On Prayer

Take us to the safe places,

not free of danger necessarily,

but void of triggers…

those spaces where scabs

fall off, not scrape off.

 

Show us how to play,

how to get absorbed

like a child on the floor,

Let us not worry about

how we’re gonna get up.

 

Help us to trust again,

fearless of reaction,

boundless in hope.

For a long moment

let us reach You.

15 Minutes on Family

Recently I wrote that “family is our resting heart rate.”

When we’re tired of playing hide and seek we can make a run for it. We run for home base.

I was a scrapper, a wee lad with dirty finger nails and iron-on patches covering the knees of my jeans. Our house sat on the dead end of a street. The brick porch leading up to the front door was our plopping point. When my mother blew the whistle we were homed in.

There are days when I wish I could hop in a DeLorean, rap on the flux capacitor, and set off for the early seventies. All my sibs and I would fill the front porch and get snot silly and tell stories and listen to Motown or Beatles.

Then I realized that our patchwork family does the same thing today. We find the fun in our dysFUNction. We find a peace within our imperfection. It’s a safe house and God shows up to let us know there’s room to grow, but “sit on the porch a bit…look at each other, love on each other.”

Bullet Points

  • Bullet Points
  • Entry wounds
  • Exit wounds
  • Mooring snapped
  • Mourning wrapped
  • Blood flows
  • Anger grows
  • Boughs break
  • Hearts ache
  • Coherence fades
  • Frustration jades
  • Chambers dressed
  • Triggers pressed
  • Round after round
  • Sound after sound
  • Good or bad
  • Bad or good
  • Misunderstood
  • Misunderstood
  • On our knees
  • Begging please
  • Don’t shoot
  • Don’t shoot
  • Hands behind backs
  • Hands in our laps
  • See us care
  • Hear our prayer
  • In God we trust
  • We must we must
  • Or bullet points
  • Or bullet points…

Sunday Psalm

Could this be the end of reason?

Is the gun mightier than the sword?

Are discussions usurped by

polarized rigidity?

Shoot now, talk later.

Oh reason, have you aged out

of the system?

Why are we now reverting to loop-wholes

and holes through the body?

Where are the talking heads taking us?

Why do we know so much so quickly

that we don’t chew, but swallow

as fast as we can with lukewarm milk.

Come, let us reason together

when we can

where we can.

No one can fashion swords into

ploughshares in a day.

Let us exercise, pure and undefiled,

and exorcise our rights against humanity.

Lord God Almighty, revive hope.

Sun Day

Birth again the sun,

may it crown the edge of the earth,

and spill glory and cast shadows

behind all it paints.

 

May we remember from where

this light bursts and fills

the land in golden revelation.

May we squint in gratefulness.

“God makes a huge dome

For the sun—a superdome!

The morning sun’s a new husband

Leaping from his honeymoon bed,

The daybreaking sun an athlete

Racing to the tape.

 

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies

From sunrise to sunset,

Melting ice, scorching deserts,

Warming hearts to faith.”

Psalm 19:4-6 The Message

 

 

Conversations With God Part Two. Fear.

How are you feeling today?

What do my feelings have to do with anything? I thought truth was the ultimate.

I care about your feelings, and I Am the Truth.

Another tension I suppose.

Your suppositions precede you. I am pleased you have taken time to rest and think of Me. I think of you too.

More often than not I don’t feel the connection. It’s easier for me to think about You than engage with You. In the past it was easier for me to talk about You too. Now I don’t feel like talking about You to others so much. Deep down it feels like talking heads. I judge and project my experience on others. Little conversations rattle in my thoughts like…”If they only knew how disconnected I feel toward God they would walk away.”

Projections will get you nowhere. But authenticity will. I heard you tell a few people you were struggling when they asked how you were doing. I can communicate to you through others you know.

You seem to miscommunicate through others as well. I have slowly pulled away from possibilities of the influence of others, both positive and negative. There seems to be a parallel between that pulling away and the retreat from trust in You. I see the deception of becoming an island where I think my books and poetry protect me. You are the Rock and I am the island. Does Rock smash island or does island wrap Rock?

What do you think? Does playing paper, scissors, rock (or Rock, island, relationship as it were) bring a sense of comfort or purpose or hope? Don’t be afraid.

Afraid? Afraid of what?

Fear not, see the forest for the trees. Resist the temptation to follow one snowflake during a blizzard. Embrace the mystery of who I Am.

Are you saying I am a spiritual deconstructionist? Have I dissected you like a frog in a slowly warming Petri dish until You came to a boil? Have I killed you?

Fear not the dark night of the soul. I am not scared of the dark and I will come to you in it.

I don’t get it. How the hell did I get here? How did perfect fear cast out love? How do I turn the Titanic around? Help.

It’s time to let go of the rail. Time to jump ship. Why do you want to turn a sinking ship around? Remember the opposite of faith isn’t doubt, but certainty. Do I really expect those who follow me to be doubtless about who I Am?

I am afraid of You.

Oh, Jerry, you are so close. Fear and fear. One word that can be bent in two directions. Fight or flight. Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.

That has not been my experience.

Think. Remember. Fear has diffused you from entering the pain again. There were times when you let go and allowed your heart to break open to Me. Granted, those times are fewer and farther between. When your mother came to be with me was the last great outlet. Even when you betrayed another your heart didn’t throb under my willing hand of mercy. You brushed off your knees to go it alone.

I’m tired of going it alone. I see those closest to me slipping on their autonomy from You to make sense of this world. Many are scampering to find a coherent whole. Is there such a possibility?

I Am.

Conversations With God Part One. Hurt.

I am calling you back amidst the pluralism and disparity of your mind. There is truth and you must turn to seek it again. Don’t Pontius Pilate Me. Don’t ask the question and walk away before getting a response. I am Truth.

But there is so much to trail off into. So many ways to justify everyone’s point of view.

You don’t have to be in charge of justification. Doesn’t the word sound like it belongs to Me anyway. Your intellectual energies are draining you into a ubiquitous ocean. I know the beginning from the end. I know how far the east is from the west. Sure, humans are like little gods in My image. Each one bears My imprint and My love reaches to each heart. But the turning of hearts to Truth is a mystery. I set every human free, freedom they sometimes use to blind themselves from hurt, fear, and beauty.

Hurt, fear, and beauty? What?

Yes. Odd threesome I know. The hurt comes early in being a human. Usually it starts with some little oversight of a parent that awakens the longing.

Longing?

Yes, the longing for more, for better, for possibly another world. Remember what you said you wanted on your tombstone? ”This Isn’t All There Is.”

Yes.

You know how you check the Obituaries every day and joke with your children that you are still alive? I hear you in the silence—in the middle of night when you realize if you make it to seventy that it’s only 16 years away. I hear you. Your life has meaning and purpose, but it’s not where you think. It’s not what you think.

Well then, what is it pray tell? Where is the meaning and purpose to fill this vacuous heart?

I Am.

Sigh. I know. I’ve seen the spectrum. From spiritualizing culturally contorted Christians to vague spiritualists. The ones who sidle up to You but don’t name You. I don’t know where I fall in the lineup. I keep losing my place.

Stop looking at them. The disciples kept wanting to know who would be the closest to me when the Kingdom came. They even bickered about John, the one I love so. Martha simmered the lentils for me all the while wishing Mary would get a clue and get up and get busy. The other brother that stayed home, faithful to the prodigal’s father, ended up disgruntled. He lost the heart of the relationship. I won’t even go into the Religious leaders and their runaway lips.

But I…

Wait. Wait on Me. Hold on. There’s more. It is a conundrum I’ve allowed. The hurt usually comes from the very people you hope to connect with. It’s a given. Know that you also will hurt others. I know you don’t wake up each morning thinking about how and who you are going to disappoint and hurt. Your heart is fallow at times and My wisdom sideswipes your consciousness as you move and breath and have your being. The truth of who you are comes out when trouble arrives like the sparks that rise from a fire.

Oh, the adversity element. The “life is difficult” as M. Scott Peck would say.

Difficult yes, but spread the definition out a little. Let’s say mysterious. In the mystery of humanness, in its base elements, there rests a tension.

“Rests a tension.” Rest and tension aren’t hand and glove terms. Paradoxical, juxta positional, maybe even oppositional, but their relationship is not on a first name basis.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe in the rest and tension, one for each nostril, and out through the mouth comes mystery. I can transform what happens under the sun. It is in your heart where I do my best work. I can help you find the rest in the tension of living an imperfect world. Whether you are the recipient of hurt or the dispenser of it there is hope. Do you believe there is hope?

I must or I wouldn’t be talking with You.

The hope lies in forgiveness. To forgive others and forgive yourself is important. To ask for forgiveness and extend grace and mercy to those who ask for it (Even those who don’t) creates space for the mystery. When mystery is allowed to fill the lacerations of hurt, rest and tension aren’t so far apart. You are still “under the sun” as Solomon emphasized in My Book of Ecclesiastes. There will always be tension in the world, and when you accept it, then My rest is a possibility.

Lord, help me lie down in forgiveness, grace, and mercy.

Come. Take a load off.

Exchanging Letters 3

God,

I know the difference between talking about you and engaging with you. I also know which activity is easier. A similar concept is reading about writing and actually getting butt in chair and fingers dancing on the keys.

I’ve been thinking about third person. Do you observe the world from a third person angle? Sometimes I feel as though I’ve lived my life in third person. I live a shave away from wholeness, and see myself pouring the coffee, but hear no sound thereof. I report the life around me as a proof I might just exist. I joke with my family as I scan the obituaries for my picture, then shake my head…”I’m still here!”

So there’s the parallel on how I feel you operate and my own function under the sun.

Hmmm.

There are so many ways to try to reset the dislocation of my heart, spirit, soul, spirit, with the world spinning around me. But there is a simpler way. There has to be. I hear Jesus’ words “come unto me and I will give you rest.” Peter stepped out of the boat, and Thomas was encouraged to poke around the resurrected body of the Lord. I wonder which of the disciples I take after. I lean toward doubting Thomas with a dash of the denying Peter, but long to be like the disciple Jesus loved. John.

Love, Jerry

Jerry,

I see you. There is a simpler way. I am the way. Your dislocated feeling is understood. I too want engagement, not a third person detached rhetoric. I want your heart. Remember that dreary rainy day way back when? The day you walked up a driveway with a package and engaged me with a question? You asked me if I loved you. I sent a breeze through a row of pine trees and whispered “yes.” I knew you and one of your favorite things…the sound of wind through thousands of needles.

I see your fear. I feel your resistance to releasing control. I know you struggle with being labeled as one of ‘those’ kind of Christians. I got you. I get you. Bring those thoughts to me like you are doing right now. I can handle them. I Am, you know. Take a deep breath.

By the way, living in third person isn’t always a bad thing. That’s how creatives are wired. They help those whose don’t know their need to stop and smell the roses to consider doing so. I sent someone Saturday night to tell you those very words to encourage you.

Love, I Am