Egret small

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Be aware, keep alert,  for you do not know when the time will come… 

And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.  -Mark 13: 33, 37

Seeker,

As a new year unfolds in this blessed-broken world, what are you waiting for?

 

 

We call it longing

because it distends our sense of time,

and so much living is enlarged in the waiting.

 

Waiting…

 

for healing to happen,

anticipating a change to come,

expecting a loved one’s imminent return.

 

Waiting…

 

for loss to soften,

an ache to ease,

a void to shrink.

 

Waiting…

 

for tempers to cool,

a chafed heart to mend,

a conflict to ease, a bloody war’s end.

 

Waiting…

 

for a new day to break,

a tired old one to wane,

for the silence of night, or the chorus of dawn.

 

Waiting…

 

for a newborn’s cry,

or a loved one’s final breath,

we vigil before the mysteries of life and love, of birth and death.

 

Waiting…

 

for the torrent to abate,

eager for the drought’s release,

desperately we hold out for hunger and injustice finally to cease.

 

So many ways

and shapes of expectation,

every moment whetted by keen anticipation.

 

All the while, and all around,

so much secretly undeclared,

quietly waits to be noticed, savored and shared.

 

The meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era. Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.  -Abraham Heschel

 

Endlessly empty,

waiting to awaken feels

like drowsy, mid-afternoon dullness.

 

Routines called “ordinary”,

always assumed and taken for granted,

numb and stultify.

 

Immune to golden sunsets and icy mountain peaks,

milky ocean spray and  windswept wilderness,

we fail to notice grandeur and beauty that daily over-wash us.

 

Even crisis fails to stir those still deaf and blind

to famished children, ravaged lives,

littered roads, denuded hills, and rapacious mines.

 

Daily life presents challenges and lessons

that test the level of our attentive presence,

and measure our receptivity.

 

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

 

In every moment grace hides

in plainest sight

for those with presence of mind and will to penetrate.

 

When life, love, or loss

lift the veil,

eyes, hearts and horizons are transfigured.

 

In the clarity of astonishment,

there’s nothing

ordinary about existence.

 

Thus are born poets, artists, mystics,

God’s own children

poised for inspiration to crack hearts or mend them.

 

Attentiveness is

a heightened state of readiness—

waiting, watching, wondering.

 

Wakefulness sharpens connection,

disdains distraction, discards pretension,

unmasks torpid self-preoccupation.

 

Like a heron intent on a gravelly stream,

or a tail-twitching tabby transfixed in the grass,

electrically-charged anticipation sharpens senses with focus and purpose.

 

Now we enter a state of expectant attention—

engaged presence—

the opposite of terminal boredom.

 

Fine-tuning the present, attentive to the peripheries,

scanning signs on the horizon,

wakeful, watching, wondering disciples wait.

 

(God) did not wait till the world was ready,
till (all the) nations were at peace.
(God) came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
  –Madeleine L’Engle

 

Who knows how grace will

greet you this day, this new year.

Will she find YOU ready to receive?

 

joe

Click here to order:  Still In The Storm

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,

“Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt,

and remain there until I tell you…”  -Matthew 2:13

Seeker,

Where would you go if you had to find a safe haven for your family?

 

Ever-evolving,

always shifting,

LIFE is miracle in motion.

 

No static system does justice

to the elegance of energy

that emanates from an emancipated spirit.

 

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.  -Psalm 19:2-4

 

Blizzards of spiraling galaxies,

upheld in cosmic flow,

slow-dance to eternal music beyond what we can know.

 

Our swirling dust-mote planet,

caught in radiant eddy bright,

makes her endless circuit around our lonely light.

 

All on earth is mobile;

a river of relations,

cycles, tides, and seasons turning without destination.

 

Listen to God! See the Earth as a point compared with the vast circles it describes. Stand amazed that this circle itself is only a tiny point in relation to the course traced by the stars revolving in the firmament; that the whole visible world is no more than an imperceptible speck in the ample bosom of nature.  -Blaise Pascal

 

Consider mass migrations

that few of us will see,

of wildebeest and caribou, butterflies and bees.

 

On grassy plain and foaming fathom,

clouded sky and forest floor,

living things on epic journeys stream and teem and soar.

 

Have you glimpsed those fast formations

riding high on tides of air,

undulating skeins of cranes that flit from here to who knows where?

 

A blade of grass is commonplace on Earth; it would be a miracle on Mars… And if a blade of grass is priceless, what is the value of a human being?  -Carl Sagan

 

Our own dear sacred story

recalls a restless race,

shepherded by a holy ache to find its one true place.

 

After centuries of exploration, conquest and subjugation

empires forged, now lie fragmented,

into shards of shifting states.

 

Who would stem this human stream,

shut out the refugee in flight,

that hopes for hospitality, a shelter from the storms of night?

 

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. -Leviticus 19: 34

 

No barbed-wire boundary

line or law can make us alienate

those who come as Christ disguised to stand before our gate.

 

Now as the door of mercy cracks,

may you do your very best

to make a space at least for one, and pray for all the rest!

 

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” -Matthew 25:35

 

joe

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against such things.

-Galatians 5:22-23

 

Seeker,

What will it take to slow you down?

 

The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”…the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. -Pope Francis

 

When walking the woods,

nothing in Nature

ever urges me to move faster.

 

Should you walk into life,

lingering to let the soul catch up,

your stroll might become a pilgrimage.

 

And realizing your “pilgrim-hood”,

you might receive every sign

as a message from the “Wholly Present One”.

 

Where am I going? I’m going
out, out for a walk. I don’t
know where except outside.
Outside argument, out beyond
wallpapered walls, outside
wherever it is where nobody
ever imagines.  
   -Philip Booth

 

A homemade sign,

at a four-way stop proclaims:

“Slow down, children at play!”

 

What might it take I wonder,

for me, for you, for those who are dear,

to slow our pace for all children far and near?

 

How can we find peace, true peace, if we forget that we are not machines for making and spending money, but spiritual beings, sons and daughters of the most high God?    

-Thomas Merton

 

Deluged daily by inundations of information,

we are awash in a swell

of contrasting and comparing,

 

expecting, wanting,

needing more,

better, quicker, sooner.

 

There is around and in us all

a cult of consumption, a climate of competition,

and a craving for achievement.

 

But might we show

by spacious pace and living slow

that every creature merits our attentive care?

 

Amid whirling crises, fueled by fanatical fear,

could the way to peace, in the urgency of this age,

begin by slowing … every thing … down?

 

Slower and lower, and less not more:

could just be the pathway

that cuts through earth’s dark night?

 

Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all
to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty.
  -Oscar Romero

 

Imagine relationship

valued over achievement,

and caring holding sway over competing.

 

What if contemplating

overruled calculating,

and giving-in won over winning?

 

For surrender, not vindication, is the way to reconciliation,

and peace is the fruit of a willingness

to compassionately dissolve distance.

 

It is so easy to simply get too busy to grow. It is so easy to commit ourselves to this century’s demand for product and action until the product consumes us and the actions exhaust us and we can no longer even remember why we set out to do them in the first place. -Joan Chittister

 

Much more

than the halting of hostility

or the absence of aggression,

 

peace is surely cultivated

by the prevalence of pardon,

and ripened by courageous reconciling.

 

Will YOU walk slower, would YOU live lower,

to safeguard God’s children today,

who simply wish to wonder and hope to play?

 

Then let the leaves fall,

and as you watch them letting go,

may they slowly undo the doings of your day.

 

joe

 

 

Click here to order:  Still In The Storm for Advent!

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

I no longer call you slaves, because slaves do not know their master’s business; I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything…

-John 15:15

 

Seeker,

How has friendship shaped, broken, and mended you?

 

We are not natural solitaries.

We are gatherers,

the most relational of all mammals.

 

From first touch to last breath,

we reach for connection,

our lifelong longings knit into belonging.

 

In the vicinity of relationship—

family, friend, neighborhood, tribe—

we come to know who we are and how to be human.

 

For we are born

missing a piece,

never whole (or holy) till we are part of.

 

Enticed by intimacy,

we defy difference and distance

in order to be bonded.

 

More than our abilities and choices,

beyond our actions or omissions,

it is our friendships that most clearly define us.

 

Friendship, that sound vessel

which carries us over oceans of ideology and culture,

keeps us together through the storms of life.

 

You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.

-Thomas Merton

 

In a hyper-individualized world,

notions of friend, community, connection

have become plastic.

 

The twin burdens

of commitment and co-responsibility

have been lightened,

 

while commodity

gains ascendancy

and “like” usurps “love”.

 

The finger taps which let us

share pictures and messages,

remain a shallow substitute for really being in touch.

 

In times like these

there may be no more endangered species

than the true and lasting friend.

 

Friends live in the shelter of one another.

-Celtic Proverb

 

The real virtue and practice

of friendship involves being in touch:

walking, watching, waiting, wondering, weeping… together.

 

Such befriending is a spiritual discipline

that requires cultivation,

a lifetime of tending and mending.

 

For friends must cover the cost of caring

if relationships are to ripen,

and bring sweetness to life.

 

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet.

-Stephen Dunn

 

From club to collective, from committee to community,

from solidarity to friendship,

this is our pathway to the beloved circle.

 

Real friendship rides

the relentless tides of time,

that shift the sands of shared memory.

 

Only by keeping in touch

can friends take their bearings,

lovingly looking upon life together.

 

The sense of ourselves delivered by friendship is unparalleled.

 It is absolutely the right thing for us struggling human beings.

-Eugene Kennedy

 

If Eucharist is community’s culmination,

bread and wine of magnanimity—

one body blessed and broken,

 

then friendship is its distillation,

eighth sacrament dripping golden unanimity—

one soul shared by many.

 

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

-Psalm 133:1

 

Lasting friendship, forged in trust,

is a virtue begging attention, demanding depth,

and transfiguring the substance of life.

 

As ever-rising waves of woe

break upon this world we love,

the firelight of friendship can help us banish despair.

 

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

-John 15:13

 

What might you lay down

for the sake

of such lasting love?

 

May you this day find your way

to touch those friendships, fine and few,

that have shaped and made you, you.

 

(For the sake of your soul,

the health of our family, and the love of our common home,

get in touch with a good friend today!)

joe

 

Click here to order:  Still In The Storm

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

The things that truly last are only three— FAITH which flowers first, HOPE whose seeds we cannot see,  and LOVE the fruit of letting-go, the joy of setting free.  

1 Corinthians 13: 13 (Adapted)

Seeker,

Where do you hunt for hope, and who looks for hope in you?

 

The young lean

into the future,

filled with promise.

 

The old recline

on the past,

cushioned by memory.

 

The wise sink

into the present,

soaked in possibility.

 

“We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses.”  Pope Francis

 

There is a story

about a neighbor

searching in the long grass.

 

“What are you looking for?”

a friend inquired.

“I lost my key,” the neighbor replied.

 

“Where did you drop it?”

the friend continued,

eager to help.

 

“In my house.” declared the neighbor.

Astonished, the friend asked,

“Then why are looking out here?” 

 

“Oh, it’s much too dark in there,”

the neighbor concluded, and continued

a fruitless search in entirely the wrong place.*

 

“We have been called to be fruitful – not successful, not productive, not accomplished. Success comes from strength, stress, and human effort. Fruitfulness comes from vulnerability and the admission of our own weakness.” Henri Nouwen

 

Watching the weather, we worry and wonder

about what will become of us,

and whether we can morph from life-takers into life-makers.

 

It is such useless toil, however,

to run our lives

on the fumes of optimism.

 

For clever science can neither save us

nor adequately describe

the depth of our dilemma.

 

No matter where we turn,

on this spinning, blue-green globe

there is everywhere upwelling a hunger for hope.

 

Why then would hope elude us,

unless we are seeking her

in all the wrong places?

 

Afraid of the deep dark of unknowing,

avoiding those light-blind places

where lives languish and troubles threaten to unseat us,

 

keyless and clueless,

we opt to become victim

and perpetrator of mass distraction.

 

How else might hope find us

unless we choose

to dwell in the shadow…

 

Holding

On, despite the dark, to

People with nothing left but aching

Expectation of newness.

 

“Hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside us to get better. It is about getting better inside about what is going on inside. It is about becoming open to the God of newness… Surrendering to the demands of the moment, holding on, when holding on seems pointless, brings us to that point of personal transformation… we hope because we have no reason not to hope.”  Joan Chittester

 

The only name

which does not diminish the Divine

is “SURPRISE!”**

 

While not all surprises are pleasant,

they are by nature unpredictable,

even unexpected.

 

“Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.”  Pope Francis

 

Turn your face to the sun, the Maori say,

and the shadows fall always behind you.

May this be you practice and your blessing today.

 

joe

 

*Adapted from The Song of the Bird, by Anthony de Mello.

** Wisdom from David Steindl-Rast.

 

Click here to order:  Still In The Storm

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it.    -Psalm 65:9

 

Seeker,

Is there space in your life for one more thing, person, problem, or possibility that demands attention and presence?

 

In times like these, it is hard to pray

when my head is a repository without repose,

and my home a warehouse of rooms without room,

 

when there’s no longer an ‘away’

in which to hide

the accumulations of this day,

 

when my body is stuffed,

and my days are crammed

with comings and goings.

 

This sorry tale is made sadder still

in a world of needs neglected

where greed goes guised as development.

 

…our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. -Pope Francis

 

Stuffing and busying,

and discarding without considering,

this now is the norm, no longer the aberration.

 

When less is ever more elusive,

and living simply just one more thing to do,

how do we take the track toward un-stuffing?

 

The world would become better off
If people tried to become better.
And people would become better
If they stopped trying to become better off. 
-Peter Maurin

 

Can you even imagine

what our daily lives

might be like…

 

if less were valued over more,

if thrift were rewarded,

and slowness and simplicity became the traits of celebrity,

 

if quiet, humble living were applauded,

if listening were prized,

and littleness were lauded,

 

For when everyone tries to become better off,
nobody is better off.
But when everyone tries to become better
everyone is better off.
  -Peter Maurin
 

if children were raised down to reverence life,

if soiled hands were appreciated and gardeners honored,

and our heroes were softer rather than super,

 

if communities centered on

the lives most vulnerable,

and worldly ways were organized for care,

 

if people looked with sympathy

upon those poor souls burdened by wealth

and life’s greatest polluters received rehabilitation,

 

if mending and making do replaced discarding,

and we punctuated each day

with pauses to give our thanks away.

 

Everyone would be rich
if nobody tried to become richer,
and nobody would be poor
if everyone tried to be the poorest.
-Peter Maurin

 

Now imagine,

if you can,

what might happen

 

if you and I practiced un-stuffing,

and tried lightly living, with slower, smaller steps

to shrink the footprint we leave our children’s children.

 

What could life really be like

for us and all our kin

who share this most uncommon home?

 

Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

The goodness of the sea be thine.

The goodness of the earth be thine.

The goodness of the sky be thine.  -Celtic Blessing

 

joe

 

Click here to order:  Still In The Storm

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to number the clouds?      Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens…

-Job 38:33-37

Seeker,

How do we find our way back in touch with each other, back down to holy ground?   

 

When I found myself grounded

by turbulent weather

in a tumultuous airport,

 

it was not the raging troposphere

that terrified me.

I was jolted by another electrical storm swirling round about.

 

Navigating anonymous multitudes

I struggled to find someone, anyone,

who was not entangled in an electronic web.

 

Everywhere I witnessed wandering souls,

finger-scrolling, transfixed,

and illuminated by soft screen-lights.

 

Wide-awake in this bustling terminal,

beneath a roiling grey-black ceiling,

I withered under the weight of alienation.

 

Out of phase, seeking some connection

I pressed against the window

and lifted my gaze skyward.

 

Crackling with blue electric fury,

I watched those bruised clouds break

into misted torrents,

 

and I was visited by shocking flashes

of a darker vision—

a downpour of discarded devices.

 

Consuming precious earth elements,

mined and manufactured by throwaway people,

this deluge of disposability now threatens to drown us all.

 

I must confess that, on human judgment, the world tasks we face are appalling – well-nigh hopeless. Only the inner vision of God, only the God-blindedness of unreservedly dedicated souls, only the utterly humble ones can bow and break the raging pride of a power-mad world. -Thomas R. Kelly

 

So, I am powering down,

to the soles of my feet

turning off, so I might live lower and listen harder.

 

I pay no mind to twittering trends,

but this does not mean

I am not listening

 

I neither scroll nor text,

but this does not mean

I am disconnected.

 

I am not enchanted by the allure of technology,

but this does not mean

I lack understanding.

 

It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology, of its costs and its power to globalize and make us all the same.  -Pope Francis

 

I am beneath the flow of cultural tides,

but this does not mean

I am out of touch with currents deeper.

 

I am learning to humbly handle electronics with care,

to use only when necessary,

and I discover that the scope of necessity shrinks daily.

 

I am breathing deeply

to prepare for the profound plunge

into a darker quieter age that is surely coming in the storm’s wake.

 

Because there are no virtual relationships,

this blog will now shrink to a monthly posting,

with the invitation to power down, reach into reality and find our virtue there!

 

Will you try this?

Try walking around with a child who’s going, “Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky” And the child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, “Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!” I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world – present and in awe.” -Anne Lamott

joe

Click here to order:  Still In The Storm

 

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Praise be to God from the earth, you sea monsters and all the deeps of the sea; Lightning and hail, snow and thick clouds, storm wind that fulfills God’s command; Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars; Animals wild and tame, creatures that crawl and birds that fly.  -Psalm 148:7-10

Seeker,

How do your daily choices give praise to the Source and thanks for the gift of life?

 

Steward-ship not owner-ship

is the craft capable of preserving

an inheritance entrusted to all generations.

 

Maker of All does not

favor only some,

but out-pours abundance on each and everyone.

 

It is not to people alone

that garden Earth is given on loan,

for this life-making miracle belongs to none but the Holy One.

 

Then God said to Noah and to his family, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. -Genesis 9:8-10

 

Lately it seems

we are awakening

to the tragic cost of over-consumption.

 

Threatened at every level by exploitation,

sacrificed for human industry,

sacred life is turned tribute to the gods of gratification.

 

And poverty—

by-product of human engineering—

has reduced holy creatures to objects of “economic calculus.”

 

…earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor… -Pope Francis

 

Such loss of reverence

in our relationship to the tapestry of creation

leaves our children a legacy of despoilment and desecration.

 

Though we wave flags and stake claims,

none can own the sun, the earth, the winds or rains.

This still is God’s country, every mile and millimeter.

 

…we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, physical or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference… These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home…  -Pope Francis

 

Many are the fields

in God’s great garden,

sown with mysteries that ask for humble care.

 

Created for contemplation and communion,

we are made to till and tend and ponder

the wilds of this world.

 

How then can we tolerate

the squalor to which

God’s dear ones are consigned?

 

This news is not so new.

It is a cascade of consequences

now come to shock us out of comfortable isolation.

 

What the earth will make of our tinkering and abuse can be modeled by computers but is, in the end, beyond our reckoning, our science. Nature is not simply done to. Nature responds. Nature talks back. Nature is willful. We have no dominion over the wild darkness that surrounds us. -Eva Saulitis

 

There still may be another path open to us.

Despite the detritus of decades,

we just might find our way back to grounded living.

 

Perhaps it starts with daily devotion

to an unnoticed plot or person,

or little choices, mindfully made, to simplify, slow and show our care.

 

An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness. -Pope Francis     

 

In days to come may you come home to yourself,

your work an act of worship, your rest a grateful praise,

your loved ones every creatures that meets your gracious gaze.

 

Happy those who endure in peace, by you Most High they will be crowned.  -St. Francis of Assisi

joe

Click here to order: Still In The Storm

 

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

The Realm of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, no-one knows how.  

-Luke 4:26-27

Seeker,

Have you learned to trust in the re-creative power of Nature, when left alone, to astound you with possibilities unimagined?

 

Most of us, much of the time,

are so busy getting THERE

that we fail to realize we are already HERE.

 

Essential prayer is no more or less than this;

the desire and determination,

to be HERE and no place else.

 

For HERE is the stage

upon which the unfolding field of relationships—

God’s Realm— is set.

 

HERE is always beneath THERE… So often we imagine that THERE is more full of gold than HERE. It is the same with love and dreams and the work of our lives. We see the light everywhere but where we are, and chase after what we think we lack, only to find humbly, it was with us all along.

-Mark Nepo

 

For sure, we each have our part to play

(for good or ill)

in the drama of our days.

 

Yet we are not

the authors

of this eternally unraveling story.

 

HERE is neither the beginning,

nor the end

of the journey.

 

There is another Sovereign at work HERE,

a boundless mind, a wilder heart,

an infinite timeframe.

 

Like seed grain, packed with possibility,

the Domain of Mercy germinates by its own power,

in its own good time.

 

We do not make the garden grow,

we can but wake up to it, tend to the possibilities it offers,

enjoy the fruits of reality sprouting of its own accord.

 

Though we do not make it happen,

we can choose

to dwell HERE, or not.

 

With what can we compare the Realm of God..? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.  -Luke 4: 30-32

 

This weedy ground-of-being Realm of God

will not be constrained or contained.

It is mystery, too broad for small minds, too deep for shallow hearts.

 

Neither a territory, nor a State,

God’s domain is a state of being—

a new set of relationships to everything.

 

This encompassing horizon that recedes before us,

beckons and begs

the awakening of consciousness and connection.

 

With ways and means beyond us

our Mysterious Maker

works around us, sometimes through us, and often despite us.

 

And those people and places

we overlook and undervalue

are most laden with God-Realm potentiality.

 

For this is no trickle-down Reign from on high.

It is an eruption,

sprouting beneath the soles of our feet.

 

The lower we go,

the closer we are

to these humble seeds of possibility.

 

…Thoreau wrote, “I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” By the power vested in everything living, let us keep to that faith. I’m a scientist who thinks it wise to enter the doors of creation not with a lion tamer’s whip and chair, but with the reverence humankind has traditionally summoned for entering places of worship: a temple, a mosque, or a cathedral. A sacred grove, as ancient as time.  – Barbara Kingsolver

 

We do not farm weeds.

They thrive in the wilds,

in lands neglected.

 

Left alone,

they crack the hardened soil

and transform dereliction into diversity, a shelter for abundant life.

 

No life forms—from the rain-forests to the phytoplankton

who give us this day our daily breath—

lie outside the cosmic Realm of Mercy, the Great Field of God.

 

Perhaps we have no handle

on God’s Reign

because it has no door.

 

May you take the path

that lies wide open HERE,

and scatter wildly the weed-seeds of forgiveness far and near.

 

joe

Click here to order: Still In The Storm

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Then the just will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”

-Matthew 25: 37-39

 

Seeker,

Who can remain alien to you, outside the arc of your heart’s attention?

 

You are made to make connections—

you and me becoming WE—

one life reaching into another, yearning to relate to all.

 

We crave companionship and long for kinship.

Every one of us needs to feel part of

and fears being torn apart from life’s common-union.

 

Our senses, external and internal,

are fine-tuned for hyper sensitivity,

to savor and suffer with the living.

 

O taste and see that the Holy One is good;
happy are those who take refuge in God. 

-Psalm 34: 8

 

Our very humanity,

the quality of our care,

is set by the scope of such connectivity.

 

Severed from the coils of relationship

none can last long,

as the sacred thread connecting us to the real slips away.

 

But whenever we stand together

under that canopy of connection we call holiness,

(not trying to rise above the clamor of creatures) we rejoice in life’s symphony.

 

Mitakuye Oyasin! – All My Relations!  

-Lakota prayer

 

Social isolation in any form is devastation,

torture unspeakable for such a relational people.

Yet alienation perverse and pervasive remains—Sin of a sundered world.

 

When the layers of connective tissue that link us

lie tattered,

Christ suffers torments unbearable—minds and bodies shattered.

 

Unnoticed, the pain of isolation

haunts homes, hallways and highways, as many settle

for hollow commodity—cheaper substitute for costly community.

 

Meanwhile, hanging round every corner

Corpus Christi languishes,

in lives denuded of dignity, devoid of friendship, fettered and famished.

 

The Holy One is near to the broken-hearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit. 

-Psalm 34: 18

 

Our Maker’s mercy tolerates no exception.

Such exemptions lead to lacerations

that set me and mine above and before us and others.

 

In the Realm of Mercy

there are no dank corners,

for no life lies beyond the infinite range of love’s radiance.

 

Consciousness and connection,

keys to care and compassion,

open the tabernacle to expose a most blessed sacrament.

 

Christ so close, Christ so dear.

How dare we not see you,

when you are so near?

 

We are already woven into every other life.

It is one breath we all share,

free-gifted forest and ocean air.

 

We only truly belong when we are blessed and broken together.

In this communion we can taste, touch, see and meet Christ

in the blessed sacrament of one another.

 

But Christ has not come

just for the few or for the some,

for God wears the skin of everyone.

 

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” 

-Matthew 25: 40

 

May you be a daily communicant,

ready to reach out and receive that other

most blessed sacrament—Christ-present in every sister and brother.

 

joe

Click here to order: Still In The Storm

Still In the Storm

Carefully crafted reflections that accompany you in your practice of 'engaged presence,' as you draw the world of crying need and awesome complexity into your heart and center.

A resource for engaging spirituality in times like these.

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