Manna

In the morning there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that God has given you to eat.“
                  —Exodus 16.13-15

What gets you through the desert?
What gets you through?
What gets you through the chemo,
the healing from abuse, the bad marriage,
what gets you through
the job that tries to kill you,
the dark alley of the shadow of death,
the rotten places, the placeless places,
the evil you fear, the evil you've done,
your daily inadequacy,
what gets you through?

Some will call it courage or stamina,
luck or faith or reaching down deep.
But you know it's not you, not yours.
It's given. To you. For you.
From the Holy One.

The thread you follow,
the source you drink from,
the encouraging voice,
the Divine desire that you thrive,
the gift amid the desolation,
you find it anywhere—
the usual, the impossible,
the unwelcome.
You learn to recognize it.
You learn to receive it.

For that grace that gets you through
you learn to say thank you.

You learn to count on it,
and be surprised,
every morning.
Every morning.

     

   —September, 2017

Turning

Trees are beginning to turn.

They turn toward me.

They walk with me,
along the turning road.

Teach me, friends,
the grace
of turning.





_______________
Weather Report

Release,
as the winds of grace
lift from you
the burdens
of all you possess.
Changing winds
will shift what you think you need;
expect heavy things
to precipitate out of your life.
 

   —September 18, 2017
 

Forgiveness meditation

Settle and breathe deeply. ...

Rest in the peace of God. ...

Bring to mind a person you haven't forgiven. ...

The two of you stand together.

Jesus comes and looks at the two of you
with great kindness in his eyes.

He embraces the other.
Perhaps there are words,
though likely you can't hear them.
Perhaps there are tears.
He holds them for a long time. ...

They release the embrace, look at each other
and smile. ...

Jesus turns to you
with great kindness in his eyes.
He embraces you.
Perhaps there are words.
(What might they be?)
He holds you a long time. ...

He releases you and looks at you
and smiles. ...

You look at the person you want to forgive.
What is in your heart? ...

Tell them. …

Jesus blesses you and leaves you
with your new heart.

  
                        

   —September 15, 2017

To forgive

To forgive you will pass through the sea.

You will leave much behind:
what is owed, obligations,
the heavy chains of your master anger.
Just leave them.

You will be tempted to turn back and fight
but that is the slavery you are escaping,
the lie of superior and inferior,
the cruel economy of deserving.
It is a lie. Walk away from it.

You will be afraid of being overtaken
and hurt again
but God's mystery will protect you.

Go, on foot, through the wounded sea,
your tears a wall on your left and on your right.

Take only your love with you.
You will find yourself on the far shore
unburdened, free,
in the wilderness of love,
never needing to go back.

You will do this
seven times seventy times.

September 12, 2017

Adjectives

I sit, giving my weight to the chair.
I breathe. I wait. I behold.
The tree exercises patience,
lets go a leaf, pauses,
lets go a leaf.
I can't see it
but the horizon embraces me.
The hills pass it on.
The ground abides.
Planets, too.
God unhurries, unworries.
A depth opens.
Presence wells up.
I have passed
out of the world of adjectives.
         
                        

   —September 12, 2017
 

What we carried

         The Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea,
         the waters forming a wall for them
         on their right and on their left.

                  —Exodus 14.29

No one on the Underground Railroad ever said,
“Go back, I forgot something.”
When we are free
we sit on the far shore, bewildered,
with only what we carried,
and our loves.
And we learn to do that.

The mother makes it through the desert
with nothing but her children,
and is happy.

You stand beside the burned-down house,
the washed-away neighborhood,
and mourn the cost of actually being free.
The grief is real, though the possessions are not.

Sitting there on the shore you give thanks
that though you didn't think to bring your soul,
it came along, in love for you.

Next time the fire comes, or the argument,
you'll know what to grab.
                        

   —September 11, 2017

Whatever you bind

         Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
         and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

                  —Matthew 18.18

Maybe not “whatever you do, God will agree with.”

Maybe: “whatever” means whatever sins.
The hurts you hang onto you're stuck with.
The hurts you forgive open you to divine healing.

Maybe: “whatever” means whatever relationship.
The relationship in which you stay connected,
despite conflict, is rooted in God.
The relationship you break loses its divine energy.

Maybe: “whatever” means whoever.
Whoever you oppress truly experiences oppression;
whoever you set free is truly free.

Maybe “whatever” means yourself.
You can set yourself free, or bind yourself up.
God doesn't do it; you do it to yourself.

Maybe:
live in harmony with the divine energy of liberation
and the divine energy of faithful connection.

Maybe:
let go of what God doesn't care about
and hang onto what leads you to God.
      

   —September 7, 2017

Name the hurt

         If a brother or sister sins against you,
         go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.

                  —Matthew 18.15

         
Well, don't go for “sin” or “fault:”
it's too easy, and useless, to judge.
But pay attention to “hurt.”
Defy that voice of false politeness
and the repression of the truth.
If someone hurts you,
go toward them, not away,
and name the hurt.
Neither hide nor retaliate, even politely:
simply, gently tell the truth.
Claim your part of it,
even if just to receive it,
and to give them access to their part of it.
Not to nail them, not to relieve yourself,
but because you love them.

Be prepared to listen—
to their journey, and to your own.
Think of it as opening a door
to a place neither of you have gone before,
and can't without the other.
Think of it as opening the door
to that Jesus place.

Imagine how refreshing the air would be
in a community of open, caring honesty,
without that hidden bucket of hurts
fermenting under the kitchen sink.

In the dark places where our hurts lie
is the tomb from which Christ rises, alive,
the very Christ who,
wherever two or three are gathered in his love,
is among us.

                        

   —September 6, 2017

Two or three

         “Where two or three are gathered in my name,
         I am there among them.”

                  —Matthew 18.20

Where there is relationship,
where there is love, there is Christ.
Where there's conductor and ground—
electrical flow.
Loving community is Christ,
each of us the fourth member
of the Holy Trinity.

Not “beside,” Jesus says, but among:
in the in-between-ness,
in the exchange of energy
between us,
the power of forgiveness,
the light of gratitude, honor, affection,
the death and resurrection
of giving and receiving.

Gather in that name, that mercy,
and feel the Beloved
humming between you.
 

   —September 5, 2017
 

Labor Day

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         
         Observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy
                  —Deuteronomy 5.12

Whether in Egypt or not you remember slavery,
to be a thing, replaceable,
valued according to your output,
by how you make someone else happy.
That isn't you.
You are the blossoming of God's delight,
even in your sleep.
Once in a while, stop.
Stop doing, stop proving yourself.
Lay down your bricks.
Lay down your bales of cotton.
Stop for a moment, an hour, a day,
and the slave-master's voice rises up,
doesn't it?
Defy it.
Be satisfied for someone else
to be dissatisfied with you.
Just be, without use.
Let God do the same.
Or is God just a tool, a thing?
Learn to carry this mystery with you
in every breath:
you are who you are, not what you do.
It is good now and then to stop and be,
uselessly beloved.

 

   —September 4, 2017


                        

Burning bush

         The bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.
         
Moses said, "I must turn aside and look at this great sight,
         and see why the bush is not burned up."
                  —Exodus 3.2

It is possible to see the wonder and not turn aside,
both the bush and the flame enduring,
beauty and pain together,
divine glory and suffering,
the young man shot, the girl deported,
the flooded victims, the poor beset again,
a cross, burning but not consumed.
It is possible to see yet go on as you were.

What awakens you—
the bush, the flame, or its persistence,
the splendor, the grief or their marriage—
is enough.
It is not for your faith or inspiration.
No, not for you at all.
There is work to do and your help is needed:
to set people free,
to abandon your placid security,
let the bush burn in your eyes and heart
until you stand before Pharaoh with the hard news.
Wonder and anguish will haunt you,
justice and hope enflame you.
You yourself will blaze, and yet not be consumed.

Still, it is possible
to see the wonder and not turn aside.
 

 

    —September 1, 2017
 

I take up my cross

         “Take up your cross and follow me.”
                  —Matthew 16.24

The cross is not an annoyance,
not a burden thrust on me,
but willingly entering
the suffering of the world.
Jesus, help me.

I behold your love,
overflowing from your cross,
love piercing my suffering,
your love buried in my death.

Your love overflows in me for others,
to suffer in care, in forgiveness, in blessing,
to be for them even when they are against me.

Give me courage, strength and endurance
to listen, receive, accept and bless
despite all whips and nails.

To associate with the lowly,
to weep or rejoice with them,
to overcome evil with good.

To cry to Pharaoh,
bold, firm and vulnerable,
to let my people go.

Letting go of fears and desires,
I take up my cross
and follow you, close.

It is your cross.
You are here with me.
This is where I want to be, close to you.

And ah! amazing grace:
you carry all the weight.
It is your hands they pierce,
your death I bear,
and your rising.

August 31, 2017
 

Flood

         When you pass through the waters,
                  I will be with you;
         and through the rivers,
                  they shall not overwhelm you
         For I am the Holy One your God,
                  and I love you.

                           —Isaiah 43.2,4

In the flood that is this life
some waters will sweep your home away
and others stop at your doorstep.
There is no choosing, no deserving
in their rising or receding.
On any given day one of us is picnicking,
another swimming for our lives.
For all of us some day waters will rise,
and with them,
beside us in the water a reaching out,
above the swirling flood a reaching out.
So many reaching out.
This is what we have to stand on.




                           —August 30, 2017
 

While you were sleeping

While you were sleeping
the ocean was moving inside you.
Rivers were making their long journeys.
Couriers walked through the darkness
knowing the way, finding places.

In the morning when you sit to pray
your prayers return to you
from their unseen journeys.
By the time you say them
they are tired.
They have done good work.
Let them rest
on a soft bed of silence.



                           —August 29, 2017

Child of God

I am a child of God,
         God's beloved, in whom God is pleased.
I dwell in the arms of God.

You are a child of God,
         God's beloved, in whom God is pleased.
You dwell in the arms of God.

We all are children of God,
         God's beloved, in whom God is pleased.
We all dwell in the arms of God.

 


                                                           ―August 28, 2017

Who do you say I am?

         “Who do you say I am?”
                  —Matthew 16.15

You are the Beloved,
you are my bread and wine,
my peanut butter and jelly, my chocolate.
You are my teacher, my rescuer,
lover of heaven, light of my way.
You are God's selfie,
and my best mirror.
You are the One in whom I meet my many,
the world's many, all of us one.
You are my breathing coach,
my soul's midwife,
the reaching out in me,
lover that lights my love,
comedian in my tragedies,
pitcher my hope pours from.
You are the hole through which
God springs out of my life.
You are the one who knows,
and who never makes fun of me.
Trickster, host and scout,
you hide in every low place,
find the question in everything
show me the holy in everything.
When I burrow into my ruin
you are the one I met there,
preparing a table.
You laugh at my sin, hold my despair,
sleep in my boat, stand on my forgiveness,
walk my way, die my death.
You are my next life, germinating in me.
On my cross, in my grave you wait for me.
You are my resurrection.
And so you are for the whole aching world,
for this holy, spinning universe,
that sings in harmony for you
our thanks to God.



                                                          ―August 25, 2017

The ear and the voice

         Do not be conformed to this world,
                  but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,
         so that you may discern what is the will of God—
                  what is good and acceptable and perfect.

                           —Romans 12.2

Society presses upon you to copy
dress and manner, thought and value,
what will anger or attract you.
Ignore it. It's fear whining for company.
It's a shield against celestial radiation.
Tune out the market's frantic clatter.
Be changed by a new way of thinking:
not thinking: an opened awareness,
a mind of wonder and gratitude
and the strangeness of being loved.
Conform to nothing but the grace of God.
Each moment the Mysterious Blessing
dawns in you, allows a newness,
sings a song their ears can't hear.
Let the Great Love in you make harmony.
The tune is already there,
the ear and the voice.
Let it meld in perfect harmony.
Passersby will hear songs from your door,
from the woods rises music
that's lovely, good and beautiful,
the delight of God.
 

                           —August 24, 2017