Disturbing Peace

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44

Seeker,
How do you encounter peace in these disturbing days?

At the beginning of beginnings,
before there was anything
but depth of darkness,

Spirit hovered
over the face of the deep
to disturb the waters.

Thus, paradox was born
in the rippling Holy Breath of life:
Disturbing Peace.

And that initial exhalation,
first creative sound—shalom, salaam, peace—
breathed everything into being.

Each subsequent sacred encounter
was premised by a calming invitation:
“Peace, do not be afraid!”

… he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ John 20:22

So, we catch our breath
to welcome peace into troubled minds.
and with each deep draw, invite peace of heart.

Now unencumbered,
we become available to the embrace of Shalom—
peace not sourced in us, that offers rest for the soul.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief
. Wendell Berry

In its fullest sense,
the deeper peace for which we ache,
describes a wholeness wider than the cessation of conflict or confusion.

Such shalom is the expression
of our innermost desire for completeness,
uncovered in the righting of our relationships with life.

The impeded stream is the one that sings. Wendell Berry

Holy Peace has yet another dimension.
It can appear, be extended and shared, in times of distress.
When most needed, it is drawn out of us.

Consider a time of trauma:
when hard news breaks over you; difficult decisions must be made;
loved ones leave; life’s end looms.

Shalom is also the unexpected consolation amid desolation;
serenity in turmoil; calm in the eye of the storm;
peace that breaks out in broken-openness.

When it was evening on the first day of the week, and the doors were locked for fear of the authorities, Jesus came in, stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he showed them his hands and his side. John 20:19-20

Like a fresh breeze, Christ breaks through
to blow our minds,
and baring his wounds, bestows a renewing Spirit.

We address distress—
inner turbulence as well as outer troubles—
by invoking the life-breath of a new creation.

Jesus promised disturbing peace—
not bolstered by systems of power or security—
stillness rooted in the Presence of providence and mercy.

The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Abraham Heschel

Christ-peace becomes
the embodiment of nonviolence;
with all mind, heart, soul and strength.

Followers of Jesus are committed
to the wounded Christ,
who breaks into our midst to disturb us from complacency.

And shalom involves a willingness
boldly to bear
the costly consequences of nonviolent living.

Breathe through us Breath of Life,
Your peace makes us new,
so we can love as you would love
our friends and enemies too!

joe
Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

A Heart Contrite

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

…the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little. Luke 7:47

Seeker
Can you recall a time when you begged or extended forgiveness?

Reconciliation requires a heartfelt admission;
the expression of our failures and complicity,
with a desire to be made whole and make amends.

Healing happens as we welcome fallibility,
embrace incompleteness, and open a window
into what it is to be human, what it means to be holy.

Our human grace is not that we are creatures of God, not even that we are image of God. The ultimate divine foolishness… is that we are children of God. Wilfrid Harrington

Among the hardest, most sublime experiences
of my life as a parent are those times
when I’ve had to ask my children for forgiveness.

Though we make every effort
to teach our children to make apologies,
earnest expressions of regret remain rare and rigorous.

Have you known
that burn of remorse
when your actions or failings wounded the ones you love?

Yet precisely here
are we presented with a powerful opportunity
to demonstrate depth of love for one another.

It is equally as difficult, and just as holy,
when our parents, in their frailty,
turn to us for forgiveness; laying bare their inadequacy.

Have mercy on me, Holy One,
according to your unwavering love…
Psalm 51:1

Remorse aches for release.
Churning and burning, it pains us
when it is suppressed.

Despite all attempts at control,
the breath quickens, the voice quivers, the hands tremble;
we flush at naked honesty as warm tears leak.

These are but physical presentations
of a sacred condition brought on by unburdening regret
before a spouse, a friend, a child, a neighbor, an enemy.

When we beg forgiveness,
we reveal our truth
as wayward, willful, wonderful children of the Holy One.

Daring to unmask our innermost
by setting aside self-assuredness
requires real courage.

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken, contrite heart, O Holy One, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:17

Who can refuse
wholehearted contrition.
It is the lever that flings wide the floodgates of mercy.

Transformations, personal and social, are sourced
in contrition and remorse;
so speak the prophets.

Let us be dissatisfied until those that live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Martin Luther King Jr.

Good News announces
that our merciful Maker is met by the embrace of enemy love
in the midst of muddled, messy, misguided lives.

This world yearns
for forgiveness
to melt us, restore our relationships, refashion our lives.

When we submit to such a forgiving Spirit,
defenses tumble, self-righteousness slips its moorings,
frigid bitterness thaws and newness emerges.

Create a clean heart in me, O Holy One, and put within me a newly righted spirit. Psalm 51: 19 0

Contrition; succumbing to grief,
seeking forgiveness;
spikes sorrow’s bitter draft with heaven’s sweet tang.

Whether it is for the desecration of hilltops, the desolation of shantytowns, the distractions of consumption, or the neglect of neighbors, contrition recasts us all in the fire of forgiveness.

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Now available, November 2019, A New Book by Joe Grant

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

Lost and Found

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. Luke 15:6

Seeker,
Who looks out for you?

We need not look far and wide
for the Source of Being, around and inside;
for Presence relentlessly seeks us out.

The surprise of salvation is that we are healed;
pursued by Mystery,
found in forgiveness,

by an ever-patient Presence who,
unperturbed by waywardness,
tenaciously tracks us down.

Whence could I flee your Spirit or escape your Presence? Psalm 139:7

For a time, we might cast ourselves
into the chasm of mass distraction;
thinking to be unreachable.

For a while, we might let our souls be held captive
by the shadow-play of plasma screens,
or gorge on sound-bite reactions to life’s tragic wonder.

But, in due time, even here,
joy can unseat us, mystery unsettle us,
pain up-end us and forgiveness find us out.

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

Every seeker understands
what it is to be found and found out;
sought and caught out by life.

Those on a quest
are content to be enticed into unknowing
by penetrating questions.

And the lonely soul
finally finds home
by welcoming others.

Whomsoever welcomes you welcomes me, and welcoming me, welcomes the One who sent me. Matthew 10:40

Should we allow ourselves to be found,
we might receive and radiate mercy;
becoming beacons in the densest night.

We cease pursuing a separate “Other”
when we are entangled,
caught up in the hurting-hope of a sister or brother.

All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.

Francis Thompson

New-found by forgiveness,
the hungers of the sorely afflicted
unshackle us from spiritual self-seeking.

Forgiving brings us to our knees,
not to beg but to revere,
to let ourselves be found, without trace of shame or fear.

Holiness is no longer hidden, except in plainest sight.
Joy kindles hearts
and hope hangs on every smile.

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts, where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. Thomas Merton

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