you know who you are

just be still now

i will lead you out

of this abyss

“all the wicked endeavours
of suppositional demons”*

can never change

the clean that you are

the pulsing precious

irrepressible purity of you

the darkness cannot find you

pristine witness

clothed with the sun**

warrior of undaunted light

the world moves

but it cannot

move you

joni overton-jung

*Mary Baker Eddy
**Revelations 12

say not

say not i am a child*
perched on precipice
raw, bare, unfinished
caught between wondering
spotted open mouthed
clinging to the air

say rather

i am a child
child of wonder
child of light
no unfinished urgency
no reckoning to reclaim

just
magnitude
of heaven’s hands
etched, sung
in specific song

joni overton-jung

*Jeremiah 1

“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.

“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”

things not lost

sometimes it can feel like there are a lot of things that we lose along the way: people, friends, loved ones, homes, jobs, opportunities. sometimes its hope, faith, confidence, direction, love.

sometimes it can feel like we’re stranded in the wasteland of our lives, a desert of hopes, a vast and overwhelming wilderness.

i love the promises in Isaiah and Joel: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose….I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.”

Mary Baker Eddy‘s definition of wilderness points to the imminent dawning that begins to emerge particularly in the toughest times in our lives: “Loneliness; doubt; darkness. Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.”

out of the harrowing experiences of human struggle, a life untouched rises out of any kind of rubble, a phoenix, a child-heart so pure that it washes everything in its fierce and gentle light: its anthem, an involuntary song of renewal, joy, praise, unfettered peace.

there is no place in life, not waiting to reveal its gifts to us. its the way we seek that counts. hearts uncluttered glimpse them first–the spiritual impetus within, the still small voice that whispers…I am here, come along, all is well…come and find all that you think  you’ve lost…it’s found.

there is a call to discover the simple and profound relevance of our lives–an undiscardable significance, the spiritual substance and grace of a unique and divine identity. and to discover that this journey is blessed by and includes the journeys of everyone around us…goodness unbounded, never limited, spiritual in compass, with room for all of us to grow, prosper, to seek, find and be found.

i’ve always loved this poem by ee cummings…and somehow it captures the spirit of this journey to me…

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

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

“you rise and meet the day…”

We saw the movie Invictus today. It’s a powerful example and illustration of how the quiet, generous, inclusive, relentless power of love and forgiveness can transform lives and nations. There’s a shocking simplicity to the impulse and exercise of love: it proceeds from something unfettered, divine. Nothing can temper it, nothing can kill it. Love that is love has no capacity but to love, illumine, embrace, nurture, unite, appreciate, honor, delight, respect, comfort, assure, affirm, acknowledge, celebrate…it is borderless, boundless, infinite. It multiplies when shared. It washes, redeems, restores, dissolves, dispells all that is unlike itself. It calls us to it. It calls us home. It sings our names. It breathes a fire from within the heart that bridges all divides, leaves no scars, awakens the grandeur, holiness, fullness of who we are.

Recently The Christian Science Monitor posted an article called Ten Martin Luther King Jr Quotes. Here are three:

  • Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
  • I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
  • Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Mighty, radical words that point to the spirit of true warfare, the internal and universally transformative dynamics of divine Love. Jesus taught it, lived it, showed us what we could do. Paul’s life illustrated this–he exchanged the politics of hate and misunderstanding for the living, healing power of love. He wrote: “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Nineteenth century spiritual pioneer, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: “I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power.”

The kind of empowerment that love brings doesn’t require money, power, connections: it is an unquellable, undeniable spiritual impulse born of our oneness with God, Love. When heeded, lived, expressed, exercised, it can change the dynamics of any situation, any moment. Always available, undepletable: it is the most profound equalizer–rising within us to sweep the world up in its generous, all-encompassing embrace.

This song by Dar Williams says it so well:

We could pretend that we’re walking on petals and light, golden light
Flaunting our love like a dance step mastered, turning from left to right
But after all the colored lights are gone
Time will leave the ashes and the dawn
You rise and meet the day

I’m watching you go, it’s like spying on hope ever onward with more to burn
Giving your hands and your heart to the wheel of the world, though it fights each turn
But you do not give up so easily
That’s how I know you won’t surrender me
You rise and meet the day
It’s all I need, it’s all I need to know, it’s all I need to know

And I love you all the time
I had always feared that some gloomy ingratitude would seize me
But you have held the dream like every morning finds
A way to hang the sun up in the sky
And now I think I have it too The greatest part I learned from you
You rise and meet the day

And I can see kids, maybe yours, maybe not, oh, I can hear what they’ll say
Laughing at pictures with the old-fashioned hats and the clothes that we’re wearing today
And they will know the true and humble power
Of love that made it through the darkest hour
You rise and meet the day
It’s all I need, it’s all I need to know, it’s all I need to know

Come and see…

There’s a passage from Psalms 66 that’s been singing in my thoughts lately. It says, “Come and see the works of God.”

Come and see.

Come.

See.

The works of God are here to be seen.

But you have to come; show up; open your eyes; look; see; be mentally, consciously present; look and listen deeper: through that quiet, silent, inner sense.

As a student in university, I came across this poem by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, shortly after a good friend had died.

Dogwood

The dogwood hurts me as I run

beneath its load

This spring,

Those white stars cascading

Down the wood road,

Those white blossoms with the faces

Upturned to the sun.

The grace of their branches is compassionate,

In an uncompassionate world.

The whiteness of their blossoms is too pure

To be unfurled

In a world soiled by the feet of men;

And they are open–too open,

In their flat uplifted acceptance

Of the sky.

Besides,

They lie.

They say–

(And I do not believe!)

They say–

(Oh, they deceive–they deceive!)

They say–

And I shut my ears to their cry):

“Look, it is here, the answer,

It is here,

If you would only see,

If you would only listen,

If you would only open your heart.”

They say–

“Look it is here!”

Not long after discovering this poem, I found a card in a shop that made me think of my dear friend, and without thinking, I thought, “I want to get this for Sally;” and then remembered. But before I could begin the plunge towards grief again, a quiet thought came: “She already got your message.” I felt a peace about her,  a sense of hope about the bigness and grandeur of life that I hadn’t felt like that before. Never again have I felt a loss of this friend, more a presence, an assurance of her life, integrity and ongoing journey.

In a season so full of deep hope and yearning,  we can all heed that quiet invitation to come and see the works of God: to discover the peace that lies unkillably within; the joy waiting to spring forth; the kindness, goodness and purity of childlike wonder. With this deeper seeing and spiritual knowing, we’ll begin to glimpse our lives and each other in an ever clearer light, the light of holy light, and in turn find awakening, restoration, healing and peace.