rightness takes me far away
From the God who is right here, aching to embrace me, just as I am.

The bullseye of my faith is not doctrinal correctness, but love.
Or, perhaps, it is not a bullseye at all, but a sacred center.
What if I’m not supposed to strike it from afar,
But to lean back into its enfolding?

What if I have been taking aim with a bow made for strict accuracy,
With straight arrows of good intent,
When archery, itself, is not what I am here to learn?

What if I’ve not so much been missing the mark, as missing the point?

[photo by Emily Moe per cc 2.0]

Intersectional natives

 

come togetherI was born into a world of hierarchy, bureaucracy, and linear logic. To get anything done, someone had to be in charge. Things had to be intentionally built under a leader’s direction. The process was carefully controlled. So were the people. You needed ‘strong leaders’ and minions. We had no eyes to see emergence.

But the generation coming to the forefront, now, was born into a very different world. Some call them digital natives, but that term seems to focus on the facility with digital tools rather than on the capacity to imagine the deeper realities that the interconnectedness of the internet and big data have revealed.

It’s not so much a new skill set as a new world view.

Perhaps ‘intersectional natives’ might be an alternative term for those who were born into a world focused on and enlivened by the intersection of cultures, disciplines, ideas, and opportunities. They were born outside the box. Indeed, many were born into a reality that understands that the walls of those boxes where often intentionally fabricated to keep things separate – to emphasize difference.

Now, the essential focus has shifted from categories to connections.

Those of us who are not born intersectional must take care neither to try to stuff them back into our boxes, nor fear that their souls are ‘lost’ because they do not live there. We must, instead, encourage them to hold to the path of love, rather than rules. The rules may shift with the context, but the foundation of love is the essence of life. Love is life’s purpose, its path and its glorious fulfillment.

And, of course, love is about connection.

Indeed, this generation may be the one that can lead us to a better understanding of the Trinity – the reality of a God outside the box. They may help us understand that relationship is the source of reality. It is not about separate ‘persons’ but a bigger, more inclusive ‘one.’

Perhaps this will be the generation that builds bridges rather than walls.

I do hope so.

[photo by Miles Kent per cc 2.0]

strange conversation

ballerina

Does it seem strange to you that an amoeba would try to talk to a ballerina?
Or, even more, that a ballerina would care to talk to an amoeba?

What language would they use?
What reality would frame the conversation?
What concerns, what urgencies, would energize the exchange?

So, when prayer confuses me … I probably should not find that confusion confusing.

The work of prayer is not so much what is being prayed about –
But about making the connection.
It is a wonder that a connection can be made;
A kindness that such connection is invited.

There is a transformation, bit by bit, in what I see;
In who I am;
In who we are, together.

Conversation becomes conversion … bit by bit by bit.

What grace!

[Image modified from photo by Mirjana Veljovic per cc 2.0]

my cavern

cavernI stand at the mouth of a cavern – huge, dark … powerful in its presence and mystery. I want to enter, something calls me in, but I am also fearful. If I walk this path, will I soon get lost amid the stalagmites and stalactites and crevices and boulders that lurk within the shadows? Will I fall or be trapped? Will I simply wander to no avail?

Yet, there is this call, not really audible, just a tug upon my soul. I take a deep breath and step toward the dark. And in that first step, I feel my heart open just a bit – or perhaps it just softens. It is an almost imperceptible move, like the coming wakefulness of morning, arising from the deepest sleep to the next level, just below awareness.

I take another breath and resist the urge to steel myself. It is not about holding tight, but letting go. Another breath, another step, ears on alert, heart inching ahead of my frame, I move. One slow step at a time, searching … or, no, opening, I move.

This is different. I somehow know that this is not a process where I will find something, or figure it out, or come to understand. This is a process in which I will be changed, opened, melded.

It has taken these few steps for the whole sense of this call to change. I am not called to some great mission, to some accomplishment that will be a offering for you. I am called to become someone different, someone melded, molded, reconstituted into a vessel, or … not so much a container for something other than I am, but a container that is an amalgam of me and you – a container that can now hold something that could not otherwise be held.

Beheld… that word, itself, turns a corner in me. If I let myself be seen – and the darkness provides a bit of a robe for my nakedness even as I shed my successive layers of protection – if I let myself be seen, I will become more of myself. Beholding as creation.

And beholding goes both ways. As I find my way through a successive unmasking of my very self, I find my way to you, as well. You dwell in truth. An honest soul, and only an honest soul, can truly encounter you. It is a law of the spiritual realm – that truth is a prerequisite.

Yet truth alone, sterile and hard, will not suffice. Somehow, honesty must be mixed with the affirming pulse of life itself, the truth of true connection, where the coming together is full and free and beautiful. Some would call it love, but even that word seems too light a thing.

And now all my words fade to mere filaments of hope. They cannot really do justice to what is.

I stand, naked, in the dark, still shedding layers of presumption and constraint. And the darkness, itself, a deep and quiet and holy darkness, swirls around me, urging union, promising completion.

Slowly the darkness becomes light. Turns out the darkness was within me, and I have begun to shed it, ever so slowly. The light begins to smile upon me, to welcome me, to make its way into me. My growing honesty is, at last, allowing me to embrace – to be embraced by – the truth of you.

This process is not done, but it is begun. And I am glad.

My soul, a bit raw from this successive unveiling, feels closer to itself. It confirms a truth that has long dwelt with me. I have no words. Except, perhaps, ‘thank you.’

[photo by Emily Mocarski per cc 2.0]

a change in plans

plans
A change in plans
Can be disconcerting.
It suggests that I’m not really
The one in control, after all.

Imagine that!

It also reminds me
That my focus, all too often,
Is on the circumstances,
On things to do and places to be.

I have a to-do list,
Not a to-be or to-be-with list.

But, when plans change,
I am reminded
That the richness of life
Lies in the continual dance of relationship.

Circumstances are just the medium
Where we dance that dance.
Life is not really about what, but who.

And I am so grateful
For those who dance this dance with me.
They touch my soul with grace
And open my eyes to the deep.

With these companions,
Plans are dance steps drawn upon the floor.
When you are actually dancing,
There is joy in creating the dance together.

Change is where the life is.
Let’s dance!

[image modified from photo by Jeremy Keith per cc 2.0]

A L on liberty

Abraham Lincoln

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.

— Abraham Lincoln

The tyranny of self, of course, leads to the tyranny of others.
When self rules – at least the self that wants it all –
There is no freedom.

Once again the mystery –
Giving is receiving.
An open hand liberates.

[photo by Thomas Hawk per cc 2.0]