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

From Grievance to Grief

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Matthew 27:46

Seeker,
What tears at your heart?

From cradle to grave
for intimacy we ache;
that something amiss that keeps us awake.

And at the heart of our lives
an abyss abides,
that nothing or no one can fill.

For we are made for connections
beyond the bounds of affection,
and the dearest nearness we can know comes in sharing our pain.

Unless we learn how to transfigure pain (ours and others), we simply transmit it. Richard Rohr

Passion, the hard kernel of compassion,
draws us into grief’s gloom,
wherein a Presence hides;

One whose closeness
feels like absence;
who hangs with us and hangs on in us.

Thus, in lament we find a home
in companionship with all
who find themselves in the dark:

whose bellies or lives are empty,
whose days are toil or boredom.
whose relationships are severed by decisions or distance,
whose minds are tortured or numbed,
who are drawn to despair or driven by distraction.

And when the Chosen One breathed his last,
his final wail on earth was a lamentation,
a cry for all of Creation.

My God, my God why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
Psalm 22:1

Most creatures vocalize their distress.
Born breathless, we all cry out.
When wounded, we moan and loudly weep.

Lament is the breaking point
where we give up on reason, resolution and retribution
to lose ourselves in primal keening.

And there is liberation in letting pain out.
A first step toward healing,
grieving that moves us to move on.

For lament decries the privatization of pain;
a shared expression of sorrow that saves us
from being marooned on the shores of desperation.

So, we accept the hospitality of mourning,
not as an act of resignation,
but as a cathartic stride toward determination.

Now beyond protest, accusation and indignation,
we are free to bear witness
to violations and suffering universal.

Choosing to hold, to behold and to be moved,
bearing witness allows us to take off our shoes,
and step, with souls bared, into the crucible of suffering-love.

History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

Seamus Heaney

In its honesty,
suffering shapes us
as it breaks and remakes us;

not those tribulations we endure and bear,
but that suffering love we choose to share.
For it is only the pain we cannot share that turns into despair.

Nor are we meant to pass the years, unmoved, unaffected, unchanged.
We are made to be marked, shaped, scarred, wounded,
and broken to be mended.

What else do we bear from here to hereafter,
but the lightness of the love
that has wounded us in ways terrible and touching.

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