Friday, June 30, 2006

Thursday night moments

I was deeply blessed last evening
by a tender couple
who visited
to ask of my prayers
as they shared their story

the hours slipped by
one day ended
and another began

the words continued to tumble out
wrapped in pain
and confusion

there are some with whom our paths intersect
but with others
our paths are intertwined

and this is a tender thing
that must be respected
and honored
and cared for

and I heard again the Voice
of the One Who asks
that I tend the garden
of His chosen ones

a garden can only be tended
while on your knees

and I knelt before this servant of our God
to wash his feet

these feet that have traveled a hard road
and now carry the dust of the journey

these feet that have been cut and bruised
by the things of the journey

these feet that have become infected
by the poisons encountered in the journey

these feet that only desire to walk in an obedience
that would bring glory and honor to the One
who has asked of him
to walk

with each dropped tear
salt was added to the water in the basin

there is a history
there is the present
there is the future

with a wondering
if the child
is always
to the man

when going through inner pain
we must be careful to remain in trust
both Peter and Judas are in us

at dawn
our prayers became Presence
and we were held in the arms of God
resting in the heart of God
the heart of God resting in us

Thursday, June 29, 2006

truth moments

thanks to Diane
for sharing this poem with me
the words written over 100 years ago
yet still ringing very loud

The Church and the World

The church and the world walked far apart
On the changing shores of time,
The world was singing a giddy song,
The church a hymn sublime.
“Come, give me your hand,” cried the merry world
And walk with me this way.”
But the good church hid her snowy hand
And solemnly answered, “Nay,
I will not give you my hand at all
And I will not walk with you;
Your way is the way of endless death;
Your words are all untrue.”

“Nay, walk with me but a little space,”
Said the world with a kindly air.
“The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there.
Your path is thorny, and rough and rude,
And mine is broad and plain;
My road is paved with flowers and gems
And yours with tears and pain.
The sky above me is always blue;
No want, no toil I know;
The sky above you is always dark,
Your lot is a lot of woe;
My path you see is a broad, fair path,
And my gate is high and wide,
There is room enough for you and for me
To travel side by side.”

Half shyly the church approached the world,
And gave him her hand of snow.
The old world grasped it and walked along
Saying in accents low:
“Your dress is too simple to suit my taste.
I will give you pearls to wear,
Rich velvets and silks for your graceful form,
And diamonds to deck your hair.”
The church looked down on her plain white robes
And then at the dazzling world,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled.
“I will change my dress for a costlier one,”
Said the church with a smile of grace.
Then her pure white garments drifted away
And the world gave in their place
Beautiful satins, and shining silks,
And roses, and gems, and pearls,
And over her forehead her bright hair fell,
Crisped in a thousand curls.

“Your house is too plain,” said the proud old world,
“I will build you a house like mine’
Carpets of Brussels, and curtains of lace,
And furniture ever so fine.”
So he built her a costly and beautiful house,
Splendid it was to behold;
Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwell there
Gleaming in purple and gold.
And fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the world and his children were there,
And laughter, and music, and feasts were heard,
In the house that was meant for prayer.
She had cushioned powers for the rich and the great
To sit in their pomp and pride;
While the poor folks clad in their shabby suits
Sat meekly down outside.

The Angel of Mercy flew over the church
And whispered, - “I know thy sin.”
The church looked back with a sigh and longed
To gather her children in.
But some were off in the midnight ball,
And some were off at the play,
And some were drinking in gay saloons;
So she quietly went away.

The sly world gallantly said to her,
“Your children mean no harm
Merely indulging in innocent sports,”
And she leaned on his proffered arm,
And smiled and chatted and gathered flowers
As she walked along with the world,
While millions and millions of deathless souls
To the horrible pit were hurled.

“Your preachers are all too old and plain,”
Said the gay old world with a sneer.
“They frighten my children with dreadful tales
Which l like not for them to hear.
They talk of brimstone, of fire, and pain,
And the horrors of endless night;
They talk of a place that should not be
Mentioned in ears polite.”

“I will send you some of the better stamp,
Brilliant, and gay, and fast,
Who will tell them that people may live as they like
And go to heaven at last.
The Father is merciful, great, and good,
Tender, and true, and kind:
Do you think He would take one child to heaven
And leave the rest behind?”
So he filled the house with gay divines;
Gifted, and great, and learned,
And the plain old men who preached the cross
Were out of the pulpit turned.

“You give too much to the poor,” said the world,
“far more than you ought to do.
If the poor need shelter, and food, and clothes,
Why need it trouble you?
Go, take your money and buy rich robes
And horses and carriages fine,
And pearls, and jewels, and dainty food,
And the rarest and costliest wine.
My children, they dote on all such things,
And if you their love would win,
You must do as they do and walk in the ways,
That they are walking in.”

The church held tightly the strings of her purse
And gracefully lowered her head,
And whispered, “I’ve given too much away,
I’ll do, sir, as you have said.”
So the poor were turned from the door in scorn
And she heard not the orphan’s cry;
And she drew her beautiful robes aside,
As the widows went weeping by.
The sons of the world and the sons of the church
Walked closely hand and heart,
And only the Master that knoweth all,
Could tell the two apart.

Then the church sat down at her ease and said,
“I am rich and with goods increased.
I’ve need of nothing; have nothing to do
But to laugh and dance and sleep.”
The sly world heard her and laughed in his sleeve,
And mockingly said aside,
“The church is fallen, the beautiful church,
And her shame is her boast and pride.”

The Angel drew near to the Mercy-seat,
And whispered in sighs her name,
And the saints their anthems of rapture hushed
And covered their heads with shame;
And a voice came down through the hush of heaven,
From Him Who sat on the throne,
“I know thy works and how thou hast said,
‘I am rich’ and hast not known
That thou art naked, and poor, and blind,
And wretched before My face.
Therefore from My presence I cast thee out,
And blot thy name from its place.”

(written over 100 years ago)

basin moments

our savior kneels down
and gazes upon
the darkest acts of our lives
but rather than recoil in horror
he reaches out in kindness
and says
I can clean that if you want
and from the basin of his grace
he scoops a palm full of mercy
and washes away our sin
Max Lucado

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

night moments

there are some who take the night watch
lean on Jesus' breast
and hear God's heart beat

while everything sleeps
drowned in silence and darkness
I live at the feet of God
enfolding my soul into his love
telling Him that I love Him
everything sleeps
no one knows of my happiness
nor shares it
I rejoice through the solitude of the night
in Your Presence
O my God

as He is
He was
He shall be
as He is
and was
the Eternal forever
so be it
the forever Eternal
so be it

having a question answered
seems a rather paltry thing
in comparison to having seen Him

the deeper my agony
the deeper I bury myself in the heart of my Beloved
and cling to His side
with ceaseless prayer
the cry of my heart to God
the expression of the deepest things in my heart

allowing God to take me by the hand
and lead me
not where I would wish to go
but where it is best for me to be

give me the grace to kiss Your footprints
with the tears You would have me shed
from my soul
from my heart

open wide the gates of my soul
let me lose
to sink into the contemplation
and love of You

it is not my lips
nor my mind
but my will that speaks
my will
spread out before my Father
presented before Him
laden with love
my soul holds itself tenderly
and lovingly before God

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

word moments

late last evening
I received a note from one
whose words have enriched my life
asking if she might share my words
with others

thus through the night
I continued to ponder

their meaning
their impact
their sound

like hands

words can bless
and can kill

can birth life
or bring death

as a speaker needs a listener
a writer needs a reader

words need to be heard

words are important
without them our actions lose meaning
and without meaning we cannot live

words are also dangerous
when our words come too soon
and we are not yet living what we are saying
we give double messages
making us hypocrites

there are some who define themselves by a single word
becoming one dimensional
without the fullness of all the other words
that make up who they are

words can carry love on their wings
a word of love
can be the greatest act of love

my life is shaped
made whole
by words

sometimes it is necessary
to be absolutely silent
to hear the sound of a most beautiful word

the Word became flesh

if the baby in your womb

does not leap

when you are with the people

who surround you

you are surrounded by the wrong people

Monday, June 26, 2006

together moments

today I spent some moments
with a friend
who is traveling through a season of grief
and mourning

loneliness accompanies him these days

we all manage to find words to express our sympathy
but sadly there is often a hesitation to visit
to touch
to listen

and I wonder if it is because
there is a fear of tapping into the unknowns of our own depths
if we come too close
and touch someone else's pain

is there a wondering
how we
will travel this road
when it is our turn

and so we avoid
turn away
from walking alongside someone else
presently in the journey

sometimes words alone are not enough

and when together
sometimes words are not needed
just simply the touch of a presence

our bodies are part of a body of people

in the midst of grief
we need to come together
to celebrate
the life
in one another's house

Sunday, June 25, 2006

garden moments

OK -
so to anyone who might stumble across this
and read it
I ask your forgiveness in advance
because I am simply going to brag about my kids

both kids, their spouses
and our two amazingly beautiful grandsons
have been with us for a few days

everyone has just now pulled out of the driveway
and if I do not write this all out
I will just sit and cry .......

the kids arranged
for an afternoon
when we would be surrounded by
family and friends
in our garden

and in the midst of the eating, talking and laughing
our son
and our daughter
stood side by side
spoke what was in their heart
and shared some memories

and for us to hear these words
see the tears
feel the laughter
and warm love of our friends
was very precious

and all this has so underscored
the absolute fact
that it is not anything material

it is the touches
through the years
that tie one to another

I so quickly got used
to the sound of tiny feet
running up and down the stairs

tender voices calling
where are you gramma

the table ringed with faces
and groaning slightly under the abundance of food

the house right now seems weirdly silent

there is a ton of laundry
and dishes
and cleaning

and yes, the never ending packing

all to be done

but right now
I just want to share
how blessed I am

how loved I feel

how content
with the knowledge
that no matter what lies around the next corner

I am encircled
by amazing children
rich and tender friends

and all of us together
hemmed in by the love of our Lord

the moments
of the last few days
will carry me

Thursday, June 22, 2006

disorienting moments

it recently dawned on me that
I might have to change my inner thought patterns
start believing possibilities that I wouldn't have allowed before
that I had been closing creativity down to a very narrow, controllable scale
that things had become too familiar
and I might have to disorient myself

we try so hard to keep the waters of our lives still
keep the sand settled on the bottom
but when we are faced with an obstacle
maybe what we need to do is release our careful grip
and allow ourselves to be disoriented

behind the facade of the familiar
strange things await us

familiarity enables us to tame
and ultimately forget the mystery

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

question moments

every question possesses a power
that is lost in the answer

man asks
God replies
but we cannot understand His replies
because they dwell in the depths of our souls
and remain there until we die

and so I pray to God
for the strength
to ask Him
the real questions

when the questions
and the answers

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

wounded moments

some moments were unexpectedly spent this afternoon
in the presence of a deeply wounded soul
with a horrific story

there was a death of God in the soul
of a child
who suddenly faced absolute evil

those moments murdered God
and his soul
and turned all dreams to ashes

no longer even able to lament
existing without love or mercy

nothing but ashes

a false self is born when children are not loved well
or are rejected
or abandoned

a false self that suppresses or camouflages feelings
making emotional honesty impossible
with a tendency to live so everyone will admire you
but no one know you

it is possible to hide from one's true self
even through performance in ministry
rationalizing that if the majority of Christians think well of us
there is nothing wrong with us
and we stagger into each day
with an insatiable need for affirmation

hastening toward the end of our life
with the marks of disillusionment on our face

like a baby struggling for warmth

a withered tree
in a field of wheat

Monday, June 19, 2006

hands moment

I have been thinking a lot about hands over the past few days

hands are interesting
hands are unique
hands are important
hands are useful

no two hands are alike
but some are more different than others

hands can bless
hands can hurt

hands can hold
hands can crush

hands can caress
hands can kill

hands can hold your heart
hands can toss it away

hands can unite
hands can imprison

it was in 1995
when I first felt Jesus' hands
pulling me into Himself

He has spoken to me
a few times about the hands of others
but it is His hands alone
that hold me
I see Your hands
not white and manicured
but scarred and scratched
reach out
not always to remove the weight I carry
but to shift its balance
ease it
make it bearable
if this is where You want me
I'm content
no, not quite true
I wish it were
all I can say in honesty is this
if this is where I am meant to be
I'll stay and try
just let me feel Your hands
give me strength
and that flicker of light
the warmth
that says You're here

Thursday, June 15, 2006

thursday moment

the world flows over my soul today
and I am burdened
for the ones who sit in a pew
and for the ones who stand
before the ones who sit in a pew

many whom God has
the church does not have
many whom the church has
God does not have

there are churched unbelievers
those who attend a place of worship
but remain untouched by the Truth

the one most strongly gifted for ministry
will not rise to the top
but sink to the bottom
to undergird
and provoke
the rest of the people of God

it is a mistake to be at ease
with ease

a friend is one who loves another
into a deeper reality
Jesus knows from what mud I am fashioned
and as I pack my life into boxes
this truth
is where I find my peace
this day

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

wednesday moments

when we gather and talk about something good for our souls,
we ascend up and up
when we gather and criticize things
we drag one another down and down

the weather may change
but God does not
He didn't tell me to walk with Him
if the sun was shining
or if it wasn't raining
or if was a beautiful calm day
without wind
He simply said

the only man made things in heaven
are the wounds in the hands, feet and side of Jesus
the resurrection did not take away His wounds
they became part of His glory
just as Jesus was identified by His wounds
so are we

we cannot follow Christ very far without a wound
a scar

God can only meet us on the cross
and we meet Him there
by identifying with the One on the cross
it is by this identification
that God can meet us in Him

God came not to take our suffering away
but because He desired to be part of it

we need to earn the right to speak of God

one must be invited to the King's inner court

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

separating moment

it is difficult to leave friends and family
and deliberately practice the art of solitude
for an hour
a day
a week

parting is like a painful amputation
a limb being torn off
and yet
there is a quality to being alone
that is incredibly precious
and afterwards
life rushes back in richer
more vivid
fuller than before
and I am whole again

more whole than ever before

it is not a desert
or a wilderness that cuts me off from the people I love

it is the wilderness in my mind
the desert in my heart
where I wander lost
a stranger to myself

when out of touch with myself
I cannot touch others

there are times when shaking hands with friends
I feel the wilderness stretching between us

for me
my core
my inner spring
is best re-found through solitude

so many are frightened of being alone
they never let it happen

instead of planting our own dream blossoms
in the garden of our life
we choke the space with music
and chatter
to which we do not even listen
it is simply there to fill the vacuum
and when the noise stops
there is no inner music to take its place

in this life being alone is considered suspect
when one has to apologize for it
make excuses
hide the fact
but certain springs are tapped only when alone
and there is a need to learn to still the soul in the midst of its activities
in order to feed the soul

as the tide of life recedes
there is opportunity for a shedding of pride
false ambitions

the only real security is not in owning
or possessing
not in demanding
or expecting
not even in hoping

security is found in living in the present
and accepting it
as it is

there is joy in the now
peace in the here
and love in me
all part of the kingdom of heaven on earth

every single day
I make a fresh beginning
Jesus is a God whom we can approach
without pride
and before whom
we can humble ourselves
without despair
Blaise Pascal

Monday, June 12, 2006

balance moments

my challenge these days is how to remain balanced
no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull me off centre
how to remain strong
no matter what shocks come in at the periphery

perhaps the first step
is to simplify my life
cut out some of the distractions

but how

I cannot permanently inhabit the poustinia
I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life
nor would I want to be
I cannot totally renounce the world
nor can I totally accept it

there must be an alternating rhythm between these two extremes
a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion
between retreat and return

there is little empty space in my life
all space has been scribbled on

all time filled

so few empty rooms in my life
in which to stand alone
and find myself

too many activities and people and things
too many worthy activities
interesting people
and valuable things

it is not only the trivial that clutters my life
but the important as well

it is possible to have a surfeit of treasures
where one or two would be sufficient


I go to the beach
and become like the beach
today's tides erasing all of yesterday

I lie empty
choiceless as a beach
waiting for a gift from the sea

seeking that the outward
and the inner
be one

an inner
and outer harmony

seeking to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace
from which to function and give

to achieve balance in the midst
of the contradictory tensions of my life

to have a single eye

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

inside moment

last evening
some moments were spent in spontaneous worship
with friends who dropped in

there was one line
that stunned me
as it slipped out of a heart

"deep down inside
where the lonely creatures hide
I am afraid"

I have been arrested
by those words

and ponder their truth

for each of us

if we are truly honest
in the presence of our God
and one another

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

ordinary moments 2

today I was saddened to hear
of the sudden death of a friend's mom
and yet
while sad for my friend
and his family
I rejoice
that she is face to face
with her God
this God
who scatters His love letters
to us everywhere

weekend moments

many many wonder-filled moments
have filled the past five days

Thursday's breakfast on the Hill
a 28 year-old Ethiopian young man on my right
the vice consul for the Balkans on my left
a Spirit filled MP across the table
along with one of the local pastors
a Supreme Court judge
a Senator
a lovely couple from Iqaluit
and one of Canada's Native leaders

we had all gathered in the very early morning
on a rainy, rather dreary day
but the fellowship was filled with the Son

the speaker of the morning
issued a very strong challenge
to bring Christ back into our schools
back into the workplace
back into our courts
back into our legislation
back into our government

very sobering to watch the faces
of the parliamentarians
as they heard this challenge

then off to pick up friends
and take them to the lake

although somewhat grey skied
the trip was beautiful
the last descent down the mountain
seeing the mist hovering over Wolfe Lake
spotting the heron as we scooted around the edge of the lake
torrents of water pouring over the rock face

finding some of the roads washed out

walking through the woods
in the silence that comes after a heavy rain

noting the soggy flower heads
slowly turning upwards
towards the sun

the arrival of my son and his wife
coming to celebrate his birthday

looking on in fresh amazement
at this gentle giant of a man
and yet still seeing the boy within

steaks on the BBQ
as we watched the sun set

meeting friends who had come to pray
in the woods

coffee with our Austrian neighbor
and hearing of his winter mountain adventures

being surprised by the geese
as they slid across the water

the call of the loons
echoing all through the night

the lake perfectly stilled
hard to tell where the sky began
and the earth stopped

lost in studying the smile of the dragonfly
with their blues
and gossamer wings

being dive bombed by hummingbirds
when inadvertently crossing their flight path

wrapped in leaving emotions
as one by one our guests left
listening to the crunching
and swishing of each car
as it disappeared down the road

hearing the Silence
feeling the Presence
touched by the Wind

sitting on the rocks

and singing prayers over the water