helping me hold on

bluebonnets

joy in my flower bed

 

some quotations from those I admire:

valarie kaur.jpg“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]

 

richard rohr 2.jpg“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]

 

a future salad in my garden

a future salad in my garden

 

“… 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.

Joe KayNature 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]

 

Brian McLaren 2.jpgBrian McLaren offers some great wisdom on how to pray in the midst of crisis, posted as a daily meditation through the Center for Action and Contemplation, here.   [photo from Flickr per cc 2.0]

 

All this … and a mysterious gift of hope, given, shared, welcomed.

 

I need a different story

 

held .jpg

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.

[photo by Roger Ahlbrand per cc 2.0]

Rising

sunrise.jpg

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.
That day,
I will be be tiptoeing over the curve of eternity
Into your arms.

[photo by kingkubby per cc 2.0]

delight

gossamer wings.jpg
For me,
delight may be
the surest evidence
of God.

That eternal smile
makes it possible
to grasp my days
and venture forth
with courage.

There is
within delight
a firm assurance
that all will,
indeed,
be well.

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.

 

[photo by Chris A per cc 2.0]

learning to dance

dance steps.jpg

It’s such a silly dance I dance,
Trying to decide if its you or me
Who takes each step, within the flow.
So, thinking too hard about the steps,
I stumble.

I forget that dancing is less about my feet,
And more about the music.
My focus, once again, awry.

Only, on occasion,
The beauty takes me from myself.
I find that I am whirling in your arms,
Alight with joy, full of you,
And … fully me.

I do not lose myself.
I loose myself,
When I turn my attention
From my feet
To your embrace.

Then, I find the music
And I can dance.

 

[photo by DrewToYou per cc 2.0]

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]