“grace…bright shining as the sun…”

i never tire of the word grace. it is a bottomless heart of blessing. an infinite hand of anointing. holiness ushering in its presence, ushering it out in us. turning into, dawning out, emerging tendrils of a precious thing.

God’s grace. inescapable. undeniable. Love claims its own and does not let go. no surrender except for our own to it.

no matter how far, how hard, how strange, cluttered or consuming our paths have been…Love wakens and washes in the midst…to show us life untainted, unstained, unbroken…held in the heart of God’s omnipotent hands. In words from the book of Deuteronomy: “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.”

there are no bounds for grace. it is an invitation to be awed by the infinity of goodness, the presence and power of God, the great heart of Christ illumining our way: showing  us who we are from the inside out. helping us to nurture that for ourselves and others. welcoming home, convinced only of the inevitibility of good. relentless light that cuts through any concrete of dark, rendering us incapable of being less than what we’re meant to be.

i love the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector in the book of Luke. Jesus saw him up in a tree, told him to come down, that he was going to stay with him. there were whispers…(why is he going to the house of someone like that?)  the next thing we know Zacchaeus is pledging half of all that he has to give to the poor, and promises to repay fourfold anyone he has wrongly accused.

the emergence of integrity right through the rubble of self-doubt, fear, uncertainty, greed…the discovery of peace and purity where selfishness and darkness hold sway. nothing can compete with grace.

here’s to grace and all the ways its calling out our names; here’s to standing in the light of praise; here’s to looking for it everywhere; here’s to delight and awe, but not surprise; here’s to an unending well of infinite good, dwelling here, here, here in the midst.

John Newton’s story and his song speak it all:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

“love wash over a multitude of things…”

i’ve been thinking about the relationships in our lives: the ones that come and go; the ones that stay;  the ones that deepen. these ones…the ones that are refined, rarified in the fires of life, emerging with a fierce, patient and generous purity. the kind of love that sees you through and past the darkest of times, the kind of love that sees with such laser loving clarity that it is a beacon, a reminder, a homing signal, a kingdom carved of and built on the things that don’t fall apart.

i’m grateful for the people who have taught me about love–love that is unconditional, unrejectable, given freely. love that springs from infinite Love; love that knows no bounds, no measurements, no retraction, no withholding. love that includes the unfettered completeness and self-containment of the divine.

when my husband herb and i got married, the readings included a passage from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy that seemed an unusual choice in some ways, but i couldn’t let it go. it says, “Spiritual development germinates not from seed sown in the soil of material hopes, but when these decay, Love propagates anew the higher joys of Spirit, which have no taint of earth. Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.”

now some ways down the road together i love the passage even more…the grace that comes, all pretense shed,  hopes and yearnings walking in broad daylight, the offering our lives become as we are beckoned to grow, to rise, to be, to recognize, to nurture, to honor, all that we are meant to be.

there is no match for love borne of purity, love that cements all intent and centers its heart on the great Love: the unquenchibility of omnipotent divine Love. it awakens holiness, peace, forbearance, beauty, generosity, power, and poise. it washes us in the waters of self-surrender, and we find ourselves wholer, truer, sounder than we knew before.

this love is everywhere…never dependent on finding the right life partner, but proceeding from the covenant within us, the discovery of a oneness with all good, our place in the Most High, our home in God. the love that anchors and proceeds from Love, guides and guards, nurtures and refines, reminds us ever of our abundant completeness…opens us to an overflow of sweet affection, spilling forth from Life, never fragile, needy, vacant, or unworthy–but dwelling in the very heart of Love, loving, calling us to its love, calling out our love, shedding the confines of separateness, flooding us with the infinite assurances of light. as it says in Song of Solomon, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”

these words from a  song by Sara Groves capture it well:

“Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Make us whole…”

“this is grace…an invitation to be beautiful”

i had some wonderful road time yesterday…highway, skyway time of thoughts glancing, glimpsing, glimmering, gleaning, singing, soaring. listened to some of Sara Groves‘ music…hence the title above…such a beautiful definition of grace..the gift ever given, beckoning  forth the beauty.. awakening it within us,  blooming, blossoming, blessing, embracing, showering, sheltering.

In her book Science and Health Mary Baker Eddy writes that “Man is the idea of Spirit; he reflects the beatific presence, illuming the universe with light.”

Here’s more of Sara Groves’ song mentioned above:

“We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside”

beauty…

piercing the darkness with radiance

lit from inside

illumed by Love

alight in Love

loved

written

sung

known

adored

we

Love’s

light

“sink deep in humility…”

“Sink deep into humility — sink like a pebble through the water to the bottom of the lake– land softly and settle…” Shelley Nickerson sent me these beautiful words recently.

sink

deep

soft

gentle

resistless

into the arms of Love

to find

faith there

substance

hoped for

evidence of

heaven

belonging

“Into His haven of Soul enters no element of earth to cast out angels, to silence the right intuition that guides you safely home.” from Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy

“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17

permission granted…

how often do we wait

perched on the edge of thought

anticipation

a fertive look over the shoulder

waiting

with a feather weight of hesitation

footsteps tentative

even as we hearken forward

waiting for confirmation

permission

before the take off

the launch

unchecked

unfettered

flight

permission is not

on the brink

hanging by a thread

it is granted

steady certain underlying

all-encompassing hand of God

nudging us from nests

of huddled hopes

wings find footsteps in air

rise

stretched

poised

flight unforgotten

nature unceilinged

not out there

not somewhere in the distance

not when, but here

shooting through this moment

breaking veils of concrete, intransigence

wings of grace, surety, power, peace

moments owned

unleashed

ordained

approved.

Psalms: “therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness…”

Matthew: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

“Is there no divine permission to conquer discord of every kind with harmony, with Truth and Love?” Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy

holding your ground…taking hold on heaven…

there is a gracious power in knowing who you are.

and it’s the knowing that counts.

unapologetic presence.

resources unspent.

no jockeying for position.

but being simply who you are.

and even when you’re not sure who that is

to hold your ground

to listen

to feel that knowing rise within

there are a couple passages in Mary Baker Eddy’s writings that speak to this: “Moral courage is ‘the lion of the tribe of Juda,’ the king of the mental realm. Free and fearless it roams in the forest. Undisturbed it lies in the open field, or rests in “green pastures, . . beside the still waters.”

“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! O ye who leap disdainfully from this rock of ages, return and plant thy steps in Christ, Truth, “the stone which the builders rejected”! Then will angels administer grace, do thy errands, and be thy dearest allies. 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.”

there’s so much in the world that would get us to look outside ourselves for confirmation of who we are, and how we’re doing. so many voices, suggestions, conflicting messages, a constant din…

i’ve been thinking about Jesus’ experience during his 40 days in the wilderness: how the temptations came to him; how he responded. The first two came in similar forms: if you really are the son of God…do this…prove it… Jesus didn’t rise to the taunts. He knew who we was; he held his ground; he felt the angels of God’s presence ministering.

how many times do we have the opportunity to listen more deeply for who we are, to stand our ground with what feels right–to feel the peace, strength and authority that comes when we do; and to grapple with the sense of regret or betrayal when we don’t.

it’s never too late to reclaim the ground though; refocus our gaze on what’s true; to feel the authenticity of spiritual dignity and grace–identity rooted in the presence and power of the unchanging goodness of God; to watch how the awareness of this has a way of setting everything right.

“praise song for walking forward…”

there are no ways to count

footprints left in light

no true way to measure

seismic shift of thought

to hold

infinity of love

to contain

a single voice

to replicate shine

that never outshines

leaving traces of praise

in every wake.

each, all, breathtakingly, unsurpassably

themselves.

the gauge infinity

not others

not self.

Nineteenth century writer Phillips Brooks wrote: “God has not given us vast learning to solve all the problems, or unfailing wisdom to direct all the wanderings of our brothers’ lives; but He has given to every one of us the power to be spiritual, and by our spirituality, to lift and enlarge and enlighten the lives we touch.”

Here’s to unsung moments filled with song…lives etched with meaning, the world a chorus of voices finding their light.This excerpt is from Elizabeth Alexander’s poem for President Obama’s inauguration.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

“for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes”

spring is weeks early here. the robins are fully ensconced in their nest perched on the vine on our porch, the grass is green, the sky blue. everything sings. one bird is so eager, she starts at 3 am. the joy is uncontainable.

spring.

spring springing.

life resistless emerging.

lives flowing from the wellspring of Life.

life new.

life pure.

life alive.

life unquenchable.

Song of Solomon puts it this way: “Many waters cannot quench this love.”

In Thomas Moore’s words:

“When from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries;
Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,
And starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man in the sunshine of the world’s new spring,
Shall walk transparent like some holy thing.”

In her article “Voices of Spring” Mary Baker Eddy says this:

As mortals awake…this adorable, all-inclusive God, and all earth’s
hieroglyphics of Love, are understood.”

And finally ee cummings…an ode to goodness, God, and  Life’s irrepressible All!

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

“you will not find me where you left me…”

i found out today that a friend passed on.

he was one of those friends whom i didn’t know well.

one of those friends who just felt like a long lost friend. a brother.

as i think of him, my thoughts are awash with the love of his life,

how it touched me. how it touched so many.

there is so much in life to understand, to see yet more deeply, to perceive beyond the sense of endings.

even in absence, love reaches out to greet us, to bridge the gaps, to shower us in living presence.

it requires something more of  us perhaps.

to be still in the face of longing, a vaccuity of what we’ve known.

to find that quiet, timeless space within where grief turns to awakening, life new, ever constant, moving, growing, being ever truly what it is.

to see here. to see beyond. to see in between the lines.

to know with an inner knowing that life is so much more than what we think we see.

to feel the life, the presence, the tangibility of timeless being.

to hold and be held in a comfirmation of ever-presence.

Life’s legacy, each of our lives, living, alive, alight with Life’s love.

indispensible, never absent, unfettered, free.

this poem by Doris Quinn speaks to me of this bigger journey, assurance of broader vistas, the incapacity to ever be lost.

I have climbed mountains since I saw you last;

You will not find me where you left me.

I have scaled pinnacles and seen the vast

Horizon of a higher point of view.

There was the struggle of the mounting way,

There was the longing to go backward,

Back to the known, the loved, the day to day,

The old and tried, to save me from the new.

But there seemed no way out but up and on;

(There was a light sometimes that beckoned me)

It was as though it were agreed upon;

Now was the time and this the thing to do.

I have climbed mountains since I saw you last;

I will not find you where I left you;

No one remains in valleys of the past;

Each has his mountain, each his larger view.

“out of my stony griefs…cleaving the sky”

lifetimes lived in moments.

moments bridging lifetimes.

eternity in moments.

i’ve been thinking about  Jesus; the crucifixion; the  resurrection. its current relevance.

how do you begin to quantify what was offered. what given. what surrendered. what discovered. the sheer depths and poignancy of it. the love given, the love being given. a fierce love. a constant love. a relentless love. a love that brings us to ourselves.

Mary Baker Eddy in her book Science and Health discusses Jesus’ time in the garden of Gethsemane as: “patient woe; the human yielding to the divine; love meeting no response, but still remaining love.”

there’s a hymn by Sarah Adams written back in 1841 that captures the power and promise of resurrection–the kind of dawning and awakening that breaks forth in the blackest of times; that prompts the kind of purity, fervency, honesty of heart and thought that launches us into the lives we were meant to live. struggle not for the sake of struggle, but struggle that sheds the dead briars and branches for new growth in our lives. struggle that surrenders to the winds of God, singing out the life within us, resurrecting, awakening, coming into our own, even as we rise higher, higher from the depths of infinity.

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee:
E’en though it be a cross
That raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be,

Refrain
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee.

Though like the wanderer,
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I’d be

Refrain

There let the way appear,
Steps unto heaven;
All that Thou sendest me
In mercy given;
Angels to beckon me
Refrain

Then, with my waking thoughts
Bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs
Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be
Refrain

Or if on joyful wing
Cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot,
Upward I fly,
Still all my song shall be,

Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee.

nearer, nearer, even as the arms of divine Love enfold us, nearer. today. wherever we are, whoever we are, Christ’s light dawning within us. the promise of peace. the promise of life. the promise of resurrection.