“Still” (A.R. Ammons)

I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I’ll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
found
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:

at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!

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Fragility & Grace (or God’s Beautiful Odd Couple)

Since my accident, I have been given many opportunities for reflection, mostly coming in the midst of pain, sleeplessness and the ensuing “monkey mind” that accompanies any moments of extreme physical pain.

The truth is I have always fancied myself a “man’s man” – a gym rat as it were; as obsessed about the state of my physique as I am about my intellect and soul. In short, I have been (and continue to be) an egotistical maniac about my body (read: big, fat ego).

But this accident has left me reeling from my historical obsessions. I cannot even use a vacuum cleaner or take out the trash without it causing me hours of pain. I cannot exercise aside from short walks, and my usual walking and hiking companion, Juno, is herself just barely starting to heal.

Fragility.

God’s perpetual reminder that even though the human (being and body) is incredibly resilient, it is also at its core no match for surviving the force of machine, Nature or God.

After my own accident, I learned a dear friend of 20 plus years had an accident and is now in a coma, clinging to life never to be the same again.  The scriptures that “when I am weak I am strong” seems frivolous today, one I have always given lip service to…until now, as it has become as real as rain.

In my weakness, I am all but forced to let God enter my being; for it is through the cracks that grace and God enter. Far too often I have relied on the physical abilities I had while proclaiming that really my life was about spiritual awareness and growth – relying on God while in the end, secretly believing my own vim and vigor was what was getting me through life.

However, in these last six weeks, I have been blessed by having God’s beautiful Odd Couple keeping me company: fragility & grace.

For years, especially being a person in recovery, I have said that “there but for the Grace go I” and that all recovery and life is indeed fragile, only to be truly living by human strength. I have all my limbs, and most of my mental faculties, true, but I am not 27, I am 47, and broken.  I pay homage to the God Who enters into my weakness, while secretly despising my own frailty.

I am left with no concrete answers, still struggling to embody “God’s power perfected in my weakness.”  I am not satisfied with it. I am not happy about it. I am wrestling the angels and demons like Jacob refusing to embrace I am getting older, and not so much wiser. I am frustrated by my limitations (all of them) and I am seeking a God who is Power, only to find a Messiah born in fragile flesh, who died a traitor on a cross crucified for sedition.

I know that is not the end of the story. I know resurrection is real. But like Martha, I do not believe in resurrection now, only later.  And like Martha, I too have seen God’s miracles in both life and death.

I believe in resurrection – I see it every day in the rooms of 12 Step Fellowships; I believe that God is the God of second chances (and third and fourth, etc.).  BUT…I am wrapped in fragility and grace, holding on to hope, sometimes gently, sometimes fiercely. But to this hope will I cling: that in my weakness, brokenness and fragility that God and grace will come in fullness and fidelity.

O God, I believe…but help me where my faith falls short.