The Blessing Way

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

And Mary sang:
My innermost being magnifies the Most High,
my spirit rejoices in the One who heals,
who has lovingly looked upon the lowliest of servants.
From now on, all generations will call me blessed …
Luke 1:46-48

What might it mean to be blessed and to be a blessing?

Years ago, while overseeing intake
at a women’s shelter on a frigid Chicago night,
I broke the chilling news that there was no more room.

Painfully, I instructed
the waiting line
to seek warmth elsewhere.

When offering direction to a bundled woman,
she extended an icy hand,
exuded a warm smile and thanked me.

With unexpected calm,
she addressed my distress
by declaring: ‘It’s alright, not to worry, I am blessed!’

Bemused and disturbed,
I watched her shamble off,
down the windswept city street.

With nowhere to lay her head, how can she be blessed?
While daily, I am undone by mundane frustrations,
she, with just cause for indignation, chose to bless.

The Beatitudes are a set of descriptions of a free life … When you can weep, when you can identify with the little ones, when you can make peace, when you can be persecuted and still be joyful; then you’re doing it right. Richard Rohr

Among the oft-quoted, least heeded of Jesus’ teachings,
the Beatitudes describe poor, grieving, gentle, forgiving, clear-hearted,
justice-minded, peaceable, persecuted folk as the blessed ones.

Such wisdom upends our understanding
of what it usually means to be graced
blessed, lucky, fortunate, charmed, happy.

Driving home his disconcerting doctrine,
Jesus added the mandate to bless all who curse us
and love any who would call us ‘enemy’.

Can we place ourselves among that tribe of poor,
mourning, meek, merciful, peace and justice-hungry people?
If not, we may be looking for another brand of benediction.

The blessed are not the sure, sinless, successful, or well-liked;
but the little ones who live and love out of a foundational sense
of complete interdependence we call grace.

Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder. For the gift of our unearned right to serve, to adore, and to fulfill. It is gratefulness which makes the soul great.
Just to be is blessing. Just to live is holy.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Blessing expresses both our motivation and life-orientation.
When we bless, we are not making holy.
We are simply declaring what is already, always sacred.

There is much in life we cannot alter;
brutality and hatreds that tear us apart, and pains we cannot take away.
Still, we can choose to bless, come what may!

This blessing power is a love-force, available to all,
and capable of transforming how we perceive
receive and relate to whatever comes our way.

Blessed child of earth and sky,
your life is precious, holy, always sacred,
and so is every other.

Only those who know their blessedness
can be a blessing to others.
So, blessed child of the Holy One, may you live up to your name,

joe
Find me on Facebook and Instagram: @InTheStormStill

Now available: A New Book by Joe Grant

Ever Ready

Photo by Joe Grant © 2019

Be dressed and ready with your lamps lit. Luke 12:35

Seeker,
What do you need to put down in order to be ready to receive?

In contrast to drowsy relaxation,
contemplation is readiness in its heightened state,
as in: Ready! Steady! Wait!

For, in any given moment,
grace makes an unassuming appearance
should you be quietly alert, poised and ready to receive her.

Such attentiveness
allows prayer to blossom into undivided presence—
being ‘now’ and nowhere else.

Here wonder erupts and sweetly ripens—
fruit of radical hospitality—
into that eager desire to unwrap the surprising present.

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
Absolute unmixed attention is prayer.
Simone Weil

Stooping to examine the fruits of presence
leads to grounded living—
being intently focused and wholly here:

captivated by majesty
devastated by tragedy, inspired by miracles,
moved by mystery.

My heart is ready, Holy One, ready is my heart;
I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul!

Psalm 108

As awareness deepens,
we reach out to be touched
and the saturated moment overflows into blessing.

Benediction broadens
when hearts stretch and minds open,
allowing generous kinship to widen.

All things are ready, if our minds be so. William Shakespeare, Henry V

When abundance peaks
through this gracious embrace of life
we enter the sanctuary of awe.

Now, reverence weaves a silence
that melts into gratitude,
uncapping an infinite well of great fullness.

And gratefulness is just the prelude to joy.
No joy without gratitude.
This surest sign of Presence cannot be manufactured.

I will give thanks to you, Holy One, among the peoples,
and I will sing praises to You among the nations.

Psalm 108:1-3

Innate inquisitiveness beckons us to look more deeply,
to savor and connect with life,
which further fuels amazement.

Such curiosity—caring enough to inquire—
is a natural trait of children, whose ready openheartedness
earns them primacy in the Realm of the Reachable.

‘I tell you truly, whoever does not receive God’s Realm like a little child will never enter it.’ And he embraced them, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16

On the other hand, disassociated living—
conceding to the rote and routine of acting and reacting—
is soul-sleeping sickness.

Relentlessly cruising from task to task—
reaching for the next, bypassing the now—
life over-washes yet fails to rouse us.

There are multiple realities surrounding me
and I know that I must keep the eyes of my heart open
to allow all of existence to be.
Catherine Garland

Even a scintilla of presence
can draw the heart’s inquisitive eye
and spark wakefulness.

…for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says, ‘Awake sleeper! Arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’
Ephesians 5:14

How light to be enlightened!
We need only to let down our guard,
open our eyes and let in delight.

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