See the Spirit Glowing (Hymn)

angels

See the spirit glowing
in another’s eyes.
Whither is it going
when the spirit dies?

Up to highest heaven—
could it truly be?
To the Savior given
for eternity.

Out of love created
at time’s rosy dawn,
recapitulated—
souls live on and on.

See the spirit glowing;
ever may it be
to the Savior given
for eternity.

Amen.

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Advent, Time of Waiting

Andrea_Mantegna_The_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds

At Advent we remind ourselves that once upon
a time there was despair, and we remember
hopelessness, for we were tethered to the law.
Errors came with penalties; forgiveness was a
hit-or-miss affair. We paid the price for lovelessness;
we died inside and knew not how we might revive
or where new life resided… and the promises of
Jesus Christ were just a rumor then, confusion in
the holy scriptures as to heaven, hell, and who
could earn salvation by obedience and birthright…
till one night there came a star, and who do you
suppose were chosen to perceive its consequence
but three nomadic Zoroastrians and scattered
shepherds—not the proud, the arrogant, or even
the religious. God implanted into humble hearts
the certainty that victory required not swords and
shields but purity. Freedom had arrived not on a
charger but an ass, not in a palace but a stable,
where the baby born of Mary slept unwitting in a
manger.

We’d do well to not forget the time of waiting, not
be careless of this annual anticipation, not dismiss
the lesson that began when shepherds and the
three wise men were chosen to behold Christ’s
coming, God with us, Emmanuel… lest we be
deceived into believing power emanates from
mighty arms instead of gentle spirits, guided by
compassion, mercy, holy love, firm faith to find our
peace on earth and life eternal in the indestructible
embrace of God.

You Are Made for Happiness

two angels

Psalm for Advent

…Be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.  —Isaiah 65:18

Be happy, my children.
For happiness I have created you, and your misery brings me no pleasure.
You will have burdens, which friends will lift when you are overcome.
You will shed tears, and another will wipe your eyes.
Your brothers and your sisters will care for you through illness and adversity.
They will milk your cows and feed your chickens,
plant your grain or harvest it according to the season,
as you shall do for them when you are strong and well.

For happiness I have created you,
and it grieves me to witness your anger and jealousy.
Have I not made the foliage green enough?
Are the valleys too deep and the prairies too vast for your delight?
Do the flowers offend you with their
fragrant red petals and sweet, gentle scents?
Is the honey too sweet that bees make from their nectar?
Do the robins sing too loudly and the redbirds too early?
Does your neighbor possess greater abundance than you,
with your overstuffed chairs and your pantries full to bursting?

For happiness I have created you,
and I offer help for your misfortune.
Do not rehearse your woes but practice cheerfulness.
Take hope from others who have triumphed over the
very obstacles that overwhelm you.
Do not wallow in your hardship, lest you become
too accustomed to wretchedness and
forget the loveliness of bliss and the beauty of enchantment.

For happiness I have created you,
and your gladness spreads like the dawn across the
forested vale, leaf after leaf gilded even as the stars fade.
Share not your bitterness but your faith with your husband
or wife, your children, your mother and father.

For happiness I have created you,
for out of happiness spring compassion and charity.
Depleted yourself, you have nothing to give.

For happiness I have created you,
and your happiness is my joy.
So complete is my love for you that I have sent my son
to make you whole where you feel lacking.
All I require is that you remember whence your
good fortune comes.

For happiness I have created you,
so be happy, my children.
May your days be many
and your love perfected in me.

New Creation

The Creation of Adam Sistine Chapel Michelangelo.jpg

God, my prayers are an unholy mess.
I plan and structure them, write lists
and check things off, and when I’ve
finished, I feel the same sensation of
accomplishment as if I’ve scrubbed out
the commode. But I don’t believe that
prayers are meant to be an inconvenience.
I think you want us to hand you the mess.
I don’t think you get tired of hearing us say,
Here I am again, God, not one bit saintlier
than yesterday.

God, my life is slovenly. I start each day with
pure intentions: to be kind, industrious…
to know my own magnificence, shine with
your radiance… and, yes, to make a
difference. By ten a.m. my noble aims are
ashes in the grate, and I am heavy with the
weight of my undone objectives. I organize,
I strategize, and then I beat myself about
the head and chest because I’ve cashed out
my vitality. Salvage what is left of me, I pray,
and place me on the path that leads to
blessedness despite my awkward gait.

God, I live and move in tarnished splendor.
What you created pure as ice and bright as
gold has faded, lost its shape, grown cynical
and weary of the race. Yet all the elements
remain, and you, God, and only you can
reassemble them. Only you can recreate me,
as you did that first day when the world lay
at my feet. Reawaken me, O God, to your
awesome power and your tender grace.

Amen.

 

 

May They Dance Again

The-Wedding-Dance-1566-Pieter-Brueghel-the-Elder

The Wedding Dance, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1566

Song for the Twenty-Fifth Day of Lent

Father-Mother, God of life, restore now strength and health
as thy children pray for mercy at thy holy well.
Wash them with this sacred water—
mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters—
wipe the tears from every face;
feed their hunger by thy grace.

May angel voices out of heaven shout a great amen.
May the hands be healing hands that minister to them.
May the eyes that see their pain be soft like April’s first warm rain.
May kindness be the cup they drink, and may they dance again.

Father-Mother, let them hear thine own majestic voice,
soothing or resounding o’er the tumult and the noise.
May the lighting and the thunder
tell of signs and speak of wonders.
Sing to those who bow before thee
songs of victory and glory.

May angel voices out of heaven shout a great amen.
May the hands be healing hands that minister to them.
May the eyes that see their pain be soft like April’s first warm rain.
May kindness be the cup they drink, and may they dance again.

Redeemed

MEADOW-AT-GIVERNY-claude-monet-artist-monet

Meadow at Giverny, Claude Monet, 1888

Meditation for the Twenty-Third Day of Lent

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. —Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

There was no light in the pit, nor was there
another heartbeat, only mine, and that was faint.
We were falling, my cold heart and I. The sides of
the cave were slick, and I could gain no purchase.
Nothing grew there except terror, which swelled
like a storm cloud and would have smothered
me.  And I said, God, I shall never see another
morning unless you lift me with your mercy. I
shall never walk in sunlight unless it be by your
grace. But you are removed from this pit; you are
not in this place. God, can you, even you, forgive
my unbelief? Will you renew a right spirit in me?
Can I ever again know the joy of your salvation?

There was no sound in the pit, nor could I hear
my own heartbeat, and I wondered if the whole
world had grown dark and silent. I feared for
myself and for those I had loved, long ago, when
I was able to love. It seemed that the very
universe had succumbed to darkness. Then my
feet touched a great stone that stopped my
falling, and my hands felt a solid thing, like the
bark of a tree, and when I breathed, a sweet wind
filled my lungs, and I heard a sound, an oboe and
a tympani, and, fearful of hope, I said, God, if I am
redeemed, it is you who has saved me. It is your
strong right hand that even now pulls me from
this deathly cavern. It is your light that warms my
bones. It is your word that restores my life. Are
there psalms sufficient to praise you for your
steadfast love? For the rest of my days I shall tell
of your deeds with songs of joy.

Amen.

 

Saved by Grace

Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_Apostles-Duccio-di-Buoninsegna-1308-1311

Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles, Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1308-1311

Meditation for the Sixteenth Day of Lent

I got off to a bad start in Christianity. In Sunday School
I learned that I was supposed to want to be like Jesus,
but I secretly wanted to be like Carolyn Chandler, who
was adorable and blond and athletically talented and
whose grandmother sewed beautiful dresses for her
out of starched gingham with grosgrain ribbon trim.
Jesus didn’t own a single pretty dress, not to mention
sturdy shoes or a change of underwear, and the
speeches he made and the miracles he performed
didn’t seem to be working for him in terms of career
success. He died a miserable death, and he still had to
go to Hell—those three days were no cakewalk. We’re
told that he finally got to Heaven, where, as far as
anybody knew, he had to sit around with God a
hundred percent of forever. I pictured them side by
side in deck chairs in an otherwise empty room,
making polite conversation, receiving the occasional
visitor—maybe Paul and his ilk, whose idea of a good
time was to suffer gladly in the name of the Lord. Can
you teach grateful suffering to an eight-year-old? One
must, I think, experience despair at least once (more, if
one is not an exceptionally quick study) and be
redeemed—not by an infusion of cash or a rise to
stardom but by grace, freely given and entirely
undeserved—to perceive that Jesus Christ is alive and
well and working miracles in one’s body, mind, and
spirit, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

_____________

Adapted from Annagrammatica’s Little Book of Affirmationsby Mary Campbell