Follow the Song

through the plainI wake on the plain, beside the angel. The fire has died into ash-covered embers and the night sky has begun to fade to morning. The angel is sitting, back to the fire, looking out into the plain. He is robed already and has his staff in his hand. He looks at me and smiles. We gather our supplies, cover the fire, and begin the day’s journey.

It is a pleasant walk at first. He is humming softly to himself and the air is almost sweet with the fragrance of the wet grass. My feet are damp with dew. I shift the pack upon my back, balancing it on my hips, letting the shoulder straps lie slack.

The pack creaks softly as I walk. The weight of the backpack is so much easier to carry when it fits well.

On we walk, step, step, step, forward on the faintly visible path. If the angel were not guiding me, I would not really be able to tell the path from the ruts of dried streams and the passageways of animals who cross the plain in their daily search for food. My own path is hard to discern among the others. But the angel is confident and strides forward in even, unhurried, but determined steps.

“How do you know the way'” I ask, “since all these patches of earth look the same?”

He pauses on the trail and looks down. “The ground does look the same,” he observes. “That is not where the path is marked. It is written in my heart. I follow his call and not a path. Do you not hear it?”

I strain my ears, but I am not aware of any call, of any sound to guide my steps. I shake my head, a bit chagrined. It’s obvious that I am a novice here.

“Then I will teach you to listen,” the angel replies. He begins to hum. “This melody has been sung throughout the ages in response to the majesty of God. It springs forth when his presence is seen. Its tune, its cadence, its underlying essence is the pattern for your call. Learn the song. Sing it to yourself.”

“The song is my call?” I ask. “The same song of the ages, the same call?”

“No,” the angel replies, “the song only reveals the pattern in which your call will come and acquaints you with the essence it will bring. You learn from the song to recognize your own call when it comes. The song trains your inner ear to hear the call of God.”

“When will he call?” I ask.

“He calls you now.”

I feel desperate. “But I cannot yet hear it.”

“He knows and he will call until you hear. Be patient. Trust him to teach. As long as your heart is directed toward him, you cannot fail, for he is your partner in your journey. And he never fails. He is still creating you, with your cooperation. He tunes your ears, your heart, to hear the melody, to play the melody. Then you will find your purpose, and others will use your melody to find their own.   As long as you desire to follow, he is patient to lead. You demonstrate your desire; indeed, you fulfill your desire by singing the song that tunes your ears to his call.

When you have learned to recognize it, you will hear and know.”

“Teach me the ancient song.”

“Listen.” The angel begins to hum an ancient and intricate melody, a rich history of faith played out in notes of strength and assurance upon the air. There is an essence in the song that speaks to my ears. I strain to hear and learn. The angel smiles and we begin to walk again. He is humming, and I, once in a while, can anticipate a note and join the song.

Don’t look to the earth to find your path. It is not there. It is being called forth within you by the partnership between his creative hand and your willing spirit. It fits you well. Rejoice in the process and in the promise of its completion.

1/11/95

[the photo is my own]

my reflection

reflection

They say I am made in the image of God.
It is true that I do have some beautiful feathers.
There is an iridescence in some of what I bring to the world.

Of course, there is also a strange awkwardness.
The image I present contains only the smallest hint of that Holy Three.
And when I study my own image, even that becomes blurred.

But none of that changes the gift of the creator
Which rests upon my being
And pours itself into the world.

Would that I could celebrate that gift and simply let it flow
Then, perhaps, I could turn my eyes from a static reflection,
Reflecting, instead, on the greater dance of love.

More than my own image is reflected in this pool.
Even looking down, I can see the trees, the sky.
If I look closely, I can see your smile.

[photo used with permission from Mike Bizeau’s beautiful blog – nature has no boss]

this simple meal

deep within the woods

One day, this day, lies before me. One step, the next step, is to be taken. I have strength for only one. I have manna for one day only. If I try to grasp at more, it rots within my hands. One day, one step, one piece of grace to give me strength to face it.

I kneel at an oaken table, deep within the woods, deep within a clearing where the large stump forms that table and where the brightness of the day is obscured by the heavy canopy of trees. Only one shaft of light finds its way through and hits the surface of the table with a clear, bright beam. In the spotlight of that beam, centered within its ray, is the simple meal of manna, which is spread for me this day. A cake of bread, a glass of wine, a napkin unfolded underneath as a cloth for the meal to rest upon. Nothing beside these simple provisions.

I say my grace before the meal… my grace, my prayer for grace, sets my heart in tune with the meal itself, to receive its nourishment. “Oh, Holy One, open my heart to receive your blessing for this day. Open my eyes to see your will, my hands to carry it out.” I reach and take the bread, break it and hold it for a moment in my hands. “This strength of yours I eat. I ask that you help me to spend it in your service and on your priorities. Help me to know what I must do, and to separate that from what others would like for me to do, from what I sense as urgent, but do not have the wisdom to also sense as hollow – an empty, busy bluster with no lasting value. Feed me on wisdom today, my Holy Friend, and let its essence creep into my soul.”

One step, one beam of light to guide, one hand to hold. For as my meal is ended, you join me here and offer me your hand. I take that hand of love and rise to meet the day. My own shallow wisdom is not enough, but the love and the wisdom that you offer is more than enough.

Isn’t that, after all, the promise of the manna? Enough for one day. Enough.

3 28 95

[photo by Jaroslav Kuba per cc 2.0]

seeking wisdom

conversations of the spirit

 

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

 

In my earlier days, I suppose I thought that answers to prayers somehow came through a divine finger reaching from eternity into the fabric of the world to set things right. I would suppose that a prayer for wisdom would result in some great insight being planted in my brain – and I would suddenly see with great clarity and depth.

But it seems, for me, that wisdom comes, instead, through thoughtful listening to wise friends whose voices weave, a strand at a time, a tapestry of grace. And, see, such wisdom is deeper, fuller, more hopeful – the rich wisdom of community, welling up to joy.

Thank you, oh Holy One, for the generous and ungrudging gift of friends and the wisdom that comes in their company.

Amen.

[image cropped from photo by Tuncay per cc 2.0]

 

Unwrapping a gift

unwrapping a gift

As a child I always unwrapped my gifts slowly,
Cutting the tape with a slender knife,
Trying not to tear the paper,
Preserving the ribbon.
It was my way of making the anticipation linger.

My sisters used to laugh at me.
Now, sometimes, they join me …
Extending the moment,
Making the process a part of the gift.

This morning, I hold within my hands
A small gift, as yet not fully opened.
Indeed, as I carefully remove the wrapping,
I find another layer underneath.

I cut a piece of tape
And the paper on that corner pops free.
I turn the box and touch the knife to the edge of the tape
Another corner, freed.

The gift, I realize, is the gift of attention.
To feel the crinkle of the paper,
The release of tension as it opens up,
To see, with sweet surprise, the beauty of each layer.

I look to the first wrapping, now at my feet.
It still holds the creases of the box,
Curled up, as it is, into a shape
That echoes its earlier embrace.

It is not the box, but it hints of its presence.
Just as the practices of my faith
Hold and convey a form that is very like the gift inside
They help me see its shape.

I am grateful for the wrapping
And the treasure, deep inside,
Not yet fully revealed,
But happily anticipated.

[image modified from photo by mob mob per cc 2.0]

New Year’s embrace

hopeful sunrise

Come with joy into this day, into this new year.
There is much to do and much to experience.
There is a dance, already begun, reaching out its hand to you.
There is a deep smile spread across the universe,
Offering you a whisper of undeniable hope.

Open your hand.
You have closed it so tightly around nothing.
For nothing is all that you can control.
If control is what you seek, you will come up empty handed.
But if you seek joy, well, take my hand and join the dance.

The future is closed or open by your choice.
Choose life. Choose relationship. Choose me.
I am as real as you dare to believe – as real as your very breath.
I AM – and life, true life, is yours –
It is out of your grasp, but within my embrace.

[photo by Leonardo per cc 2.0]

 

my true self

imprint of a leaf on water

My true self –
The self I long to meet

The one where I fit nicely in my own skin
And equally well in my community,
As if we are suited to one another

The one where goodness is not fake
But a natural expression of a maturing soul,
And where continuing growth is the sure future

The one where I can embrace the flawed reality
That is both where I live and who I am,
And still find peace and beauty … and firm hope

The one where I dare to join the dance
That is the world’s becoming,
The very echo and response to the Holy Three.

This is the self you call me to be.
This is the self I will become.
This is the dance of life.

[photo by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann per cc 2.0]

[thanks to Richard Rohr’s daily meditations]