When you give a banquet, invite the people who are poor, broken, blind …
How do we live authentically in such divisive times?
When they were small,
our children would clamber onto our laps
each time we gathered at table.
whether familial or foreign,
inevitably leads to a table.
Sooner or later
factions and fighters
convene at this woody altar.
In our mindful moments,
we set a table in the round,
holding souls open, ripe and available.
Here we leave space for unexpected guests—
wisdom, awareness, perspective—
to sit with us.
I dare not erase disquiet.
Struggles and sorrows
are not just background noise.
Aches, hopes, hurts,
gritty and global,
that always appear
are not a side-show I can choose to ignore.
For love is also a verb;Joe Grant, Scratchings
momentum to disturb complacency,
passion that pains,
burning as it heals …
does not permit
but leans in,
to let in
life’s swelling symphony,
from birdsong to train horns,
sirens to serenades, protests to gunshots,
verbal disputes to quiet kisses.
In the Maker’s magnanimous lap,
whether troubled or tender,
both welcome and table are wide.
Here and now we can be,Carrie Newcomer
the beloved community,
There is room at the table for everyone.
At its core,
contemplative living presents
the disturbing paradox of restful unease.
Settling into stillness,
ready and reachable,
we become hospital to grievance as well as glory.
CompanioningJoe Grant, Scratchings
Lean close to listen
until heartbeats harmonize
and spirit song rhymes.
Awaken to those awaiting relief
in the wake of earthquake or storm,
or huddled in flickering candlelight after another massacre.
Listen to wails and worries of parents and children
facing illness and loss,
violent attack or repressive force.
Visualize yearnings for peace,
etched on faces
from every faith and holy land.
Here do we attend
to crisis and cries from creature kin,
across our tortured planet home.
And adding or opening new leaves,
we stretch the surface capacity
so all can hear what it takes to care.
In communion and commotion,
in celebration and reconciliation,
may we keep setting that table.
Companions cannot afford
to accept violations
Just as we carry within
some fragment of discord and turmoil,
so too we bear some measure of tenderness:
inclined to the torment and tears
of families dear, scattered afar and gathered near.
Don’t hide, don’t run,
but rather discover,
in the midst of fragmentation,
a new way forward:
a different kind of journey
marked by its fragility, uncertainty, and lack of definition.
And on that path
to hold these hands
that even in their brokenness create a new tomorrow.
So, as you in silence sit
to weep and wonder,
set a place for unexpected visitors.
WindsongJoe Grant, Scratchings
Tickled by a breeze,
solemn chimes softly chuckle
discord to concord.
Crack the door at your core,
let that wilder spirit sweep in
who turns all strangers back to kin.
Joe Grant is a seer and a sayer, a prophet and a poet. He divines the divine in the everyday stuff of life and speaks the essential truth that every place can be a thin place, every time Kairos time. Scratchings is Joe at his alliterative best, offering us a beautiful sacramental vision in which Spirit weaves us into a great, timeless community with each other and with the more-than-human world. This quiet, gentle, but powerful book is absolutely necessary medicine for our troubled times.
- Kyle Kramer, Executive Director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center,
author of Making Room: Soul-Deep Satisfaction Through Simple Living
(Franciscan Media, 2021)