Suddenly I realize I am lost in the woods. I have followed one of those disappearing paths The ones that seem, perhaps, to be the way And, yet, lead only into a bramble. I stand there, looking one way and another. The fear begins to prickle at my neck And I know that I am lost Unable to find my way home My panic casts around for guidance I wonder if I can orient myself by finding the sun, By marking a shadow, By listening for the stream. I imagine that I can think the lostness away That I can retrace my steps Or just expand the field of my vision Far enough to find my place. But none of this works. Indeed, it threatens to deepen my panic And lead me further astray. I am helpless … I cannot save myself. I sit down upon a nearby boulder And my soul collapses within me I put my head in my hands and weep. This, this, is the lonely, helpless truth. I must wait And hope For rescue. The stone beneath me is cold. The sky is threatening dark. My heart is screaming so loudly within me That I almost mistake your voice for my own. And yet, my panic is a scream And your assurance is a whisper. It rises from somewhere deep within. Not from within me, but from within reality itself. I try to quiet myself To move myself aside, if that is possible, When it is me that must do the moving. How can I use my power to relinquish that very power? It is an ongoing mystery, This process of un-doing. This gritting of my teeth In order to let go. It is as if the deepest part of me Is not me at all, but part of something larger. As if, in the center of my very essence, There is a subterranean tunnel to the ALL. Can that be? Are you deep within the ALL? Within us all? Me, too? [image by jane cornwell per cc 2.0 from Flickr. The quotation is from Dante's Inferno ]
Romans 7: 4-6; Genesis 3: 7&21; Romans 8: 38-39
Don’t you know, my beloved,
That you can no longer live under that law?
The way the world used to work,
Works no longer – even for you.
You have begun to see the cracks in that system.
And what you fear has begun to happen.
It cannot hold together for much longer.
The privilege that protected you –
That put you first in line,
Or led those in authority
To look the other way
When you stole what was not yours –
That privilege hangs in tatters round your frame.
And you are naked beneath it.
You cannot re-arrange it enough
To cover your shame.
Nor should you.
Give it up.
Give it to me.
Now that you realize that you are naked,
You can also see that the fig leaves
Are not working.
They will never work.
Hide from me no longer.
The ‘fall’ you fear is not a fall from me,
But from the false version of yourself
That dared to claim completeness
Apart from me,
Apart from everyone, from everything, else.
It is that very delusion of separateness,
That keeps you lonely.
That idea that you must somehow be enough
By yourself, in yourself,
That idea is what keeps you keeps you stuck
In the empty, hollow place within your soul.
You are not alone.
And there is nothing you can do to change that.
It is not your fig leaves that will keep you safe.
See, I have clothed you in my love.
It fits you like your very skin.
And nothing can separate you from that love –
Not the hate another spews at you,
Nor the despising you paint upon yourself,
Not your worry, nor your abject fear,
Not a pandemic, nor economic crash,
Neither angels nor demons,
Neither the present nor the future,
Not any power … high or low,
Nor anything else in all creation,
Can separate you from the love of God.
Nothing can separate you.
You are no longer separate.
That delusion has been shattered.
And, in its place, the very vision
Of the beloved community.
You, me, and all.
All wrapped in the love of God.
May it be so.
It is so.
When I remember
To give you the first fruits of my morning,
When I turn my mind, my heart,
First to your call,
Silencing the pull of other voices,
That is when my heart finds home.
Why, then, do I neglect this turning?
Who needs to know?
These questions just delay the turning.
It’s not about fixing me.
It’s about finding you.
So … I tilt my head,
I tilt my heart,
And there you are.
I hear what I cannot quite hear.
I know what I cannot really know.
I find, despite my fears,
That I do believe in you.
I believe just enough to cuddle my soul
Within your whisper.
I believe just enough to breathe with you.
In and out,
We exchange the thread of life.
In and out,
You cleanse my heart of dread,
And seed my hope.
And so these three arrive with my turning
Faith, hope, and love.
Your love, of course, is what evokes my own.
And mine must follow, once I turn and see.
Good morning, Holy One.
Oh Holy One,
I turn my heart to you.
I tune my ears,
Seeking the frequency of your heart.
I close my eyes,
So I might see beyond distractions.
This moment of turning
Turns the world.
Until, at last, I glimpse a different story.
It is a story more true than
The one that shouts to me from the TV,
Working to stir my fears.
Your whispered presence
Tells a deeper story.
Not about distance,
Not about disease,
Not about death.
Your story holds a secret melody
That sings of hope,
Of healing, and of resurrection.
You placed yourself within the struggle
To bear, with us, its pain and loss
And walk us through to promise.
Slowly I begin to understand.
Stories are life incarnate:
Life held at a distance,
So that I might better see.
The stories I listen to,
The stories I tell,
So, help me hear your story
The one you speak within my heart
The one that holds the world with love
The one that makes me one with you.
Oh Holy One,
Help me to pray.
Help me to hear your voice amid the storm.
Help me to walk with confidence upon the waves,
Looking only on your face.
Teach me, again, your story.
Good news! Spring has not been cancelled!
some quotations from those I admire:
“I believe this is a time to love without limit. This is a time to see no stranger. In doing so, we gather information for the kind of world we want, where no one is uninsured or disposable, where our policies and public institutions protect all of us.
And if panic or grief or rage seizes you suddenly, it’s okay. It means you are alive to what is happening. The work is to breathe through it. It becomes a dance – to panic, then return to wisdom; to retreat then find the courage to show up with love anyway.
I spend all day in fear. But tonight, I got quiet enough to hear the wise woman in me, and she said, “Breathe, my love. Like any long labor, we are going to take this one breath at a time.” “ – Valarie Kaur [photo from Flickr per cc 2.0]
“Right now I’m trying to take in psychologically, spiritually, and personally, what is God trying to say? When I use that phrase, I’m not saying that God causes suffering to teach us good things. But God does use everything, and if God wanted us to experience global solidarity, I can’t think of a better way. We are in the midst of a highly teachable moment.” – Richard Rohr [photo from Flickr per cc 2.0]
“… As we struggle with our new circumstances and wonder what “normal” will be in the future, it’s comforting to be reminded that there’s familiarity all around us and within us.
Nature is doing its long-anticipated, seasonal thing. People are still showing kindness and love, if from a distance.
It’s a reminder that we, like God, are in the business of constantly weaving together the old and the new into something that will be filled with grace in its own ways.
And it will be very good. Challenging? For sure! But also good.” – Joe Kay [from his blog, with permission]
All this … and a mysterious gift of hope, given, shared, welcomed.
You would think all this time at home
Would bring a stillness,
An opportunity to breathe,
A chance to sit and think.
But, as I am now aware,
That takes a disciplined intentionality.
The rat-a-tat-tat of news coverage
Pounds at my soul.
I am not automatically quiet,
Even at times like these.
I must decide to turn my mind, my heart,
Away from insistent distraction.
Yet (take a deep breath)
You are here. Even here.
Your touch can spread peace, rather than fear.
There is no quarantine that can keep you away.
And so, I close my eyes.
I lean my head back, ever so slightly.
I imagine your arms around me.
I can feel your love anoint my soul.
And in your embrace,
I let my prayer become an ointment for the earth.
I see, in my mind’s eye, your hovering hope.
I relax my grip upon control and give it all to you.
The trial of this time,
The real suffering that ensues,
The anger and accusation that rise too easily,
Are not the only story.
You tell a different story,
One that even death cannot destroy.
And somehow I will let myself believe that your story
Is the one that will prove true.
That red ribbon on the horizon
Is a sign of your coming.
Already you are rising to the day.
Already your hope comes.
Already the arms of the trees reach for you.
Already my heart yearns,
And you come.
You will come to me each morning
Tiptoeing over the curve of the earth
Smiling in the ever-increasing light
Until, one day,
My eyes will be closed to the sunrise.
I will be be tiptoeing over the curve of eternity
Into your arms.
delight may be
the surest evidence
That eternal smile
makes it possible
to grasp my days
and venture forth
a firm assurance
that all will,
And I can breathe again.
So, I keep an eye out for delight
and hear God’s chuckle when it shows itself
amid the rubble of my days
like a geode broken to the light.
My own heart laughs when I see it,
hidden in plain sight
already there when I turn my eyes.
The laughter of my soul
breaks down my fear
and blows away despair
like feathers in that holy wind.