“A Gigantic Ego” (Hafiz)

The only problem with not castrating
A gigantic ego is

That it will surely become amorous
And father
A hundred screaming ideas and kids

Who will then all quickly grow up
And skillfully proceed

To run up every imaginable debt
And complication of which your brain
Can conceive.

This would concern normal parents
And any seekers of freedom

And the local merchants nearby
As well.

They could very easily become forced
To disturb your peace;

All those worries and bills could turn to
Wailing ghosts.

The only problem with not lassoing
A runaway ego is

You won’t have much time to sing
In this sweet
world.

By Hafiz

Source: translated by Daniel Ladinsky

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Called to Something Graceful

I am not only called by and covered in grace,
I am called to something graceful,
something beautiful, something strong and tender.

I am called by a Love so
Strong it surrenders control, but is
Filled with truth and tenderness.

And justice is sweet on her lips,
And fire from her fingertips, and mercy
Wraps her world when all else fails.

I am held by an urgent compassion,
And blessed with a burden.  Darkness does not scare me,
And shadows ever shifting are sacred

For this grace is so compelling that in the end
I know all will be enveloped in Love, and all that
Ever was & is & is to come will be set aflame with divinity.

“Mindful” (Mary Oliver)

Every day
I see or I hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It is what I was born for—
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world—
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant—
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations,
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these—
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Source:

Surrender. Resignation.

Surrender.

Resignation.

Which one is giving up and which one is giving in?  Which one is active and which one is passive?  Is there a difference?  And if so, would I even know what that difference is?

I am writing this in a proverbial mirror, not knowing truly if I where I am right now is more about running way from something or journeying towards Someone and a grander destiny.

I truly do not know.  But God does and when it comes to giving up or giving in, faith and fear become guides that in some way ‘will’ us forward.  The question is, when it comes down to fear or faith, which one will I choose to be my guide?

Surrender involves faith; faith in a Loving God who desires to be known and to know.

Resignation is about fear; fear that is a poisonous and ruinous drug making the world seem random and chaotic.

If truth be told, I have much and little of both.  But the choice is mine.

Which will it be kid?  Faith or fear…the answer could change the world.

“Stay Centered & Enjoy” (Gordon Cosby)

There are some things we can’t hear until we know we have a problem. We hear what we are ready to hear. I am familiar with a problem which I have to work with in my own life, and I expect some of you have to work with it as well, that has been with me a good part of my life. Is there an answer to this problem, or is it just inevitable and we will have to live with it gracefully, knowing it will never go away? This problem is especially acute for good people, people who are sensitized and want to be faithful and want to make a difference in the world—especially people who have heard God’s call on their lives and want to be faithful to that call. What is the problem that most good people have? It is being in overload, too busy, weighted down, with too much on our plates. We simply cannot keep up. Work piles up faster than I can work through the piles. Can I learn to work smarter? Am I just not sufficiently focused? Should I develop the capacity to work longer hours? I am often overwhelmed. I can’t take any more. And the “any more” is a given, almost always, and given in a form that I don’t know how to resist honorably. I have tried to be faithful, tried to be responsible, yet I am robbed of my spontaneity and joy.

As we grow and mature, we see more clearly what God’s dream is and we see the piece of that dream that God wants us to carry and embody. The piece seems enormous, yet we want to be faithful. We feel an increasing sense of responsibility as we mature, and we are given even more openness to the pain and suffering of others, much deeper than before, and we begin to carry pain that we didn’t carry before. We want to lessen that pain for other people. We cannot isolate ourselves from it because Jesus did not isolate from it, and yet we don’t know how to live with the suffering. We must do more. We also see in a new way the pervasive nature of evil. It is no longer a concept; we see it in the systems we live with every day. It is in our so-called “Spirit-led” systems. We are shocked when we see it is in our churches, which we love, and even more shocking, I find it is in me, and you find it is in you. Everything is connected. And as we get further along the journey, we can’t pull off what we could have pulled off when we were younger. No matter how hard we try, the oppositional forces are powerful and we are confronted by disillusionment. As we mature we also are given a deeper sense of urgency and an awareness of limited time so we feel “it” needs to happen soon. Our time for getting it done is getting shorter. Our sense of urgency leads us to assume new responsibilities without dropping any earlier ones. We give lip service to our finitude. We try to break our rightful limits.

These are just a few of the temptations of good people. If I haven’t named any of yours, you work on your own list.

Way down deep we know that this state of overload is not the way it is meant to be if we are gospel people. We have known it for a long time that it shouldn’t be this way but we haven’t been able to change. How should things be for us if we are developing and growing? Douglas Steere has stated it better than any person for me: “A saint is a person of large leisure.” By saint he means a person who is fully developed; not a saint in the halo sense, but a person who is really getting hold of it, living by the gospel—this will be a person of large leisure. Not overly busy, but with plenty of time, not wishing there was more, just grateful for the time there is and relaxing in it. Looking at our plate, if we are persons of large leisure, we can say it’s a wonderful plate. There’s not too much on it and not too little. It’s just right. Is this just wishful thinking, or can we live this way?

Consider Jesus.

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“Keep a Place for the Unexpected” (Amiel)

Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for the unknown God. Then if a bird sing among your branches, do not be too eager to tame it.

If you are conscious of something new—thought or feeling, wakening in the depths of your being—do not be in a hurry to let in light upon it, to look at it; let the springing germ have the protection of being forgotten, hedge it round with quiet, and do not break in upon its darkness.

Journey Inward, Journey Outward

“The one journey that ultimately matters is the journey into the place of stillness deep within one’s self. To reach that place is to be at home; to fail to reach it is to be forever restless. In [contemplative prayer] we catch a vision of not only what is, but what can be. Contrary to what we have thought, contemplatives are the great doers.”

N. Gordon Cosby

The Journey of faith is a twofold journey: it is a journey inward and it is a journey outward.

The inward journey is the starting point, the infinite steps that have no end…towards God, others and ourselves; it is a journey that goes on for the ages.  This inward journey leads then to the outward journey, the journey of self in service to God, others and the earth.

The key that unlocks this journey is prayer but is found in the ordinariness of life – the practice of the dailiness of our days.  For not many of us live on the mountain top all year round, no, for many of us there are dishes and diapers and bills and demons and darkness, fragile faith and nagging doubts.  But God is greater than all of these and thus we are immersed in the Divine every moment of our existence.  We are given, lovingly, the power to choose to recognize the very sacredness of our existence in every Moment.  With God there is no past, or future, there is only now for time is a human construct.  God is timeless and when we are in the now, we are indeed one with the Infinite Love.

Prayer allows us to enter into the emptiness of silence where we are awakened to the fullness of God and to the power of prayer to mold us into a people of relentless love, messy grace, and compassionate service.

It is this silence that feeds the journey inward and the journey outward, and it is in this twofold journey that leads us to a divine banquet, one where we can taste our lives as a holy space where God and flesh meet, the place where the boundary between the sacred and the profane dissolves and all is wrapped in the warm tenderness of God’s love.

 

Author’s Note: I first learned of and experienced this naming of the journey as both inward and outward when I was a member of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC back in the 1990s.

For more information on this journey, please click on the link (www.inwardoutward.org).  And to read the book that inspired such missions and fed my soul deeply please see the book by Elizabeth O’Connor, Journey Inward, Journey Outward.  It can be purchased online at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Inward-Outward-Elizabeth-OConnor/dp/0060663324)