Sometimes 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.
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.
[photo by Elba Fernández per cc 2.0]
They 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 recent post by a thoughtful pastor friend reflects upon ultimate authority – and how it shapes our communities of faith. It made me wonder: when push comes to shove, what is my ultimate authority?
I’ve lived long enough, failed enough, deceived myself enough to know that I need an authority outside myself. I just can’t trust myself to be right all the time, even when I really, really think I am. Yet, there is no other human who meets the criteria, either. All are subject to the smallness of our own souls and our own perspectives. Continue reading
I guess I reveal my Church of Christ roots (where the liturgical calendar was not part of my year) when I wait till after Lent to spend time struggling with sin. But, like Jacob-com-Israel, my wrestling is more often determined by encounters that don’t follow a calendar.
Here are the rules of the game for me right now: I have to be as honest as I can be. I have to speak the questions that haunt my soul, even if it seems totally wrong to ask them. Only an honest encounter invites the Spirit. The Spirit can take it and, until I am honest, I am not really in the encounter at all. Continue reading
When I am honest with myself, I struggle with sin.
There are, of course, the daily slights and stumbles; the things I regret, or kick myself for at the end of the day; the first world sins of breaking my diet or going a few miles over the speed limit. Those pester me, but they are really not my struggle.
If sin is missing the mark,
And I am human
Isn’t missing the mark inevitable?
So, how is that my fault?
What if I’ve missed the point
As well as the mark?
What if it is not so much about avoiding sin
As learning from it?
Adjusting my aim
Strengthening my arm
Trying to actually see the target
Amid all the distractions.
Of course, I can still
Shoot myself in the foot.
Not trying is not allowed either –
Else it turns from sin to something else
This can’t be an excuse
Or I’ve missed it, again
And more …
Life as a caterpillar is hard
When you are really born to fly
And the crysallis of this life
Binds too sadly tight for complacency.
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[photo P9194059 by Ian MacDonald per cc 2.0]