That evening they brought many demon-possessed people
and with a word he cast out spirits, curing all of illness,
thus fulfilling the prophet’s vision of one who
took on our infirmities and bore our disease.
Who in your life is crying out to be heeded, held, and healed?
To erect a barrier,
or construct a divide
takes the effort of just one side.
But building a bridge will always require
foundations of trust
that both sides desire.
All who work with prophetic purpose
must avoid the twin entrapments;
corrosive cynicism and coercive self-righteousness.
Desire for retribution,
no matter how justified its claim,
unleashes diabolical profanities of blame and shame.
Conceding our commonalities,
receding to white-black boundaries,
steals space for understanding, depletes oxygen for dialogue.
To deny any possibility of restoration
only reinforces divisive systems that fail
to acknowledge complicity, and reverence connection and care.
The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble…Carl Gustav Jung
They can never be solved, but only outgrown…
Where might we sow the seeds of relationship,
to sprout and surprise us with listening hearts,
sheaves of shared sorrows, and the salve of outstretched hands?
The trajectory of Spirit, like radiant sunshine,
thrusts fearlessly outward into the dark void,
reaching for communion, wholeness, generous inclusion.
But we cannot envision what we do not see,
we will not heed what we cannot hear,
till we hone the healing arts of love.
CompanioningJoe Grant, Scratchings
Lean close to listen
until heartbeats harmonize
and spirit song rhymes.
Radical resolution lies
in looking harder, listening longer,
with hearts attuned to woe and wonder.
To outgrow the confines
of all we think we know,
we must plow the furrows of longing and loss.
Those willing to live
and love with abandon,
will surely know the sting of alienation.
Boundary BreakerJoe Grant, Scratchings
Lives are hemmed by lines.
“Thou shalt not cross!” say the signs,
crossings lead to fines.
For we cannot splice spirituality
from humanity’s deepest cravings
and darkest inclinations.
As you embrace these days with contemplative care,
may you feel, in your bones, hurts and hungers
you can never fully understand.
Even as you savor sweet unanimity,
may you recoil at the bitterness
of discrimination and isolation.
Liberated to lovingly listen,
may your eyes widen to every unfreedom;
slavery, addiction, exploitation.
We beginSusa Silvermarie
the new habit, getting up glad
for a thousand years of healing.
May your yearning for peace of heart
illumine the failures of war
and daily desecrations of violence.
Longing to belong, may your hospital home
welcome fellow pilgrims guised as foreigners,
migrants, exiles without refuge or shelter.
May this thankful season inoculate you
with the warmth of humble great-fullness,
leaving room at your table for the surprise of healing.
Joe Grant is a seer and a sayer, a prophet and a poet. He divines the divine in the everyday stuff of life and speaks the essential truth that every place can be a thin place, every time Kairos time. Scratchings is Joe at his alliterative best, offering us a beautiful sacramental vision in which Spirit weaves us into a great, timeless community with each other and with the more-than-human world. This quiet, gentle, but powerful book is absolutely necessary medicine for our troubled times.
- Kyle Kramer, Executive Director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center,
author of Making Room: Soul-Deep Satisfaction Through Simple Living
(Franciscan Media, 2021)