deep wood

dark wood

I am in a dark wood, trying to find my way. All the trees look the same. What seems to be a path will disappear in a tangle of brush after just a few steps. The moon has not come up. The sounds of the night wear a menacing edge.

I try to keep from panicking. I tell myself to breathe. How did I get here? How can I find my way home? It is as if I suddenly came to consciousness in this place. It seems I’ve been here quite a while, but unaware. Which means, unfortunately, that I can’t retrace my steps.

There is no visible threat, but my heart is beating in my ears. I can hardly think. I’ve heard the stories of terror and all of them are breathing down my neck at once. My imagination fuels my fear.

As I cast to the right and to the left, I see the dark form of a large tree. I make my way there and, circling the bulk, I push aside a low branch, and crawl inside the canopy. I find a place where there is a bit of room and I lean myself against the trunk.

With my back to the tree and a large branch on either side, I feel my panic begin to subside. Here, at least for a moment, I can breathe and take stock of my surroundings. Here, cuddled up against the bulk of the tree, I release my frantic wanderings and whisper a prayer.

Then, to my surprise, I begin to notice other things. I feel the slightest breeze and it carries the scent of pine upon its breath. I notice that the ground beneath me is covered with a blanket of pine needles, softening its surface. The branches on either side are full of life, earning their monicker of ever-green. I raise my eyes to see the stars through the highest branches, punctuating the night sky with hope.

The moon sneaks out from behind a cloud. It had been there all along. It’s face wears a craggy smile as it sends its shimmering light upon the grasses down the hill. Turns out, this tree is at the edge of a clearing. From it, I watch a cautious doe lead her fawn out into the open space. She lifts her head at a sharp sound and sniffs the air. Then she resumes her grazing.

The wood is full of undeniable danger, but it is also filled with beauty. Now my prayer has turned from desperation to gratitude. For a moment I am in a wood that is deep with wonder. It is the same wood – mysterious, and whispering grace.

 

[photo by ShinyPhotoScotland per cc 2.0]

not perfect

scrappy flowerIt started with very good
Not with perfect.

I started with very good
Not perfect.

That was the plan all along.
That is the gift of life.
Very good.
Not perfect.

Perfect needs nothing,
No one.
Perfect should not change
Else it is perfect no longer.

Good can grow.
It needs soil and sun.
It is not complete in isolation.
It needs relationship.

That’s what makes it very good.
It’s born with the holes
Where the stitches can go.
A necessary part of the whole.

That is very good.

[image cropped from photo by scrappy annie per cc 2.0]

sorry

a tearful eyeSometimes I get frustrated
With how little my actions really do for good.
And then, when I screw up,
I’m grateful that I’m not so powerful.

I want ‘what I deserve’
Until I don’t.
It’s hard to step outside the mindset
Of quid pro quo and reciprocity.

I’ve been so thoroughly trained
In the framework of good versus bad
And the myth of my own superiority
Where my ‘goodness’ sets me apart.

Forgive me, oh Holy One.
Teach me, instead, to be a grateful, gracious part.
Help me not forget to live your love.
Mend my brokenness and the brokenness I cause.

Please.

Teach me how to live, even as I falter and fall.
Help me to accept and to pass on your forgiveness.
Help me to live in this world of scarred beauty
And give you room to make the scars sacred.

I release my mess to you.
It’s all that I can do.

Amen.

[photo by Elba Fernández per cc 2.0]

multilingual mystery

Persian alphabet blocks

To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of  human origin; each language reflects and shapes the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or say as well in another; and the more languages you speak, the more nuanced your understanding of life becomes. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi- lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence. – Rabbi Rami Shapiro

And so, the tower of Babel is redeemed
When we build the conversation, together,
After, first, listening to the silence of true presence.

Somehow my heart knows the language
My tongue is loosed to sing
Before my mind can catch the melody.

Somehow, sometimes, if my mind will follow, rather than lead
I can wake to the deep reality
That is always, always, holding my true self.

And then the cascading voices,
The orchestra of life,
Is deep, and rich, and full.

All nature sings …
And we, as a part of the singing universe,
Find our tiny selves expanded within the One.

There are no words
And yet, I cannot keep quiet,
Not when that deep quiet within me stirs to life.

 

[photo by Dr. Bashi™ per cc 2.0]
[Again, I am grateful to Richard Rohr, for opening up my morning.]

 

Lullaby realization on Mother’s Day

singing a lullabyMy mother’s lullaby was a version of an old Welsh song. I remember it like this:

Sleep my child, and peace attend thee,
All through the night.
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night.
While the weary hours are creeping,
Angel guards their watch are keeping,
While my little one is sleeping,
All through the night.

As a child I focused on the ‘angel guards.’ It took me a long time to realize that the words she was singing most fervently were those in the refrain: “all through the night!”

Here’s to Mom and to moms everywhere
Who sing comfort, even when they are exhausted
And who embody those angel guards.

[photo by Carol Von Canon per cc 2.0]

strange universe

image of an atom

In this strange universe,
It is the valence of relationships –
The rushing of electrons round the nucleus –
That holds all things together,
Even as it keeps them from collapsing in upon each other.

In such a universe as this,
Is it any wonder that the One God is a relationship –
An ever circling dance of love –
That both holds the whole and differentiates each part?

Well, yes.
It is a wonder.

 

[image – By JC713 [MIT (http://opensource.org/licenses/mit-license.php)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]