finding your voice…

The following is an excerpt from John Grisham’s graduation speech at the University of  North Carolina at Chapel Hill published in the Christian Science Monitor:

“When a writer finds the voice, the words flow freely, the sentences become paragraphs and pages and chapters, and the story is told, the writer is heard, and the reader is rewarded.

In this respect, writing is a lot like life itself. In life, a voice is much more than the sound we make when we talk. Infants and preschoolers have voices and can make a lot of noise, but a voice is more than sound.

The voice of change, the voice of compassion, the voice of the future, the voice of his generation, the voice of her people. We hear this all the time. Voices, not words….

To be heard, you must find a voice. For your ideas to be accepted, for your arguments to be believed, for your work to be admired, you must find a voice.”

Here’s to finding  resonance,

crystal clarity of soundness,

thought and being one,

you, no observer,

audience to your life

but the living of it

poised

home

no running start

already there

“Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity.” Mary Baker Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection

“A man’s gift maketh room for him…” Proverbs

The following poem is by Lucille Clifton from her volume of poetry entitled Quilting:

blessing the boats

(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back      may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

“a way in the wilderness…”

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah

a way in the wilderness…

a way.

there will always be a way.

one of my favorite definitions in Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health is of the word wilderness.

she starts it out with these words:  “Loneliness; doubt; darkness.”

anything but these…please, anything but the vacuous three…

flight ensues

frantic scattering

no way out but here

battle or be still

gnashing of teeth or surrender

silence.

an inkling takes root within

the definition continues:

“Spontaneity of thought and idea;

the vestibule

in which a material sense of things disappears,

and spiritual sense unfolds

the great facts of existence.”

what now waits within you to emerge

what light dawns

taking hold of heaven

this, not that, is what you’re borne for

this, not that, is what you are

suddenly darkness, doubt, loneliness

are on the run

scattered, dispelled,

running for cover

where none is,

for all here is sheltered in light

all here is the holy ground of home

all here includes the tender hands of omnipotence

pointing out the moment

showing us the way

showing us our way

a way of possibilities,

many mansions,

no shortages

no competition

excess of excellence

and multiplication of joy.

“As the children of Israel were guided triumphantly through the Red Sea, the dark ebbing and flowing tides of human fear, — as they were led through the wilderness, walking wearily through the great desert of human hopes, and anticipating the promised joy, — so shall the spiritual idea guide all right desires in their passage from sense to Soul…” Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy

embrace the wilderness.

take it up in your arms.

love the dawning it is prompting.

turn your back on darkness,

shine,

shine,

shine shine shine

out from the light of Love.

“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” Isaiah

“it’s going to be alright…”

woke the other morning to the words from Sara Groves‘ song “It’s going to be alright.”

“it’s going to be…alright…

it’s…going to be… alright…

just when you cannot…

then I will hold out faith…for you”

swept, washed in comfort,

carried, companioned,

sheltered, sustained.

hope engendered,

conviction undeterred,

peace rendered,

repelling, dispelling, silencing

encroaching doubt, fear, uncertainty.

air alive with possibility.

hosts of angels

prodding,

singing,

urging,

whispers of Truth

searing, certain, relentless comfort of God

rending the dark

lighting up the inside.

“Thus founded upon the rock of Christ, when storm
and tempest beat against this sure foundation, you,
safely sheltered in the strong tower of hope, faith, and
Love, are God’s nestlings; and He will hide you in His
feathers till the storm has passed. Into His haven of
Soul there enters no element of earth to cast out angels,
to silence the right intuition which guides you safely
home.” Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy

where is Love’s voice not present?

where anywhere is Love’s hand not at work?

quiet, resistless fingers disentangle darkness.

roads to Damascus everywhere.

inevitable righting.

immaculate.

yes.

it’s going to be alright.

every valley…

i happened upon Mary Baker Eddy’s definition of the word “valley” this morning. couched in between the words depression and darkness lies the word meekness. i hadn’t noticed that before. it was one of those “oh”…moments.

valleys…pits…holes too big to climb out of, moments fraught with darkness, drunk with depression, and yet there in the midst is meekness, a silent ember, homing signal, a window, doorway, a waymark heading: “enter here, transport home.”

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Isaiah

there’s a wonderful version of Handel’s Messiah called A Soulful Celebration. their version of the song “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” always delights me. (you can hear at least a part of it through this highlighted link.) it speaks to the imminent promise, the immediacy…how quickly things can turn from darkness to light, vantage points change, an emergence of knowing takes hold, dawn arrives.

here’s the rest of Eddy’s definition:

“‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’ (Psalm xxiii. 4.)

Though the way is dark in mortal sense, divine Life
and Love illumine it, destroy the unrest of mortal thought,
the fear of death, and the supposed reality of error. Chris‐
tian Science, contradicting sense, maketh the valley to bud
and blossom as the rose.”

right where darkness, doubt, depression, despondency loom largest–inviting surrender, entanglement, fixation; right there meekness beckons: here slither unseen through the morass; here walk weightless through the mire; here find the valley mountainlike, the whole world flooded with light.

in this day…

here in this day

before you begin

before the launch

the hurtling forth

wait

stay

pause

listen

beneath assumption

presumption

myriad forecastinations

answers await

presence asserts

already

all ready

all all ready

abundance proceeding

unveiling

unfolding

all offerings found

all received

“God is our mother as truly as he is our father; and he shows us this in everything, and especially in the sweet words where he says ‘It is I’, that is to say, ‘It is I: the power and goodness of fatherhood; It is I: the wisdom of motherhood. It is I: the light and grace which is all blessed love. It is I: the Trinity. It is I: the unity. I am the sovereign goodness of all manner of things. It is I that make you love. It is I that make you long. It is I: the eternal fulfillment of all true desires.'” Julian of Norwich Revelations of Divine Love

1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me. Psalms 63

“I am Spirit. Man, whose senses are spiritual, is my
likeness. He reflects the infinite understanding, for I am
Infinity. The beauty of holiness, the perfection of being,
imperishable glory, — all are Mine, for I am
God. I give immortality to man, for I am
Truth. I include and impart all bliss, for I am Love.
I give life, without beginning and without end, for I am
Life. I am supreme and give all, for I am Mind. I am
the substance of all, because I AM THAT I AM.”
Mary Baker Eddy Science and Health

“something changed…”

“let there be light

and there was light”

light light light

everywhere light

spilling

shining

breaking open the most

secret places

singing:

“flourish!

flourish!

all of you

flourish!”

sometimes light comes in inklings, barely graspable glimmers, crumbs of insights leading us, leading us on and out, journeys Spiritward. sometimes it comes in sweeping waves, moments so clear our lives change in a moment. i love the passage from Isaiah that says, “precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” the littles, even the littles…cherish the littles…build, grow, move, embrace, stretch, yearn, reach, soar.

Mary Baker Eddy puts it beautifully in this way: “When angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts. Oh, may you feel this touch, — it is not the clasping of hands, nor a loved person present; it is more than this: it is a spiritual idea that lights your path!”

one of my most cherished moments of light happened the summer after high school. this poem was written a few years ago for my friend Sally:

we are at the dead end

in a station wagon

looking out the window for a sunset,

the lake pushing up against the sky.

i am railing once again against my life;

injustices of disappointments

having decided

how things ought to be and aren’t.

you are a fine-tuned ear

drinking in the words

but not sinking in my sorrow

your gaze takes me

out beyond the sky and lake

and road of gravel

you are leading me on a journey of air

out beyond this yearning

out beyond the throws of despair

out we go

catapulted by the splitting of sky before us

the sky

the sky is breaking open

and in between the light and water and air

there is a hovering i have hoped for

but have not seen

this is heaven.

the shattering of doubt

the consummation of hope

you and me

sitting in a station wagon

at the end of one long dirt road

in a sea of infinity

**********************************

Sara Grove’s song “Something Changed” says it so well:

“Something changed inside me broke wide open all spilled out
Till I had no doubt that something changed

Never would have believed it till I felt it in my own heart
In the deepest part the healing came

And I cannot make it
And I cannot fake it
And I can’t afford it
But it’s mine

Something so amazing in a heart so dark and dim
When a wall falls down and the light comes in

And I cannot make it
And I cannot fake it
And I can’t afford it
But it’s mine”

what in this day…

what today is heralding the holy?

what is calling out to you in the midst?

right where there are walls, wonderings, hosts of unanswered questions

what is waiting to emerge, be revealed, discovered, glimpsed, gleaned?

wilderness moments are ripe with offerings,

not the wastelands we perceive them to be

fruitful pause before spring

when all is quiet

poignant with promise

gracious unfurling

for Moses it was a burning bush, a voice to waken

the ground was holy

he had to stand on it with both feet

“Think of this, dear reader, for it will lift the sackcloth from your eyes, and you will behold the soft-winged dove descending upon you. The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares. Then thought gently whispers: ‘Come hither!'” Mary Baker Eddy from Science and Health

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Rumi

“All day
on their airy backbones
they toss in the wind,

they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,
they rise in a stiff sweetness,
in the pure peace of giving
one’s gold away.” from Goldenrod by Mary Oliver

“Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; ands the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalms 141:2

“there is that is…”

“THERE IS THAT IS

And now, luv:

Be careless a little!

Dawdle somewhat.

Even drift.

There is something waiting

to announce itself.

But how can it appear?

How be heard–

when, without let-up,

stormed like this,

as if heaven’s got

by hammering at it?

None can besiege

what’s given.

Ah, come–

let wonderment in!

Allow for gifts.”

Doris Peel: Selected Poems 1955-1975

“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21

“‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the
violent take it by force!’ said Jesus. Therefore are
its spiritual gates not captured, nor its golden streets
invaded.

We recognize this kingdom, the reign of harmony
within us, by an unselfish affection or love, for this is the
pledge of divine good and the insignia of heaven.” Mary Baker Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection

with open face…

with open face

open face

open

open

heart

face

hand

wide open

“Here, O my Lord, I’d see Thee face to face;
Here would I touch and handle things unseen;
Here grasp with firmer hand th’ eternal grace,
And all my weariness upon Thee lean.” Horatius Bonar

“We all with open face…beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.” II Corinthians 3:18

uncluttered, unfettered, unshuttered

offering of light

no hidden darkness

or shame

no enclave of regret

just light

unabashed innocence

unsurprised delight

where other than here?

where would i rather be

than here?

for where other than here

can there be all

all that can be sought,

wanted,

hoped for,

than here…

for here

right here

You are. You the I of all I Am.

and would i not rather be

an usher at your door,*

a beholder, a welcomer, a watch

to herald, receive, witness, embrace

all that You call forth,

all that You send?

than any possible other thing?

this is no dormant day

no grasping, bated breath of wondering

whether good will come,

whether my time will come,

when things will be what they were meant to be,

watch,

see,

behold,

usher,

give thanks,

say yes,

open your eyes

the great Giver gives,

you are that giving,

the giving is given

no strings,

never fettered,

intended,

meant,

adored,

received

utter uttering praise

*I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God. Psalms 84:10