“With Open Hands” (Henri Nouwen)

Dear God,

Speak gently in my silence.
When the loud outer noises of my surroundings
and the loud inner noises of my fears
keep pulling me away from You,
help me to trust that You are still there
even when I am unable to hear You.

Give me ears to  listen to Your small, soft voice saying:
“Come to Me, you who are overburdened,
and I will give you rest…
for I am gentle and  humble of heart.”
Let that loving voice be my guide.

Amen.

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“Those Who Give” (Kahlil Gibran)

There are those who give little of the much which they have–
and they give it for recognition.
Their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life,
and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy,
and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain,
and that pain is their baptism.

And there are those who give and know not pain in giving,
nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes
its fragrance into space.

Through the hands of such as these God speaks,
and from behind their eyes God smiles upon the earth.

Source:

“Cosmic Change” (Judy Cannato)

Cosmic change is not cosmetic change. It is radical, meaning ‘to the root,’ and it will mean the upheaval of our cherished customs and the disposal of stories that have provided the basic framework for our lives.

We must not underestimate the enormity of what is being asked of us, even as we celebrate with joy the new and salvific. In its initial moments resurrection is indistinguishable from death.

At first we are unable to see the great turning that has taken place. All that has been comfortable, all that has held us in place is gone, and there is nothing recognizable to stand on. Everything on which we have planted our feet is swept away.

Judy Cannato

Source: Field of Compassion

Prayer is an Uprising

Prayer is revolutionary.

Prayer is the doorway where we the finites enter the Infinite.  Prayer is what happens within us then slowly moves outward. Prayer turns the world upside-down and inside-out.

Prayer moves the mountains of hard hearts and thick heads.  Prayer changes the way we see the world, leaving behind the establishment of the powerful entering instead into the true power of surrender and the realm of the marginalized (for that is the place where we see God in his most distressing disguise).

As Karl Barth once said, “To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

Through the Cracks…

Blessed are the cracked and broken, for it is we who are filled with God’s grace.

If there is one thing I have learned in my life it’s that everyone is wounded in some way, shape or form.  There simply are no people in the world walking around scar-less.  In fact, I’ve learned those who project a greater sense of wholeness, or an “I’ve already arrived” mentality, are in fact the ones who are the farthest away from the very wholeness and perfection of which they speak – and unfortunately this seems especially truer among people of faith.

But who wants to be “perfect” anyway?  I don’t.  As a person of deep faith, someone who loves God deeply, I am reminded by the comforting truth that Jesus did not come for the ‘perfect’ rather he came for the sick, the cracked, the poor and the screwed up.

God loves our cracks and wounds.  Our scars are reminders that God has come to us and shown us sacred love and brought us some level of healing.

And the truth of it all is that it is only through the cracks and woundedness of our lives that the profound mystery of God’s love and grace can enter into our hearts and lives bringing tender mercies.  In our myth of perfection and achievements, we lose the truth of our brokenness by believing that we are already perfect and whole.  In that ‘lie’ we become “sealed shut” and the elements of God’s abundant grace have no opening with which to enter our hearts.

It is a comforting and disturbing truth that grace enters our hearts by way of a wound.

We are a broken and imperfect people.  And thanks be to God for that!  Yes, Jesus did say, “Be perfect as [God] is perfect.”  But the word perfect there does not mean without flaw, error or blemish.  In its original meaning, “perfect” means to be “mature, complete, and healthy.”  And with this definition in mind, I truly hunger to be ‘perfect’ in God: growing in maturity; complete in God; striving towards wholeness through the Spirit.

So we, who are broken, are called to a God Who enters us through the very brokenness we often run from and deny.  It is the lovely mystery of God: that the Holy One enters that which is not so holy.  God loves the broken and cracked among us!

And when I speak of the wounded and broken, I am speaking of all of us, but especially those who are wounded and vulnerable on the outside.  I have said it before and will say it again; God does indeed have a preferential option for the poor, the broken and the oppressed, not because they are better or more loved, but precisely because they are more vulnerable.  Truly, God loves all equally and perfectly.  But those that are the most broken, those who cry out in their brokenness, are the ones who are the most open to God’s messy grace.

We who are broken know that we need grace.  Those who find themselves to be whole have no need of grace or forgiveness or healing…or even God for that matter.

In truth, without God’s grace and love, I am just an alcoholic hungry for another drink, chasing an illusion.  But with the love of the Messiah poured out into my heart and soul, I am whole.  And it is this truth – living between the Already and the Not Yet of wholeness – which I must embrace.

So my friends, blessed are the cracked and broken, for it is we who are filled with God’s grace.

“Enough for This Day” (Wayne Muller)

When we breathe, we do not stop inhaling because we have taken in all the oxygen we will ever need, but because we have all the oxygen we need for this breath. Then we exhale, release carbon dioxide, and make room for more oxygen.

Sabbath, like the breath, allows us to imagine we have done enough work for this day. Do not be anxious about tomorrow, Jesus said again and again. Let the work of this day be sufficient.