Archive | July 2013

Unto Us a Son

town-crier

unto us a son…

and English trumpets blare their welcome shout, as

banners wave above the chanting crowds;

monarchic line fixed one more princely notch secure,

a nation thrills to mark the child’s each breath.

and unto us a son…

in frigid mountains of a weary, worn Afghanistan,

in desert sands a-blazing under fierce Saharan sun, 

in cramped rooms tucked behind a Broadway’s neon glitz,

in ancient caverns deep beneath the Syrian war;*

alas for these no fanfare, save a weary mother smile,

no notice bannered riotous across the evening news.  Yet

angels trumpet their arrival too, and saints look down in

wonder, seeing these new sons, despite their meager births,

as treasured as one born to English crown.

Can our eyes learn to see the same?

*****

*caves built by the Romans are now being used for shelter by some Syrian refugees

Voices of Prayer

 

prayer

Elihu Vedder

1836-1923

*****

Answer me when I call, O God of my right. 

You gave me room when I was in distress. 

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 4:1

*****

      “Answer me when I call, O God of my right.”  The psalmist cries out in desperation.  His life has been difficult, and he wants God to set things right.  His plea is urgent, even demanding.  He wants action from God.  He wants a resolution to his problems.  Now!  “Answer me when I call, O God of my right.” 

      How often our prayers begin in this same demanding voice.  We’re hurting.  Or someone we love is hurting, and we storm into God’s presence, an urgent demand, or sometimes a list of urgent demands, in our hands.  Do something, God.  Fix what’s wrong and make it right.  “Answer me when I call, O God of my right.”

      A pause to catch our frantic breath.  And often in that moment of pause, we find ourselves carried back to an earlier distress, an earlier time when we felt as desperate as we do now.  “You gave me room when I was in distress.”  A whisper.  Ah, yes.  We sigh.  That was a tough time, and there were no easy answers.  There was no instant solution, no snapping of God’s fingers to make everything fine and dandy once again.  Instead, we remember that we were given “room,” space in which we could carefully work through the problem and, with a few stumbles here and there, find our way to a place of greater wholeness.  The memory calms us.  Quiets us.  Leads us to yet another voice in which to pray.

      “Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.”  We crumple our list of demands.  Our voice softens.  Becomes more humble.  Yes, we are still distraught.  Yes, our needs are still urgent.  But no longer do we wave before God the flag of entitlement.  No longer do we insist on God’s instant response to our needs.  It is enough for now to know we are heard.  Enough for now to know we are not alone.  Enough for now to know that the “God of my right” will give us room, space in which to live and work through our dilemma.  Enough to know this God will also be with us in that space—to direct, to comfort, and to strengthen. 

*****

Answer me when I call, O God of my right. 

You gave me room when I was in distress. 

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

Queen for a Day

All night she regal waits beneath the

silent stars, the moon, the clouds;

caressed by whispers of the wind,

she watches for first blush of dawn to

call her name and open up her joy;

then stretching every muscle of her fragile

strength, she one by one uncoils her

tight-held petals to stand proud beneath the

sun, dance with the breeze, drink

moisture of the clouds, and happy glow in

majesty that rivals that of Solomon.  Yet

unlike him, and unlike most of us, she’s not

concerned with who may bow the knee or who

may not; does not lament the briefness of her

fleeting time.  She simply lives her truth and

hers alone, fulfilling ancient mandate hidden

deep within her root and stalk and bud; and

when the sun dips golden red behind the trees,

she turns her gaze to earth and gentle droops her

petals with a sigh, content to know her time is done,

her task complete.  Chirring insects sing farewell and

kindly murmur their esteem:  “well done, daylily queen.”

Silent, she has taught me much;

with Solomon, I bow the knee.

*****

“The True Self does not stand around waiting for you to like it before it can like itself.  It doesn’t wait for accolades or external successes before it can believe in itself.  It quietly knows.”

Richard Rohr, Hope Against Darkness

*****

day lily

A trinity of honest doubt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

*****

“Honest doubt, what I would call devotional doubt, is marked, it seems to me, by three qualities: humility, which makes one’s attitude impossible to celebrate; insufficiency, which makes it impossible to rest; and mystery, which continues to tug you upward–or at least outward–even in your lowest moments.  Such doubt is painful–more painful, in fact, that any of the other forms–but its pain is active rather than passive, purifying rather than stultifying.  Far beneath it, no matter how severe its drought, how thoroughly your skepticism seems to have salted the ground of your soul, faith, durable faith, is steadily taking root.”

Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss