summer abundance

yellow squashOne of the realities of summer
Is squash.
One day it is a blossom
The next a fingerling
The next, almost too big.

Ask me if I’m growing squash
And I’ll likely say yes.
But, really, it grows on its own.
My part is minimal.
The rest is miracle.

Sun, water, dirt, seed –
Become an edible delight.
I can barely keep up.
I am grateful for these quiet miracles.
And the fact they don’t depend on me.

[photo by Joan per cc 2.0]

The short list

A list of things that will pass:

  • The soft sighs of a sleeping childpeaceful sleep
  • Spring’s cool mornings
  • Flowers that wake after a rain
  • The ache of yesterday’s exercise
  • The strength of my resolve
  • The urgent demands of this day
  • The current political mess
  • The opportunity on my doorstep
  • This, this, this, too.

A list of things that will not change:

  • God’s love in all of this

At last, I can breathe again. Nothing is too precious or too painful to be outside the realm of the embrace of love. I am grateful.

[photo is my own … already she has changed]
[Thanks to Brene Brown for her work on foreboding joy.]

Flat Stanley

When someone sits me down
And tries to tell me what I must believe
I think I see Flat Stanley, standing beside the pew.
It is as if he’d been smashed between the pages of a book –
Only the correct translation, of course –
And now, with things all decent and in order,
We can get on with the rest of our lives.
We can just slip him out when it’s handy.
And put him back when he gets in the way.

[image modified from photos by Temple Moore Trail (pews) and PRO Tito Perez (flat Stanley) per cc 2.0]

 

the very idea of God

 

wonderI
To touch the wind
To carry the ocean in a cup
To lift a star from heaven and hold it close
To hold within my soul a whisper of God’s presence
All, so far beyond me
… and yet, my heart does yearn.

II
The very idea of God
I cannot grasp or define or describe
Words are too small, too constraining
God will not be pigeonholed.
Aslan is no tame lion.
… and yet, the wonder will not let me go.

III
How I think of God
Makes a difference in the shape of my soul.
If, I think first of ‘God hates sin,’
I find myself the hated one.
If, instead, am formed by ‘God is love…’
… well …

IV
I cannot tell you what it means
For the creator to kiss my face.
I cannot tell you how it feels to be so held
That I come into being.
Could it be … perhaps … oh, my …
… that I am the very idea of God.

[image cropped from photo by Petras Gaggles per cc 2.0]

this simple meal

deep within the woods

One day, this day, lies before me. One step, the next step, is to be taken. I have strength for only one. I have manna for one day only. If I try to grasp at more, it rots within my hands. One day, one step, one piece of grace to give me strength to face it.

I kneel at an oaken table, deep within the woods, deep within a clearing where the large stump forms that table and where the brightness of the day is obscured by the heavy canopy of trees. Only one shaft of light finds its way through and hits the surface of the table with a clear, bright beam. In the spotlight of that beam, centered within its ray, is the simple meal of manna, which is spread for me this day. A cake of bread, a glass of wine, a napkin unfolded underneath as a cloth for the meal to rest upon. Nothing beside these simple provisions.

I say my grace before the meal… my grace, my prayer for grace, sets my heart in tune with the meal itself, to receive its nourishment. “Oh, Holy One, open my heart to receive your blessing for this day. Open my eyes to see your will, my hands to carry it out.” I reach and take the bread, break it and hold it for a moment in my hands. “This strength of yours I eat. I ask that you help me to spend it in your service and on your priorities. Help me to know what I must do, and to separate that from what others would like for me to do, from what I sense as urgent, but do not have the wisdom to also sense as hollow – an empty, busy bluster with no lasting value. Feed me on wisdom today, my Holy Friend, and let its essence creep into my soul.”

One step, one beam of light to guide, one hand to hold. For as my meal is ended, you join me here and offer me your hand. I take that hand of love and rise to meet the day. My own shallow wisdom is not enough, but the love and the wisdom that you offer is more than enough.

Isn’t that, after all, the promise of the manna? Enough for one day. Enough.

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[photo by Jaroslav Kuba per cc 2.0]

a monopoly on reality?

monopoly gameI am the small tin dog in the Monopoly game, caught in the circuit of the board. Pass go, collect $200, buy a house, market and trade, weather the bad cards, revel in the good ones and then… go to jail. I sit for a moment concentrating on the board in front of me when suddenly the “jail corner” grows to envelope the whole board. There is noting there but jail.

I turn and trot on my little tin legs to the edge of the playing surface and, without warning, I jump. I tumble through the air off the edge of the board, off the edge of the table, falling into nothingness. Panic strikes my heart – maybe the game is all there is. Maybe I am wrong to believe that truth lies elsewhere.

But just as these thoughts enter my head, I am caught in a strong wind. It whips around me at first, tossing me with its turbulent edges. But when I find the middle, there is calm. I sit within the movement of its powerful direction, and because I move within it, it seems almost still, like the calm of a sailboat catching the wind and pulling forward. The waves slap and the sail billows, but the riders who follow the wind are not buffeted by its power.

The wind carries me along like this for a good distance, high above the surface of a country I cannot identify, high above the trees and cities, over wisps of cloud that sit below me as I move on the current of the higher air. Then I am deposited on a hillside. I shake my tinny legs and roll in the grass for a moment and then lie, panting with excitement, on the grassy slope.

I am met there by a child. He wears a sweater and some woolen shorts. He walks over to me and sits beside me and places his hand upon my tin body. As he does, beginning where his hand touches me, I slowly turn from tin to flesh and bones. The doggy colors of my new coat melt over me, almost anoint me as they replace the coldness of the metal that I was before. I lick his hand with a warm, wet tongue and he smiles and wipes his hand upon his shorts.

“I’m glad you came,” he says, and rises. He begins to walk toward the crest of the hill. I follow. As we reach the top, I can see, spread before me, a whole countryside of fields and forests, with a small town nestled at the edge of the woods. Scattered among the houses in the village, there are a few red plastic houses from the Monopoly set, full size but just as empty as they are in the game. They boy smiles at them when he sees where I have fixed my gaze.

“When they no longer choose to be empty, they will be transformed as well. It seems an easy choice, but it is not.”

“I know.” As I speak the words, I am no longer a dog. I am a child about the same size as the boy. He reaches out and takes my hand.

“I think we are ready to begin,” he says and he turns and walks with me on a path toward the village.

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[photo by Barbara Friedman per cc 2.0]