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26 December 2010

A Christmas Prayer

Holy Christ,
As the world commemorates your birth, 
I am pondering some things in my heart.
Holy Child of God,
The mystery of your birth bears witness to the power of God. 
Your Incarnation in the Virgin's womb changed 
life, death, space and time for all time.
This I know. This I believe.
Yet in many ways, the world is still the same.
Most Holy Woman-Born,
You came to us  and come to us in ordinary and extraordinary ways.
I still see you at work in the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Yet I would have much more of the extraordinary.
Holy Son of God and Son of Woman,
Your Incarnation, life-teaching and teaching-life, death and Resurrection
changed life, death, space and time for all time.  
Yet in many ways, the world is still the same.
Holy One of Life and Light,
Help me to see more of your power and presence in the world.
Holy One of Earth and Sky,
Help me to see the world beyond the world.
Help me to see the good that you see.
Help me to see the beauty that you see.
Holy Teacher,
Let me read your word 
in earth and sky, water and winter, hope and hurt.
Holy Shepherd and Shelter,
Let my work be your work. 
As you change the world,
let me be an agent of your change.
Let me see your work in this world.
Holy One of Love Incarnate,
Let me know your love for me at all times,
especially in times of doubt and fear.
Let me see your love in the world, in all the world,
especially in the places that seem most God-forsaken.
Let me be a vessel of your love to myself and to all the world.
Holy One of Old,
May the days between this Christmas and the next
find the light of your life in every dark place,
even in the corners of my heart.
Amen.

25 December 2010

Christ Mass: for Christ is born(e) of Mary

Did the woman say,
When she held him for the first time in the
dark dank of a stable,
After the pain and the bleeding and the crying,
"This is my body, this is my blood?"
(Francis Croake Frank, excerpt from Did the Woman Say) 
One child. One miracle. All children are miracles. All of life is miraculous. But this was a different sort of miracle. Different than all the other miracles of birth that day, that night. Yet at the same time, not so different.
A make-shift community in a make-shift shelter. Searching for light and life, for a reason to hope that things will not always be as they are. Even if it takes another thirty years, rooted in the conviction that hings will get better eventually, but not quickly.
Meanwhile others watch and wait, coveting their own power. What is the life of one more Palestinian/Jewish child? If seven pounds of dying flesh on the end of a spear would secure a crown and throne, why not just kill them all?
In life we are in the midst of death, from the smallest to the greatest, with every breath we draw, from our first to our last.
Was there ever a silent night? Was there ever a moment's rest? Quick! Up! To Jerusalem! To the temple. Only eight days to make the journey. (What of the Virgin's aching, bleeding body?) Then on the road again.
The tradition would have us believe that a December Christ-Mass occurred on the heels of Hanukkah. Imagine celebrating the liberation of the temple from the Greeks while the Romans still control it. 
Can this birth have any effect on the legions of Rome? Or their descendants? What of the empires in our days? What of our own empire? What has the Bethlehem Babe to do with us and with our world?

23 December 2010

The God of Elizabeth Edwards

Mary Elizabeth Anania Edwards
3 July 1949 ~ 7 December 2010


"I have, I think, somewhat of an odd version of God, I do not have an intervening God. I don't think I can pray to him -- or her -- to cure me of cancer."

"The God I wanted was going to intervene. He was going to turn time back. The God I wanted was -- I was going to pray for good health and he was going to give it to me... Why in this complicated world, with so much grief and pain around us throughout the world, I could still believe that, I don't know. But I did. And then I realized that the God that I have was going to promise me salvation if I lived in the right way and he was going to promise me understanding. That's what I'm sort of asking for . . . let me understand why I was tested."

I know the God of Elizabeth Edwards. But I confess that I hope for, long for, a God who answers prayer. Sometimes. Unpredictably. And there are times when I experience that God. And it is enough.

22 December 2010

Turning Away from Darkness

With the passing of this night, more light embraces the world with each sun's rising, 'til the cycle comes full circle.


19 December 2010

Light Edging Darkness (Advent IV)

The circle is full of light.
There is seemingly no  room for even one more candle.
(Yet soon one more candle will indeed find its way to the heart of the circle-wreath.)
Now the complete circle of light shines light in all directions.
And at the far-flung edge of that light, the darkness waits, circling the light like a halo.
The light of the Bethlehem star extends far, but only so far.
The lights of Epiphany will come to blaze, then dim.
At the turning of the world one sunrise will commemorate an epoch-changing victory of light over darkness.
Yet there is still darkness in the world.
At the edge of the light, encircling the light, the darkness waits it own Advent. Soon, the darkness will return, gaining strength.
I long for the Advent that will banish all darkness, healing the world and all her broken souls.

16 December 2010

All Endings Aren't Beginnings

I'm coming to an end which should have been a beginning.
There is no open window adjacent to every closed door.
This door is more than closed.
It is locked and barred and barricaded.
I long for the day when I will no longer see even the outline of that door,
when not so much as a breeze blows under or through its frame.
I will not turn around.
I will not look back.
I remember Lot's wife:
hardened,
perhaps shattered,
and blown away;
only remembered
for one awful moment.
I will not look back.

12 December 2010

Velvet Darkness (Advent III)

In the velvet darkness of the blackest night, burning bright, there's a guiding star, no matter what or who you are. There's a light (over at the Frankenstein place). There's a light (burning the fireplace). There's a light, light, in the darkness of everybody's life.

~ "Over at the Frankenstein Place," The Rocky Horror Picture Show motion picture soundtrack

We are at the darkest point of the year. Before we got into the habit of chronicling each day, month and year in almanacs, I can imagine that ancient peoples were not always certain when the tide of darkness began to turn. 

Expressions like "it's always darkest before the dawn" only make sense in retrospect. But in the velvet darkness, I can't tell whether more dark is coming or the light is on the way. There is a period of sojourn in the dark where our eyes cannot see whether the dark is deepening or the light is brightening. Until - the moment it becomes noticeably brighter.

The third candle of Advent adds just a bit more light to the first two candles. But it is enough to turn the tide. The light in the circle (of the wreath) is now an order of magnitude brighter than it was just moments before. The light in the world is growing too. The passing of the solstice  is a turn into the universal light of the sun. 

The fire of heaven bathes the earth in warmth and light. Spring will come and bring with it new life from the heart of the dark, cold earth and, flowering life planted in and by entwined bodies making and sharing their own heat and light in the winter's cold.

09 December 2010

Price of Dreams

I can see so clearly 
the world 
as I would have it.

The Torah of love would be fulfilled.
The only debts, love-debts, paid in full
with a superfluity of abundance.

I can't afford to dream anymore. 
Or perhaps I simply can't afford these dreams.
They are too expensive;
their currency is much more than tears.

Pain on waking; pain in waking.
Ragged wounds from trying to hold disparate realities together.

I cannot make the realities I conjure come to pass.
Each effort costs something more;
more than I can pay.
This is expensive magic.

There is power in imagining.
But the power is not mine,
I don't have access to it.
Yet I see it so clearly.

I continue to dream...

07 December 2010

Alternate Universe

I believe that the universe is larger than we can imagine. I'm also a fan of science fiction and like the idea of alternate universes with some parallels to our own but key differences.
And I have been wondering...
What would have happened if Hillary Clinton won the White House?
In the aftermath of the inevitable financial collapse and other international crises, I am certain that she would have faced the same venomous rhetoric - but with a key difference - the hateful rhetoric would not have been racist. After all  Hillary Clinton shares and benefits from white privilege.
There was a lot of sexist hate-speech during her campaign. I image that it would have proliferated as has the racist vitriol.
Given that right-wing politicians would not be able to "other" her racially as they have President Obama would a new wave of sexist public discourse emerge? Would the need to "other" and subordinate a white woman POTUS give rise to sexism on the scale of the racism we have seen in the past two years? And how would that righteous right-wing retro-sexual sexism affect Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman and the other emerging female (but certainly not feminist) leaders - or wound-be leaders - in the Republican Party?
Where would we be as a nation? Even in an alternate universe, I imagine our public discourse would still be uncivil, but just in a different way.
There real question is, is there a universe in which our public discourse is civil?
Now that might only exist in science fiction. How sad.

05 December 2010

An Explosion of Light (Advent II)


This week the light doubles itself
and halves the darkness.

Each week following this one 
the single new light will add 
less and less light to the gathered light.

But this week's light is powerful, dazzling, dizzying.
And still it coexists with the dark.
The dark recedes but never disappears.

The darkness surrounds and pervades the edges of the light.
Soon there will be so much light
that the darkness will cower in corners.
But it will dot die, or flee or fade.
It will remain, waiting for its turn.
And its turn will come.

The darkness has its own season ~
a dark advent
and that is coming too.

But this week the light doubles itself
and halves the darkness.

02 December 2010

God-Wrestling: Bruised and Blessed

I will not let you go until you bless me!
Bless me dammit!
As we grapple, my breath quickens with exertion - 
I cannot, will not let go, let you go.
I will never have another chance like this.
I don't know if I really know who you are.
Tell me who you are!
But if you are who I think you are - if it's possible -
then I won't let go; I can't let go.
You might kill me.
I'll take that chance.
I need what only you can give, 
what I believe you can give.
I do believe.
I am wrestling with my own faith and the object of my faith and devotion.
And I will not let go.
You are crushing me, breaking me, tearing me - 
but I will not let go.
What is that I hear over my ragged breaths?
Did I hear those words? 
Did I imagine them?
Time will tell.
I will never forget this place, 
the place where God broke me.
I will carry these scars forever.