12.23.2013

Canticle of Mary

(The Magnificat)


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
   and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be for ever,
world without end. Amen.


"...not into temptation"

(A meditation on each word(s)
 of the Lord's prayer)

Even though I profess
You are the one true God,
the world contains 
so many of
its own gods.

Trying to seduce me
that their fantasies 
are able to
fulfill my 
needs and wants.

Lord,
may every choice
I make today,
be considered
between
Your Way
and the 
world's temptations.

12.16.2013

A Christmas Circular Letter


The city had withdrawn into itself 
And left at last the country to the country; 
When between whirls of snow not come to lie 
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove 
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city, 
Yet did in country fashion in that there 
He sat and waited till he drew us out 
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was. 
He proved to be the city come again 
To look for something it had left behind 
And could not do without and keep its Christmas. 
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees; 
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place 
Where houses all are churches and have spires. 
I hadn't thought of them as Christmas Trees. 
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment 
To sell them off their feet to go in cars 
And leave the slope behind the house all bare, 
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon. 
I'd hate to have them know it if I was. 
Yet more I'd hate to hold my trees except 
As others hold theirs or refuse for them, 
Beyond the time of profitable growth, 
The trial by market everything must come to. 
I dallied so much with the thought of selling. 
Then whether from mistaken courtesy 
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether 
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, 
I said, "There aren't enough to be worth while." 

"I could soon tell how many they would cut, You let me look them over." 

                                    "You could look. 
But don't expect I'm going to let you have them." 
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close 
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few 
Quite solitary and having equal boughs 
All round and round. The latter he nodded "Yes" to, 
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one, 
With a buyer's moderation, "That would do." 
I thought so too, but wasn't there to say so. 
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over, 
And came down on the north.
                                     He said, "A thousand." 
"A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?" 

He felt some need of softening that to me:
 "A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars." 

Then I was certain I had never meant 
To let him have them. 
Never show surprise! 
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside 
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents 
(For that was all they figured out apiece), 
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends 
I should be writing to within the hour 
Would pay in cities for good trees like those, 
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools 
Could hang enough on to pick off enough. 
A thousand Christmas trees I didn't know I had! 
Worth three cents more to give away than sell, 
As may be shown by a simple calculation. 
Too bad I couldn't lay one in a letter. 
I can't help wishing I could send you one, 
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas. 

Robert Frost

"And lead us..."

(A meditation on each word(s)
 of the Lord's prayer)


It is true
that the angels
cheer and rejoice
over the one
that the Shepherd
has returned to the fold.

However,
they are mystified
at the Master's
difficulty to
lead the 99
from the 
pastures of the past
to
fresh new meadows.

12.08.2013

"...we forgive those who trespass against us."

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

The Physician
said:

"In order to stop
suffering,
you must end
this self-medication of 
bitterness,
addictions,
grudges,
habits,
and hurts."

But we respond:
"We will
really suffer!"

And He answered:
"Then healing 
can start."

So we make the decision-
Should we
consider this cure
or 
start exploring
second opinions?

"As we..."

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

Lord,
we're having this
nice conversation of
what You will provide
now and in the future.

And then
 unexpectedly, 
You bring 
us 
into the discussion.

"What could we do for You?"
we ask.

And after a
moment of
silence,
the Other speaks
one word:
"Love."

MANDELA'S FAVORITE POEM

Invictus
William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

12.01.2013

“Christmas traffic”

Three, two, one, liftoff
Signals Mission Control. And off they go.
To the dark parts of the planets
In their pressurized spacesuits,
Cocooned in technology, the astronauts.

Mission control whispers in someone’s ear.
Yes, she says, I will. And in due time
A different traveler makes a quieter journey,
Arriving hungry, naked, but true to instructions,
Docking on Earth, taking the one small step.

U. A. Fanthorpe

"And forgive us our trespasses"

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

As we cleanse
our temples
and rid 
ourselves of 
all the souvenirs
from the places
where we thought
we could find
unconditional love,

Lord,
please take them
away
along with our
desires for them.

And afterwards, 
 lead us
your rebellious children
in a service
of rededication.

11.17.2013

"Give us this day! "

(A meditation on each word(s)
of the Lord's prayer)

Lord,
Give us this day
to live and share our love.

Lord,
Give us this day
to take delight in You.

Lord, 
Give us this day
to be peacemakers in this hostile world. 

Lord,
Give us this day
to be patient in this "me-first" world.

Lord,
Give us this day
to show kindness to strangers.

Lord, 
Give us this day
to value our friendships.

Lord,
At the end of this day
may we surrender all back to You
and petition You, 
our heavenly Father
to grant us one more day.

"Give us this day"

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

The Hand You’re Dealt

Every day
God deals us
our hand
for the day.

Some of us
fold
in resignation.

Some of us
bluff
our way 
through the day.

And the rest
play the game
the way the Master 
taught them.

"...our daily bread"


(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

The people of the Empire
wonder why 
the God of abundance
parcels out
His Providence
in daily packages,
while 
the rest of the world
utters a 
grateful
alleluia. 

The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church: The Eucharist


Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.
They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward
to receive the gift
from the priest’s hand,
then the chalice.

They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.

I want
to see Jesus,
maybe in the clouds
or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man
and clearly
someone else
besides.

On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.

Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have.

Mary Oliver

11.10.2013

Happiness by Carl Sandburg

I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
     me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
     thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
     I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
     the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
     their women and children and a keg of beer and an
     accordion.

“On earth as it is in heaven”

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

Christian Nation

How will the
people of the Empire
who value
freedom
and 
individual rights
be able to
comprehend
an eternal life 
under
the singular rule 
of a 
King
and 
a world
based on
serving
community
rather than 
self-interests?

"Be done"

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)


Why can't 
Your will
be done 
like mine?

Just
cross off
another
task from
the to do list.

Instead
Your will
is accomplished
by the faithful
doing its best
to follow 
Your path
with their crosses
in an 
eternal march
You lead.

"Thy will"

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

I hate clich├ęs.

But 
where 
there
is a
will,
there
is a
way.

And
we don't need
to search for direction.

For 
You 
declared:
I AM
the 
Way.

Teaching us Your will 
by
 following You.

Lord,
may we 
fulfill Your will
by 
moving closer
to You
each day
in Word,
Work,
and Worship.

Amen.

11.06.2013

I'll Be Your Mirror

Songwriters: Reed, Lou / Lang, David

I'll be your mirror 
Reflect what you are, in case you don't know 
I'll be the wind, the rain and the sunset 
The light on your door to show that you're home 

When you think the night has seen your mind 
That inside you're twisted and unkind 
Let me stand to show that you are blind 
Please put down your hands 
'Cause I see you 

I find it hard to believe you don't know 
The beauty that you are 
But if you don't let me be your eyes 
A hand in your darkness, so you won't be afraid 

When you think the night has seen your mind 
That inside you're twisted and unkind 
Let me stand to show that you are blind 
Please put down your hands 
'Cause I see you 

I'll be your mirror
I'll be your mirror
I'll be your mirror


"Come"

(A meditation on each word(s)
 of the Lord's prayer)

On the second Christmas,
When He comes.

Not as a baby
But as the King.

No star directing those to see Him
But He who is the Light in the darkness

Not escaping to Egypt
But reclaiming those who kept the faith.

No gifts from the wise men
But reviewing what the faithful and unfaithful
did with theirs.

On the second Christmas,
When He comes.

“Thy Kingdom”

(A meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

I agree.
This is Your kingdom.

Where Your Presence
permeates the
place like
a mustard tree
annihilates a
garden
or the 
yeast that goes
throughout the 
loaf.

A kingdom that
has a declaration
that every ruler
has dreamed of -
A kingdom that will
never end.

A kingdom
whose citizens are
the ones 
who found the pearl
and knew its
true value.

The ones who 
kept their hand
on the plow
without looking back

Where
good thieves
tax collectors
prostitutes
the childlike
are allowed in.

While the rich 
desperately hope 
for their
advocates
to show up.

10.27.2013

"Thy name"

(a meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

Your Name
which signifies omnipresence
in a land that
stares into 
its self-absorbed screens.

Your Name
which signifies omnipotence
in a land that 
fights over 
scraps of power.

Your Name
which signifies omniscience
in a land that
hung Truth
on a cross.

The Bird With the Human Head

~ Anne Sexton

I went to the bird
with the human head,
and asked,
"Please Sir,
where is God?"

"God is too busy
to be here on earth,
His angels are like one thousand geese assembled
and always flapping.
But I can tell you where the well of God is."

"Is it on earth?"
I asked.
He replied,
"Yes. It was dragged down
from paradise by one of the geese."

I walked many days,
past witches that eat grandmothers knitting booties
as if they were collecting a debt.

Then, in the middle of the desert
I found the well,
it bubbled up and down like a litter of cats
and there was water,
and I drank,
and there was water,
and I drank.

Then the well spoke to me.

It said:  "Abundance is scooped from abundance,
yet abundance remains."

Then I knew.

Irish Folk Tale

Once there was a poor and generous old man from Ballaghaderreen who has a dream.  In it he is told to make a journey at the end of which he will find a pot of gold.  In this case the old man has to leave Balla and travel a good way to Dublin and there, when he crosses one of the bridges over the River Liffy, he will find a pub, and there he will find his treasure.  

The old man follows the dream map and when he sees the pub that was in his dream he looks around but there's no place he can dig for a hidden treasure, so he stands beside the door and waits.  He waits all day and at nightfall the publican comes out and asks,
"What are you standing here for all day long?"

"I had a dream that told me to come here."

"A dream?  I think you must be a daft old man to follow dreams.  I, myself, had a dream a month ago and it told me to go to some poor old sod's cottage on the crossroads from French Park to Ballaghaderreen and if I did, I would find a pot of gold in his front yard.  Do you think I would go traipsing all over the countryside because of a dream?  It's cold.  You should go home."

"Indeed I should and will," said the old man.

And when he got home he dug in his front yard and found the treasure and wasn't he himself and all the others the better for it.  

And if he hasn't given it all away we might share a bit with them.

10.21.2013

The Radical Priest on Luke 18:1-8

(Parable of the Persistent Widow)

Now most of 
my brethren
will preach
that the lesson of
the text is
to be persistent in prayer.
To pray unceasingly 
as St. Paul puts it.

However,
the problem I
have with this
message is
by extension
the unjust judge
is God.

Whom we
can badger
anything out of
Him 
if we are  
relentless in
our petitions.

Allow me
to turn the tables
on this parable.

God is the
widow.

Constantly 
pleading 
to the point of 
being pushy
to get us
to see His way
is the best way.

And I can see
by the look in
some of your eyes
you sense
the implications
of this.

WE ARE THE UNJUST JUDGE!

Do we
don't care
what God thinks?

Do we 
ignore
what God is pleading with
us about?

Do we worry
about 
God upsetting 
our apple cart
or worse?

(Aside: I never before noticed 
in the  text
that judge was afraid
of physical harm 
by his continual
rejecting of her claims.)

So the 
message I have for 
you this
Sabbath 
is this:
Yes,
be faithful in prayer.
Pray in the Spirit.
Pray in love and truth
and unceasingly.

But also
listen to
and contemplate
on the Father's
continual
prayers for you.

Buddha on Matthew 6:25-34

An old farmer went to the Buddha 
seeking help for his problems. 

First, he had professional problems. 
In his part of the world, 
farming was extremely difficult 
and his work completely vulnerable to weather. 

Even though he loved his wife, 
there were certain things 
about her he wanted to change. 

Similarly, he loved his children, 
but they weren’t evolving 
the way he had hoped and anticipated. 

Listening carefully
as the man explained his frustrations with life, 
the Buddha responded, 
“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.”

“What do you mean?” 
questioned the farmer. 
“You’re a highly regarded great teacher 
who has insight into all of life’s problems.”

“All human beings have eighty-three problems,” 
the Buddha explained. 
“A few problems may go away, 
but soon enough others will arise. 
So we’ll always have eighty-three problems.”

The farmer, both indignant and frustrated, asked, 
“So what good is all of your teaching?”

To which the Buddha replied, 
“My teaching can’t help with the eighty-three problems, 
but perhaps it can help with the eighty-fourth problem.”

“What’s that?” the farmer asked with great curiosity.

“The eighty-fourth problem is that 
we don’t want to have any problems.”

“Hallowed be”

(a meditation on each word(s) 
of the Lord's prayer)

I

Lord,
when I'm in a
church 
that is in 
more awe 
of the preacher
than You,
I believe 
I hear them
pray:
“...hollowed be thy Name”

II
The Beauty of His Holiness

You are 
holy.

Compassionate before a person sins,
Compassionate after a person has sinned,
and
mighty in compassion 
to give all creatures according to their need.

Merciful, that humankind may not be distressed;
Gracious if humankind is already in distress.

You are
slow to anger;
plenteous in mercy;
speaking in truth;
keeping mercy unto thousands;
forgiving
iniquity;
transgression;
and sin;
and pardoning
because
You are 
holy.


10.13.2013

"in Heaven"

(a meditation on each word(s) of the Lord's prayer)

Your eternal address.

You
once sublet
the place
to that
nice couple
You created.

Unfortunately,
 You had to 
evict them
because they
broke
the 
Lease.

And for 
a long time
you let 
the place go vacant.

Then
You decided
to 
advertise
Kingdom Properties.

First
the prophets.

Then
Your Son.

Telling
all who 
would listen
about
the new terms
of the Lease. 1

And revealing to people 
the new name of the estate --
Graceland.


Note 1  - John 1:17

"Who Art"

(a meditation on each word(s) of the Lord's prayer)

I
A Mystery.

All
of the modern 
versions of
the Book
have dropped 
this line,
so why
do we pray
as if 
Jesus
proclaimed
the Good News
in 
Old English? 

II
Jehovah-Shammah

"You are"
Jesus insists.

No ancestor 
worship
of
Abraham,
Isaac,
and Jacob.

You 
are
the God
of the living.

You are 
Presence.


Benediction

Rabindranath Tagore

Bless this little heart, 
this white soul that has won the kiss of
heaven for our earth.

He loves the light of the sun, 
he loves the sight of his
mother's face.

He has not learned to despise the dust, 
and to hanker after gold.
Clasp him to your heart and bless him.

He has come into this land of an hundred cross-roads.
I know not how he chose you from the crowd, came to your door,
and grasped your hand to ask his way.

He will follow you, laughing while talking, 
and not a doubt in his heart.
Keep his trust, lead him straight and bless him.

Lay your hand on his head, and pray that though the waves
underneath grow threatening, yet the breath from above may come 
and fill his sails and waft him to the heaven of peace.

Forget him not in your hurry, 
let him come to your heart and
bless him. 

10.06.2013

Our

(meditation on each word(s) of the Lord's prayer)

You made us.

I can understand
why You call us 
Yours.

But it’s only through
Your gift of 
grace
that we can begin
in prayer with 
“Our”

Father

(meditation on each word(s) of the Lord's prayer)

You love us
unconditionally.

You desire 
relationship.

Yet,
You allow us to wander
away.

No Amber alert.
No pictures on a milk carton.

Just
the confidence
that Your children will
 repent their sins
and understand
there is no place like Home.

Meal Blessing

(From a prayer book)

Blessed are you, Father
who gives us
our daily bread.

Blessed is your only begotten Son,
who continually feeds us
with the word of life.

Blessed is the Holy Spirit,
who brings us together
at this table of love.

Blessed be God
now and forever.
Amen.

9.30.2013

Avarice and Usury and Precaution


When the accumulation of wealth
 is no longer of high social importance, 
there will be great changes in the code of morals. 

We shall be able to rid ourselves
 of many of the pseudo-moral principles
 which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, 
by which we have exalted
 some of the most distasteful of human qualities
 into the position of the highest virtues. 

We shall be able to afford
 to dare to assess the money-motive
 at its true value. 

The love of money as a possession — 
as distinguished from the love of money
 as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — 
will be recognized for what it is, 
a somewhat disgusting morbidity, 
one of those semi-criminal, 
semi-pathological propensities 
which one hands over with a shudder
 to the specialists in mental disease.

 But beware! 
The time for all this is not yet. 
For at least another hundred years
 we must pretend to ourselves
 and to everyone
 that fair is foul
 and foul is fair; 
for foul is useful and fair is not. 

Avarice and usury and precaution
 must be our gods for a little longer still. 

For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.

John Maynard Keynes (1931)

The Radical Priest on Luke 16:19-31


Sometimes,
when I think of the afterlife
the question I have is:
“Will it be much different than now?”
(In other words: on earth as it is heaven (really?))

Consider this as
we read this parable of the
one percenter.

Does his world view change
with fires of Hades
lapping him?

To start, he still treats
those in power 
with respect.
(Father Abraham)

And as usual,
 the conversation
of the powerful turns to 
how the 99ers can do their will.
(Send Lazarus to cool my tongue)

Next, there we hear
of a chasm.

Except the tables are turned.

The earthly who 
amassed and stockpiled
the gains of the economy
and separated themselves
from the rest of society
now live in a gated community
that eternally faces an abyss.
(A physical and spiritual one)

And the last aspect of
this parable is the benefit
of those who have
power and influence:
inside information.

He pleads with
Father Abraham
to let his family know
to tell them 
his story 
of Breaking Bad
by sending Lazarus.

And Abraham 
tells him,
“They just need to listen
to Moses and the Prophets.
They told the truth."

And the Patriarch concludes:
"Anyway, remember 
where you came from!
Do you really think 
Lazarus would be able to
ring your door bell?"