“wide open like a lake…”

we get messages from so many different places.

messages. messages that mean something to us. messages that are meant for us are hovering everywhere.

(not the clatter and chatter that tries to fill the airwaves of our thoughts, heads, homes, lives.)

they glance. they beckon. they light. they shout. they whisper. they sing.

we hear them in between the spaces. in between the noise. underneath the words. in between the lines.

they come with true intent.

they come with truth.

they come with peace.

they come to rally, heal, dispell, reveal.

how we hear them. how we see them. glimpse them. discern them. feel our oneness with them…is to know our own true thoughts. it is to trace the heart of thought to source waters that are pure.

in the book of I John we’re encouraged: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.”

where do thoughts, feelings, inner impulses and inklings lead? do they bring peace, assurance, goodness, calm, confidence, joy, rightness? if they don’t…try them, check them, measure them in the weight and scale of God’s infinite goodness…the Principle of all rightness, the unfaltering certainty of divine Truth. whatever doesn’t land there, discard. let it go up in smoke, dissipating before the stuff that holds. and don’t stop until you do.

Mary Baker Eddy writes it this way: “Are thoughts divine or human? That is the important question.”

and she puts it another way: defend yourself daily against “aggressive mental suggestion.”

such an incredible way to put it…aggressive mental suggestion…how thoughts come in a subtle suggestive and undermining way, encouraging us to doubt, wonder, be afraid, feel suspicious…thoughts that undermine, thoughts that inflame, thoughts that distract, divide, disturb, pull….thoughts that draw us away from that calm and certain center within. but they are never really more than thoughts, suggestions…

it’s seeing this that counts. it’s seeing this that helps us regroup, get our footing, see that our ground is not lost–at any moment.

nothing can truly separate us from the center of God’s goodness and grace. we are held there…we are the presence, power and substance of it expressed, we are the likeness of Love’s true impulse and peace. this is the home, the shelter, the mental space and clarity that keep us steady in any storm. it’s never out there. never going anywhere. here for  the being, the taking, the living.

George Fox founder of the Quakers said this: “Carry some quiet around inside thee. Be still and cool in thy own mind from thy own thoughts,and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord from whence cometh life; whereby thou mayest receive the strength and power to allay all storms and tempests.”

And Sara Groves puts it so beautifully in words from her song Like a Lake:

bring the wind and bring the thunder
bring the rain till I am tried
when it’s over bring me stillness
let my face reflect the sky
and all the grace and all the wonder
of a peace that I can’t fake
wide open like a lake

here’s to underlying and constant grace. answers at hand. Love pouring forth its blessings at every turn. messages, messages, sweet good messages here.

the world’s not falling apart…

there are songs that speak

songs that sing the day

songs that  say the word

words that make you see…

Dar Williams has a song that says “the world is not falling apart because of me.” the first time I heard it was on a long drive, a work trip. thoughts of the world were weighing heavy on me. her lyrics pierced right through to meet my need. singing at the top of my lungs right along with her, everything lightened.

the idea that i was responsible for fixing anything, anyone, anywhere…the corresponding worry that i was not up to the task…suddenly seemed absurd. it was like i was being lifted to a different vantage point, from which i could see and feel a divine order, grace, government, love for the entire universe.

it was a sweeping assurance, confirmation that:  “the government is upon His shoulders…” and that “my yoke is easy and my burden light…” (from the books of Isaiah and Matthew)

There’s an interesting dichotomy between being responsible, giving your whole heart, being truly true to yourself and God, living with complete fidelity; and the weighty, burdensome feeling of being responsible for, being party to, and therefore needing to fix a broken world.

easing up on all of it…

casting burdens on the Lord (as the old hymn by Philip Doddridge urges us to do,)

is like gazing through a window that you didn’t know was there–

to discern that things may not be so broken after all,

our gaze, when fixed on that deep and divine Principle Love catapults us to a perspective of piercing clarity, resonant oneness, holy, unfettered being.

responsibility then is not weighty, but the tender impulse to respond to Love’s government of all being.

Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way, “Starting from a higher standpoint, one rises spontaneously, even as light emits light without effort; for “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

to “look up”

as Christ Jesus told us

especially when it seems like things are falling apart

is to begin to glimpse, to discover, to realize,

the kingdom of God ever within us,

the presence of heaven at hand:

it is to breathe the air of innocence,

to find ourselves washed new,

the whole sweet world held in Love’s fresh light.

when it comes to contentment…

when will it be

and what does it look like

and what is it made of

and how can we find it

and will we even know what it is

isn’t it like faith

an undergirding presence trying to make its way to the light

inner inklings that guide us like waymarks in the dark

isn’t it like hope

the fresh springing within us, the involuntary impulse to be

doors and windows inviting us to open

isn’t it love

the gentle breath of approval hovering ever beneath harsh, dark thoughts of despair

an embrace of air, of life, of stars, of trees that sing our place among them

here in this space, where loneliness, where longing, where hunger try to consume all light…

here in this very place, enough, presence, grace, abiding, to share. enough to drink and drink beyond our fill, with more left over than we can see, with more to give, with more to love, with more to live.

contentment has no strings, belongs to no body, no thing, but rises up, the essence we are within us to own this now, this here, and to spill its sweet presence all around us. no strings, no space, just the pressing presence of faith that nudges us, hope that encourages, and love that reminds and reminds and reminds us that we are loved, and of Love, and through Love, and in Love.

I love this poem by e.e. cummings:

     why
     do the
     fingers 

     of the lit
     tle once beau
     tiful la 

     dy(sitting sew
     ing at an o
     pen window this
     fine morning)fly 

     instead of dancing
     are they possibly
     afraid that life is
     running away from
     them(i wonder)or 

     isnt't she a
     ware that life(who
     never grows old)
     is always beau 

     tiful and
     that nobod
     y beauti 

     ful ev
     er hur 

     ries

“we are more…”

we are more than we think we are.

more than we imagine we can be.

more. so much more.

the prophet Jeremiah speaks of this: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

i love how Jesus brought this out in people: he saw that more, that spiritual heartland of goodness, divine integrity…and helped people see it for themselves. “Seek God first” he said…and all the rest will come.

Seeking first things first…tracing that feeling of more, that inner hunger for more, that unquenchable protest for more to its source…the Source, Truth, Life, divine All, impartial, all-embracing Father Mother Love. Pausing in that presence; standing in that light: showered in the recognition of goodness, preciousness, wholeness and love.

Mary Baker Eddy speaks of this divine more: “And how is man, seen through the lens of Spirit, enlarged, and how counterpoised his origin from dust, and how he presses to his original, never severed from Spirit!…The divine law gives to man health and life everlasting — gives a soul to Soul, a present harmony wherein the good man’s heart takes hold on heaven, and whose feet can never be moved. These are His green pastures beside still waters, where faith mounts upward, expatiates, strengthens, and exults.”

more is in moments; moments where we take hold; ground ourselves; stake our journey forward. moments. this moment. seize this moment. more good this moment: to act, embrace, discover, honor, share. more. not because we are a dearth, but more, more, because this moment is ours, an imminence of infinity orchestrating  certain good.

i loved the opening ceremonies of the Olympics…the spirit, the hope, the unity, the promise of the boundlessness of goodness. and i loved how slam poet Shane Koyczan‘s  poem “We are More” captured this. Here are some excerpts:

“we are more…/we are an idea in the process/of being realized…/we are an experiment going right for a change…/we are not the see-through gloss or glamour/of those who clamour for the failings of others…/we are found missing puzzle pieces…/because we are more than what we say or do/we live to get past what we go through/and learn who we are…/we are the true north/strong and free…/we didn’t just say it/we made it be.”

waiting…

waiting.

waiting.

waiting for?

the call to come,

things to change,

events to turn,

waiting…

there is a kind of waiting, a waiting not passive, not absent from engagement, mental movement, deep underground, foundational work, a waiting that has the spiritual poise and muscle of listening, pausing, waiting on the God, waiting for divine movement on the waters of our thoughts, waiting for the mental peace that comes with a right idea–regardless of the demands that may come with it. it is a waiting that includes complete willingness to act, to follow, to seek, to stand.

Psalms 27 ends with these words. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, — wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory.”

There is spiritual power in patience, a poise that rises up within us, an exercise of present grace, a fine tuned ear that holds forth for the true sound, a heart so pure, that no amount of clutter or clatter can distract it from its clear intent. This is the ground of life that brings forth inevitable fruit, often rising forth in ways we cannot see, but always made of stuff that holds.

Whatever we’re waiting for is here, calling out our name, flowering up through the concrete of lost hopes, hidden dreams, a life meant, a life ordained, a life loved.

John Borroughs’ poem called Waiting captures this so completely:

Serene, I fold my hands and wait,

Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea;

I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,

For lo! My own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays—

For what avails this eager pace?

I stand amid the eternal ways

And what is mine shall know my face,

Asleep, awake, by night or day,

The friends I seek are seeking me,

No wind can drive my bark astray

Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?

I wait with joy the coming years;

My heart shall reap where it has sown,

And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own, and draw

The brook that springs in yonder height;

So flows the good with equal law

Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky,

The tidal wave unto the sea;

Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,

Can keep my own away from me.

“how can i keep from singing?”

“Another year another day at the mines. Digging away just digging. Always turning up gems but just digging still.”

Words from my brother.

I’ve been thinking about the seasoning that happens in our lives, when rough winds come and the earth shakes around us.

There’s a passage in Hebrews that speaks to this: “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace…”

The shaking…not to upend our lives, but to remove only that which doesn’t belong.

Madeleine L’Engle talks about this idea in her book A Circle of Quiet: “I think that the part of us that has to be burned away is something like the deadwood on  the bush; it has to go, to be burned in the terrible fire of reality, until there is nothing left but our ontological selves; what we are meant to be.”

Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way: “The mounting sense gathers fresh forms and strange fire from the ashes of dissolving self, and drops the world. Meekness heightens immortal attributes only by removing the dust that dims them. Goodness reveals another scene and another self seemingly rolled up in shades, but brought to light by the evolutions of advancing thought…”

the mounting sense…

gathers fresh forms and strange fire…

from the ashes of dissolving self…

drops the world…

o to drop the world…

to find that self seemingly rolled up in shades

revealed by goodness and the evolutions of advancing thought…

seasoning, rebirth, renewal, turning into our real selves, emerging, emerging into who we were always meant to be.

what grace, to watch each other move through storms, seasoned ever with more tenderness, humility, strength, beauty and peace, emerging childlike and pure from the fires of life, unscarred, unscathed, innocent and free.

here’s to the journeys we take together, lessons gleaned, the room we give one another to grow, and the palms of heaven that hold us in their hands.

This hymn by Robert Lowry, adpated by Enya and Nicky Ryan, so says it well:

My life goes on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it’s music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness ’round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging,
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?


solitude is sweet…

i was on an evening flight the other night, a pretty full flight, but generous in that most of the center seats were empty. there was a cradled hush about the space, a quiet unhurried feeling that i don’t usually associate with travel.

there’s something about flights, soaring imperceptibly across vast spaces that prompts deep stillness–and i felt that we were all embraced, held so presently, peacefully in a nowness of grace.

i had thought i’d watch a movie, but instead found myself flooded with insights, questions that prompted more insights, a soaring, hovering, deep submergence in, and influx of ideas. pure heaven.

often i’ve struggled with contained spaces, but i’m always struck by how expansion of thought, inspiration has the capacity to dispell the seeming confines of space and time.

the woman sitting in the window seat didn’t say much, but it was as if there was an understanding between us, a sweet solitude of appreciation, prayer, kindness, love. it was unspoken but poignant, tangible.

it is in stillness that we measure peace–its vast stores have a way of filling canyons of emptiness, sweeping life into dormant hearts. and it is in stillness that we begin to glean the great and all-permeating presence of God.

Dixie Chicks’ song “Easy Silence” captures this spirit: 

I come to find a refuge in the
Easy silence that you make for me
It’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

i’m profoundly grateful that all the world’s clamor and chatter cannot quench or quell the grace and presence of spiritual truth, light: the present impetus of God’s infinite all, holding us clear, pure, unstained, loved and safe.

Psalm 46 says “He uttered His voice, the earth melted…Be still and know that I am God.”

Mary Baker Eddy writes: “My sense of nature’s rich glooms is, that loneness lacks but one charm to make it half divine–a friend, with whom to whisper, “Solitude is sweet.”

Here’s to seen and unseen friends who nourish us in stillness–the heaven and holiness of the Holy Spirit, illuming and lightening even the darkest of places.

dwelling in a secret place

i’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to feel safe. to be safe. to feel the deep peace that is equivalent to relief, release, and grace all at once. time drops away. and there is no place but here, pure, lucid, sweet, complete.

there’s nothing like peace that comes after a storm, when all that you’ve held dear has been swept clean. nothing remains but what must, what can’t be lost, life’s essence distilled, seen through deeper, inner sight.

storms that prompt fervent turning to the arms of divine Love…in the midst of terror, faith instinctively finds a foothold, a path unseen, steady ground beneath. alone turns into all one, and where uncertainty loomed…a presence of grace dawns.

i love this passage from Deuteronomy: “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.”

Mary Baker Eddy writes that “the heaving surf of life’s troubled sea foams itself away, and underneath is a deep-settled calm. And how “in metaphysics we learn that the strength of peace and of suffering is sublime, a true, tried mental conviction that is neither tremulous nor relapsing. This strength is like the ocean, able to carry navies, yet yielding to the touch of a finger. This peace is spiritual; never selfish, stony, nor stormy, but generous, reliable, helpful, and always at hand.”

i’m grateful that wherever our journeys lead us, there is no moment when divine Love does not hover near us, ever holding, ever caring, ever ready to shower it’s conscious, loving recognition upon us; no moment when we are not one with this Love; no moment when we are not equal to discovering the generous, powerful, resurrecting ever-presence of assurance: Love’s kingdom within us  illumined.

“beauty is a thing of life”

We woke up to a light dusting of snow this morning, just enough to cover the world in its soft whiteness–without requiring a lot of shoveling! I love winter like this–hardly any snow…stark beauty all around us. Down by the river slabs of ice line its edges–after a freeze, then a thaw, and a rushing river that hurled its offering to the banks. Lake Ontario steams as its almost ice waters heave slowly towards shore; ice crystals crackle as they shift, collide, crumble. It’s a marvel to see.

Then there was the wolf moon–extraordinary, its orange, then white light emerging over the horizon. Truly breathtaking. The Christian Science Monitor had a gorgeous series of photos of the brightest and biggest full moon of the year.

Mary Baker Eddy writes that “Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color. It is Love which paints the petal with myriad hues, glances in the warm sunbeam, arches the cloud with the bow of beauty, blazons the night with starry gems, and covers earth with loveliness.”

Beauty, true beauty, fierce, pure, searing, unpretentious: the color and essence of Love. The most beautiful people I’ve known haven’t necessarily been conventionally beautiful. And yet their beauty shines so brightly, generously, gloriously, tenderly, unselfishly from within, that it has the effect of making everyone in the radius of its presence and light feel beautiful, valued, uniquely complete.

I love the power of true beauty. It’s not a possession or physique; it’s not the clothes we put on. It’s the ideas, the qualities we exemplify, bathe ourselves in, share, reflect, celebrate, love. This is the beauty that grows newer, fresher, sweeter by the hour, as it radiates out from the fount of infinite grace, the essence and substance of Soul.

Beauty, true beauty is as present and impartial as sunlight. It shines on and through all of us. It is a silent music of joy. It is the orchestration and creation of infinite, all-encompassing, all-embracing, all-anointing, all-adoring Love.

the words are alive

There’s something about a good poem…that captures the very life of things; holds it like an offering in mid air, mid breath; and at the same time releases it, wings beating, rising, soaring…

It’s like meeting an old friend. No need for explanations. The words find their meanings without being held there. And yet in some way, they hold you, but never bind.

Words are alive if we allow them to be. They have a way of ushering us towards the deeper meanings, the impetus for truth. On the first page of her book Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent of time honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity.”

The book of John speaks of the living word:. “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The word, the living word, urging upon us its searing beauty, meaning, essence and worth. Taking us further into the frontiers of our own lives. True words always have a way of pointing us in the right direction, they cut to the heart of it, speak our name, sing out a welcome, they say here you are, all along, here, you are here.

Here’s to living poems, living words, everything about us coursing to the light.