things not lost

sometimes it can feel like there are a lot of things that we lose along the way: people, friends, loved ones, homes, jobs, opportunities. sometimes its hope, faith, confidence, direction, love.

sometimes it can feel like we’re stranded in the wasteland of our lives, a desert of hopes, a vast and overwhelming wilderness.

i love the promises in Isaiah and Joel: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose….I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.”

Mary Baker Eddy‘s definition of wilderness points to the imminent dawning that begins to emerge particularly in the toughest times in our lives: “Loneliness; doubt; darkness. Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.”

out of the harrowing experiences of human struggle, a life untouched rises out of any kind of rubble, a phoenix, a child-heart so pure that it washes everything in its fierce and gentle light: its anthem, an involuntary song of renewal, joy, praise, unfettered peace.

there is no place in life, not waiting to reveal its gifts to us. its the way we seek that counts. hearts uncluttered glimpse them first–the spiritual impetus within, the still small voice that whispers…I am here, come along, all is well…come and find all that you think  you’ve lost…it’s found.

there is a call to discover the simple and profound relevance of our lives–an undiscardable significance, the spiritual substance and grace of a unique and divine identity. and to discover that this journey is blessed by and includes the journeys of everyone around us…goodness unbounded, never limited, spiritual in compass, with room for all of us to grow, prosper, to seek, find and be found.

i’ve always loved this poem by ee cummings…and somehow it captures the spirit of this journey to me…

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

“wide open like a lake…”

we get messages from so many different places.

messages. messages that mean something to us. messages that are meant for us are hovering everywhere.

(not the clatter and chatter that tries to fill the airwaves of our thoughts, heads, homes, lives.)

they glance. they beckon. they light. they shout. they whisper. they sing.

we hear them in between the spaces. in between the noise. underneath the words. in between the lines.

they come with true intent.

they come with truth.

they come with peace.

they come to rally, heal, dispell, reveal.

how we hear them. how we see them. glimpse them. discern them. feel our oneness with them…is to know our own true thoughts. it is to trace the heart of thought to source waters that are pure.

in the book of I John we’re encouraged: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.”

where do thoughts, feelings, inner impulses and inklings lead? do they bring peace, assurance, goodness, calm, confidence, joy, rightness? if they don’t…try them, check them, measure them in the weight and scale of God’s infinite goodness…the Principle of all rightness, the unfaltering certainty of divine Truth. whatever doesn’t land there, discard. let it go up in smoke, dissipating before the stuff that holds. and don’t stop until you do.

Mary Baker Eddy writes it this way: “Are thoughts divine or human? That is the important question.”

and she puts it another way: defend yourself daily against “aggressive mental suggestion.”

such an incredible way to put it…aggressive mental suggestion…how thoughts come in a subtle suggestive and undermining way, encouraging us to doubt, wonder, be afraid, feel suspicious…thoughts that undermine, thoughts that inflame, thoughts that distract, divide, disturb, pull….thoughts that draw us away from that calm and certain center within. but they are never really more than thoughts, suggestions…

it’s seeing this that counts. it’s seeing this that helps us regroup, get our footing, see that our ground is not lost–at any moment.

nothing can truly separate us from the center of God’s goodness and grace. we are held there…we are the presence, power and substance of it expressed, we are the likeness of Love’s true impulse and peace. this is the home, the shelter, the mental space and clarity that keep us steady in any storm. it’s never out there. never going anywhere. here for  the being, the taking, the living.

George Fox founder of the Quakers said this: “Carry some quiet around inside thee. Be still and cool in thy own mind from thy own thoughts,and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord from whence cometh life; whereby thou mayest receive the strength and power to allay all storms and tempests.”

And Sara Groves puts it so beautifully in words from her song Like a Lake:

bring the wind and bring the thunder
bring the rain till I am tried
when it’s over bring me stillness
let my face reflect the sky
and all the grace and all the wonder
of a peace that I can’t fake
wide open like a lake

here’s to underlying and constant grace. answers at hand. Love pouring forth its blessings at every turn. messages, messages, sweet good messages here.

the world’s not falling apart…

there are songs that speak

songs that sing the day

songs that  say the word

words that make you see…

Dar Williams has a song that says “the world is not falling apart because of me.” the first time I heard it was on a long drive, a work trip. thoughts of the world were weighing heavy on me. her lyrics pierced right through to meet my need. singing at the top of my lungs right along with her, everything lightened.

the idea that i was responsible for fixing anything, anyone, anywhere…the corresponding worry that i was not up to the task…suddenly seemed absurd. it was like i was being lifted to a different vantage point, from which i could see and feel a divine order, grace, government, love for the entire universe.

it was a sweeping assurance, confirmation that:  “the government is upon His shoulders…” and that “my yoke is easy and my burden light…” (from the books of Isaiah and Matthew)

There’s an interesting dichotomy between being responsible, giving your whole heart, being truly true to yourself and God, living with complete fidelity; and the weighty, burdensome feeling of being responsible for, being party to, and therefore needing to fix a broken world.

easing up on all of it…

casting burdens on the Lord (as the old hymn by Philip Doddridge urges us to do,)

is like gazing through a window that you didn’t know was there–

to discern that things may not be so broken after all,

our gaze, when fixed on that deep and divine Principle Love catapults us to a perspective of piercing clarity, resonant oneness, holy, unfettered being.

responsibility then is not weighty, but the tender impulse to respond to Love’s government of all being.

Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way, “Starting from a higher standpoint, one rises spontaneously, even as light emits light without effort; for “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

to “look up”

as Christ Jesus told us

especially when it seems like things are falling apart

is to begin to glimpse, to discover, to realize,

the kingdom of God ever within us,

the presence of heaven at hand:

it is to breathe the air of innocence,

to find ourselves washed new,

the whole sweet world held in Love’s fresh light.

when it comes to contentment…

when will it be

and what does it look like

and what is it made of

and how can we find it

and will we even know what it is

isn’t it like faith

an undergirding presence trying to make its way to the light

inner inklings that guide us like waymarks in the dark

isn’t it like hope

the fresh springing within us, the involuntary impulse to be

doors and windows inviting us to open

isn’t it love

the gentle breath of approval hovering ever beneath harsh, dark thoughts of despair

an embrace of air, of life, of stars, of trees that sing our place among them

here in this space, where loneliness, where longing, where hunger try to consume all light…

here in this very place, enough, presence, grace, abiding, to share. enough to drink and drink beyond our fill, with more left over than we can see, with more to give, with more to love, with more to live.

contentment has no strings, belongs to no body, no thing, but rises up, the essence we are within us to own this now, this here, and to spill its sweet presence all around us. no strings, no space, just the pressing presence of faith that nudges us, hope that encourages, and love that reminds and reminds and reminds us that we are loved, and of Love, and through Love, and in Love.

I love this poem by e.e. cummings:

     why
     do the
     fingers 

     of the lit
     tle once beau
     tiful la 

     dy(sitting sew
     ing at an o
     pen window this
     fine morning)fly 

     instead of dancing
     are they possibly
     afraid that life is
     running away from
     them(i wonder)or 

     isnt't she a
     ware that life(who
     never grows old)
     is always beau 

     tiful and
     that nobod
     y beauti 

     ful ev
     er hur 

     ries

“we are more…”

we are more than we think we are.

more than we imagine we can be.

more. so much more.

the prophet Jeremiah speaks of this: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

i love how Jesus brought this out in people: he saw that more, that spiritual heartland of goodness, divine integrity…and helped people see it for themselves. “Seek God first” he said…and all the rest will come.

Seeking first things first…tracing that feeling of more, that inner hunger for more, that unquenchable protest for more to its source…the Source, Truth, Life, divine All, impartial, all-embracing Father Mother Love. Pausing in that presence; standing in that light: showered in the recognition of goodness, preciousness, wholeness and love.

Mary Baker Eddy speaks of this divine more: “And how is man, seen through the lens of Spirit, enlarged, and how counterpoised his origin from dust, and how he presses to his original, never severed from Spirit!…The divine law gives to man health and life everlasting — gives a soul to Soul, a present harmony wherein the good man’s heart takes hold on heaven, and whose feet can never be moved. These are His green pastures beside still waters, where faith mounts upward, expatiates, strengthens, and exults.”

more is in moments; moments where we take hold; ground ourselves; stake our journey forward. moments. this moment. seize this moment. more good this moment: to act, embrace, discover, honor, share. more. not because we are a dearth, but more, more, because this moment is ours, an imminence of infinity orchestrating  certain good.

i loved the opening ceremonies of the Olympics…the spirit, the hope, the unity, the promise of the boundlessness of goodness. and i loved how slam poet Shane Koyczan‘s  poem “We are More” captured this. Here are some excerpts:

“we are more…/we are an idea in the process/of being realized…/we are an experiment going right for a change…/we are not the see-through gloss or glamour/of those who clamour for the failings of others…/we are found missing puzzle pieces…/because we are more than what we say or do/we live to get past what we go through/and learn who we are…/we are the true north/strong and free…/we didn’t just say it/we made it be.”

waiting…

waiting.

waiting.

waiting for?

the call to come,

things to change,

events to turn,

waiting…

there is a kind of waiting, a waiting not passive, not absent from engagement, mental movement, deep underground, foundational work, a waiting that has the spiritual poise and muscle of listening, pausing, waiting on the God, waiting for divine movement on the waters of our thoughts, waiting for the mental peace that comes with a right idea–regardless of the demands that may come with it. it is a waiting that includes complete willingness to act, to follow, to seek, to stand.

Psalms 27 ends with these words. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, — wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory.”

There is spiritual power in patience, a poise that rises up within us, an exercise of present grace, a fine tuned ear that holds forth for the true sound, a heart so pure, that no amount of clutter or clatter can distract it from its clear intent. This is the ground of life that brings forth inevitable fruit, often rising forth in ways we cannot see, but always made of stuff that holds.

Whatever we’re waiting for is here, calling out our name, flowering up through the concrete of lost hopes, hidden dreams, a life meant, a life ordained, a life loved.

John Borroughs’ poem called Waiting captures this so completely:

Serene, I fold my hands and wait,

Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea;

I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,

For lo! My own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays—

For what avails this eager pace?

I stand amid the eternal ways

And what is mine shall know my face,

Asleep, awake, by night or day,

The friends I seek are seeking me,

No wind can drive my bark astray

Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?

I wait with joy the coming years;

My heart shall reap where it has sown,

And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own, and draw

The brook that springs in yonder height;

So flows the good with equal law

Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky,

The tidal wave unto the sea;

Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,

Can keep my own away from me.