Let the chaos be healed

A mighty wind swept over the ocean.  Genesis 1:2

Perhaps it is because I am deeply feeling the chaos of our world today (even in the midst of Easter songs)  that I have turned to the creation story from Genesis for my prayer.  A story can be a wondrous container for a truth that must be told.  The account of Genesis tells the truth of goodness in all creation.  The creation story portrays the love of a creative God lifting beauty and order out of the chaos.  Lifting life out of chaos!  God loves life!  Oh God, please lift it out again!

Be still  now and listen to the mighty wind sweeping over the dark waters.  Imagine that the wind is the breath of God.                                                                                                                                             The wind is  the spirit of God.  We have seen how the wind blows things out of old places into new places.

order coming

Slowly the light and darkness emerge.  The waters separate; the sky becomes visible.  The rhythm of day and night, morning and evening are revealed.   The dry lands and the seas appear.     And   oh that marvelous moment when things begin to grow.  The earth makes known  her potential to produce fruits, vegetables and all kind of plants–all because of the sun and the moon, the balance of light and darkness.  Sometimes we need God to help us lift a little order out of our own chaos. *Is there anything in you that needs to be blown of place?

Person holding planet earth

Loving Creator, in the midst of your creative work you tell the truth of how good it all is!

Easter songs of Alleluia  are beginning to cover the earth.

O Christ of all these songs, be in every word we sing.

Breathe over the earth anew and we promise

to breathe over the earth with you.



Blessing Your Ambiguities

How do we learn to bless the ambiguities of our lives?

They keep us company always even when we don’t acknowledge them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     There they are looking into the windows of our souls:

  • angst,
  • uncertainty,
  • doubt,
  • obscurity,
  • reluctance,
  • lack of enthusiasm,
  • ennui,
  • suspicions,
  • anxiety,
  • gloom
  • and perhaps there are some others you will want to name.




twilight hour3

  1. What’s foggy in your life right now?
  2. What is distorted and out of focus?
  3. How is your life disordered?
  4. Do you sometimes feel directionless?
  5. Does the path you must follow seem to deceive you?
  6. How do you bless the difficult and mundane moments in your life?


You bless these moments by naming and claiming them as part of your life.  You lean toward them with awareness.  Stare them down and discover their hidden goodness.  No matter how discouraged you may be, there is a piece of goodness in your life that you’ve not yet named.  Perhaps you’ve not named it because you’ve not discovered it.  It is, however, a part of you wanting to make itself known.  The monk, whose quote I’ve shared above is right.  There is something hidden in us and around us that can save us from the angst in our lives if we take the time to get acquainted with this hidden goodness.

We open up the pathway to our hidden goodness by allowing our attitudes to be healed.  We open up the pathway by practicing gratitude.  Gratitude often helps us perceive what is hidden.  Just as we listed our possible ambiguities,  let’s  take a look at our probable goodness.  These pieces of goodness are hidden only when we are reluctant to claim them:

  • courage
  • gratitude
  • faith
  • mercy
  • joy
  • hope
  • confidence
  • trust
  • determination
  • vitality
  • a sense of humor
  • generosity 
  • compassion


O Lover of us all,

 Open my eyes to the hidden goodness of life; my life and the life all around me.  Teach me how to make a home with my goodness rather than to set up tent with my ambiguities.                                  Encourage me to bless all of my life with your infinite love and presence, as I anoint even my discouragement so as to find my courage.                                                                                                     Remind me to anoint everything that it may know a new life.  

 May it come to pass!

WalburgaAbbey 070

To what are you nailed?

Almost every Lent I ask myself a question that I have begun asking ever since the day I read Gerald May’s book, Addiction and Grace.  The question is simply, How much energy am I giving to things that are not my true desire?  Another way of asking that question might be, What am I clinging to that does not give me life?




–meister eckhart

In each of us there is a treasure undiscovered, a love withheld, a light grown dim, a song unsung, an ego to which we cling.  There are things to which we are nailed.  In her wisdom, Mother Church, gives us the special Season of Lent to assist us in singing the Song of Life more fully.  During this season of growing up in Christ, I invite you to prayerfully search your life taking inventory of the things to which you are nailed.  Being nailed to something is not a freeing experience.  It is a way of living our lives enslaved.  We become our own captives.  The things we are attached to force us into captivity and enslavement.  In his book, Addiction and Grace, Gerald May reminds us that the word attachment comes from the old French, “attache”, meaning “nailed to.”  He suggests that attachment “nails” our desires to specific objects and creates addiction.

When we think of addictions what most likely comes to our minds are drugs and alcohol.  These, indeed, are two very common addictions that have stifled the seed of life in many people. For our Lenten homework, however, we are going to turn our thoughts to many of the things we are nailed to that we do not ordinarily consider addictions.  To help us in this soul searching examination I am quoting from Gerald May:

“Addiction exists wherever persons are internally compelled to give energy to things that are not their true desires.  Addiction sidetracks and eclipses the energy of our deepest, truest desire for love and goodness.  We succumb because the energy of our desire becomes attached, nailed, to specific behaviors, objects, or people.  Attachment, then, is the process that enslaves desire and creates the state of addiction. (Gerald May)    

                                                                                                                                                                                     The words on and surrounding the cross below represent things to which we might be nailed.  Meditate on the cross and ask yourself a few questions.


  1. Is there anything on this cross to which I am nailed?
  2. What words would I add to the cross?
  3. What are my deepest desires?
  4. Why do I continue to give so much energy to things that are not my true desires?


During this enriching season of renewal give yourself the gift of Listening.  Listen to the seed within you that wants to take root.  Listen to the love with you that has weakened.  Listen to the light that has grown dim.  Listen to the song that has remained unsung.  Listen to the nails that hold you on a cross of your own choosing.



SEEING your way into the new year


Surely it isn’t too late to say Happy New Year!  I know I’ve been dawdling; however the first month of the year, January, is still with us.  I hope it has been a good month for you.  As for me, I could handle a little more winter than we are having here in Arkansas.  Even though winter is my fourth favorite season I long to experience it to the full.   From the news,  I gather that some of you could do with a little less winter.  We don’t get to choose, do we?  The only thing we have control over is our attitude.  Or, do we?

I have a practice of choosing a word for each month of the year.  My chosen word for this month is see I was waiting for something more profound and lofty to come along but it didn’t appear.  The word ‘see’ perched on the rim of my glasses and refused to go away, so it has stayed and hopefully will spend a whole year with me–maybe even an entire lifetime.  So where is the power in this little word that holds such profound meditative qualities?  Practice SEEING  and you will experience the power.

SEEING is so much deeper than just looking.  It is more all-embracing, all-encompassing, uniting and enfleshing.  It is a way of beholding.  Many look but do not see.  To truly see, you must allow whatever it is you are gazing upon to enter the temple of your being.  It becomes flesh in you and you see the way God sees.  You are able to see as the poet and the artist sees.

I am almost sure that when Edith Wharton wrote the words below, she was seeing the new day.  She wasn’t just looking at it.  As I reflected on her words, a simple poem arose out of my own seeing.






….and now I say the same to you:

Open your window today.

Let it all come in: winter, spring, summer, fall

Meadows, oceans, sunrises, sunsets

Green leaves and blossoms, snow draped branches

Vineyards, mountains, hills, deserts

Rivers, lakes, brooks and streams

Joy, sorrow, excitement, discouragement

Hope, doubt, enthusiasm, courage, love

Grief, healing, compassion, tenderness

Strength, anger, vitality, delight, faith!

Let all have a place in the window of your soul.

open to the green

Drink in the day!


The joy of interconnection


Recently I had the opportunity to walk among the giant redwoods in northern California.  We drove through the Avenue of the Giants for about 32 miles, stopping occasionally to walk through the groves.   Gazing into the immensity of those branches to the tops of the trees and on into the sky beyond,  I suddenly felt infinitesimal small.  An experience such as this is difficult to name.  Although It brought tears to my heart I couldn’t seem to get them to my eyes.  Standing in such a magnitude of  beauty I realized there was no way I could adequately photograph it.  That would be like trying to take a picture of God.

Then suddenly I notice, at my feet, the lush green ferns that have grown out of the moist rich compost of dead trees and foliage.  In the forest everything is interconnected.  They are relatives.  It is so easy to be in awe of the powerful steeples of the giant ancestors and not even notice their small lush green relatives at my feet.  How often I do that in daily life.  Humility rises out of the ground and gazes on me with love.  I begin to realize that there is an unseen world right here at my feet made up of lichens, leaves, branches, cones, beetles, centipedes, rodents–more than I can name.



Now I begin to walk more carefully marveling at the community I am moving through.

 The joy of interconnection massages me and I feel OK about being small.

Fresh Bread

I try to be positive and hopeful in my writing for the most part but that doesn’t mean I am unaware of the massive files of sorrow in our world.  That is one of the reasons we need poets so much.  They seem able to breathe out hope right in the middle of horror.  A poem can be like a band-aid on a gaping wound.    In his book, Poet’s Choice, Edward Hirsch claims that he carries poetry like a flashlight.   Even in sad poems, he says, where suffering is one of the central elements, the majesty of poetry is that it works against the suffering it describes and restores us to what is deepest in ourselves.  (Edward Hirsch)    I totally understand what he is saying and I relate to the poem below:
And  in this frigid hour, when the earth 
Smells of human dust and is so sad,
I want to knock on every door
And beg forgiveness of I don’t know whom,
And bake bits of fresh bread for him (or her)
Here, in the oven of my heart…!
       –Cesar Vallejo,, “Our Bread”
bread offering
Me too! Those words are exactly my sentiments.  I want to forgive and be forgiven for any small part that I may be playing in the sorrows of the world.  In the oven of my heart, I too, would like to bake fresh bread and offer it to you and to the world.  I believe that in the midst of all the chaos, a new creation is in our reach and every day we are invited in some small way to be a part of the creating.
In one of her poems, Anna Akhmatova asks, Why then do we not despair?   The premise of this poem is that with so much that is torn, tattered, and broken, with so much violence and seeming hate there are other things to behold and remember:  the smell of cherry blossoms wafting across meadows, the blue birds return to nest building and the melody of songbirds, the return of the seasons, the stunning colors of leftover sun and so much more.  Although remembering these things does not negate the pain and brokenness, it is like a healing balm of hope to keep us from despair.  Perhaps you can break bread with someone this week, diminishing some of their anguish.

To Live Awake!


 “WHAT NINE MONTHS OF ATTENTION DOES FOR AN EMBRYO,                                                                                                                      FORTY EARLY MORNINGS WILL DO FOR YOUR GRADUAL GROWING WHOLENESS.”    –Rumi

My ‘forty early mornings ritual’ ends today and I have, once again, been caught up in the beauty of morning:

  •  the touch of pre-dawn  breezes upon my face
  • the new light falling softly upon the dark silhouettes of night,
  • the freshness of all creation
  • the sunrises,the raindrops
  • the foggy, misty mornings
  • the bird song
  • and sometimes the little crawling creatures on the ground
  • the gardenpath
  • grass still with dew
  • trees standing tall
  • Crepe Myrtle Bushes in full bloom

sycamoreBeauty2 IMG_0335


  • the sky with its’ hundred faces
  • the sunflowers looking towards the east
  • the hummingbirds at the feeder
  • my heart slowly awakening
  • everywhere I look: unnameable, mysterious beauty
  • Holy Mystery is your name.


And there was silence–especially when I walked into the pre-dawn morning when the stars were still visible.

And so, I will probably continue my morning ritual whenever possible.

 It wasn’t always easy to be there, and I missed a few mornings, but what I learned is that living awake is a sacramental experience.  I also learned, in some small way, that I must make every effort to carry my wakefulness into the new day.  

It is not easy to live awake!  It is, however, a noteworthy accomplishment to live awake!  When we are able to do so the people with whom we live and move and have our being will be richly blessed.  

The hem of God’s garment

The gospels offer us a fascinating story about a bold woman in need of healing.  She is so intent in her desire to be healed that she risks ridicule and misunderstanding.  In the midst of a throng of people clamoring to be near Jesus,  she pushes through the crowd wanting only to touch the hem of his garment and remain unseen.  Just touching the tassel of his robe was enough for her.  Jesus felt the power of healing go forth from him and asked that famous question, “Who touched me?”  It was a strange question to be asking in a large crowd hemming him in on all sides and his disciples let that be known!  Why did Jesus know that someone touched his hem?  He felt the power flowing—moving through him—and out of him.

We, too, can experience this power flowing out of us and into us if we but open our eyes to all of life’s happenings.  A gentle embrace is a power exchange.  Taking someone who can no longer drive, for a journey into the country is touching the hem of God’s garment.  Opening an orange for someone when their arthritic fingers will no longer allow them to do so is touching the hem of the garment.


The whole world is God’s garment.  When I move through the beautiful outdoor world these days as I practice my FORTY EARLY MORNINGS ritual I am amazed at how (when I am attentive) the Power of the One who created it all, moves out of each flower, each tiny creature, even from the very ground upon which I walk.  The secret of course is to live awake so that we can experience that gentle Christ-Power flowing out to us, then from us to others.

When I pause to really behold and even touch a tree it is like touching the hem of Jesus’ garment.   Try it and, like the woman of the gospels, believe that some small healing is taking place in your soul.


Practice touching the hem of God’s garment this week.  Be very conscious of how you hold things.  Somewhere in his vast array of writings Thomas Merton suggests that the saints preach and teach by the way they sit or stand, by the way they pick things up and hold them in their hands.  His words suggest reverence and total presence.  Although this sounds easy it is difficult to achieve.  Even so,  it is worth the practice–it is a spiritual practice.

hem of butterfly



“The fast pace of our lives makes it difficult

for us to find grace in the present moment,

and when the simple gifts at our fingertips

cease to nourish us,

we have a tendency to crave the sensational.”

-A Tree full of Angels: seeing the holy in the  ordinary

by Macrina Wiederkehr