Re-Sourcing

Photo By Joe Grant © 2019

How blessed the lowly, earth shall be theirs.
Matthew 5:5

Seeker,
Could we be responsible for anything and everyone we touch?

At this moment,
no matter where you find yourself,
surely you are touching something manufactured.

Most likely you are handling plastic,
wreathed as we are
in all things synthetic.

Cast your eyes on your surroundings;
the multitude of objects, surfaces, clothes, and containers,
crafted in countries far distant, by fingers unseen.

So many miraculous manipulations of oil,
Earth’s ancestral legacy,
made solid and see-through; ubiquitous and nearly everlasting.

Replacing wood and stone, leather and bone,
clay, glass, and steel,
the blessing of petrochemical polymers has now become a blight.

Unless we swiftly and radically redirect
this working, wanting, wasting spree,
three decades more, and plastic trash will outweigh all the fish in the sea.

The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. Pope Francis

And whatsoever we do
unto to God’s good garden
we do unto to the cherished children and humble creatures.

This is disaster of our own doing,
billions of lives— without exception or exemption—
trapped in spirals of consuming and discarding.

How can goods be good for us
if they are not good for all;
for plants, plankton, people; for all creatures great and small?

And how are we to disentangle
practiced patterns and appetites
from the ruination of Creation; throwing life and lives away?

They have made my land a desolation;
desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
but no one lays it to heart.

Jeremiah 12:11

Perhaps, like all things “soiled”,
the transformation imperceptibly it starts,
like sap that in Springtime rises with the warming wind.

We become aware, we reach out to whatever
crosses our palms or graces our eyes— coffee-cups,
computer keys, handshakes, buds, branches and sacred sunlit leaves.

Touched thus by life, God-made and human-shaped,
we can wonder at Creation,
contemplate components, count the costs and casualties of everything.

We might also try to re-trace the stories
of the stuff that stuffs our days
back to each beginning; its very sacred Source.

The little yellow flowers that nobody notices on the edge of that road are saints looking up into the face of God. Thomas Merton

Whether wood or rock, paper, plastic, or person,
are we not all, in some way responsible,
for whatever, whomsoever we touch?

To the trio of “reduce, reuse, recycle
might we also add reflect and return;
a grateful heart to the Source of All, and all those in between?

By regularly re-Sourcing our lives,
we might be healed enough of hurting and hoarding,
to graciously release the good that is only loan to us.

They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will fill with knowledge of the Holy ONE
as waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:9

How will you retrace the blessings and burdens that grace your day ?
joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Uncap the Well

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

Forgive, and you shall know forgiveness; give, and it will be lavished upon you. A goodly measure, pressed down, shaken and spilling over, shall be poured into your lap; for the measure you mete out will be the measure you get back.
Luke 6:37-38

Seeker,
Do you worry and wonder about what is happening to us?

In fear-filled times
we are tempted to protect personal assets,
throw walls around territories, and stockpile for scarcity.

Manipulated messages prey upon the silent (consenting) masses;
milking the venom of vindictiveness;
heightening the instinct to hold back.

With disgraceful insinuations and petulant pronouncements
some conspire only to segregate or scapegoat—
so easy to conquer the so-well sided.

Still others would storm the bastion of righteousness
to poison youthful passion with hateful conspiracies
and horror guised as honor or holiness.

And, as the bar of acceptable human behavior drops,
insults and demonizing ideologies
spiral and spin into dark webs of violent idolatries.

Bluster builds to an acrimonious squall.
Hatred fuels a whirlwind of flapping flags,
fiery crosses, prideful parades of power, mobs and derisive chanting.

And lodged deep, in grainy black and white,
memories of dread-full times (not so long past)
stir-up a disorienting dose of déjà vu.

Whatever God does, the first outburst is always compassion. Meister Eckhart

What bridge can span
the canyons of bitter segregation,
amid a hailstorm of threats and taunts?

Surely truthful reconciliation
is the only conduit capable of crossing the chasm
that separates retribution from restoration.

But who dares display
the necessary remorse
that gives way to mutual pardon?

Love every enemy,
to those who despise you do good,
bless everyone who curses you,
pray for anyone who abuses you.

Luke 6:27-28

There is no time left for holding back tears.
Only lament can release mercy’s unction
to unhinge the encrusted doorway to peace.

With courageous resolution,
daily choosing love over control,
we can gently and persistently uncap the well of great-fullness.

Now, generosity and gratitude
overflow the brimming bounty of blessings,
freely received and given and shared.

Try saying this silently to everyone and everything you see for thirty days: “I wish you happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future.” If we said it to the sky, we would have to stop polluting; if we said it when we see ponds and lakes and streams, we would have to stop using them as garbage dumps and sewers; if we said it to small children, we would have to stop abusing them, even in the name of training; if we said it to people, we would have to stop stoking the fires of enmity around us. Beauty and human warmth would take root in us like a clear, hot June day. We would change. Joan Chittister

Will you bare
a listening heart
to a torrent of tirades?

Will you unseal the font of forgiveness within,
to lavish compassion and dwell in abundance
till fear itself is washed away?

joe

Un-Stuffing

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

Woe to you who are stuffed now, you will know a gnawing hunger.
Luke 6:25

Seeker,
Is there a slice left in your life for one more person, problem or possibility?

In times like these it is hard to pray,
when my head is a repository without repose
and my home a warehouse of rooms without room;

when there’s no longer an ‘away’
in which to hide
the acquisitions of each day;

when my body is stuffed,
and days are crammed
with too many comings and goings.

This sorry tale is made sadder still
by a world of needs neglected
where greed goes guised as development.

The world would become better off
If people tried to become better.
And people would become better
If they stopped trying to become better off.
Peter Maurin

But we are shaped
by what we devour;
eaten-up by what we consume.

Such gorging and busying,
discarding without considering,
has now become the norm; no longer an aberration.

When less seems evermore elusive,
and living simply just one more thing to do,
how do we uncover the path that’s taken by the few?

Can you even imagine
what might our daily lives
be like…

if less were valued over more,
thrift rewarded,
and slowness and simplicity the traits of celebrity;

if humble, quiet living were applauded,
listening prized,
and littleness lauded;

For when everyone tries to become better off,
nobody is better off.
But when everyone tries to become better
everyone is better off.
Peter Maurin

if children were raised to reverence life,
soiled hands appreciated and gardeners honored;
and our heroes were softer rather than super;

if communities centered on
the lives most vulnerable,
and worldly ways were organized for care;

Everyone would be rich
if nobody tried to become richer,
and nobody would be poor
if everyone tried to be the poorest.
Peter Maurin

if people looked with sympathy
upon poor souls burdened by over-accumulation
and life’s greatest polluters received rehabilitation;

if mending and making-do replaced discarding,
and we punctuated each day
with gracious pauses to give our thanks away.

If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.
Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day.
And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Now imagine,
if you can,
what might happen

if you and I practiced un-stuffing,
and tried lightly-living, with slower, smaller steps
to shrink the footprint, we leave our children’s children.

What then might life really be like
for us and all our kin
with whom we share this most uncommon home?

The goodness of the sea be thine.
The goodness of the earth be thine.
The goodness of the sky be thine.
Celtic Blessing

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Weed Seeding

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

God’s Realm is like someone who scatters seed on the ground, then sleeps and rises night and day, while the seed sprouts and grows, no-one knows how. Luke 4:26-27

Seeker,
Have you witnessed the re-creative power of Nature?

Most of us, much of the time,
are so busy getting THERE
that we fail to realize we are already HERE.

In essence, prayer is no more or less than this:
a desire and determination,
to be HERE and no place else.

HERE is the stage
upon which the unfolding field of relationships—
God’s Realm— is set.

We see the light everywhere but where we are, and chase after what we think we lack, only to find humbly, it was with us all along. Mark Nepo

For sure, we each have a part to play,
for good or ill,
in the drama of our days.

Yet we are not
the author of this
eternally unspooling story.

And HERE is neither the beginning,
nor the end
of the journey.

HERE is another Artist at work—
Presence unbounded, wider in mind, wilder in heart—
on an immeasurable canvas.

Like seed grain, packed with possibility,
the Domain of Mercy germinates by its own power,
in its own good time.

We do not make the garden grow.
We awaken to it; tending to spontaneity that surfaces,
enjoying fruits that sprout of their own accord.

Though we do not make it happen,
we can choose
to dwell HERE, or not.

This weedy ground-of-being
will not be controlled or contained.
It is mystery; too broad for narrow minds, too deep for shallow hearts.

With what could we compare the Domain of the Divine? It is like a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds; yet when sown, it grows into the greatest of all shrubs. Mark 4:30-32

Neither a territory, nor a State,
God’s Domain is an ever-new state of being—
in relationship with everything.

This encompassing horizon that recedes before us,
beckons the awakening
of consciousness and connection.

With ways and means far beyond us,
our Mysterious Maker
works around, sometimes through, and often despite us.

And those people and places
we overlook and undervalue
arrive laden with God-Realm potential.

For this is no trickle-down Reign from on high.
It is an eruption,
beneath our souls.

The lower we go,
the closer we come
to the humble seeds of possibility.

I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. Henry David Thoreau

We cannot farm weeds.
They thrive in the wilds,
in outlands neglected.

Left alone,
they crack the hardest crust
to transform dereliction into diversity; a shelter for abundant life.

No life forms—from the rain-forests to phytoplankton
who give us this day our daily breath—
lie outside the cosmic sweep of creativity.

Perhaps we have no handle
on this Great Field
because it has no door.

May you take the path
that HERE opens,
and wildly scatter weedy seeds of forgiveness.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Listen Freely

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

They brought him someone hard of hearing who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hands on the man. Leading him away from the crowd, he placed his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue and looking heavenward sighed and said, ‘Ephphatha’; ‘Be opened!’ Mark 7:32-34

Seeker,
What does it take to open your heart?

Are you following all the surface chatter;
that social media static—
a billion voices buzzing?

Inundated by a multitude of messages,
so much is being said
about the power and prerogatives of free speech,

but who is freely listening—
opening a receptive space,
leaning in close, with focused attention?

Myriad opportunities present themselves every day,
inviting us to incline our heads
and expose our core.

Listen carefully… to the master’s instructions,
and attend to them with the ear of your heart.

From the prologue to the Rule of St. Benedict

Though there are countless modes of communication,
and immeasurable ways to attend to life,
gentle listening is the silent language of love.

We can listen for the strike;
the clash and clamor of events;
action and reaction in the explosive cloud of crisis and conflict.

Then, there is heartfelt attention,
attuned to the lingering resonances;
residual whispers of lives barely noticed.

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. Henri Nouwen

When mistrust breeds fear, injustice brews resentment,
and violation begets revenge,
we are bidden to listen through threats and past tears.

Will we listen till we hear
our lives and our hopes,
echoed in the cries of other voices?

Dare we wade deeply enough into realities
to acknowledge their complexity
and our complicity?

Can listening be our avenue
to share pains and bring hidden possibilities to light?
Otherwise, how might we come close to understanding?

Incline your ear to me; answer swiftly on the day when I call. Psalm 102:2

Leaning in to listen to another,
paying heed to a need beyond my own,
re-places the center of gravity outside me and mine.

We can ill-afford to reject
this defining orientation of our humanity;
an authentic expression of our God-likeness.

May we not abandon listening
but rather listen with abandon,
throwing wide the hinges of our hearts.

For healing happens when together we listen
to the LIFE within our lives; to the timeless tale
playing out behind and between our varied accounts.

We can listen our way out
of anger, if we let the heart
soften the wolf we keep inside.
Mark Nepo

Much harder than simply hearing;
we listen with our eyes,
with our faces and our entire being.

As you attend to the wind and the song-birds’ chatter,
to sea creatures and the silent stars,
let listening be your first, most enduring prayer.

And may you listen freely with the Great Listener,
for signals of resilient hope and signs of tenacious life
beneath the events of our times.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Blessed Sacrament of the Other

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

… when was it we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?…
Matthew 25:37-39

Seeker,
Who would you alienate, cast out beyond the sweep of your concern?

Made to make connections—
thee and me becoming WE—
all of us yearn for unanimity.

Craving companionship,
we need to feel part of and are afraid of being torn apart from
our common-union.

The quality
of our humanity,
is calibrated by the breadth of this connectivity.

For none can find wholeness
when the threads of correlation
are systematically severed.

Otherwise, we claim our place in the seamless tapestry,
along with every other creature
embroidered into a garment called holiness.

… we live in the light and the love of those
who came before us, and who helped us to see
and celebrate and recognize ourselves …
David Whyte

Though it wreaks devastation—
torture unspeakable for profoundly relational beings—
pervasive alienation remains; sin of a sundered world.

When the layers of connective tissue
that link us are tattered,
Christ suffers torments unbearable—in minds and bodies shattered.

Isolation haunts homes, hallways and highways,
wherever we settle for hollow commodity—
a cheap substitute for more costly community.

Meanwhile, hanging around every corner,
Corpus Christi languishes;
denuded of dignity, devoid of friendship, fettered and famished.

The Holy One draws near to the brokenhearted,
saving those crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

But mercy tolerates neither exclusion nor exception.
Such exemptions lead only to
domination and desecration.

The warm glow of compassion permits no dark corners,
and no life lies beyond
its infinite, radiant range.

For we are already woven into every other life.
It is the same breath we all share;
free-gifted from forest and fresh ocean air.

We find belonging when we are blessed and broken together.
In such communion we really taste, touch, see, meet
Christ Presence, in the sacrament of one another.

Christ so close, Christ so dear.
How dare we not see you,
when you are so near?

Connection and care
unlock the tabernacle,
exposing a most blessed sacrament.

The scope of our love is not measured
merely by those we welcome,
but also by those from whom our care is willfully withheld.

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to me. Matthew 25:40

May you become a daily communicant,
ready to reach out and receive that other
sacrament most blessed —Christ-present in every sister and brother.

joe 

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Sacramental Touch

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

While travelling, a Samaritan approached and, seeing the victim, was moved with compassion. After bandaging the wounds, pouring oil and wine on them, and placing the victim on his own animal, the Samaritan led them to an inn to take care of the one who had been injured. Luke 10:33-34

Seeker,
Who remains untouchable in your life?

Have you ever seen
fevered victims;
precious people plagued by merciless disease?

Have you looked
into the anguished faces
of families facing indescribable loss?

Have you noticed the quiet courage
of medical workers and body bearers
defying danger to tend carefully to diseased bodies?

To the lost Christ shows his face;
to the unloved He gives His embrace;
to those who cry in pain or disgrace,
Christ, makes, with His friends, a touching place.
John Bell

When curious children come close
to someone’s wound—a cut, a graze, a burn—
instinctively they fear that by touching it they will share the pain.

As adults, we recoil from people in distress,
afraid perhaps
we might be implicated; drawn into their suffering or shame.

And now the aberration of abuse has eroded trust
and left us fearful;
suspicious of physicality; the touching sacrament that heals.

When Jesus touched leprous skin and blinded eyes,
or took a dead child by the hand,
he opened himself to contamination; being declared unclean.

But didn’t he also
need to make love a real;
palpable and physical connection?

Could he feel
through warm fingertips
the stories carried by the skin?

Did he caress the isolation of illness?
Would he feel the indignities of infirmity?
Could he share the powerlessness of poverty?

The house of God is not a safe place. It is a cross where time and eternity meet, and where we are – or should be – challenged to live more vulnerably, more interdependently. Madeleine L’Engle

Suffering cries out to be shared.
There is no healing
without the risk of holding and being held.

Surely you have felt
the pulsing warmth
of another hand in yours?

Such fragile, mysterious gifts are we;
messengers of a Holy One embodied;
to feel through us the burn of love.

Every human palm,
saturated with sensate receptors,
can stretch out to hold, to feel and reach in to know and heal.

Consider your own hands
that have borne suffering
and been stung by violence.

Hands that have inflicted pain
and been calloused
by rejection or disdain.

These hands have brought consolation
and have known
the touch of tenderness.

Strong and gentle,
anointed to care and caress,
and bring the healing Realm close at hand.

God of day and darkness,
bless these holy hands for the tasks of restoration:
the holding, healing, feeding, and forgiving work of the Gospel.

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it understands that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring. Martin Luther King Jr.

Will you risk being touched by the suffering within the reach of your hands?

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill