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.

 

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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

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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