Stranger’s Keeper

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Photo by Joe Grant © 2018

And will God not grant justice to those who cry out day and night, or delay long in helping them? I tell you, God will grant them justice and swiftly.
But, when the Chosen One does come, will they find any faith on earth? Luke 18:7-8

What will you tell your children’s children about these tortured times?

   The other day when Christ came by
   holding her mother’s hand,
   at the river’s edge she started to cry
   on the bridge to a promised land.

When love of the law
supplants the law of love
soulless bureaucracy blossoms.

As the faceless tyranny of legalism,
tears at the roots of co-responsibility,
it seeds an illusion of powerlessness.

What is legal usurps what is moral,
conscience is conveniently circumvented,
ideology is idolized in fluttering emblems.

And anthems proclaimed, 
with boast and bluster,
proudly belie their sullied ideals.

Calloused hearts are always cultivated;
rubbing salt into raw crevasses
that keep us torn apart.

All the while, the fate of our little ones
dangles dangerously
on the fickle whim of sentiment.

How can we not see the face of the Lord in the face of the millions of exiles, refugees, and displaced persons who are fleeing in desperation from the horror of war, persecution and dictatorship?   Pope Francis

Yet held within “compassion”
is our “compass”,
and without it we quickly lose our bearings.

As there are always
profits in persecution,
so too are there prophets who speak for the children.

There is nothing more damaging to unanimity,
than the heartless disregard
of any soul estranged.

For this stranger’s guise
the wounded Christ must use
to pierce our armored hearts.

And once again the crying Christ-child 
unmasks the naked lie of inhumanity,
robed in imperious authority.

   In the clearing arc of history
   who will you choose to befriend:
   hand in hand with control and command
   or lowly-led by childlike care, to welcome, love and mend?

The wolf with the lamb shall live,
the leopard with the young goat shall recline,
the calf together with the lion and the yearling,
and a little child shall lead them.   Isaiah 11:6




Choose Tenderness

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Photo by Joe Grant © 2018

My servant will not break a bruised reed
or quench a smoldering wick until justice reigns.
And in this name will the nations hope. Matthew 12:20-21

Can you envision the world that could be?

Another week, another season,
on our quest for rhyme and reason
while another day breaks that many did not see.

As hours and eons run their course,
we make our spinning pilgrimage
and worry as we wonder:

Where are we all headed,
with such haste and fury?
What good newness needs to be ushered in?

Spirituality is about seeing.
It is not about earning or achieving.
It is about relationships rather than results or requirements. Richard Rohr

Can we visualize a more loving global community,
peace-filled and forgiving?
Such re-visioning begs courageous imagination.

Imagination precedes realization,
for each fantastic new creation
is first conceived by imagining.

No longer need we resign ourselves
to self–fulfilling prophecies
that diminish care and damage life’s fragile fabric.

No more must we glamorize violence,
glorify gain or sacrifice God’s precious children
to martial idols that manufacture death.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
1 John 3:2

If we could just see
family in every face,
we might even love other children as our own dear ones.

Then, doubtless, the crying needs
of the Living, in myriad form,
would trump the mongering and monetizing of fearfulness.

From fear springs violence – yes, not the other way around.
Fear invented wars, weapons, and all the violence weapons can cause.                David Steindl-Rast

It is love alone, and love alone,
that casts out fear.
And only deeper-wider belonging disarms hearts.

In the days yet to come,
each time Life affords you the opportunity,
may you take the tender way.

May you speak with gutsy love,
from heart to heart;
choosing to forgive more readily, holding onto hurt lightly.

Once you start to awaken, no one can ever claim you again for the old patterns.
Now you have realized how precious your time here is.  John O’Donohue

In the brief, bright remaining moments,
with the limited breath you’ve been given,
may you speak your truth gently and forgive freely.

May you say “Yes!” to kin and kindness,
and to listening, and listening more,
as you incline toward Nature’s meekness.

May tears tender you
as you tend
to your patch of fragility.

So, with the shine in your eyes,
may you bestow blessings unspoken
upon all you survey.

More love, more love alone by its power
the world we will conquer, for true love is God.
If ye love one another then God dwelleth in you,
and ye are made strong to live by the word. Shaker Hymn


Wind AND Fire

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Photo by Joe Grant © 2018

…suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house. Then there appeared tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
Acts 2: 2-3

Are you hoping for peace and quiet, or hungering for peace and justice (or both)?

Breathing Space

Let us be still,
slow to a stop,
rest and be restored.

Daily we must relearn
to hand over the demands of the day,
breathing deeply fresh air, laden with re-creative possibility.

How do we find those restful latitudes,
where we gratefully pour life’s leftovers
back into the lap of Our Great Lover?

Some find solace on the meditation cushion,
other disciples seek out the Calmer of Storms,
who calls us to wander the lonely places.

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while. Mark 6:31

Fanning Flames

Yet, once awakened,
attuned to cries of affliction,
we are not inclined to slumber.

Why do our hearts not burst with sorrow
at the litany of lamentations?
Where is the indignation to mobilize the masses?

To care is to connect,
and feed the smoldering desire for change;
the hot hunger for hope.

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he was moved inwardly with compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd… Mark 6:34

But do we really care,
enough to be charged,
and change the way we live our days?

Does not love burn us
with urgent ardor to heal,
and help upturn the skewed tables of torment?

Some would mold
this righteous restlessness
into a torch,

calling upon the sun of justice
to drive the death-dealers
from our earthly sanctuary.

Breathing Fire

Ours is no airy faith.
Nor is it only
ardent anger for action.

Flames needs oxygen,
the winds must
be warmed for movement.

Without air, the fire burns out.
Without fire,
stagnant winds die down.

As the heart is restored
even in its ceaseless rhythms,
can’t we find restoration in our rousing?

Feeding the fire, warming the air!
The world can scarcely
afford drowsy disciples.

Nor dare we spend our fuel
on what fails to satisfy,
forgetting to pause, ponder and conspire.

Tongues of fire come
to rest AND to rouse;
for we are bound together;

folded into ONE,
you and I,
by a raucous-spacious Spirit.

With no respect
for locks and boundaries,
lacking limits and loosening tongues,

we are impassioned
to speak peace to each heart
and breathe openness to every confinement;

to heat lukewarm hearts
and stir up
a storm of creative opportunity.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.  Naomi Shihab Nye

May you be touched and transformed
by the peaceful-passion of Pentecost.
God knows, the world needs it!

Bless you God…
who makes the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers.  Psalm 104:1, 4