Thursday, July 14, 2011

Standing Grain

In the Gospel of Matthew
at the beginning of chapter 12
an incident is described
in which Jesus and his disciples
are walking through a field of standing grain.
The disciples are plucking the ripe heads
and eating them because they were hungry.
The Pharisees protested because
according to the letter of the Law
this constituted doing work on the Sabbath,
which is forbidden.
Jesus took this situation as a teaching moment
and explained how legalism can inhibit spirituality.

You may wish to read the passage (Mt 12:1-8).

Once when I meditated on this scene,
trying to understand the lesson being taught,
I wrote in my prayer journal
the following poetic interpretation.

I hope you enjoy reading it
and wonder at the mystery hidden within the
Standing Grain.


Make a pathway through the standing grain;
live your life with more than just your brain.
Follow Jesus as he teaches you
how to pluck the grains of what is true.

There are those who want you to be strict
and throw away the grains that you have picked;
but Jesus speaks to them of tables turned:
the law of love's essential to be learned.

To value law and protocol is good
because it helps us live the way we should;
but putting law above all human pleas
is just to emulate the Pharisees.

The pilgrimage we make keeps God's precepts;
The loving heart builds on the mind's concepts.
We must be fed on grain that Jesus gives
to gain the strength to live the Way he lives.

So walk through life with disciples who obey
the Word of God who loves and leads the Way.
Be not fooled by teachings that are vain
as you follow Jesus through the standing grain.

+ + +

The "Being Stirred" quote for this posting is

“To-day, the waters of this stagnant pool were wildly stirred.”

21 April 1862 entry in diary of Mary Chestnut.

("A Diary from Dixie", Gramercy Books, 1997)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Flutter By Meditation

Wandering broadly, weaving
left and right, willowing
up and down; all ways wondering.

Pausing narrowly, piloting
in an out, pulsating
back and forth; on the way pondering.

Finally, at least for a green moment
the spiral of wandering to wondering
the growth of pausing to pondering
discovers the straight and narrow Way.

Perhaps there is something to learn
from the transient leafed butterfly.

+ + +

This photo was taken by my precious wife during a visit to
the Virginia Beach Aquarium, an engaging experience.

+ + +

With each new blog posting will now come a different
"Being Stirred by God" quotation from a variety of sources.
Here's the first:
"as leaves stirred by wind whisper softly outside"
from a poem by Megan McKenna in her collection,
Dancing with Angels (Continuum, 1998, page 90).

+ + +

May you find your way to the Way
who is the Christ.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mixture Meditation

A retired friend took this photo on one of many Winnebago trips with his wife. The scene, a mixture of fertility and barrenness, perhaps suggests the way life can be - a mixture positive and negative elements. After meditating on this aspect of our shared human experience, what i wrote in my prayer journal appears below. I wonder what your perception might be regarding life's mix of beauty and ugliness, of good and evil.

it is not enough to meditate on beauty
for there is ugliness in the mix
or behind the scenes

turn over the portrait of a flower art crafted
of colored string and thread and ribbon
and you will see chaotic knots and random criss-crossings

visit the neatly dressed and well-mannered family
who fit perfectly on a magazine cover
in the home at secret times where and when
there is domestic violence or child abuse

learn to look through a person's eyes
into the truth harboring soul
and be not distracted by smile or charming words
so as to recognize evil for what it is

not every place in the world is safe
from invasion, kidnapping, torture and careless death
trust people who have seen the worst
and still give witness to the best
they are sparks of life in the divine fire

in a society of packaging for promotion
angling for advantage and snaring for sales
there are instances both of service and of greed
there are examples of real ministry and abusive power
there are champions of generous giving and of greedy taking

both beauty and ugliness are in the mix
in which wisdom perceives behind the scenes
and knows that meditation itself is not enough

Our prayer might begin as does Psalm 43:
Defend me, O God, and plead my cause against a godless nation.
From deceitful and cunning men rescue me, O God.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

4th of July Weekend

On this 4th of July weekend, may you know both quiet reflection and shared celebration.

Carol and I recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. It was June 19 (which was also Fathers Day) and did so in the quiet of one of the cabins at Pine Haven in Beaver, West Virginia. We elected the "lovers package" and so were greeted with roses in a vase, chocolate covered strawberries and toasting liquid refreshment with keepsake glasses. We passed on white water rafting and rock climbing options, but did exercise horseshoes, Frisbee golf and some shuttle cock. Dinner at "The Char" restaurant was delightful.

Several years ago, while we were visiting Canada during a 4th of July weekend, Carol did take some photos as we watched the fireworks show from a hotel window. Here is one of her photos and what follows is a prayer I wrote while meditating on the exciting sky explosions we watched together. Perhaps this prayer will be one you may wish to say a few times this holiday weekend.

Fireworks Prayer

Lord Jesus,
I wish so much to be close to you
to allow you to draw as near as you may wish.

Sometimes your Presence explodes into my awareness
and I am awestruck with color, wonder, beauty and mystery.

But most of the time it is like a dark, black and empty sky.

How I treasure our relationship!

I apologize for so often ignoring it,
or for presuming upon it,
or for just flirting with it.

May my heart and mind be open to you completely,
whether the night sky of my soul is dark or exploding in light.

May you be the Master
of my thoughts,
my words,
my deeds.