Prayer at year’s end

         Teach us to count our days
         that we may gain a wise heart.

                           — Palm 90.12
                  
Eternal God,
in the evening of this year
I release the year to you.
Not a day, not a breath, have I been without you,
and I thank you.
All that I have done is done;
what I have not done I have not done.
All of my sins and errors you have forgiven,
and I release them.
All of my triumphs are your doing,
and I release them.
The year is gathered into your harvest,
to winnow and to save.
My life is gathered into your grace.
By your spirit in me may I learn from my mistakes,
grow from my wounds,
and deepen in gratitude for my gifts.
And now I turn to a new year,
grateful for your presence and your grace,
seeking only to live in harmony with your delight,
and open to your blessing and your leading.
Whether my journey onward be long or short,
it shall be in you, and I rejoice.
Amen.

   —December 31, 2018

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At home

         “Why were you searching for me?
         Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

                  —Luke 2.49

On this windblown street
here I,
finding my way,
stand, thinking of being lost
while in truth I am home,
in your house,
far from where I came from
and still
because all flesh is Word made flesh
at home in you.
And here in this temple you
not with answers but with questions
call me home
to not a place
but a presence,
heartwise,
close to you in this
beatific, banal or horrific
place I am,
the distance between us
vanished.

   —December 28, 2018

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Where my heart is

No manger is too rough
for the tenderness of God.

No threat of Herod too awful,
no poverty too dire

for God to come and be at risk
for sheer love of being with us.

God does not sigh, rolling the eyes,
“I suppose I have to come down there and save them.”

No, God says, “I am with you. Because
you are where my heart is.”

No darkness is too deep,
no banality unworthy,

no failure too utter for God;
God’s love is more utter.

We, the flesh of God’s Word,
can’t be without. Even our doubt

shines from within.

   —December 27, 2018

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Emmanuel

Alleluia!
No mere apparition in the sky,
a religious festival of note,
but a birth in the family!
God, you give us joy.

Not mere words, even of angels,
but deepest love made flesh.
God, you bring your heart close.
Alleluia!

Not a divine command,
even for mercy,
but your Loving Presence itself,
God with us,
because this is where you love to be.
God, you give us yourself.
Alleluia!

May God come and settle close to you
these twelve days, and onward.

   —December 26, 2018

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Christ is born

Christ is born!

Like a tender child in your arms,
         may the nearness of God warm you.
Like the awe of the shepherds,
         may the love that unites us all enfold you.
Like the song of the angels,
         may the promise of our belovedness give you hope.
Like the wonder of Mary and Joseph,
         may God’s presence awaken us to our siblings in the poor.
Like the radiance of the star over Bethlehem,
         may the light of God’s love shine in you,
         give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
         and guide your feet into the way of peace.

Christ is born. God is with us. Alleluia.

   —December 25, 2018

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Light

             The people who walked in darkness
                          have seen a great light;
             those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
                          on them light has shined.
             For a child has been born for us,
                           a son given to us.

                                                    —Isaiah 9.2, 8

God of love,
come be with us in our long night,
shining with your grace.
Let the light of your presence
shine in this world’s darkest darkness.
May the birth of Christ transform our night,
redeem the darkest prison,
brighten the inkiest shadows,
and illumine our way.

Christ, morning radiance of our hearts
dawn within us.

Come, light of love,
be born in us.

Alleluia!

   —December 24, 2018

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Winter solstice

Sometimes the old myth is right,
the light has gone out of the world,
you can see plainly in your heart
and its hungry darkness, the aimless grief,
a heavy echo of something missing, or someone,
not lighting, like a mood or a utility,
but a source, life itself, and its warmth.
Something like the friendship of the earth.
Not exactly breath, but essential.
Emperors are lost. Roads vanish.

You need to plead. Someone needs to fetch it.
Someone needs to assail the fearful thief
who has stolen the light and hidden it,
buried it in the darkest place where no one
can go, no one can find it, no one can return.
Someone innocent and honest, brave enough
to be true and risk everything to set off
with nothing but a fish hook and a loaf of bread
to find the light for us who hunger for it,
and for the trees who wait in silence.

On the longest night when even the angels
can stand it no longer, God sends a child,
tender and willing, (and a mother who offers him
to this dark world), a child with nothing but love
saying, “I will go into your darkest places for you
and there, there, I will draw out the light.”
The harsh wind clamping down,
the threat already issued, soldiers on the move,
the child comes into the night, facing the darkness.
His mother sings, and he begins his journey,
and already he has a bit of light in his hands,
and already the night begins to turn
and the stars dance and the angels sing
and your heart begins to rise
like the long-lost morning sun.

__________
For my friends in the Southern Latitudes,
thank you for holding the light for us.
Your turn will come.

   —December 21, 2018

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Our bond

   When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
         the child leaped in her womb.

                        —Luke 1.41

Two expecting mothers share a bond,
the recognition of the altered balance,
the spherical spirit, the parallel gaze,
companionship on a hard, bright path,
the magnificent power of giving life
that others can only surmise.

And yet that gaze, that bond, that power,
is yours.
We have too many religions of gods in clouds.
God does not enter the world from the stratosphere.
God enters from within, in each of us,
not might or magic, but in love.
Mary’s genius was her insight
that the divine, the world-changing Holy,
emerges from us like a newborn child.
I bear it. You bear it. It’s who we are.

The Beloved begs us to feel for the leap in us,
the divine child in us that knows
its sibling in another, that knows
we are connected in our power to give life.
Behold that in yourself, feel for the leap,
and know the bond that makes of all humanity,
all living creatures, one blessed womb.

Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

   —December 20, 2018

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Annunciation

Spiraling out in far-off galaxies,
a future unrecognizable,

vast and imperceptible
like the magnetic fields of earth,

subtle as the change of seasons
or the aging of a mountain,

a barely discernible shift
in how we pass each other on the street,

a knowing of belovedness,
mighty, without bounds or end,

a divine intent, heaven’s desire,
somehow weaving its root hairs

beneath our foundations, over
the heads of our politicians,

somehow, here, blossoms
in you.

December 19, 2018

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Leap

         When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
         the child leaped in her womb.

                  Luke 1.41

God, something in me leaps with joy
when I sense you near.
Something holy in me
dances at the sound of your voice.
Something in me rushes forward
as when sisters long apart reunite,
like lovers meeting.
I confess I ignore the leaping,
I suppress the dance,
I muffle the song.
Give me faith to leap,
to weep, to lean toward you.
Set me free to desire you near,
to delight in your presence,
to lose composure at your touch.
You who are coming,
give me faith to run to greet you.

December 18, 2018

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