Befriend your monsters.
Go deep in your closet, way back in the dark,
and pull out the scariest stuff (scariest to you),
and put it on. Wear your shadow.
(Otherwise it will choke you.)
Rummage, and find the anger of a murderer,
the bloody ax. Hold it. Feel its heft.
There’s the scarves and masks of secret affairs,
the double agent costume of betrayals and untruths.
Go ahead, try them on. They fit.
There are monster outfits, the fangs and claws
of fear and envy and pride and greed,
oh, that big drooling bloody mouth of greed.
There’s the costume of the mad scientist,
wanting to take over the world,
the exhibitionist, longing to be seen,
the hunchback of self-doubt,
the addict, just not wanting to deal with it,
the prostitute subservient to other’s desires,
giving away what’s deeply yours
to get what you already have.
Oh, you look better in that than you wish.
And here: here’s the old, decrepit skeleton,
the strengthless, fleshless fingers, yes yours,
with maggots in the eye holes.
Put it on, and lie face down in the dust.
And don’t just give the mirror a glimpse of these.
Show the neighborhood your monsters.
Parade down the street. Tag along
with the little princesses and superheroes,
the astronauts and little miss RBG,
so cute, so innocent, who know better,
who will forgive you,
who will take your bloody hand
and walk with you
all the way home.
He was trying to see who Jesus was,
but on account of the crowd he could not,
because he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him.
Would I climb a tree to see Jesus?
Would I make a fool of myself to meet God?
Embarrass myself, risk humiliation?
(You’re not really in love till you’ve embarrassed yourself.)
What would I dare, or not dare?
What would I risk to experience the Holy?
Am I ready for people to talk behind my back?
To give away a lot of money?
To allow Jesus to invite himself in, to invade my life,
when I definitely have not cleaned lately?
To commit to a loony scheme
that with Jesus could definitely get out of control?
Or do I slip back into the murmuring crowd,
all happy to consume me?
God, give me the faith to be gutsy for Jesus.
To be crazy for you, and let others call me so.
To counter the crowd, all those looming opinions
around me and inside me.
To follow a voice no one else believes in.
To be uncool for you.
God, give me the lovesick guts
to climb the fool tree.
Standing near the cross-
The acoustics aren’t great
yet you hear it
so far away,
this soaring, slithering melody,
the harmonies, like the city,
rich with unexpected combinations
—odd, really, that it is so harmonious.
The song walks through your veins like streets,
the notes curl around you
like the second or third day of Creation,
song with no use, no cure, no bounds.
The voice is sweet and fit for stage or fame,
but the busker stays (oh, why?), with this fragile music,
for the folks emerging from the underground, making their way.
No one listens, they walk by, they cross,
themselves or in bunches to the other side of the road,
but the singer sees them, sees all,
hears their inner songs,
their silent music strangely harmonized.
The Singer of All Things matches the notes
of footsteps and voices and buses and regrets,
a siren far off and a doubt so close,
a door closing and opening,
a laborer’s shout, a truck, a trouble,
all so delicately sung, a psalm,
a gift, a plea, a prayer,
an aubade ignored, a soundtrack for the world.
We hear but don’t listen.
The singing continues.
Only later we realize
we wished we could have heard.
Yet in the stillness,
there, there it is, your name…
O God, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
…. There is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.
—Habakkuk 1.2-3, 2.3
Give us trust, O Love,
amid the great tribulations we bring upon ourselves,
and those yet to come,
that your hands hold this mess,
that even as we cry out in fear or despair
this swirling gloom
is the dark chaos of your Creation,
secure in your arms,
blessed and destined for light and glory.
How long, O God, will we cry out?
Long, for the creation is a great unfolding,
the birthing and dying of stars a great span,
and the story is long, beyond our lifetimes.
But it is the story of Love, and Love prevails,
working its grace since before the dawn of human cruelty.
Even in the thickest shadows
we learn to face the dark
and say with trust and hope:
and yet… and yet…
Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I give to the poor;
and if I have defrauded anyone of anything,
I pay back four times as much.
In the Greek Zacchaeus doesn’t say he will give
but that he does.
Is this a sudden change or has he done this all along?
Either way it’s clear:
radical generosity is possible.
From a poor widow or a rich taxman,
whether it’s a new move or an old habit,
whether it’s hard or easy,
radical generosity is to be expected.
The only thing holding you back
is if you don’t want to.
If, as you suspect may be true of Zacchaeus,
something needs to happen to you
to make you want to—
it already has.
Spirit, pray in me,
mindful of your presence,
awake to your grace,
aware of your beauty,
attentive to your leading,
inwardly and in others
where you reveal yourself.
Pray in me,
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.
The people you love
are not just there by quirk.
They are God’s love breathed upon you.
All those you meet are vessels of the Spirit.
Everything that exists—the trees, the mountains—
all are emanations of the Spirit of Love.
Nothing, no one, not even your enemies,
are devoid of that Spirit.
It may be denied, silenced, opposed, defied—
but it is still there.
Sit by the pond and behold its holiness.
Listen to the stranger and hear the divine breath.
Be still, and let the Spirit pour over you.
Two people went up to the temple to pray,
one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
They are not two people. Never are.
They are both me.
Sure of my worthiness, sure of my unworthiness.
Believing the illusion of deserving.
But only the trusting one,
open to what can only be a gift,
receives what is always offered
The other earns their little wage
and goes home still wanting.
Generous One, I trust your grace.
I open my hands to your gift,
my heart to your dependable miracle.
I rush efficiently through the airport of life,
my tickets in hand, my bags secure.
I am not where I am,
but far from where I am going.
But life is not an airport.
In quiet moments here with you
I sit still, not meaning to be elsewhere.
I do not need a suitcase, stuffed;
I have everything I need.
I do not need identification;
I am who you know me to be.
I do not need to know my destination;
it is me; it is you.
I am not in a hurry.
I am here.
I do not need to go;
I am where I belong.
I am in you.
I will stay here as long as I choose.
Thank you for being here with me.
My sorrows are not my own,
but threads that bind me
to all others.
My joys are not for me alone,
but meant to overflow into the world.
My gratitude is your voice in me,
opening me to the miracle of this life.
My loneliness is shared with every other person
floating through the world as a sea drop
thinking we are single drops.
My doubts and questions are the longing you give me
for you and for others, the hope that weaves us.
My wonder is the light given off
from being part of one living gift.
All of it is holy, all of it is blessed.
You fill me with beauty,
surround me with mystery,
and provide for me with grace;
and this you do for all your beloved people.
When I look inward I meet them there,
waiting for me.