Love Withstanding



Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

When he knew that all was now finished, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty’.
John 19:28

Seeker,
Have you ever been beside yourself, embraced by pain too big to hold?

In outward expression,
Universe appears as roiling chaos,
but at its core, it is swirling hunger and thirst for connection.

Unfolding into the void
with expansive energy,
reality radiates its longing for communion.

Such explosive outpouring
echoes an elemental ache;
the cosmic overflow of a sundered Heart.

This universal mirror,
visible to us only in darkness,
illustrates a paradox: in being broken-open we are brought together.

Mercy is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world.
A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just.
We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful (God) who is so patient.
Pope Francis

In complete contrast to control,
compassion is the release of love;
liberation that comes with loss and letting-go.

Thus, it becomes both a compass
and pathway into tenderheartedness—
misericordia that ripens consciousness from human into divine.

Behold then our Mysterious Maker,
who comes so close,
but does not condescend;

at-one with us,
electing to suffer, not because of us,
but beside us, inside us, and un-sided among us.

This love-so-wide
perforates every boundary,
leaving us open-mouthed—agape!

Screens of separation dissolve
before the solidarity of suffering-shared,
unleashing merciful lamentation that will not be stemmed.

God weeps at love withheld, at strength misused, at children’s innocence abused, and, till we change the way we love, God weeps.
God cries at hungry mouths, at running sores, at creatures dying without a cause, and, till we change the way we care, God cries.
God waits for stones to melt, for peace to seed, for hearts to hold each other’s need, and, till we understand the Christ, God waits.

Shirley Erena Murray

Nothing is below this God-most-low.
so deeply in love with all Creation
that every bit is destined not for desolation.

Embodiment of aching love,
Christ showed the way to deeper care,
through the cruciform door of suffering we share.

We lose our ‘self’ in the well of another’s pain
to become part of rather than apart from
God’s children and everything else under the sun.

And only those who have required and received mercy,
reclaiming their original likeness,
can savor and freely share it.

To a Creator bent
on the restoration of the rest of life,
it all matters:

boy and girl and undefined lives;
rich and poor and in-between lives;
me and you and every other life;

African, Asian and European lives too;
all animals, every vegetable and mineral.
Even humble matter matters.

Such sacred solidarity, in love withstanding,
sharing the one pain,
offers us the promise of full-heartedness.

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
The Talmud

May we make a choice today
for love over condemnation, forgiveness over blame,
healing over hatred.

And with forbearance,
may you bear the burden of bearing witness,
standing with love at the foot of every cross and intersection.

joe

Sacred Heart Listening

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

You will indeed listen, but never understand, you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes… Matthew 13:14

Seeker,
When was the last time you gave life a good listening to?

Remember pressing a seashell to you ear,
to catch that ancient echo
of booming surf?

Recall when someone dear
leaned in close
to hear the heart behind your words.

And that time you were drawn
by a tone, a voice, a word
and held spellbound till all boundaries fell away.

Picture that special person,
far away or long gone,
you’d love to listen to once again?

There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing. G. K. Chesterton

Every minute so much is going on,
in, around,
through and beyond us.

And moment by moment
we choose whether and how deeply,
we are willing to connect with life.

The most potent, most intimate form
of connecting and communicating
is neither talking nor touching but listening.

Let us not confuse listening with hearing,
for they are as distinct from one another
as tourists from pilgrims.

Heart listening, attentive presence,
leads to a communion of souls.
It is the truest way to show how deeply we care.

The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present.
Joanna Macy

Our ever-present Maker
abides in silence,
all the better to listen well to everything.

Such sacred heart listening,
as a loving practice,
is God-like behavior.

Listening is the highest duty of love. Paul Tillich

The listening Christ
taught us to disarm our hearts
by opening ears once deaf to others.

He commissioned each of us
to heal by listening
to our enemies.

For how can we
be followers of the Christ
till we’ve learned how to love those who hate us?

Followers of the way of non-violence,
who bear the crossbars of suffering-love,
courageously choose to listen to the ones who would harm them.

And in times of conflict and division
sacred heart listening opens up
the risky road to reconciliation.

When we set agendas aside,
to listen and be listened to,
our desire un-taps a well of understanding.

Sacred Heart listening
is how Good News is heard,
broken open and proclaimed.

Choosing to listen
is our first step
into the Domain of the Silent One.

Listen, O Israel: The Holy One is our God, the Most Holy alone.
You shall love the Holy One with all heart, with all soul,
and with all strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Listen like children drinking in a story.
Listen like trees teaching the wind to sing.
Listen with your eyes, with your touch, with your insides.

May you nurture your listening heart,
open a quiet listening space,
and let the noisy world tumble in.

Is this not how healing happens to us?

joe

Wakeful Waiting

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Photo by Joe Grant © 2018

And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake. Mark 13:37

Seeker,
As another year unfolds, what are you waiting for?

We call it longing
because it distends our sense of time,
and so much living is enlarged in the waiting.

Waiting…

for healing to happen,
anticipating a change to come,
expecting a loved one’s imminent return.

Waiting…

for loss to soften,
an ache to ease,
a void to shrink.

Waiting…

for tempers to cool,
a chafed heart to mend,
a conflict to ease, a bloody war’s end.

Waiting…

for a new day to break,
a tired old one to wane,
for the silence of night, or the chorus of dawn.

Waiting…

for a newborn’s cry,
or a loved one’s final breath;
we vigil before the mysteries of birth and death.

Waiting…

for the torrent to abate,
eager for the drought’s release,
we hold out for hunger and injustice to cease.

So many ways
and shapes of expectation,
whetted by keen anticipation.

All the while, and all around,
so much secretly undeclared,
quietly waits to be noticed, savored, shared.

The meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era. Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. Abraham Heschel

Endlessly empty,
waiting feels like drowsy,
mid-afternoon dullness.

Routines called “ordinary”,
when taken for granted,
numb and stultify.

Immune to golden sunsets and icy mountain peaks,
milky ocean spray and windswept wilderness,
we fail to notice the grandeur and beauty that over-wash us.

Even crisis fails to stir those still blind
to famished children, ravaged lives,
littered oceans, denuded hills, rapacious mines.

Daily life presents challenges and lessons
that measure our attentive presence,
and test our receptivity.

In every golden moment grace hides
in plainest sight
for those with presence of mind and a will to penetrate.

When life, love or loss
lift the veil,
hearts and horizons are transfigured.

In the clarity of astonishment,
there is nothing
ordinary about existence.

Thus poets, artists, mystics come to life;
poised for inspiration,
to crack hearts or mend them.

Attentiveness is 
that heightened state of readiness,
of wakeful watching and wondering.

Wakefulness sharpens connection,
disdains distraction, discards pretension,
unmasks self-preoccupation.

Like a heron intent on a gravelly stream,
or a tail-twitching tabby transfixed in the grass,
electrically-charged anticipation sharpens senses with focus and purpose.

Now we enter a state of expectant attention—
engaged presence—
the opposite of terminal boredom.

Fine-tuning the present, attentive to the peripheries,
scanning the horizon,
wakeful wondering disciples wait.

(God) did not wait till the world was ready,
till (all the) nations were at peace.
(God) came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release. Madeleine L’Engle

Who knows how grace will
greet you this day, this year.
But will she find you awake and ready to receive?

joe