Kingdom is a foreign term,
The metaphor of a different time.
It is so far removed from what I understand
That it no longer serves me well.
When I think of kingdom,
I think of coercion,
Absolute, immutable rule.
What if there were a different kind of kingdom –
Hidden in plain sight, growing up among us,
Tiny, at first, like a mustard seed?
What if it were a land of healing and hope,
Where little children, and prostitutes, eagerly lead the way?
It would be an upside down land,
Where the last come first
And every lost thing is found.
Camels and riches would make it hard to enter in,
For what is truly yours is what you give away.
It would be like living in a foreign land.
I’d need to learn its culture,
Change my currency.
I’d need a whole new language.
But, somehow, I know I would be home.
Do you think I could find asylum, there?
[photo by Don McCullough per cc 2.0]
I finger my thoughts, slowly, like beads on a string,
Turning them in my fingers, observing their texture and color.
One by one they pass through my grasp.
I can hardly tell why each one arises, nor how it morphs to the next.
Each seems so real and intricate as it sits between my fingers
But as I let it go, it turns to vapor and dissipates.
There really are no beads before or after the one I hold;
Not that I can see.
Could it be that the time I spend in my head – planning or trying to understand
May actually be frittering away the life you have opened for me
Opened – but it’s out of sight, so, out of mind.
How do loosen my internal focus, so I can grasp a broader view?
Let me learn not to worry about the last bead or the next –
To focus less on thoughts and more on moments
To trust the string of your love
And let the beads arise and fall in grace.
This is my prayer
Today and tomorrow
(If I can anticipate the next day’s bead upon the string)
Let me come to life, one bead at a time.
[photo by Vicki C per cc 2.0]
On the edge of change
In the swirl of this, still new, millennium
So much is urgent and hopeful, yet full of tragedy and despair.
All the institutions of the old order,
Economics, education, religion, civics,
Seem in helpless disarray.
Yet there are sprouts of green amid the rubble.
There are prescient urgings and faithful actions
Calling a new world community to life.
What is this, emerging among us?
Could it be a new turning toward each other?
Could it be that a new world is rising, expectantly, in our midst?
So much change, yet so much deep coherence.
It reaches beneath the chaos to sing grace.
My heart is captured by this hopeful, unifying song.
Fingers crossed … I dare believe it might be true.
It certainly is true to my dearest hopes
And ushers in a belief worth believing.
[photo by Pamela Machado per cc 2.0 … Even creative commons is part of this emerging.]
God’s math is strange:
In an intimate partnership,
The two become one:
One in love – sharing one love.
And this strange God
Is also One, in intimate partnership
Among the three
One love inviting more into that circle
Even welcoming you and me
Into that very dance
Where the one love extends ever outward
A universe bursting out in deep relationship.
And how strange.
[photo by Aftab Uzzaman per cc 2.0]
If I am honest with myself
My faith is pretty messy.
On grateful mornings my heart sings.
I am wrapped in the peaceful veil of sunrise and birdsong.
I know – I seem so sure – that I am a small part
Of an immense and holy whole.
But other mornings I crawl out of a dull and achy hole.
I look around and wonder how love could be the source
Of such a mess as this.
My eyes seem tuned to all that’s undeniably wrong.
Is it the tilt of my heart that determines what I see?
And what tilts my heart?
Is faith a decision?
And, if so, what does it stand upon?
This postmodern mind of mine
Knows that knowing is slippery.
All, all seems built upon the sand.
I need a rock to keep me from collapse.
Yet, even rocks are made of whirling atoms,
With vast emptiness between each particle.
The solid – not so solid: I am not held up by ‘stuff.’
Instead, I am held by the very force of the relationships between each and all.
Right now, that is a much of a rock as I can find.
I clamber up – and am amazed that it holds me.
It holds me … and isn’t that what relationship most desires?
To be cherished, but not crushed. It is a delicate balance.
[image by SJKen per cc 2.0]
Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity – it did not need changing! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.- Richard Rohr
Could this be true?
The crucifixion was unnecessary.
God did not require it – we did.
It was not God who demanded sacrifice as the gateway to reconciliation.
God’s power to love and forgive was never held hostage to some cruel death.
Love has always been more powerful than sin.
We are the ones who required blood-sacrifice.
We believed so deeply that the price of sin was death
That we would not accept God’s love and reconciliation without it.
So, Christ, who came for reconciliation,
Who came to show us love,
Met our conditions.
God’s desire for relationship was so deep
That God yielded to our obstinate delusions
To prove in ways that only we demanded
The awesome, terrible depth of love.
God does not love us more – or less – because of the crucifixion.
But we can now accept forgiveness
And find a way to receive and return that love.
That is God’s desire – that we would love in return.
God will do whatever it takes to help us find the way to love.
[image cropped from a photo by Steve Snodgrass per cc 2.0]
Of course we use metaphors.
Of course we try to understand the ineffable.
Of course we fall short.
Of course we try again.
Can you explain beauty
Or describe love?
It is all so marvelously immense.
I’m grateful – no thrilled –
To be a tiny part of a universe
That is so far beyond my grasp
And so filled with wonder
And so deeply interwoven.
I’ll never understand.
Isn’t that grand?
[photo by Andrew Kuznetsov per cc 2.0]