For the bewildering mystery of being alive
I am grateful!
For this amazing communion of saints that is
my body, how it all works—thank you!
(Even when it is awkward, or ill: gratitude!)
For this stupendous planet, cornucopia of life,
teeming with beauty and strangeness,
wrapping me in its flow of giving and receiving: thanks!
For the people who have helped shape me,
given me gifts, walked the road with me—
even unknowing, even by accident—gratitude!
For what I can do, and the faith to do it, thank you!
For light (so splendid!) and sound (how wonderful!)
for how gravity works no matter what (wow!),
for the sense of touch (and humor): thank you!
For music in the world and in my heard, gratitude!
For all my struggles (for if I am wrestling, I do so
with angels)—I am grateful.
For the lives of people I miss, dear ones even now
on the threshold of death, gratitude.
For the little green frogs in my yard, and
the great blue heron who wants to eat them: thank you!
For your absolutely consistent grace, your delight in it all,
your love beyond imagining, I thank you!
I ask only for the gift of undying gratitude,
in all things—welcome or not, pleasant or hard—
in all things, in every moment: gratitude.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
On the porch the morning glory vines
want to wander off into the eaves
and get lost in the darkness behind the slats.
Every morning I get out the ladder and train them
up the post, and along the string across the lintel,
gently re-routing the tendrils that have gone astray.
You learn not to resist the way
God gently bends your vines
to bring your beauty into a good place.
Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me
cannot be my disciple.
give me the grace to join you on the cross
of the suffering of the world.
Borne by your love,
empowered by your Spirit in me,
raised from death by your grace,
held gently in your tenderness,
I walk through the refugee’s desert of hope,
the patient’s waiting room of despair,
the war victim’s ruins.
Give me courage to cease reserving my love
for my family alone:
for the poor, the outcast, the oppressed,
those who suffer are also my flesh and blood.
Give me grace to die to my separateness,
and be raised in oneness with you
and all who suffer and are raised.
Go and sit down at the lowest place.
Wisdom speaks not only to an individual at a party,
but to the human species included in Creation.
Humans have assigned ourselves the place of honor,
the crown of Creation, the pinnacle of evolution;
but we are superfluous, a parasite,
contributing nothing to the food chain.
The world was fine and beautiful without us,
praising God in beauty of movement, song and form,
playing, dancing, loving young ones,
communities performing their symphony of harmony—
and they will still after we are gone.
Wisdom invites us to take the lowest place
at the table of Creation, supporting from beneath,
where feet are washed, and fallen crumbs cherished.
What if we were to serve, not conquer? Bless, not rob?
What might it be like for humanity
to be a doorkeeper in the house of God?
What might we find in the lowest place,
closest to the Creator?
They’re building a neighborhood next door,
clearing land, moving earth,
extending the street, erecting houses.
I finish my morning prayers on the porch
before they arrive with their crashing and beeping.
But, Hark! The loader’s back-up beep
sounds exactly the same note as my singing bowl.
Because I, too, am building a neighborhood—
not of buildings but of prayer:
a place beyond time and space
where souls may find shelter and belonging.
I am clearing ground, uprooting things,
the uneven made level and the crooked made straight.
I am laying foundations, offering space,
making of my heart a welcome home,
so all of us, friend and stranger,
near and far, human and not, are neighbors.
The builders’ work is in this little cul-de-sac,
but mine fills the whole world.
Pinch them off,
the faded lovelies,
to make room and energy for more.
The gifts, the successes,
the magic moments,
let them go.
The marigolds of life
Glory unfolds infinitely.
and deadhead your victories.
When you are invited to a banquet,
do not sit at the place of honor,
but go and sit down at the lowest place.
—Luke 14.8, 10
In the banquet of life
I seek a place of entitlement,
but the Teacher says, “No,
everything is a gift, beyond your deserving.”
I seek honor among others,
but the Savior says, “No,
do not trade your Belovedness
for anyone’s opinion.”
I seek mastery, the feeling
that I have gotten somewhere,
but the sage says, “No,
begin again. Always a beginner.”
In gratitude, humility and wisdom
is the highest honor.
Either you have it
or you want others to think you do.
I notice birds here thinking of migrating. Big change. I believe you too have something new coming on. You may dread it, or can’t wait, or don’t know it’s coming. But I see it. I just want you to know I’ve already gone that way, flown the whole route. Listen: you’re going to make it. We’re going to make it, just fine. Trust me and, when it’s time, fly. I’ll be with you.
as storms rage, calm prevails,
and temperatures fluctuate,
with scattered flooding, drought
and other unstable external conditions—
while, still, as always,
at the center,
the steadfast Presence
She moves among the nasturtiums,
a needle going in and out, in and out,
sewing me to this garden.
(How many angels can dance on the tip
of a hummingbird’s tongue?)
She dips her head in for only a moment,
then backs away,
and pauses after each blossom
and gives a tiny chirp, just a chip, just a ch—
(is it “Ahh?,” or “Thank you?,” or “Amen?”).
Then moves to another blossom, and
another moment, and another, and another.
She works every blossom in the garden,
one by one, sip after tiniest sip.
For her it is not patience, not acceptance,
but simply breakfast.
Our souls are not fed by great feasts
but a thousand tiny prayers.
The leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Beloved answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie your ox or your donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”
Watch what Jesus does:
He notices what hurts, and goes there.
He offers healing, unconditionally.
He heals not only a spine but a life.
He calls a woman supposedly cursed with illness
a “daughter of Abraham”—worthy, named, and belonging.
He values people over principles.
He opposes a status quo that justifies suffering.
He confronts those in power who use it for harm
(again, noticing the wound and going to it).
He doesn’t break God’s law: he interprets it more deeply:
as a law of liberation, not requirement or prohibition.
He invites us to see Sabbath, and God’s law, and all of life in a new way.
He gives us permission—and a theology—
to live lives of love in the face of oppression,
regardless of rigid systems, and despite resistance,
to offer mercy and healing and love.
“He teaches with authority!”