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,
Any 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]

sit, sit, sit, sit …

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Hands on the keys,
Head trying to focus,
I wait.

For too many days
I’ve let my eyes be distracted
By swirling circumstance.

My head is spinning.
I am befuddled.
The world is just not right.

But angst will not fix it
And consternation leads nowhere.
I think, ‘This just can’t be!’

But it is.
It is . . .
So, where are you?

‘Well,’ I think I hear you whisper,
‘Not in the eddies of befuddlement
That cloud your brain.’

‘Not in the tiny corners
Of consternation,
Or of fear.’

‘Not in any careful arrangement
Of concepts or creeds.
All those are too small.’

‘You will not catch me here or there.
You will not catch me . . .
anywhere.’

Are you now the Cat in the Hat,
Dancing amid the chaos of toys
Sent flying by Thing One and Two?

There is some truth in that story.
Some twinkle of sense
Amid the wry phrases.

And one of those twinkles
Lodges itself in my heart.
Stories catch the truth better than concepts.

Stories are grounded in life.
Stories don’t have to tell the truth for all time.
They just have to ring true in that particular embodiment.

‘But,’ I hear myself argue from the corner,
‘Isn’t truth true for all times and all places?
Why does it take a particular embodiment to show itself?’

‘Because its just that big,’ you whisper.
‘Its just that big. Its just that expansive.
You cannot hold it all.’

‘But where it touches your life,
You can glimpse its passing.
When it nods at you, you can nod in return.’

‘The trick, of course,
Is to get out of your head,
And into your life.’

‘Live your story
And keep an eye out for me.
You can’t miss me, if you are watching.’

‘The hat gives me away every time.’

 

[image cropped from photo by Daniel X. O’Neil per cc 2.0]

true

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It is the experience of God that holds us true,
That truly holds us.
Doctrine merely opens the door, if it, indeed, is true.

The closer we can get to clearing the dross from our preconceptions,
The clearer we can see.
But seeing is not enough.
It takes the deep embrace to truly know.

For me, it is a bit of a catch 22.
I try to clear my head, to make way for my heart.
Yet, my head is not up to this too-big challenge.
I must learn to lean into the embrace from the start.

And that may be the heart of faith,
The faith of the heart,
Learning to trust God’s embrace, rather than my own.
It is God who does the holding.

I cannot grasp; yet, I am held.
True.

[photo by Timothy K Hamilton per cc 2.0]

A question for the struggle

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Whom does God love more
The mistaken, but earnest, heretic
Or the proudly intolerant orthodox?
Answer: both.
God loves us both, infinitely.

That is the place we must start.
That is the place I must start.
In God’s love.
In love with God.
In love (with God’s love) with you.

We may build walls with rules
Or circle our wagons in self-protection
But the rain falls on us all:
The just and the unjust,
The correct and the befuddled.

So, we must find a way
To live our best lives
In a world that contains us both.
Try as I might, I will not change you,
Nor you change me, with arguments.

Yet, I know I will change with time.
I know because I have changed, already, many times.
You will change too.
And when we lean into love,
The change is for the better.

The father waits for the prodigal,
Even if the big brother does not.
Even if the big brother was secretly glad the prodigal left.
Even if the big brother left the father, too
And just didn’t know it.

And the father wants us to party together,
When the prodigal makes it home,
When the big brother hears the music,
And wonders why it is not for him.
It is, really, for neither, alone.

The party is for reunion.

I have faith, I have hope, that love will win.
I just wish it would happen sooner rather than later.
I dare to think that is God’s hope, too.
That we would both come to ourselves
And come to the party.

Soon.

[Image modified from photo by Markus Goller per cc 2.0]

defiant joy

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Is it possible
To hold within your heart
A nugget of defiant joy?

It is.

To deeply know
God’s deepest love
For all the deepest parts of you.

To hold to love
Despite the angry shouts
And sadly shaking heads.

To welcome God’s love
So fully, so truly
That it spills out to others.

Even – though they cannot see it,
And don’t know how to receive it,
To those with sadly shaking heads.

That is the miracle of grace.
That we can offer love to one
Who cannot love us in return.

Father, forgive them,
For they do not know
What they are doing.

Let me be a conduit of grace
Let it flow to me and through me
To all creation.

It is. (amazing) It is.

[photo by Michelle Robinson per cc 2.0]