merry-go-round

sometimes
pondering the world
leaves me breathless
and dizzy

verdant immensity
stretches out before me
and a vast sea of blue
holds its place
above my head

planetary
merry-go-round
spinning faster
than any carnival ride

is it any wonder
that I am filled with
butterflies and laughter
as I hang on
for dear life?

I have questions

Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,

There are so many things I do not understand.
What was it like when you called the cosmos into being?
Did you speak your creative words matter-of-factly,
or did you sing as you hovered over the waters?

What do you feel when you look at the world you created?
When you look at me?
For so long, I imagined that you were angry, or disappointed,
but what if…what if
suffering stirs your compassion
and sinfulness moves you to love?

What if the great commission
was never about getting people into heaven,
but about bringing heaven to people?

What if you never intended your followers
to focus on who’s right and who’s wrong,
or who’s in and who’s out?
What if instead, you have invited us to love,
regardless of someone’s creed or culture?

What if we believed Jesus’ encouragement
to be whole, as you Father are whole?
What if we believed Paul’s words
that you are truly reconciling all things?

What if…

re-membering ourselves

What if we have misunderstood sin?
What if sin is not so much about behavior, but fragmentation?
What if sinning means that we have forgotten who we are?

What if holiness has little to do
with willing ourselves to comply with a set of external standards
but instead, is about re-membering ourselves?

What if we concerned ourselves
less with avoiding evil
and more with becoming whole?

What if righteousness has little to do
with condemning sin
and much to do with living from our true self?

What if holy living was never about
white-knuckled compliance
but about welcoming ourselves back home?

Love After Love

This poem, Love After Love by Derek Walcott, is one of my favorites.

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

dark corners

As darkness presses in
filling the corners of our minds
we long for your light, O God.
Frantically, we cry out,
“Where are you?”

Do not let the Great Sadness overwhelm us.
Remind us of your enduring goodness.
Reveal your tender mercy.

Help us to understand
that there is neither form nor beauty
without both light and shadow.

Open our eyes
to see your presence
even in these dark places.

There is nowhere we can go
that you have not already gone.
There is no darkness
where your light does not shine brighter still.

tempest

I am afraid.
I seek control
though I am powerless.

Waves crash
rip currents carry me
further into a sea of dread.

I do not know
what dangers lurk
in the depths.

I row harder
oars nearly snapping
under the strain.

Breathlessly, I cry out
Lord, don’t you care
that I am drowning?

In the deafening storm
I hear you whisper
Peace, be still.

Are you speaking to me
or the tempest?
I cannot tell.

The same hurricane
feeds the turbulence
within and without.

Close your eyes.
Breathe, beloved.
Breathe.

Answers & Questions

I used to have all the answers–
or at least most of them
(I have the books to prove it)
a firm foundation of right ideas.

Then I opened the door of my mind
just a crack
and invited the questions inside.

The invitation was not without cost.
I know less now than I once did
for in opening the door
I saw the universe before me.

A prayer for wholeness

God of wholeness,
Father, Son, Spirit,
never lacking or incomplete,
eternally perfect in oneness,
you promised that in the Son,
all things shall be reconciled.

Remind me of my union with you,
always aware of your holy presence
in and around me.
You, O LORD, are never absent,
but I confess that my senses are dulled
by 10,000 distractions.
I want to love you
as you have loved me,
fully and completely and unreservedly.
Let your lovingkindness toward me
ignite my love.

You, O LORD, have filled this world
with those who bear your image
yet each person is uniquely beautiful.
Remove the scales from my eyes
so that I may see with compassion.
Help me to remember that listening is loving
and curiosity is a sacred gift.
To love another is to get dirt on my hands,
just as you did when you formed people
from the dust of the ground.
Whether in agreement or conflict,
let love define me.

As I look inward,
let me see myself as you see me,
not as damaged goods, nor irredeemable,
but as your beloved child
who is infinitely valuable in your eyes.
Let the knowledge of my belovedness
cast aside every doubt I have
about how you see me,
knowing that you cherish me
just as I am right now.

Help me to remember
that when you formed the heavens and the earth,
you called your creation good.
It was full of beauty
and teeming with life,
yet like your people,
your good creation has suffered
the ravages of disintegration.
You have invited me to be a steward of the earth;
let me take up that call with hope and endurance,
remembering that you are reconciling all things.
Grant me the skill
to make good and beautiful things,
remembering that goodness and beauty
are reflections of you.

Where there is hatred, restore compassion
where darkness, light
where confusion, clarity
where where fragmentation, integration
where agitation, peace
where pride, humility
where brokenness, wholeness
and where self-centeredness, love.

A Prescription for Wholeness

Spread kindness like wildfire. Ask questions. Cross bridges. Pick up a piece of trash. Say hello. Say thank you, to God and others. Go for a walk. Make eye contact. Consider the lilies. Mend fences. Plant wildflowers. Sit in the grass and watch a bumblebee—it will teach you there is no need to rush. Pay for someone’s coffee. Bake two loaves of bread. Give one away. Pray for those who belittle you. Be kind to yourself. Shed tears when you are sad. Sing show tunes, preferably with someone else. Draw a tree; even a stick tree will do. Savor an orange. When you are angry, breathe deeply and exhale mercy. Listen to “the gift of a thistle” by James Horner. Visit somewhere new. Light a candle; in fact, light three, or a hundred. Play with a toddler. Drink a cup of tea. Read a poem by Mary Oliver, or perhaps Rumi. Write a letter to someone, with real paper and ink. Send it through the mail. Look for goodness. Celebrate beauty—it is everywhere. Listen with curiosity. Sing loudly in your car. Hold someone’s hand. Pet a dog. Bike to work. Buy original art, anyone local will do. Always stop at a lemonade stand and always overpay. Breathe. Do it again. Do you realize what a miracle it is that you are alive?