Homeward

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020

How I have yearned to gather your children together
as a mother hen gathers her brood under her wings!

Matthew 23:37

Seeker,
When you envision home, what and who comes to mind?

Subtle is the distinction
between “shelter” and “haven.”
The first a temporary shield, the other sounds like heaven.

You have been refuge to the poor,
haven to the distressed,
shelter from the storm and shade from the heat.

Isaiah 25:4

Offering more permanent anchorage,
haven desires to enfold;
providing safe harbor, a place to unburden.

For the tempest-tossed
any port or quay
signifies home.

Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.

Augustine of Hippo

As pandemic prolongs,
we shift from sheltering
to being anchored at home.

So much more than a dwelling,
home evokes that communion
we call belonging.

Just as every vision
is limited by the frame we place around it,
so too is our perception of home.

The relief we seek is right under our feet…
If we understand our deep connection and relationship with the Earth,
we will have enough love strength and awakening
to look after ourselves and the Earth so that both can thrive.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Yet we are ever on the move.
Migratory by nature,
we harbor an ancient, nomadic heritage.

Wanderers and wonderers all,
our ache to belong lies at the heart
of our incessant questing and questioning.

Only fifty years ago,
intrepid space-age voyagers
looked past our moon to capture Earth rising.

Three decades later an orbiting telescope opened its eye
to our intergalactic neighborhood,
and expanded our home-scape.

Poised now at the brink,
all life on our planet
hangs in the balance.

Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.

Pope Francis

After a century
of abuse and neglect,
we have laid waste our holy habitat.

Along with living relations of every ilk,
we suffer the effects
of catastrophic home-sickness.

Across the planet entire,
millions seek shelter from violent injustice,
poverty, environmental disaster.

Fellow creatures flee firestorm,
exploitation, habitat devastation;
the harvest of our own nature deprivation

With wilderness under assault,
the indigenous curators of precious biodiversity
themselves face extinction.

Life is paradise, and we are all in paradise, but we refuse to see it.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We have lost our way home.
No longer do we calibrate our days
to earth’s seasons: seedtime, fruit and fallow.

Recovery begins with the subtlest shift
that turns home into haven,
bringing heaven back to earth.

Thus, in looking after neighbors,
we are on the lookout
for all great and small creatures in our care.

Once more can we revel
in the primal revelation
called Creation.

Be thou a guiding star above,
smooth path below,
kindly shepherd behind,
flame bright before us
this day, tonight,
forevermore.

Columba of Iona

As you attend to the stirrings within
and tend to life all around,
may you rejoice in the realization that you are already home.

As you hold open this haven,
may you know
the infinite depth and breadth of love abiding in you.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram@InTheStormStill
Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
Latest book by Joe Grant

Restore Relationship

Photo By Joe Grant © 2020

First of all, seek God’s Realm and Justice, then everything else will follow.

Matthew 6:33

Seeker
How is crisis teaching you about what matters most of all?

In the wake of
a life-altering cyclone
named Katrina,

I traveled to the Mississippi coast
with my son and church companions,
to visit a friend.

Images of devastation
remain seared
in the retina of memory;

decapitated palms leaning like matchsticks,
homes and vehicles bobbing
in oily iridescence,

shell-shocked residents
combing the rubble
of their lives.

The ruinous scene evoked
grainy images of bombed beaches
and the nightmare of nuclear holocaust.

Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

Bhagavad Gita

As bulldozers carved a thoroughfare,
banks of debris,
roiled like angry waves.

Entrenched in the vale of detritus;
walled by sodden mattresses, fragments of furniture,
muddy carpets, smashed plumbing;

awareness swelled with the dank stench of decay:
sooner or later,
every single thing becomes landfill!

All within the arc of your gaze,
that decorates your existence,
clothing, possessions, achievements, investments, your very body …

destined for disintegration and decay.
For all and every manner of thing and life,
in time must pass away.

There are lovely things in the world, lovely, only that do not endure, and the lovelier for that.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Since all is fleeting and insubstantial
naught but one remains:
in the space between our breaths, beats and pulses.

This punctuation that defines and bonds,
brings meaning and measure to our moments,
and love into being, we call: “relationship.”

And the primacy of relationship
is revealed when
death or destruction lifts the veil.

Things of life we leave behind
all take their place in the past
but first, foremost, finally, only relationships last.

The most important things in life are invisible.
Love is at the root of everything; all learning, all relationships –
love or the lack of it.

Fred Rodgers

This pricey pearl—
treasure hidden in the field—
requires the relinquishment of all else.

In the spacious latticework of relationships
with family and friend, neighbor and nature,
love is realized, experienced, expressed, exchanged.

How can we know and share love
except through the resonant filaments of connectivity
that web our world and weave us into being?

And what would life look like
if relationships came first
and really mattered most of all?

Being means: not numbering and counting,
but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap,
and stands confidently in the storms of spring,
not afraid that afterward summer may not come…

Rainer Maria Rilke

As distancing days
grow into months
that straddle seasons,

atop mountainous human losses,
amid disruption
and the evaporation of reliable income,

surrounded by the remnants of a former reality,
we are impatient to restore the reassuring
frame of reference that used to shape our days.

Yet, cascading problems seem intractable,
if we presume to resume
pre-plague ways, means, and expectations.

In masked isolation we come to cherish
priceless human touch, aware that
even distant islands are connected by the same ocean.

May you live to restore and show and share
the myriad relationships that bring you life
and love you into being.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram@InTheStormStill
Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
A new book by Joe Grant

Standing Under

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020

Because in seeing they do not perceive, in listening they fail to hear, nor do they understand.

Matthew 13:13

Seeker,
What are you willing to let go to make room for understanding to grow?

We do not see things as THEY are. We see things as WE are.

Talmud

How, and where, and with whom we stand really matters.
While many jockey for prime position in the race lineup,
where we choose to place ourselves is vital.

Where do we stand? How do we stand?
What do we stand for, and, most importantly, with whom are we willing to stand?

Our first task in approaching another people,
another culture, another religion is to take off our shoes,
for the ground we are approaching is holy.

Max Warren

Prepositions are revealing.
They locate us; standing out, on, over, under, with,
against, apart, up, down, aside, beside, for …

By-standing is
not the same as with-standing.
Out-standing is not the same as standing out.

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

James Baldwin

And there is more
to standing
than standing still.

More than the fruit of standing still, understanding expands
only when we listen longer, look harder, let go to learn
from those consigned to stand under the heel of history.

We see from where we stand.

Haitian Proverb

Will you humbly stand
with lives that do not seem to matter;
dis-advantaged, misunderstood and maligned?

Standing together under the Reign of Mercy; listening as
suffering speaks; restoring equity; celebrating commonality in diversity; this is our pathway toward deeper, fuller understanding.

Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī,

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram@InTheStormStill
Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
A new book by Joe Grant

Benediction

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020


Bless those who curse you, pray for the ones who mistreat you.

Luke 6:28

Three decades past,
I was blessed to be among fisherfolk
by the banks of Amazon.

Regularly, I found myself surrounded
by swarming clouds
of chattering children.

“Me dê uma benção!Give me a blessing!”
they begged and beamed,
as they clambered all over me.

Putting palm to each holy head,
I extended the expected benediction:
“Abençoado! – Blessed be you!”

So frail in the face of so many challenges,
I wondered about their future
as I willed and worried and prayed for wellbeing.

Even after all the years,
I can recall their shining faces and joyful voices.
And echoing that benison, still I wonder what became of them.

That singular command
I do not understand,
Bless what there is for being,
Which has to be obeyed, for
What else am I made for … ?

W. H. Auden

In the end, how we respond
to the momentous challenges of this time
will determine who and what will endure.

When cursing, we careen down a slippery slope,
till, head over heart in tumbled-down rancor,
we are left with bruises that add ignominy to animosity.

But blessing is the fulcrum between blight and beauty,
since those who know their blessedness
bring benediction to our holy mess.

Blessing transforms
the sub-stance (under-being) of our experience
with under-standing.

Choosing benediction – to speak well –
cannot make any one or thing
any more holy than it already is.

In blessing we buff for shining display
what is already sacred,
and somehow this changes everything.

Such blessing power, given us all,
presents us with the luminous authority
to re-consecrate whatsoever has been desecrated.

Blessed the clear-hearted who see the Holy One (in everyone and everything).

Matthew 5:8

In unsettled times,
Jesus preaches scandalous subversion
that goes against the grain of meritocracy.

Unmasking myopia, with penetrating perspective,
he presents a corrective
to sharpen our seeing and brighten our holy being.

Because you are simple, humble and mourning,
peace-loving, justice-hungry, lost or forsaken;
you are welcome; you are already holy; you are blessed.

Blessed too are you who are targeted
because you stand,
sullied with the exploited of the earth.

Blessing simply gives voice
and intention
to our deepest motivation.

And we become beatitudes
by welcoming these benedictions
and extending them broadly.

Beneath that look
behind those eyes
benevolence in abundance lies.

Have you beheld
the blessed gaze
that pierces pain-filled, hateful haze?

To gild each hurt and hope in life
such power to you is given,
dissolving loss back into love with that gracious glare of heaven.

joe

May you be moved
to transfigure the substance of daily experience
by blessing whatever graces your gaze.

So fragile the petal the earth, as fragile as love.

Mira

As you cast a caring eye across your life-scape,
squint if you must to see love’s golden hue
reflected in strangers and friends and enemies too.

Choose to burnish the good
and put a shine
on these tarnished times.

Just to be is blessing. Just to live is holy.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

So, while there is breath within
and a sparkle in your eye,
waste not this fleeting chance

to let the weary world know
just how much in love with life you are,
just how blessed it is to be here together with You.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram@InTheStormStill
Visit my website: inthestormstill.com

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