your Spirit is my breath;
the fruit of your Spirit is my life.
in and out,
and breathe in and out
your love, joy and peace.
My blood flows
through my body,
and through my body flows
your patience, kindness and generosity.
I look upon the world
and through my eyes shines
your faithfulness, generosity and self-control.
Your Spirit lives in me;
and the fruit of that Spirit is life;
and I give thanks.
James and John said,
“Boss, do you want us to command fire
to come down from heaven and consume them?”
Don’t you just want to slap James and John
for being such idiots?
In fact, why stop there?
Why not command fire to come down and consume them?
Funny how (a) we want to destroy people who disagree with us,
(b) we imagine we can do so, even if just by insulting them, and
(c) we assume Jesus likes that.
Wrong all three times.
(When fire actually does come down from heaven, as at Pentecost,
it doesn’t destroy people; it destroys our divisions, connects us,
and helps us communicate when previously we hadn’t.)
So when people won’t listen to us or even won’t accept us,
what do we do? Instead of calling down fire,
call up the fruits the Spirit has given you:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Practice this among your enemies and see how you are blessed.
Yesterday our son Jonathan and I
climbed Mt Washington, the highest point in the Northeast.
The trail went straight up—
so steep at one point there’s a ladder.
It was brutal. It was beautiful.
Up top it was frigid, windy, and spectacular,
and worth it.
But what I treasure is the going up and the coming down.
Mountaintop experiences seldom happen on the mountaintop.
They happen along the way,
in the ordinary places, in the hard places,
where we give ourselves over
to where we are, to what we are doing, to what is happening.
A mountaintop that keeps going on is just a plateau.
Don’t seek mountaintop experiences; just experience.
The whole mountain is as blessed as the top.
may I embody your grace.
May I not seek to be right, but to be gentle,
not to get my way but to be kind,
never to surrender my tenderness.
May I be faithful and steadfast
and see people with my faith, not my fears,
only to raise up and not push down,
to set free and not to corner,
to bless, not to use,
never to surrender my compassion.
May I clearly bear witness
to your prayer for us,
and speak and act for justice
for the sake of all who are not free,
never to surrender my conviction.
Grant me courage to be loving,
wisdom to be humble,
strength to be gentle.
by your grace
may I embody your grace.
Breathe in love.
It is love, all this that surrounds you,
surrounds you perfectly,
touches you perfectly,
holds you, contains you, fills you perfectly.
You breathe it.
You move through it.
Everything you see, you see through it.
It is given, breathed into you,
the breath of love,
from divine lungs
that breathe everything,
that have been breathing from all eternity,
breathing the one spirit we all breathe.
Breathe it in deeply, this love.
Let it fill you,
And breathe out.
…and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
—1 Kings 19 12
That silent voice
was there in the wind
and the earthquake and the fire,
but you didn’t hear it.
That gentle murmur was there in the cave,
but you didn’t notice.
That tiny whisper was there under the broom tree
but you didn’t listen.
It was there in Jezebel’s threat
though it was drowned out by the shouting,
but it was there.
It’s so quiet you can’t even tell what it’s saying
but it’s there,
with you, enfolding you,
that little sound a mother makes
holding her dear one close.
Remember how you once leaned against your mother’s chest
just to hear her breathing,
your father, just to feel the gentle rumble?
There is no longer Jew or Greek,
there is no longer slave or free,
there is no longer male and female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
It is not that there are no distinctions,
that somehow we are all alike—
oh, no, we’re different in so many ways.
It’s not that we’re not different,
it’s that we’re not separate.
We are one body, with all our differences,
one Being, one Love.
What is no longer is the ”or.”
There is no longer “red or blue;” there is rainbow.
We love our neighbor as ourselves
because they are part of ourselves.
We love our enemies because we are part of them,
part of what they are part of.
God grant us the mind of One,
none of us separate and distinct,
all of us in you,
They arrived at the country of the Gerasenes….
Jesus says, “Let’s go to the other side.”
Into what shadows does he lead me?
A part of me, unwell, living amid death, cries out.
Who it? What is its name?
He had many demons.
Can I see myself as Jesus does, whole, separate from the demons?
They are Legion, they say. Many. Caesar’s.
What demons of Empire live in me?
Jesus knows my demons, commands them, sends them away.
Can I let go?
The herd of my old life has been cast into the abyss.
Is this a New Creation?
There is my frightening self, sane and presentable.
Would I rather not have that one join me?
We have asked him to leave.
How do we push him away?
When he says, “No, go home and tell the story”
what story would I tell?
He says again, “Let’s go to the other side….”
Of what? Of whom? Am I ready? Will I go?
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
The hollow in the health of my cells
for the water of you that is who I am,
and, still and waiting,
the deep spring
cool and clear, flowing, and
deeply of what the earth gives of itself, unceasing.
Confined with COVID to a single room for days on end,
I join the ranks of those who can only
look out a window, if they have one:
cloistered nuns, hospital patients,
nursing home residents, prisoners.
We gaze, we yearn, we befriend ourselves
in this small universe, this tomb, this womb.
A little thread stretches
out from deep inside to open air
and all its roots and alleys,
to those we miss, to all the others,
a thread only discernible
in the vast nugget of this desert solitude.
Go into the crowd and listen to the hunger
for the peace of living with oneself,
how foreign, cherished, doubted, forgotten.
Go into your own little cell and find there
the wire throbbing.
Follow the thin song,
and touch the miracle that we all
all are lonelier than we think,
all more deeply connected than we know.