I receive the blessings of May • Thundering rainstorms healing the cracks in the dry ground • An unexpected cool spell following unseasonal heat – both reminding me that, thankfully, my sphere of control is limited and the choice to respond is where my heart can find peace • A four-generation picnic, with cascading delight, heart to heart to heart I offer this blessing in response • May this very moment whisper life into your heart as you stop to take a breath – in and out – and find that there is time enough for gratitude, even today [Photo by Ian Sanderson on flickr per cc 2.0]
My dear one,
Thinking about dancing is not dancing.
Those perfect spins and turns in your head
Do not even stir the dust at your feet.
It is the faltering steps, themselves,
That bring the dance to life.
It is in dancing that you learn to dance.
But I know I’ll get it wrong,
And step on your toes,
And bump into others.
Then … you keep dancing.
It is not the choreography
That delights the soul.
It’s the soul’s delight in moving together
That fills our steps with life.
I can redeem every bump and bruise
But I do need to start with something.
Until you begin to move, I dance alone.
Remember – I came teach you to dance,
To come to joy within my arms.
So, won’t you let your feet dance with me?
Let my movement take the lead.
Let me direct your feet, your heart.
Your head can follow, later.
We will already be laughing together
By the time it comes around.
When we think of you,
We remember how your faith unfolds into works of love;
How you persevere in hope, even when times are tough.
Your hope gives us hope;
Your joy brings us joy
Your faith inspires faith;
Your life shines life into our lives.
No wonder we give thanks to the Holy One
Whenever we remember you.
You embody the Spirit of grace
Who makes us one within the One.
No one can say, ‘Look! I made the candle burn.’
Instead what burns in you lights up another
And it goes on and on.
I think that the Holy One
Is way too patient:
Too willing to let the world
Find its way;
Too tolerant of the anger and vitriol
That floods the hearts of those
Who cannot find the universal love
That is right there with them, ready to embrace;
Too able to bear their destructive fury,
Yes, even to the point of death
(His and theirs and those they trample).
How can such infinite patience
Really be what is right?
How can the Holy One wait on us,
All the while enduring the evil we create?
So, I am often convinced that the Holy One
Is way too patient with everyone.
(Except with me, of course,
The patience toward me is just about right.)
It is as if the end is sure,
Despite the length and terror of the trail.
It is as if the moments of love that we return along the way:
The moments we see the beauty;
The moments we use our creativity to bring joy;
Are all a part of the culminating grace
That will bring us home, at last.
It is as if the Holy One
Has enough patience
And enough love
To bring us all
Through the fray
And into the deepest heart
Of eternal love.
It is as if
No price were too high
To bring us all
There are moments that catch your heart between beats
That catch your breath; that catch your soul.
Such moments whisper of a wholeness that cannot be broken,
And you know, oh, you know, it is so.
[photo by Mike Bizzeau, from the wonderful blog, nature has no boss, used with permission. The title of this blog also comes from his caption on this photo.]
Ezekiel 37: 1-3
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of dry bones. And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many in the valley; and lo, they were very, very dry.
And he said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?”
And I answered him, “No way!”
And he said to me, “Whatever you say.” And he walked away.
And I was left with the bones and my faithlessness.
Many days later, he returns to me and he asks again, “Can these bones live?”
And I answer him, “I wish they could.”
He sits down beside me and asks, quietly, “Where do you send those wishes? How do they find substance?”
I kick at the dirt and reply, “My wishes have no substance. They appear before me like a wisp of smoke and then they are whipped away by the wind. If I try to grasp them or shield them from the wind, my own movements make them dissipate. The bones are very, very dry.”
Do you know the difference between wishes and hope?”
I look at him blankly and shrug.
He waits a moment longer, and then he answers for me. “Wishes have no anchor. Hope is anchored by faith. It springs from desires that I have planted within you and rises to my listening ears. It is a call for us to work together to bring righteousness to life.”
I look up at him. “How can I work to bring righteousness? I am nothing but dry bones. There is no righteousness in me.”
“I bring the righteousness.” He smiles at me. “You bring the bones.”
I start to grin. “I can do that.”
So he asks me again, “Can these bones live?”
“Lets see.” I reply.
“Yes, lets do.”
I am feeling overwhelmed and lost in the stacks of things to do. My day is pressing down upon me and in response I am deeply tired. I cannot find the energy to dig myself out of this hole, so that I can even begin my day.
I come to my meadow discouraged. Too much to do, to late to even hope to do it well. Now, all I seem to have left is the fear of total embarrassment to keep me going. The best I can do is barely enough. I wander down the hill, scrubbing my toes in the short grass, which is dried and brown. My sweater is drawn up around my shoulders, more to find comfort in its bulk than as a reaction to the cool of the day.
I find a smooth, round stone by the edge of the stream and sit down, dropping my head into my hands. I sigh deeply and shake my head. I’d like to curl up in a fetal position and sleep away the day, the chores, the responsibilities before me. But I cannot. They will not go away.
Slowly the sound of the brook fights its way into my consciousness and the crisp brown reality of the winter grass shows itself to me in intricate patterns at my feet. There are things beyond me in this world, though I don’t always raise my eyes to see, so self-absorbed am I.
So I settle in upon that rock and try to broaden my vision of the meadow, try to move my focus beyond my self pity. As I do so, tiny signs of life become evident. A field mouse runs across the path and finds a discarded shaft of grain to carry home. A tiny grass flower has forgotten its seasons and struggles to grow in a sunny spot beside the stream. Small signs of life. I am grateful for these signs of hope, yet my heart has not been lifted from its sigh.
I sit a while longer and an angel appears beside me to guide me to the well. The angel is a child, younger, more timid, than the angels I have encountered before. Even his robe does not fit right. It’s sleeves dangle over his fingers and the shoulders droop. He pulls up the robe to keep from tripping over it on the way back to the well and scruffy tennis shoes can be seen beneath its hem.
No so intimidated by this angel, I reach and take his hand We walk together to the well. As we approach, I can see that Jesus is seated on the side of the well. He is facing off to one side and is ministering to the crowd which surrounds him. There is a whole variety of life before him and around the well. Older men and younger travelers, men and women, who have stopped to renew themselves for their journey. Families sit together at the well, children leaning on their parent’s arms, swinging their feet absently to pass the time.
My escort stops a good distance from the well and takes off the robe. Its reminds me of a child from a nativity play, taking off his father’s bathrobe. The boy is wearing a wrinkled tee-shirt and jeans. He smiles at me and goes off to find his seat in the crowd. I pick up the robe and put it on, tying the sash around my waist. It doesn’t fit me very well either.
I walk toward the well and take a seat on a stone bench at the edge of the circle. Jesus continues to talk to the crowd, to touch the heads of small children as they wander up to the well and play in the open space at his feet.
His words do not sound urgent or hurried, but they are captivating. It is as if he speaks and the reality of this world becomes just a bit clearer. His words are not begging words of should and ought and urgent supplication, but being words of the reality which we seldom see. He reveals the parts of heaven which brush into our days and which we can take hold of and weave into the picture of who we are. He speaks his own spirit into our hearts and we feel an echo there, an answer which whispers a fervent “yes” to what he says we can be.
I am fed slowly by the words, each a drop of strength in the reservoir which was so empty. They fall onto my ears, into my soul.
Then he rises to go and looks around for his outer robe. It’s not on the well beside him, where he had placed it. The child who guided me here sneaks a look at me and wrinkles up his face in a silly grin, shrugging his shoulders. The robe I wrapped around me belongs to the Lord. Quickly I take it off and fold it over my arm. Tentatively, I make my way to the well and offer it to Jesus. He chuckles and takes the robe from my hands. Then he swings the robe up, as if to place it around his shoulders, but instead it envelopes the whole crowd. His robe wraps us all in warmth and hugs us in a collective union to himself.
Wrapped in his love, I think I can find the strength to enter my day. I do not feel triumphant, not even sure that I can accomplish what I have placed before myself to do. But I know that his word is slowly feeding my soul and bringing pieces of a different reality into my world of desires and fears. So I am grateful, almost content, as I return to my office and my tasks.
1 24 95
Wise ones tell me that there is a true me and a false me.
The true me is the one formed in the image of God
And gifted is particular ways
To reflect that image.
The false me is the one that I think the world wants to see.
It is the one I want to see,
So that I can feel that I am ‘worthy.’
The same is pattern seems to be true in collections of people.
There is a true family and a false family.
There is a true church and a false church.
There is a true society and a false society.
The whitewash is not working.
Our efforts to be ‘right’
Are, so often, so wrong.
So, how do we learn
To step aside
From the false companion?
Step away from the question of worthiness.
Put down the chore of living up to the law
And accept that you are already accepted.
When I was a kid, I thought of this as ‘do-overs.’
But that just set me up for another round.
When will I learn?
It’s not do-overs.
For the redemption of my days
For the times when my fumbling attempts at kindness
Hold a tiny hint of true grace
And the words that stumble from my lips
It is God’s warmth,
But my lips.
I am grateful for the gift of connection
That comes from such an offering:
Connection with my friend
And the connection of us both
With the love-beat of the universe.
This small offering
Is but one thread in the great tapestry.
But it is one thread
And the full tapestry is made of threads
May you rest your head, this evening, upon a pillow of rich and beautiful dreams – where your imagination runs barefoot across a meadow of delight.
May your heart be set free from the concerns of the day.
May your soul find its home in the hollow of God’s hand.
May you receive and return that primal love
That calls the universe to life and sustains its every breath.