Streaks of light stream
from veins in the rocks.
The same with the birds,
and the sky with the birds in it.
Music rises up out of trees,
and out of dirt, low, deep music.
Even dark houses shimmer,
And the people on the benches,
the old guy by the bus stop,
either waiting for the 6:15
or just woke up after a night there,
his old coat, his rumpled head,
light beaming out.
Even from your most earnest labor,
your most ragged sorrow.
without thought of glory,
light leaks out, music escapes.
The best we can do
in this miraculous world
as a low pressure area
disperses a fog of inattentiveness.
light coming, if not from above,
Then God answered Job out of the whirlwind:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?“
—Job 38.1, 4
Last night I woke from a dream of doom
fearing for the future of the world,
mummy-wrapped in despair, dread burning hot
in my basement. I couldn’t sleep.
When fear for the world overtakes me
I join Job on the ash heap, questioning suffering,
ranting against injustice, suffocating for hope.
And God answers.
Creation is bigger than you,
and greater than your suffering, even greater,
far greater, than all the suffering of the world.
It’s hard to see from your little corner
but the universe is good, and beautiful.
Stars and whales sing of it; your breathing proclaims it.
My grace is in it; my hands are beneath it all,
and you belong to it, even as you are,
though you can never know this mystery,
your part in this wonder and blessing.
My dread is small, even all our death;
God’s goodness is infinite. Praise.
James and John said, “Grant us to sit,
one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
But Jesus said to them, “To sit at my right hand or at my left
is not mine to grant. …
Whoever wishes to become great among you
must be your servant”
—from Mark 10.35-44
Beware of a faith
that is no more than James and John’s request:
believing what you need to believe
in order to go to Heaven—
and receive all the benefits appertaining thereunto,
including getting to be with Jesus in glory.
What if Heaven means the perfection of serving,
the deepest bliss in kneeling at the feet of the undeserving,
the most profound joy in pouring out your life for another?
At the heavenly banquet newcomers are the guests,
but the real angelic souls are the servers.
To what do you aspire?
If you had to choose between living a life of love
and getting to go to heaven,
which would you choose?
Which do you already choose, moment by moment?
moment by moment.
Our niece ran the Boston Marathon yesterday,
her ninth marathon; her fourth in Boston.
The marathon is like unto the Realm of God.
Everybody cheers for everybody.
No teams, no sides, no winners and losers.
(One person wins; the other 30,000 just run.)
Andrea wasn’t trying to win; she was just running—
though she ran an alarmingly steady eight-and-a-half-minute mile.
One year she nearly collapsed from dehydration,
staggered into the medical tent at mile 22,
and eventually was able to walk the rest of the course.
Yesterday I tracked her, passing the tent, running on.
At the finish line some people raise their arms
as if they’ve won. Some kiss the ground
as if returning from Mars. They have indeed won.
Every day people around you are bearing unseen burdens,
overcoming invisible challenges,
completing a story you don’t know.
You can’t judge their pace, or how far along they are.
Your job is to cheer them on.
Heaven, you know, is actually empty.
They’re all down here, unseen, crowded around,
yelling like crazy, cheering you on.
Unfolding Light www.unfoldinglight.net
God said, “What have you done?
Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!”
for the blood of our siblings of the earth
which cries out to us from the ground
on which we build our houses and highways,
we ask your mercy.
For the songs of those the White people tried to wipe out,
songs that still resonate in this land,
we give you thanks,
and ask your mercy.
For the hopes of the people whose lives are belittled,
and who even now disappear without our caring,
we pray for your healing,
and ask your mercy.
O Mysterious One, may the peoples of this land be restored;
may the hosts and invaders be reconciled in true peace;
may the songs increase, and the dance grow thunderous.
Unfolding Light www.unfoldinglight.net
October 11, 2021
There is a question inside you.
Like a baby needing to be born,
it must come out.
It may be a curious inquiry, or an angry challenge.
It may be a profound exploration, or a Zen koan.
It’s not a rhetorical question.
It may be a question for a friend, or your lover,
or the authorities, or yourself.
It may be a question for God, or the universe.
Maybe even for ancestors long gone.
It may be a question that’s actually a statement,
but there’s a real question behind it.
It’s a question to which you truly don’t know the answer.
Don’t force the answer. Wait in silence for it,
which may take a long time.
There may not be an answer.
But don’t silence the question any longer.
The graveyard murmurs with the cries of unasked questions.
Speak it, let the silence hang in the air,
October 8, 2021
No one who has left house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or fields,
for my sake and for the sake of the good news,
will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—
houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children
and fields—with persecutions—
and in the age to come eternal life.
We’ll lose authority figures (fathers),
because we’ll lose all hierarchies.
We’ll gain persecutions, because we’ll lose
insulation from the world’s suffering.
But the life we live will be infinitely deep,
life that we can’t lose, that no one, nothing,
not even death, can take from us.
Faith is the blessed leap
from what we leave
to what we receive.
October 7, 2021
They were greatly astounded and said to one another,
“Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said,
“ For mortals it is impossible, but not for God;
for God all things are possible.”
Funny how we think we can do something to be saved.
What must you do to be saved from drowning?
If you could get yourself saved,
it wouldn’t getting saved, would it? It would be swimming.
We’re saved from the impossibility
of being saved.
We’re saved from the gap be place between ourselves
and God’s perfect love.
From our secret religion of impossibility,
from the impossibility of being good enough,
from the impossibility of good triumphing,
of evil being forgiven to death, of resurrection,
from impossibility itself, astoundingly—impossible!—
we are saved.
October 6, 2021
The word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow;
it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Loving scalpel Word,
cutting deep, slicing deftly
false from true
with your invisible seeing
what is me and what is not,
the lies so tightly knotted
around the truth
only the carefullest cut
can lift the subtlest tumors
of fear and shame,
can free the real;
sharp sword not of punishment
I am gladly laid bare to you
and your work among the thin tissues,
the holy membranes,
gentle as you are
with what needs to open and give way
for this Cesarean birth.
October 5, 2021
“You lack one thing; go, sell what you own and give to the poor. ….
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for someone who is rich to enter the Realm of God.”
First, take it literally.
No prosperity gospel here.
Jesus didn’t mean unloading the camel
to squeeze it through a gate.
He meant getting a dromedary through a pinhole.
Ain’t gonna happen.
Your riches hold you back. All of them.
Not just money.
What you lack is lacking what you have.
What is the thing you lack?
What do you need to let go of?
What do you rely on for happiness,
Lose those riches.
They keep you from trusting the only thing
that gives true joy, worthiness and security:
the astonishingly steady love of God.
Keep letting go.
Keep coming back to grace.
The camel will never get through the needle’s eye.
But you don’t need to go there.
Beloved, you’re already here.
October 4, 2021