Tuesday, July 31, 2012

...you wait for that one thing...

And you wait, you wait for that one thing
that will infinitely enlarge your life;
the gigantic, the stupendous,
the awakening of stones,
depths turned round toward you.

The volumes bound in rust and gold
flicker dimly on the shelves;
and you think of lands traveled across,
of paintings, of the clothes of
women found and lost.

And then suddenly you know: it was then.
You rise, and before you
stands the fear and prayer and shape
of a vanished year.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, “Memory” translated by Edward Snow

Monday, July 30, 2012

no one is us...

A Piece of the Puzzle

by Anne Wilson Schaef

I imagine the universe as an enormous puzzle. Each of us is a unique and vital piece of that puzzle. No one else has our genes, our life experience; no one is us. We are unique! When we are fully ourselves we are that piece.

Source: When Society Becomes an Addict

Friday, July 27, 2012

Step into the troubled waters...

Step into the troubled waters
the angel left for you--
the trembling unknown,
the unchartered depth.
The body descending
blurs in the refraction
of sacred Light.

"Bethsaida" by Nancy Compton Williams
Source: The Penwood Review

Thursday, July 26, 2012

...likely to find ourselves participating in the Divine nature ...

"When beauty, truth, life, and love are all present in our relationships, ministries, vocations, life choices, then we are much more likely to find ourselves participating in the Divine nature and living more deeply."
-- an excerpt from my upcoming plenary message to Lake Erie Yearly Meeting of Friends ("Beauty, Truth, Life and Love: Four Keys for Finding Our Way")

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"...when they say it the silence is not broken..."

In Texas there's so much space words have a way

Of getting lost in the silence before they're spoken
So people hang on a long time to what they have to say;
And when they say it the silence is not broken,
But it absorbs the words and slowly gives them
Over to miles of white-gold plains and gray-green hills,
And they are part of that silence that outlives them.

excerpted from "In Texas" by May Sarton

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Listening is a Kind of Prayer...

Real Listening by Morton Kelsey

Real listening is a kind of prayer, for as we listen, we penetrate through the human ego and hear the Spirit of God, which dwells in the heart of everyone. Real listening is a religious experience. Often, when I have listened deeply to another, I have the same sense of awe as when I have entered into a holy place and communed with the heart of being itself.

Source: Through Defeat to Victory

Add your thoughts at inward/outward

...too engrossed in the morning news...

Tanka Diary [Awakened too early on Saturday morning]

by Harryette Mullen

Awakened too early on Saturday morning
by the song of a mockingbird
imitating my clock radio alarm.

Walking along the green path with buds
in my ears, too engrossed in the morning news
to listen to the stillness of the garden.

From: Poem-A-Day

Monday, July 23, 2012

for Christ plays in ten thousand places...

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

The Speed of Love; The Speed of God...

The Speed of Love

Kosuke Koyama

Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It goes on in the depth of our life, whether we notice it or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks.

Source: Three Mile an Hour God

Friday, July 20, 2012

Letting Go: A Poem

Let Something Go

Jane Wagner

I made some studies,
and reality is the leading cause of stress
amongst those in touch with it.
I can take it in small doses,
but as a lifestyle I found it
too confining.
It was just too needful;
it expected me to be there
for it all the time,
and with all I have to do--
I had to let something go.

Source: The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From "The Writer's Almanac"

Could be written about Indiana...

"Tornado Warning" by Joyce Sutphen

That is not the country for poetry.
It has no mountains, its flowers
are plain and never poisonous,
its gardens are packed into blue mason jars.
There are no hedges bordering the roads, the sky
flies up from the ditches, loose in every
Yet I knew it to be passionate,
even in its low rolling hills, where a red
tractor pushed through the oat field, cutting
down gold straw and beating a stream
of grain into the wagon trailing behind
in the stubble,
I knew it to be melodious
in its birch woods, leaves shadowing
a stone-strewn river, the path along the bank
softened with pine needles, sunlight
woven in and out of branches, the many
colors of green, solid as a pipe organ's
opening chord,
I knew it would haunt
the memory with its single elm,
where a herd of cows found shade
in the July heat, their bony tails
swinging the tufted bristle left and right
over the high ledge of a hip bone,
while at the horizon, a black fist
of storm came on, something not
to be averted, something singular
in its fury,
as any blind heart knows.

"Tornado Warning" by Joyce Sutphen, from Straight Out of View. © Beacon Press, 1995. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

The Cost of Peace

'Of course, let us have peace,' we cry, 'but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties....' There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war--at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake. --Daniel Berrigan

Source: No Bars to Manhood

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gathering Quakers

“So, how do we let people know?” That was the first question my friend Mary Lee and I had when we felt that God wanted us to start a new worship group focused on theological hospitality and based on Quaker listening worship. We hoped to create a space where people could come share their spiritual experiences in their own language and where we would listen to God and each other together in love and care. We felt certain that other people were, like us, looking for such a place.

But how to let such people know about the new group?...
      read more here http://blog.newmediaprojectatunion.org/2012/07/gathering-quakers.html?spref=tw

From a post at the New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quakers, Revitalization & The Role of Beauty

I think a lot about Quaker faith and how we attract people to it -- which means (for me) attracting them to the ever-living Christ.  As someone who's been a congregational consultant for over ten years, I've seen lots of congregations try lots of things to bring people in the doors. They hear that conservative churches are growing and so they decide that the way to growth is to be more theologically conservative.

Or an expert tells them that "contemporary worship" is attracting new folks -- so they rip out the pipe organ and put in a praise band.

Or start seeker-sensitive services.

Or begin Saturday night services.

Or round-up folks for Cowboy Church (I'm not making this up!).

Or... whatever. Lots of congregations try these things and don't see much in the way of results.

It seems that the one thing we don't do is try and make our faith beautiful.  That's right -- beautiful.  I've been thinking about that a lot after reading Tony Jone's The New Christians. Especially the passage where he says:

"... why in the world would you think that you can do anything to get people to come to church? Instead, why don't you worry about being faithful -- living out a beautiful Christianity -- and see what the spirit does in your midst? I think that people will be more attracted to the Spirit than anything you could ever do to "hook" them. (p. 201)

"Why don't you worry about being faithful -- living out a beautiful Christianity -- and see what the spirit does in your midst?"  I am more than ever convinced of the wisdom undergirding Jones' thinking.

Quaker Wisdom for Today

"Here is the unfailing attraction of the life in Christ. It is a life which even to old age, is always on the upgrade; there is always something calling for a joyful looking forward; it is a life where, across each revelation of God's grace as it comes to us is written, in letters of gold, Thou shalt see greater things than these. It gives full scope ... to our desire for high adventure. No conceivable life can be so interesting, so stimulating, as that which we live in Christ." -- William Littleboy, 1917

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A Lesson I Needed to Remember Today

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From whence does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved,
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade
on your right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.

When I read this psalm, I'm reminded that I am wrong if I think God’s interest in me depends on my feeling that God is close by. God is my keeper—whether I feel God’s care or not. When we say yes to God, we find ourselves in relationship. Love beckons us into love. We are called into relationship with one who cares for us so much that the hairs of our head are numbered (though in my case, that’s not a very large number).

As we walk on our spiritual pilgrimage, we learn in deeper and deeper ways that God’s care is steady and ongoing. We need not feel God’s care to know it is working, any more than we need to feel gravity to keep us from sailing off into space. The law of God’s ever-watchful presence is as surely in operation as are the natural laws of the universe that we take for granted.

Living into an increasing understanding of God’s ever-presence, is how we can pray along with Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Merton’s words show us that a life of honest prayer is part of following the way that opens. What is honest varies from time to time, depending on our circumstances. Honest prayer will include some basics—an admission that we feel lost and can’t see the way, letting God know that we desire direction, asking for pure motives in following the way, and stating, by and in faith, that God is with us and we want God to be with us. Use the details and circumstances of your life to shape your honest prayers. What ingredients would you combine to create an honest prayer for today?

- Brent