you, sweet witness

what a thing it is
to discover
that you were never ever
in a day
responsible for
the revolutions
or distributions
of the world

(you,
sweet witness)

step aside

behold

the
steady
hands
at the helm

divine Love
“kindling the stars,
rolling the worlds”*

the whole world
(and you)
minutiae to magnitude
in Love’s everlasting
loving arms

joni overton-jung

*Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy

through God’s lens…

Today I went to hear my friend Stephen Vail preach at St. John’s Anglican church in Port Hope. He starts out casual, simple, direct, often funny, a matter of fact kind of humility, never judgmental, immersing you in a keen assessment of  day to day life. And then when you least expect it, just easily going along with the story he’s telling–weaving in and out of Scripture and how it so tangibly relates to our lives today–he cuts right to the heart of it, takes you to the place you weren’t expecting, but knew you needed to be.

Today it was a discussion of John the Baptist…and how the lives in so many of the stories in the Bible on the surface appear to be failures–if measured by a worldly standard of success–even while they continue to change the world from the inside out. And how those stories beckon us to look at our lives from different vantage points, to see more deeply, to look at ourselves and the world through the lens of God.

The sermon was short, but the message rang in the air, and held there with both its promise and challenge: if we were to examine our lives through God first…to see ourselves through God’s eyes, in the light of divine Love, how would our lives change…how would our world change…how we would all change the world.

It makes me think of these two Bible verses:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Cor. 13: 12

“I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.”  Genesis 33:10

O to see ourselves and each other in this way. To glimpse the light, grace, tender, unceasing look of divine Love, to feel its safe assurance, presence, and warmth, to feel completely at home and secure, and in turn to shine this light on everyone around us.

Mary Baker Eddy’s words give profound insight to the possibility of this kind of spiritual discernment:

“Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy.” from Science and Health with Key to the Scripture

“the name of the place is Love”

the light is so bright…so bright…i can’t contain it…

blinding, searing, this great light…

light so bright…blinding light…

light, light, light of the world

fierce, threatening, illumining light

tell me, tell me what to do with this light

light that insists…spills through cracks

pursues you.

light.

will not be denied

cannot be fled from

light that names you

claims you

holds you

will not relent.

surrender my dear

surrender…

light is here…

has named you

framed you

and sends you forth as some

great, gentle, fierce

offering.

jacob wrestling with the angel (Genesis 32:24…)

would not let it go

till it blessed him.

just to be sure

he asked its name…

nameless hand of heaven

smiles upon us

urging urging urging

claiming us

for its own.

some grace tracing

the edges of our lives

singing forth the sound

of some sacred song.

sing darling sing

the air is singing around you

arms, light, very breath

pulsing with the praise, peace, promise

this now

run, run, run

to it

run, run, run

for it

your life is shameless

fetterless

exclamation

blessed

said

known

adored

approved

waited on

sheltered in haven

heaven hands holding

waving applauding

o silent chorus

of song

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

i love this poem by lucille clifton, it captures the sentiment:

flowers

here we are

running with the weeds

colors exaggerated

pistils wild

embarrassing the calm family flower        oh

here we are

flourishing for the field

and the name of the place

is Love

~~~~~~~~~~~

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day..” I Thessalonians 5:5

~~~~~~~~~~~~

“…love, unselfed, knocks more loudly than
ever before at the heart of humanity and…finds
admittance; that revelation, spiritual voice and vision,
are less subordinate to material sight and sound and more
apparent to reason; that evil flourishes less, invests less
in trusts, loses capital, and is bought at par value; that
the Christ-spirit will cleanse the earth of human gore;
that civilization, peace between nations, and the brother‐
hood of man should be established, and justice plead not
vainly in behalf of the sacred rights of individuals, peoples,
and nations.” Mary Baker Eddy

give yourself to love…

A friend sent me this beautiful letter recently:

“I was swimming this afternoon—weeping and swimming, which is something I haven’t done for a while, and trying to get myself together.  I was struggling with my fears and my anger and my profound sadness, and then I started to focus just on the swimming.  The slow, steady passage through the water–as if I was shedding an outer skin as I dove down into the water with each new breath.  And then I had this feeling: “this is unconditional love” and I felt a completely impersonal calm.  I had a similar feeling last night as if the pain was slipping further away and an impersonal calm held me in the balance.”

I’ve been thinking so much about friends, family—people all over the world experiencing profound change, sometimes severe challenges, and hard won renewal that comes with seeking and yielding to deeper answers.

today i came across this passage from Psalms…it’s one i’ve read too many times to count. but today it spoke differently to me.

why art thou cast down o my soul?

and why art thou disquieted within me?

hope thou in God for i shall yet praise Him

who is the health of my countenance and my God.

too often i’ve gotten caught on the “cast down” and “disquieted” parts…as in yeah…so cast down…feeling so disquieted…ok…now hope in God…and the journey to do so can feel like a slow slippery slope out of the swamp and up a muddy bank.

but today i read it so differently. the words nearly jumped off the page at me. “WHY are you cast down? WHY disquieted? almost as if to say, how you can be? you know where your hope lies! you shall, will, cannot be deprived of praising the infinite goodness of God, the source and presence of all life and peace and health and joy right here.”

it made me think of Kate Wolf’s song “you must give yourself to love…”

and made me ask…what am I giving my thoughts, my moments to?

for me disquiet is really about mental neutrality–an absence of real thinking, conscious clarity, a lulling, a passive acceptance of whatever thought comes my way…a state of mind that invites disturbance, darkness, confusion. it marks a need for awakening, regrouping, as if to say, “okay so where am i at? and what’s really true here? am i just going along with the flow of whatever junk comes my way?”

this morning i opened the Bible to Ezekiel 13:22: “with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad…”

lies…that would blind us to the good at hand…get us to turn on ourselves…doubt the convictions we hold in our hearts…distrust the power, presence and impulse to act on what we know is true.

the next time you’re tempted to feel sad…or even if you feel like you’re already drowning in a sea of sadness…

take a look at where your thought, heart, soul is anchored…is it awash at sea? gather it…gather yourself…gather your goodness…your pure heart…your love for all that is right…rally there…bit by bit you’ll find your footing…bedrock in the midst of stormy seas…you’ll find yourself rising…walking over the waves of doubt and darkness, gathering strength as you go.

give yourself to love…

come on…

give yourself…

to love…

it will not render you vulnerable

it will steady your heart

strengthen your knees

help you remember your wings

and how they know how

to read the wind

and with the Psalmist from long ago

begin to feel that song of

exalting praise…

the light that faces down the dark

singing:

i do hope

in God

the health

of my countenance

is here.

“To-day [may your] soul only sing and soar. [May] an [ever] increasing sense of God’s love, omnipresence, and omnipotence enfold [you.]” Mary Baker Eddy

“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.

floods of love…

“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah

floods of Love.

flooded with the floods of Love…encircled, engulfed, carried in the surging soaring currents of divine Love’s loving–right where the floods of anything else may seem to be, right there…right there…Love’s centre and circumference, centering, sheltering, a showering of promise, praise and peace. divine Mother Love holding each of us so tenderly, rooting and grounding us in strength, clarity, purity, poise, grace.

“Where the floods of trouble flow/ Find Thy perfect, calm reflection.” Edith Brewer

“What if the old dragon should send forth a new flood to drown the Christ-idea? He can neither drown your voice with its roar, nor again sink the world into the deep waters of chaos and old night.”  Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health

“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” Song of Solomon

right here. right wherever we are…here…Love knows us, face to face.  deep in  pools of light, bottomless love…there, there, here, flooding out the floods of night.

“More glorious still, as centuries roll,
New regions blest, new powers unfurled,
So Truth reveals the perfect whole,
Its radiance shall o’erflow the world, —

Shall flow to bless but not destroy;
As when the cloudless lamp of day
Pours out its floods of light and joy,
And sweeps the lingering mist away.”

John Bowring

“love is a place…”

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds

e.e. cummings

I’m thinking about the things that try to shut us down before we even get going: the negative whispers, the accusations, assertions of futility. how often we give them blanket access to our mental spaces, accept them as our own, deal with the darkness as if it is part of us.

yet no matter what the onslaught, no matter what the haze of confusion, uncertainty, despair…the steady stream of our lives flows on, flows right past the naysayers, flows into ever newness, flows and flows with the relentless purity of who we are.

no question there are times we feel distracted, tricked, stalled, but even then, integrity trumps lies, and right where the haze has been, our lives shine up before us.

In her book Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy has a gorgeous passage that talks about the joy that comes with overcoming, seeing through the things that don’t belong to us. She says,  “A louder song, sweeter than has ever before reached high heaven, now rises clearer and nearer to the great heart of Christ; for the accuser is not there, and Love sends forth her primal and everlasting strain.”

the accuser is not there, the assassin is not there…nothing can separate us from the love of God, nothing can separate us from love, from feeling and knowing and understanding our place in Love’s plan, and the crystal clear joy of this, the everlasting certainty of the word yes.

calling forth infinite care…

i received a mother’s day card the other day, and was surprised by how moved i was. it’s a gorgeous card that talks about a mother growing her garden with love and kindness, wearing beauty in her smile, carrying hope in every pocket, even as she teaches us to walk gently upon the earth, patiently planting seeds of love wherever she goes.

my path hasn’t included the literal versions of motherhood, and while it’s felt very right to me, there are times when i have been tempted to feel wistful. but even in those moments, there is a greater awareness of the vastness of what it means to mother and be mothered, and how each one of us has the opportunity and privilege to nurture, advocate, defend, watch over, love, appreciate, celebrate, cherish, embrace, give witness to the people in our lives, and even more broadly to do this with a great, loving, forbearing, and fierce heart for the world.

i have a good friend who has taught me a great deal about this kind of love, love that stands relentless and constant, even in the face of rejection; love that claims its own even while it sets them free; love that holds a light to shine out darkness; love that knows way past knowing that who we are will always be something profound, precious, unique, necessary.

i think about the song by John Legend, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child…a long way from home” and the primal yearning to feel mothered, cherished, held as the apple of someone’s eye, safe, secure, adored, delighted in, loved. there’s something about this longing that transcends human experience…something that can only be described as a hunger for heaven, for a confirmation of inherent relevance, belonging, an assured connection with all that matters, a deep and certain sense that no matter what our lives have been like, we are holy, sure, undamaged, complete. Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way: “The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love.” She also talks about  the demand for spiritual, practical, Christian healing as “the babe that twines its loving arms about the
neck of omnipotence, and calls forth infinite care from His loving heart.”

i love this image..even the present possibility that each one of us can reach out, respond, wrap our arms around the imminent presence of an all-encompassing Mother Love; that even as we do, we call forth infinite care from a boundless loving heart–that knows us, calls us, and in turn shows us the unspeakable worth and significance of our lives. this turning, this hungering prompts awakening that dispels longing, a self-contained certainty of the sacredness of life, a love borne of the infinite, that cannot be contained, but shines its impartial, borderless presence everywhere.

Jesus gave us extraordinary glimpses of the power of the divine mother Love–the only real and revolutionary power–so simple and fundamental, earthshaking, transforming, inherent, at hand. and yet we chafe at its demands, feel unequal to its possibilities, even while Love compels our longing for it…prompting, insisting, demanding that we discover the true homeland that lies within us, the spiritual oasis of peace and freedom that pours forth unquenchable abundance. the longing is not a message of absence. it is simply a waymark pointing us toward home; tracing the design of Love’s hand within us–the surety that we are all made for glory, all of us awash in Love’s omnipresent light.

Mary Baker Eddy’s poem “Mother’s evening prayer” covers it all.

O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.

Love is our refuge; only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here, and nigh,
His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.

O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain!
Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear
No ill, — since God is good, and loss is gain.

Beneath the shadow of His mighty wing;
In that sweet secret of the narrow way,
Seeking and finding, with the angels sing:
“Lo, I am with you alway,” — watch and pray.

No snare, no fowler, pestilence or pain;
No night drops down upon the troubled breast,
When heaven’s aftersmile earth’s tear-drops gain,
And mother finds her home and heav’nly rest.

“love wash over a multitude of things…”

i’ve been thinking about the relationships in our lives: the ones that come and go; the ones that stay;  the ones that deepen. these ones…the ones that are refined, rarified in the fires of life, emerging with a fierce, patient and generous purity. the kind of love that sees you through and past the darkest of times, the kind of love that sees with such laser loving clarity that it is a beacon, a reminder, a homing signal, a kingdom carved of and built on the things that don’t fall apart.

i’m grateful for the people who have taught me about love–love that is unconditional, unrejectable, given freely. love that springs from infinite Love; love that knows no bounds, no measurements, no retraction, no withholding. love that includes the unfettered completeness and self-containment of the divine.

when my husband herb and i got married, the readings included a passage from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy that seemed an unusual choice in some ways, but i couldn’t let it go. it says, “Spiritual development germinates not from seed sown in the soil of material hopes, but when these decay, Love propagates anew the higher joys of Spirit, which have no taint of earth. Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.”

now some ways down the road together i love the passage even more…the grace that comes, all pretense shed,  hopes and yearnings walking in broad daylight, the offering our lives become as we are beckoned to grow, to rise, to be, to recognize, to nurture, to honor, all that we are meant to be.

there is no match for love borne of purity, love that cements all intent and centers its heart on the great Love: the unquenchibility of omnipotent divine Love. it awakens holiness, peace, forbearance, beauty, generosity, power, and poise. it washes us in the waters of self-surrender, and we find ourselves wholer, truer, sounder than we knew before.

this love is everywhere…never dependent on finding the right life partner, but proceeding from the covenant within us, the discovery of a oneness with all good, our place in the Most High, our home in God. the love that anchors and proceeds from Love, guides and guards, nurtures and refines, reminds us ever of our abundant completeness…opens us to an overflow of sweet affection, spilling forth from Life, never fragile, needy, vacant, or unworthy–but dwelling in the very heart of Love, loving, calling us to its love, calling out our love, shedding the confines of separateness, flooding us with the infinite assurances of light. as it says in Song of Solomon, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”

these words from a  song by Sara Groves capture it well:

“Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Make us whole…”

“this is grace…an invitation to be beautiful”

i had some wonderful road time yesterday…highway, skyway time of thoughts glancing, glimpsing, glimmering, gleaning, singing, soaring. listened to some of Sara Groves‘ music…hence the title above…such a beautiful definition of grace..the gift ever given, beckoning  forth the beauty.. awakening it within us,  blooming, blossoming, blessing, embracing, showering, sheltering.

In her book Science and Health Mary Baker Eddy writes that “Man is the idea of Spirit; he reflects the beatific presence, illuming the universe with light.”

Here’s more of Sara Groves’ song mentioned above:

“We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside”

beauty…

piercing the darkness with radiance

lit from inside

illumed by Love

alight in Love

loved

written

sung

known

adored

we

Love’s

light