the ugly narcissus

narcissus.jpg

How long have I looked into this pool,
Watching that image for change
Hoping it would grow a bit brighter,
A bit more worthy?

How long has my hand been stayed
Just above the water
Wanting, desperately, to fix the faults
Within the image floating there?

How long?

Isn’t it time to let the ugly be
To look away from the wrongs that seem so glaring
To live, rather than to be frozen with regret
To move away from the pool into the day?

I’ll never fix that face
Nor find perfection there.
I’ll never even modify the expression on that face
By looking in the water.

The trap is not the beauty or the lack thereof
But the fixation on the image
And the fantasy that perfection
Is the necessary first step toward acceptance.

But … what is that?
A movement other than my own within the pool
A hand upon my shoulder
A face besides my own looks up at me.

The look within those eyes
As they gaze on my reflection
Seem filled with tears of love.
They drop into the pool and blur the vision there.

The spell is broken.
Narcissus turns and is wrapped in an embrace so full
That all preoccupation is lost in deepest consolation.

[image by cea + per cc 2.0]

your story

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Oh Holy One,
I turn my heart to you.
I tune my ears,
Seeking the frequency of your heart.
I close my eyes,
So I might see beyond distractions.

This moment of turning
Turns the world.
Until, at last, I glimpse a different story.
It is a story more true than
The one that shouts to me from the TV,
Working to stir my fears.

Your whispered presence
Tells a deeper story.
Not about distance,
Not about disease,
Not about death.

Your story holds a secret melody
That sings of hope,
Of healing, and of resurrection.
You placed yourself within the struggle
To bear, with us, its pain and loss
And walk us through to promise.

Slowly I begin to understand.
Stories are life incarnate:
Life held at a distance,
So that I might better see.

The stories I listen to,
The stories I tell,
Shape me.

So, help me hear your story
The one you speak within my heart
The one that holds the world with love
The one that makes me one with you.

Oh Holy One,
Help me to pray.
Help me to hear your voice amid the storm.
Help me to walk with confidence upon the waves,
Looking only on your face.

Teach me, again, your story.

 

[photo by Via Tsuji per cc 2.0]

I need a different story

 

held .jpg

You would think all this time at home
Would bring a stillness,
An opportunity to breathe,
A chance to sit and think.

But, as I am now aware,
That takes a disciplined intentionality.
The rat-a-tat-tat of news coverage
Pounds at my soul.

I am not automatically quiet,
Even at times like these.
I must decide to turn my mind, my heart,
Away from insistent distraction.

Yet (take a deep breath)
You are here. Even here.
Your touch can spread peace, rather than fear.
There is no quarantine that can keep you away.

And so, I close my eyes.
I lean my head back, ever so slightly.
I imagine your arms around me.
I can feel your love anoint my soul.

And in your embrace,
I let my prayer become an ointment for the earth.
I see, in my mind’s eye, your hovering hope.
I relax my grip upon control and give it all to you.

The trial of this time,
The real suffering that ensues,
The anger and accusation that rise too easily,
Are not the only story.

You tell a different story,
One that even death cannot destroy.
And somehow I will let myself believe that your story
Is the one that will prove true.

[photo by Roger Ahlbrand per cc 2.0]

stories

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Stories touch the truth so much more deeply and fully than facts. We think that we can grasp facts – hold them and turn them in our hands; use them as our tools.

Stories hold us. We know their touch. They resonate in our souls. But we do not control them. They are beacons and they shine forth from a source that is beyond us, though it includes us. We participate, we shape our own role to some extent, but the story is beyond the tiny corners of our possession.

[photo by Thomas Hawk per cc 2.0 on Flickr]

 

Vicarious Connection

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Sometimes, you can almost see light,
You know what I mean?

Most of the time, you don’t see light,
You just see what light reveals.

But sometimes … light, real light, shines forth.
Sometimes you can see what cannot be seen.

And sometimes, it happens through another’s eyes.
You notice that they notice … and there it is.

And your heart leaps,
And your jaw drops,
And you know, deeply know,
That LIFE is real.

Even a stone has that kind of life.
Even the busiest little girl can touch its edges.
Even your own heart can melt with it.

LIFE is just that strong,
That patient.
That true.

(Holy wow!)

[image by Susan Murtaugh per cc 2.0]

[Thanks to Richard Rohr for the realization that ‘light is not so much what you directly see as that by which you see everything else.’ (The Universal Christ (p. 14). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

dust

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Imagine, for a moment, if you will,
That your hands are dusted with grace;
So that everything you touch today
Receives a secret blessing.

Imagine the delicate shawl you spread
Across the shoulders of a friend
When you embrace in greeting.
Secretly, you fortify them for their day.

Imagine, when you gently touch the face
Of the child that comes to you for comfort,
That the care you show is a deeper balm
Than the band-aid you place upon her knee.

Imagine that the flowers in your garden
Receive an extra dose of light
Because you touch them
And admire their delicate beauty.

Imagine, when you touch a doorknob,
That a dusting of grace remains,
So that all who enter or exit there,
Find grace upon their hands, as well.

Imagine that you are given,
Just for this one day,
The chance to grace each encounter,
Bringing just a bit more life to life.

Imagine that this might just be true.
Smile at the grace you are given.
Smile at the blessing you can pass along.
Smile at the gritty, ubiquitous tenacity of grace.

[image modified from photo posted to Flickr by Matt Anderson per cc 2.0]