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

Swept Away

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019


The wind moves where it will and though you hear it blow,
you know not whence it came or just where it may go. John 3:8

Seeker,
When has life left you thunderstruck?

We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and people; but it never occurred to me until this storm-day, while swimming in the wind, that trees are travelers …
They make many journeys, not extensive ones, it is true; but our own little journeys, away and back again, are only little more than tree wavings …
John Muir

In depth of night,
while multitudes slumbered,
a storm announced itself with thunderous rumble.

Muffled booms and far-away flares;
reminiscent of distant wars or gunshots and siren-strobe glares
in neighborhoods nearer; startled me awake.

Then came that wild wind,
to shudder at the door;
rain rattling the windows.

Fascinated by forces unleashed,
drawn out to the stoop,
I let the tumult steal my breath.

Billows of lifted dust,
betrayed secret scuttles of a wind
that swept the street and sprinkled the world wet.

Combing limbs and twigs
for their treasury of leaves,
cool waves cascaded down the street.

And how the trees, bent and quivered
before surrendering to the whipping surge;
giving in to the swell.

And how those gusts,
already broken over faraway woods, hills, homes,
now careened down cluttered alleyways.

Flashes and crashes
released torrents to cleanse the air,
turning streets into silty streams.

In the shadow of your wings shall I find refuge,
until the calamitous storms pass me by.
Psalm 57:1

How much change
is borne by storms
that refresh and rearrange the world.

What would life be without stormy weather,
and the seasonal transformations it brings;
those raining, rushing tempests that terrify and fascinate?

Must the necessary changes
of mood, character and culture
be birthed in violent catharsis?

Yet, how else would we know thrill and tremor,
and let loose prayerful sighs,
moans and gasps,

unless we dare venture into night
put our faces to the blustery wind,
and let our little lives be swept away by wonder?

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil…
Gerard Manley Hopkins

In the wake of ravaging climate catastrophe,
may you be moved to bring hope and healing;
and be some shelter in the storm.

May changing winds blow right through you,
liberating all that needs to be let go—
old grudges, care-worn complaints and stifling, cynical denial.

As you let go, may awe take hold,
to humble, delight
and coax the very breathe out of you.

And may you be stirred to your depths,
carried off by such joy and sorrow,
till you are “beside yourself” with awe at life’s mystery and marvel.

The storm-tones died away and… I beheld the countless host of forest hushed and tranquil, towering above one another like a devout audience. The setting sun filled them with amber light, and seemed to say, while they listened, “My peace I give unto you.” John Muir

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

Reachable

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019


Now is the fulfillment time, God’s Realm is within reach.
Mark 1: 15

Seeker,
How long is your life’s reach?

As a young man
I was blessed to live, for a time,
among tribal people in the Amazon rain-forest.

Once, the whole village
set off for a fishing camp
along a distant tributary.

In single file
we walked a narrow forest track
through swirling predawn mist.

Along the way women and girls
reached down with ease to pick up pods,
cracked open by monkeys and macaws.

Some of the Brazil nuts
they placed in baskets,
others they simply pushed into the soil.

All the while, high above us in each direction
tall trees converged into the distance;
a seamless canopy hung with Brazil nuts.

Suddenly it struck me;
as we walked, they were gently harvesting and planting
an endless avenue of lofty nut trees.

Later I was astounded
to discover that these trees
grow up to 150 feet tall and live for 500 years.

How far-sighted to consider,
when taking a walk, to guarantee a verdant store
of food and shelter for twenty generations to come!

So, I am left to wonder,
in the midst of my mundane tasks and travels,
what consideration I give to the latitude of life here and hereafter.

And what will remain
one hundred years hence,
of my life, loves and legacy?

I am one with the source insofar as I too act as a source by making everything I have received flow again. Raimon Panikkar

Whenever we make ourselves available,
receptive to reality unfolding,
we become reachable.

Oh to have hearts laid open,
till all the world spills in
and we feel at home with the wholeness of being.

What other purpose then for prayer,
but to dispel every illusion of separation
and delusion of division.

And rather than close eyes and ears
to the tides of these trying times,
constantly treading waters of distraction and distress,

we might surrender to the buoyancy of the swell
and be carried away by the sweep
of currents much broader and deeper.

Are we not all born to be visionaries,
made for mysticism,
shaped to receive, reflect and reverence?

God, whose love and joy are present everywhere,
cannot come to visit you unless you are not there.

Angelus Silesius

Prayerful presence then is at once a planting and a harvest
of simple, intentional invitations to life
that are always outreaching and open-ended.

Thus, looking out, over and beyond,
gazing further and deeper down,
prayer provides a corrective lens to collective nearsightedness;

extending our attention span
to bridge the chasm
of busyness and boredom,

befriending quiet
till softer sounds
become perceptible.

Such are the fruits of receptivity
to a Realm that is not quite beyond us
but over-washes us should we make ourselves reachable.

We wait in the quietness for some centering moment that will redefine, reshape and refocus our lives … Dost Thou understand what it is like to be caught between the agony of one’s own private needs and to be tempest-tossed by needs that overwhelm and stagger the mind and paralyze the heart? … For the long loneliness, the deep and searching joy and satisfaction, the boundless vision … we thank Thee. Howard Thurman

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

Life Unending

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019


Once an official asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what should I do in order to inherit life unending?’ Luke 18:18

Seeker,
How do you make time for love and space for life in the course of your days?

When the ancients became confirmed cultivators,
relinquishing their nomadic ways
to settle and sink roots,

they thrived on the miracle of soil and seeds
that give and grow through mysterious cycles of dying and birthing;
the endless transubstantiation of matter.

Our ancestors mapped this spiraling journey— mirrored in ocean currents,
seasonal rounds and meandering rivers— by the pilgrim passages
of sun, moon, stars, and the coursing migrations of herds, shoals and flocks.

Peak seasons of planting and harvesting, drought and deluge,
gave birth to rites and rituals that moor each community in the moment;
even as we all drift in the momentum.

But there is this rhythm
of how things grow that
we are privy to from
time to time.
Mark Nepo

Such primal expressions of moment and movement— still preserved and practiced by fringe-dwelling communities— seeded religious consciousness that inspired philosophical and scientific inquiry.

Yet, we continue to scour and contemplate
the inscrutable character and composition of time-space
through our pinhole of understanding.

So come the storms of winter and then
The birds in spring again
I have no fear of time
For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?
Sandy Denny

Like water trickling through
hands tightly cupped, we struggle
to grasp the fluid continuum of fleeting moments.

More than a succession of separate instances,
spliced into minutes and eons, our perception of time-space
is defined by the depth of our presence to each moment unfolding.

Once, an aged man brought a waistcoat to his tailor.
‘This belonged to my great-great grandfather,’ he boasted,
‘and for over two centuries the men of our family have worn it proudly.’
Astounded, the tailor replied, ‘But this vest looks brand new!’
To which the owner commented, ’Indeed, that’s because it’s had four new fronts and three new backs.’ ‘With so many repairs,’ the tailor mused, ‘this can hardly be the same garment.’
The owner contested, ‘Oh but through all those changes, the arm-holes have always remained the same.’

Throughout this ceaseless cycling— ever rising up and dying down,
cresting-collapsing waves of the fabric of time— if what remains of life
is the love space between and before us, then love itself is life unending.

There is LIFE longer by far than mine or yours.
There is LOVE deeper that we can all fall into.
There is an always-unfolding, ever-widening ripple of presence.

Every moment and every event of every(one’s) life on earth plants something in (their) soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of invisible and visible winged seeds, so the stream of time brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of (people). Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because (we) are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love. Thomas Merton

Since love makes space for life to flourish,
may you make time to marinate in the sacrament of this moment
and let the loving connections therein be revealed.

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

Lost and Found

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. Luke 15:6

Seeker,
Who looks out for you?

We need not look far and wide
for the Source of Being, around and inside;
for Presence relentlessly seeks us out.

The surprise of salvation is that we are healed;
pursued by Mystery,
found in forgiveness,

by an ever-patient Presence who,
unperturbed by waywardness,
tenaciously tracks us down.

Whence could I flee your Spirit or escape your Presence? Psalm 139:7

For a time, we might cast ourselves
into the chasm of mass distraction;
thinking to be unreachable.

For a while, we might let our souls be held captive
by the shadow-play of plasma screens,
or gorge on sound-bite reactions to life’s tragic wonder.

But, in due time, even here,
joy can unseat us, mystery unsettle us,
pain up-end us and forgiveness find us out.

The meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era. Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. Abraham Heschel

Every seeker understands
what it is to be found and found out;
sought and caught out by life.

Those on a quest
are content to be enticed into unknowing
by penetrating questions.

And the lonely soul
finally finds home
by welcoming others.

Whomsoever welcomes you welcomes me, and welcoming me, welcomes the One who sent me. Matthew 10:40

Should we allow ourselves to be found,
we might receive and radiate mercy;
becoming beacons in the densest night.

We cease pursuing a separate “Other”
when we are entangled,
caught up in the hurting-hope of a sister or brother.

All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.

Francis Thompson

New-found by forgiveness,
the hungers of the sorely afflicted
unshackle us from spiritual self-seeking.

Forgiving brings us to our knees,
not to beg but to revere,
to let ourselves be found, without trace of shame or fear.

Holiness is no longer hidden, except in plainest sight.
Joy kindles hearts
and hope hangs on every smile.

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts, where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. Thomas Merton

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

By Mercy Undone

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

Go, learn what this means, ‘It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.’
For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.
Matthew 9:13

Seeker,
When so many jockey for privilege and position, with whom do you locate your life?

In Haiti they say:
We see from where we stand.
So, how we stand, and with whom becomes critical.

By-standing is not the same as with-standing,
and understanding is the fruit
of much more than standing still.

Humble solidarity with the castigated ones,
soaking together under mercy’s reign,
invites refreshing reconciliation.

For you, Holy One, are good and full of mercy,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

Psalm 86:5

We might, for a time, stay safe in our heads,
protected by sureties, shoring up opinions,
polishing personal perspectives on everything and everyone.

But sooner or later, seeping through the cracks,
mercy usurps personal preeminence
by exposing our failings and fallacies.

And, when we fall, as surely we shall, we all want mercy.
But first we must pay the admission;
stooping humbly through the low doorway to forgiveness.

What was cruel has become merciful. What is now merciful was never cruel. I have always overshadowed Jonas with My mercy and cruelty I know not at all. Have you had sight of Me, Jonas my child? Mercy within mercy within mercy.  Thomas Merton

Perhaps this is why mercy feels cruel.
Fractured by failure, deluded by disappointment,
we are forced to face pain, darkness, and chasms too deep.

Our calloused hearts chafe
at compassion’s unction,
as they soak and soften in sorrowful grace.

Debilitated or dispirited
by burdens beyond us
we bend, and like the children we always are, we cry out.

No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, so much the greater must be the love. Pope Francis

When life breaks down,
love breaks out,
mercy over-sweeps us and we are worn permeable.

If this has not yet
happened to you,
mercy might be long overdue.

There are circumstances that must shatter you; and if you are not shattered, then you have not understood your circumstances. In such circumstances, it is a failure for your heart not to break.
Leon Weisseltier

Lord have mercy,
on the land, and on the air.
Christ have mercy, on creatures everywhere.

Christ have mercy on my sister, on my brother.
Lord have mercy on that strange
and most blessed sacrament of the other.

So, if today you hear compassion’s call,
from your core (with courage) respond,
and, free to forgive, let yourself by mercy be undone.

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