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

Thursday, February 6, 2020

close to the ground

Life in the desert is not easy. It does not offer moderate temperatures to please the human desire for comfort nor abundant water to quench inevitable thirst. The caves that offer shelter likely don’t provide a soft place to lay tired bodies. And yet, the desert abbas and ammas sought out these conditions, believing they would find new and abundant life—even where life seemed impossible. We invite you to take a few breaths and to slowly and contemplatively read this passage from Howard Thurman’sMeditations of the Heart, in which he describes an encounter in another kind of mountain wilderness

It was above the timber line. The steady march of the forest had stopped as if some invisible barrier had been erected beyond which no trees dared move in a single file. Beyond was barrenness, sheer rocks, snow patches and strong untrammeled winds. Here and there were short tufts of evergreen bushes that had somehow managed to survive despite the severe pressures under which they had to live. They were not lush, they lacked the kind of grace of the vegetation below the timber line, but they were alive and hardy. Upon close investigation, however, it was found that these were not ordinary shrubs. The formation of the needles, etc., was identical with that of the trees further down; as a matter of fact, they looked like branches of the other trees. When one actually examined them, the astounding revelation was that theywerebranches. For, hugging the ground, following the shape of the terrain, were trees that could not grow upright, following the pattern of their kind. Instead, they were growing as vines grow along the ground, and what seemed to be patches of stunted shrubs were rows of branches of growing, developing trees. What must have been the torturous frustration and the stubborn battle that had finally resulted in this strange phenomenon! It is as if the tree had said, “I am destined to reach for the skies and embrace in my arms the wind, the rain, the snow and the sun, singing my song of joy to all the heavens. But this I cannot do. I have taken root beyond the timber line, and yet I do not want to die; I must not die. I shall make a careful survey of my situation and work out a method, a way of life, that will yield growth and development for me despite the contradictions under which I must eke out my days.In the end I may not look like the other trees, I may not be what all that is within me cries out to be. But I will not give up. I will use to the full every resource in me and about me to answer life with life. In so doing I shall affirm that this is the kind of universe that sustains, upon demand, the life that is in it.” I wonder if I dare to act even as the tree acts. I wonder! I wonder! Do you?
                     Howard Thurman,Meditations of the Heart(Beacon Press: 1999), 123-124

                     Richard Rohr (meditation 1/25/2020


This morning
as on many mornings lately
I did not want to get out of bed

call it depression
call it despair
call it hopelessness

the world seems stunted and barren these days
and only the limbic mewing of the cats
and the unbounded enthusiasm of my  dog
drag me

even while darkness lingers
into the barren and uneven terrain of a new day

I am tired to the bone these day
Tired of the vindictiveness,
The lust for retribution
The need to win
To dominate and control

I am tired of
the evil
the duplicity
the hypocrisy
the greed
the abuse of power
the lost of justice
the growing inequity
the racism
the fear
the hate

and yet
if I look

near the ground
I see caring and kindness
Compassion and generosity

Grimly hanging one
Their roots clinging desperately
To the hearts people

Who in such an inhuman world
Would be fully human

Children of God
Bearers of the Sacred
Reflection of the divine image

There close to the ground
As the winds of hate blow
And the freezing power of greed oppresses

And people obsessed with power
Discarding all semblance of honesty, and integrity
call evil good and good evil
and stunt all that is sacred

There close to the ground
Love grows
Tortured and oppressed
But still alive

Striving toward the light

There close to the ground
People sit by the side of dying friends
And listen to hurting friends
And do acts of random kindness
And welcome the stranger
And wrap the vulnerable in acceptance and compassion

And love lives

So I will not give up
And I will seek
With every fiber of my being
And with the help of the Sacred Presence
Which lurks in my soul

To answer life with life

No comments:

Post a Comment