Wednesday, April 29, 2015

sunshine and being

The sun continues to be evasive here in Pensacola.  But it is poking its face out and that is a welcome thing.  Enjoying a lecture by Thomas Merton regarding the relationship between asceticism and freedom. 


I'll leave you with a new piece:


being


deep within the mystery
in the midst of
bramble and relentless vines


crawling, prickly things
rain, and the soft mud rooting the bright lotus
and its many, many petals


is a space in kairos
witness to battles without beginning or end
the powerful and the powerless


a still place seen by none other
than this very now
and there finds home, a great beast of a lion
uncaged, unblunted, majestic


there are no bars
his supple stride is dignity
raw grace, if such a thing can exist


for he is not alone
as near him is the lamb
the soft underbelly, tender and vulnerable
exposed, prey to gleaming jaws and gluttonous shears


the lion and the lamb
an inextricable dance
delicate and mystical


yet know
the lamb needs the lion
no less than the lion requires this softness
of his mighty companion


power is without measure and cause
with no fold
tenderness is with no affect
without that which to cover


what could be utterly crushed
without the protection
and watchful guardian of the one


the softness of the other
invoking the great revelation

Monday, April 13, 2015

thunder, storytelling, and endurance

It is a very overcast morning here, the thunder was ominous last night and kept me company for some time.  I picked up Experiencing Spirituality (Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham), which has captured my attention.  I love the idea of the story singing that which dogma cannot.  I'd been thinking of and about the power of storytelling recently, it was a good thing to stumble upon this book.  One of my favorite stories so far:


I recently heard a story of someone asking a monk, "What is your life as a monk?"
The monk replied, "We walk, we fall down, someone helps us up.  We walk some more, someone else falls down.  We help them up.  That's pretty much what we do."


It seems to call to mind the elimination of destination as the end.  Rather, as the authors make note of (almost apologetically), it is the essence of "be-ing."  It also calls to mind the power of service to our fellows, and gives us permission to accept help when we need it.


I'll leave you with a short prayer that made its way out of the ether a few months ago.


Endurance


grant me endurance
for the long road


so many days I feel a heaviness of heart
that I fear will overtake me


I desire to be of service
and cannot do so if I am dejected


I implore your endless energy
I insist upon a countenance that comes from you alone


I beg the knowing of your gaze
in gratitude I lift my eyes
to your horizon


in joy I seek you evermore
in confidence I find you





Thursday, April 2, 2015

rise, row, and write

It is a beautiful day here in Florida.  An early rise, rowing, meditation, and now work. 


I'll part with a piece of recent writing.




wound


how do we take our wounds?


how did the world touch us
in a way that cuts deeply


opening a place in our flesh
that seemingly never draws closed
breaking open over and over again
resisting healing


we must go back to the fisher king
understand the wound
mourn for it
feel the pain of the world that caused it
release it, even in tears


it may be hidden
and yet soft prayerful awareness
finds it finally


cold words
absence
fear of the unknown
fear of love
fear of fear
so many symptoms


physician, heal thyself!
it is said


indeed, it is the deep, sticky, soul work
the oars pulled by the lone rower
the poetry which flows out, unleashed
like blood
washing away the wounds

and announcing the arrival
of that deep healing
we pant for, as the deer at the brook
as the parched earth for rain


Divine Master
give us the strength to look deeply
to reach out in the dark night
in all our fear


to find ourselves
to find you

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Over-Soul, poets, and awkward school dances

It is an overcast morning that reminds me of my year in Pennsylvania some time ago.  I am looking forward to the return of my Florida sunshine.  Just returned from breakfast with a good friend, and I am mindful of the joy of sharing our journey with kindred souls.  I've found such souls in unexpected places.  Three thoughts on this day, as has become customary:


1. I have been mulling over Emerson's short essay on the "Over-Soul."  It is remarkable to re-conceive God (as you may wish to name him or her, or not) and to engage in the process of stripping back and closely inspecting the essence that has historically come with ones own spiritual formation.  Finding of God and of the self again.  That we call the process "formation" in some settings is even in itself remarkable.  The great questions evolve: "who is the vessel, and who and what is the potter?" 


2. Rilke has been a good companion in this season.  I ran across comments of Dietrich Bonhoeffer during his imprisonment that Rilke left him cold at the time.  Acceptance that different voices find us at different moments, but honest surprise.  A certain awareness is required for me to receive Rilke and other poetry right now.  It varies in hours and days.  Also making the acquaintance of Rumi and Blake.  I resonate with Thomas Merton's observation to novitiates that the poet today may fill the role of the monk of old.


3. Constant change as the only true constant.  I'll leave you with a piece of writing from recent months:


old wooden floor


one of the clearest memories
of my boyhood
is of an Indiana gymnasium
as a first grader


where an otherwise unremarkable dance was had
and seemingly everyone
could let go in a way
that I could not


they danced


and I held on tight
did what I could do
walking the perimeter
watching from the edge


and it was only years later
that I could let go and dance
and even then only with the help
of Jack
or Jose
or some other or another


I let go now
with my kids, when I can
usually after dishes
forgetting the serious man
I think I must be


we dance and twist and yell and laugh
if only I'd do it more


I'd like to help that boy let go in that Indiana schoolhouse
grab his hand, pull him out there
make a fool of myself, make him laugh


perhaps he'd say the same of me


but maybe the truth is
he showed up
late
but showed up to dance with all his soul, nonetheless

Friday, February 20, 2015

Encounter

Encounter


a chance encounter
in the space around five pieces of German glass


in a great hall
full of light


soft countenance
at peace, finally


a banner as blue as spring sky
below a gentle smile
confident pose


the song of precisely
forty angels
all about
her angels
unseen, everywhere
they'd always been


found in that moment
of new acquaintance


and as one walked away
the other stayed
all the while smiling
angels singing still


five pieces of German glass