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.

“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

“a shift of knowing…”

This poem by Lucille Clifton is from her book good woman: poems and a memoir 1969-1980:

the light that came to lucille clifton

came in a shift of knowing

when even her fondest sureties

faded away. it was the summer

she understood that she had not understood

and was not mistress even

of her own off eye. then

the man escaped throwing away his tie and

the children grew legs and started walking and

she could see the peril of an

unexamined life.

she closed her eyes, afraid to look for her

authenticity

but the light insists on itself in the world;

a voice from the nondead past started talking,

she closed her ears and it spelled out in her hand

“you might as well answer the door, my child,

the truth is furiously knocking.”

Sometimes things get so turned around. Sometimes they just feel inside out. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which way is up. And sometimes, well, sometimes things feel so upended, that there’s nothing to do but pay attention.

These are the moments that matter so much. It’s in these moments that we no longer have a way of ignoring what needs to be heard.

Sometimes the answers can come like blinding light. Other times it’s a quieter impulse, a gentle leading out, one thought, then another, an inkling rooted in the bedrock of grace within us.

I remember one particularly dark time in my life, when all “my fondest sureties…” seemed beyond my reach. All I could do was stand there, offering up my heart in the wilderness. The answers came like spring air sweeping out the grief, urging me to see the presence of life, even where all seemed frozen.

And so we are, so often hurried, trying desperately to steer the course, control the details of our lives, prompted to let go,  to be carried, to recognize the providence of present grace, a certain sense of God’s presence emerging right from within.

Here, now, in this moment, even now. Truth is knocking, awakening, singing, assuring, comforting, illuming, revealing and healing–all things made new, all things restored, all things.

“It rejoices me that you are recognizing the proper course, unfurling your banner to the breeze of God, and sailing over rough seas with the helm in His hands. Steering thus, the waiting waves will weave for you their winning webs of life in looms of love that line the sacred shores. The right way wins the right of way, even the way of Truth and Love whereby all our debts are paid, mankind blessed, and God glorified.” Mary Baker Eddy

stand still

From Psalms 46…

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed,

and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,

though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,

the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved:

God shall help her, and that right early…

Be still, and know that I am God.”

Be still.

Know.

God.

In the midst.

Be still.

In times when we’re all so earnestly trying to find our way…

even as the world swirls and rushes around us,

as thoughts run headlong or hover uncertain…

right here, in the midst, beneath it all is a buoyant beckoning to

stand still.

stand.

still.

and though it seems the very thing we should not do, could not do, feel afraid to do…

it is the very thing to do.

and in this simple doing we begin to discern a present power,

a resonating strength

an irrepressible grace

that lifts us

heals us

guides us

comforts us

envelops us

equips us

engrounds us

and turns things right around.

Mary Baker Eddy says it like this in her Retrospection and Introspection: “The best spiritual type of Christly method for uplifting human thought and imparting divine Truth, is stationary power, stillness, and strength; and when this spiritual ideal is made our own, it becomes the model for human action.”

Trying times for many. Times likes these call forth the best in us, by turning us to something higher, holier. In this turning we find ourselves even as we discover the greatness and goodness of God. Here’s to answers we haven’t yet discovered; to lives made new, rising from the rubble; to a world so tenderly and unshakeably held in the palms of Love’s omnipotent hands.

Doves

by William Lynch

I want

the words to flutter

around you softly

on your shoulders in peace.

I want you to hear them

tell you of heaven.

Stand still

and they will gather.

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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