Encore

In a gracious and generous performance
the Creator says “Light”
and there is light,
with its multitude of beauty
spilling out in all its ways,
echoing in its million variations
through all existence,
and it is a day.
The angels cheer and weep
and applaud wildly,
and the Creator takes a bow.
The angels cry “Encore!”
So the Creator smiles,
thinks of something new,
and plays another one…

__________________
Weather Report

Spontaneous,
as what appears on the radar as inevitable
is created in the moment.
Intermittent showers of newness,
with gusts of surprise.

   —April 30, 2018

Three spring haikus

On a slender twig,
after washing, spring opens
our tiny green eyes.

In the rain-deepened
brook moving calmly I see
myself reflected.

A simple bird song
shines in the woods. Ah, listen.
God, too, is praying.

 

   —April 27, 2018

Get in the chariot

         Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch…
               —Acts 8.27

In Acts 8.26-40 God sends Philip along a desert road, where he encounters someone least like himself: a foreigner who has been sexually mutilated, serving as a high government official. The Ethiopian eunuch is of a different race, ethnicity and language from Philip. He is sexually different, and of a different social class. The eunuch is reading scripture and has a question. Philip engages him in conversation The eunuch invites Philip to get in his chariot and sit beside him. Philip does, and in the ensuing conversation the eunuch asks to be baptized, which Philip does. Then he magically disappears and the two go their separate ways.

We are most naturally attracted to people just like us, but the gospel sends us out to join the journey of people who are different. Way different. To really proclaim the grace that transcends boundaries of deserving, privilege and control, we have to transcend our own boundaries. We have to share the journeys of others, especially those who are not like us. (One way racism persists is that white folks don’t befriend people of color.) It’s in the boundary-crossing that we experience the grace that is beyond our ability, control or deserving.

So we stop and talk to the homeless person on the street, or the laborer cleaning the hallway. We befriend someone who is incarcerated, or gender non-conforming, or an undocumented immigrant, or of a different religion, or who has a mental illness—or just someone who’s left out. We don’t just wave at them on the way by. We get in the chariot and sit beside them. We engage them in relationship. We journey with them. We see beneath the stereotypes (including these I just listed) and see the person who like the eunuch has questions, cares about things, and seeks God. Then it is they who minister to us. They enrich our world. That’s where grace happens. Even miracles.

Who are those people who are different who God might be sending you to? What are the differences you hide behind? Who are the unlikely ones who God is asking you to accept, and journey with? Run alongside. Get in the chariot.

   —April 26, 2018

Prune me

         “I am the true vine, and my Abba God is the vinegrower.
         God removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.
         Every branch that bears fruit

       God prunes to make it bear more fruit.”
                        —John 15.1-2

Loving God, Vinegrower of Life,
I bring to mind with gratitude those ways you bear fruit in me,
where your grace blossoms into blessing.
Receive my thanks.

. . .

Wise vinedresser, show me what in me does not bear fruit,
what impedes the flow of your grace in me:
fears and resentments, desires, habits and attachments
that do not bear the fruit of your love,
dead branches that no longer serve you.
Help me see.

. . .

God of mercy, prune me with your grace.
Help me release all that does not bear fruit,
and let go of what diminishes your love in me.
Help me repent.

. . .

God of peace, help me trust your spirit flowing in me,
blossoming forth with your glory,
bearing the fruit of your presence.
Help me love.

. . .

Amen.

   —April 25, 2018

Love, not fear

          There is no fear in love,
          but perfect love casts out fear.
                —1 John 4.18

I bathe in the river of your love.
It washes away all fear
of being judged, inadequate or punished.

I let your river flow through me,
not my love but yours,
flowing to all the world, even the unlovable.

In your love I am not afraid
to love, to risk,
to be carried away by the river.

In love I will coerce no one
or make them afraid,
but only set them free.

Give we wisdom to notice
when I am afraid
and to choose love instead.

In your perfect love I am not afraid.
I am grateful.
I am free.

   —April 24, 2018

Vine and branches

         I am the vine and you are the branches.
                  —John 15.5

You are the vine and we are your branches,
one with your life and rooted in your heart.
Flowing with grace, with life you fill us,
strengthened that nothing can break us apart.

You are the vine and we are your branches.
Deep in our hearts your life is flowing through.
Rooted in you, we grow and flourish.
You live within us, and we live in you.

You are the vine and we are your branches.
One common blood flows though all of our veins.
We all are part of one another.
We all are branches of one living vine.

You are the vine and we are your branches,
flowing with power greater than our own,
bearing your fruit to all Creation,
till all the seeds of your love have been sown.

[A song. Write me for the music.]
 

   —April 23, 2018

Psalm 23 meditation

Shepherd me, Love.
         Lead me out from my attachments.

Lead me to the green meadow of your heart,
         your deep well of peace and nourishment.
         
Fill me with your breath again,
         breath of your Spirit.

Lead me in your way,
          not mine,

even through darkest canyons
         shadowed by death,

for your presence is my safety,
         your will my comfort.

You invite me to your table with my enemies
         to share with them your grace:

gift that overflows,
         blessing that makes life beautiful.

Lead me where goodness and mercy go;
         then on every road
         I will still be at home in you.
 

   —April 20, 2018

Eternal life

         We know that we have passed from death to life
         because we love one another.

               —1 John 3.14

The grave is skin.
You can stay inside it,
or choose to become infinite.

You are the bird, not the nest.
Give yourself, and there is nothing
left to entomb.

Once you die,
an angel,
you can pass through walls.

When your life becomes nothing
but love
no one can take it from you.

Death is a barbed wire fence.
Love is a song,
it hangs in the air long after.

Death is a thick wall.
Above, the bird flies far
to a beautiful land in need of birds.
 

   —April 19, 2018

Wolf

         The hired hand, who is not the shepherd
         and does not own the sheep,
         sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—
         and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.

               —John 10.12

I don’t see it coming.
It lurks, beyond awareness,
moves through the underbrush
on tough, forest-wise paws,
smells what I can’t, knowing,
an ancient species.

It scatters and snatches
my innocent goodness.
Fear chasing down love.

Let me gaze at you, wolf.
Know you, name you,
learn your ways.

Who is it, then,
who stands between me and my wolf?
Who alone can tame the wild,
not stone this one (there will be more),
but make my wolf lie down with the lamb?

Let me learn the voice of my shepherd.
Let me listen and follow,
and even through the shadowed valley
stay close.
 

   —April 18, 2018

What you do

It’s a long road.
This is what you do.
You’ve worked to get here.

Maybe training for a marathon,
or working for justice.
Maybe parenting.

People don’t get it,
why you do this,
why you do it and do it,

why the early rising,
the repeated drills,
the ceaseless effort.

They don’t get why I cheer
so loud, get choked up,
make a fool of myself.

You give yourself
to something greater,
to the long road, and your soul,

taken up, is enlarged,
your presence deepened.
Changed, you live in a changed world.

Andrea nailed the Boston Marathon.
Tomorrow she’ll return
to her cancer patients,

to the long road,
with love and guts.
And already I am changed.
 

   —April 17, 2018