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

Quiet Disquiet

Photo by Joe Grant © 2020


Early in the morning, while still quite dark,
he got up, left for a quiet place, and prayed there.

Mark 1:35

{Concerning this critical time.
No-one is
immune to suffering.

As we wake up to the awareness that,
whether we like it or not, we are on a painful journey together,
isolation and distancing can feel like cruel medicine.

Yet, our collective suffering
can be a crucible of transformation
where social confinement becomes gestational.

For in the quiet disquiet
we can also make space to welcome a worried world
where so many suffer with us.

It is within disquiet, devoid of solution,
that resolution can coalesce,
born of suffering shared.}

Seeker,
Do you know you are loved? How do you know?

As ceaseless waves and booming surf,
while filled with agitation,
can also calm our anxious thoughts, our fussing and frustration,

so, even in our trying times,
when fraught with troubled task;
we still might find tranquility and in the quiet bask.

If we will be quiet and ready enough,
we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
Henry David Thoreau

We often speak
of background noise,
but fail to notice ambient quiet.

For every stirring sound or commotion
comes gift-wrapped;
soaked in all-surrounding silence.

In silence God ceases to be an object
and becomes an experience.
Thomas Merton

More than lack of noise,
pervasive sound-less-ness is the vehicle
for every breathed or bellowed expression.

Nor is such stillness
determined by or limited to
immediate surroundings.

Quiet is, more precisely, a disposition;
a state of mind and heart; a way of being;
a presence as much as a place.

No matter
where we locate our lives,
it is possible, though not always easy,

to welcome
silence amid clamor, stillness in agitation
and solitude in a throng.

How we present ourselves—
awake or unavailable– shapes how we perceive
and participate in the real.

Lead us from the unreal into the real. Upanishads

There is quiet within disquiet, and vice versa.
And the singular precondition for stillness is desire;
a readiness to attend it.

No amount of recitation and ritual
can draw us into quiet disquiet,
unless we are willing to be led.

Quiet presence opens minds,
readies hearts to receive, and makes accessible
love in the pause that punctuates each breath.

Love is the Holy One,
so any who reside in love
abide in the Holy One,
who likewise abides in them.

1 John 4:16

It is apt to speak
of “falling silent” as in letting go,
sinking or surrendering.

So vast, that dark noiseless blanket
we call “space,”
in which every vibration is carried, absorbed, dissipated.

Yet, falling into this quiet obscurity
we are re-minded of the whispered secret
that breathes us into being:

“You are beloved.
And so too everything in the arc
of compassion’s radiance is loved into being.”

The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whisper’d in the sounds of silence.

Paul Simon

We cannot erase disquiet.
The struggles and sorrows of living
are not background noise.

Love is also a verb;
momentum to disturb complacency
with passion that pains, burning as it heals.

Those aches, hopes, hurts—
gritty and global—
are not a side-show we can ignore.

So, drawn into quietude,
with heart attuned to that spot beyond thought
and the reach of answers,

may you listen through the clash of events
to the resonance beyond the strike,
and heed its silent plea:

Wherever disturbance, seek the still-point.
Wherever peace, look also for disquiet.
Wherever distress, make space for compassion.

joe

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