I am Abraham


            After these things God tested Abraham.
            God said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
            God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love,
            and go to the land of Moriah,
            and offer him there as a burnt offering
            on one of the mountains that I shall show you.”
            So Abraham went…

                           —Genesis 22.1-3

Spun from the one web of God,
mote of God’s love I am,
one with the spiraling galaxies
and all their wonders, each of their lovelies.
They are my wholeness,
the rest of me, without whom I am not.
Each is my grandmother, my son, my self.

And I confess: I recoil.
I want none of them, their otherness,
I who climb my private mountain
at the bidding of my singularity,
this voice in its shell casing on my back—
and all the while my beloved son asking his damned questions.

I protect myself.
I use Sarai as a shield:
she my be raped, but I am safe.
I cast out Hagar, so I don’t live with my guilt.
I sacrifice Isaac, that I may be favored.
I am addicted to my security,
split against myself.

I banish these shadows
that I may have no Otherness—
the fragile, the black, the broken, the strange,
I sacrifice them. It is my god’s will.
To the god of my domination I offer up
their shot bodies, their diminished souls,
their food deserts and racial profiles.
I give my children poison to breathe and ruin their earth.
I send them to war. I teach them my hate.
The headlines are my son, asking his questions.
I kill them and escape.
I refuse to claim them, though they are mine,
they are mine, they are me.

Holy One, let your angel stop my killing,
and sacrifice my ego-ram, caught in the bushes.
Heal me, forgive me, open my eyes.
Give me back the child of me,
my future, my hope, my self.
Give me back my universe, the rest of me.
Stop my killing. Let me let live.
Let me let live.

                           —June 28, 2017

A cup of water

            Whoever gives even a cup of cold water
            to one of these little ones
            in the name of a disciple
            —truly I tell you—will not lose their reward.”

                        —Matthew 10.42

The Holy One will come to you today
little and weak
and in need.

You will recognize them at first
by your fear and antipathy
and only then see their need

and remember that spring
gushing up in you
to eternal life.

                           —June 29, 2017

 

Romans 6.12-23, my version


Watch out for the power of your ego and its fearful demands. Any aspect of yourself can be an instrument of your distrustful instinct for self-protection. Don’t let yourself be used like that. Make yourself available to God as those who have been brought from death to life. Make every aspect of yourself available to God as an instrument of justice. Selfish desire will have no power over you. You don’t have to be good enough for God. You’re already beloved.

So does that mean you can do whatever you want because God will love you? Well, no. You see, in reality you are not as free as you think: you are being played— either by your selfish distrust, which is a kind of death, or by God in you, which leads to a beautiful life. Be grateful to God! You used to be controlled by your selfish fear, but now you have been trained in a new way: you have been set free from fearful self-protection and have learned to be guided by your relationship with God.

I’m using these metaphors because of our natural human limitations. In the old way of living any aspect yourself would be a tool in the hands of your sin—your deepening fear, separation and inauthenticity. But now every aspect of your life is available to God as an instrument of justice and healing, willing to be continually perfected. When you are a tool of your distrust you are free all right: free from being controlled by God. Well, what good is it to feel free to do things that make you ashamed? That’s just a kind of death. But you are free from your ego: you are an instrument of God, and that’s how we become holy and perfect in love. That’s how we experience life that is infinite. Trying to earn God’s approval just earns us death, but trusting God we receive infinite life as a free gift. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Beloved.

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God, make me an instrument of your peace.

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Abraham’s questions

            Abraham went and took the ram
            and offered it up as a burnt offering
            instead of his son.

                           —Genesis 22.13


 

            1. Letting go

God promises Abraham offspring, waits till he’s 100 years old to finally give him one son, then asks him to sacrifice that son. That’s a pretty big ask. We need to face the question Abraham did: What do you want more: God, or the things you want from God? Even if those things are very good, they’re not God. What are the blessings you hang onto tighter than you hang onto God? Can you let go? Will you?

                        …”You can have all the world, give me Jesus…”

            2. Trusting

God is personified in this story. God doesn’t really make specific “promises” of certain delayed outcomes (like having offspring—or being married or surviving disease…) then “keep” them. God also doesn’t ask us to do one thing, planning all along to have us do something else. God is love, and love doesn’t make deals or play tricks. God does not withhold blessings, though it often takes them time to unfold, and it takes us time to see them. Like the sun “promises” to shine by always shining, God “promises” to care for us and provide for us by always doing so. Do you trust that? Will you trust that even at the risk of losing a great deal?

                        …”There’s no better way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey..”

            3. Changing
 

A God who asks Abraham to kill his own son just to show his loyalty sounds like a really sick Mob boss. But when this story first arose, maybe 3500 years ago, child sacrifice was quite common. “Abraham” isn’t an individual; he’s the community. This is the story of how the ancient Hebrews outgrew child sacrifice. God never did want them to sacrifice children, but it took a long time for them to see that and find a better way: just sacrifice animals, not people. This is a story about how religion changes. How has God changed your religion? How might it still be changing?

                        … “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me…”

                                        —June 27, 2017

Drink deeply

Drink deeply of this life, my friend.
Don’t sip to make it last
in fear of running out.
The waiter keeps coming by,
refilling our glasses.
Drink deeply of who you are,
the magnificent happening of you.
Drain the glass.
Take big swigs of this day,
swish it around in your mouth a little,
even the hard or boring parts,
you are alive, and it’s good.
Each moment drink it in.
Drink deeply of the grace God gives you,
the blessing, the presence, the love,
refilling your glass before it’s half empty.
Taste it. Savor it. Have some more.
Even if you do it as a game,
to make the waiter reappear again and again,
drink it in.
Look at you, filing yourself up
with God.

                           —June 26, 2017

With God

            Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
            Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
            without God.

                           —Matthew 10.29

God does not go around pulling birds out of the air.
God is not a guy sitting at a control panel.
God does not “plan” your victory or defeat,
cancer, your accident, the moment of your death.
Things do not happen “for a reason.”
Stuff happens. Birds are free.
So are germs, and hurricanes, and idiots.

Love is God,
the pure energy of being, setting us free,
with us in every moment and movement of our freedom.

Jesus didn’t say
sparrows don’t fall without a plan,
he said they don’t fall without God.

God’s plan is not a mechanical routine.
God’s plan is that you are free,
and that you thrive and love.
God’s plan is that whatever happens
God is with you with love and grace.

Stop trying to figure out God’s plan
and pay attention to God’s presence.

After all that’s what you want:
not luck
but to be with God.

                           —June 23, 2017

Hagar

            So Abraham rose early in the morning,
            and took bread and a skin of water,
            and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder,
            along with her child, and sent her away.
            And she departed, and wandered about
            in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

                           —Genesis 21.14

Name her.
Hagar, the outcast,
rejected by your own ego,
victim of your own lust and fear,
consequence of your many mistakes,
sent away by your guilt.

In the wilderness of your heart she wanders.

But listen:
God will care for her, rescue her,
feed her child, who will thrive.
God is with her.

Who is she,
wandering in the wilderness of your heart?

                           •

Who is she, abandoned
in the Beer-Sheba of our cities,
despairing under the tree of our headlines?
Who is she whom we choose to be our Hagar,
our outcast, she who is made invisible,
she whom we thought we could do away with,
could make foreign, make strange,
turn into an other,
but who is truly ours?

                           •

How do we take her back?
Where do we find that land
big enough for us both?
How are we healed of our own cruelty,
sending her, of our own heart,
away, always away?
Where do we find those open arms
that await us,
that teach us to open our arms?

                           —June 22, 2017

Solstice

In the Northern Hemisphere
it’s the longest day,
though the heat of summer
won’t peak for a couple months.
Consequences are usually delayed.
Insight always trails after revelation.

In the Southern Hemisphere
it’s the longest night,
which is always a promise
that the light is coming back.
Everything has bounds.
Darkness opens itself to the light.

In both hemispheres
it’s good to remember,
easy to forget:
no season is forever.
Yours isn’t the only reality.
Each moment, and the whole life you live
is part of something greater.

___________________
Weather Report

Solstice.
Be where you are;
you won’t be for long.

                           —June 21, 2017

Drown

            We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death,
            so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God,
            so we too might walk in newness of life.

                           —Romans 6.4

The rain stopped long ago; skies are blue.
But on the morning path the breeze
shakes down showers
the trees have been holding onto.
I will gladly drown in this blessing.

            •

Awakening this morning in bed,
as my conscious mind opened up
it filled with what day this is, who I am,
what I intend and fear.
As I sit in prayer I let it all drain out again,
to be mindful of God instead.

            •

In my morning shower I rinse off
lots of stuff that’s not really me.

            •

My work today is to drown in God,
to return to that blessed death
I have touched at times,
to remember my baptism and be glad
that I have passed away
and there is only God remaining,
and live in that newness.

            •

___________________
Weather Report

Floods,
which hopefully will sweep you away,
your life a mess of mud and grace,
as you find yourself in a new place.

                           —June 20, 2017

 

Sparrow

            Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
            Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
            apart from God.

                           —Matthew 10.29

Little one, most ordinary,
without bright plumage
or heroic migration or beautiful song,
I see you. I delight in you.
The sky you fly through is my heart.
The ground you pick at is my hand.
The seed you savor is my flesh and blood.
I love you not for your appurtenances,
but for your soul.
I know you from inside:
I am the Love that draws you into being,
and you are my love,
flown around the sky to return to me.
I have chosen to appear
as a sparrow among sparrows.
Yes, there are others. I am in them also.
With a sparrow’s eye for detail
I know you. I go with you.
You will fly, and you will fall.
But you do not fly or fall apart from me.
Your flying and your falling is mine.
It is I.
Go, little one. In every moment
it is I.

        

                           —June 19, 2017