woe to you

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 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” – Matthew 23: 23-24

Woe to you, lawmakers.  You seek easy answers to hard problems and produce sound bites which trivialize our turmoil, placing blame and responsibility on anyone but yourselves.

Woe to you, self-righteous do-gooders, who make a show of what you give, who see money as the way to buy righteousness and avoid relationship.

Woe to you, silent watchers, who love to complain and lift not a finger to correct.

Woe to you, televangelists and false prophets.  You prey on the vulnerabilities of people who need God, offering them yourselves instead, and at a high price.

Woe to you, vain mirror-dwellers, who place all value in appearance and outward style and fail to reflect any inward substance, having none to offer.

Woe to you, spewers of religious fervor – all froth and uproar – and with no promise of peace, for peace belongs to the prince you do not serve.

and, that said,

Woe to me, filled with shiny plans and golden schemes, I leave undone the humble work before me.  Too easily, I drop a project when it first is marred by my inevitable mistakes, not willing to recognize those failings as innate to me.  So, dreams prevail but do not accomplish good for anyone but the dreamer.

To long for perfection on my own, to think that it is possible within myself to be perfect, is to usurp the place of God.

Woe to me. My particular risks and temptations are my own, sculpted from the clay I have wrested from God’s hands. I make a false self in a fancied image of goodness, as do all the woeful souls that shout and thrash around me.

Teach me to release myself, flawed and loved, into your hands.

Teach me that all other souls are there, beside me, held in those same loving hands.

 

[image edited from photo by M.V. Jantzen per cc 2.0]

God our Mother

In celebration of Mother’s Day this last Sunday, please listen to the poem, ‘God our Mother’ by Allison Woodward – at this link. It starts just after the 12:00 mark. The written version can be found here.

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It’s true, you know.
(You do know it, deep down, don’t you?)
Your first sense of a loving presence
Came before you had any words to frame the gift.
You were knit together in a womb of love,
Fully nurtured by another’s very life.

You were called to life by life,
To love by love,
Which are our best and first response.
So, even deeper than the sense of God as male,
Is the sense of love as female.
And God, you know, is love.

It is not sacrilege.
It is the true echo of God’s imprint on us all.
We are made male and female in their image.
Each of us hold that double imprint
Both masculine and feminine,
Full autonomy, fully given for another.

And so we hold the imprint of divine connection,
That gift expressed in our own gift of self,
The ever-whirling dance of all that is.
Each of us is a unique expression of God’s love,
The chance to give what no one else can give,
Ourselves.

 

[image modified from photo by Irina (Patrascu) Gheorghita per cc 2.0]

better

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The green of the leaf,
The heat of the sun,
The laughter that bubbles up
When good friends meet
After a long absence,

The sweet satisfaction
In a sip of cool water,
The uncomplicated giggle
Of a small, dear child,
These are evidence of you.

These are embodiment of you.
These are where, again, you create life.

Theology is good.
The pulse of life is better.
I rejoice in them both.

[photo by Mary Beth Griffo Rigby per cc by nc nd 2.0]

empty

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In those quiet moments
When I let myself be still,
When I release the ‘shoulds’ of my life,
When I let them drift from my hands like so many autumn leaves,
When I drop the other defenses and distractions,
When I risk acknowledging the naked me,
And I stand without excuse before the vastness of it all,

In those moments,
When it seems I will melt away to nothingness,
To uselessness,
To emptiness,
To loneliness,
And become a vacant husk,

In those moments,
If I do not turn from this discipline
To grasp at any cover or shield,
I find, to my surprise,
You have not turned away.

That was, of course, my greatest fear –
That you could not love the naked me.
And that fear,
As you predicted,
Has been cast out by love.

It is hard for you to fill that which is already full.
When I let the clutter of my life fill up my days
It is hard for you to find a place to enter.
Yet, still, you do.
No space is too small for you.

And that is,
Indeed,
A great comfort,
When my heart has grown small.

Help me clear the clutter a bit today,
So you can enter a bit more fully,
So I can notice, when you do.
That you do.

And we can smile, together.

 

[photo by Fabio Sola Penna per cc 2.0]