Manna

In the woods at sunrise voices speak,
dark, tunneling beneath roots.
Not uttering vast wisdom,
but saying enough.

Between our bodies some kind of energy,
not electric, but warm, a reaching.
In the day’s little catastrophes some light,
soft, awakening, enough to see by.

Crossing the desert of the living room,
the impossible distance from the store,
tired, or angry, or despondent,
desperate for escape, or treaties,

when certainly the gods have left you,
you are fed. The soul’s strange nourishment,
the morsel held in the palm of your disaster,
left in plain sight after every dark night.

Through your incoherent landscape runs
this steadfast mystery, the Holy One’s vow
that you will make it. A layer of dew,
flakes like frost on the desert floor.

 

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Tip

The Savior
does not always work miracles.
Sometimes he stops for lunch,
at local diners and places
with good food and lousy pay.
He tips really well. Really.

You are nothing big,
just a few bills
beside an empty water glass.

 

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Seventy times seven

         “Lord, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
         “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.”

                  —Matthew 18.21-22

Because you will find
that many reasons not to.

Because it will take that many times
to go through the motions
before you do it from the heart.

Because you have to keep setting
that burden down again
until you are free.

Because we never stop
letting go.

 

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Red Sea

You’ve been wronged:
hurt, betrayed, accused,
robbed of something, someone.
The wound still bleeds,
smoke still rises in twin columns.
You can pretend,
and your ruse will imprison you.
You can rage,
and your rage will enslave you.
You can believe your deserving,
and your shame will bury you.

Or you can walk to the sea,
the sea at the end of the world,
the dark, chaotic waters of Creation,
the Red Sea bounding your Egypt,
the ocean of forgiveness.
A bitter Pharaoh will follow you,
but don’t turn back.
You will walk into the pain, up to your ankles,
the grief, up to your waist,
the powerlessness, up to your chest
before the waters part

and you walk free.

 

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Forgiving

         Peter came and said to him, “Teacher,
         if another member of the church sins against me,
         how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
         Jesus said to him, “Not seven times,
         but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
                  —Matthew 18.21-22

Forgiving is not forgetting bad behavior,
not condoning or excusing or minimizing it,
not pretending that it didn’t hurt, that “it was nothing.”

Forgiving is not about the behavior.
It’s loving the person,
and letting nothing, even their hurtful actions,
diminish or deter your love.

Forgiving is accepting what is—
that they have wronged you—
without desire to amend that,
to get even, exact payment
or get them to see your hurt.
It is accepting that the hurt is real,
and yet your love for them, and yourself, remains.

Forgiving is accepting the person,
even with their hurtfulness,

without needing to change that.
Forgiving is accepting yourself:
allowing yourself to be hurt or wronged
without the need to correct that
to know your belovedness, dignity and worth.

Forgiving is owing nothing, being owed nothing.
Forgiving is letting go of the past,
letting the hurt be in the past instead of the present,
choosing to stop hanging on to it, stop being chained up in it.
Forgiving is getting free.

Our forgiving blossoms from our being entirely forgiven.
We have been forgiven for deeper hurts than we ourselves forgive.
We choose to be in the heaven of infinite forgiving
rather than the hell of unfinished and never-ending resentment.
Forgiving is coming alive,
and entering into eternal life.

Forgiving is not a chore or obligation.
Forgiving is joy, freedom, compassion, and peace.
Seven times seventy times.

 

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Sticks

My bother and I would take sticks
and throw them in the mountain creek
and run alongside our sticks as they went
through the swirly eddies
and the scary whitewater,
the terrible falls
and the long wobbly runs,
sometimes disappearing in the foam,
sometiems blending in with fish
and other desires,
watching them with devotion and glee,
shouting or murmuring encouragement,

until they came out into the deep pool
where we would pluck them up like God
and congratulate them and thank them
for having borne us places we couldn’t go.

I looked at my brother’s back
as we went up the draw to do it again,
his little hands, his legs, his head,
with all those years ahead of us.

 

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Altar

She whose gaze is heaven
has gathered up earth
and kissed herself into it,
breathed life into the clay
and made you
into an altar
for her praise.

 

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Binding & loosing

         “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
         and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
         Where two or three are gathered in my name,
         I am there among them.”
                     – Matthew 18.18, 20

 

There is power in your choices,
in what you “bind” and “loose,”

what you require of others
and what you forgive,

what you hang onto
and what you let go of.

You are given power
to oppress and to set free.

Don’t worry about such power
put in your wild, immature hands.

The Gentle One is there with you,
between you and each other person.

Treat them so, and your power
will be well used. You yourself

will be loosed from temptation,
bound to the One

from whom
you will not be loosed.

 

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Free to love

         This is the passover of the Lord.
         I will pass over you,
         and no plague shall destroy you

                  —from Exodus 12.11, 13

         Owe no one anything,
         except to love one another;
         for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

                  —Romans 13.8

You have been set free.
From all your guilt and shame,
from all the debts you thought you owed,
all obligations and duties,
you have been set free.
From fear of death,
from the power of your brokenness
to define or control you,
you have been set free.

Now everything you do may be an act of love.
Even a requirement, even the strictest law,
even what you do not choose,
do not as a duty but an act of compassion.
Let love be perfected in you.

You are free to love,
and so to become your truest self,
to wield your greatest power,
to live your greatest life.
 

 

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We seldom hear

We seldom hear the voice of the Holy One
who is, after all, fearsomely immense,

who sits, enthralled, perfectly still as a bird
watcher, saying nothing, offering only

the merest whispers, hidden in this world
so cleverly as to seem natural,

so as not to frighten us
away.

 

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