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28 November 2010

Miscarried Hope, an Advent (I) Reflection

To what will this season give birth?
For what (whom) am I waiting?
For what do I long?

For hopes and dreams miscarried by disappointment.
The end of some lives, some hopes for life
washed out in a bloody painful flux.

Where is the promise of new life to take root and blossom,
in scarred wombs convulsing with the pains of miscarriage
parodying the pains that give birth to life?

And what of the empty wombs of barren women?
For what do they long and how will this holy season give birth to and for them?

Can the youth and fertility of one otherwise insignificant girl child restore us all?
Redeem us all?
Give life to us all?
Save us all?

I wait in the eclipsing darkness
shadowed by the light of a single candle
the deepest night with all its terrors is behind me
I feel its breath on my neck.

Before me is that single candle
and in its shadow

What will the next explosion of light reveal?

23 November 2010

Bread Not Stone

I asked for bread, not stone.
I am breaking my teeth on the rocks in my mouth.
The sharp edges of the gravel are tearing my throat.
I cannot digest these stones.
If I survive their passage, I will not be stronger.

I asked for a fish, not a poisonous serpent, scorpion or snake in the grass.
The poison fills me as soon as I open my mouth to shape the word "no."
There is no nourishment for my body or soul in this most unwelcome meal.

I am still hungry.

21 November 2010

George Herbert's Prayer

(I am at this point of my life wrestling with and in prayer and with - and perhaps in - God.)

PRAYER. (I)       

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
        Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
        The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner's towre,
        Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
        The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
        Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
        Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

        Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
        The land of spices, something understood.

Herbert, George. The Poetical Works of George Herbert.
New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1857. 61-62.

18 November 2010

Guest Post by Charlie Brown

I know I'm a joke.
Why don't I just give up?
Lucy is never going to let me kick that football.
I can't explain why I want it so much. Why I need it so much.
I just do.
I'm not unreasonable in my expectations.
I don't imagine that I will kick a game-winning field goal or even that I'll score.
I don't imagine that the crowd will chant my name or that the team will carry me off the field on their shoulders.
I don't imagine that the coach or my parents will be proud of me or that people will suddenly respect me.
I just want to try.
I just want to see what will happen.
If I fall and fail I want it to be because I fell and failed. On my own.
Not because you set me up to fall and fail. Again.
Or because I trusted you. Again.
And I keep trusting you. I keep falling for you. And I keep falling.
I keep getting back up because each time I believe this could be the time.
I'm not an optimist.
I'm a fool.
A desperate fool.
I just want a chance. An honest chance.
But Lucy will never give me one. She will never change. She will never be worthy of my trust.
I will always be the butt of her joke. People will always laugh at me.
But this time, she promises it will be different.
I have to trust her again, against all evidence to the contrary.
She's the only one who's even ever pretended to give me a chance.
All I want is a chance to try, to fail on my own, or maybe, just maybe...

17 November 2010

Control Freaks

I've been watching some truly heinous church politics along with many other in the Episcopal Church - the rage at Bishop Charles Bennison in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. People are enraged. The rage has been building for years, since his election and the promises he (allegedly) failed to keep. There have been a perpetual stream of failed attempts to remove him from office. The last one worked, for a little while. In our time, invoking the specter of a child sexually abused by a priest is sufficient to turn the tide in most cases. And so it was, for awhile, in spite of the fact that this young woman and her horrific experience were used in a long-standing (and simmering) vendetta against her will - again! And when the torturous legal process had run its course, the verdict was unacceptable to many. Then things got really interesting.
It is incomprehensible that to many that the final ruling went in support of the Bishop. The Church has affirmed and reinstated his ministry. And for many this is untenable. He must go. He must be made to resign. And in the best of the worst tradition of proof-texting exegesis, biblical missiles and missives have been let loose: "Let such a one be to you as a tax-collector." "Jesus preferred the company of tax-collectors." Bishop Bennison has been told, cajoled, begged and bullied. And he has chosen to stay.
As I watch the failed attempts at public shaming I am struck that some will never be able to accept a verdict with which they do not agree or an outcome that they cannot control. Control is at the heart of this sorry affair: control of the diocese, control of diocesan property, control of diocesan funds. No one can control this bishop. And the extremes to which his opponents are going to try and make him do what they think is right tells me that they covet his control and that of the church and that of God.
I am also struck by the intersections of wealth, class, race and gender in this struggle. I see it in part as a conflict of privilege. The very nature of white male privilege reinforced by wealth and class makes it essential for the self-identity of each side to dominate, subdue and ultimately control the opposition.
That the justice (just?) processes of the church have made a determination is irrelevant. Someone (else) has got to take control of this situation/bishop/diocese and make him/them do what I/they think is right. Because I/they speak for God and I/they should speak for everyone else as well. Why won't they/you listen to me/us/them?

16 November 2010

Turning a Page

Today I threw away some things that I had treasured:
words mostly, and also hopes and dreams and  unanswered prayers.

14 November 2010

A Heart's Desire

"The heart wants what the heart wants."
Can a heart be retrained?
Can it be taught not to want what it cannot have?
Can a person excise - or exorcise their own heart?
Can I live without my heart?
I cannot live with the one I have.

09 November 2010

We Are Job

We are Job. We suffer.
We have suffered and still suffer.
We have experienced unimaginable horror.
Why? God? Why?
A heavenly craps game is as good a reason as any.

There is so much brokenness, devastation and grief in the world.
The shrieking sounds of an ear-splitting lament cannot voice it.

The ancient Job demanded God give an account, testify, face justice, do justice.
I have different demands of the Whirlwind.

No more. I can't take it anymore. Stop. Leave me alone. If this is how you're going to treat me. Then abandon me. Neglect me.

Emmanuel. You are with us. In everything. In every thing.
What are you doing? While you are watching, what do you feel?
You know what we feel. We tell you. With and without words.
You hear us.

I keep waiting for the world to change.
I keep waiting for my change.

Job's God, where are you and what are you doing?

04 November 2010

I Dream A World

If my dreams are prayers...
If my dreams are prayers then I dream a world in which my deepest longings have come to pass.
But that is not all.
Some of my dreams are nightmares.
If my dreams are prayers then I also dream a world in which that which I fear most crashes through the safest space I can imagine.
Yet the world in which I dwell is neither the world of my hopeful dreams nor my frightful nightmares.
It is somewhere in between.
And I, I continue to dream.

02 November 2010

Prayerful Imagination

I did not know that my imagination could be a fruitful space to cultivate my prayer life. (Yet I dream and daydream all the time!) I was blessed with an invitation to use my imagination and my memory to create my own prayer space wherever I am. A prayer companion and spiritual director introduced me to an Ignatian practice of prayer.
It is amazing how visualizing a particular space calms me and opens me and soothes me.
I look forward to learning to pray all over again.