Welcome

Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning



Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Word, and our Words


“Words spoken in deep love or deep hate set things in motion in the human heart that can never be reversed.”
— Frederick Buechner

_____________________________________

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words can never hurt me

Wrong
Dead wrong

I have had too many people sit across from
Me
Depressed
Anxious
Struggling to make their way through life
Struggling to love and be loved

Who have been profoundly damaged by words
Words from parents (often)
Spouses
Friends
Pastors (too often)

You are worthless
I wish you had never been born
You will never make it in life
You are lazy
You are sinful
You
You
You

Words are powerful

We should understand this!
In the creation story God spoke
Let there be light
Let there be fertile land
Let there be fish, and animals, and birds
Let there be creatures in my image

And it was

At the beginning of John
We are reminded of the power of creative, loving Word

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

And we are told that God did not stop speaking at creation
We should have known that too
As God spoke through the words of poets and prophet

But we are told that once again God’s Word became
Tangible, real, concrete

In fact we are told “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”

Advent is a time when we prepare to hear the Word
Receive the Word
Be transformed by the Word

Advent is the time when we seek openness
So that we might receive that Word

So that it might dwell within in
So that it might, in the world of our sould
Create order out of chaos
Bring light into the Darkness
And make things, “good”

Christmas is when we celebrate that word
Breaking the silence

But remember
it is powerful this Word
It will not leave us the same
It will not leave us untouched
It will disturb and order
It will illuminate and reveal

As Isaiah reminds us
“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

And one thing that needs to happen
Is that God’s Word needs to change our words

Those words we speak
When enraged or frightened
Those words we speak when we want to control and manipulate
Those words we speak when we want to minimize and diminish

May the words of our mouth be acceptable?
No lies
No words that bully and demean
No words that abuse
Or tear down

We need words that have the same impact
As the Word that came down at Christmas

Words speak the truth
But do so in love
Words that lift up
Words that challenge, but also heal
Words that move us help make it on earth as it is in heaven
Rather than words that make the earth a living hell

So this Advent
Let us think about Words
About God’s Word
About The Word
About the words of those we follow and listen to
About the words that come out of our mouths

For words are powerful
“And words spoken in deep love or deep hate
set things in motion in the human heart that can never be reversed.”

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Sitting in the dark


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
Plato
_________________________________________________

I woke up this morning in the dark
and it will be hours
before the first feeble light tries to
break through clouds

that wrapped the trees in
shade of gray

I woke up this morning in the dark
not the darkness of a winter’s mourn
but in that dark night of the soul

which comes when those in power
who should be protecting the vulnerable
and maintaining justice
and promoting good

don’t

when caught up in greed
and a blind lust for power
they abandon the vulnerable
promote injustice
and enable evil

I woke up this morning
In the darkness that comes
When the powerful practice evil
In plain sight

And millions cheer them on
Not caring that immigrant children are in cages
And black youth live in fear of death
And the poor are having he very things they need to flourish
Threatened

So that the rich can get richer

The words of the prophets echo in my head
Feeling fresh and new
And devastatingly relevant 

Alas for those who devise wickedness
    and evil deeds[a] on their beds!
When the morning dawns, they perform it,
    because it is in their power.
They covet fields, and seize them;
    houses, and take them away;
they oppress householder and house,
    people and their inheritance.
Therefore thus says the Lord:
Now, I am devising against this family an evil
    from which you cannot remove your necks;
and you shall not walk haughtily,
    for it will be an evil time.

I woke up this morning
Profoundly aware that we need a savior

We need Christmas

It is not that the Advent has not already happened
It is not that the Savior has not come
And shown us the way, the truth and the life

We have been shown how to do life a different way
And we have been given the power to do it…

But
But

Even those that claim this savior
Have gotten caught up in the old way
And have abandoned the heart of Jesus teachings

John made it profoundly clear
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

So we need a Savior
Or rather we need the Savior who has already come
We need to turn to this one who came
And who still comes in the person of the Spirit

And we need to let the light shine
Shine in our hearts so intensely
That we can see, what is evil, and what is good
So that we will not be confused or deluded anymore

So That we can feel, the pain of the poor and the lonely
So that we can live lives of kindness, and generosity, and love

We need to let the light dispel the darkness

This Advent our hearts must cry out
O come, O come, Immanuel,
and ransom [these] captive [hearts]
For we mourns in lonely exile here
Here in the darkness

Come Savior of the world
Shine in the darkness

Thank you, in your tender mercy
You, in Jesus have, like the rising sun
come to us from heaven

to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the path of peace. (Song of Zechariah, Luke 1)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

perpetual incarnation


“You are a little soul carrying about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“Never tell a child,” said George Macdonald, ‘you have a soul. Teach him, you are a soul; you have a body.’ As we learn to think of things always in this order, that the body is but the temporary clothing of the soul….”

When he told of how he took his wheelchair-bound teenage son Tony, dying of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, to the river to go fishing, the entire room would hang on every word (no matter how many times we had heard the story). Completely bereft as he watched Tony painfully work to get his line in the water, Pepe began to cry. “Dad,” Tony said, “Why are you crying? There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s just my Earth suit that is having trouble. Nothing is wrong with me.”
                                                              Ron H quoted by Richard Rohr
________________________________________

each day
whether I like it or not
(and sometimes as a true introvert I like it not)
The Sacred drops people into my path

I have long since abandoned the idea
that these are chance encounters
although I sometimes think that Sacred has
a warped sense of humor

but there they are
needy people
angry people
people who embrace a leader I abhor
hurting people
lonely people
addicted people
strong people
insightful people

there they are

God carriers
Precious souls
Sacred children in their “earth suit’
If only we would see

Every Advent we celebrate God adventing
Jesus
God with us
Light in the darkness

The Sacred in an earth suit
Showing us what God is like
Showing us a new way of doing life

We sing of angels and shepherds
And of magi, keeping it weird
As they travel from the east

We talk about Mary and Joseph
and the baby

Ah the baby
The Sacred temporarily clothed
In human flesh

And then we go through our days
And fail to recognize
the perpetual incarnation

We fail to see that Jesus is still here
still God with us
still incarnate

we fail to see that Jesus is present
in the manger of every heart

we fail to remember that each person is a precious soul
each person is, in some mysterious way Jesus (Matthew 25)
each person is part of this ongoing incarnation
that Jesus made possible

it is of course not a simple matter
it never was

when Jesus came
even though Scripture foretold
and stars pointed the way
and angels choirs sang

a pitiful few gathered at the cradle

we do not always understand
we do not always see
we are not always awake to the good news

we do not see the Christ in others
we do not see the Christ in ourselves

but that does not change the reality
Advent happened

Advent happens still
Incarnation is

God is born in the manger of our hearts
God is incarnate within this common flesh
Carrying out that ministry of Love
Transforming us from the inside out

Making us new

God is in us, the hope of glory
And God is in each person we meet

And that changes everything

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The starting point


When our view of the cross is that God demands blood in order to redeem, it is little surprise we have a country and culture that wants to see people suffer even more before help will be provided. But when we understand a God who enters into our suffering, we see that it is that kind of grace through which we are transformed.
Timothy McMahan King, Addiction Nation: What the Opioid Crisis Reveals about Us

“It is when I am weak that I am strong”
                                                              Paul (2 Corinthians 12:10).


____________________________________________

Christmas is just weird
Really
I mean it

If you think about what we say it is
The invasion of Planet earth by the very power that formed it
The entry of light into a world of darkness
The arrival of transforming Love

We might expect more
Than a peasant women
Giving birth to a wrinkled howling child
in the lap of poverty

But there it is
This weird and wonderful starting point

Which reminds us just what is going on here

Grace

The Sacred entering into all that is profane
Entering into this dark planet
Into our unworthiness

Our fear and hate
Our greed and hoarding
Our anger and violence
Our lust of power, and our abuse of power

And being transformative love
Simply being in us
As that sneaky and pervasive Spirit
Doing the work of love

Where did we ever get the idea that the Sacred
Demands some sort of merit in order to love?
Just as I am means just as I am

Not when I give up the bottle
Or my oxycodone pill
Or my lust
Or my greed
Or my hate

It means just as I am

Where did we ever get the idea
That once we have been touched by God
It creates merit

That unworthy we have been made worthy
(as opposed to those who are not worthy yet)

I remember the lovely old saying
That evangelism is a begger showing another begger
Where to find bread

Its is ever more radical than that
We are not the keepers of the bread
We never have been

We are beggers wandering with other beggers
Constantly needing to be given bread anew
Constantly needing the One who is bread
We are withered branches, needing to be connected to the vine
And infused with love

So that we can live

Just as Sacred radically became incarnate in this world
Not demanding anything
In order to Avent

Just as the Spirit makes itself at home in us
Before we are even aware of its presence
Before we have felt the tiniest nudge

So must we love
So must we be there for others

Unworthy vessels
Broken vessels
Allowing the light in, and the light out

Having earned nothing, having no worthiness
Demanding nothing,
Asking nothing

Starting with nothing
Expecting nothing

Just being
Loving
Caring
Healing

A basket of outcasts and deplorables
Hi, I’m an alcoholic
Hi, I’m a greedy person
Hi, I’m an angry soul
Hi, I’m addicted to power
Hi I’m a hater

A circle of the unworthy
A welcoming circle of love

Surrounding the manger with its abject poverty
Surrounding the manger with our abject poverty

And knowing we will never again
Be the same


Monday, December 9, 2019

intolerable kindness


Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
                                         C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology
_____________________________________________

Robber barons
Or
Moral busybodies

What a choice
And what happens when the two engage in an unholy alliance?

We now know
For this is today’s America

We are a country run by the rich for the rich
And also a country where a powerful group of people seek to coerce the populace
Into their own version of morality

What could go wrong?

What could go wrong is that we end up with a dominating (dominionist) faith system that perverts the Sacred

Sometimes I understand
That I don’t know much about God
But at the same time I understand I have the gift of knowing God

There is a difference
A difference between words on a page
Whether that page being in the Bible
Or in some deep theological tome

and The Word
living inside me

There is a difference between a religious system
Made up of rules and rituals

And Love, woven into the fabric of my being
Sacred Presence, filling my soul

When faith is about merely about rules to be obeyed
And rituals to follow

Faith can become twisted

It can move from being something that brings life
To something that brings death

From something that gives us freedom
To something that imprisons

From something that makes us loving and kind
To being something that makes us judgmental and cruel

Instead of rescuing us from our love of money
which is the root of so much pain and misery

it aligns with wealth

make us people who
instead of being generous and grateful givers
become hoarders, who celebrate our wealth
even which we shame other people’s poverty

I struggle with those robber barons
With those who are insatiable and cannot, ever, get enough
It hurts my heart
To watch them kill the earth (think drill baby drill)
And put people at risk (think deregulation)
And force people into poverty (think minimum wage)
For the sake of profit

What really hurts is when those people
Do all of that
While claiming that they love Jesus

The same Jesus whose, when visiting this messed up planet said
“it is harder for the rich to find their way to heaven, than it is for a camel to get through the eye of a needle”
The same Jesus who said “blessed are the poor”

Yes I struggle with the robber barons
But I struggle even more with those who
Believe so strong in their own rightness, their own righteousness
That they seek to impose their version of God and righteousness on other

Those who seek to legislate morality
Impose their brand of ethics
inflict their belief system

Jesus made it pretty clear
that true righteousness is never an outside job
but always an inside job

right living comes from the inside
it cannot be imposed or coerced
or artificially inseminated with legislation and retribution

we must not invoke tyranny in the name of Jesus
we must not shame
coerce
or control in the name of Jesus

we have one job
to Love

And in love welcome
In love accept
In love listen
In love give
In love forgive

for love will awake love
and the Spirit in us with dance with the Spirit in them

and God will do the rest


Sunday, December 8, 2019

the curse of certainty


“Like the body craves oxygen, the mind is desperate for certainty. It believes that without a safe foothold on reality, it will die.  But the fascinating thing is that the illusion of certainty is exactly the opposite of safety because it hardens and narrows the vision to make everything fit its own scope. Then when new information arrives which would be its ally, the mind pushes it away in favor of the leaky life raft to which it clings, sinking all the while beneath the waves of change.  In fact, the only antidote for this is to embrace 'I don’t know' so deeply that a powerful, dynamic safety emerges. This is like learning to surf so well that a tsunami wave shows up as a challenge to test our mastery.”
                                                                                  Jacob Nordby
____________________________________________

God deliver us from certainty

Oh we love it for sure
That sense that we know what is true
Know what is right

But certainty is seductive
We love its safety, its power

We love to stand, firmly planted in our certitude

And certainty is dangerous

It is a perilous thing
To believe that what we think we know
Is certain
Unchangeable
Objective

When we wrap ourselves in certainty
Ugly things happen

We get rigid
Stuck
Arrogant
Blind

And perhaps worse

Sometimes we become hard
Cold
Even cruel

It is not that there are not things we can be certain about
I am certain there is something bigger than myself
In which I participate
I am certain that this something, or someone, is Love

Beyond that I feel I need to keep open
I need to admit that here is so much I do not know

And be open to God’s new thing
For God is always doing a new thing

Moving us forward
In a creative, pervasive evolution

So that the truth we cling to today
May be what we are called to let go of, tomorrow

We have a living God
Who offers a living Word

Scary

We may have to rethink the use of power
Rethink the role of women
Rethink sexual orientation

Just as we have rethought left handers
Mixed fibers
Shell fish, and more

I do not have faith in laws, and rules
I do not have faith in tired ideologies
I am really not certain about much

Except in the power of Love
And my need to let go of my certainty
And go with God where God leads

So to those who are certain Trump is God’s chosen
Those who are certain climate change is not real
Those who are certain, women must be subservient
Those who believe LGTBQI people are sinners
Those who believe that God’s favorite time in history was the 1950’s
Those who believe that power is meant to be used
Those who believe that “they” are the enemy

To those who know their more liberal agenda is “the way”

To those who believe they know the mind of God
To those who are certain
I offer the gift of uncertainty

Instead of holding fast to certainty
Grab hold of faith

Faith in a living God
Faith in a God who is woven into the fabric of our being
Faith in a God who is constantly revealing new truth
Faith in a God who is constantly doing a new thing

Instead of holding fast to all our little certainties
Let us grab hold of the big certainty

That God will work in big ways, and small
In ways we understand, in ways we don’t understand
In ways that are old, in ways that are new

It ways that will confuse
And frighten
And ultimately amaze

To bring love into our hearts
And heaven to earth





Saturday, December 7, 2019

start the revolution


“We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution.”
                                          Subcomandante Marcos

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
                                         John Lennon/ Paul McCartney
___________________________________________

We like our Advent expectant
Joy
Hope
Peace
And love

We wrap ourselves up
In the hauntingly somber songs
Of longing
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

We like our Christmas soft
Starry skies
Simple shepherds
Friendly animals
Angel choirs
And a cute little baby boy

Our hearts burn within us
as we sing “Silent Night”
by the of candle light

And so
With the best intentions
We domesticate Christmas

But Christmas is not soft or comfortable
Sorry for the inconvenience, but Christmas is a revolution.
Advent is the prelude to a revolution (Robert Barron)
And Christmas is that moment when the revolution began
That moment when God intruded into human history
And said (in effect)
Look and listen!

And then proceeded to turn everything upside down
Introducing a revolutionary new way of doing life

A crazy, foolish way of life
Where the first are last and the last first
Where you give to receive
And die to live

This is what a revolution of love looks like

Where we change the world
Not by grabbing power and using power
Not by accumulating wealth,
But by embracing the pain of the world,
And lifting others up
By feeding the poor, clothing the naked, housing the homeless
Welcoming the stranger
And changing the systems that lead to injustice and inequity

In Advent we prepare for change
It is a time for introspection
And honesty

It is a time when we open the manger of our heart
And prepare for love to be born

Christmas?
Christmas is when, Jesus alive inside us
we start the revolution


Friday, December 6, 2019

eternity in a minute


I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it.
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.
But it’s up to me
to use it.

I must suffer if I lose it.
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute,
but eternity is in it.
                     Dr. Benjamin E. Mays (used by Elijah Cummings
                     in his first presentation before the House)
________________________________________

I remember one of my children saying,
when mired in the angst of adolescence,

“I didn’t ask to be born”

I didn’t either!
Did you?

It is one of those profound mysteries,

the fact that I am here
the fact that any of us
sentient beings that we are,
are here

some suggest we are just an accident
the result of some chance meeting of sperm and eggs

others believe that we are no accident
but part of a mystical plan

that we are, each one of us, intended,
planned for,
if not by our biological parents
at least by Sacred intent

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart” (Jer. 1:5)

there is something powerful in the idea
that each one of us is “on purpose” and,
by implication, have “a purpose”

there is something compelling
in the idea that there is indeed meaning and purpose
to each life

that we are not accidents
but intentional
purposed by Sacred
not only purposed, by known by Sacred

named

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you,
O Jacob, he who formed you,
O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.”  (Isaiah 43:1)

I am here, you are here
because we have been given this moment,
this minute in eternity
on purpose

for a reason

What is that reason?
Did God really intend, from the dawn of eternity
That I be exactly who I am?

I hope not!
for all too often I badly blur the divine image

does God decide
this person will be a doctor, that one a teacher
that one a rancher, that one an EMT?

I am doubtful that it is that specific
But I do believe this

God intended that each of us carry the divine image
And that image is Love

We were put on this earth to love
We were put on this earth to love others for God
In whatever role we find ourselves taking
We were put here to love

We were “called” to be God’s
Generous
Compassionate
Kind
Giving
Children

For better or worse
Here we are
In this world, with all its problem
In this world which seems to be disintegrating around us

In this world which is filled with hate and anger and greed
In this violent and brutal world
Which tears people apart

And we are called to help put people back together again
To be islands of compassion
To “walk each other home”

That is why I am here
That is why you are here

That is why we have gotten up this morning

Today I will drive over mountains
Set up for a meeting
Help run a meeting

All day I will be busy doing “stuff”

But there were be people in this day
Who will encounter me
Bringing with them fears, and hope
Pain and joy

It is my job
Really my only job
To see them
Hear them
Connect with them
Love them

I am not here to be a “minister”
or a “stated clerk”
or a “therapist”

I am here to be a Child of God
A person so permeated by the presence of Love

That I touch other people with love
not my love, but God’s love

I am here to bring Sacred, eternity
into this moment

I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it.
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.
But it’s up to me
to use it.

I must suffer if I lose it.
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute,
but eternity is in it.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

All roads go through Bethlehem


“For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning - not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.”
                                          Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
_____________________________________

Sometimes it feels as if we are all
just wandering around in search of ourselves

blessed are the weird
(the saying goes)

we are indeed outlandish creatures
seeking to find our way home,
back to that self we were created to be

back to that original blessing
back to the divine image

it appears that all paths
must ultimately pass through a manger in Bethlehem
must ultimately follow the way of
the one

who did it
who walked on this dark planet
soaked as it is in greed
and a lust for power

dominated as it is by fear and hate

and remained wholly
a Sacred Child

what does this odd story
of angels and shepherds
stars and magicians
reveal?

I cannot help but think
That the key is simply this
All power, all love
All that is Sacred
Nestled in swaddling clothes,
Attended by confused parents
Apathetic animals
Rejected shepherds…

God
Holding nothing back
Being totally present

In order to transform the world
And reconcile the world to itself

Light
Coming into the darkness
A little drop of heaven
Coming to earth, and bringing peace

If we would find ourselves
We must first realize
That Jesus is what original blessing looks like
That this is what we, as Sacred Children, are too look like

We must then, I think accept the presence
Welcome the child
Allow this one into the manger of our hearts

And then we must follow
In that way of total identification

In that way of generosity
Healing
Acceptance
Welcome
Forgiveness
Love

Then we must do life a different way!
There are forces at work
That make it “on earth as it is in hell”
Forces that diminish and crush
That exclude and wound

We are to live such a way
That we make it “on earth as it is in heaven”

And it is when we live that way
that we truly find richness and safety and power.
It is when we live that way
that we find our way back to what we were created to be…

People with a heart, a brain, and courage
Sacred Children





Wednesday, December 4, 2019

In darkness lay


There is a light in us that only darkness itself can illuminate. It is the glowing calm that comes over us when we finally surrender to the ultimate truth of creation: that there is a God and we are not it. . . .
                                                   Joan Chittister
____________________________________________________

in the darkness all Israel lay
oppressed and poor, a captive nation

in the darkness Bethlehem squatted
not the romantic place of our Christmas dreams
but a village nestled among
rock strewn hills with barely enough grass for sheep

in the darkness shepherds sat
dirty and cold, oily and excluded

in the darkness
Mary and Joseph lay with animals
Perhaps there was no room upstairs with the people
Perhaps there was simply too much shame
Carried here

In the darkness light was born
a little stranger
Wrapped in swaddling clothes,
the prince of peace

Sacred child
Sacred one

Who came to show us the way to live
Who came to reveal the truth
Who came to bring us life

Who came to be light in the darkness

We too live in the darkness
It looms around us
It grows within us

We know the taste of darkness

But it is the darkness
That reveals the light

The power of even the faintest glimpse
That moment when the Sacred caresses our soul
When love warms the frozen places within

And we know
We know
We are not alone

And we know
That the Light shines and in darkness
And the darkness cannot overcome it

We know in that moment
“That life begins again on the other side of the darkness.
Another life. A new life.
After the death, the loss, the rejection, the failure,
life does go on.”  (Chittister)
__________________________________________________
Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (Image: 2015), 19-20. As quoted by Richard Rohr

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

heart break


“Welcome the small cracking of your hard-clodded shell,
Embrace the warm sting of tears,
Kiss the shadow which frightens you awake as you turn the corners of your day,
Love the whole of everything,
Smooth sunshine skies and
Jagged edges
Which all seek us out in
Constant whisper and touch
To say, 'hello, Beautiful. You’re alive”
                                         Jacob Nordby
____________________________________________

This morning I watched a video
It was not new
I had seen it before

but today as I watched it tear sprung to my eyes
uninvited

and the pounding of my heart
was the sound of my shell cracking
and perhaps my heart breaking

I don’t want this
I don’t want to feel this pain

I don’t want to see the big eyes of migrant children
filled with fear and pain
I don’t want to see the hopeless and battered faces
of the homeless.
I don’t want to see untruth and corruption sit in high places
I don’t want to watch as the earth does because of human greed
I don’t want to watch while the hoarders and abusers win

I would like to stay safe
And comfortable
Protected by ignorance, perhaps
Or by privilege
I would to seal myself off
So I don’t have to see, don’t have to feel

but sometimes the shell breaks

and I must embrace the warm sting of tears,
and kiss the shadows
and feel the pain

just as
once upon a time
the skies cracked open
and a little drop of heaven came to earth

love came to earth
and lived among us

and saw all
felt all
welcomed all
embraced all
forgave all
healed all
loved all

if we would heal the world
if we would change the world

our hearts must break

Monday, December 2, 2019

the intrusion of love


““Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.”
                               Thomas Merton
_______________________________________

It has begun
That slow journey, in the darkness
Toward incarnation

Toward Love manifest

We festoon this season with color and light
With merriment and music
We offer gifts and talk of love

Our heads are filled with angels and shepherds
Kindly animals
Gathered around a child
Wise visitors
And magical stars

And we conveniently forget
that the incarnation was the intrusion of love
in an unlovely world

where rulers oppressed
and people lived in poverty
and the religious were cruel

we ignore the fact that
after the birth the first things that happen
are that Jesus’ family is forced to flee oppression
and become refugees
and children are murdered

it is almost as if the incarnation didn’t happen

almost

yet we know that love unleashed
is powerful
insidious

love leaves nothing untouched
love never dies

there is a kind of comfort
in the harsh realities of the story
for as it was
so it is

for still rulers oppress
and people live in poverty
and the religious are cruel

still families are forced to flee oppression
and become refugees
and children are murdered

Yet still Love comes
and comes
and comes again

into the mangers of our heart
the intrusion of love
into an unlovely world

incarnation continued
through us
in whom the Sacred has been born

in our compassion
our forgiving
our kindness
our welcoming
our generosity

still love comes
irresistible
shining forth
then as now
light in the darkness

and the darkness
now, as then
does not overcome it


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Waiting in the Dark


“Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting.”
                                                    Haruki Murakami
_____________________________

On this cold December morning
as I struggle, for no reason in particular
with the ravenous wolves of despair,
I look out the window at the hungering dark

and remember that we are entering
that odd and melancholy season of Advent

I know that in the public marketplace
the true “war on Christmas” shoots forth its volleys
of color and music
in malls filled with music and color and imposed good cheer

but in the church it is Advent
a relatively somber time of quiet and thoughtful preparation

a time when we wait in the dark

we are waiting for…. ?
Ah, that is the question!
What are we waiting for?

Faith says that what we are waiting for has already come!
In the person of that baby, born in poverty, thousands of years ago
And we are told this baby changed, and changes everything

Swords into plowshares
Peace, Justice, Love, Joy

But here we are in a world that is full of strife
Bursting with anger and hate, fear, trepidation
And a lot of bone deep sadness

So this is not just a season of certainty
But a season of uncertainty
Not merely a time of “knowing” but a time of “unknowing” (Richard Rohr)

It is a time of questions as much as a time of answers
What do we wait for?
What would it look like if “it” got here?

So we wait, for we know not what,
But which we believe, all evidence to the contrary
is there

We wait for something to burst forth into being

We have expectations

But I suspect, that when it comes, it won’t look
Or perhaps, even feel the way we expected

It won’t come through Trump
It won’t come through any other earthly savior
It doesn’t come, I suspect, through wealth, or power

It comes, I think, in unexpected, often unheralded ways
(as it did the first time)

It comes when, after waiting and preparing in the dark
After going deep, and looking at who we are
And who we might be…

The Sacred advents in our lives
In all its surprising and unusual forms
And participate, at least for the moment
In the kingdom
Which has been inaugurated, but not yet fully realized

It comes,
and then slips away
to come again

Just as nature returns endlessly to the seasons
Our soul participates in the endless cycle
Of waiting, and fulfillment
Celebration and struggle
Success and failure

Returning again and again and again
To that time of reflection and preparation
To that time of knowing and unknowing
Where we wait
In faith

For the light to shine in the darkness