Just Imagine

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020


This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

Mark 13:8

Seeker,
Facing recurring pandemics, what are we turning into and turning away from?

Before time and darkness—
awash in absence and no-thing-ness—
sacred imagination flared into explosive creativity.

All being is born of this mysterious Source,
for no thing becomes real unless first imagined,
and imagination craves a challenge.

The painful pause presented by global pandemic
provides a teachable moment
for the earth community.

Now, can we flex our fantastic capacity
for re-creative re-conception and entertain
un-imagined opportunities for restoration.

We have more power at our disposal today than we have ever had,
and yet we are more alienated and estranged from the inner ground
of meaning and of love than we have ever been.

Thomas Merton

When we attend to resonant wisdom within,
we discover we already have all we need
to make a new beginning.

Regarding Nature,
we are bathed in beauty,
inspired by her resilient resurgence.

Exploring creative connections
with isolated neighbors,
we discover the elixir of smiles and abundant kindnesses.

Humbly baring our souls
before the Mystery at the core,
we find our compass contained within “compass-ion.”

There is nothing like shared suffering
to bring us to our senses
and bind us back together.

This is the hour of change, and within it we stand quietly together on the border of light.
What lies before us? Where shall our hearts turn?
Shall we draw back, or shall we cross over?

Shabbat Prayer

Wondering how we might emerge,
we ready the way for re-creative imagining—
our first tentative step toward realization.

Personal preservation graduates into social responsibility
in turning our heart’s attention beyond the now
toward the next, and out to neighbors near and far.

Winnowing begins when we start
to sift out seed grain
amid the castings of what used to be.

Surely, we are not consigned
to gun-ridden dystopias
where hoarding mobs crush the vulnerable?

There are wars and rumors of war, poverty and plague, hunger and pain.
Still, the sap is rising, again there is the resurrection of spring, and the continuing promise to us that God is with us always, with comfort and joy, if we will only ask.

Dorothy Day

When imagination is fired,
illuminations enlighten, with eyes rinsed clear,
that promised possibility of a peaceable future.

We are not the source of illumination,
yet our lives and longings provide a lens through which
light and love are refracted, reflected, re-directed.

In difficult times, visionaries emerge
to point out possibilities
below the horizon.

Prophets are not gifted with foresight,
but with insight to illustrate
what is needed and what might be.

Boldly calling out inequity and injustice,
they also call us together to address
suffering with bold creativity.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

Arundhati Roy

Just imagine grassroots communities everywhere
reshaping themselves around
the needs and gifts of the most vulnerable.

Even as we gasp for breath,
we can begin to imagine
what a peaceable world might just be like.

Compassionate creativity is urgently needed
in a world suffering
from a catastrophic failure of imagination.

What can you imagine?
joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram@InTheStormStill
Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
A NEW BOOK BY JOE GRANT

Linked by Loss

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020

[In memory of Br. Luigi (Gino) Masseroni SX, a dear heart who succumbed to Covid 19 in Parma, Italy.]

Seeker, How have the losses you have endured leavened your heart with love?


My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Mark 15:34

As walls and barriers
become means of communication
and stumbling blocks turn into stepping-stones,

so too isolation
becomes a vehicle
for deeper levels of connection.

As silence and darkness
can isolate and insulate,
so too do they integrate us all under their pall.

As islands share the same ocean,
so too are we
all alone together.

As the wordless prayer,
released from the core,
speaks of depths that mouths cannot utter,

so those who are deeply in love
find ways and means
to communicate and connect.

Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link.

Simone Weil

Suddenly in shutdown we mourn
those easy opportunities to meet, gather, hug and hold
while we fast from the tender touch of human companions.

Consider the loved ones whose touch you crave,
whose presence is a sight for sore eyes,
whose smile a tonic for the soul.

And then, there are always those neighbors
(near and not so nearby) who are fringe-dwellers;
whose roof is a bridge, whose home a tent.

And we have kin in homes and centers
who are already familiar
with solitary days and lonely nights.

Now too
are we given some small taste
of the bitter boredom of incarceration.

By love, pain becomes healing.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī

There is no vaccine
to immunize us against
the pang and powerlessness of loss,

and isolation cuts
most deeply into those scarred souls
already sidelined by society.

The Christ said…
My hands need to touch you again,
my divine senses and eyes require
your soul’s beauty near.
Forgive me, my love for the suffering
our separation brought.

Thomas Aquinas

For in the largesse of loss,
are we not all intimately linked?
Therefore, we can grieve together.

Seclusion opens that silent space
in which we welcome a world of worry,
joining so many suffer with us.

And in this disquiet, devoid of solution,
resolution can coalesce,
born of suffering shared.

For without darkness
there can be no enlightenment,
without solitude, no true experience of intimate communion.

And might the perspective,
gained for distancing,
also invite us to re-imagine our collective lives

as our ache for togetherness
whets the appetite
for joyful reunion?

Spirit of the living Christ,
even in our darkest moments,
in the searchings of our mind,
in the longing of our hearts,
in the pains of our bodies,
we thirst for your presence.
And all around
the broken people and places of our planet
also thirst for you.
Enlarge our vision,
calm our hearts and walk with all
who travel the road of our worlds’ suffering and pain
.

Peter Millar

May separation
draw you into a deeper embrace,
in solitude and stillness at the eye of this storm.

joe

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

A NEW BOOK BY JOE GRANT

Embers of Wisdom, Glimmers of Hope

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020

You are light for this world.
A city built on a hillside cannot hide.
Nobody lights a lamp to put it under cover, but places it on a stand
to share its light with all in the household.

Matthew 5:14-15

When this darkness dispels
as all darkness eventually does,
we will emerge into a quite different world, thanks be to Thee!

For the culture that helped cultivate
the terrors of today
is not capable of truly dispelling them.

Lacking care and cohesion,
fractured interests and segregated systems,
fail to rouse, respond, reassure and inspire radical compassion.

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. William L. Watkinson

So, it falls upon each of us to kindle love’s light;
to quietly take the initiative presented by necessity,
and boldly don the mantle of moral leadership in critical times.

How we creatively and carefully respond,
even in forced isolation,
will define the kinds of people and communities that emerge.

This broken world is in our hands.
There is wisdom here to be mined,
lessons to learn, questions to pursue in the school of shared suffering.

This period of painful separation
invites us, in homes, towns and cities, to listen hard and long,
and pay our dues of attention to needs and neighbors.

In the crucible much is melted.
Molds must be made to forge,
shape and hold new ways of being human together.

In the fevered firelight
cruel lessons are revealed
teaching us just how interwoven we are with each and every other.

Share your experience with others.
Share joys and double them.
Share pain and cut it in half.

David Steindl-Rast

Plagues present paradigms. Pandemic need not lead to pandemonium.
In its wake we can awaken and respond
with a contagion of kindness and demands for just systems.

We live by hope that is ours to share.
In dark times our senses heighten.
We keep our eyes peeled, ready to be surprised.

There is a gift between
the lines of the news,
but we will have to dig for it.

We heed our fears, so we are not led by them.
We listen longer for deeper wisdom
that glows with hopeful promise that we can rewire this world.

For wisdom and hope appear
when we are sorely seeking and hungry,
devoid of easy answers or quick fixes.

Only in the dark do we perceive
the constellation of a trillion tiny acts of kindness,
countless blessings, heartfelt petitions.

Consider the heroism of everyday workers,
beacons of the human spirit who step into the dark
to guarantee light, food, health care, security.

As events unfold, in ways we cannot fathom,
we walk by faith, not knowing.
Since our story is not yet written, we look ahead for pathfinders.

And you are the spark that ignites a flickering lamp and lets us see again,
face to face, the holy light reflected in every other.
Since we are not abandoned, we must refuse to abandon one another.

And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.

Scottish Blessing

joe

Find me on Facebook and Instagram@InTheStormStill
Visit my website: inthestormstill.com
Latest book by Joe Grant:
https://shop.franciscanmedia.org/products/wandering-and-welcome-meditations-for-finding-peace