better

vining .jpg

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]

dusty gems

packagesAAAAugh! I am fighting desperately to dig myself out of the heaps of responsibility and dread and guilt which I feel. Too much, too much and no relief. All the burdens I pushed away yesterday, to make it through that journey, come tumbling down around me, today.

I am trapped in an aisle of the warehouse, buried on all sides by parcel, books and papers. There is no order to my life and, more than that, no hope. I juggle tasks like people juggle their checkbook when they don’t have enough to pay all the bills, selecting in turn which project to neglect, so that all are behind, dragged along with strings of apologies and regret.

In fact, as I extract myself from the pile and make way down the aisle, they follow me, tied to me with ropes and strings, thumping and bumping along. I pick up one or two to carry as they get stuck in crevices and up against the shelves, but I cannot carry them all. I am haunted by their presence, oppressed by their weight. I use all my effort and it is not nearly enough.

I have tried resolve. I have tried list making and inventory taking, but I cannot find relief. My deep and hidden fear is that in the midst of my confusion I will neglect those things that really do matter and fill my arms with the bundles of irrelevant effort that someone else has decided would be good.

My eyes fill with tears and my chest aches with grief and disappointment in myself. I am only a whisper of what I need to be. I am only fading ink upon a page, a thread and not a cable. I have no strength to do what I must do. I am leaning against the tall metal shelving of the warehouse, crying listless tears, with not even enough energy to cry aloud. I feel no desperate rush of strength and fury, for that, too, has been spent.

I crumble to the floor into a heap of dust, no substance left.

A wise Narnian dwarf comes down the aisle. He has a broom and dustpan in his hand and begins to sweep my rubble into a pile. He scoops it up, and singing to himself takes it off to the trash. “Wait!” I cry, “Don’t you see me here? Don’t you know that this is all that is left of what am trying to do, what I am trying to be? Don’t throw away the ashes of my effort so lightly.”

“They are trash,” He says. “You have declared them so.”

“But they are all I have.”

“And so you have nothing.”

“Don’t confirm my fears in this way,” I beg. “Don’t relegate me to nothingness.”

“It is not my doing, but yours. You created the heap of ashes, you pronounced yourself worthless. I am only responding to our words.”

“But is it true?” I whisper “Is it true, what I feel? Is there no hope? I do not wish to be useless.”

“Much of what you feel is true,” He says. He has set the pile of ashes and rubble back on the floor and sits crosslegged before it, speaking to it, to me, in earnestness. “But you have not seen all the truth. You must look beyond your narrow vision. All you have used to judge yourself are measures which you cannot meet. You, yourself, have set the measuring sticks and you have marked them far beyond what you can do. There is no way to win when you have set the goals at such a distance.”

“What can I do?” I grieve. “What now for me?”

“You must look to other truths. The measure of yourself is not the vessel, but its contents. You have stretched your wineskin so tight that it has torn, trying to gather up all you see into yourself. Now you spill yourself upon the floor. Let go, let go, the whole world is not your charge.”

“Help me to let go. Help me to find the wisdom to release what is not mine to hold.”

“If anyone needs wisdom, let them ask. He promises to answer. But you must be willing to listen. He has not promised to rescue all your little projects. Yet you are still looking to them, hoping to find ways to create time — that is beyond you. Give it up.”

I shift within my pile of dust and sigh. “Okay, I let go my tight grip upon this rubble. I ask for wisdom.”

The Dwarf jumps to his feet, grabs the dustpan, scoops me up and strides away. I stifle a protest, swallow down my fearful grief and prepare to meet humiliation.

But he stops on the way to the trash heap beside a large drum with a wire mesh cover. He pours the ashes of myself upon that cover. Then he shakes the drum and flakes of me fall through the wire to the refuse heap below. The charred remains of good ideas and grand schemes tumble through the grid. Secret plans of my own glory, ones that I have even refused to acknowledge, fall through as well. Noble aspirations, they go too. But when he is finished shaking, there is something of me remaining on the top of the sieve. A handful of gems, dusty, but true. He reaches out and gathers them up and wraps them in a velvet cloth that he has pulled from inside his waistcoat.

“What is there?” I ask. “Can you name the gems?”

“Oh yes,” he says, “I can name them all.” The voice is no longer that of the dwarf, but the voice of the Holy One. “I know these gems, for I have been mining them, crafting them within you. They include your love for me and, greater still, my love for you. You can see the red drop of my own blood with this diamond, here. Your relationship with Tim is here, and with your children. Your family and your friends are among your gems, the treasures of your soul. And they will remain regardless of the outcomes of your projects, large or small. They have true and lasting value.”

“I know and love those gems. I have been richly blessed.” But I cannot keep the next question from rising to my lips. “What of my work? Is it all to be trashed? Is it all dust and rubble?”

“It is not meant to stand on its own. Without other supports it crumbles into useless refuse. Built upon relationships, it can provide expression for the truth. Seek not the form, but the substance.”

“Your sayings are hard,” I reply. “I do not know how to live them. I do not know, when I turn from my meditation, how to pick up my day with discernment. I cannot see the difference between rubbish and treasure. Help me to pull your reality into my working day today, so that I can see, with your wisdom, the choices I should make.”

Suddenly we are beside the well of joy. He reaches to the well and brushes it surface with his hand, he dips out a palm-full of its water. With his other hand, he touches a finger into his palm and a single drop of water, he places on each of my eyes. “May the light of your body bring light to our soul. May My very Spirit, which grows within you, answer that light with light of its own, until you truly see.”

This blessing he pronounces over me and then is gone.

I’m not sure that my vision is fully altered yet. But today I vow to look at what I do with eyes that are being renewed. “Help me, Lord to see.”

He whispers, “You shall see.”

1/31/95

[photo by Tim Ellis per cc 2.0]

 

A question for the struggle

together under the umbrella.jpg

Whom does God love more
The mistaken, but earnest, heretic
Or the proudly intolerant orthodox?
Answer: both.
God loves us both, infinitely.

That is the place we must start.
That is the place I must start.
In God’s love.
In love with God.
In love (with God’s love) with you.

We may build walls with rules
Or circle our wagons in self-protection
But the rain falls on us all:
The just and the unjust,
The correct and the befuddled.

So, we must find a way
To live our best lives
In a world that contains us both.
Try as I might, I will not change you,
Nor you change me, with arguments.

Yet, I know I will change with time.
I know because I have changed, already, many times.
You will change too.
And when we lean into love,
The change is for the better.

The father waits for the prodigal,
Even if the big brother does not.
Even if the big brother was secretly glad the prodigal left.
Even if the big brother left the father, too
And just didn’t know it.

And the father wants us to party together,
When the prodigal makes it home,
When the big brother hears the music,
And wonders why it is not for him.
It is, really, for neither, alone.

The party is for reunion.

I have faith, I have hope, that love will win.
I just wish it would happen sooner rather than later.
I dare to think that is God’s hope, too.
That we would both come to ourselves
And come to the party.

Soon.

[Image modified from photo by Markus Goller per cc 2.0]

the chrysalis has broken

emerging from the chrysalis.jpg

Today

May you trust the dawn,
Which I am bringing.

May your heart find a way
To hold both sorrow and hope.

May your ears listen, in quiet solidarity,
To the grief of cruel rejection.

And know that such a time as this,
Is meant for change, for growth.

The chrysalis has broken open.
Do not fear its breaking.

I have not abandoned you.
Nor have I forsaken my deep love for all.

Rest within my arms for just a moment.
Do not turn too quickly from the grief.

Let me rock you softly as your tears fall.
May you know, deeply know, that love prevails.

Already, I love you.
I always have.

You are a mystery, born of love.
And your wings will soon unfold into that truth.

You are emerging from the chrysalis that held you.
Its constraints no longer serve.

But it will take some time for the sun to dry your wings.
And the breeze of freedom to lift you for flight.

You can trust my love to win, again and always.
It is less about resistance and more about release.

My ways are not your ways.
They are strong and sure.

Love will prevail, not through plots and strategies,
But, as love always does, in loving.

In the meantime, may your heart hold on to me,
As I hold you.

[photo by Dagmar Collins per cc 2.0]

a bigger faith

faith.jpg

I need a faith that is bigger
Than my humble hopes and paltry prayers
A faith big enough to touch the wire cages
That hold the refugees I am afraid to recognize
As my siblings and my friends.

I need a faith big enough to offer hope.

And I need hope that is big enough
To draw me from my couch,
Not in guilt or anger, but in energetic love.
Ready to work within the unfolding,
Sure of the partnership of the One who holds us all.

I need a hope sure enough to evoke joy.

I need a surge of joyful surrender,
Rolling down the grassy slope into your lap.
Knowing that your embrace awaits –
An embrace that does not close around me
But opens me up to more and more.

I need the energy of your bracing love.

I need that breath of life that comes
When the emptiness is filled with You.
When darkness shines
And the hollows hold abundance.
When, at last, I know that love is real and all.

I need to know that faith and hope and love remain.

I need to know, to deeply know,
That you have not turned away from me
Or from this world of your creation;
That you can redeem even these moments of pain,
Within the whole of your infolding love.

[photo by Giampaolo Squarcina per cc 2.0]

brave hope

sunrise.jpg

Does the morning bring hope,
Or is it hope that brings the morning?

When my heart is dark,
And the world seems set upon its own destruction,
I focus my eyes on the horizon
And hope for hope to dawn.

I cannot seem to conjure hope
Any more than I can conjure the sunrise
Or the appearance of daffodils in spring
And yet – Ah! Look! – they come!

Hope and the dawn
Come, hand in hand,
Striding up the hill of morning
Throwing off the darkness with a smile.

Awake, my heart!
Wake to that cool, sweet rush of grace.
Do not resist the morning.
Do not let fear of disappointment rob this gift.

Let me greet the dawn with a brave, determined smile.
Let me gratefully receive this gift,
Rising strong – yes, strong – within me.
I will not turn aside from hope.

[photo by Dennis Yang per cc 2.0]

let them come

 

dimpled hand.jpg

Let them come to me, the little ones,
Who dare to see the world as wonderful,
Who dare to smile and giggle,
To reach out, to pull the world close;
To taste and touch and wonder.

They take the path with eagerness,
To find the open world – my gift.
They know the secrets of the morning
That have yet to be obscured by
Independence and responsibility.

Would that they would grow into their gifts
And yet maintain the strength of wonder;
Ready to enter the give and take of life,
Trusting in the web of love to hold them
Adding their own strands with dimpled hands.

Would that I could follow their example,
And trust enough to let my first impulse
Be a smile and an embrace.
Would that I could just believe enough
To let you love me; to love you in return.

Perhaps that is the narrow gate.
Only the true self can fit through.
There is no room for all the trappings I employ
To conjure love; to keep the world at bay.
It is in dropping those aside, that I may enter.

[photo by operabug per cc 2.0]