Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Prophetic poetry and trust...

Tomorrow we sneak away to Brooklyn for an early birthday party with grandson Louie. We will
return on Saturday so that we're both ready for Sunday worship, but don't want to miss being with this special young man on this holy day. It is part of our sabbatical commitment to make certain that we honor family connections for they not only nourish our souls, but also strengthen the bonds of love we share.

Today I experimented with a new practice when it comes to worship preparation. It, too, was born during our sabbatical and involves simplifying my Sunday message. So, at least between now and Christmas, I am going to take the afternoon and evening after midday Eucharist each Wednesday for Bible study and prayer. Today I made some hand written notes for myself, but I am not going to prepare or use a manuscript any longer. I need to be set free to simply rest with the text, walk around with it and then share a few insights and questions with my faith community in a deeper dialogue. We have also dramatically simplified our liturgy so as to encourage deeper silence, more contemplative music and serious conversation and prayer. I will keep you posted.

This week's text in the Season of Creation is all about embracing the good news from God's holy mountain. The prophetic poetry of Isaiah is our starting point but the visit and teaching of Pope Francis is also woven throughout the fabric of this reflection. Two thoughts in particular are important to me:  1) you can't give what you haven't got - including an experience of God's grace that you can trust when life is at its worst; and 2) once you've experienced the blessing, it is essential to share it. This is how things work on God's holy mountain: we are loved and then set free to multiply the miracle of love in our own unique ways. And when this happens, the blessings are unlimited. The entire encyclical rests on the fact that God's praise is to be shared by those who have experienced it.  

“Pay close attention now:
    I’m creating new heavens and a new earth.
All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain
    are things of the past, to be forgotten.
Look ahead with joy.
    Anticipate what I’m creating:
I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy,
    create my people as pure delight.
I’ll take joy in Jerusalem,
    take delight in my people:
No more sounds of weeping in the city,
    no cries of anguish;
No more babies dying in the cradle,
    or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime;
One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal—
    anything less will seem like a cheat.
They’ll build houses
    and move in.
They’ll plant fields
    and eat what they grow.
No more building a house
    that some outsider takes over,
No more planting fields
    that some enemy confiscates,
For my people will be as long-lived as trees,
    my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work.
They won’t work and have nothing come of it,
    they won’t have children snatched out from under them.
For they themselves are plantings blessed by God,
    with their children and grandchildren likewise God-blessed.
Before they call out, I’ll answer.
    Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard.
Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow,
    lion and ox eat straw from the same trough,
    but snakes—they’ll get a diet of dirt!
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
    anywhere on my Holy Mountain,” says God

The words of the prophet resonated with a poem my friend Martha shared on FB yesterday by another wise and inspired poet,  Alla Renée Bozarth, in honor of the Equinox.

by Alla Renée Bozarth
Bridge of Grace
To smell the morning air
redolent with autumn
while sipping your version
of Grace in rare Flowering
Jasmine Tea Before Rain
creates a bridge of mercy
between sleep and waking,
summer and autumn,
a season of fire and
a season of crisp air
and the music of rain
At the beginning of day
upon rising, avoid newspapers
for another hour. Ready yourself
for their trembling question—
“Are we the people
at the end of our world?”
Forget it. Throbbing stories must wait
for an hour and not rob you of the prayer
that bridges your being from unconscious
regions into the world with its needs.
Stretch out in every direction, bow
before Creation and say,
“God bless you. I am so glad
that we’re all here today.”
Let your pores fill with light
so the wind shimmers against your skin.
and your inner being is also transformed.
You will need to remember this holy time
and not ask about the end of time
while moving through your love duties today.
Remember, also, the scent of jasmine
that now lingers on your fingers
from spring flowers and leaves
you crushed into your tea pot
ten minutes ago.
Every second, things happen
that change everything, and
sometimes bring redemption.
This is the beginning of time,
and the birth of our world.
© September 21, 2015 

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