Receiving you

            “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
            we wailed, and you did not mourn.”

                           —Matthew 11.17

            A sower went out to sow,
            and some seeds fell on the path...

                        —Mathew 13.3

Not my own song,
insistent in my head,
but yours
may I hear,
and harmonize.

Not my purposes
for which I've already laid out a path,
but your fruit
flourishing in me
may I receive
and let root.

You are singing.
You are sowing.

Help me listen.
Help me receive.

+

Breath prayer: Receiving … you

+
         
                           —July 10, 2017
 

Wave

The weather was changing. It was a regular day, neither ominous nor auspicious. He was playing in the surf, not far from his family lazily oblivious up on the sand. A good-sized wave of green, jovial as the others, reared above him. He tried floating over it but miscalculated: he was ahead of it, and it was closer to breaking than he thought. It lifted him up like a playful grandfather raising a child to his shoulder, then pitched him down into an explosion of foam.

An ocean's wave is not a child's wave. In the chaos and tumble of the spillout you have no control; there is no up or down. A roiling mass of seawater digests you until it is done. All you can do is wait.
 

This was not a huge wave; he'd been tossed by bigger ones than this. But it had its way with him for a few seconds. He thought of himself in that seething froth of water, a living being hidden in the chaos, a body not water. He was alive. And then it occurred to him─and he knew it was an odd thought─ that he could drown. He knew he was overreacting. But for one second something in him imagined he was near death, and he became desperate for air, for control, for time, for life. Something in him pulled at the sky, though he didn't know where it was─and reached for earth, though that was lost to him, too. His helplessness infuriated him, then saddened him, then intrigued him.

Powerless over the force of the water jumbling him about, he was aware of an even greater force within him, also not under his power, reaching out for life. It was not his will; it was given. And unmistakably there was yet another force, another grasping, another desire, pulling at him, a yearning not his own, a mind that was in yet beyond the water, that came from wherever the sea comes from, reaching for him as if finally able to get at him here in this cataract. Never had he so deeply wanted life, or suspected that life so deeply wanted him. The two yearnings tugged at each other under the roiling water. Something like trust blossomed. He was amazed to feel an awe, a reverence for those clasped hands, that twinned yearning, and a desire for it even more than for air. He waited. The wave spit him up like Jonah.

He found himself rocked like a newborn in swirling seawater, washed. He almost wanted to go back, to go under, to go deeper, overwhelmed again, and touch that yearning. But all he could do was wait. In the water wasn't where it would be now. It would be in him, as it always had been. It would be up there on the beach, back in the city, silently swirling in his days, the falling and rising, his reaching and the reaching for him through the chaos, under the unseen waves. He wouldn't be able to explain it; that was another mastery he would not be given. It would have to change him. He would have to become innocent all over again, and again and again.

He wanted joy, he wanted sadness, he wanted it all. He walked up the sand. The weather was changing.



                           —July 7, 2017

"Save me!" - a conversation

God, you love me purely, but I don't trust that.
I've been brainwashed by self-centered fear.
It's an instinct, a reflex, an addiction. I can't stop it.
It has taken over me. I'm not even in control.
I believe the right things, but I don't live them.
I don't do the good I mean to, I do the evil I hate.
I'm not even choosing; my fear is.
I'm on the right side in good versus evil,
but I keep scoring for the other team!
In my mind I think I'm faithful to your love,
but in reality I'm being controlled by my sin.
I've been kidnapped. My heart has been hijacked.
I can't get out of this. Trying harder doesn't work.
I'm trapped. I'm doomed.
What a wretched person I am! Who will rescue me?

         Come to me.
         You are weary and heavily burdened.
         I will give you rest.
         Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
         for I am gentle and humble in spirit,
         and you will find rest for your souls.
         For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Thanks be to God, through the Beloved, Jesus Christ.

            •
I admit I am powerless over my sin
            and my life has become unmanageable.
I believe a power greater than myself
            can restore me to wholeness.
I choose to turn my will and my life over to the care of God
            as I experience God.

            •
God, it is not my goodness,
but your goodness in me
that saves me.

            •
Breath prayer: Not my goodness … but yours

            +

[Romans 7.14-25; Matthew 11.28-30; The 12 Steps of AA]
         



                           —July 6, 2017
 

Come to me

The Word at the center of our faith
is no secret knowledge,
no law or demand
that sets the righteous apart from the reprobate.
It is an invitation:
         “Come to me,
         you who are weary and heavily burdened,
         and I will give you rest.
         Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
         for I am gentle and humble in spirit,
         and you will find rest for your souls.
         For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The giver of all life speaks to you,
one in whose presence your soul is at rest.

You are given rest
whether you feel it or not.
Set down your burdens.
Follow the voice.
This is faith, not that you believe,
but that you come.
Be with the One who Wants You.

Give in.
And if it seems too vain a hope
that there is actually anybody there,
just live as if it were true.
Try on the yoke of love,
and know that you are yoked.
Bear the burden of light,
and know it doesn't come from you.
Watch for the One who learns beside you.
Seek whatever presence in the world
might say such words as these,
and you will meet the one who does.

[Matthew 11.28-30]

                           —July 5, 2017
 

Dependence Day

God, I confess my idolatry:
the illusion of independence.         
On this day I declare my dependence.
I am free. I am capable, and responsible;
but I am dependent.

I am dependent on generations, on neighbors,
on peoples I can't know, in many lands,
on nations and their peace,
on the earth and its fruits, its bees,
its invisible currents.
I am utterly dependent on you,
your grace, your guidance, your sustenance.

I am not independent, even of my enemies.
May I be mindful of my oneness
with all my human family,
with this whole umbilical Creation,
with you, who are my only freedom,
my life and my being.

         
                           —July 4, 2017

Aprayer of examen for our national holiday

            [Trust that you are not alone as we pray]



We call to mind all that is good in our nation,
all that is in harmony with your grace.
We give you thanks for the gifts you give us,
celebrate the work of your spirit,
and open ourselves to your desire.

            •

We call to mind all that is hurtful in our nation,
that is out of harmony with your grace.
We share in the cries of the hurting,
repent of our complicity in injustice,
and open ourselves to your desire.

            •

We thank you for all who share in prayer for our nation,
and who share in your spirit of justice and mercy.
Your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
May the Empire of your Love
overthrow our human powers and dominions.
May we be faithful citizens of your Realm of Grace.
Amen.


                           —July 3, 2017

 

A cup of water

            Whoever gives even a cup of cold water
            to one of these little ones
            in the name of a disciple
            —truly I tell you—will not lose their reward.”

                        —Matthew 10.42



The Holy One will come to you today
little and weak
and in need.

You will recognize them at first
by your fear and antipathy
and only then see their need

and remember that spring
gushing up in you
to eternal life.


                           —June 29, 2017

 

Romans 6.12-23, my version

Watch out for the power of your ego and its fearful demands. Any aspect of yourself can be an instrument of your distrustful instinct for self-protection. Don't let yourself be used like that. Make yourself available to God as those who have been brought from death to life. Make every aspect of yourself available to God as an instrument of justice. Selfish desire will have no power over you. You don't have to be good enough for God. You're already beloved.

So does that mean you can do whatever you want because God will love you? Well, no. You see, in reality you are not as free as you think: you are being played— either by your selfish distrust, which is a kind of death, or by God in you, which leads to a beautiful life. Be grateful to God! You used to be controlled by your selfish fear, but now you have been trained in a new way: you have been set free from fearful self-protection and have learned to be guided by your relationship with God.

I'm using these metaphors because of our natural human limitations. In the old way of living any aspect yourself would be a tool in the hands of your sin—your deepening fear, separation and inauthenticity. But now every aspect of your life is available to God as an instrument of justice and healing, willing to be continually perfected. When you are a tool of your distrust you are free all right: free from being controlled by God. Well, what good is it to feel free to do things that make you ashamed? That's just a kind of death. But you are free from your ego: you are an instrument of God, and that's how we become holy and perfect in love. That's how we experience life that is infinite. Trying to earn God's approval just earns us death, but trusting God we receive infinite life as a free gift. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Beloved.

+

God, make me an instrument of your peace.

+

        

Abraham's questions

            Abraham went and took the ram
            and offered it up as a burnt offering
            instead of his son.

                           —Genesis 22.13

 

            1. Letting go

God promises Abraham offspring, waits till he's 100 years old to finally give him one son, then asks him to sacrifice that son. That's a pretty big ask. We need to face the question Abraham did: What do you want more: God, or the things you want from God? Even if those things are very good, they're not God. What are the blessings you hang onto tighter than you hang onto God? Can you let go? Will you?

                        ...”You can have all the world, give me Jesus...”

            2. Trusting

God is personified in this story. God doesn't really make specific “promises” of certain delayed outcomes (like having offspring—or being married or surviving disease...) then “keep” them. God also doesn't ask us to do one thing, planning all along to have us do something else. God is love, and love doesn't make deals or play tricks. God does not withhold blessings, though it often takes them time to unfold, and it takes us time to see them. Like the sun “promises” to shine by always shining, God “promises” to care for us and provide for us by always doing so. Do you trust that? Will you trust that even at the risk of losing a great deal?

                        ...”There's no better way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey..”

            3. Changing
 

A God who asks Abraham to kill his own son just to show his loyalty sounds like a really sick Mob boss. But when this story first arose, maybe 3500 years ago, child sacrifice was quite common. “Abraham” isn't an individual; he's the community. This is the story of how the ancient Hebrews outgrew child sacrifice. God never did want them to sacrifice children, but it took a long time for them to see that and find a better way: just sacrifice animals, not people. This is a story about how religion changes. How has God changed your religion? How might it still be changing?

                        … “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me...”


                                        —June 27, 2017

Drink deeply

Drink deeply of this life, my friend.
Don't sip to make it last
in fear of running out.
The waiter keeps coming by,
refilling our glasses.
Drink deeply of who you are,
the magnificent happening of you.
Drain the glass.
Take big swigs of this day,
swish it around in your mouth a little,
even the hard or boring parts,
you are alive, and it's good.
Each moment drink it in.
Drink deeply of the grace God gives you,
the blessing, the presence, the love,
refilling your glass before it's half empty.
Taste it. Savor it. Have some more.
Even if you do it as a game,
to make the waiter reappear again and again,
drink it in.
Look at you, filing yourself up
with God.



                           —June 26, 2017

With God

            Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
            Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
            without God.

                           —Matthew 10.29

God does not go around pulling birds out of the air.
God is not a guy sitting at a control panel.
God does not “plan” your victory or defeat,
cancer, your accident, the moment of your death.
Things do not happen “for a reason.”
Stuff happens. Birds are free.
So are germs, and hurricanes, and idiots.

Love is God,
the pure energy of being, setting us free,
with us in every moment and movement of our freedom.

Jesus didn't say
sparrows don't fall without a plan,
he said they don't fall without God.

God's plan is not a mechanical routine.
God's plan is that you are free,
and that you thrive and love.
God's plan is that whatever happens
God is with you with love and grace.

Stop trying to figure out God's plan
and pay attention to God's presence.

After all that's what you want:
not luck
but to be with God.



                           —June 23, 2017

Hagar

            So Abraham rose early in the morning,
            and took bread and a skin of water,
            and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder,
            along with her child, and sent her away.
            And she departed, and wandered about
            in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

                           —Genesis 21.14

Name her.
Hagar, the outcast,
rejected by your own ego,
victim of your own lust and fear,
consequence of your many mistakes,
sent away by your guilt.

In the wilderness of your heart she wanders.

But listen:
God will care for her, rescue her,
feed her child, who will thrive.
God is with her.

Who is she,
wandering in the wilderness of your heart?

                           •

Who is she, abandoned
in the Beer-Sheba of our cities,
despairing under the tree of our headlines?
Who is she whom we choose to be our Hagar,
our outcast, she who is made invisible,
she whom we thought we could do away with,
could make foreign, make strange,
turn into an other,
but who is truly ours?

                           •

How do we take her back?
Where do we find that land
big enough for us both?
How are we healed of our own cruelty,
sending her, of our own heart,
away, always away?
Where do we find those open arms
that await us,
that teach us to open our arms?



                           —June 22, 2017

Solstice

In the Northern Hemisphere
it's the longest day,
though the heat of summer
won't peak for a couple months.
Consequences are usually delayed.
Insight always trails after revelation.

In the Southern Hemisphere
it's the longest night,
which is always a promise
that the light is coming back.
Everything has bounds.
Darkness opens itself to the light.

In both hemispheres
it's good to remember,
easy to forget:
no season is forever.
Yours isn't the only reality.
Each moment, and the whole life you live
is part of something greater.


___________________
Weather Report

Solstice.
Be where you are;
you won't be for long.





                           —June 21, 2017

Drown

            We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death,
            so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God,
            so we too might walk in newness of life.

                           —Romans 6.4


The rain stopped long ago; skies are blue.
But on the morning path the breeze
shakes down showers
the trees have been holding onto.
I will gladly drown in this blessing.

            •

Awakening this morning in bed,
as my conscious mind opened up
it filled with what day this is, who I am,
what I intend and fear.
As I sit in prayer I let it all drain out again,
to be mindful of God instead.

            •

In my morning shower I rinse off
lots of stuff that's not really me.

            •

My work today is to drown in God,
to return to that blessed death
I have touched at times,
to remember my baptism and be glad
that I have passed away
and there is only God remaining,
and live in that newness.

            •


___________________
Weather Report

Floods,
which hopefully will sweep you away,
your life a mess of mud and grace,
as you find yourself in a new place.


                           —June 20, 2017

 

Sparrow

            Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
            Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
            apart from God.

                           —Matthew 10.29

Little one, most ordinary,
without bright plumage
or heroic migration or beautiful song,
I see you. I delight in you.
The sky you fly through is my heart.
The ground you pick at is my hand.
The seed you savor is my flesh and blood.
I love you not for your appurtenances,
but for your soul.
I know you from inside:
I am the Love that draws you into being,
and you are my love,
flown around the sky to return to me.
I have chosen to appear
as a sparrow among sparrows.
Yes, there are others. I am in them also.
With a sparrow's eye for detail
I know you. I go with you.
You will fly, and you will fall.
But you do not fly or fall apart from me.
Your flying and your falling is mine.
It is I.
Go, little one. In every moment
it is I.

        

                           —June 19, 2017

While we were sinners

         Look at God's love for us:
         while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
                  —Romans 5.8

Jesus didn't go get himself killed
so he'd be punished for our sin instead of us.
Our sin is our inability to trust God.
In our distrust we try to make and keep life for ourselves,
and hurt others in the process.
In love God is willing to stand in the path of our violence
with forgiveness.
God's love changes us, setting us free
from our distrust and violence.
Jesus embodies that love, even though we kill him,
offering it before we're willing to accept it.

Let God love you.
Forget all notions of your deserving.
Just allow yourself to be God's Beloved:
a sinner, yes, but beloved. Deeply loved.
That's all you need.
Let yourself be loved,
and let the love take over.

 


―June 16, 2017

Apostle

         Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples
         and gave them authority over unclean spirits,
         to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.

         … These twelve he sent out....
                  —Matthew 10.1

                  The word apostle means “sent.”


We are not given a mandate to judge
or an obligation to convert.
We are not required to argue religion.
We are given power to heal.

We need not muster up the strength.
We are given authority.
Christ is in us to heal.

May I be a healer today;
may I set free those who are bound
by spirits that diminish life.
May I cast out fear with love,
cast out greed with wisdom,
cast out anxiety with calm,
cast out anger and bitterness with deep listening,
cast out hate with forgiveness.

May I bear your spirit of peace,
the authority of blessing,
the power of love.
May I be a healer today.

 


―June 15, 2017

On turnng sixty-four

            Will you still need me, will you still feed me
            when I'm sixty-four?
                        —The Beatles   

God, thank you for another year of this life:
for the journey, the continual unfolding;
for your unfailing companionship in every step;
for the Spirit that leads me on,
and the flesh that bears me as it can;
for wisdom that grows;
for love that endures;
for the long adventure of letting go;
for who you have enabled me to be,
and for who I am becoming.
I pray for the coming year,
that I will be more deeply present,
more gratefully trusting,
more fully willing to be led.
Grant me another year of wonder.
As a birthday present for you,
born anew in me each day,
I give you myself,
to enjoy and use according to your delight.
  


                           —June 14, 2017

Harvest

            The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
            therefore ask the overseer of the harvest
            to send out laborers into the harvest.

                           —Matthew 9.37-38


Maybe the harvest is not bringing people to Christ
but gathering the fruits of the Spirit
God has sown in you
for the sake of the world.

Maybe it's not an act of taking,
but receiving.

The harvest is plentiful
but few are the people who have gathered,
who have received the gifts, the grace,
the love growing in your heart,
and feasted on those fruits
to be strengthened to go out
and heal the wounded,
and be good news for the broken of the world.

The field stretches to the horizon.
There are more trees in this orchard
than stars in heaven.

What grace have you not yet harvested?
Go into that good harvest.
Here is a basket for your labors. Go.



                           —June 13, 2017