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Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and steadfast spirit within me.

-Psalm 51:10

Seeker,

Who or what merits the attention of your whole heart these days?

 

We are living through a time of extremes,

where the so much of so few

leaves too little for too many;

 

where understanding and forbearance

are held hostage

by fanaticism and fear;

 

where hateful brutality

comes garbed as religion,

and callous cynicism dresses up as freedom.

 

Yet, it is deeper into this disturbing wilderness

that we are beckoned,

to bare our hearts to a voice;

 

the keening chorus

of tenuous life,

now sorely afflicted,

 

echoed in the booming surf

and crackling glaciers

of warming-wasted oceans,

 

amid the chafing cries

of God’s children cast adrift

on treacherous seas.

 

Within this refrain lingers,

barely perceptible, the longing of Our Long-Suffering Lover,

holding out for healing.

 

Yet even now, says your God, return to me with all your heart…

-Joel 2:12

 

Lent invites us to leave hearts ajar and comforts behind,

and wander far from certainties

that would harden the edges of our care.

 

The wilderness of compassion hides secret seeds;

dry and dormant, anticipating catharsis—

the melting of hearts.

 

These packages of possibility hold blueprints for peace

that blossom with the merest inclination of reverence,

and precipitation of tenderness.

 

In a world such as this,

who has the courage

to be vulnerable first?

 

Who dares confront

terror and taunting

with the hot truth of tears?

 

Who is strong enough to be gentle,

and willing enough to embody this paradox:

only the broken are made whole-hearted?

 

Vulnerability is the only reliable measure of courage. -Brené Brown

 

Though in her manifold dimensions

universe looks like chaos,

at her core mysterious, she is profound connection,

 

expansively outreaching, like light itself,

longing for communion—deep calling out to deep

in one sweeping cosmic sacrament!

 

Will you quiet your soul,

steady your voice,

and ready your loved ones for wholehearted living,

 

so that lovingly we might stand together,

before the haze of hurt and hatred,

mischievous mockery and the reckless ruination of holy life?

 

…assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast…Between vestibule and altar let the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord…”

-Joel 2:16-17

 

Will you weep too, and keenly wonder,

at the state of God’s garden,

and at woeful wounded humanity—body-broken of Christ?

 

Wholehearted living, compassion practiced,

is the pathway into Mercy’s Realm

that evaporates every separation and gathers into one,

 

the dominated with the divided,

the gated with the segregated, the distracted with the discounted,

the privileged with the persecuted people of God.

 

It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too because it is a foretaste of heaven. When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them.

-Dorothy Day

 

May Lent lengthen in you a longing for the wholeness we sorely need,

joe  

Read more Still In the Storm reflections in a new JustFaith Ministries’ publication by Joe Grant.

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Click here to order: Still In The Storm

leaves and light

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

-Ephesians 3:17

 

Seeker,

Can you recall the last time you crumbled earth between your fingers, felt soil between your toes, or dirt under your fingernails? 

(Are these not indicators of being rooted and grounded?)

 

There is no synthetic soul, no virtual holiness.

Neither by agency, rhetoric, nor reasoning

can we manufacture sacredness.

 

Holiness is free-gifted.

Sanctity presents itself,

an essential quality of each and every being.

 

Truth, goodness, beauty,

are graced to the gardener

who has learned to listen to the wisdom of earth.

 

For mercy rains down from heavy heavens,

justice erupts from saturated soil,

peace blossoms from the sublime harmony of living communities.

 

Life is too precious to permit its devaluation by living pointlessly, emptily, without meaning, without love and, finally without hope.    

-Václav Havel

 

So many of us earthlings

now find ourselves exiles

on this precious planet home.

 

Divorced from sun, sea and soil,

we seem destined to despoil

all we touch.

 

Whether boxed in slum squalor,

where neither field, nor forest,

nor flower can grace our days,

 

or barricaded behind

synthetic blinds,

where Nature becomes a screen show,

 

our reverence is thrice removed from raw reality

by heads distracted, hearts divided,

and hands calloused only from continuous clicking.

 

What greater stupidity can be imagined than calling jewels, silver, and gold “precious” and earth and soil “base”?

-Galileo Galilei

 

Life herself, in minute and monumental proportion—

our one bright sanctuary in the cold dark void—

is saturated with sacred mystery.

 

If we no longer sense this living sacramental presence,

we have traded in our birthright for “urbanality”,

and lost our way back to Eden.

 

How sad to so separate

our souls

from the good earth,

 

to desecrate the sanctity of soil

or denounce salt of the earth people as dirty—

pagan, heathen, villain!

 

For followers of a meek master,

once a worker of wood,

touching earth is a spiritual practice.

 

By calling upon us to consider the lilies,

our teacher was taught by God’s planet

to renew our covenant with Creation.

 

Reconnecting with the loam of our lives

we learn that holy is not heavenly.

The humus of our humanity is the only place we actually touch mercy.

 

And it is to the crumbled communion

of countless ancestors under our feet

that every body is commended.  

 

Will you stoop today, touch sacred soil,

and feel the silent stirrings of spring?

Nothing is more vital and urgent for us than growing deeper down.

 

The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

-Psalm 65:12-13

 

Blessed are you who till and tend and touch

resilient earth,

and therein plant the seeds of hope!

joe

A New Publication Now Available 

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Click here to order: Still In The Storm

 

small fishermen VB

They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’

–Mark 7:32-34

 

Seeker,

In the midst of fear and misunderstanding, how do you listen?

 

Are you following the surface chatter

of social media static—

a billion voices abuzz?

 

Awash in a multitude of messages,

so much is being said by so many

about free speech.

 

But who is freely listening—

opening a receptive space,

leaning close with focused attention?

 

Myriad are the opportunities

and ways of listening

when we put hearts to it.

 

We can listen for the strike,

the harsh clash of events, action and reaction,

the explosive cloud of crisis and conflict.

 

Then, there is heartfelt listening,

attuned to the lingering resonances,

aftereffects, and whispers of lives barely noticed.

 

When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

-Henri Nouwen

 

When mistrust breeds fear, injustice brews resentment,

and violation begets violence,

can we listen with those who feel dominated AND those who feel threatened?

 

Dare we listen long enough

till we hear ourselves, our lives, our hopes

echoed in the cries of outsiders?

 

Dare we wade into realities deeply enough

to acknowledge their complexity

and our complicity?

 

We see from where we stand.

-Haitian Proverb

 

Can listening be an avenue

for sharing pains and possibilities?

Otherwise, how do we come close to understanding?

 

Leaning in to listen to a person,

reality, or need beyond my own

re-places the center of gravity outside me and mine.

 

We can ill-afford to reject

this fundamental human orientation,

and expression of our true God-likeness.

 

Listen Lord, listen Lord,
Not to our words but to our prayer.
You alone, You alone,
Understand and care.

-John L. Bell (Iona Community)

 

May we not abandon listening,

but rather listen with abandon,

throwing wide our hearts to hopes and hurts far and near.

 

Healing happens when together we listen

to the LIFE within our lives, and the Great story

playing out behind our varied accounts.

 

With the Great Listener may you freely listen,

for resilient hope and tenacious life signs

behind and beneath the events of our times?

 

joe

New Publication Now Available to Pre-Order

Click here to order: Still In The Storm

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sand mandala

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

– Isaiah 11:9

 

Seeker, 

What do you need to put down in order to pick up the promise of peace?

[The reflection below is an excerpt from a new book by Joe Grant coming out in February. See the announcement at the end of the reflection.]

 

The storm-tones died away and… I beheld the countless host of forest hushed and tranquil, towering above one another like a devout audience. The setting sun filled them with amber light, and seemed to say, while they listened, “My peace I give unto you.”

– John Muir

 

Deeper than ending hostility,

broader than personal tranquility,

peace is a promise, a gift, a way, a necessary means to well-being.

 

…and all manner of things shall be well.

– Julian of Norwich

 

Though she enters in stillness, Shalom is not the fruit of quietism.

Peace is not a passive state.

She is engagement, she is movement—a continual act in balance.

 

The promise of peace extends its reach

beyond the bounds

of personal and social relations.

 

Shalom encompasses and shapes

all our interlacing relationships to life,

at every turn expressing and re-forging kinship.

 

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!

– Psalm 133:1

 

Peace culminates in communion.

But before we can taste at-one-ness,

we must first embrace at-one-ment.

 

Despite the doomsayers, we are not destined for destruction.

Communion and wholeness

are not just dreamy possibilities.

 

Our traditions teach

that the essence and substance of the Heart,

which breathed the universe into being, is peace-bearing love.

 

…for God is a God not of disorder but of peace.

– 1 Corinthians 14:33

 

Our faith is not founded

on peace and quiet,

but rooted in peace and justice.

 

No peace will long endure,

unless mercy and justice hold sway

in the dealings of the day.

 

We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.

– Thomas Merton

 

We cannot deny,

despite our self-inflicted wounds,

that we were made for so much more than domination.

 

It is suffering

borne and shared,

not violence unleashed, that brings redemption.

 

If we are not disturbed to the core

by the grotesque desecration of life in our times,

we must still be drugged by the enchantments of triumphalism.

 

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!

– John 16:33

 

Until we grieve the losses and mourn the costs of violence,

we cannot hope to resist the lure of vindication.

Only lament can exorcise such self-righteousness from our shared soul.

 

Wholeness and well being,

are the endowment promised (without exception)

to all the children of the One whose name is Shalom.

 

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.

– Matthew 5:9

 

The gift of peace rests in your hands.

May you take it today

to where it is needed most,

 

joe

 

New Publication by JustFaith Ministries.

An excellent companion for your Lenten journey and beyond!

Available February 2015 

Still in the Storm book cover (1)

Still in the Storm is not a book for sissies. It calls out a challenge to live vibrantly the contemplative journey in community and the quest for justice. It is poetry that touches the heart, quickens the spirit, and changes lives if we but open to the discipleship of NOW!

-Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK

 

 

backyard snow

Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I AM about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  -Isaiah 43:19

 

Dear Seeker,

What changes, challenges and choices might this New Year have in store?

 

Just a few days ago,

in one movable global feast,

we welcomed a brand new year.

 

It began with noises in the night, cheers and tears,

to proclaim one pilgrimage over,

and inaugurate the start of another cycle round our star.

 

City streets and squares,

familiar to protest and parade,

were re-occupied briefly with expectant, cheerful faces.

 

What can the marking of minuscule solar rotations mean

in the cosmic sweep of universal time,

measured in millions of light years?

 

For countless planetary pilgrims

a new year offers at least the possibility of change;

a safe shelter, a job, a cure, an end to violence.

 

This coming year, what changes

are you prepared to make?

What kind of age could be ending, and what might lie ahead?

 

Predictions of economic turmoil

and environmental devastation abound.

Indeed some expect the end of the world.

 

And perhaps this world as we know it,

with its careless consumption and reckless violations,

really needs to come to its end.

 

Surely we can each resolve

to make one of the changes necessary

to usher in a humbler, slower, more compassionate way of life.

 

There is no wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid, so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion. It is the only desert that shall truly flourish.     -Thomas Merton

 

If we are willing

to see our way through distraction and distortion,

we might just glimpse another age unfolding:

 

an age of peacemaking;,

an epoch of courageous

and humble transformations;

 

a time of loaves and fishes;

an era of raising up the lowly,

of reverencing smallness and fragile beginnings.

 

God knows,

this time, so patiently-awaited by so many,

is long overdue.

 

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you is to come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel. -Matthew 2:6

 

Let us reclaim this age from the litter of lost lives.

Let us make a change, no matter how small,

in our seeing and in our being present to life.

 

Let us contemplate the legacy

we leave every day

for the vulnerable in our care.

 

Love is little, love is low, love will make our spirit grow.

Grow in peace, grow in light, love will do the thing that’s right.   -Shaker Hymn

 

May we see in frailty and littleness

a manifestation of the Holy

appearing in the universe.

 

joe

Coming Soon:  A New Publication by JustFaith Ministries

Still in the Storm book cover (1)

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In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a maiden engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The maiden’s name was Mary. 

-Luke 1:26-27

(With apologies for the previously garbled WORDPRESS formatting)

 
 

Seeker,

What great adventure awaits you this Advent, in these greatly troubled times?

 

How do we make room

for hope in the gloom,

and peace to smooth the way in the dealings of our day?

 

How do we give voice

to understanding and compassion

in our worldly wilderness where heartlessness is in fashion?

 

Will you attend again to that age-old parable

of messengers from the heavens

and signs in starry skies…

 

of wisdom setting out to meet humility;

and a maid who made room

for unimagined possibility…

 

of a refugee-God outcast,

brought to birth in poverty,

and swaddled in squalor…

 

of a Liberator nestled amid beasts of burden

in an occupied land,

and of hope hosted by a wandering shepherd band?

 

Will you re-tell that ancient teaching tale,

of flight in the night

from lustful power…

 

that fears the vulnerable,

and dreads the promised restoration

that is most surely coming?

 

And the angel came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was greatly troubled by these words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

-Luke 1:28-30

 

Now, will you make room

for contemporary connections,

and parallel parables…

 

of unlikely welcomes and visitations

of fear and flight, of hearts roomy and ready,

and of promise wrapped in the powerlessness of our time?

 

The gift of greatest efficacy and power that we can offer God and creation is not our skills, gifts, abilities, and possessions. Mary offered only space, love, belief. 

-Loretta Ross-Gotta

 

The work of Advent consists of this: make room!

Attune your heart to the hope, long-expected,

by hungry souls and broken lives.

 

 

Clear the clutter, quiet the noise,

turn off the soundtrack,

douse the glittering lights.

 

Put away your lists to listen

to cries from the dark heart of the earth

that break the heart of the universe.

 

Set aside the presents just to be present,

and leave behind the plastic pretense

to stand beneath the sky and ponder the Maker of a trillion galaxies…

 

who cares yet for the smallest places,

and seeks out the darkest recesses,

bearing the gift of tenuous new life.

 

For into each unfolding moment

with or without us, the Christ arrives

looking only for room and readiness.

 

Let us not be found

corrupted by the cancer of consumption,

lost in self-fulfilling dreams of doom…

 

or decorated by distraction,

and driven by the appetite for acquisition,

dismissing the catastrophe playing out before our misted eyes.

 

All this world needs to embody the Christ-becoming

is space, in humble, generous hearts

and spirits still ready and willing.

 

The message of hope is sent to enlighten our distress.

The promise of peace is meant for the conflict-torn places.

For Christ is made flesh in the midst of this mess.

 

As water sinks to the lowest point and love finds the sorest soul,

so the Christ seeks out the broken,

bringing forth restoration that makes the wounded whole.

 

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.
-Maori Proverb

 

The slimmest hope is hopeful still. The slightest flicker glimmers for all.

As earth rolls away from the dark, will you re-turn your life

to reflect the light of a new dawn?

 

joe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be aware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come… Therefore keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.  

-Mark 13: 33, 35-37

 

Seeker,

With whom do you belong? Who is sacred to you?

 

We have entered now

that time of watchful waiting,

a season of ripening contradictions.

 

Festooned with jingle jangle

the temples of commerce

lure us with indulgences so very good for the economy.

 

All the while in hallowed spaces

choirs sweetly croon

over starlit snow-globe nativities.

 

Though we know well this siren-song,

with its fuzzy festive feelings,

it is still so difficult to stay awake.

 

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

-Mary Oliver

 

In this well-distracted, deep-divided world,

Christ takes flesh;

God-within, around, among us all.

 

Meanwhile, blinded by brutality,

carved up by inequity,

our fractured family huddles into separateness.

 

Though some bow to the East

and others incline to the West,

we all hark either from Global North or South.

 

And many must take that risky exodus

crossing desert, sea or mountain

in search of possibility and the promise of a new beginning.

 

From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait…  

-Isaiah 64:4

 

It is so easy to divide us—

Dives from Lazarus—

the handful who own more than the billions on the bottom.

 

With fervor some of us commit heinous crimes

in the name of a merciless god.

Others give their lives in the name of national supremacy.

 

And many millions find ourselves

somewhere in the middle,

watching, worried, wondering.

 

It may feel safe to stay distracted,

look away from far off diseases,

disregard neighborhood protests, tune out terror.

 

We might even decorate ourselves

with piety or pageantry.

But wishful hoping does not bring peace to birth.

 

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected by power, because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.

-Thomas Merton

 

Christ has not come

just for the few or the some,

for God wears the skin of everyone.

 

No wall, no fence or boundary,

no system of caste, class or color,

can contain the merciful cascade meant for all and everyone.

 

Christ bides with us already.

And we will know and be known,

when, as one body, we refuse to be gated or segregated.

 

Under the rain of mercy

all are re-consecrated,

as separations are wiped away.

 

In the body of Christ

there is no room for “they” no place  for “them”

for justice is “just us.”

 

May you find your way to celebrate God-with-US today!

joe

seashell puget

“You will indeed listen, but never understand,

 and you will indeed look, but never perceive. 

For this people’s heart has grown dull,

 and their ears are hard of hearing,

and they have shut their eyes;

so that they might not look with their eyes,

and listen with their ears,

and understand with their heart and turn—

and I would heal them.”
-Matthew 13: 14-15

 

Seeker,

When was the last time you gave life a good listening to?

 

Remember pressing a seashell to you ear,

to catch an ancient echo

of booming surf?

 

Recall when someone dear

leaned in close

to hear the heart behind your words…?

 

…and that time you were drawn

by a tone, a voice, a word

and held spellbound till all boundaries fell away?

 

Picture that special person,

far away or long gone,

you’d love to listen to once again?

 

Listen with the ear of the heart.

-Rule of St. Benedict

 

Every minute so much is going on,

in us, around us,

through us, beyond us.

 

And moment by moment

we choose whether, and how deeply,

we are willing to connect with life.

 

The most potent, most intimate form

of connecting and communicating

is neither talking nor touching, but listening.

 

Let us not confuse listening with hearing,

for they are as distinct from each other

as tourists are from pilgrims.

 

Heart listening,  attentive presence,

leads to a holy communion of souls.

It is the truest way to show how deeply we care.

 

The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present.

-Joanna Macy

 

Our everpresent Maker

abides in silence,

all the better to listen well to everything.

 

Such sacred heart listening,

as a loving practice,

is God-like behavior.

 

Listening is the highest duty of love.

-Paul Tillich

 

The listening Christ

taught us to disarm our hearts

by opening ears once deaf to others.

 

He commissioned each of us

to heal by listening

to our enemies.

 

For how can we

be followers of the Christ

till we’ve learned to love those who hate us?

 

Followers the way of non-violence,

who bear the cross of suffering love,

choose to listen to the ones who would harm them.

 

And in times of division and conflict

sacred heart listening opens up

the risky road to reconciliation.

 

When we set agendas aside,

to listen and be listened to,

our desire un-taps a well of understanding.

 

Your Spirit is at work

when understanding puts an end to strife,

when hatred is quenched by mercy,

and vengeance gives way to forgiveness.

-Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II

 

Sacred Heart listening

is how Good News is heard,

broken open and proclaimed.

 

Choosing to listen

is our first act

in exposing our lives to the Domain of God.

 

Listen, O Israel:

The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

You shall love the Lord your God

with all your heart,

and with all your soul,

and with all your might. 

-Deuteronomy 6:4-5

 

Listen like children drinking in a story.

Listen like trees teaching the wind to sing.

Listen with your eyes, with your touch, with your insides.

 

Nurture your listening heart.

Open a quiet listening space,

and let the noisy world tumble in.

 

Is this not how healing happens to us?

 

joe

cypress smaller

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

-Matthew 18:1-4

Seeker,

Do you worry that we have made of the earth a dark and dangerous place for God’s precious children?

 

We need to be out of our minds to enter God’s domain,

to get out our heads, reclaim our childhood,

and come back down to earth.

 

Daily we commute through Eden in the moist morning,

and God’s Reign, largely unnoticed,

rolls and swirls about us like amber mist.

 

And God put the human being in the garden of Eden to till and look after it.

-Genesis 2: 15

 

For sure this is no promised Reign of pain-free bliss.

There is no guarantee

of relief from life’s persistent problems.

 

This domain of the Divine is a way of being—

fully engaged, poised in ready reflection,

like the silent heron about to strike.

 

And we meet this Reign like children,

as we lose all sense of self

and fall into terrible love with life.

 

In this state,

all trouble is shared, all pain is yoked,

and life’s tragic beauty is made bearable in the great communion.

 

A Permeable Life

I want to leave enough room in my heart

For the unexpected,

For the mistake that becomes knowing,

For knowing that becomes wonder,

For wonder that makes everything porous,

Allowing in and out

All available light.

-Carrie Newcomer

 

To savor the sacrament of the fullness of being,

we put expectation aside,

and simply want to be in this tragic-tremendous moment.

 

It takes a small child to remind us that

nothing we do here really matters.

In the cosmic scheme, nothing we do really matters.

 

Yet, HOW we do things—

how we do absolutely anything—

has universal significance.

 

We are guilty of many errors and many faults,
but our worst crime is abandoning the children,
neglecting the fountain of life.
Many things can wait. Children cannot.
Right now their bones are being formed,
their blood is being made,
and their senses are being developed.
To them we cannot answer, “Tomorrow.”
Their name is today.

-Gabriela Mistral

 

Let us make of our lives a porous presence

so that realities and relationships, near and distant,

can come in close, to saturate and penetrate.

 

A porous, permeable,

child-like heart O God,

you will not spurn.

 

While leaves quiver,

branches shake, and trunks sway,

roots alone stay firm.

 

The strength of any tree

lies in the tangled depths

of its roots.

 

To be strong and resilient,

like a tree that makes the spirit-wind sing,

we sink our souls down into the quiet soil.

 

May you welcome a child this day,

any and every child of God

who passes your way.

 

Rooted and grounded in the Realm of Reliance,

may the needs and hopes of the children of today

lead you closer to the ground, quieter still, and a little slower.

 

joe

sunset small puget 002

Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do choose. Be made clean.’ 

-Luke 5:12-13

 

Dear Seeker,

How have you known the feel of suffering-love in your life?

 

Have you seen

the fevered victims,

precious people devastated by a merciless disease?.

 

Have you looked

into the anguished faces

of families facing indescribable loss?.

 

Have you noticed the quiet courage

of medical workers and body bearers

defying a plague to carefully reach out to those distressed and dying?

 

To the lost Christ shows his face;
to the unloved He gives His embrace;
to those who cry in pain or disgrace,
Christ, makes, with His friends, a touching place.
-John L. Bell, Iona Community

 

When children first come close

to another person’s wound—a cut, a graze, a burn—

they fear that by touching it they will share the pain.

 

As adults, we recoil from people in distress,

perhaps afraid

we might be implicated in their suffering or shame.

 

When Jesus touched leprous skin and blinded eyes,

or took the dead child by the hand,

he risked contamination, being declared unclean.

 

But did he also

need to make love real,

a palpable, physical connection?

 

Could he feel

through warm fingertips

the stories carried by the skin?

 

Did he finger the isolation of illness?

Would he feel the indignities of infirmity?

Could he share the powerlessness of poverty?

 

Sometimes the very walls of our churches separate us from God and each other. In our various naves and sanctuaries we are safely separated from those outside, from other denominations, other religions, separated from the poor, the ugly, the dying…The house of God is not a safe place. It is a cross where time and eternity meet, and where we are – or should be – challenged to live more vulnerably, more interdependently.

-Madeleine L’Engle

 

Suffering cries out to be shared.

There is no healing

without the risk of holding and being held.

 

Surely you have felt

the pulsing warmth

of another hand in yours?

 

Such fragile, mysterious gifts are we,

messengers of a God-embodied,

come to feel through us the burn of love.

 

Every human palm,

saturated with sensate receptors,

can stretch out to hold and feel, or reach in to know and heal.

 

But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 

-Luke 10:33-34

 

Consider your own hands,

that have borne suffering

and been stung by violence.

 

Hands that have inflicted pain,

and been calloused

by rejection or distain.

 

These hands have brought consolation

and have known

the touch of tenderness.

 

Such strong, gentle hands,

anointed to care and caress,

and bring the healing Reign close at hand.

 

God of day and darkness,

bless these holy hands, for the tasks of restoration:

the holding, healing, feeding, and forgiving work of the Gospel.

 

We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Will you risk being touched by the suffering within the reach of your hands?

joe

 

Still IN the Storm

STILLPOINT...In the Eye of the Storm - reflections excerpted or carefully crafted to accompany you in your practice of 'engaged presence,' as you draw the world of crying need and awesome complexity into your heart and center.

SIS comes in regular installments as reflections, resources and reminders for engaging spirituality in times like these.

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