why should I be surprised

autumn leavesWhy should I be surprised that I cannot understand true mystery?

True mystery is not something that can be solved.
It cannot simply be puzzled out and then set aside.
Instead, it burrows deep, pulling me with it,
Until, amazed, I find myself somehow at peace with what I cannot know.

I cannot know – yet I am known.
I cannot grasp – yet I am held.
I cannot find my way – yet, in that way, I am found.

It is, indeed, a mystery.

Imagine that!

[photo by Andrew Birch per cc 2.0]

honest encounter


So, here is my quandary:
I want to come to you in honest embrace,
But honesty is so hard.
My nakedness is far too embarrassing.
Yet only naked honesty is worthy of your time … or mine.

It is not your mask I desire, but your dear face.
And your touch, not upon a fancied-up painting of myself,
But on my very soul.
I cannot send a proxy to encounter you.
I must come, myself.

And that is my deepest hope and greatest fear.
If I really come, will you embrace?
If you were to turn aside, my soul would die.
Yet, if I do not come … I’ll starve.

Holy one, you can see the mess I’m in.
What shall I do?

Shhh, my little one. Shhh.
I can see the mess, it’s true.
But I have embraced your naked soul from the moment I called it forth.
Never has it left my loving gaze.
Never have I turned away.
Never have I felt disgust or even mild disdain,
For you are precious to me.
Sometimes, though, I must admit, the silly costumes you try on
Can make me shake my head in wonder.

Know this – though the world may object –
You are my creation and bear the imprint of my love.
Relax in my embrace, and even the things within yourself that make you cringe,
Even those … can be redeemed, renewed, and reconciled.
All, all, all can grow luminous in my love –
And in that light, all will seem as a gift.

I do love you.
You, you, very you, I do love.

My love is the very essence of who I am –
the ground of your own creation –
and the undeniable reality of our every encounter.

It cannot be otherwise.

 8 21 13

[photo by Doc List per cc 2.0]

Unwrapping a gift

unwrapping a gift

As a child I always unwrapped my gifts slowly,
Cutting the tape with a slender knife,
Trying not to tear the paper,
Preserving the ribbon.
It was my way of making the anticipation linger.

My sisters used to laugh at me.
Now, sometimes, they join me …
Extending the moment,
Making the process a part of the gift.

This morning, I hold within my hands
A small gift, as yet not fully opened.
Indeed, as I carefully remove the wrapping,
I find another layer underneath.

I cut a piece of tape
And the paper on that corner pops free.
I turn the box and touch the knife to the edge of the tape
Another corner, freed.

The gift, I realize, is the gift of attention.
To feel the crinkle of the paper,
The release of tension as it opens up,
To see, with sweet surprise, the beauty of each layer.

I look to the first wrapping, now at my feet.
It still holds the creases of the box,
Curled up, as it is, into a shape
That echoes its earlier embrace.

It is not the box, but it hints of its presence.
Just as the practices of my faith
Hold and convey a form that is very like the gift inside
They help me see its shape.

I am grateful for the wrapping
And the treasure, deep inside,
Not yet fully revealed,
But happily anticipated.

[image modified from photo by mob mob per cc 2.0]

rabbit trails

rabbitI am having so much trouble centering in today.
I’m following every rabbit-trail my mind offers up.
No wonder I’m jumpy.

Maybe I should just become that rabbit
Follow the grassy trail before me
Stop to nibble on the tips of grass
Think rabbit-y thoughts

What are those like?
What are the thoughts of a squirrel? Dog! (?)

So, here I go, down that rabbit-trail
And here’s the mystery:
You are there, too.
Ponderous, deep, theology is not necessary.
A simple, grateful, receptive heart is quite enough.

That is where I am today.
I nibble the grass.
I feel the shadow of a passing cloud.
I manage to notice the simple joys around me for just a moment.
And I find a new way into the center.

Thank you. Again. Anew. Thank you.
[image cropped from photo by Eden per cc 2.0]

could it be true?

cowering formCould it be true
That the deep design of the world
Depends upon the kind of love
That gives itself to others?

Could it be true
That your example
Is the sustainable pattern for happiness?
That giving is the secret?

Could it be true
That the broader the circle of kindness,
The more open my heart and my hands,
The deeper my joy?

That grasping, holding, hiding
Are the soul-shrinking reactions of fear?
That your message, to ‘Fear not’
Is not simply a comfort, but a command?

Could it be true
That your wish for the world;
That your wish for me;
Is to trust enough to be open to love?

Isn’t that too risky?
What if I open my heart and get hurt?
It has happened before, you know.
What if this is just a sucker’s ploy?

I think I’d rather protect myself.
I think I’d rather pull in and depend on myself.
I think I’d rather keep what I have …
Until I realize that would never be enough.

The only way to relationship
Is to take the risk, and open my heart.
By myself, even with all my stuff,
I will not find true life.

Could it be true
That the deep design of the world
Depends upon the kind of love
That gives itself to others?

[photo byJoe Benjamin  per cc 2.0]


bottles recycled into flowersYou are, indeed, the great recycler. Not necessarily a moniker I should embrace for You in times of meditation. It seems a bit … well … too close to ‘sanitation engineer.’ But then, I need some cleaning up. My life becomes so easily cluttered and stained. My closet is too full of things I have laid aside in haste, thinking that I’ll sort them out later.

So often my life seems to wind its way along with muddle in its wake.

But nothing is wasted for You: no breath, no hope, nor hurt, nor sadness. You have the time to hold them all until they find their resolution in Your arms. It is in You that life comes full circle – that wholeness becomes whole; that all is redeemed, reclaimed, renewed. No atom is lost, but finds its way to a new home, a new bond, a new purpose, a new joy.

You take the hidden rhythms of chaos and fold them into wonder.

I breathe in the exhalation of the trees and smile in grateful abandon, releasing myself to this same eternal rhythm. I have no choice, of course. But I like to participate, as best I can, anyway. Maybe that simple smile along the way is how I join the dance.

[photo by Angélica Portales per cc 2.0 – made from PET soda bottles]

a robust spirituality

a sturdy flowerA robust spirituality is one that:

  • Holds on to integrity; knowing that honesty is the only path to the true heart of things.
  • Finds the opportunities for gratitude, even within pain and sorrow.
  • Greets the world with an open and generous heart, in sheer delight at the interconnectedness of all that is.
  • Uses self-awareness as the seedbed of empathy; the first hint of what it means to be a part of a world filled with the richness of emotion and held together with the power of love.
  • Honors the self and others equally, recognizing each as a gift in the great exchange that is life.

Friends who demonstrate this robust spirituality – regardless of how they define belief or non-belief – keep me grounded and full of hope. They are not dependent on any particular future. Instead, they they have learned to treasure the now. Their very breath – the movement of the spirit of life within them – sustains each precious moment.

[photo by Joy per cc 2.0]