the space between the words

whispered wisdomSometimes, in reading other’s words, a phrase rings so very true that it expands my soul and feeds my journey. For me, these are among the ‘thin places’ that the Celts acknowledged – places where the space between the mundane and the holy is whisper thin.

I hope they will brush your soul with grace, and, perhaps, stir us all to action, as well.

Image of Franz Kafka

 

Art, like prayer, is a hand outstretched in the darkness, seeking for some touch of grace which will transform it into a hand that bestows gifts, Franz Kafka – [as quoted here by Maria Popova – photo by per cc 2.0]

 

Hannah BonnerTears were not weakness when falling from her eyes, they were what courage looks like when it takes a minute to breathe.” [Hannah Bonner-photo and quote used with permission]

 

Frederick Buechner

One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.” – Frederick Buechner; photo by Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

 

photo of Richard RohrJesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.” – Richard Rohr – [Image cropped from photo by Festival of Faiths per cc 2.0]

 

[From time to time I will add to this collection, placing the new phrase at the top of the list.]  [photo at the top of the post by Pearl Pirie per cc 2.0]

the cave

entrance to a caveI find I am still standing at the mouth of the cave. I tell myself I will go in; I will explore its depths. But then I see a shiny stone or a bit of grass or a tiny flower and I let myself be distracted. And here I am, still dawdling at the entrance.

Then the sky darkens and it begins to rain – a blowing rain that drives me into the cave. I step, at last, within the shadows and shake my arms and brush the wet from my hair. And sigh. With one last glance to the world outside, I turn to face the cavern that opens behind me.

I reach out my left hand to touch the cold stone wall beside me and use its surface as a guide to move a bit deeper into the cave. I move slowly, giving my eyes time to adjust; giving my heart a moment to still its racing.

I feel sure that there is something within the cave that waits for me – but I am not so sure I really want to find it. I am old enough to know that any encounter changes me. I have floundered enough to know that I am not always up to the adventure.

Yet, here I am. My hand plays along the wall. I press my lips into a hard, tight line and take the next step, mumbling a bit of a prayer within my heart.

‘Help me, help me,’ I mutter. It’s about the best I can do, these days, when it comes to prayer. I hope it is enough.

So, having braced my heart a bit, I move on. As I go deeper into the cave, I imagine that I will lose the ability to see. But my eyes do adjust and I find a small luminescence – some tiny bits of a lichen that seem to hold a light of their own, dotted along the path before me. They lead me deeper and deeper in.

I can barely see the step before me, but when I take it, the next one becomes clear. One step at a time; one small breath of hope; one by one, I move along.

After a bit, I begin to wonder, am I actually going somewhere? Is it somewhere I should go – or am I just walking in circles or wandering into trouble? What made me think the venture into this cave was right?

Ah, my mind is so very good at second-guessing. It’s almost as good as finding distractions to keep me from moving forward.

Trust is harder. But somehow I begin to realize that that it’s not the path that I must trust. It’s not even the sense of call or the tiny lights along the way.

It is the promise of companionship. I am not alone in this cave; nor was I alone at its mouth. Life is always in motion. There is no standing still.

But there is a difference between moving forward and just moving. And ‘forward’ is always toward deeper relationship.

When my desire is toward you, and I take a step (could it be any step, in any direction?) you are there. It is the direction of my heart, rather than the direction of my feet, that marks my progress.

I think I can see you smile. I reach out my right hand for yours and feel its warmth. I drop my other hand from the wall of the cave and trust your warmth to lead me. We walk the path of tiny lights together.

As we round a corner, we come into a space where the cave opens up from above in a cascade of light. I step into that flood of light. I have to close my eyes against its brilliance, but I lift my face and let it bathe me. I let it fall around my form. We both smile. We are both grateful for this small moment of connection.

I am at home. It is, as it has always been, within your embrace. You are my home, my path, my destination.

Thank you.

Amen.

[image modified from photo by Elroy Serrao per cc 2.0]

It is there

deep in the woodsIt is there

Deep, deep within the forest
Deep, deep inside my soul,
Deep within the smiles and words of friendship
Deep in certain books or poems
It is there.

Some call it life force, or beauty.
Some call it prahna or pneuma or ruach.
Whatever it is, I find it undeniable.
It is, for me, the deepest reality, and best hope.
I think I’ll call it love.

[photo is my own]

wind of change

scarf blowing in the wind

There is a change coming
On the wings of the wind.
It blows where it will, they say.
And it wills to blow change.

It wills (yes, it does)
To blow love into the hearts of the earth.
It wills (I am sure)
To help us cuddle closer to each other,
Or to cool our anger
Or soothe our frantic, fevered mind.

It blows in gales
Or moves in quiet whispers,
Whatever will best bring the change it seeks.
It blows across my heart and yours.

Its ancient name was ruach or pneuma.
It is the breath of God.
And it is still bringing life to this clay.
It is still calling us to truer life.

We cannot control it
Or even understand it.
It does not follow any particular set of rules.
And so, the life it brings is far beyond
Even my dearest hopes and dreams.

And, if I can release myself into its flow,
My breath becomes its faint but eager echo.
Its wings are mine.
It lifts me – it lifts us –
To the very heart of God, herself.

[photo by Victoria Nevland per cc 2.0]

Beads on a string

beads on a stringI finger my thoughts, slowly, like beads on a string,
Turning them in my fingers, observing their texture and color.
One by one they pass through my grasp.
I can hardly tell why each one arises, nor how it morphs to the next.

Each seems so real and intricate as it sits between my fingers
But as I let it go, it turns to vapor and dissipates.
There really are no beads before or after the one I hold;
Not that I can see.

Could it be that the time I spend in my head – planning or trying to understand
May actually be frittering away the life you have opened for me
Opened – but it’s out of sight, so, out of mind.
How do loosen my internal focus, so I can grasp a broader view?

Let me learn not to worry about the last bead or the next –
To focus less on thoughts and more on moments
To trust the string of your love
And let the beads arise and fall in grace.

This is my prayer
Today and tomorrow
(If I can anticipate the next day’s bead upon the string)
Let me come to life, one bead at a time.

Amen.

[photo by Vicki C per cc 2.0]

at the edge

old engraving of the reality beyond - the 'flammarion'Sometimes my mind seems to flicker
At the very edges of a new reality.
Ideas blink on and off,
Just out of reach.
A new fragrance hangs in the air.
An almost melody calls my heart.

The old understandings
Now fall like a chiffon drape
Ruffling in the wind
Across the window of my imagination.
What once seemed solid and sure
Is revealed as a faded fabric
Filtering the light.

Thomas Kuhn would speak of a paradigm shift:
The unmaking and remaking of foundational frameworks.
But the image I feel
Is that of walking through a series of veils,
Hanging on a line to dry.
Each reveals, even as it hides.
Each gives way to another.

Or, instead, I begin to catch the threads
As they unravel from an old tapestry.
I find that they can be rewoven into a blanket.
Beautiful and new, it covers all.
It holds fresh stories
Not painted on its surface
But cuddled in its folds.

[public domain image, drawn from wikipedia]

the heart of it all

manifestation - seeing the unseenThe heart of it all
Is not a piece of flesh
But a warm and generous embrace.

Life is not centered on substance,
On things – or even beings
But on relationship.

The most precious thing in my life is not a thing.

It’s harder to see relationship
But I am learning.
It’s not the smile, but the connection it brings.

It’s like learning to see life itself.
It is a mystery that you cannot hold still.
It is a mystery that holds you … still.

 

[photo by Maltz Evans per cc 2.0]