Feed them

         The disciples came to him and said,
         “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late;
         send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages
         and buy food for themselves.”
         Jesus said to them, “They need not go away;
         you give them something to eat.”

                  —Matthew 14.15-16

You want to send them away,
the moment's multitudes,
demands that throng,
the insurmountable.
You do—don't you sometimes?—
want to send them away.

You want to send away the crowds, the others
whom you can—can't you?—ignore.
But you are to feed them.
You are here for their sake.

Where does that voice come from
that says, “Hopeless,”
that says, “The vault of God is empty?”
It is not from the Beloved.

The universe branches out in you.
Unseen as the salt of the ocean, the heat of the day,
the power of God looms inside the air before you,
abides in your seemingly empty hands.
Open them.
You can channel the abundance of God.

You are a door.
You can trust, though you can hardly imagine,
what lies behind you.

Weather Report

as your own narrows
give way to the broad sky of grace.

                                     ―August 2, 2017

Don't let go- yet

          Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
          When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob,
          he struck him on the hip socket;
          and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.
          Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”
           Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”

                  —Genesis 32.24-26

The pain, the problem, the struggle,
the wound, the weakness, the “disability”—
don't let it go until you have found the blessing.

The thing you hate:
your hate is a way of hanging on—
because it still has something for you,
a new birth it is trying to give you.

The angel is usually not out there,
but within.
(Remember you're not wrestling with tragedy,
you're wrestling with God.
Though every loss is a lesson,
God does not assign pedagogical tragedy.)
The awful event, the terrible loss,
the insult or injustice you've suffered,
is not likely a blessing,
but there is one there.
Watch how you resist it,
and learn instead.
Don't seek the fight; seek the blessing.
You can't forget, move on, grow up,
you can't get wise
until you have sought and gotten the blessing.

In that moment your suffering will re-name you
and walk away.

Let the crowd's hunger be an opening for grace
and the loaves and fish will multiply.

Don't let go
till you get the blessing.

                                                ―August 1, 2017

Nothing can separate us

         In all things we are more than conquerors
         through the one who loved us.
         For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
         nor angels, nor rulers,
         nor things present, nor things to come,
         nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
         will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

                  —Romans 8.37-39

Nothing, not your pain, nor your not knowing,
not this struggle and its cruel unending,
nor your most obstinate unbelief,
nor your sin, even the most wretched evil,
can separate you from God's love.

In the beginning was the Word, the Big Bang,
and the word was God's love,
and nothing in the universe
exists apart from that.

At the core of your earth is a molten fire,
and it will never be separated from the earth.

                           —July 27, 2017


I am the wick
         You are the flame

I am the silence
         You are the presence

I am the space
         You are the stillness

I do not know how to pray as I ought
         But I hold still
         and you pray in me.

I am the seen
         You are the rest

[Romans 8.26]


—July 28, 2017


Oh, traveler,
the treasure is not far away.
Oh, merchant,
the pearl is in your pocket.
How much of your life is attic junk?
Escape the trinkets that have been hoarding you.
What you can hold isn't worth grasping.
What you can possess won't last beyond the sale.
Don't seek what you don't already have.
Don't covet what can be taken from you.
What you can't hold in a breath
isn't worth it.
Breathe in.
Sell all your treasures for that.
Once you've seen it shine,
it will surprise you what you'll let go of for it.
Throw your arms around this world.
Buy the field of this whole grand life,
its weeds and rocks, its pains and mysteries,
all of yourself.
Look! Right now,
you are rich beyond belief.


[Matthew 13.44-46]

                                                    —July 26, 2017


         The realm of heaven is like yeast
         that a woman took and mixed in
         with three bushels of flour
         until all of it was leavened.

                  —Matthew 13.33

In this moment
light is hidden.
In the person before me
even as words rise from bed
and look for their clothes
already an ancient blessing abides,
a story of grace seeks its form.
In every suffering,
infected with light,
a dawn unfolds,
a great flowing forth.
Even the greatest injustice
is leavened with grace.
The things of this world are brittle,
but light is always becoming.
Its beginning was before the mind
and there is no end to it.

                           —July 25, 2017


A bird disappears into a forest
and a song emerges, unseen.
Worms work their alchemy
in darkness beyond me.
Laborers tend shops and flowers

in the city of me.
I don't know their names.
The city thrives.
Music rises from its streets.

I open the doors of myself
to the blackness within
and You enter to pray.

[Romans 8.26]

                           —July 24, 2017

Weeds among the wheat

         Let the weeds and wheat grow together
         until the harvest.

                  —Matthew 13.30

Your difficulties belong.
What angers and seduces you,
what pains you or confounds you,
are pages of the book.
They are your teachers.
They are the rough desert
where your savior abides.

The story of grace
has many chapters,
and much suspense.
Read the whole book,
every page,
and keep in your heart
the gift of hope:
knowing there is wheat
among the weeds
the Faithful One
knows how to harvest,
knowing the story
isn't over yet.

                           —July 21, 2017

Child of God

         We are children of God.
         We have received a spirit of adoption.
         All of
creation has been groaning in labor pains
         and we ourselves groan inwardly while we wait for adoption,
         the redemption of our bodies.

                  —Romans 8.15, 22-23

How wonderful of Paul to mash up these metaphors,
that we groan inwardly in giving birth,
and we are also ourselves natural born children of God,
and also that we await adoption as children,
and we have already received adoption:
natural issue of God, chosen by God,
like God giving birth, and newborn:
starting new, being changed,
and belonging in ways that can't be changed.
All of that.
Children of God.

This is what everyone's groans are.
This is what everyone you meet
is dying to know.
Treat them so.


                                                         ―July 20, 2017


The sun processes up the aisle
carrying the Gospel.
Birds speak of the other world
in their own Latin.

A child looks up at me
with those two big brown universes.

A voice stands up in me
that knows how to do this.

What is this, even in my sleep,
but you, touching your lips to mine?

                           —July 19, 2017


         A sower went out to sow. 
         Some seeds fell on the path...
         other seeds fell on rocky ground...
         other seeds fell among thorns...
                  —from Matthew 13.1-9

The candle doesn't trouble itself
with the journey of light.
The bird doesn't care who hears.

Beloved, you waste many seeds.
You offer kindness unnoticed.
You try seventy times to forgive, and fail,
and those you forgive don't repent.
You love the undeserving and unappreciative.
You try and try to get close to me,
yet feel no closer.
Your prayers fall on rocky ground.

My child, how much of my grace,
do you suppose, falls among thorns?

Beloved, it is the mystery of your faith
that you can not know
the life of the seeds you sow,
how far away, how much later,
in whose unseen heart
your love bears fruit,
thirty, sixty, a hundred fold.

Do not measure; do not judge.
Sow light. Sow light.

                           —July 14, 2017

Move in me

God of my breath,
may the leaves of your trees
in their billions
open in me.

The waves of the sea
eternally bowing in prayer
move in me.

The cry of the hawk
echoing in the canyon
resound in me.

The blessing rain
coming down like tears, like hair,
like a mother's milk,
come down in me.

Your love, billowing like clouds,
flowing like a stream,
breathing like prairie air,
open in me this day,
move in me this day,
resound in me this day,
bless in me this day.


                           —July 13, 2017

Sower God

         A sower went out to sow...
                  —Matthew 13.3

Sower God, what hard-worn paths of habit,
what packed-down roads drivennness
have I trod out across my life,
ruts that do not receive your seed?
Soften them.

What birds of desire
snatch up your seed
before it roots in me?
Calm them.

What shallow, rocky soil lies in my heart,
what refusal to open my depths and surrender?
Loosen me.

What thorns of bitterness choke your grace?
Let them wither, all of them.

And where is your lovely soil in me—
humble, human hummus—
thick with holy rot and death,
rich with all that has failed and fallen,
crawling with the secret worms of grace
that give life in the dark earth of me?

Find those places,
fall upon me,
sink in,
and flourish.

                                 ―July 12, 2017

Flesh and Spirit: Romans 8.1-11

OK, a little straight-out theology. God is Love. God is Mother, Heavenly Lover, source of all Being: “Father.” God's love is infinite and eternal. When God's love exists as pure energy we call it “Spirit.” When God's love is embodied, made finite and mortal, we call it “Christ.” (Remember energy and matter are interchangeable. E=mc2.) Christ is not an individual but all of God's embodied love, which is all of Creation: it's all God's embodiment of love, God's energy appearing as matter, Word made flesh.

Jesus fully embodied the Christ of God. He was not just Jesus of Nazareth, he was Jesus of Christ. He was Christ appearing as Jesus. We too are finite instances of the infinite love of God, just as Jesus was. God's spirit, which we see in him, is in all of us.

We don't naturally trust that. We succumb to the illusion that our “self” is this little individual enclosed in our physical body (Paul says “the flesh”). We are not so limited: we are actually part of God, members of the cosmos, instances of the embodiment of God's eternal and infinite love. Our “self” is actually part of Christ. We are the Body of Christ, and individually members of it.

Our ego is pretty sure we have to protect our little self and prove we deserve for God to approve of us, and earn our place in the world. (This is “sin.”) Our ego sees righteousness as being right, being good enough. But we are part of God; there is no such thing as being “good enough” or not. God gives us the righteousness of belonging to God. This grace sets us free from the hopeless, never-ending battle of trying to be good enough. We can let God's goodness be our goodness: our goodness is our Godness. In this way God gives us “righteousness” that we can't achieve on our own.

Christ appearing as Jesus comes to show us this. Christ Jesus occupies our sin: Christ occupies our distrust and alienation from God, and endures our judgment and suffering. In occupying our sin, God does not condemn us, but condemns and disarms our sin: God overcomes our distance from God by becoming the gap between us. Even though Jesus becomes our sin God still loves him, not because he is “good enough,” but because God is love, and because Jesus is God's.

Christ Jesus occupies our whole life, even our death. And God raises Jesus from the dead because the eternal Spirit that is God is in him. And that same Spirit that was in Jesus is in us. Since God's spirit is in us, that spirit also gives life to us and even raises us from the dead just like Jesus.

So: we let go of our little doomed flesh-contained “selves” (“deny yourselves”) and live in the Spirit, as part of the whole infinite Christ of God. We live “in Christ.” To set our minds on the flesh is to enslave ourselves to the survival of our egos, and restrict ourselves to the puny power of our fears and desires. This will always kill us. But to live in the Spirit is to allow God's infinite power to live in us and give us life that is eternal. God's power becomes our power. It's the power to love as Jesus loved. It changes our lives, which changes the world.

This is what I have in mind when I read Romans 8.1-11:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending God's own Beloved in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, God condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to God. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, God who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through God's Spirit that dwells in you.

                           —July 11, 2017

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


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