From Grievance to Grief

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Matthew 27:46

Seeker,
What tears at your heart?

From cradle to grave
for intimacy we ache;
that something amiss that keeps us awake.

And at the heart of our lives
an abyss abides,
that nothing or no one can fill.

For we are made for connections
beyond the bounds of affection,
and the dearest nearness we can know comes in sharing our pain.

Unless we learn how to transfigure pain (ours and others), we simply transmit it. Richard Rohr

Passion, the hard kernel of compassion,
draws us into grief’s gloom,
wherein a Presence hides;

One whose closeness
feels like absence;
who hangs with us and hangs on in us.

Thus, in lament we find a home
in companionship with all
who find themselves in the dark:

whose bellies or lives are empty,
whose days are toil or boredom.
whose relationships are severed by decisions or distance,
whose minds are tortured or numbed,
who are drawn to despair or driven by distraction.

And when the Chosen One breathed his last,
his final wail on earth was a lamentation,
a cry for all of Creation.

My God, my God why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
Psalm 22:1

Most creatures vocalize their distress.
Born breathless, we all cry out.
When wounded, we moan and loudly weep.

Lament is the breaking point
where we give up on reason, resolution and retribution
to lose ourselves in primal keening.

And there is liberation in letting pain out.
A first step toward healing,
grieving that moves us to move on.

For lament decries the privatization of pain;
a shared expression of sorrow that saves us
from being marooned on the shores of desperation.

So, we accept the hospitality of mourning,
not as an act of resignation,
but as a cathartic stride toward determination.

Now beyond protest, accusation and indignation,
we are free to bear witness
to violations and suffering universal.

Choosing to hold, to behold and to be moved,
bearing witness allows us to take off our shoes,
and step, with souls bared, into the crucible of suffering-love.

History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

Seamus Heaney

In its honesty,
suffering shapes us
as it breaks and remakes us;

not those tribulations we endure and bear,
but that suffering love we choose to share.
For it is only the pain we cannot share that turns into despair.

Nor are we meant to pass the years, unmoved, unaffected, unchanged.
We are made to be marked, shaped, scarred, wounded,
and broken to be mended.

What else do we bear from here to hereafter,
but the lightness of the love
that has wounded us in ways terrible and touching.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Coming in November 2019, A New Book by Joe Grant

Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace Pre-Order Set For Release On 11/12/2019 12:00:00 AM

To pre-order: https://shop.franciscanmedia.org/products/wandering-and-welcome-meditations-for-finding-peace-pre-order-set-for-release-on-11-12-2019-12-00-00-am

Swept Away

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019


The wind moves where it will and though you hear it blow,
you know not whence it came or just where it may go. John 3:8

Seeker,
When has life left you thunderstruck?

We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and people; but it never occurred to me until this storm-day, while swimming in the wind, that trees are travelers …
They make many journeys, not extensive ones, it is true; but our own little journeys, away and back again, are only little more than tree wavings …
John Muir

In depth of night,
while multitudes slumbered,
a storm announced itself with thunderous rumble.

Muffled booms and far-away flares;
reminiscent of distant wars or gunshots and siren-strobe glares
in neighborhoods nearer; startled me awake.

Then came that wild wind,
to shudder at the door;
rain rattling the windows.

Fascinated by forces unleashed,
drawn out to the stoop,
I let the tumult steal my breath.

Billows of lifted dust,
betrayed secret scuttles of a wind
that swept the street and sprinkled the world wet.

Combing limbs and twigs
for their treasury of leaves,
cool waves cascaded down the street.

And how the trees, bent and quivered
before surrendering to the whipping surge;
giving in to the swell.

And how those gusts,
already broken over faraway woods, hills, homes,
now careened down cluttered alleyways.

Flashes and crashes
released torrents to cleanse the air,
turning streets into silty streams.

In the shadow of your wings shall I find refuge,
until the calamitous storms pass me by.
Psalm 57:1

How much change
is borne by storms
that refresh and rearrange the world.

What would life be without stormy weather,
and the seasonal transformations it brings;
those raining, rushing tempests that terrify and fascinate?

Must the necessary changes
of mood, character and culture
be birthed in violent catharsis?

Yet, how else would we know thrill and tremor,
and let loose prayerful sighs,
moans and gasps,

unless we dare venture into night
put our faces to the blustery wind,
and let our little lives be swept away by wonder?

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil…
Gerard Manley Hopkins

In the wake of ravaging climate catastrophe,
may you be moved to bring hope and healing;
and be some shelter in the storm.

May changing winds blow right through you,
liberating all that needs to be let go—
old grudges, care-worn complaints and stifling, cynical denial.

As you let go, may awe take hold,
to humble, delight
and coax the very breathe out of you.

And may you be stirred to your depths,
carried off by such joy and sorrow,
till you are “beside yourself” with awe at life’s mystery and marvel.

The storm-tones died away and… I beheld the countless host of forest hushed and tranquil, towering above one another like a devout audience. The setting sun filled them with amber light, and seemed to say, while they listened, “My peace I give unto you.” John Muir

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Coming in November 2019, A New Book by Joe Grant

Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace Pre-Order Set For Release On 11/12/2019 12:00:00 AM

To pre-order: https://shop.franciscanmedia.org/products/wandering-and-welcome-meditations-for-finding-peace-pre-order-set-for-release-on-11-12-2019-12-00-00-am

Reachable

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019


Now is the fulfillment time, God’s Realm is within reach.
Mark 1: 15

Seeker,
How long is your life’s reach?

As a young man
I was blessed to live, for a time,
among tribal people in the Amazon rain-forest.

Once, the whole village
set off for a fishing camp
along a distant tributary.

In single file
we walked a narrow forest track
through swirling predawn mist.

Along the way women and girls
reached down with ease to pick up pods,
cracked open by monkeys and macaws.

Some of the Brazil nuts
they placed in baskets,
others they simply pushed into the soil.

All the while, high above us in each direction
tall trees converged into the distance;
a seamless canopy hung with Brazil nuts.

Suddenly it struck me;
as we walked, they were gently harvesting and planting
an endless avenue of lofty nut trees.

Later I was astounded
to discover that these trees
grow up to 150 feet tall and live for 500 years.

How far-sighted to consider,
when taking a walk, to guarantee a verdant store
of food and shelter for twenty generations to come!

So, I am left to wonder,
in the midst of my mundane tasks and travels,
what consideration I give to the latitude of life here and hereafter.

And what will remain
one hundred years hence,
of my life, loves and legacy?

I am one with the source insofar as I too act as a source by making everything I have received flow again. Raimon Panikkar

Whenever we make ourselves available,
receptive to reality unfolding,
we become reachable.

Oh to have hearts laid open,
till all the world spills in
and we feel at home with the wholeness of being.

What other purpose then for prayer,
but to dispel every illusion of separation
and delusion of division.

And rather than close eyes and ears
to the tides of these trying times,
constantly treading waters of distraction and distress,

we might surrender to the buoyancy of the swell
and be carried away by the sweep
of currents much broader and deeper.

Are we not all born to be visionaries,
made for mysticism,
shaped to receive, reflect and reverence?

God, whose love and joy are present everywhere,
cannot come to visit you unless you are not there.

Angelus Silesius

Prayerful presence then is at once a planting and a harvest
of simple, intentional invitations to life
that are always outreaching and open-ended.

Thus, looking out, over and beyond,
gazing further and deeper down,
prayer provides a corrective lens to collective nearsightedness;

extending our attention span
to bridge the chasm
of busyness and boredom,

befriending quiet
till softer sounds
become perceptible.

Such are the fruits of receptivity
to a Realm that is not quite beyond us
but over-washes us should we make ourselves reachable.

We wait in the quietness for some centering moment that will redefine, reshape and refocus our lives … Dost Thou understand what it is like to be caught between the agony of one’s own private needs and to be tempest-tossed by needs that overwhelm and stagger the mind and paralyze the heart? … For the long loneliness, the deep and searching joy and satisfaction, the boundless vision … we thank Thee. Howard Thurman

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Coming in November 2019, A New Book by Joe Grant

Wandering and Welcome: Meditations for Finding Peace Pre-Order Set For Release On 11/12/2019 12:00:00 AM

To pre-order: https://shop.franciscanmedia.org/products/wandering-and-welcome-meditations-for-finding-peace-pre-order-set-for-release-on-11-12-2019-12-00-00-am