“go easy…be filled with light…and shine”

I love this poem by Mary Oliver. She has such a way of condensing light, as if the writing itself is a baptism, where poet and reader emerge swept clean.

“When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Last week I looked out my window after a wind storm, and my two gorgeous, lyrical willow shrub trees were flat on the ground. I ran out there to find that they had not broken, but were bent at the bottom where the stakes ended. They were literally flat on the ground but not broken, split, or strained. I propped them up, got new stakes, secured them upright. There were no complaints. They moved willingly. They offer their blossoms with joy.

At the church service mentioned in my last post, a baby named Aislyn was being baptized. She was such a peaceful baby, and you could feel the community’s love surrounding her. The pledge to support her journey through life, brought to mind Jesus’ conversation with  Nicodemus, where he tells him that we must be born again: “Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom.” John 3, The Message

I was moved by the love, commitment and vision for this child: baptizing, washing her in the light of Christly love; grounding her on the rock of faith. It’s something to see an entire church community stand up and together pledge  to watch over, guide,  and love this baby throughout her life.

It was a joy to share in this child’s baptism; it was a reminder of what a difference it can make to nurture, love, and stand up for the good in others. To see the community around us in God’s light, and to love it.

I’ve always loved how the teachings of Christian Science define baptism as a “Purification by Spirit; submergence in Spirit.” (Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy) It’s given me a sense of the  nearness of God, the ever-present availability of redemption, and the nurturing presence of Spirit to cleanse, purify, refresh, and restore my every moment.

Coupled with Ainslie’s baptism, I have a deepened sense of how much we are all continually immersed, cherished, watched over and held in the infinite love of God. Our awareness of this brings peace both for ourselves and the people we meet everywhere. Oliver puts it so perfectly:

“Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

through God’s lens…

Today I went to hear my friend Stephen Vail preach at St. John’s Anglican church in Port Hope. He starts out casual, simple, direct, often funny, a matter of fact kind of humility, never judgmental, immersing you in a keen assessment of  day to day life. And then when you least expect it, just easily going along with the story he’s telling–weaving in and out of Scripture and how it so tangibly relates to our lives today–he cuts right to the heart of it, takes you to the place you weren’t expecting, but knew you needed to be.

Today it was a discussion of John the Baptist…and how the lives in so many of the stories in the Bible on the surface appear to be failures–if measured by a worldly standard of success–even while they continue to change the world from the inside out. And how those stories beckon us to look at our lives from different vantage points, to see more deeply, to look at ourselves and the world through the lens of God.

The sermon was short, but the message rang in the air, and held there with both its promise and challenge: if we were to examine our lives through God first…to see ourselves through God’s eyes, in the light of divine Love, how would our lives change…how would our world change…how we would all change the world.

It makes me think of these two Bible verses:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Cor. 13: 12

“I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.”  Genesis 33:10

O to see ourselves and each other in this way. To glimpse the light, grace, tender, unceasing look of divine Love, to feel its safe assurance, presence, and warmth, to feel completely at home and secure, and in turn to shine this light on everyone around us.

Mary Baker Eddy’s words give profound insight to the possibility of this kind of spiritual discernment:

“Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy.” from Science and Health with Key to the Scripture

next time…

I’ve long been a fan of  William Stafford’s poetry, so it was a delight to come across one that was new to me in an email from a friend.

Next Time

Next time what I’d do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I’d stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I’d watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I’d know more — the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.

the words usher

me into

this next time

air expands

drops

rises

warms

opens

the space between around beyond

all moments

portals

of presence

right where

the hands of time

clutch

push

threaten

right there

the world breathes

with unhurried stillness

and calls your name

someone once said

“you have plenty of time

if you don’t hurry.”

plenty

of

time

stop counting

plumb

moments

proceed

from, into, with

not towards, past, by

this time

not next time

stand

lean

into

the deep arms

of here

and feel

everything

you seek

rise up to greet you

only this time

you see it

know it

feel it

no difference

between

being,seeing,giving

one

“I have a world of wisdom and Love to contemplate, that concerns me, and you, infinitely beyond all earthly expositions or exhibitions.  I earnestly invite you to its contemplation with me, and to preparation to behold it.” Mary Baker Eddy Miscellaneous Writings

“In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2

“rock bottom riser”

I don’t get to see my brother often, but what I love is how space is no keeper of the life between us. It is a rich, growing, soulful giving that often speaks for long stretches in silence, and then out of some deep blue bliss comes words ringing through the air, putting names to thoughts felt but not rendered. He is a poet and song muse of the deeper runes, and I love his kindness. So this is an ode to my brother, little brother, always towering before me.

He sent me a mix of songs recently. This one by Bill Callahan was included:

“I love my mother
I love my father
I love my sisters, too.
I bought this guitar
To pledge my love
To pledge my love to you.

I am a rock bottom riser
And I owe it all to you
I am a rock bottom riser
And I owe it all to you

I saw a gold ring
At the bottom of the river
Glinting at my foolish heart
So my foolish heart
Had to go diving
Diving, diving, diving
Into the murk

And from the bottom of the river
I looked up for the sun
Which had shattered in the water
And pieces were rained down
Like gold rings
That passed through my hands
As I thrashed and I grabbed
I started rising, rising, rising

I left my mother
I left my father
I left my sisters, too
I left them standing on the banks
And they pulled me out
Of this mighty, mighty, mighty river

I am a rock bottom riser
And I owe it all to you
I am a rock bottom riser
And I owe it all to you

I love my mother
I love my father
I love my sisters, too.
I bought this guitar
To pledge my love
To pledge my love to you”

and so for all

rock bottom rising
rock bottom risers

fallen
falling

surprise landings

abrupt bedrock beneath

sudden stillness

hush

then

always

inevitable launching

unlikely propulsions of grace

rising rising

involuntary

rising

Love will not spare

boundless outpour

divine pledge

nudging us to

trace the dark passes

for dawn breaking light

spilling us upward

lives offered

up

cacophony of love

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“These two words in Scripture suggest the sweetest similes to be found in any language — rock and feathers: “Upon this rock I will build my church;” “He shall cover thee with His feathers.” How blessed it is to think of you as “beneath the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” safe in His strength, building on His foundation, and covered from the devourer by divine protection and affection. Always bear in mind that His presence, power, and peace meet all human needs and reflect all bliss.” Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings

“prayer out of wordless sighs”

one morning i was having a tough time getting my peace, finding that prayerful window of stillness–that feeling of oneness with God that stills and lightens and illumines every thought for the day. i was in a swamp of nowhere thoughts, so threw out a line for anchor, opened the Bible at random, prepared to seek til found, and read some verses i hadn’t read before, even though i knew i had, they go like this:

“The moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8: 26-28 from The Message by Eugene Peterson

this passage just took my breath away.

to think…

we are prayer
being prayed
right out of wordless sighs
wordless cries
we are some song in singing
being sung
supernal offering
Spirit etched
Soul fired
perpetual
eternal
steady
some
presence ever
of heaven
o who
would have thought
every detail of our lives
being worked into something good

and then as if out of nowhere, this hymn began to run through my thoughts. it’s not one i know that well, and crept up on me in a quiet kind of a way:

“Sometimes a light surprises

The Christian while he sings;

It is the Lord who rises

With healing in his wings.

When comfort seems declining,

There comes to us again

A season of clear shining,

To cheer us after rain.” (William Cowper adapted)

and so today, every day, i am endeavoring to live more gently. to feel the pulse pulsing me, prayer praying me, light surprising..life ever lightening…heaven springing everywhere out of earth. and in the words of a gospel hymn by Ken Whitely: “let my life be prayer.”

“To preserve a long course of years still and uniform, amid the uniform darkness of storm and cloud and tempest, requires strength from above, — deep draughts from the fount of divine Love. Truly may it be said: There is an old age of the heart, and a youth that never grows old; a Love that is a boy, and a Psyche who is ever a girl. The fleeting freshness of youth, however, is not the evergreen of Soul; the coloring glory of perpetual bloom; the spiritual glow and grandeur of a consecrated life wherein dwelleth peace, sacred and sincere in trial or in triumph.” Mary Baker Eddy Miscellaneous Writings

bathed in sweetness, bathed in love

i love the images and cards from pondering pool by Susan Mrosek. this one speaks to me today.

there is a rich autumn breeze blowing, the husky air of summer ushering in September. the air is kind, cool and warm. a washing, baptizing. moments calmed, cleaned, slipping easily into old worn out shoes, everything sitting, fitting well.  gratitude hovers like sunlight.

there is a need to bathed in kindness. there is a need to bathe ourselves in kindness.

there is a need to remember, know, be clear about who we are. to not let the world impose its thoughts upon us.

JB Philips in his translation of Romans 12:2 says this: “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its own mold.”

between all the storms internal and external, market fluctuations, personal upheavals and struggles, i’ve been noticing a lot of shell-shocked looks lately…friends, neighbors not sure what has hit them…how thought gets mired in, paralyzed in patterns of uncertainty and fear. Ryan Bingham’s song seems more than fitting:

“This ain’t no place for the weary kind
This ain’t no place to lose your mind
This ain’t no place to fall behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try”

Pick up your crazy heart…pick up your sweet heart…be bathed in sweetness…be bathed in love.

all the storms in the world cannot take from you one ounce of who you are…they cannot break you, make you, define you.

they can, if you let them, prompt something deeper in you to waken…waken…take possession of that core order, sweetness, certainty, rocklike light within. you are not made to grovel, weep, or to be broken.

waken

waken

break this

half-dazed

slumber

of intractable despair

shake loose

the shackles

slide ever so guilelessly

from this shell

emerge

emerge

into the light

so right

yes

you do stand sturdy

on your own sure feet

everything about you

unable to hold back

surety of footing

impulse to sing

air rippling

lightness of laughter

you

bathed

soaked

immersed

showered

evidencing

Love’s light

Psalm XXIII

[DIVINE LOVE] is my shepherd; I shall not want.

[LOVE] maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

[LOVE] leadeth me beside the still waters.

[LOVE] restoreth my soul [spiritual sense]:
[LOVE] leadeth me in the paths of  righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for [LOVE] is with me; [LOVE'S]rod and [LOVE'S] staff they comfort me.
[LOVE] prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
[LOVE] anointeth my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [LOVE] for ever.
(interpretation of the 23rd Psalm in Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy)

“unforced rhythms of grace”

it’s been a summer of “unwinding one’s snarls”*…letting the blue sky shine…learning about “unforced rhythms of grace.”

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in his translation of Matthew 11:28-30: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

nothing heavy, nothing ill-fitting…how often do we find reasons for laboring under a sense of heaviness, insist on forcing ourselves into roles, relationships, work, dynamics that don’t really fit…stampede right past the stirring whispers of our hearts to lighten, lift, let go, emerge, rise higher…usually in the name of a voice that’s saddled in fear, accusation and distrust.

the stirrings keep stirring though, liberating, leavening, knocking at the door of our innermost thoughts, unlocking the shackles of impossibilities, urging us on, beckoning us to live with confident  joy, stripped free of pretension, drenched in the humility of unselfconscious grace.

child of light

wriggle out

shuck off

shed the tears

the ties

shake the dust

spill the beans

feet tripping

running

dancing

with the speed

of light

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” King James version: Matthew 11: 29, 30

“Humility is the stepping-stone to a higher recognition of Deity. The mounting sense gathers fresh forms and strange fire from the ashes of dissolving self, and drops the world.” Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy

*”In trying to undo the errors of sense one must pay fully and fairly the utmost farthing, until all error is finally brought into subjection to Truth. The divine method of paying sin’s wages involves unwinding one’s snarls, and learning from experience how to divide between sense and Soul.” Science and Health by MB Eddy

you belong

i was sitting in church the other night

it was time for silent prayer

and then time to pray the Lord’s prayer

i found myself listening the prayer

feeling the prayer

instead of speaking the prayer so quietly out loud

Our Father…

our

Father

everyone’s Father

all of us here

which art in heaven

we are in heaven

hallowed be Thy name

hallowed by Thy name

cherished, hallowed, holy, adored

suddenly

a phrase began to insert itself

“you belong”

it was quiet but insistent

“you belong”

“you all belong”

“you belong”

and i was whisked back to dinner

when my dear dear friend

said to me

“sometimes i don’t know where i belong

where do i belong?”

and the prayer just kept going

as if it was a prayer for her

“you belong

you belong

in heaven

but not out there

in heaven

held here

this kingdom come

Thy kingdom come

your kingdom come

within

without

placed

held

with your own

so goodness you

ours

belonging

reverenced

cherished

adored

amen

amen

amen

amen”

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pilgrim on earth, home and heaven are within thee,
Heir of the ages and child of the day.
Cared for, watched over, beloved and protected,
Walk thou with courage each step of the way. (Christian Science Hymnal P.M.)

Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God. Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy

“eternity is not later, or in any unfindable place”

the other day i got news that a friend’s daughter had passed on. so i sent a note, and this was part of the letter that came in return:

“The ospreys are crying plaintively. They seem to understand.”

everything in me had to rise up to hold back the sea of sorrow. then i came across this poem by Mary Oliver:

Count the Roses

Count the roses, red and fluttering.
Count the roses, wrinkled and salt.
Each with its yellow lint at the center.
Each with its honey pooled and ready.
Do you have a question that can’t be answered?
Do the stars frighten you by their heaviness
and their endless number?
Does it bother you, that mercy is so difficult to
understand?
For some souls it’s easy; they lie down on the sand
and are soon asleep.
For others, the mind shivers in its glacial palace,
and won’t come.
Yes, the mind takes a long time, is otherwise occupied
than by happiness, and deep breathing.
Now, in the distance, some bird is singing.
And now I have gathered six or seven deep red,
half-opened cups of petals between my hands,
and now I have put my face against them
and now I am moving my face back and forth, slowly,
against them.
The body is not much more than two feet and a tongue.
Come to me, says the blue sky, and say the word.
And finally even the mind comes running, like a wild thing,
and lies down in the sand.
Eternity is not later, or in any unfindable place.
Roses, roses, roses, roses.

there is nothing like poetry 

just nothing like it

when it comes to carving out the spaces of our hearts

to find a place to breathe

to hear

to know past knowing

to grasp the things

so far beyond

our grasp

and then there they are

hovering ever so softly

in the midst

opening inner eyes

to glean

to glimpse

life

timeless

never not present

none of us

missing

diminished

cut short

but shining out

in sharp relief

our reference

our Source

compelling

life

on eternity’s

terms

“not later

or in any unfindable place”

but dawning up

from the very midst

breaking through the winters

of grief

to see our lives

whole

and holy

in ever tender

illuming

glances

ushering

ushering

ushering

each other on

the air

resonating

its all presence

all accounted for

all conscious

of being

forever

loved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen.” Luke 24

“O come and find, the Spirit saith,
The Truth that maketh all men free.
The world is sad with dreams of death.
Lo, I am Life, come unto Me.” Elizabeth Adams

“May the great Shepherd that “tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,”
and binds up the wounds of bleeding hearts, just comfort,
encourage, and bless all who mourn.” Mary Baker Eddy

no more second guessing

The clear bead at the center
changes everything.
There are no edges
to my loving now

Rumi

clear bead, clear breeze, clear center, clear heart, clear mind, clear thought, clear day!

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

who needs a crystal ball

for in this crystal moment

there is enough of heaven

to be here

don’t rush ahead

don’t look to the left

don’t look to the right

sit here

clean

unspoiled

undivided

undistracted

by the haze

and maze

and static

of noise and voices

(“i don’t care what the whisperer’s say

cuz they whisper too loud for me…”)*

stay here

poised in the eye

of what looks like a storm

in this resonating hush

you know your heart

you know your path

there is a clear line

of order

grace

logic

unfoldment

it may not be the pace

you had hoped for

it may not be what others have thought

you should have done

but in this space

you feel the trust

of God’s hand guiding

gentle presence

bottomless knowing

and here

you are reminded

for the millionth time

“[you are] my beloved…

in whom I [will always] be pleased.”**

no edges and yet no mergers

no takeovers

no overlaps

infinite loving

always makes room

for all

*Eliza Doolittle “Pack up your troubles

**Mark 1:11

“O glorious hope! there remaineth a rest for the righteous,
a rest in Christ, a peace in Love. The thought of it stills
complaint; the heaving surf of life’s troubled sea foams
itself away, and underneath is a deep-settled calm.” Mary Baker Eddy Message for 1902

“In heavenly Love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.

Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me,
Where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure,
My path in life is free;
My Father has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.” Anna Waring