In solemn stillness,
twilight trees approach the sky–
In solemn stillness,
twilight trees approach the sky–
You know the feeling of walking barefoot
in damp dewy grass?
At first it’s cold–
your feet are surprised.
When they warm up
this slight pain
becomes a pleasure.
it’s not such a bad thing
to walk upon this earth.
Lord, may my heart not be any empty tabernacle
—all shiny but locked shut—
Fill me with Yourself,
make me really able to love
with Your love.
Come enter my heart!
I promise You’ll fit,
not because my heart is big enough
to hold the King of the Universe,
but because You are so good
at becoming so small.
Lord, I’ve spent so long skimming over the surface of life
like one of those water skeeters
Busy busy busy
Let me throw my limbs up
simply sink into Your great depths
slowly float underwater
embraced by grace
utterly surrounded by You
There is a flame the cold can’t quench
and so we joy-filled fill
this giant wooden teepee with song
We reach for the hand of one
whose wounded one reaches for ours
Sheltered in this house of God
by a cone of boards bound with nails
like a teepee sewn together
—holes through pierced skin—
protecting us from the winter storms
Like the people of Jerusalem we process with palms
but instead of hot sand the snow swirls around us
a soft spring snow
full of hope of future harvest
as the fire-golden wheat fields lie hidden
under the cold kiss of a blanket of snow
the way you lie hidden
the fire of your divinity
submerged in the wheat coloured wafer
We live in the shelter of his love
the humble king of glory
Wherein lies the greatness of man?
Is it in his capacity to make bombs?
To build rockets and race cars?
To speed through life and destroy?
Or is it rather in his ability
Despite these other abilities
And give meaning to the smallest gesture
To caress the silken cheek of a flower
And see reflected in it
The face of his beloved
And the twinkling of God’s eyes?
These tiny white tendrils
perched like innocent ears atop a mossy log
listening to the secrets of the forest…
What stories could they tell us, if they had mouths?
For they have heard the early morning trilling of birds
when everything else was silent
save for dew drops dripping from tall trees
bearded with curly mosses.
at the lake’s edge,
the liquid murmurs flowing over submerged logs
soaked with sunken memories
ones I dare not extract from their watery repose
lest I tumble in and get absorbed by their somnolence.
they could tell of green and growing things,
of red and rotting things,
and of the perfect patience of trees
which live and die and even in death
keep giving life.
This afternoon after snack-time
as I take a moment
to put up my feet and read,
my toddler arrives–
attracted to the anomaly
of his mother being silent and still.
As I read about art and contemplation
and the creative necessity
of perceiving reality
without a mind cluttered by distractions,
he discovers the delightful idea
of using my legs as a slide.
and weave him into my prayer–
his mischievous face crowned
by a golden mullet of impetuous curls
as he climbs up and down, up and down
to do it again and again–
seeking even in this interruption
to find “a deeper and more receptive vision […]
a more patient openness to all things […]
the abundant wealth of all visible reality.”*
*snippets from page 36 of philosopher Josef Pieper’s beautiful little book on art and contemplation, “Only the Lover Sings.”
We live in a society filled with experts. There are specialists who are eager and willing to tell you how to do just about everything. Want to clean out your closet? Feed your kids well? Wear the right colour for your hair? Thrive in the workplace? There are likely dozens of e-courses, books and podcasts to teach you how. Let’s just hope they all agree…lest the conflicting “experts” cause more confusion and give you even less clarity.
While the abundance of information is potentially enriching, I wonder what it does to our confidence to feel we need to consult an expert or extensively research every decision. Who are we, after all, to decide for ourselves? And are we actually doing anything right??
This kind of insecurity can rob us of peace. It’s impossible to follow everyone’s advice, in the same way it’s impossible to wash your hair with every kind of shampoo that claims to be best. It would make you crazy to try. So we have to calmly make choices and stand by them. Nobody else knows how to be you. Remember this, and don’t go against your gut because something is currently trendy or thought to be essential. These things change all the time anyway.
But to shut out these clamouring voices, we need to seek a place of quiet. To turn off all our many devices and remember what it’s like to hang out with ourselves. With no add breaks. No interruptions. Just our own thoughts, and if we listen carefully enough, that still, small voice that guides our heart. The company of the one true Expert, the One who made us and knows every fibre of our being…who knows what challenges, graces, and gifts we need to be truly happy. In this place, we can remember who we are and what’s really important.
So as the busy fall season approaches with all its potential activities, try to ask yourself quietly: “Which of these will actually contribute to the well-being of my family?” “What do we actually feel called to do?” “Which of these would maybe look good on a resumé, but lead us to being overbooked, overstressed, and short on time to enjoy being together with those we love?”
If you ask such things quietly, peacefully, and in an attitude of listening, chances are your heart will guide you. And acting from a place of quiet, you’ll have the confidence to stand by your decisions, despite the storm of “expert” opinions ever swirling around you. In that inner quiet, you’ll find the freedom to be you.
I feel like a ship on waving waters
tossed about and slightly seasick,
but all is not chaos
and I won’t be lost
if I keep firmly anchored in You, Lord,
I can toss and tumble,
but I won’t drift off course
so here in the jumble of waves
I’ll be happy.
The dry land with its steady stillness
is not for me now.
Perhaps when I retire,
I’ll dock at a nice sunny spot
near the shore.
But for now
the waves and sea storms for me—
the ups and downs,
the splashing crashing waves.
I’m surrounded by little rowboats and seagulls
but anchored in hope Lord,
because I’m anchored in Your love.