day 22- called to be One

Galatians 3:23-4:7

I was hoping that that passage for today would’ve been Mary’s Magnificat, her lovesong to You.  I have been yearning for that passage to come up, to sing along with her.  Instead I was offered this……and so I listen, Love……

This lovesong today is not so much about us birthing and nurturing Love in this place, not so much about bearing You into being, but about being Your offspring and receiving You fully. And so, Beloved, I am asked to embrace the many requests of Yours, the many forms of your Your Essence, the many ways You come into being and receive my beingness into You.  Today, I sway slightly in this subtle shift in the evershifting, ever fluid, ever flowing Soul-Spirit-Being that We are.

You bear us into being.

We receive You.

We bear You into being.

You receive us into You.

You bear and receive Yourself.

We are in You.

You are in us.

You are in Yourself

We are caught by You.

You are caught by us.

You catch Yourself.

We flow forth from Your overflowing goodness.

We overflow into You…..

You flow into Yourself

 

Today you invite us to be the heir of all that You possess, of all that You are!

And all that You are is Love.

 

To possess as much Love as God?! …within this incarnation of flesh is a delicate thing. Our flesh is fragile. Hearts break with the fullness that is Love. And so we are asked at the same time to embrace the suffering of Love. Yes, our ‘yes’ to life is a ‘yes’ to being broken by Love.

 

Imagine Mary’s pain…..her heart full of Love for her son.

Imagine Jesus’ pain……his heart full of Love for his mother

     full of Love for the One with whom he is ‘In Love’,

                the God whom he cannot see for a moment

in the next, full of Love for the people who shamed him.

 

I am drawn to ponder yesterday’s question. What is Love requesting of us in this ‘bargain’? How is Love needful of us? For to have full possession of Love is to be filled- to-breaking with compassion for all the places in which we perceive the Presence of God, the One whom we love, suffering. To have compassion in all of the places where we see suffering and struggle to embrace the Presence of God there?

 

This is again to be asked to behold the beauty of ‘the bigger picture’. Yes, to gaze at life through the eyes of Love, to gaze at God through the eyes of Love, but it is also to be asked to see ‘up close and personal’ the pain this life in the flesh and still to gaze upon God, upon Life itself, through eyes of Love.  This way of Love’s being and bearing Love in this physical plane, this incarnation we are invited to be, is created and asked to  fully experience the terrible beauty of life, the joys and the sorrows of Love, and to let it break open and grow even greater the heart of Love. How much can Love hold?

 

We are asked to dwell in both places at once….in the place of seeing through the eyes of Love ‘the bigger picture’ and  being ‘up close and personal’…. when we are given ‘full possession’ of God’s Love. We are asked to be Spirit and Flesh, to not leave one for the other, but to be One. To know our humanity, to know our sacredness at once. The Christ in us, conceived through the knowledge of the union of the two, develops within to keep us connected, whole, open to both, as it mediates between these two very Real places in us. Through the widening channels within, Love and Compassion embrace within us.

 

Through our opening to Love, we are able to give birth to Compassion.

Through our full embrace of compassion we are able to open out to God.

We love one another as we Love God.

We love God as we love one antoher.

We are Loved.

We are Love.

We Love.

 

Love receives our heartaches; our heartaches receive compassion

We are received by Love; our pain is transformed into blessing.

Blessings overflow from God

We flow forth in blessing.

We see God everywhere.

We are seen by God everywhere.

In each face, in each vista, in each dark of night

            We see and are seen.

 

This Christ presence within, making us whole, connecting Spirit and Flesh, is not only working within us and within the other, but is also between us, before us, and after us within the stuff of Life. Love both infills and wraps itself around our humanity, filling our bodies and fitting our skin like a glove. And so, Love transforms our ‘mere’ physical experiences into something sacred in this whole-making, into something by which Love can take Being and Form in this place. Love moves with us as we are moved by Love. Our Lives radiate blessing. We are not longer living as if separate.

 

Love, you speak a lot here about law and freedom from law…..Jesus himself spoke of fulfillment of the law. …. This is what I hear today….

 

 I think when we first arrive in this place, while we are learning just how hard this life in the flesh is, the laws of Love are quite needful. They help us to keep our hearts aligned with Love as we first experience pain and fear, and remind us something of the Love, from whom we came and to whom we belong. They keep us safe from the traumas and shames that can inhibit our bringing Love fully forth. They nurture and protect us. They are intended to remind us to honor this journey of Life, to honor You in ourselves, to honor You in the other, to honor You.

 

But somewhere along the way, as we grow into fully inhabiting this sacred space of spirit and flesh, we are called to be in full possession of Love, to know who we are, to remember our connection to Love within and to carry it with us, no longer looking outward for its reminders. We are perhaps no longer called to be apprentices of Love but to be master co-creators, bestowers of Love. To Be Love. To Be Presence. To inhabit our deepest selves and be fully ourselves. To live with integrity of Being. The law of Love is also no longer something separate from us. We are Love’s manifestation.

 

To cling to the law in that place is to cling to the inside of a womb that we have outgrown….a womb that has protected and nurtured us for eventual Life outside. To cling to the law is to mistake the structure for the presence it contained. To cling to the law is to make it an idol while Love itself awaits our devotion. To cling to the law at the expense of the growth of Love is to allow the very thing that once embraced us to enslave us, to shame us. To cling to the law is to keep ourselves separated….into inside and outside Love.

 

Finally, though, the law falls away, not because it was ‘bad’ (indeed the womb of Christ cannot be called bad!), but because we no longer need it. We are called now to be Lovers, not children. With the Christ within fully developed, this connecting presence within between our humanity and our divinity, we can’t NOT be aligned with Love. We do what we are. Love is all there is.

                                                      

Stripped of all that I thought I was
of all the clothes I wore
I am
naked, and I am
my Self
wearing no thing at all
but You

(several old pieces have been ringing their resonance in these last days, follow the links below to two of them)

https://emmaatlast.wordpress.com/2003/10/24/on-wisdoms-lap/

 https://emmaatlast.wordpress.com/2005/09/27/prayer-shawl/

also, if you like me are longing for the Magnificat to be sung at last….. click here to hear my own response to Mary’s song from the beginning of this advent journey

https://emmaatlast.wordpress.com/2008/11/01/canticle-2-magnificat/

catching my eye

Received in my email —

My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.

eudora welty

spotted on a bumper sticker

don’t change how you look                                                                  change how you see

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Day 21- what’s in a name?

Day 21 – What’s in a name?

Isaiah 43: 1-13

for wally

 

About 8 years ago, I crawled into a local church in dire straits…an appropriate if overused metaphor, for indeed, the terrain I was treading was to become quite  treacherous. My life was suddenly, painfully broken open and the horrors of a lifetime can rushing over the breach in my defenses. A flood of despair swept over me. All around me I saw nothing but suffering and devastation. For years I journeyed in this land, certain I wanted nothing from it but to get out…out of life itself.

 

The pastor of this church, after having heard the beginnings of my story, slipped me a card one evening very early in that journey, after the Love Feast, which I had observed from a distance from my seat in the balcony overlooking the festivities….outside looking in at this feast of Love.

 

Today the passage he wrote on the back of that card appears here in my daily reading….

 

 

O Love, it is true! You have brought me from that place of pain and despair to this one of rich blessing. O Love, we did not drown! We weren’t burnt at all!

 

Yet it is not at all as if You picked me up and plunked me from that place into this. No. I stand in the midst of the very same terribly beautiful life and I see all around me streams overflowing with goodness and flames blazing with light….these places I walked through (albeit sometimes kicking and screaming) and dwell in with You. The scenes of my life have not changed, it is my eyes that have changed.

 

O Love, Our life has been blessed! The dross, consecrated, even as it was consumed, leaving this gold in the ashes. The rocks sanctified, the rages hallowed, even as they left in their wake these treasured gems. How precious am I to You. O Love, how precious are You to me.

 

O Love, You have gathered me in—from the north and the south, from the east and the west— no part of my life, no part of my being, beyond Your embrace. And in that embrace, my ugliness is received as rare beauty. You peel back my hands to behold that which I have wanted to cover. That which I thought was shameful and inadequate, You perceive as more precious than the mask I had worn for the world.

 

O Love….

 

I AM your witness. Only by Love is my existence made perfect. Nothing else can make my life whole. Nothing but Love can make of this terribly beautiful journey a blessing.

 

You, who knew my true name when I called myself something other-than-blessed. You, who never saw me as anything else. O, it is not as if You looked past my blemishes and flaws to the treasure beneath. No,You beheld even them as rare Beauty.

 

Love, I am Yours.

You have called me by name (v 2)—- I am called by Your name (v 7)

Your name is Beauty — mine is Beautiful

Your name is Love — mine is Beloved

Your name is Desire — mine is Desirable

Your name is Wonder — mine is Wonderful

Your name is Mystery — mine is Mysterious

Your name is Compassion — mine is (com)Passionate.

Your name is Peace — mine is Peaceful

Your name is Holy — mine is Holiness

 

O Love. There is none but You.

 

Rejoice, rejoice! Immanuel shall ransom captive Israel.

 

ps….this reflection may be read mutually….from you to God, from God to you….imagine that!… just how might God be needful of your Love, needful of your seeing God as Beauty?

 

Day 20- Power surges

Day 20 – Power Surge

2 Samuel 8: 7-16. Luke 1:26-28

 

‘ Within our darkest night, you kindle the fire that never dies away’ – taize chant

 

Last night, I dreamt again. This time I was right in the midst of the beautiful city I had seen from the distance in my dream of the previous evening. The city was losing power, draining its energy source and the lights were slowly dimming. Suddenly, there was a surge of power from the central station and all became bright. From this I awoke with a sigh and a smile….

 

Sometimes we grow weary and we lose sight of Love. Sometimes our eyes grow dim and we cannot see how Love can possibly be here and now in the midst of this human existence. Sometimes we are plunged into complete darkness. But nothing is impossible with God.

 

We come from (flow forth from) Love to bear Love into Life. Life itself is blessed. Human existence is the handmaid of Love, and the product of our labors here is holy. Even the barren places are filled with the Presence of God, for God is not some Being separate from life, God is Being itself, the very essence of life itself.  We ask “How can this be?”  Mostly, we ask because we do not understand how Love is present and becoming in the midst of our humble lives. At other times though, we are indeed greatly troubled by life. In these times, if we submit to the mystery of Love, we will hear the whisper of the Holy and soon Love will overshadow the darkness with light.

 

Perhaps another definition of the virginal in us might be that untainted place that remembers something of the Eternal Essence from which we flow forth into being. With our hearts pledged to Joseph, (to being protected from shame or not allowing entrance to that which will harden our hearts), we can keep these virginal innocent places in us soft and open to the possibility and the presence of Love here and now. This Love then can spread to touch the previously unlovable….can grow to reign in our hearts. 

 

Still, there are times when life seems to drain the Light and angels are called for to reboot our knowing. We do get surges of awakening….often, almost always, in the midst of our deepest darkness…. and somehow our strength to love is increased.

      It’s as if the darkness calls for more light.

          It’s as if our breaking breaks us open to the light.

              It’s as if the darkness makes us search for the light

                  It’s as if the darkness makes the light the only thing we can see.

Through maintaining our new re-connections made in the dark to the Presence of God deep in our lives, our heart’s power to love is enlarged.

 

We are told that Love will build up its dwelling place in us so that we will no longer find ourselves to be oppressed by the darkness (within and without). Love, who has been with us always, long before our knowing, both in times of rich nurture and days of wandering pursuit, Love that is present and hidden in mystery at once, will make itself known and will lead us. We will see only goodness….not because we close our eyes to the ‘bad’, but because we see through new eyes to the goodness that is present with and within, forming and informing,  all.  As with our perception of the sun, which is always there though not always perceived by the naked eye, our understanding grows as our remembrance matures and we come simply to know and to trust in Love’s presence beneath the clouds… and even within the dark of night.

 

Our wandering awareness will cease, for Love desires to take up permanent residence in us. We will no longer move in and out of the awareness of God, but will remain held by Love’s powerful beam. This One, who has been picking up its tent and following us/accompanying us wherever we have gone (all the while being deeply nurtured by our life’s experiences and transforming our pain into blessing) has been waiting for us to notice or remember it. Now it is ready to make its Eternal Presence known.

 

This growing Presence, this seed of Love implanted deeply in the womb of our lives, which is nourished by and grown within our human/humble experiences of life, becomes fully developed in us to become a very Real and Visible Presence. It emerges to take up its permanent dwelling place in our awareness.

Then Love becomes central to our Being.

Beauty fills our vision.

And Compassion encompasses all.

 

The mystery, hidden, is revealed.

 

“Deep in the darkness of a silent night and quietly in the secret of your soul, the mystery of Love continues to be born’ – unknown

Day 19-Praying Unceasingly (or Being in Love)

Day 19 – Pray Unceasingly (or Being in Love)
Phillipians 4: 4-9

Put into Practice all that we have learned and Peace will be with us.

     Look for goodness and Love.

     See through eyes of compassion and reverence.

     Be awed and amazed at the miracle of Life within each moment.

     Look for Beauty wherever we are.

     Be gentle and non-anxious.

     Pray to see Love wherever we are.

And the Peace that is ‘beyond the mind’ will guard our hearts.

 

Ah, here then is the breastplate of Love!

the Josephs for our hearts are the eyes of our hearts. 

 

A loving gaze that goes in all directions, inward and outward.

     We behold the preciousness of God.

     We behold the preciousness of the other. 

     But mostly we perceive God’s gaze beholding the preciousness of us all. 

 

Moving into communion with Love in that particular and perfect gaze is to dwell within the Heart of God.  It is to live and have our being from the center of our Deepest and Highest Self. It is to be in Love.

Can we take this ‘gazing with Love’ with us

     into our day and our night,

     into the coming days and nights,

     into the Christmas Season and beyond….

this seeing through  eyes of Compassion, if not understanding?

 

If so, we can transcend to a place of Peace in our hearts right in the midst of chaos, and keep our feet on the ground.

And there will be peace on earth.

Day 18-Light

Day 18 – Light
Isaiah 9:1-7

Last night I dreamt that I could see far across the nighttime landscape to a city on the distant horizon. The expanse between it and me was great but the terrain was completely flat, leveled as in the passages of scripture from these last weeks. The city was sparkling with lights. Though perhaps a mundane sight to the casual observer, the feeling in the dream was one of breathtaking beauty.

Today’s scripture speaks of light. ‘Those who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep shadows— light! sunbursts of light!’ I imagine this ‘seeing of the light’ also has something to do with perspective…such as the one in my dream. A ‘beyond the human limits’ perspective.

With our vision cleared, we can see beyond our small anxieties to the larger view, the broader perspective. Might the lens we are invited to peer through be the loving gaze of God, which beholds with joy the sparkling lights amidst the darkness. Might the enlarged heart through which we are invited to  perceive be eyes of compassion.

I am able to see from this enlarged heart of mine in God from time to time, more often now than once. The feeling in that place is indeed profoundly peaceful. Of course, there are still plenty of times when I get caught up in the darkness of my own self – my wounds or fears – and am unable in the moment to see the whole, to gaze with compassion.

O Love, the whisper of Holy Blessing to me through the mouth of the Old One, Isaiah, is this — that You will continue to enlarge my heart, to free it to rejoice in this place.

You promise a harvest of the bountiful goodness of my life’s experience here, that I may glean the precious grain from the chaff of my life’s journey upon which it grew, that it may be nurture through which Love can grow. Gazing upon my life this way requires the same lens, the same loving gaze as the one that sees sparkling lights in the darkness. Through this perspective, through eyes passionate about life , the pain of my brokenness is transformed into an opening in which blessing can grow.

O Love, sometimes I can’t understand how You will possibly remove the oppressive yokes with which I have become burdened. So entangled in my heart they seem to be that it seems as if my heart itself would be destroyed if it were to be detached from them. I can see this entanglement, for instance, when I am so drawn into the chaos of another that I seek to do something to control (fix, order, force, make right) the situation in order to ease the anxiety that MY heart is experiencing.  Or I am drawn into my own wounded chaos in the presence of the other. But I also recognize that when I ‘move over there’ and shift from Love into either place, control (control of the situation OR control of myself) OR  chaos, disconnection from God occurs.  O Love, the yoke that I long for is You.

 Like the candle that I tried to force into a shape it wasn’t ready to assume and so broke in my hand, spattering wax onto the wall, the ceiling, and my self, Love cannot force. It can hold. It can let something burn in its own time until it becomes a transformed and transformative liquid that will flow on its own.

Again, the message that I hear is control (getting it right to ease my fears) versus letting Love flow where it will, through widening channels….leveled terrain….created only by centering myself again and again in Love.  Again I hear the Wisdom, ‘When the power to Love overcomes the Love of power, there will be peace on earth’. And so I am called to return to the Loving Gaze, the Compassionate Gaze, the perspective through which I see so many sparkling lights in the fires I seek to put out.

Love assures me that these little fires cannot begin to diminish the Light of Love that is blazing (within me), rising (in me), desiring to reign (in me), to be the source and the center of my being. O Love, how to burn so brightly for You?… What will be the fuel other than my life?… Yes, this is the sacrifice I am asked to make, to burn my very life up in Loving, to use the stuff of my life as fuel for Love. The surrender of self is not to fear but to Love.

Love is being kindled in us, to become a mighty shining Presence, so that no one (and no one part of any of us) will any longer be diminished by our fears. This new ‘governor’ in us will oversee all with compassion and justice so that the warring voices, within and without (such as the ones between my ‘shoulding’ anxiety and my Loving Truth) are no more divided; they can all be received by Love. When we choose to align our hearts with this Wise Compassionate Presence, then this Eternal One in us, who remembers us to who we are, rises to make itself known. We become One brilliant light.  We become the profound Peace that I experienced gazing at those sparkling lights through eyes of Love.

We can see through such eyes if we desire it, if we merely turn toward it. We can be fully alive here in this Holy Place, within the Heart of God. We can Be a Loving Presence in the world

Day 17 – Wisdom

Day 17 – Wisdom

Isaiah 40: 1-11; 28-31.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

 

O Wisdom, uttered by the mouth of the most high, and reaching to the ends of the earth, come and teach us the way of prudence

 

Love, You alone know the ways of truth. When I know not a thing, You alone know the way. If it were not for You, chaos and fear would reign my heart.  When I am filled with doubt – in You or in myself– OR when I am filled with knowing too much, You alone shake me clean and stir me awake to what is most Sacred in me.* 

 

O Love, I let go into You. You beyond my understanding. You beyond my seeing and my doing. Beyond my striving to get it right, to make it happen. Beyond my attempts at control. I let myself be small, human, and weak. Let something bigger than me be in control. Your perspective and your power cannot be fully grasped by me. My hope lay not in my own hands…in my earning or my doing….but in Your Love alone.

 

 

When expression (making Love visible) becomes

      requirement rather than overflowing,

      when action is rooted to duty not in heart,

      when dedicated practice, rather devotion to Love, becomes the goal,        

      when our ‘doing’ flows not from our ‘being’,

we become as ‘clanging symbols’.

 

These balances can be fragile and can quickly break into obligation when the One for whom we are striving gets lost in the striving itself. Then action, duty, or practice itself becomes a god – and the icon that was once a window opening out slams shut to become an idol. We are lost in our small selves, unable to see ‘the bigger picture’ that repentance brought.

 

There is a delicate balance to any man-made structure. Too much rigidity…external rules and internal compulsions… and it will break. Too little foundation – intentionality and attention — and it will fall apart and be an unfit/unsafe dwelling place. Moreover, we must take care not to confuse the dwelling place with the One who dwells within. To be overly concerned at the way the vessel looks at the expense of the precious substance it contains, or to cease to take proper care with the container are both to be unmindful.  

 

Again, the Christmas story reminds us that a womb is an adequate vessel both for growing Love, and for being the place from which Love will overflow. It is flexible (it makes room for an elbow at any given moment), it is receptive and nurturing to growth, AND it is contained and protected, Dark. Internal. Private. It provides a space for Love to grow in its own unique way. No two children from that womb will look the same.

 

When we are growing weary, strained and stressed by all our striving, by all that we ‘should’ be or do or look, we are reminded in today’s readings to put our hope not in ourselves, but in the One who dwells within. Trust in Love alone.  This subtle, yet profound, shift in focus clears the path, makes the ways straight, the mountains low, the valleys high, and the rough spots smooth so that what is to be revealed, in and through and to us ,will be revealed. To look for Love alone is to keep our hearts aligned and open. It is a matter of attention….not to self-performance….but to Love.

 

 

Then we are promised we ‘will not grow weary in our pursuits, we will not faint from fatigue, but will soar as eagles’. Imagine the freedom in that! I once dreamt that I was the caretaker of a flock of eagles. Each day I would go and let them out to fly once around the house, but then I would quickly pack them back into the box where I kept them. In today’s scripture, I hear again the invitation to let them out of confinement!

 

We are also promised that what is weak in us will be given power and courage and strength while what is powerful may need to be humbled (understood as human) or die away. What is strong in many of us is our self-reliance, which, if we are honest, we know is based in fear. (We are a nation of self-reliants!) And if we are honest then we can allow that part to be received by grace so that we can let go of that defense grace-fully. What is weak in many of us is our ability to trust in Love and its power. Our hungry need for assurance…from God and human… is evident in so many places in our lives.

 

O what shall we cry, Love?

 

Cry out to the weary one in us, Here is Love! Do not be afraid! Love’s reward is Love! This weak, suckling part of us can trust in Love to gather us in and lead us. O, listen to this tenderness…. ‘You have paid enough. You are enough. You can let go. Let Love enter in to reign’

 

To listen to Love is also to listen for Wisdom in both our being and our doing. There is an Eternal One in each of us who has joined hands with time within these blessed vessels that we are here in this place. Our lives are both containers and deliverers of Love. This Eternal ‘Old’ Soul within us is the voice of Wisdom. We are called to sit in this place and listen … to what needs to be let go of, to what is longing to be released, to die or to flow forth, to what is important. It is through this Eye that we ‘see beyond the mind’ that gets caught up in its anxieities and fears.

 

Yet in even this, even if we have ‘not enough’ strength of heart to bring ourselves to sit with Love, we are promised that Love will come find us….without our doing anything at all. Love will search for us, gather those who scattered during days of darkness, and bring us to a land of rich nourishment. Love will search out the lost, heal the wounded, stengthen the weak.  The unjust man-made rulers within will be dissolved by Love, like the grass and the flowers of the previous passage, will wither away when their fear is no longer fed, when we are instead fed at the breast of Love.

 

There is much here today about letting go. Letting go into Love. Clearing those paths of our agendas, our ‘knowledge’, our ideas and our strivings, and letting ourselves be held by Love. Be nurtured by Love. Be guided by Love. Let the virginal womb be entered by Love….

 

Into Your hands…..

Thy will be done…..

Be it done to me according to your Word…..

 

 

*Psalm 124—Nan Merrill

 

If it were not for You, O Beloved, you who make all things new

fear and chaos would reign in every heart.

In You will I trust

When doubt threatens to overwhelm and separate me,

when anger makes me blind

then you, O Merciful One, are ever-ready

to awaken the holy, the sacred in me

Then do your living streams of Grace enfold me

 

Blessed are You, who are a very Presence to us, a comfort to troubled hearts!

Grant us the strength of eagle wings, the courage to soar to new heights

Break within us the bonds of fear that we may live in Love!

Our Guidance comes from You, O Counselor

Blessed are You, O giver of Life!

Beloved of my heart!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: