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 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

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 

Sacramental Spring

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

God’s Realm is like someone who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day while they sleep and rise, the seed sprouts and grows, how, they do not know. The earth itself produces first the stalk, then the full head of grain. Mark 4:26-28

Seeker,
How have you received and celebrated the sacrament of today?

Sacraments are not magic.
They are majestic, messy and,
at their core, mysterious portals to the eternal.

Prolific though they be,
we just don’t see what we won’t see.
In the face of resurrection’s springtime release, how blind can we be?

Pollen to irritate the eyes,
perfumes and bouquets resplendent
to overwhelm the senses.

And still the miracle fails to arrest us,
draw us out of our own heads,
teach us humility, and school us in awe.

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dry all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
John Muir

But first, we must be freed
from fractious fears,
and self-preoccupations to become self effacing.

For every day is Earth Day,
when we open wide the soul’s window,
let in the bird-song Psalms,

and intentionally practice that holy communion
of breath-receiving-and-returning—
first and final sounds we ever make.

In the face of our original inhalation,
and in the wake of our ultimate exhalation,
surely all else pales.

Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.
It is all we can offer in return for the mystery by which we live.

Abraham Heschel

I went one day
for a walk in the woods,
and time lost track of me.

So, on I amble and sometimes stumble,
knowing less and less about anything,
but more and more sure about everything.

Don’t we need to lose sight to regain vision?
Knowing our blindness might cause us to reach out
and lead us into the path of another’s pain.

Amidst the meditation of mountains, the humility of flowers –wiser than all alphabets— clouds that die constantly for the sake of God’s glory, we are hating, hunting, hurting. Suddenly we feel ashamed of our clashes and complaints in the face of the tacit glory in nature. It is embarrassing to live! Abraham Heschel

In all this wildly
wonderful and woeful universe,
love alone endures.

We understand this best
in the act of letting-go
what and whomsoever we have come to love

For we do not manufacture compassion.
We only welcome it,
make room to receive it, and express it with abandon.

From first breath to final,
this is our sacramental mission,
love is not attachment; it is release, outpouring, falling, letting-go.

How strange we are in the world and how presumptuous our doings!
Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder. For the gift of our unearned right to serve, to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.
Just to be is blessing. Just to live is holy.
Abraham Heschel

joe

Simply Human

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

How blessed those who are poor in spirit, the Reign of God is theirs (for the sharing). Matthew 5:3

What might a simpler life look like?

Physics teaches that with speed and pressure
comes heat and friction;
stress and tension following closely behind.

The antidote to compulsive-comparative living
lies in a wholesome embrace of our natural sanctity;
the gift of being simply (and not super) human.

Knowingly imperfect, ready and willing
to forgive and be forgiven, we are all made for mercy.
Compassionate connection is our role and link in the chain of life.

Un-possessed by possessions,
those who claim their humanness
welcome their own poverty of spirit.

For only those who know
they are incomplete
can be made whole.

And living with less (by choice or circumstance),
we are more likely, in lean times,
to lean on Providence and rely on one another.

Reverencing our limitations lets us savor and share
an abundance of simpler pleasures
and taste the humbler joys of a less-complicated, uncluttered life.

Live simply that others might simply live! Attributed to Elizabeth Ann Seton

Meanwhile, a global conspiracy consumes us;
cramming our days with stuff and activities,
promising purpose and happiness to fill the sink-hole at the heart of us.

Paradoxically, true ‘holey-ness’ widens that gaping ache within,
by reducing needs, minimizing wants,
and clearing the clutter of compulsions, to making room for others.

Though a simpler life
is intentionally uncomplicated,
simple is never easy.

It exposes the emptiness of overfilled lifestyles
as it celebrates the satisfaction
of spacious fulfillment.

Simpler also presumes slower;
moving away from purpose-driven and toward presence-drawn;
from transactional into relational living.

How we synchronize our days,
sets our patterns of rest, work and wonder,
with careful attention to well-being.

Slowing allows us to live
from that deep-within-well,
and avoid running ahead of grace.

When life becomes frenetic,
it is time for sabbath slowing,
back down to the pace of God’s good time.

Slowing… to attend to those who cross your path.
Slowing… to match the gait of frailty, the pace of infirmity.
Slowing… to meet the tottering steps of old ones and infants.
Slowing… to notice the contours of life around you.
Slowing… long enough to scent the breeze or be captivated by sunset.
Slowing… to feel the road beneath your feet.
Slowing… to be redirected, detoured into byways to learn about loss and hope.

May you follow the lead of the Timeless One,
that ageless, ever-patient lover of the lost;
so slow to anger, so simply rich in radiant mercy.

joe