Halloween

On Halloween we dress our children
as ogres and monsters
and the most frightening nightmares,
ill-fitting costumes
on these little innocents.

As we send them up
into the squares of porchlight
we ourselves stand in the dark,
dresses as fairy princesses
and knights in shining armor,
costumed in respectability.

But beneath our armor and tiaras
breathe the monsters of fear
and racism and violence,
and the demonic spirits
in whose thrall we name others as Other,
ogres who willingly abide slaughter
and feast on the pain of others.

In the dark we can’t see
beneath the suits and crowns
how perfectly those costumes fit,
nor how beneath them
are soft bodies, hungry hearts,
and the fragile rising
hopes of children.

   —October 31, 2018

Fruit of gratitude

Begin with gratitude
         for all you have received,
         that you see and that you do not see.

Let your gratitude grow into trust
         that you are included in a great wonder;
         and entrust yourself to the grace you are given.

Let your trust blossom into compassion
         for all those who are also part of this oneness
         who have been excluded, used or targeted.

Let your compassion flourish into solidarity,
         knowing you are one with those who suffer
          and that their wholeness is part of yours.

Let your solidarity bear fruit in justice,
         working for freedom and fullness of life for all,
         against all evil and oppression.

And when you are most challenged
         by the forces of injustice,
         most weary and discouraged,

return to gratitude
         that you are guided, accompanied,
         empowered and saved;
         and entrust yourself to the undying love of God.

   —October 30, 2018

Not safe

Sitting with Jewish neighbors
at their temple in shock and fear
after a synagogue shooting,
feeling their heartbreak and vulnerability,
I confess: for a moment I felt safe.
I am, after all, not one of them.

I will never be shot for being black,
never be murdered for being Jewish or gay.
I am a white, male, well-educated,
middle class, able-bodied Christian.
I’m not the one they’ll kill for being myself.
I’m glad that danger is not mine.

That, I confess, is my violence.
When I am glad of my safety,
when I hide behind my privilege
and separate myself from them,
when I think “them” and not “us,”
pretend I am not them
to feel safe—that itself is the violence.

We are one.
Our wholeness includes each other.
I do violence to my own being
when I separate myself,
when I welcome the safety of my privilege
and sever those I think are not part of me.

I am not free until all of us are free.
My only safety is to risk
for the sake of the safety of all.
My only way to be whole
is to be broken with the broken-hearted.
My only salvation is not to be safe.

   —October 29, 2018

Urgency

         Many sternly ordered him to be quiet,
         but he cried out even more loudly.

                        —Mark 10.48

There is a beggar, though blind,
who sees,
who with urgency born of wisdom
cries out,
but who is muffled by politeness,
silenced by looking good
and the terrible fear
of standing in need of the miraculous.
Among the crowd only the Beloved
is so fixed upon that voice.
What do you gain by stifling that cry?
Do you really believe
your heart won’t persist,
cry out another way,
that the Beloved will not overrule
your deadly banality and listen?
The tragedy of a heart denied its God
will not endure.
The Beloved calls.
Beggar, you know what to do
to save your life.

   —October 26, 2018

Boxes

God, sometimes I am as one
trying to go up and down stairs
with huge boxes in my arms
and I can’t see my footing, or other people.
I stumble. I drop things. I crash into people.

Help me set aside all my cargo:
emotions and beliefs that push and pull me,
heavy fears that unbalance me,
the way I want things to be, points to make,
how I want to be seen….

Help me set it all down and instead
carry only the song of your love,
and dance, light and lithe,
in your open meadow,

and, quick on my feet,
make way for others
who stagger and stumble…

   —October 25, 2018

Bartimaeus

Dearly Beloved,

                      Mark 10.46-52

Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting beside the Way.
             What is the Way you are beside: something incomplete,
             something not yet happening? Offer it to God.

He began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many sternly ordered him to be quiet.
             What has silenced you?
             What has kept you from rushing headlong to God?

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.”
             
Imagine Jesus calls you.
             Jesus wants you. Wants you near.

They called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”
              
Recite these words to yourself.
              Take heart; get up, your Love is calling you.

Throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.
              
Your souls is not as timid as you:
              casting your safety aside, leaping, unseeing, to the Beloved.

Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
              
Let him ask you.
              And again.

“My teacher, let me see again.”
              
What would you see?

Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.”
              Your crying out, your soul’s leaping,
              your blind begging is holy.

Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
               What is the new Way you will follow on?

Pray this all day long without ceasing:
             “Jesus, Beloved of God, have mercy on me.
             “Jesus, Beloved of God, have mercy on me.”

 —October 24, 2018

What do you want?

         Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?”
                        —Mark 10.51

When you discover the deepest desire of your heart,
         you find that it is God’s desire
                  to give it to you.

The question is not a trick or a test.
         It is an invitation.
                  It is an awakening.

What you you want?
         What do you really want?
What do you really want?

Already God’s desire,
          a seed in darkness,
unfolds.

   —October 23, 2018

What to say

Some days, like his morning,
I sit down here and the page is blank
and I don’t know what to say.
There are a couple thousand of you
waiting to hear a Word,
and my mind is blank,
and the page is blank.
And I wait… and nothing comes.

And I pray, “God,
what do people need to hear from you today?”
And I wait…
until I hear this:
that this question―

“What do people need to hear from you today?”―
is what we need to hear.

That each day we are sent into this world
to be a channel of God’s Word,
God’s healing, empowering, life-giving Word,
and we don’t always know how that word is pronounced,
how to convey it, what to say,
until we enter the day and meet the people.
That a good way to live a day
is to live it continually asking,
“What do people need to hear from God?”
and to live the day listening,
listening for God’s word,
not my own gripes and likes,
not my own opinion, but God’s Word,
and to speak that word
to whoever needs to hear it.

And the word is probably not made up,
but drawn from deep within,
if you’re really listening―
kindness, probably, or courage, or challenge, or hope―
a gleaming creation hidden in the silence
and spoken into the blank page of the moment,
a possibility they didn’t know they knew
until you said it.

October 19, 2018

Disposable shopping bag

The great cathedral, reliquary of dust,
stones slowly vanishing, not one on another,
tumbling over eons, glacial, archaeological,

the vast city built on a plan now lost,
underfoot, abandoned, inhabited instead
by the unknowing, ghostly, unmoored,

the shirt you loved longest, tattered like a map of Grecian isles,
a screen, threads gently departing one from another,
and the years it recalls, also faded, emptied,

the characters you’ve played, all victory and debacle,
the strength to bend this world to you—all is paper wrapping.
Your flesh, your proof, your precious dust—all go.

Let them go, let them be, or not be. The husk gives way.
The miracle, that most is, lives in the seed.
You are the growing child within your aging womb,

the love your flesh inhabits, unfolding, unending,
renewing, chrysalis after chrysalis, your Creator
every moment breathing, “Let there be light.”

October 18, 2018

Job

         Then the Holy One answered Job out of the whirlwind:
         “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,
         when the morning stars sang together
         and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy??”

                        —Job 38.1, 4, 7

God doesn’t belittle Job
or criticize him for his lack of knowledge.
God reminds him
that his life, even his suffering,
is part of a great, grand wonder,
that Job is himself a vast marvel
of which only a little bit
is Job.

Oh, Universe, you,
don’t be made small
by your anguish.
You are not your pain.
You are more immense,
more wondrous, more beautiful.
Your brokenness is held
in our infinite Oneness
and even your peace
unfolds beyond you.

   —October 17, 2018