Wholehearted

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Photo by Joe Grant © 2018

… you shall love the Holy One with all of your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and with all of your strength …  Mark 12: 30 

Seeker,
What merits your wholehearted attention these days?

We are living through a time of extremes,
where the so much taken by so few
leaves too little for too many;

where understanding and forbearance
are held hostage
by fanaticism and fear;

where hateful brutality
comes garbed as religion,
and callous cynicism dresses up as freedom.

Yet, it is deeper into this disturbing wasteland
that we are beckoned,
to bare our hearts to a plea;

the keening chorus
of tenuous life,
sorely afflicted:

echoed in the churning storms
and crackling glaciers
of warming-wasted oceans,

amid the chafing cries
of God’s children cast adrift
on treacherous seas.

Within this refrain lives
the deepest longing
of Our Long-Suffering Lover- aching for healing.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.  John O’ Donohue

It begs us to leave hearts ajar
and comforts behind,
that would only harden the crusty edges of our care.

The wilderness of compassion hides seeds;
dry and dormant, anticipating catharsis—
the melting of hearts, the changing of minds and lives.

Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separated from.  Terry Tempest Williams

These packages of possibility hold blueprints for peace
that blossom with the merest inclination of reverence,
and precipitation of tenderness.

In a world such as this,
who has the courage
to be vulnerable first?

Who dares confront
untruths, terror and taunting
with the hot truth of tears?

Who is strong enough to be gentle,
willing enough to embody the paradox:
only the broken are made whole-hearted?

Vulnerability is the only reliable measure of courage.  Brené Brown

Though in her manifold dimensions
universe looks like chaos,
at her core mysterious, she is profound connection,

light itself, ever-outreaching,
craving communion—deep calling out to deep
in a singular cosmic sacrament!

Will you quiet your soul,
steady your voice,
and ready your loved ones for wholehearted living,

so that lovingly we might stand together,
before the haze of hurt and hatred,
misguided mockery and the reckless ruination of holy life?

It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too because it is a foretaste of heaven. When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them.  Dorothy Day

Will you weep and keenly wonder,
at the state of God’s good garden,
and wounded humanity—body-broken of Christ?

Wholehearted living— compassion practiced—
is a narrow gate into Mercy’s expansive realm
that evaporates separation to draw us tightly together:

the dominated with the divided,
the gated with the segregated, the distracted with the discounted,
the privileged with the persecuted people of God,

together at last
under the cross we all bear,
brimming with pains and joys we can share.

joe

Last and Lasting

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Photo by Joe Grant © 2018

Come unto me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble-hearted, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.  Matthew 11:28-30

Seeker,
What do you leave behind for those coming after you?

As I grow down, creaking and groaning,
I find my (much-diminished) self,
ever-closer to the ground.

Bent a bit,
and increasingly inclined
to question rather than resolution,

I am more at home
with the lyrical than the literal 
in any and everything: rhyme without reason.

Truth, that once seemed
to fit so neatly
into my travelling haversack,

seems so much larger,
that I can no longer
get my heart, let alone my arms, around it.

Still, wisdom comes to visit,
gracing my committed incoherence
with room enough for wonder and woe to cohabit.

As tears flow more readily than reasons,
explanations evade me for the monstrous misery I witness;
swept away in a deluge of compassion.

What to tell my dear, growing-up children,
after over half a century of wondering and wandering;
looking back more frequently than ahead?

It sounds so simple and simply too hard;
that love is where they came from
and all that keeps us going.

as we live in the light and the love of those
who came before us…
…we will be remembered
in the way others still live, and still live on, in our love.  David Whyte

And, with the evaporation of absolutes
in the harsh light of mercy,
judgement and dogma dissolve.

Though I can’t quite put my finger on it,
I think, somewhere I must have surrendered;
lost or let go these last illusions of control.

How frightening, to be so free;
lightly-burdened;
co-responsible for everything, yet in charge of nothing.

Could this be
the uncharted territory I always sought, 
while playing in the safe confines of the sandpit?

What now remains— last and lasting—
before the long slumber                                                                                                         envelops for good what stood for me.

Now, daily to marry grateful wonder with woe,
and find, in that blessed arrangement, stepping-stones
to help in my stumbling toward the wholeness called well-being.

May it be so for you, fellow pilgrim,
as you make your way home,
much more deeply into here; far less concerned with hereafter.

And in your seeking, may you be found
and found out, as a wise fool, whose supple heart,
cleaved by loss and love, may never close to mercy and mystery.

Rest and be thankful!

joe

Stranger’s Keeper

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Photo by Joe Grant © 2018

And will God not grant justice to those who cry out day and night, or delay long in helping them? I tell you, God will grant them justice and swiftly.
But, when the Chosen One does come, will they find any faith on earth? Luke 18:7-8

Seeker,
What will you tell your children’s children about these tortured times?

   The other day when Christ came by
   holding her mother’s hand,
   at the river’s edge she started to cry
   on the bridge to a promised land.

When love of the law
supplants the law of love
soulless bureaucracy blossoms.

As the faceless tyranny of legalism,
tears at the roots of co-responsibility,
it seeds an illusion of powerlessness.

What is legal usurps what is moral,
conscience is conveniently circumvented,
ideology is idolized in fluttering emblems.

And anthems proclaimed, 
with boast and bluster,
proudly belie their sullied ideals.

Calloused hearts are always cultivated;
rubbing salt into raw crevasses
that keep us torn apart.

All the while, the fate of our little ones
dangles dangerously
on the fickle whim of sentiment.

How can we not see the face of the Lord in the face of the millions of exiles, refugees, and displaced persons who are fleeing in desperation from the horror of war, persecution and dictatorship?   Pope Francis

Yet held within “compassion”
is our “compass”,
and without it we quickly lose our bearings.

As there are always
profits in persecution,
so too are there prophets who speak for the children.

There is nothing more damaging to unanimity,
than the heartless disregard
of any soul estranged.

For this stranger’s guise
the wounded Christ must use
to pierce our armored hearts.

And once again the crying Christ-child 
unmasks the naked lie of inhumanity,
robed in imperious authority.

   In the clearing arc of history
   who will you choose to befriend:
   hand in hand with control and command
   or lowly-led by childlike care, to welcome, love and mend?

The wolf with the lamb shall live,
the leopard with the young goat shall recline,
the calf together with the lion and the yearling,
and a little child shall lead them.   Isaiah 11:6

joe

 

 

Love Hurts

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Photo by Joe Grant © 2018

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down your life for your friends.”

John 15:12-13

Seeker,
When have you truly loved?

There are places
on our precious planet
that never fail to move me.

There are people in my life
I like and admire,
who always seem to inspire.

There are tastes,
sights, sounds, activities
that give me joy.

I might say “I love”
these, places, people,
things to see and do.

What I mean is;
they bring pleasure,
fill my days with delight.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8

There are also places
I avoid, people I fear
and deeply dislike.

There are realities
in our world I despise;
differences, difficulties, I cannot reconcile.

There are transgressions
in my life that are shameful; 
experiences I am unable to accept; abhorrent actions and attitudes.

Try as I might,
I cannot escape
these distressing aspects of life.

Yet, there is another, disturbing dimension; 
a level of connection, a place of encounter,
embrace and engagement.

This state of being;
beyond like or dislike;
defies adequate description.

It lacks those hardened boundaries
that keep reality at arm’s length:
objective, separate, manageable.

What we call LOVE
is so often misrepresented, 
so broadly misunderstood.

I look into your eyes
which are sometimes green and sometimes gray,
and sometimes full of humor, but often not,
and tell myself, you are better,
because my life without you would be
a place of parched and broken trees.  Mary Oliver

Here is a costly truth,
learned by letting LOVE take me out of bounds,
across lines of affection and disaffection: LOVE hurts!

This does not mean we allow
people to abuse or exploit us or anyone.
Suffering-LOVE neither quails nor quivers!

It boldly demands that we listen,
let life look us in the eye, 
and see our true selves mirrored in our care.

Suffering-LOVE dismantles barricades. Where there is a barrier—
“This far shall I love and no further!”— we remain within the limits of affection,
protecting ourselves from LOVE’s harshest truth.

Suffering-LOVE is a liberating force.
It neither clings nor holds captive.
It is expressed only in raw release.

Everyone, everything we love, we must let go.
We know how deeply we love —something, someone, our lives—
in that moment and wrenching act of letting-go.

The deeper the LOVE,
the more devastating
the letting-go.

Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. Fyodor Dostoyevski

At this poignant-painful point
of relinquishment,
we enter the blissful-broken heart of our Greatest LOVER:

the Most Moved Mover,
whose essence is life-giving,
liberating, suffering-LOVE.

Now at last can we know
how the Holy One feels.
May it be so for you.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:16, 18

joe