Don't fret because of the wicked

         Do not fret because of the wicked;
                  do not be envious of wrongdoers.
         Commit your way to the Holy One;
                  trust in God, and God will act.

                                    —Psalm 37.1, 5

Beware the temptation to outdo an evil one,
to beat the wicked at their own game.

The saint does not resist the devil
by becoming a more devout devil.

(You only think you envy the wrongdoer;
like them you think they're getting away with it.

You can't see the frightful abyss within,
the hell they are fighting to escape.)

Your compass is set to a different star.
Don't let them turn you.

Set your heart on compassion,
even facing a wrongdoer:

it will make whatever game they are playing
a different game.

Let the Crucified one play your character;
it will change the meaning of the play.

You needn't pimp up the power of God.
Trust love to do what you cannot.

   —February 20, 2019


Kind to the wicked

         Love your enemies, do good,
         and lend, expecting nothing in return.
         Your reward will be great,
         and you will be children of the Most High;
         for God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
         Be merciful, just as God is merciful.

                                    —Luke 6.35-36

God is pure kindness.
No anger, no hate,
no retribution.
No petulant need
to be proven right.
No need to be mean
to those who are mean.
God is no mere guy
who knows how to be nice
and how to be cruel—
no, God is the power of love itself,
the life-giving force
of pure kindness and mercy.

Be grateful that God is so kind to us,
who are ungrateful.

How strong our urge to dilute love
with something else.
What an affront to our judgment,
this infinite, unalloyed mercy!
The immensity of God's kindness
destroys our tiny ideas
of right and wrong (mostly wrong),
this love so generous to the ungrateful.

Repeat this daily,
breathe continually this mystery:
God is kind to the wicked,
kind to the wicked,
kind to the wicked.

   —February 19, 2019


Love my enemies

          I say to you that listen,
Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you.

                   —Luke 6.27-28

God of love,
I call to mind my enemies.
         I summon up your love for them and offer it humbly.

I call to mind those who are hurtful.
         I pray for them, that their hearts may be healed,
         for only wounded people wound others.
I call to mind those who abuse me or oppose me.
         I pray for them, that they may know your blessing.

I call to mind those who do what I see as evil.
         I pray for them, that their hearts may be brought back to life.
May I remember always the mystery
         that my enemy and I are one; for all are one in you.
         When I split myself from them
         I am no different than when they split themselves
         from those they reject or condemn.
         In our condemning we betray our oneness;
         we wound our own humanity.

Therefore even as I oppose them,
         may I remember their wound, and honor our oneness.
May I see them, even those who are cruel,
         as your beloved children.

Even as I must oppose people for the sake of justice,
         may I stand against their injustice, but not against them;
         may I stand beside them in your love,
         even as I struggle to love them.

I pray grateful and trusting that even when I fail
         you do not curse me, but love me and bless me.

By your spirit in me, help me, O God,
         to love kindly, to do justice, to walk humbly with you,
         in the spirit and company of Jesus.
Amen.


―February 18, 2019



Pure gift

         Blessed are you who are poor,
         for yours is the kingdom of God.

                  —Luke 6.21

It's not that it's great to be poor.
Or hungry or mourning.

But that blessing comes from God,
not from wealth or satisfaction or happiness.

Not that those who are at ease now
will be punished later,

but that ease is not life,
and if that's what you seek,

sooner or later you will mourn what you missed.
So don't miss it.

God, turn my heart like a magnet
toward the love that endures

all poverty, grief and powerlessness,
the life that is pure gift. Pure gift.

   —February 12, 2019


They are not patient

         They are like trees planted by streams of water,
         which yield their fruit in its season,
         and their leaves do not wither.

                  —Psalm 1.3

Snow piles its dreams against the trees,
ice lays its hand over the river
and puts it to sleep,
the teeth of the air bite and hold.
Silence sinks, penetrates—
or does it grow outward,
blossoming, engulfing the woods?
The lovely stillness.
Trees are deep in meditation.
Unseen, their roots know things,
feel without movement, rest without vision.

They are not patient,
they are not waiting,
they have no mind of another time but this.
They are simply being.
Even the furled buds
are not planning, only receiving.

There are seasons whose leaves are stillness,
whose fruit is silence.
Let the moment lock you in its ice.

   —February 11, 2019


Release your light

You walk this earth with light in you.
In all compassion it radiates.
In humility it shines,
in wounds and weakness it leaks out.

The darkness in you
also leaks out, like a smell.
When you die the darkness
collapses on itself.

Full of light, when you die
great light is released into the world.
This is your calling,
to release your light.

   —February 6, 2019


Luke 5.1-11: A meditation

Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret,
and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God.
        
 Is there a hunger in you that presses to hear the word of life?
         Give it permission. Let it move you.

He saw two boats there at the shore of the lake.
He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
and asked him to put out a little way from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
         How might God be asking to make use of your life?
         In all your challenges, give thanks
         that the Beloved is in the boat with you.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”
         Do you hear God inviting you to go deeper?
         Where are those deep waters?

Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long
but have caught nothing.
         Where do you experience discouragement, weariness, emptiness?
         Imagine Jesus there. Imagine grace hidden there.

Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”

         Have you ever done anything purely because God asked you to?
         Are you willing to?
         What might God be asking to you do?

When they had done this,
they caught a great many fish.
         Imagine that you were to receive what you long for.
         Imagine it is already there, beneath your vision.

They caught so many fish their nets were beginning to break.
         Are there ways your success weighs you down?
         Do your possessions swamp you?

So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them.
         You are not in this alone.
         Who is with you?

And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.

         God's overabundant grace can ruin your old life.
         Let it be so.

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying,
“Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
         Do the abundant riches of God's grace leave you feeling unworthy?
         Get up.
         Do you sense the gap between God's grace and your living?
         Rather than reject the grace, conform to it.
         
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching people.”
         This is not your work, but the work of God in you.
         You are not the fisher; you are the bait.
         Imagine what God can do through you.

When they had brought their boats to shore,
they left everything and followed him.
         What do you need to let go of?
         Remember you are not being sent off;
         you are being invited to follow, to stay close.

   —February 5, 2019


The bird comes close

The bird comes close
and dodges
near and away
around the morsel
of silence
in the palm of a still hand.
It will take time
for the bird to come close,
time for the bird
to take the morsel
it's hungry for.

It requires
for a long time
wanting
nothing else.


I am grateful
you hold so still.

   —February 4, 2019

Only to love

         ...the greatest of these is love.
                  —1 Corinthians 13.13

Beloved,
I am a vessel of your Spirit.
Empty me of all but your love.
May your tender self-giving
flood my soul, wash away my fear
and embolden my heart.
May my whole life flow with your love,
humble and powerful, gentle and strong.
Each moment may I seek to serve and to bless,
to heal and to set free all whom I meet.
May this be my only work,
my strongest desire:
not to be right, not to be safe,
not to be approved, but to love,
especially with those with whom it is hard;
for it is love, your love alone, that saves me
and makes me whole.
May the love of Christ live in me
with every word and every breath.
Amen.

   —February 1, 2019


Polar

God bless our poor choices,
our staggering paths,
how we hunch into ourselves,
become our own thick-defended worlds
wrapped in atmospheres of deceit,
unwilling to expose our hearts,
to share a bit of warmth,
God forgive the hot words we speak,
the friction we create,
the things we burn,
how little we understand
so may of us who are just trying
so desperately
to stay warm.



__________________
Weather Report

Cold,
as turbulence pushes frigid air
into our air,
but not into our hearts.
Counterintuitively,
as relationships freeze
it will become important
to avoid over-insulation,
and to share warmth.


   —January 31, 2019


Normal

         There were also many lepers in Israel
         in the time of the prophet Elisha,
         and none of them was cleansed
         except Naaman the Syrian.

                  —Luke 4.27

Jesus has them in the palm of his hand...
but then he awakens them rudely:
God could have favored you insiders
but God favors outsiders, gentiles, foreigners.
Ouch. There goes his Oscar.

Shouldn't there be some preference
for us, the Israelites, the normal?
Well, Jesus never was one of you,
God the ultimate outsider,
a foreigner to our world of greed and hate.

Isn't that the God you want,
for the sake of that hidden misfit,
undocumented refugee you've never
granted asylum somewhere
in the city of your soul,
the you who will never fit in?

Beware your presumption
to put somebody outside the wall
as if there is one,
and you know where it is.

Beware what you label as normal,
where you think “in” is,
the favor you expect to fall along those lines.
Assure that strange three legged person
quarantined in your house
there's no such thing as normal.

God, your ultimate belonging,
has never heard of it,
and wherever your wall is,
stands outside.

   —January 30, 2019


Fragile

Sometimes even in the clearest blue sky
a wound opens up
and grey stones pour through.

A young man steps out of the clothes
of his life
and we're left standing staring at them.

The river backs up for a moment.
Life's promises shrink back into our heads.
The holes in everything, it doesn't

work. It doesn't work.
Our cries pass through the bare trees
with nothing to catch them. Empty

spaces are more solid than things.
Love doesn't shield us, it only
opens doors, people come in,

people go out. Water flows
among rough stones, a presence
willing to be so often punctured.

How long did the Divine hesitate
to enter flesh like wet paper
to make it holy? We are learning

to be this fragile, all of us learning
to be beautiful, wounded creatures,
learning to fly with broken wings.

   —January 29, 2019


Morning incantation

Come, breath, and fill me,
reach your tiny fingers into me
and do your magic.
Arise, gravity, and take hold of me,
bear me firmly and gently in your arms,
the way you do.
Come, sun, and shine upon me,
lay your hand on my shoulders,
and if clouds should intervene
shine upon them, too.
Awaken, heart, roar up your fire,
your gospel choir sing within me.
Come, life, and dance with me,
your swirling skirts, your wanting eyes,
the closeness of your breath.
Let all converge and praise!
And hear my praise,
how like an attentive servant
you move to my side
before I even ask.

   —January 28, 2019


Cherry picking

         The spirit of God is upon me....
         to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
         and the day of vengeance of our God.

                  —Isiah 61.1, 2

         Jesus read, “... to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
         And Jesus rolled up the scroll,
         gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.

                  —Luke 4.19, 20

Yep. Jesus is guilty of cherry-picking.
He reads the part about God's favor,
and omits the bit about vengeance.
He does that all the time.
You have to.
There are different voices in scripture,
different versions of God:
vengeful and nonviolent.
You can't have them both. Pick one.
Jesus did.
Take sides.
Commit yourself to grace, to healing,
to redemption.
You don't need to give equal time to vengeance.
To hell with hell.
The Spirit of God is upon us
to proclaim God's grace
and omit vengeance.
Only when we get over violence
will the world be saved.
The Spirit of God is upon us.

   —January 25, 2019


One

In the beginning was the Word.
Nothing was created but through the Word.
There is nothing that does not embody God's Word.
Everything that is created is the Body of Christ.

All humans are created in the image of God.
All are part of the Body of Christ.

The crucifixion happens
whenever we assault the oneness of the Body of Christ,
whenever we separate ourselves,
when we say, “This one, yes; that one, not.”

How we deny this oneness!
We hate being lumped.
Our ego pleads for some distance, some distinction.
We need to be better than someone—
a need unsatisfied in heaven.
To lose this battle is to be saved.

There is only One Thing,
and we are all part of it,
the redemption of our brokenness and smallness,
the wholeness that is
eternal life.

   —January 24, 2019


I shall not want

God, so often I ask for your gifts—
for patience or compassion or wisdom.
I ask for your forgiveness and healing,
for your grace in my struggles,
and your presence in my work.
I ask for your justice to conquer the world,
to heal us of our evil and oppression.
These things I desire, by your Spirit in me.

But now I do not ask.
I sit.
“I shall not want.”
I am present to you,
even when you are silent
and I feel only your absence.
I am grateful for that which I cannot see.
I am open to what is, without desire,
without incompleteness,
without will.
I am simply here,
fully and gladly and lovingly here.

I notice.
I let be.
I am not waiting.
I am being.
I am blind and deaf and without understanding,
and happy to be here.
We are here.
We are here.

   —January 23, 2019


Dream

God, why are you so often
like the dream I know I had
but can't remember?

Is it enough to know
you are there
beneath the darkness
of my mind
still dreaming?

Is it enough to believe
in the mountain
because a great bear
I cannot see
wanders its dark sides
and finds sweet berries?

Is it enough to know
the bear sniffs the air
and smells me,
and later in her cave
dreams of me?

   —January 22, 2018


A prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

         The Spirit of God is upon me,
         because God has anointed me          
         to bring good news to the poor.
         God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
         and recovery of sight to the blind,

         to let the oppressed go free,
         to proclaim the year of God’s favor.

                  —Luke 4.18-19


Fill me, Spirit.
Fill me with the grace that is good news
for all who are poor.
Fill me with compassion for those who are captive
in body or in soul.
Grant me eyes of love,
with which to open eyes that are blind.
Set me free with freedom that will set others free.
Give me courage to to pray, to bear witness,
to speak, to act for justice.
Holy Spirit, let my life in every moment
proclaim your grace.
Amen.

   —January 21, 2019


Good wine

         “You have kept the good wine until now.”
                  —John 2.10

You have run out of wine,
but Jesus doesn't believe in running out.
Forget all that”we don't have enough.”
Have some more.

You have huge vats for purification,
as if it's going to take a lot
to wash off all your crud.
Jesus doesn't think so.
Forget all that “I'm not good enough.”
A toast.

It's a wedding— which everything
seems to be to Jesus, a feast of faithful love.
He looks pretty loose after that last glass,
as if he's about to propose.

Scholars swirl the wine and think Eucharist,
woman at the well, water gushing up in you,
blood and water from his side, baptism—
but they've lost him.
He's gazing at you.

Serious theologians read the signs
like tea leaves, proven by the miracle,
but the Beloved looks past them
and catches you with his soft eyes:
“Hey. Wanna dance?”


___________________
Weather Report

Fine,
full-bodied weather,
dense and earthy         
but with a slightly sweet touch,
warming late in the day.
It will go well with hard work,
indoors our out,
or quiet reflection,
but perfectly paired with
abundant, grateful celebration.

   —January 18, 2019

Water into wine

The promise of the banal,
the dull and unremarkable,

the dark wine hidden
in the clear, regular jar,

in the plain and the pained
the beautiful and life-giving,

stars in the night
and the silence ripe with song,

what wasn't even meant for drinking
become the finest drink,

the hopeless afternoon
impossibly made brilliant,

what lack already may be
made an abundance,

the first Word that turned
the dark light,

is in your plain chipped cup,
God swirling, sea-dark, intoxicating,

and has turned.
You haven't tasted it yet.

   —January 17, 2019