“enter into the heart of prayer…”

to be washed, to be clean, to be seen,

to be stripped free, unconstrained,

born new, born again, borne of no time

enter here

this heart of prayer

sanctuary: you and God

resplendent silence

drenched in light

a sea of stillness

you remember

belonging

unadulterated knowing

spaces of certain plenty

innocence

promises that will

never grow old

*”To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error.”  Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy

“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.

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

“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.

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.

deep sanity…

I have a wonderful friend whom I call every once in a while to say, “Just calling for a sanity check,” and that’s usually enough to get us both laughing.

Those chats are times to be reminded of what I know is really true—right where the stirrings, swirlings, and information hurtling from all directions seem to be.

They’re a reminder to hang in there, anchor deep from a spiritual vantage point, and listen patiently for that quiet, relentless voice of divine Truth, whispering, nudging, and assuring.

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hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah

As I think of this new year before us, it’s really the moments that demand our attention: moments brimming with promise; moments asking to be lived, loved, owned, fulfilled; moments that both invite and impel a commitment to action, conviction; moments that resist the lull of slumber, apathy, fear, despair; moments that proceed from and include divine Love’s infinite giving.

There’s a passage from Isaiah that always fills me with hope. It says, “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.”

Now in this moment, no matter where we’ve been, what we’ve struggled with, what we’re unsure of, there is a new birth–a  pure emergence of goodness waiting to happen. It’s rooted in a core of spiritual innocence that is out of reach of the world–it can’t be damaged; it can’t be violated, corrupted, darkened, or destroyed. It is our own pristine likeness and expression of God demanding to be seen, felt, lived, known; and it is here. As Mary Baker Eddy puts it: “…All the wicked endeavors of suppositional demons can never change the current of that life from steadfastly flowing on to God, its divine source.”

Here’s to renewal and the divine promises that cannot be broken. Here’s to renewal and the fact that we cannot escape God’s infinite love. Here’s to renewal and the unblemished promise of who we are. Here’s to heaven here and lives filled with the spirit of praise and grace–the unfettered joy and conviction of the word hallelujah.

As we were driving home from Toronto the other night we heard a program on CBC radio about this word. It’s a compilation of music and discussion about the transcendent and universal impact that it has had. Here’s a brief overview of some of my favorite moments in the program:

  • Tim Elliot, a retired Anglican priest and jazz pianist speaks of the deep, hopeful nature of the word, and how something about it makes you want to stand and salute the eternal source of Love.
  • Another speaker discusses how the word hallelujah includes no doubt, no gray area, it’s an unfettered acknowledgement, salute, praise, affirmation.
  • Reverend Marie Miller talks about how when she senses a heaviness, a need for uplift in a congregation, the word hallelujah naturally impels a spiritual lift, a sense of communication with the Divine.
  • Another speaker encourages us as humans to be hallelujah people–to be consciously, actively more full of praise. He says that this kind of praise comes from a place of love instead of fear.

Here’s the link, and here’s to a new year filled with moments, moments, moments of overflowing joy, peace, and praise:  http://www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/listen_stream.html. Once you click on the link scroll down to the Dec. 21, 2008 show to listen. It’s around 9 minutes into the program, and you should be able to fast forward to it. The program itself is about 20 minutes long.

“no edges to my loving now…”

I was at a conference recently, and after a dinner session we had a hymn sing to round out the day. I was standing next to a good friend, one of those friends you don’t have to see or talk to often to feel close to, a friend who has always felt like a big brother. At one point, I looked up at my friend’s face. He was looking at me with such love, such big, blessing, unbounded love. For a moment I was caught off guard: wow–to be looked at with such love; to look at others with such love;  love with no strings; LOVE that radiates its presence and approval. I felt washed in it, swept away by it, seen, recognized, known–an unspeakable love that sweeps you, lifts you to a higher, grander sense of your place in life. Most clearly it is the direct and tangible love of God.

There’s a passage from the book of Jeremiah that says it this way: “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” It’s from the King James translation, which I have to say I’m continually partial to because of its poetry.

To think about this love, an everlasting love, a very specific love, a divine Love that knows, draws, propells, cherishes, nurtures, embraces…a Love that LOVES you, that loves us all. I do believe it loves us all, and calls us, drives us to recognize our place in it, our oneness with it–right in the moments, and especially in the moments when we feel bereft of it, are yearning for it–there is Love, present, irresistible, irrepressible, not going anywhere, awaiting our recognition and identification with it, and then in this quiet, dawning, emerging place, we yield to it, surrender, feel its warmth, power, certainty, sweeping grace.

Yes, there are moments when perhaps we see it more clearly than others, but never ever a moment when the Love itself wanes…that’s why we are prompted to it…to see that it is not something that comes or goes, or that we need to seek outside ourselves, but that which pours forth from infinity, the infinite, all-loving love of Love.

There’s a Christmas poem by Christina Rosetti. Shawn Colvin does a beautiful rendition of it on her Holiday Songs and Lullabies album.

“Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token
Love shall be yours and love be mine
Love to God and to all men
Love for plea and gift and sign.”

As the poet Rumi so beautifully says it:  there are “no edges to my loving now…” No edges, no borders, no endings, no limits, no boundries, nothing that can possibly resist or destroy the impulses of pure, unadulterated love. This is what we long for at Christmas, this is what I think we instinctively know will bring peace:  peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, families, our towns, villages, cities, countries, the world. This peace is not something we impose, or even bring. It is the “peace of  that passes all understanding, ” spoken of in the book of Philippians, the spiritual peace that Mary Baker Eddy speaks of in her prose writings: a peace that 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.”

This peace, this love, this wash of certain blessing, is here, generous in its presence, urgent in its imminence, demanding to be felt, lived and given. O may we feel this peace today, truly feel it, feel known by it, and glimpse a bit more of the love that is loving us today. And may we in turn see each other through an ever growing, unconditional love.

Christmas ponderings and dawnings…

My dog Kosi and I were out walking in the crisp winter air last night. Though I’ll admit I have my struggles with winter sometimes, it was one of those nights when the sky is so clear, the air so fresh, everything speaks of the imminence, nowness, grandeur, joy of life. I found myself thinking, I love winter. I thought of my brother’s visit last year and his recent comment, “I do remember the joy of feeling the breath, and I mean the long deep breath of winter. The ponderous throw of time, huddled in.”

The breath, the life, the certainty, clarity, urgency of it all pressing in upon us, or perhaps embracing, sustaining, compelling, lifting, illumining.

This poem and carol by Phillips Brooks to me captures the pure power of Christmas–where in the deep, hidden, innermost places of our hearts we find our longings answered, hopes fulfilled, and the quiet, inevitable emergence of a spiritual peace, an undiminished innocence, a soaring exaltation of unfettered life.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men on earth;
Where charity stands watching
And faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meekness will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.

In an article on Christmas MB Eddy says this, “The star that looked lovingly down on the manger of our Lord, lends its resplendent light to this hour: the light of Truth to cheer, guide, and bless man as he reaches forth for the infant idea of divine perfection dawning upon human imperfection,–that calms man’s fears, bears his burdens, beckons him on to Truth and Love and the sweet immunity these bring from sin, sickness, and death. ”

The light of that star in this very hour–the stars, the air, everything alive pulsing with the imminence of Truth–embracing, propelling, cheering, guiding, blessing, a showering of praise, a benediction of love,  a message of: you, each, each and every single one of you are beloved, My beloved.

In this intense season of hopes, yearnings, fears, and extravagant giving, may each one of us make room for the dawning of something simple, holy, shining, the light of the infinite whispering, comforting, nurturing, igniting the embers of our essential and magnificent lives.

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