honest encounter

contemplation

So, here is my quandary:
I want to come to you in honest embrace,
But honesty is so hard.
My nakedness is far too embarrassing.
Yet only naked honesty is worthy of your time … or mine.

It is not your mask I desire, but your dear face.
And your touch, not upon a fancied-up painting of myself,
But on my very soul.
I cannot send a proxy to encounter you.
I must come, myself.

And that is my deepest hope and greatest fear.
If I really come, will you embrace?
If you were to turn aside, my soul would die.
Yet, if I do not come … I’ll starve.

Holy one, you can see the mess I’m in.
What shall I do?

Shhh, my little one. Shhh.
I can see the mess, it’s true.
But I have embraced your naked soul from the moment I called it forth.
Never has it left my loving gaze.
Never have I turned away.
Never have I felt disgust or even mild disdain,
For you are precious to me.
Sometimes, though, I must admit, the silly costumes you try on
Can make me shake my head in wonder.

Know this – though the world may object –
You are my creation and bear the imprint of my love.
Relax in my embrace, and even the things within yourself that make you cringe,
Even those … can be redeemed, renewed, and reconciled.
All, all, all can grow luminous in my love –
And in that light, all will seem as a gift.

I do love you.
You, you, very you, I do love.

My love is the very essence of who I am –
the ground of your own creation –
and the undeniable reality of our every encounter.

It cannot be otherwise.

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[photo by Doc List per cc 2.0]

The Other Cheek

longing for light… I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. – Matthew 5

What kind of good news is this? Don’t resist? Let the bad guys have their way? In fact, give them even more than they ask? Geez!

Get real! If someone busts my chops, I’m not gonna hang around and let them do it again. I’ll fight back or I’ll leave and plot my revenge.

How do you think you’ll win by letting the bad guys have their way?!?

Oh.

I remember now. That cross thing.

Surely you don’t expect me to follow that path. Surely . . . This is so totally bassackwards. I think I’ll just sit down here in the dirt and sulk. I mean, really!

Really? Can you really mean that I should give myself to abuse and let it go . . . and let it go, again? (It really does seem wrong, doesn’t it? I mean not even just selfishly foolish, but bigger picture foolish, too? Doesn’t it?)

Where are your eyes? Mine are too blind to see . . .

I have been struck across the face. Slapped silly, I guess.  Help me know how I should respond. It seems so wrong …

Can you take this half-baked prayer and breathe life into it? Into me?  I do hope so.

Amen.

6 16 08

[photo by Christina VanMeter per cc 2.0]

the hole in my soul

holeThere is a hole in my soul that needs filling.
Stuffing it with newspaper just won’t do.
Neither will ignoring it, or just walking around it.

The hole is a wound,
Not from the slash of a blade,
But from the steady friction of the world.

I need the salve of your hope.
I need the wisdom of the great physician.
I need … you.

Oh, my little one, you have me.
Always and forever.

I am before and beyond.
I am within and throughout.
I breathe inside your breath
And leave the dusting of my presence
Wherever you are.

The trick (though it is no trick)
Is to be there. Fully there.
Fully embodied; fully infused.

This reality is already yours.
Now, before you retire.
Now, before you even start your day.

I am yours and you are mine.
That is true regardless.
But when you open to that truth
That is the magical moment (though it is not magic);
That is when your heart quickens with the breath of hope.
That is when wisdom invades your words
And grace flows from your touch
When you become the conduit of my love.

Oh, Holy One,
I long for this to be true.
It seems I always stand on that precipice of longing
But I lack the courage to fall into that reality.
So, year after year, I come to the very edge of promise
And turn to go without fully embracing its truth.
I leave the blessing for the busyness of my days.
I postpone your call, to answer the phone.

Pick up the phone.
That’s me on the other end.
You can answer my call in that conversation.
Trust – it comes with action.
Doubt is just the mud on your shoes.
Keep walking – it will be worn away.

[photo by Daniel Meyer per cc 2.0]

 

Do you not know?

patterns of light
Do you not know
Oh little one
That worship shapes your soul?
That words continue to call worlds into being?
That coming is joy, not duty?
And that, oh, I do love you.

Do you not know
Oh little one
That I love you into being even now?

Come. 
Listen to your heart and come.
Let go to the joy
Let go in sweet abandon
Let go into my arms
I will catch you
And embrace you
Come.

Would that I could dance with you.
That I could slip into the melody
Lose myself in the embrace
And stop concentrating on the next step
Or trying to do it right.

Would I could simply receive the embrace
And let go into love and music.
Would that I were not just me.

Ah but my little one
I made that ‘me.’
I love that ‘me.’
And I embrace that ‘me’
Even now.

You can step on my feet as you dance
I do not mind
So long as you dance.

I just wish you could embrace the mistakes as well
It would be more fun 
For us both
If you would let me remove your worries 
And just dance, love, be.

I can handle the rest.
Believe me.
Believe me.

I do love you. 
And all the whole I call you to be.

It is love that calls . . . 

And joy that answers

Ah! Amen.

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[photo by 李小克 Klaire Lee per cc 2.0]

You there?

facing an uncertain futureGod?
Are you there?
Are you worried?
Why don’t you just fix it all?
And can you fix me while you are at it?

 
God?
If I give you just a moment –
Can you give me one day’s wisdom?
Can I give you – can I give your world –
One day’s kindness?

Perhaps that is a start.
A tangible way to love God by loving my neighbor.
I might even be able to love my neighbor
Just about as much as I love myself today.
That skeptical much, that begrudging much, that hopeful much.

One day’s kindness,
One day’s suspension of angry judgment.
One day’s pause to be actually grateful
For breath, for friends, for family, for hope
For the life you have given me.

One day’s kindness to myself
As the starting place
The opening place
To nurture kindness that can extend outward
From a center strong enough to hold hope.

From a center where your love for me
Gives room
Takes root
Empowers kindness
Allows change to flower.

Yes?

God?

(Yes.)

[photo by Rob Baird 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]

 

Remembering grace

back fenceHello
Do you remember me?
I used to come to talk to you most every day,
Leaning across the back fence of your mind,
Picking at the splinters in the rail,
Looking up at the clouds with a cocked eye,
Wondering with you about the rain.

Do you remember
The sweet release of walking across campus on a spring day
When the sun was intense and the breeze cool?
When the sheer joy of being engaged in a project worth doing
Hung playfully in the air
And the energy of shared purpose kept us fully engaged?

Do you remember
When movement felt good?
When arms swinging, backpack singing, legs reaching,
Were part of the joy of the journey?
When the caress of walking through waist-high wildflowers
And their gentle, moist presence
Brought a soul-deep green into your day?

Do you remember
The sleeping child upon your lap
Whose unconscious move to snuggle deeper into comfort
Was also a deep comfort to you?
When the flash of curious question in their eyes
Fed your soul with wonder?
When spontaneous smiles erupted for bugs and stones and anything fuzzy?

Do you remember
The comfort of sitting quietly together
Watching the sunset?
When the palpable sense of belonging to each other
Made words redundant?
Do you remember the touch of love?

Do you remember me?
I still come to talk to you most every day,
I still pick at the fence and look at the clouds.

I do remember. Thank you.

I am grateful, today, for the call to remember the richness of my life.
I am grateful for these whispered memories
For each small glimpse of wonder and connection.
They feed my soul with grace, again,
Just as they did before.

[photo by Bunches and Bits {Karina} per cc 2.0]