the exchange

mother and child
There is an image,
An exchange I witnessed,
That has been percolating
In my memory for years.

You’ve probably seen it, too:
A young mother
With her infant bouncing on her lap.
They are enthralled with one another.

What flows between them,
Almost visible as their eyes connect,
Palpable in the air between them,
Is the exchange of life-giving love.

The infant is held by something
So much stronger than her hands.
The mother is upheld
With something just as strong.

Their gifts to one another
Are so tangible
So vital
So real.

Yet each is filled,
Not emptied.
Full of a love that will not be contained.
A rush of life between them.

This is love incarnate.
Love enfleshed; love fulfilled.
This is how life is passed on.
Birth is just the beginning.

Perhaps this shows me why
The Christ came to us.
To look us in the eye
And give us life.

God breathed upon the clay.
Christ looked on us with love.
The Spirit, now within us,
Empowers life’s eternal flow.

It is like breath:
Receiving in; giving out.
Each delightful exchange
Brings life anew.

[image cropped from photo by Robert Moores per cc 2.0]

messy faith

city scene

If I am honest with myself
My faith is pretty messy.

On grateful mornings my heart sings.
I am wrapped in the peaceful veil of sunrise and birdsong.
I know – I seem so sure – that I am a small part
Of an immense and holy whole.

But other mornings I crawl out of a dull and achy hole.
I look around and wonder how love could be the source
Of such a mess as this.
My eyes seem tuned to all that’s undeniably wrong.

Is it the tilt of my heart that determines what I see?
And what tilts my heart?
Is faith a decision?
And, if so, what does it stand upon?

This postmodern mind of mine
Knows that knowing is slippery.
All, all seems built upon the sand.
I need a rock to keep me from collapse.

Yet, even rocks are made of whirling atoms,
With vast emptiness between each particle.
The solid – not so solid: I am not held up by ‘stuff.’
Instead, I am held by the very force of the relationships between each and all.

Right now, that is a much of a rock as I can find.
I clamber up – and am amazed that it holds me.
It holds me … and isn’t that what relationship most desires?
To be cherished, but not crushed. It is a delicate balance.

 

[image by SJKen per cc 2.0]

lumpy love

lumpy loveThe whole of our love for each other is lumpy
Because love is specific
And because we are all lumpy.

It is easy to say you love the whole world.
It is harder to love an individual.
Sometimes their warts get in the way.
Sometimes yours are the problem.

We all hold within us insight and befuddlement.
We hold the whole mix of emotions
And motivations
And misconceptions.
We are both right and wrong
Good and bad.

When we love those whose
Confusions align with our own
Is that love or simple resonance?

Perhaps it is love with training wheels.

Mature love can be bigger,
More encompassing.
It begins to mimic the love of God,
Who sends rain on the just and the unjust.

Let us all raise our faces to that rain
And drink in the moisture
That lets us truly flourish.

We’ve had enough of dry times.
Let it rain.

 

[photo by Becka Spence per cc 2.0]

bullseye

bullseyeThey say that the word for ‘sin’ can be translated as ‘missing the mark.’
But what do you call it when you make a direct hit – on the wrong mark?
What do you call it when you strive for ‘rightness,’ rather than relationship?

What happens when I delude myself into thinking that the way to God,
Is right living, right acting, right believing?
Somehow I miss the insight that the road to rightness takes me far away
From the God who is right here, aching to embrace me, just as I am.

The bullseye of my faith is not doctrinal correctness, but love.
Or, perhaps, it is not a bullseye at all, but a sacred center.
What if I’m not supposed to strike it from afar,
But to lean back into its enfolding?

What if I have been taking aim with a bow made for strict accuracy,
With straight arrows of good intent,
When archery, itself, is not what I am here to learn?

What if I’ve not so much been missing the mark, as missing the point?

[photo by Emily Moe per cc 2.0]

a Narnian encounter (4)

giant's hand[This is a continuing meditation. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here; part 3 is here]

I sit on the beach quite a while, absorbing the wordless lessons of the waves, watching the small shells wash in and out with the receding water. After a bit, the giant comes to join me. He sits down with a harrumph and digs his toes into the sand. He reaches out beside himself, smoothing the sand as if it were a blanket. He digs out a shell and turns it over in his fingers, admiring its beauty.

At last I turn to him. “I never asked your name,” I say with some hesitance, realizing that I have been happy to use him as a messenger and even as transportation, but I have not even stopped to reach to relationship. How often do I do that? How often do I place importance on utility over relationship? I turn my head to hide my embarrassment.

“They call me Cecil, they do,” he answers me.

I turn to him. “That’s very like my name,” I reply. He nods and smiles. He knows this. He seems to know my name without even asking. “Tell me about yourself.” I venture.

“I’m big,” he says, as if that is a revelation. “I’m not so good with words, but I know deep things. I feel them in my heart before they come into my head. The thinking part is harder for me than the knowing part.”

“We make a good pair, we do.” I say this almost before I think it and he smiles.

“We do,” he says. “Always, we have.”

With that reply, I find within myself a resonance. It is as if, for just a moment, I, like the giant feel it in my heart before it comes into my head. I give him a sideways glance and see that his smile has turned into a wide grin. He reaches out his hand on the sand beside me and drums his fingers. He is inviting me to play some kind of game with him that I do not know.

I put my hand on his and drum my fingers. I feel his movement beneath mine and feel its echo, its resonance, its strength as it is transferred into me. Again the knowing comes before the thinking. Cecil is not just a companion. Cecil is part of who I am – the part of me that touches deep.

The voices on the wind give conformation. Somehow I trust their truth.

This is me. This is the meeting.

[kudos to Jonathan Haidt with his metaphor of the rider and the elephant …]
[photo by Benzene Aseel per cc 2.0]