Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant © 2015

For you, Holy One, are good and merciful,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 

-Psalm 86:5

Seeker,

In a world of constant jockeying for placement and position, where, with whom do you locate your life and choose to listen?

 

The Haitians say:

we see from where we stand.

So, how we stand, and with whom becomes critical.

 

By-standing is not the same as with-standing,

and understanding is the fruit

of more than standing still.

 

Standing humbly with others,

standing together under the rain of mercy,

is the surest pathway to understanding.

 

We might, for a while, stay safe in our heads,

protected by sureties, reaffirming opinions,

polishing personal perspectives on everything and everyone.

 

Sooner or later, bubbling up through the cracks,

mercy usurps personal preeminence,

exposing limitations, failings and weaknesses.

 

And, when our time comes, we all want mercy.

But first we must  pay the admission,

humbly stooping through the low doorway to forgiveness.

 

What was cruel has become merciful. What is now merciful was never cruel.

I have always overshadowed Jonas with My mercy and cruelty I know not at all.

Have you had sight of Me, Jonas my child? Mercy within mercy within mercy.

-Thomas Merton

 

This might be why mercy feels cruel.

Fractured by failure, deluded by disappointment,

we face pain, darkness, and chasms too deep.

 

Our calloused hearts chafe

at mercy’s unction,

as they soak and soften in such humbling grace.

 

Debilitated or dispirited

by burdens beyond us

we bend, and like the children we always are, we cry out.

 

No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, so much the greater must be the love….

-Pope Francis

 

When life breaks down,

love breaks out,

mercy over-sweeps us and we are worn permeable.

 

If this has not yet

happened to you,

mercy might be long overdue.

 

There are circumstances that must shatter you; and if you are not shattered, then you have not understood your circumstances. In such circumstances, it is a failure for your heart not to break… So there is only one thing to be done. Transformation must be met with transformation.

Where there was the old life, let there be new life. Do not persevere. Dignify the shock. Sink, so as to rise.

-Leon Weisseltier

 

Lord have mercy,

on the land, and on the air.

Christ have mercy, on creatures everywhere.

 

Lord have mercy on my sister, on my brother.

Christ have mercy on that strange

and most blessed sacrament of the other.

 

If today you hear God’s voice

from your core (with courage) live,

and welcome at last mercy that frees you to forgive.

 

joe

Click here to order: Still In The Storm

Photo by Joe Grant,  2015

Photo by Joe Grant, © 2015

‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.’

-John 10:11-12

 

Seeker,

Who restores your trust in humankind, giving you grounds for hope?   

 

Listen, learn, be led!

This is how we come to know

what it means to live as a faithful flock.

 

On the crosswalk

I saw him

step right in front of me.

 

Head bent, as in prayer,

dark-hooded,  ebony-faced,

bravely he flashed a look.

 

In one eternal instant

brown eyes met grey,

and what might be menacing appeared monastic.

 

I’m not a symbol

I’m not a statistic

I’m not the inches in somebody’s column…

 

I am at odds with all that requires me to be a symbol.

I insist on being real.

-Kathy Galloway

 

Fear breeds mistrust,

presenting parasitic opportunities

to make some predator and others prey.

 

So many of our young

are daily endangered in predatory cities.

So much life threatened by mindless predation.

 

Who tends these troubled souls,

and attends to lives without refuge?

Who cares for God’s scattered, trafficked, discarded flock?

 

’I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me… And I lay down my life for the sheep.’

-John 10:14, 15

 

Embracing deeper expectations, prophetic people meet rejection.

Persecuted by the powers they threaten,

they are caricatured as wolves.

 

These are not people ahead of their time.

They are the single-hearted

who have penetrated time.

 

Called in crisis,

they sound alarms with urgency,

only because there is much to be alarmed about.

 

How can modern Christianity have so solemnly folded its hands while so much of the work of God was and is being destroyed?

-Wendell Berry

 

Sharpened by the lens of faith,

their surgical critique illuminates what is not,

to lift up all we have overlooked.

 

Prophetic people are truth-dwellers.

They refuse to inhabit the gloom

in order to walk toward what can and will be.

 

And they bear a message about hope,

the restoration of mercy,

and the rebuilding of what has been ruined.

 

The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

This is God’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

-Psalm 118:22-23

 

We become predators when we neglect to pray,

and allow diabolical dread and rapacious greed

to divide us and lead us astray.

 

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. 

-1 John 3:2

 

May you embrace each opportunity

afforded you this day

to be folded into a fuller flock.

 

One light; many candles
One sky; many stars
One sea; many rivers
One Love; many hearts

-Noel Paul Stookey

 

joe

Photo by Joe Grant , © 2015

Photo by Joe Grant, © 2015

Jesus himself stood among them and said to them,

‘Peace be with you.’

They were startled and terrified,

 and thought that they were seeing a ghost.

He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened,

and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 

Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself.

Touch me and see…

-Luke 24: 36-39

Indeed, spring has arrived,

whether we care to notice it

or not.

 

And, whether we dare to believe it or not,

new life has everywhere erupted,

blooming with pungent possibilities.

 

But what does resurrection bring to life,

amid deep desolation

both near and far from here?

 

How can we breathe healing,

hopeful possibilities

into devastation local and global?

 

What does new life mean

for people struggling daily with death,

loaded with losses, fractured by fear?

 

Here is resurrection’s scandalous secret—

a mystery so deep that no amount of surface-scratching

will remove or reveal it—

 

Christ always appears

as the wounded person,

the broken, damaged life among and within us.

 

Sometimes that Christ is you,

and sometimes me,

but more often is fleshed in the ones we do not care to see.

 

Resurrection offers no escape from trials, tears or fall,

but promises only a wide-wounded embrace,

a solidarity with sufferings all.

 

In the embrace of Christhood over personhood,

connection over division, and mercy over punishment,

resurrection releases us from prisons of the past.

 

When we dare to practice Christhood,

the fragments of our whole world shake and shift,

as the heart-like-kaleidoscope turns in the light.

 

Give yourself six minutes of solitude,

and plunge into the practice of Christhood

with this visual meditation:

 

warm christ eyes

Practicing Christhood

 

 

And may resurrection continue

to interfere with your plans,

and peace doggedly interrupt the patterns of your day,

 

joe

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Photo Joe Grant , © 2105

Photo Joe Grant , © 2o15

…when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said, “I am thirsty.”

–John 19:28

Seeker,

When have you entered the sanctity of another’s suffering, or embraced a pain too big to hold?

 

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. 

–Talmud

 

In its every expression,

the universe appears as roiling chaos,

but at its core, it is hunger and thirst for connection.

 

Unfolding into the void

with expansive energy,

existence radiates longing for intimate communion.

 

Such explosive outpouring

echoes an elemental ache,

the cosmic overflow of a bursting Heart.

 

This universal mirror,

visible to us only in darkness,

illustrates a paradox: in being broken we are made whole.

 

Mercy is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful (God) who is so patient.

-Pope Francis

 

In complete contrast to control,

compassion is the release of love,

liberation that comes with loss, letting-go and being led.

 

Thus, it is our compass and pathway

into tenderheartedness—

misericordia to ripen consciousness from human to divine.

 

Behold then our Mysterious Maker,

who comes so close,

but does not condescend;

 

at-one with us,

by choosing to suffer, not because of us,

but beside us, inside us, among us.

 

This love-so-wide

perforates every boundary,

leaving us open-mouthed—agape!

 

Screens of separation dissolve

before the solidarity of suffering-shared,

unleashing mercy that will not be stemmed.

 

God weeps at love withheld, at strength misused, at children’s innocence abused, and, till we change the way we love, God weeps.

God cries at hungry mouths, at running sores, at creatures dying without a cause, and, till we change the way we care, God cries.

God waits for stones to melt, for peace to seed, for hearts to hold each other’s need, and, till we understand the Christ, God waits.

-Shirley Erena Murray

 

Nothing is below this God-most-low.

so deeply in love with all creation

that every bit is destined not for desolation.

 

Embodiment of aching love,

Christ showed the way to deeper care,

through the cruciform door of suffering we share.

 

We lose ourselves in the well of another’s pain

and become PART OF rather than APART FROM

all God’s children and everything under the sun.

 

And only those who have required

and received mercy

can savor and freely share it.

 

It takes a long time to move from violence to tenderness.

-Jean Vanier

 

For a God who is bent

on the restoration of the rest of life,

everything matters.

 

Black lives matter,

so do blue,

young and old and not-yet-born too…

 

Boy and girl lives, Muslim and Jew,

rich and poor lives,

me and you…

 

African lives and European…

animal and vegetable,

and even humble matter matters.

 

Such sacred solidarity,

sharing the one pain,

offers the promise of full-heartedness.

 

May we choose love over condemnation,

forgiveness over blame,

healing over hatred.

 

And with forbearance,

may you bear the burden of bearing witness,

standing with love at the foot of the cross.

 

joe

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Joe Grant, 2015

Joe Grant , © 2015

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 

-John 12:24

 

Seeker,

What does it take it take to rouse you to wakefulness, and what keeps you wondering?

 

Scolded by a blue jay,

brashly inserting himself into the grey morning,

I am chided out of numb amnesia.

 

Arrested at the crossroads by a brave soul,

I breathlessly pause to watch

him navigate puddles in an electric wheelchair.

 

Accosted by a honking skein of geese,

low on the wing over the urban desert,

I look up at life insistently breaking into my brooding.

 

Then a surgical slice of sunlight

dissects the day and, without my consent,

totally and silently transfigures reality.

 

How difficult can it be (how many interventions)

to unfetter us from automatic living,

and liberate us to breathe, see, connect and care with deliberation?

 

As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference… Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness?

-Pope Francis

 

In this world of divisions and subdivisions,

carved up by taxonomies of race and class and culture,

we are all tempted to build stockades of self-protection.

 

As terror’s hot hatreds scald societies

outside the window, over the wall, across the tracks,

anxiously we watch, worry, hope… and pray they won’t come here.

 

Seeking security, however tenuous,

can calcify our hearts and turn people into problems

and pains into issues too big to handle.

 

Playing on our fears,

cold indifference sets up shop in our living rooms, work places

and most especially in our churches.

 

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

-Psalm 51:10

 

What might it mean

for folks like you and me

to wake, walk, wonder and live each golden day differently?

 

Much is said about “making a difference”,

but when motivations and manners remain the same

nothing seems to really change.

 

Perhaps the invitation

of spring’s explosion

is to become different, inside and out.

 

This is as much about dying

as it is about rediscovering and responding to resilient life

in places and people once considered lost or broken.

 

We need to be discomforted,

we need to be inspired,

to wakefully welcome each blessed-broken day.

 

Take away the quietness

of a clear conscience. 

Press us uncomfortably.

For only thus

that other peace is made.

-Helder Camara

 

Will you dare to dispel indifference

by living lightly as you shoulder the yoke

of this day’s wonders and woes with rinsed eyes?

 

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world… As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. 

-Thomas Merton, March 18th, 1958

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Photo by Joe Grant    2014

Photo by Joe Grant  © 2014

…and hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

-Romans 5:5

Seeker,

How would you define your “daily office”—the work life calls you to, the way you pattern your day, the habits that clothe the passing moments of life?

 

Fleeing the trivialities of the marketplace,

the first monks

sought out the soul of Christianity in wild and rocky places.

 

Here they re-patterned life,

marking hours in prayerful rhythm,

and forged a daily office to transfigure routine into ritual.

 

Ironically, these hours of office,

first formed in ancient cloister,

now shape the routine of office-workers around the globe.

 

With due attention and wakeful wonder—

practicing soul-stretching habits—

the mundane may still become mystical, and work an act of worship.

 

The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real.

-Mary Oliver

 

How do we re-inhabit our days,

to wear us wider,

and stretch the span of our sojourn?

 

Can we invest our brief time together

in the holy activity of being

and becoming more human?

 

What might wake us from slumbering self-obsession

and bring us to our knees, as we negotiate

the stumbling blocks of ideology?

 

If suffering-love is more lasting

than faith and hope,

what are we prepared to give up today, for love’s sake?

 

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

-1 Corinthians 13:13

 

The trust-filled gaze of an infant

implores us to do our utmost

to make a safer world.

 

Tender shoots, boldly up-reaching,

beckon us to stoop and tend to beauty,

green with hope-fullness.

 

Timeworn elderly hands,

shakily extended,

beg us to slow our pace to inhabit every fleeting moment.

 

Silent, hungry cries

of kin clad in different skin

fire the desire to simply live as better beings.

 

This visible, earthly world is still God’s creation: one should not condemn it as a valley of tears; it is really the miracle work of God. And this earthly life is the life that God gives us, which it is our task to develop. Here is our place of work, the vineyard in which the Lord calls and places us…

-Emil Brunner

 

Some soul-stretching habits

for this season

of lengthening:

 

Enter the quiet,

listen for the signal

beneath the static;

 

Seek out sole time,

turn off  in order to tune in

to rhythms deeper;

 

Extend loving attention

and human concern toward livelihood,

beyond the immediacy of you and yours;

 

Reclaim Christhood! Without a sound,

let all who cross your path this day

know they are Christ-companions, not competitors on life’s journey.

 

Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife which may, at any moment, become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself: What else is the world interested in? What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships?

-Dorothy Day

 

Today, may you help

make a world

where it is easier for people to love.

joe

On Tenderness and Mercy

An Engaging Meditation excerpted from Still In the Storm, a new publication by JustFaith Ministries.

Still in the Storm book cover (1)

We dare not confuse

tenderness with timidity,

mercy with weakness,

or suffering-love with sentimentality.

It takes strength to be gentle,

resilience to be tender,

courage to forgive…

Receive this 8-minute recording by Joe Grant, as a Lenten gift.

Put yourself into a quiet, receptive space before taking the plunge into this visual meditation.

Click here to take the plunge:

http://youtu.be/m70hgxIFz3I

dragonflysmaller (2)

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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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

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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

 

 

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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