down is up

via dolorosaThe way down is the way up. – Richard Rohr

I don’t want to follow you on the way down.
I don’t want illness, weakness, failure, or sadness.
And I don’t think that you want me to want such things …
The goal for my soul is not mortification, any more than it is glorification.

The goal is you.

The trick seems to be that the elements of pleasure –
Fullness, satisfaction, acclaim, power, capacity –
Feel so good, that they quickly divert my desire.
‘The pursuit of happiness,’ is a siren song.
It is like sugar for my soul – empty calories that leave me wanting more.

On the other hand, loss is not a distraction for my desire.
Instead, the experience of loss drives me closer to you.
It is at those moments when my soul desperately cries out for you.
So, I must admit that there may be something to Rohr’s contention
That the way up is down.

The Via Dolorosa, the path of sorrows, is not to be sought,
But neither is it to be avoided at all costs,
Especially since even ‘all costs’ will not keep it away.
Even Jesus did not choose suffering
What he chose was to give himself to God.

[photo by Racineur per cc 2.0]

You think you are better than me

tension

You think you are better than me.
Of course, you are not.
But that does not make me better than you, either.

We are one.

Ugh!
That must make you uncomfortable.
It certainly makes me squirm.

Amazingly, that oneness doesn’t make us the same, either.
The mystery is that we are both uniquely a part
Of the universal One.

Like the left hand and the right,
Like the ear and the eye,
Our difference is a gift to the whole.

Indeed, it is that difference that makes it whole.

Until I put away my need to be complete on my own,
I will always be incomplete.
(Why is that always such a surprise?)

[image modified from a photo by Luc Blain per cc 2.0]
[I send apologies to my English teacher friends, lest you think you are better than I (am). Of course, as friends, you would never think that. I just needed to follow the voice of the small child who still runs around on the playground in my head.]

too much armor

Harness by Seamus Moran

At what point do you become so self-protected that you can no longer do the thing you were created to do?  How much protection do you need—and how much can you bear before you stop being able to grow, or fly? – Quinn Caldwell

What is God’s will for a wing? Every bird knows that. – Saint Teresa of Avila

What will our children do in the morning if they do not see us fly? – Rumi 

I wanted to write that this rich conversation between artists helped to fortify my soul … but fortification is the problem, isn’t it?

Freedom is a scary, precious thing, calling life to life in all its tender vulnerability.

May we all be brave enough to fly into the face of fear with thundering wing and gentle feather.

 

[The photo is of the sculpture “Harness” by Seamus Moran, as posted to his  Facebook page.  You can also view his work at www.seamusmoran.com. Used with permission.]

 

 

 

the whisper

mysteryThere is a holy whisper in the universe.
Sometimes it is hard for my heart to hear it.
Sometimes I even doubt its presence.
But then, I am overcome by beauty.
And I am reminded.
It is so.

Sometimes it seems I will be pulled apart by chaos.
So much in disarray.
So much violence and anger.
So much pain and terror.
But deep below it all, there is an anchor of truth.
It holds me, still.

I often wish for a different reality.
I even try to make it so.
But my small fictions cannot do the trick.
The real is real.
And the very deepest real,
Is a call to unity – even in the midst of chaos.

Much of that struggle and pain
Is created when my fictions strike up against yours.
Even so, the struggle and the pain are real,
They stretch and tear and bind.
They do hurt – immensely.
But they are not eternal.

How can I release myself to the seeming chaos?
How can I become a part of that deep unity,
Without loosing myself?
So, I continue to construct my fictional self
Out of the rubble of my efforts.
All to no avail.

I fight the inevitable
Like a small child fighting sleep.
I whine and struggle, rock and fidget.
I push against the embrace
Until I can resist no longer
And I fall into peace.

And here is the wonder of it all
I am held in the arms of truth.
The chaos is not random.
It tumbles into patterns of fractal beauty
Where I am both lost and found
And my heart at last can hear that holy whisper.

[photo ashokboghani by per cc 2.0]

[Thanks to Richard Rohr, in his meditation blog, for helping me begin to see.]

ask, seek, knock

doorwaysYour words to me:
Ask, seek, knock.

So, what do I ask?
I ask to know You.
No small ask, for a small me.
Yet somehow I dare to hope
That it is your call
Echoing within me,
Evoking this desire.

Oh Holy One,
I ask to know you.

And what do I seek?
I seek a deeper understanding,
One centered in my heart
Rather than my head.
One that helps to anchor my soul
In a truth too big for explanation.
Big enough to lose myself,
So that I might be found.

Oh Holy One,
I seek understanding.

So where do I knock?
I knock on the door of your heart.
I knock on the side of the mountain.
I knock up against the daily news.
I knock on the walls of my cell.
I knock inside my skull.

Everywhere I turn,
Whatever I encounter,
I knock.
Surely you are there,
Since you are everywhere,
And any doorway is a threshold
To encounter.

Oh Holy One,
I knock.

[image edited from photo by Joanna Paterson per cc 2.0]

holding pattern

beneath the tree

Oh, Holy One,
I sit beneath the tree of my imagination.
I hold my troubled heart in my hands.
I don’t know what else to do.

You sit beside me.
You lean over and wrap your hands around mine.
You lean down and kiss my heart.
I offer it up to you, mostly out of desperation.
And you smile.

That, at least, is good; seems right;
Not righteous on my part, but true.
That smile softly changes the contours of my heart.
I move from grasping fear to gratitude.

Your smile tugs at the corners of my own mouth.
I feel my hands relax around my heart.
I feel my soul relax around my quandaries.
Your presence beside me is enough.

Indeed, it is more than enough,
I release myself into a surprising fullness,
My questions are not answered, but they are quieted.
I am held in you.

[photo by Felix Dance per cc 2.0]

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]