Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thank You...

As another glorious autumn day draws to a close, as I sit before
the fire in warm, cuddly pajamas, my dear friend, Mae, across
the room, reading, I am overcome with gratitude...
for a day yesterday spent walking and talking and sharing...
for the wonderful Greensboro Historical Museum...
for cheesecakes by Alex...
for warm and comforting homemade vegetable soup... 
for Thursday evening's dinner at Bistro B with Marie and all of its
    joy and laughter...
for today's quick trip to Wilmington to see my daughter, Hope,
    her significant other, Matty, and granddaughter, Lindsay, and
    lunch with our Rwandan friend, Innocent...
for the gift and blessing of friendship...
for my comfortable little car...
for the beautiful, bountiful leaves which gently cover my yard...
for a daughter and two sons, loving and caring, each one...
for nine incredible grandchildren...
for health and happiness, resilience and restoration...
for life itself- every blessed moment...
            I give thanks.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Being a Servant...

I'm returning today to one of the three remaining "Made for Living"
columns I found in the bottom of my study closet in a plastic
envelope, reminders of my life at another time, in another place...
kind of like looking in on someone else- who, it turns out, much
to my surprise, was me.This column was published in February 7,
1985.

The week had taken its toll. A week of caring for a husband sick with the
flu. A week of daily trips to a Miami hospital to visit and care for our young
Salvadoran guest. A week of servanthood. And I was tired! Physically tired,
emotionally drained, exhausted from the exertion of giving myself hour
after hour to those around me. Tired of serving! And I still had this column
to write.
 
I was finding smiling difficult, instead feeling constantly on the verge of
tears. And I could feel my resolve to place myself in God's hands to do
God's work weakening, as my tired body and mind rebelled. It would be
nice to have someone serve me for change.
 
And then, in the midst of my sulk, I started thinking about the book I was
re-reading, entitled Disciple. Written by Juan Carlos Ortiz, it speaks about
the role of the Christian as a servant. The author states over and over again
that when we become bearers of the name of the Christ, we are also
submitting to his authority and his way of life. And that is the way of
servanthood.
 
So much of what Ortiz wrote made sense to me and convicted me to my
very core. I had not been called to a life of ease and idleness. Rather, I
had been called to use all that I had been given in the way of time, talents,
and possessions in the work the Lord had planned for me to do. And God
had promised to never ask me to do more than I had also been given the
ability and strength to handle...with God. Never alone. Never just on my
own steam. Always hand in hand with this loving God.
 
"Oh, God," I silently prayed, "please guide me and give me words to say
to these readers, words which will bring meaning and love to them.
Help me as I sit at my typewriter to bring a caring message." And then
I noticed a piece of mail on the kitchen counter. It was a newsletter from
a Christian organization and the cover caught my eye for it was a drawing
of the "Praying Hands" by Albrecht Durer. And on the back was the story
of how this famous drawing had come into being.
 
Durer lived in the latter part of the fifteenth century. While he was studying
art, he and a fellow student and good friend both worked as laborers to
pay their tuition costs. But it was very difficult, both working and studying
art. Rather than have both of them fail at their studies, the friend, Franz
Knigstein, agreed to continue working as a laborer, while Durer attended
school. Durer promised to return the favor when he had become a
successful artist.
 
Much time passed, as Durer developed his potential genius and finally he
returned to keep his promise to Knigstein, who was overjoyed at the success
of his friend. But Durer soon realized that the years of labor had taken
their toll on Knigstein. The man's fingers had become so bent and twisted
that he could no longer hold and manipulate a paintbrush. He could never
become the artist he had hoped to be, nor could Durer ever fulfill the
promise he had made to his friend.
 
One night, as Knigstein knelt in prayer, Durer sorrowfully sketched the
crippled hands of the friend who had made his success possible by giving
up his own life's dreams. Thus, Durer's "Praying Hands" became a
tribute to the spirit of love and sacrifice to which the life of Knigstein
had become a testimony.
 
The words of John 15:13 came to mind: Greater love has no one than
this, than he/she lay down their life for their friends. This was true
servanthood, true sacrifice. Knigstein had indeed "laid down his life"
for his friend, giving up his own hopes and dreams, his own life in a
very real sense, in order that his friend might fully live his.
 
Once again, a loving God had shown me that he would indeed be with
me to give me all the support I needed to complete the tasks placed
in my life. Once again, God had provided inspiration, love, and guidance
when I felt at the end of my rope. Once again, God had led me to the
realization that who and what I am depends on the place I am willing
to give the Holy One in my life.
 
A song is running through my mind now. And the words? "I am a
servant, I am listening for your call..." Speak, Lord, your servant is
listening.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Moonshine...



Did you see the moon last night...or early this morning? The light
was so intense that it totally lighted up my upstairs hall as it
smiled down from the western sky at 6a.m. when I arose. The
world of nature is truly amazing, something about which I need
reminding periodically, living in the city as I do. But driving to
church this morning along route 311, I was suddenly in a shower
of leaves...glorious yellow leaves swirling around my car and
seemingly coming from only two trees along the highway. Nothing
ahead, nothing behind...only that one beautiful, amazing leaf
shower which lasted about 30 seconds and put a big smile on my
face which lasted all the way to the church. Nature's gift for my
morning...a swirling invitation to the dance of life.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is Anybody Working?

I had set as my intention- and project- for this week to paint and
update the spare bedroom in my house. The walls had long been
dingy and still bore many marks from the previous residents who
had occupied these premises more than twelve years ago. High time,
I thought, to turn this room into something more welcoming...and
so I bought the paint, did the wall prep (filling in the numerous
nail holes, dings, etc.), moved and covered the furniture, and set
about the task, a little at a time.
 
If you have ever undertaken a painting task, you know that it
involves cutting in- by brush- around the edges: along the ceiling,
the baseboards, and in the case of my lovely old home, along
the crown molding, windows, and four doors. (two closets, an
attic, and the door into the room.) Then came the rolling...the
prestidigitation of turning dingy walls into fresh, bright, clean
ones. Last came the woodwork- which you might already realize
is considerable in this admittedly small room- perhaps 12 X 12-
(I am terrible at guesstimating sizes), a task which took long
hours but was, in the end, totally worth the effort.
 
And on Thursday afternoon, I stood back, looked at the results
of my efforts, smiled broadly, and then began the arduous task
of re-ordering the room with fresh linens, a new comforter, new
curtains, and a re-arrangement of some of the furnishings. By
yesterday afternoon, I was gratifyingly satisfied with the results,
trusting that my friend, Mae- visiting from Florida this coming
week- will be, too.
 
To keep me company as I painted, I had my radio tuned to
the local NPR station and I listened, with increasing dismay,
to the on-going saga of our non-working Congress...to the
excuses and accusations and ugly rhetoric which were being
bandied about in our nation's capitol regarding the debt
ceiling and government shut-down. All the while, human
beings, my- and their- fellow citizens, were having to get
by without paychecks, without jobs to go to, without any
certainty that these elected officials- yes, we put them in
office- were ever going to put aside petty political posturings,
roll up their sleeves, and get to work in our behalf, in behalf
of the country and electorate they purport to be serving.
 
Now, I am seventy-one years old...in my early aging years,
I like to believe...and I have been dealing with a muscular
hip problem this summer which causes a good deal of pain,
especially when I do things like kneel and bend over and
climb ladders and lift and move things...all of which I was
doing this past week, because I had a task set before me
which I was determined to accomplish.
 
So, why, dear gentlemen and ladies (though mostly gentlemen,
still) of Congress, why, oh, why, were you so seemingly
unwilling to JUST DO IT! Why all the posturing and posing,
when all the while you knew that permitting our nation to
default on its debts would just not be permissible. This is
what you are elected and PAID to do. That's right- even in
the midst of the government shutdown, when employees
of the Federal government were being furloughed and
going without pay, our elected officials were still being paid!
 
And, dear fellow citizens, when are we going to wise up?
When are we going to demand- you heard me, DEMAND
that these people to whom we have given so much power and
status do their jobs? work at what they are supposed to do?
When will we DEMAND that they change the laws and statutes
which grant them their pensions for life? their health care
programs for life? When will we DEMAND election finance
reform in a voice loud enough to echo even in the hallowed
halls of the Supreme Court? And when will we DEMAND term
limits be instituted? Why not make these the "litmus test"
issues for election to office, rather than the petty little
non-issues which have so effectively turned our attentions
away from what really, truly matters in the political arena?
 
Well, my spare room looks lovely, with all of my hard work
totally worth the discomfort to my hip. After all, an ice pack
and some Ibuprofen took care of that. And we finally did
get the agreement in Congress to extend the debt ceiling
and end the shutdown- at least until January. So I guess
we, the citizenry, can all go back to our everyday lives
with the feeling that all is right with the world. Except it
isn't...and we'll be on this nasty political merry-go-round
again before we know it, unless we acknowledge our own
role in the process, unless we admit that the gold ring
is simply brass and no amount of hocus-pocus will make
it anything other than what it is.
 
So let me ask a few hard questions: When did you last
write to or call your congressperson and/or senator to
express your feelings- be they indignant or congratulatory-
to him or her? Do you vote in the mid-term elections or
just exercise your franchise in the "major" elections? If we
truly want this country to BE "the land of the free", it is
up to us- YOU AND ME- to keep it that way...by expecting,
by DEMANDING, that the people WE put into office live
up to their word and their sacred honor by working for us!
 
Have a lovely day.





Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Writing Life...

The writing experience is a different journey for each one of us
who embarks upon it. For me, many of my most deeply creative
periods have been in response to the hard times in my life-
challenges, crises, pain, loss...for whatever reason, these trips
into life's valleys have been the places where I have been brought
to a face-to-face confrontation with my fears...my hopes and
dreams...with my innermost, deepest, truest self. And it is there,
in the midst of the maelstrom, that words begin to emerge...
The other greatest creative stimulus is always deep emotion:
awe, gratitude, the overwhelming wonder of life itself...and again,
words emerge...And yet, so often, I find myself writing about the
mundane, the ordinary, the everyday....which perhaps means
that the creative energy is ever-present, just waiting for me
to release it.

This was written on the twentieth anniversary of my son's death.

After the night he died...(twenty years later)
The storm blew flat and hard
Against the windows, shaking
The house- or so it seemed,
The wind roaring in its lion's voice,
Declaring mastery over
The shivering, quivering world.
Branches ripped from
sheltering trees and fell to
earth with the shuddering finality
                                  of Death's closing door.
                                               And I lay burrowed deep
                                               Beneath the down-filled duvet,
                                               Seeking shelter from the
                                               Dreadful storm, the cyclasm
                                               Which threatened to tear me
                                               Limb from limb, shredding me
                                               Like Yesterday's leaves, laying me
                                               Open to the full fury of the storm,
                                               Which would not end its
                                               Relentless destruction




On reading Mary Oliver...
      How awestruck I am at the words
others have put on paper...but none
pierce my heart the way the words
of Mary Oliver do, leaving me
breathless, the respiration suspended
on the intake, my lungs filled with the
life-giving air of her exhaled
language.

  
Wednesday morning
Oh my, the morning is fleeting
and still I sit, my head filled
with to-do lists of errands...
but the fire is warm and the
air outside if cold...the music
surrounding and filling me
is hauntingly beautiful,
women's voices chanting in languages
both foreign and lovely.
Sitting amidst books of poetry
overflowing with words written
by others and held with relish
on my own tongue as I savor
their flavor, I find myself
being fed- though my stomach
rumbles, complaining about
breakfast uneaten, while
a tiny, niggling voice whispers,
"There is work to be done..."
 
A pantoum is a form of poetry which originated in Malaysia in the 15th century
and was brought to the West by Victor Hugo in the 19th century. The lines are
grouped into quatrains with the rhyme scheme of ab ab. For all quatrains
except the first, the first line of the verse repeats the second line of the
preceding quatrain; the third line repeats the fourth line of the preceding
quatrain. Then, in the final quatrain, the second line repeats the third line
of the first quatrain and the last line repeats the first line of the first
quatrain. Sounds complicated but it really isn't. It begins with choosing a
theme and then writing statements on that theme which then are used to
create the poem.
 
 
On aging
The face in the mirror looks vaguely familiar;
The girl I once was peers out from behind an aging woman.
Age spots and wrinkles mark once-lovely hands
And I greet the morning with aching, creaking joints.
 
The girl I once was peers out from behind an aging woman
But the curiosity of the child persists, unabated
And I greet the morning with aching, creaking joints.
The years accumulate, day by day, month by month,
 
But the curiosity of the child persists, unabated.
I smile at the many wonders of each day.
The years accumulate, day by day, month by month;
Spreading my arms, I welcome my life.
 
I smile at the many wonders of each day.
People I meet are gift and glory.
Spreading my arms, I welcome my life;
With each encounter, I stand on Holy Ground.
 
People I meet are gift and glory.
Age spots and wrinkles mark once-lovely hands.
With each encounter, I stand on Holy Ground.
The face in the mirror looks vaguely familiar.
 
meditation on Isaiah 43:1-3
But now thus says the LORD...Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have
called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through waters, I will be
with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you
walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flames shall not consume
you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
 
I have called you by name...
Linda...child of God...beloved...
you are mine.
Linda...child of God...beloved...
When you pass through the waters...
drowning in sorrow, drowning in fears...
I will be with you.
Not alone, never alone, take my hand...
     Precious Lord, take my hand.
And through the rivers...
the relentless flow of aging, the never-ending movement of time...
they shall not overwhelm you...
God, grant me the serenity...the courage...the wisdom...
When you walk through fire...
the flaming agony of loss, of grief, of anger, of shame...
the flames shall not consume you.
Battered, bruised, scarred, but whole, living, ALIVE!
For I am the LORD your God.
Here I am, Lord...Linda, your child...your beloved.
Here I am- and here you are.
 
 
out on a limb...
Why not go out on a limb? Isn't that where the fruit is? -FRANK SCULLY
 
Out on a limb- why should that be
a threatening place? Though as the years
have passed, I've spent less time
in trees, I must admit.
The neighbor's weeping willow in my youth
sheltered me in her gently-swaying boughs
on many summer afternoons when
solitude was what I craved...
The oak outside the window of my dorm
drew me often to its strong and certain
branches to read and think and dream...
And even now, my precious Japanese maple
spreads her welcoming arms to this
oft-weary pilgrim, inviting me to climb
yet again...to revel in the heartfelt
link between the tree and me,
her heart and mine united in the very
heart of God.
 

 I am who I am...
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind. -DR. SEUSS
 
I am who I am...
and who is that?
A woman, proud and humble
A woman, fearful and courageous
A woman, youthful and aging
A woman, mother and daughter,
        sister, grandmother, friend
A woman, beautiful and beautifully plain
A woman, loved and bereft
A woman, gifted and gifting
A woman, blessed and blessing
A woman, standing on the brink of
         yet another day of life-
               and wondering where it will lead me,
                      thankful for the adventure.
                 
           

Monday, October 14, 2013

First You Cry...

In late September of 1984, I discovered a tiny lump in my right
breast and in early October, I embarked upon the long journey to
diagnosis, surgery, and follow-up treatment. This "Made for
Living" column was written for publication on October 4, 1984,
just a few days after I had received my diagnosis and decided
on the course of treatment with my surgeon. Looking back now,
I realize how totally blessed I am to be here, these nearly
thirty years later. Amazing...


How aptly Betty Rollins had titled her book of several years back, I
thought. First You Cry told of the personal experiences of that author
in dealing with breast cancer, with the subsequent surgery and treatment.
I remember reading it with strong feelings of empathy for the difficulties
Rollins experienced in dealing with her diagnosis. After all, I wondered
at the time, how can any of us say how we would react to such news?

And now I was learning first hand. As I drove the blue Datsun carefully
onto the southbound ramp of I-95, returning to Coral Springs from the
surgeon's office in Boca Raton, I found myself confronted with the
reality of my own diagnosis. The doctor had been totally surprised when
the pathology report indicated that the tiny lump I had found that month
in my right breast was indeed malignant. But somehow, I was not. That
possibility had been in the front of my mind from the very time I had
discovered that unwelcome stranger in my body, and though I eagerly
hoped that science would prove my feelings inaccurate, I found my own
sense of intuition, my own feel for my body, had been correct.

I recalled vividly that on the very day I had done my monthly self-
check and discovered the change in my breast. I had taken a few special
moments aside with my God, asking Him to be with me, placing myself
into the Divine loving arms. I was going to do my part by calling the
doctor to have the lump checked; I had done my part by diligently
examining myself each month without fail. Now the rest would be in
God's hands.

Though the waiting during the diagnostic period was difficult and my
own patience was sorely tried, I did not feel overly anxious. Much to
my surprise, panic did not surface and I walked through my days
certain that I was receiving fortitude and love in abundance, for the
peace and security were certainly not of my own doing.

And now the waiting was over. The course ahead had been established
in the surgeon's office that morning as he and I talked together about
my options, my choices. The early respect I had developed for him
grew mightily as I found him to be patient, compassionate, and
caring, in addition to being knowledgeable and open to my input,
since it is vitally important to me to be a participant in my own
treatment, not just a bystander. I need to be actively involved in what
happens to my body, not at all content to just be acted upon. And I
felt truly included as we talked: a partner, a colleague, able to make
choices about what would be done.

As I neared home, I remembered the scripture passage which had been
part of my daily worship that morning, Isaiah 43:2: When you go
through deep waters and great troubles, I will be with you. When
you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you
walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up-
the flames will not consume you. God had promised me that no
matter what would befall me, God would be there to help me through;
to provide strength when I am weak, to give comfort when I become
discouraged, to provide hope when I feel hopeless, to dry my tears
when they fall.

Several days have passed and I am readying myself for my hospital
admission and surgery. I am putting my house in order, both literally
and figuratively. And in the midst of it all, I am continually amazed
by the sense of peace which fills me, by the lack of fear I feel. Had
anyone asked me what I believed my reaction to having cancer
would be, this would certainly not be what I would have expected.
Any nurse of twenty-one years can tell you about the numerous
patients she has seen and known, of the variety of reactions of
anger and fear, and of the many defense mechanisms which come
into play in our human lives in response to crisis.

And perhaps this is mine, this peacefulness. But I prefer to think
of it as my God fulfilling his promises to me by holding me carefully
and tenderly in the mighty and loving arms, so that the rivers of
difficulty cannot drown me, the fires of oppression cannot consume
me. And I am bathed in the overwhelming outpouring of love from
family and friends, secure in the knowledge that I will be in the
prayers of many, many people this Friday.

First, I did cry...but in the words of the psalmist, Weeping may
tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. I pray  that
it may continue to be so, no matter what the coming days bring.
And I pray that it may be so for you, my friend.

Awesome Autumn...

I love autumn, with its sparkling colors and colder weather...as
the world gives one last incredible hurrah of brilliance prior to
settling into the stark, hibernating bareness of winter. For me,
it is also a time of reflection...a season when I think deeply about
life and living, about making the daily journey. And so today, on
this fourteenth day of October, I am sharing with you some of
my autumnal poetry...reflections which have emerged from the
deep inner places where my hope resides. My wish is that some
of my words may speak to you, heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind,
person-to-person.

autumn
In the autumn,
life readies itself to sleep,
to rest and re-form,
to lie in fallow peace for
a few short months
until spring again calls
out in gleeful abandon
and life unburies itself.
 
Autumn is floating leaves,
full of color, creating noisy
confetti underfoot...crisp,
clean air punctuated by the
chattering of busy squirrels,
by the songs of birds seeking
seeds and grasses amidst
the diminishing insect stocks.
 
Autumn is solitude and
community, color and a
foreshadowing of the stark
bareness of winter, a season
of transition, a reminder of life's
impermanence-
today, I breathe autumn.

and so the day begins...
And so the day begins to unfold...
sun still shyly hiding behind the
horizon, but morning birds
offering their encouragement,
inviting the dawn.
 
Blue-gray sky filters through
the branches of the Japanese
maple, not yet embarked on her
autumnal journey of transformation
and final disrobing- yet she waits in
quiet, noble patience for her colorful
coronation...her upheld arms a playground
for cavorting squirrels, a haven for
singing birds.
 
Ah, to so patiently accept whatever
life sends my way- and yet so willingly
participate in my own transformation,
to accept and welcome the intermittent winds,
the falling rains, the caress of sun and
moon, the loving gaze of stars, certain
that all of it is part of what it means
to live my life.


words...
Words hang heavy in the
air just above my head, just
out of reach, not yet able-
or willing- to find their way
to pen and paper, floating
instead like cartoon conversation
in a bubble...
     unspoken
     unwritten
     unformed-
          yet the product of
          deep thought, deeper
          emotion.
Perhaps if I am patient,
if I sit still and quiet for long
enough, the bubble will burst
and all the true and lovely
words will land on this blank
page to reach to those I love,
to those in pain, to those who
wait for words of love and hope
to send them on their way
for one more day.

we are...
No longer young;
No longer even middle-aged, if truth be told,
But not yet old- not really-
For enthusiasm for life's gifts and mysteries remains
Strong as ever, even stronger,
Enriched so deeply by the experiences
And wisdom only age supplies.
So what do we call ourselves,
We sixty-somethings, seventy-somethings,
Who relish and savor life,
Who seek to live it to the full,
Our less-than-perfect bodies,
Lined faces, and graying heads
Housing- as they do- eager hearts,
Daring dreams, expectant spirits,
Living out the glorious, golden autumn
Of our lives, knowing winter is
Not far behind when, stripped to
the bone, we will welcome our time of rest,
Reflection, and respite with
Open, loving, thankful arms.

keeping informed
We are drowning in information.
 
On-line blogs proliferate
exponentially, each calling out
for our attention, each purporting
to supply information, but in actuality,
purveying opinion- one person's opinion.
 
And all the while, we tread water,
frantically attempting to keep our heads
above the rising tide of words which
threatens to drown us, seeking
frenetically for the life raft of real
knowledge, of truth, which can enlarge
and enrich our worldview, and bring us
to new and different shores.



it's called paradox...
What happens when one part
of the brain agrees with
something read or said
while another part cries out
in vehement denial? when
something rings both true
and false simultaneously?
when head nods in assent
while heart digs in its heels
as something feels out-of-sync?
And, if we're honest,
isn't much of life spent in
this schizophrenic place of
knowing and not knowing,
of certainty accompanied
closely by doubt, while truth
fades from stark black & white
to many shades of gray?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Poetic Thoughts on the Spiritual Journey...

religion?
Re-ligiare, that early Latin word
from which "religion" and "religious"
come, meant- in those early Latin days-
    to re-connect, to re-member
        what has been dis-membered...
    to return to our deepest, truest selves,
        remembering what we already know.
How, then, has religion become
something which divides,
                which dis-members
                    the family of humanity,
                 pitting sister against sister,
                 brother against brother,
                 tribe against tribe, until even
                 heaven has its teeth set on edge by the
                 cacophony of warring certainties,
                     each competing for the hearts & souls
                     of humankind...
                     each certain that its answers
                     are THE answers...
                 while angels weep and
                 all creation bears the battle scars
                 of humans run amok,
                 and the loving, reconciling voice
                 of the Divine One
                     goes unheard.

 in whose image?
The supreme religions struggle is to see God's image in the one who is
not in our image. -Rabbi Jonathan Sachs
 
Imagine...the Hebrew bible commands us-
in more than thirty places- to love and
welcome the stranger, for each and all of us
have been a stranger...somewhere, at some time...
and in the stranger, we can see the face of God,
welcome angels unaware.
 
But far too often- if honestly prevails-
the only god we can see is the one made
in our image...the one who looks like us
and acts the way we think God should...
and if God is indeed only the way I see
divinity, the way you see holiness, then we
can- with smug & self-righteous justification-
deny the image of God in those unlike us,
in our enemies.
 
Easier by far to "worship" God than
to love our neighbor (let alone our enemy)...
to see the person right in front of us as
the unique, beautiful Child of God
she is...to stand in awe of the unsolved
mystery of his life...to see them not
just as characters in my own story
but as people in their own right...as
holy places wherein dwells the Spirit of God.
 
Simpler, far, to hallow the Wholly Holy
than to recognize...admit...acknowledge
that every encounter with every person
is holy...that every encounter with every
person takes place on holy ground- and
in deep humility, take off our shoes in wonder & awe.


faith's road
Having faith does not mean
having answers...though it is indeed
far more comfortable to live with
certainty than to dwell in
ambiguity.
But life's road is paved with questions
and mystery lurks just off each
beaten path, and though it is said that
the road to hell is paved with
good intentions, I doubt if the stairway
to heaven is built on narrow-minded
opinions.

reading the bible
It is not in the book
but in the being
that we find spiritual truth...
and yet the scriptures are
revered
elevated to a holy place
words cherry-picked and
                            chosen,
used as weapons and as warnings,
not as wisdom and welcome...
words quoted, cited, spoken with a towering authority-
      and all the while,
      the very ones who claim the words
      promote fear and hate, exclusion, war...
      while words of love, acceptance and forgiveness
      get lost somewhere...
and the One called God
       the One called Love
       the One Creator of us all
                gets pushed aside and
                the Book takes center stage...
as we forget to LIVE the message
                    to BE the truth
                    to co-create a world of love
                    to worship with our daily lives...
  

ass/u/me
Why do we so often assume
that people of faith never experience
      brokenness?
      discouragement?
      despair?
Why do we do often assume,
even in this modern age,
      that illness & misfortune are
      signs of lack of faith?
Why do we so often assume
that there are simple, straightforward
      answers to life's complex questions?
Why do we so often assume
that a great divide exists between
      what is sacred and what is secular?
                      and
Why do we so often assume
that we, we alone, know the
      mind and will of God for
      humankind?
I mean, isn't it dangerous
                      to ASS/U/ME?

meditation in silence
sacred spaces-
the rests between the notes
singing the melody of life...
open places-
clarity of heart and mind
inviting dreams and visions
of good and God...
daily paces-
the steps which make the journey
through the day...
holy graces-
touched by compassion, both human
and divine- and the only response
possible is
           thanks.

A Heart Divided...






I am of two minds, it seems,
or is it just my heart divided,
parsed into pieces,
pulled to places far and wide...
for here I sit in my lovely blue living room,
a place of cheer and comfort,
a place secure where I can spend
long hours far from traffic noise
and people noise (though barking dogs too often
add their noisy punctuation to my day),
surrounded by small things
I love and photos of the ones
I hold both near and dear...
while not so many blocks away
those I do not know come to be fed,
come to be sheltered, come to find the safety
which their lives do not provide...
while far away across the globe
those countless ones, known and unknown to me,
long to be fed, long to be sheltered, long
to find safety which their lives cannot provide...
So, where do I put my deepest concern?
Where place the pieces of my broken-open heart?
     And how do I put it all
          back together again?



Written the day after the death of Steve Jobs:
 
Steve Jobs has died of pancreatic cancer,
and headlines scream and
countless words of acclamation
have been written, spoken, blogged,
and tweeted...more will follow,
as the world mourns the death
of a technology pioneer
who changed the face of daily life
for countless numbers...
            AND
a child has died of starvation...another
and another still...numbering in the thousands,
as headlines stay silent and words
of sorrow remain unwritten...as their families
mourn alone, the death of one small child
changing nothing in the daily lives
of countless numbers...
            or does it?
                 Should it?
                       Will it?