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


The silenced

Attend to those who are silenced,
seen and not heard,
told “Don't cry,”
threatened into muteness.
Listen to the pain we can's stand
the story we don't want to hear,
the truth we avoid.

We who hold the microphone
will do well to be quiet
and hear the voice of the silenced,
and give the oppressed an audience.

Justice cries out;
righteousness listens,
and hears the voice of God.

   —January 16, 2019


The beloved

         A voice came from heaven,
         “You are my Child, the Beloved;
         with you I am well pleased.”

                  —Luke 3.22

You are baptized
into Belovedness,
bathed in divine delight.

It washes away all else,
your other names, other selves,
all that is not your holiness.

Your work is no more than this,
to trust your Belovedness,
to return to it, to receive it.

All evil springs
from the distrust
that we are the Beloved.

Immersed in this grace,
you breathe in the world,
you breathe out heaven.

Baptized into the Body of Christ,
you are the flesh of God's love,
living as if on fire.

The whole world sings in you.
You belong to us all.
A great bird rises up,

calling for its mate,
singing with beauty,
crying out in joy.

—January 9, 2019

Prayer on a busy day

God,
when I feel like I'm riding a leaky canoe
in raging whitewater
with a broken paddle,
help me remember
you are my strength,
you are my peace,
you are my breath.
You are the river.

I am only in this moment,
not occupying the whole day.
I am responsible for my attitude,
not for the world.
I do not need to be a hero,
only present, only
transparent to your love.

Heart of peace, beat in me.
Breath of love, breathe in me.
Eyes of grace, open wide.

   —January 8, 2019


Smile

You know how a smile can change you,
how a single stranger's smile,
even a small one,
can light your day.
What a gift, to be smiled at.

The universe sees you,
and your smile
changes it.
What a gift,
to smile at the world.

As we look up at stars,
the stars look up at us,
and see us smile,
and they smile.
What a gift, to know
why God has put you here.

   —January 7, 2019


The eleventh day of Christmas

         The Word became flesh and lived among us.
                  —John 1.14

On the eleventh day of Christmas
I feel the stretch.
Presents unwrapped, put away,
family gone, New Year's past,
resolutions already broken...
and here we are, still counting days.
That one bright night,
angels and candles and all,
was not a singular event, but a lasting truth.
God, you are not just passing through.
You are here for the long haul:
the chemo regime,
the enduring grief,
the extra year of school,
the parenting that never ends,
the long work of aging.
Give me courage.
Give me perseverance, to last,
to go the distance
on the long road to wisdom,
to healing, to justice, to joy.
Help me trust you are here,
all the way.

   —January 4, 2019


Magi

         Magi came, asking, “Where is the child?”
                   —Matthew 2.1-2

I will be your wise one,
led by wisdom and discernment,
your star, not mine.

I am a sovereign of my own choices,
among your royal priesthood.
I offer you my power.

You are the star I follow,
with my eye on your light
every day.

I am always seeking,
never too complacent to ask,
to observe, to discern, to wonder,

looking for your light in this world,
in those I meet,
in my own dark sky.

I am not deterred by weariness,
the unknown, the strangeness,
the settledness of others.

I seek the child, the tender,
the hope, the small
amid the strong and violent.

I bear valuable gifts. This is the reason
I am in this world. I kneel
and offer treasure, every day.

I know my quest threatens
the powers of might, and I am not afraid,
and do not collude with them.

I am not afraid to find another road,
always seeking, open to the new.
Lead me.

   —January 3, 2019


Emmanuel

         The earth was a formless void
         and darkness covered the face of the deep.
                           —
Genesis 1.2

         The Word became flesh and lived among us.
                           —
John 1.14


Sky's been smashed, earth trampled thin.
There's a hole in the sun, light oozes out,
a split tomato. Weather your enemy now,
you've earned it. Alliances have that
white stuff that leaks out of batteries.
Our shadows splattered all over each other.
Politics after the kids put the car back together,
sort of. Think of great grandchildren breathing plastic.

But that's all the cosmic stuff. No matter.
The real pain is, shepherd on the hillside,
you stink. All your smallnesses add up to
a whimper. Your guilts, who could count,
pile up like compost you haven't decided
to compost, can't stand, can't part with.
Worse, your shames and your fears. Two
intruders come in opposite windows. Crap.
Trying so hard, but your life is still
a dead frog dissected with a rock.
Though it's not your fault.

In this splintered, wrinkled, twisted mess,
not from above, not shining in like a clever sunbeam
(No. No atmospheric effects. Please.)
but from way down dark inside
a hope infuses the whole thing, an embryo moves,
a presence the presence of things,
a light breathes, doesn't have to speak,
meaning, I am here. Composes a silence
meaning, There is no translation. You are
me. If God were an artist you would be
the gleam in her eye when the light is just right.
The wreckage is not a ruin, merely the backside
of something beautiful. Behold, God in her pajamas
in you. Blessed is she who believes it is possible
to be redeemed, possible because, in fact, fact.

Numinous delight, inclusive of galaxies, offers you.
Receive yourself, fresh and promising, and—listen:
beloved.

   —January 2, 2019


Prayer for a new year

         “See, I am making all things new.”
                  —Revelation 21.5

This is the first day of the new year,
the eighth day of Christmas
the eighth day of Creation,
which is every day, made new.
This is the day that the Lord is making.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

On this eighth day of Creation
I pray, O Holy One:
create me new.
Breathe into the dust of my life
your love, your beauty and joy.
I let go of what is gone;
set me free from the chains of the past.
In this new year may I be made new
every day, rising from the death of sleep
to be created as the image of your love,
new and free, open and present.

In this new year may your will be done,
your realm of grace come.
In your tender mercy, God,
make all things new.
Amen.

   —January 1, 2019


Prayer at year's end

         Teach us to count our days
         that we may gain a wise heart.

                           — Palm 90.12
                  
Eternal God,
in the evening of this year
I release the year to you.
Not a day, not a breath, have I been without you,
and I thank you.
All that I have done is done;
what I have not done I have not done.
All of my sins and errors you have forgiven,
and I release them.
All of my triumphs are your doing,
and I release them.
The year is gathered into your harvest,
to winnow and to save.
My life is gathered into your grace.
By your spirit in me may I learn from my mistakes,
grow from my wounds,
and deepen in gratitude for my gifts.
And now I turn to a new year,
grateful for your presence and your grace,
seeking only to live in harmony with your delight,
and open to your blessing and your leading.
Whether my journey onward be long or short,
it shall be in you, and I rejoice.
Amen.

   —December 31, 2018


At home

         “Why were you searching for me?
         Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

                  —Luke 2.49

On this windblown street
here I,
finding my way,
stand, thinking of being lost
while in truth I am home,
in your house,
far from where I came from
and still
because all flesh is Word made flesh
at home in you.
And here in this temple you
not with answers but with questions
call me home
to not a place
but a presence,
heartwise,
close to you in this
beatific, banal or horrific
place I am,
the distance between us
vanished.


   —December 28, 2018


Where my heart is

No manger is too rough
for the tenderness of God.

No threat of Herod too awful,
no poverty too dire

for God to come and be at risk
for sheer love of being with us.

God does not sigh, rolling the eyes,
“I suppose I have to come down there and save them.”

No, God says, “I am with you. Because
you are where my heart is.”

No darkness is too deep,
no banality unworthy,

no failure too utter for God;
God's love is more utter.

We, the flesh of God's Word,
can't be without. Even our doubt

shines from within.

   —December 27, 2018


Emmanuel

Alleluia!
No mere apparition in the sky,
a religious festival of note,
but a birth in the family!
God, you give us joy.

Not mere words, even of angels,
but deepest love made flesh.
God, you bring your heart close.
Alleluia!

Not a divine command,
even for mercy,
but your Loving Presence itself,
God with us,
because this is where you love to be.
God, you give us yourself.
Alleluia!



May God come and settle close to you
these twelve days, and onward.

   —December 26, 2018


Christ is born

Christ is born!

Like a tender child in your arms,
         may the nearness of God warm you.
Like the awe of the shepherds,
         may the love that unites us all enfold you.
Like the song of the angels,
         may the promise of our belovedness give you hope.
Like the wonder of Mary and Joseph,
         may God's presence awaken us to our siblings in the poor.
Like the radiance of the star over Bethlehem,
         may the light of God's love shine in you,
         give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
         and guide your feet into the way of peace.

Christ is born. God is with us. Alleluia.

   —December 25, 2018


Light

             The people who walked in darkness
                          have seen a great light;
             those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
                          on them light has shined.
             For a child has been born for us,
                           a son given to us.

                                                    —Isaiah 9.2, 8

God of love,
come be with us in our long night,
shining with your grace.
Let the light of your presence
shine in this world's darkest darkness.
May the birth of Christ transform our night,
redeem the darkest prison,
brighten the inkiest shadows,
and illumine our way.

Christ, morning radiance of our hearts
dawn within us.

Come, light of love,
be born in us.

Alleluia!

   —December 24, 2018


Winter solstice

Sometimes the old myth is right,
the light has gone out of the world,
you can see plainly in your heart
and its hungry darkness, the aimless grief,
a heavy echo of something missing, or someone,
not lighting, like a mood or a utility,
but a source, life itself, and its warmth.
Something like the friendship of the earth.
Not exactly breath, but essential.
Emperors are lost. Roads vanish.

You need to plead. Someone needs to fetch it.
Someone needs to assail the fearful thief
who has stolen the light and hidden it,
buried it in the darkest place where no one
can go, no one can find it, no one can return.
Someone innocent and honest, brave enough
to be true and risk everything to set off
with nothing but a fish hook and a loaf of bread
to find the light for us who hunger for it,
and for the trees who wait in silence.

On the longest night when even the angels
can stand it no longer, God sends a child,
tender and willing, (and a mother who offers him
to this dark world), a child with nothing but love
saying, “I will go into your darkest places for you
and there, there, I will draw out the light.”
The harsh wind clamping down,
the threat already issued, soldiers on the move,
the child comes into the night, facing the darkness.
His mother sings, and he begins his journey,
and already he has a bit of light in his hands,
and already the night begins to turn
and the stars dance and the angels sing
and your heart begins to rise
like the long-lost morning sun.


__________
For my friends in the Southern Latitudes,
thank you for holding the light for us.
Your turn will come.

   —December 21, 2018