Thursday, April 12, 2018

With


Whoever isn’t with me is against me, and whoever doesn’t gather with me scatters.
                                                                                                                                ---Matthew 12:30


I want to be with you, Jesus,
always,
every moment, every breath, every step,
every thought, every heartbeat, every blink of the eye.
I want to be in the flow of your grace—
gathering, drawing in, embracing with you the ones you love,
everyone.
Let my words speak love; center me in your heart.
May I be light and salt for you.
Show me your way,
your path, that I may not stray from it.
Let me not be scattered but gathered,
centered, content in you. Amen.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Union


Today I was a bird, singing the song
   Creator gave me to sing.
I was a tree, bearing fruit nourished
   by roots deep in God’s soil.
I was a brook, babbling and sparkling
   in the sun, making its way
   naturally, beautifully.

Today I caught fire. I was all flame,
   fully alive in the flow of grace.
One hundred percent who I was created
   to be,
      like bird, brook and tree.

Today I knew union, not in ecstasy,
   but in living completely surrendered,
   bursting with the gifts of my true self
   the way a fully ripe grape bursts between the teeth.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Awe


How do we even stay upright
when burning bushes are everywhere?
Angels fly around my head
twittering their praise to God.
I feel I should fall to my knees
as God’s breath blows against my skin
and moves the clouds across the sky.
Surely this butterfly, yellow against gray trees,
is a miracle, a sign that all nature incarnates God.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Attentiveness to the Transitions


When Jesus heard about John he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds learned this, they followed him on foot from the cities.   –Matthew 14:13

After hearing of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus needs some time to himself. However, the only time he gets is the time on the boat. Alone on the water, I imagine him feeling the rocking motion and hearing the waves lapping against the hull. Other than this, things are still, quiet, calm. I can imagine the time on the water soothes his pain.

I’ve read this verse many times but never before have I thought about Jesus’ time on the water. That was merely a transition from point A to point B in my mind. However, a group from my church recently returned from a pilgrimage to Israel. I asked two different men at two different events last week to describe their most memorable moment of the time away. Both of them described being on a boat in the Sea of Galilee in silence for about ten minutes—no boat engine, no conversation. Just silence.

Their descriptions of this experience caused me to pay attention to this verse that details Jesus’ movement by boat. Having heard my friends describe their experience, my own imagination went with Jesus into the boat, and I shared the experience with him. It reminds me that being present is not only about arriving at a destination, but also about being present in the transitions of life, mundane as they often are. For Jesus had only the boat time to renew himself, only that time alone on the water to attend to his grief.

The transitions in my day and yours are many and we often miss the gifts they offer us. Climbing the stairs, driving the car, standing in line, walking across a parking lot—all these are times we can choose to be present and attentive or we can merely be focused on getting to the next thing.

Years ago, I was looking out my office window into the parking lot. A bush was alive with cedar waxwings, devouring the berries. I was mesmerized as I watched them. A coworker pulled his car into the parking space near the bush, got out of the car and walked into the building. He never saw the birds right there in front of him. That happened thirty-plus years ago and I still remember it.

So today, I want to pay attention to the transitions, to the moments between moments, the pauses between words, the spaces between thoughts or breaths. Those are opportunities to be aware of the Spirit’s presence.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Instructions I Need to Remember


Close the door. What’s gone is gone.
Hold the memory, but do not live it.
Love the now, live the now.
See what and who surrounds you and
breathe them fully into your heart.

This moment, this day, the present presence—
embrace it completely. It is the gift.
Let go what is no more. Don’t drag
regret’s anchor or carry future’s
worry stones.

Sink deep roots into eternal now.
Love what you are given,
love what you love without shame.
Sing this moment’s symphony. Let
every note enliven every heartbeat
so that your whole life becomes song,
an eternal, everliving, everlasting
Jubilate Deo.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Selfishness and Rights


I don’t know the answer. But what I do know from reading just a few of the Facebook posts that have come out since the latest mass shooting is that selfishness is alive and well in our nation. This isn’t really new news, but fear and greed have taken the defense of our “rights” as Americans to a place where our first interest is MY rights, not your rights.

Contrast that with the instruction of Paul in Philippians and the way of Jesus, which Paul describes:
Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
Though he was in the form of God,
        he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
        by taking the form of a slave
        and by becoming like human beings.
When he found himself in the form of a human,
        he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
        even death on a cross.
Therefore, God highly honored him
        and gave him a name above all names,
     so that at the name of Jesus everyone
        in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow
        and every tongue confess that
            Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Especially in this season of Lent, which is time we set aside for contemplating how we need to conform ourselves to the image of Christ, should we not be watching out for what is better for others? Should we not be willing to empty ourselves of self-interest as Jesus did?

Is there no longer a place in our country for self-denial, compassion and willingness to listen to one another? At the very least, is there a place among Christians for such behavior?

What might be different in our nation if Christians “adopted the attitude that was in Christ Jesus”?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ashes


The remains of those whose love brought me into life
I stared at. Two piles of ashes on the hilltop of the island
across the water from the house they loved
in their retirement.

Two metal tags the only marker of place.
I wondered how long these would remain.
Would the bald eagles that nest on that island
add them to their nest, a bit of shiny amid twigs?
Would deer step on them?
My parents would be thrilled with either possibility.

My life has changed much
since the day we paddled to the island
to place their ashes there.
I hold the memories, both good and difficult.
I hold the knowing of their love for me.