stumbling into praise

an aspen groveI find myself in a yellow aspen grove,
Engulfed within joyful cascades of clapping leaves,
They brush my ears with sweet delight
And fill my eyes with beauty

It is a pure, deep gift of grace.
How can my heart but leap with hope?
I find the secret wonder of praise,
Released within my soul.

Somehow, I always thought that praise
Was a duly grateful, ‘thank you.’
But it is so much more.
It is a slide into pure joy,

It is a sudden recognition
Of your overwhelming goodness
Swallowing up the daily sorrow
And muddy deceits of satan’s whispers.

All that is wrong in the world
Is swallowed up in one sweet glimpse of you;
Of your power and holiness and —
Oh my, of your unbelievable love.

You direct that love outward
In a vast, creative embrace of all that is.
It shows itself in the trill of the bird.
It springs forth in song in these aspen leaves.

And, sweet wonder, you direct that love to me.
Praise sweeps humility off its feet,
As that great love enfolds me,
My small heart beating in time with yours.

 

Praise to you, Oh Holy One,
The pure delight of all the skies,
The maker of each atom and each star,
The lover of life, the author of hope.

You dance with all of creation,
Having made her for yourself.
Praise to you for such a dance.
And for my place within it.

Praise for what is
For what is promised.
Praise to you for solid hope.
The recreation has begun.

All praise.

another aspen grove

[1st photo by Dennis Grice per cc 2.0]
[2nd photo by Mitch Barrie per cc 2.0]

the cave

entrance to a caveI find I am still standing at the mouth of the cave. I tell myself I will go in; I will explore its depths. But then I see a shiny stone or a bit of grass or a tiny flower and I let myself be distracted. And here I am, still dawdling at the entrance.

Then the sky darkens and it begins to rain – a blowing rain that drives me into the cave. I step, at last, within the shadows and shake my arms and brush the wet from my hair. And sigh. With one last glance to the world outside, I turn to face the cavern that opens behind me.

I reach out my left hand to touch the cold stone wall beside me and use its surface as a guide to move a bit deeper into the cave. I move slowly, giving my eyes time to adjust; giving my heart a moment to still its racing.

I feel sure that there is something within the cave that waits for me – but I am not so sure I really want to find it. I am old enough to know that any encounter changes me. I have floundered enough to know that I am not always up to the adventure.

Yet, here I am. My hand plays along the wall. I press my lips into a hard, tight line and take the next step, mumbling a bit of a prayer within my heart.

‘Help me, help me,’ I mutter. It’s about the best I can do, these days, when it comes to prayer. I hope it is enough.

So, having braced my heart a bit, I move on. As I go deeper into the cave, I imagine that I will lose the ability to see. But my eyes do adjust and I find a small luminescence – some tiny bits of a lichen that seem to hold a light of their own, dotted along the path before me. They lead me deeper and deeper in.

I can barely see the step before me, but when I take it, the next one becomes clear. One step at a time; one small breath of hope; one by one, I move along.

After a bit, I begin to wonder, am I actually going somewhere? Is it somewhere I should go – or am I just walking in circles or wandering into trouble? What made me think the venture into this cave was right?

Ah, my mind is so very good at second-guessing. It’s almost as good as finding distractions to keep me from moving forward.

Trust is harder. But somehow I begin to realize that that it’s not the path that I must trust. It’s not even the sense of call or the tiny lights along the way.

It is the promise of companionship. I am not alone in this cave; nor was I alone at its mouth. Life is always in motion. There is no standing still.

But there is a difference between moving forward and just moving. And ‘forward’ is always toward deeper relationship.

When my desire is toward you, and I take a step (could it be any step, in any direction?) you are there. It is the direction of my heart, rather than the direction of my feet, that marks my progress.

I think I can see you smile. I reach out my right hand for yours and feel its warmth. I drop my other hand from the wall of the cave and trust your warmth to lead me. We walk the path of tiny lights together.

As we round a corner, we come into a space where the cave opens up from above in a cascade of light. I step into that flood of light. I have to close my eyes against its brilliance, but I lift my face and let it bathe me. I let it fall around my form. We both smile. We are both grateful for this small moment of connection.

I am at home. It is, as it has always been, within your embrace. You are my home, my path, my destination.

Thank you.

Amen.

[image modified from photo by Elroy Serrao per cc 2.0]

the difference

eyes are watching youThere is a profound difference between being watched and being seen.
One sets you apart as an object to be observed, perhaps even judged.
The other celebrates you as you are, inviting true relationship,

So, please stop watching me.
Instead, let us really see one another.
If we do that, love will follow.

[photo by wplynn per cc 2.0]

deep

moon on water

Deep calls to deep, they say.
I believe it.
It skips my head and grabs my heart.
The universe moves
And something shifts within me

I feel the quantum change
Small and vast at the same time.
There is a truth spinning at the center
Humming in my soul
Vibrating across the strings of my heart

You can’t pin it down.
Observation, itself, makes it shift.
Only one aspect at a time can come into view.
It is simply too big, too vast,
Too deep.

Logic looses its grip.
It cannot hold.
But where logic pushes away,
Love draws close.
The heart of it all calls to my heart.

I know that it is true,
Not because I’ve figured it out,
Not because I’ve grasped it,
But because it holds me
And I feel its embrace.

Deeply.

[photo by NJ per cc 2.0]

Beads on a string

beads on a stringI finger my thoughts, slowly, like beads on a string,
Turning them in my fingers, observing their texture and color.
One by one they pass through my grasp.
I can hardly tell why each one arises, nor how it morphs to the next.

Each seems so real and intricate as it sits between my fingers
But as I let it go, it turns to vapor and dissipates.
There really are no beads before or after the one I hold;
Not that I can see.

Could it be that the time I spend in my head – planning or trying to understand
May actually be frittering away the life you have opened for me
Opened – but it’s out of sight, so, out of mind.
How do loosen my internal focus, so I can grasp a broader view?

Let me learn not to worry about the last bead or the next –
To focus less on thoughts and more on moments
To trust the string of your love
And let the beads arise and fall in grace.

This is my prayer
Today and tomorrow
(If I can anticipate the next day’s bead upon the string)
Let me come to life, one bead at a time.

Amen.

[photo by Vicki C per cc 2.0]