Inspiration

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Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known,
and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our
hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may
perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Pg. 355, Book of Common Prayer)

 
I have read and listened to this prayer at least once almost every Sunday for the last four years. I can almost recite it by heart. Tonight I actually heard it, felt it and “inspired” it.

 

I’m a word person. I eat, sleep and breathe words and language. Words can hurt, can break down people and relationships; words can literally kill. Words can also be a gift, can open doors, can broaden horizons, can inspire. Inspiration: that’s the word that struck me tonight. Generally when we think of inspiration we think of that divine influence, that stroke of genius, that lightbulb moment when everything comes together. We forget that inspiration also means to breathe in, to inhale.

 
“Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit”-this is more than a stroke of genius, this is the breath of life. We pray, I pray to breathe in, to inspire new life in and through Him as He breathes life into us/me. Lightbulb moment…and my breath caught!

 

Living is a Puzzle

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Living is a puzzle,
A struggle to fit in.
Each piece’s task is different,
But important to the whole.

Life is but a search
To find the perfect fit.
Each piece is never perfect,
But the picture is the goal.

The Master of the puzzle
Knows the pieces well
And keeps the picture in His mind
As He guides them and their will.

How sweet it is when completion comes
And the final picture’s done.
The Master and his pieces
Having come together as one.

Living is a puzzle
And understanding is the key.
Interlocking arms and thoughts
Giving perfect harmony.

Grace

Oh, those days in the Garden!
Beauty incarnate!
Before the taste of knowledge,
The tarnishing of innocence.

Clouds of guilt and shame gather
Darkening the world
With the stain of evil.

What to do?
How to cope?
Will darkness win?

A child born
A light in the darkness
The taste of a new knowledge.

Bright, shining Hope
Open handed Faith
Deep flowing Love!

Taste and See!
Freedom freely given
The Gift of Grace!

 

The Heart of the Matter

 

DOCTOR: I mean, look, you’re human. And humans are so mortal.
BILL: Cheers.
DOCTOR: I mean, you pop like balloons. (Bill is slowly toppling backwards on the spaceship) I mean, one heart? It’s your most important organ, and you’ve no back up. It’s like a budget cut.
(Doctor Who, World Enough and Time, June 2017)

For those who don’t know the show it follows the adventures of The Doctor, a seemingly immortal renegade Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who lands in 1960s London in the TARDIS (his spacecraft, currently and perpetually stuck in the guise of a blue police call box). Over the last 54 years and twelve regenerations he has traveled throughout space and time with a plethora of mostly human, thoroughly mortal companions and shown just how big his two hearts are. In the context of the show and this particular episode, the above exchange is both comical and poignant. It is a moment from the Doctor’s memory as he’s watching Bill topple over dying after being shot through the chest, a moment in which Bill has just asked him to never let her die-something that not even he can guarantee.

I’ve been thinking about this exchange a lot over the last week.

The heart-the one organ in the human body that you cannot live without! As the Doctor states, we’ve no backup. When our heart stops beating our body stops functioning. On Wednesday, August 2, my father had surgery to implant an ICD (an internal defibrillator/pacemaker combo) in order to help his one heart (which is as big as all outdoors) maintain and hopefully improve its function. I had a great deal of time to think about the importance of the heart while he was in surgery and in the days since.

Our family has had its share of heart related issues over the years. My mother was born with a heart murmur that was not discovered until adulthood. It led to my parent’s first child being stillborn and my being premature by weight (due to the medication my mom was taking while pregnant with me). It also led to my mother giving me and my life to God months before I was born. Her mother died of a massive heart attack a few years before I was born. My father had a heart attack in 1991, which, it seems, started us on the path to this recent surgery. He also suffered a cardiac arrest, thankfully while sitting in the ER, in 2015. His father died of cardiovascular collapse. And we seem to have a familial propensity to high blood pressure.

Our hearts often fail us when we need them most. We are so very mortal! Proverbs 4:23 tells us “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” We must protect our hearts, for without them we are dry and dead both literally and figuratively. Heart health is vital to our physical and spiritual existence. So we must partake of all available opportunities set before us in the ways of medical and spiritual guidance to protect and maintain that health.

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I thank God for the good works and steady hands of my father’s cardiologist and for His steadfast love and support at all times.

Breath of Life

Breath of Life

Why must we see fault and lay blame on anything and everything EXCEPT what is truly at fault and deserves the blame? It’s not the guns, it’s not the stated belief system, it’s not where you or I or the shooter came from or our ancestry! It’s the spirit of fear, hatred, anger, spite and difference and the violence that spirit incites in the hearts and minds of men. I may never understand hatred and violence, but I do understand this simple fact: very few of us actually, truly “love our neighbors as ourselves”!

I wrote the statement above a year ago today as a way to process the senseless deaths of 49 beautiful souls; 49 children of God. I didn’t know a single one of them and yet my world was and is diminished by their loss. In the year since, more souls from Syrian refugees and Coptic Christians to Nice and Westminster, from Manchester to London, from Somalia to the Philippines, from one end of America to the other have been lost to senseless fear, hatred and violence. Again, I haven’t personally known a single soul lost to this violence and yet my world is diminished.

We grow up understanding that the opposite of love is hate, that hate is the feeling, force or spirit we need to fight and protect ourselves against. Perhaps, but in the timeless words of that great philosopher, Yoda: “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” Fear. Fear is far more dangerous, far more deadly. Fear leads us to flee, to do stupid things, to anger and hatred, to travel the path of the Dark Side. Fear is the opposite of love. Fear is the spirit we need to fight and protect ourselves from. I don’t mean fear as we feel in the fear of heights or spiders, although those fears can lead us to do stupid things that could get us hurt or killed. I don’t even mean the fear of the unknown. We can handle those fears and work through them. What of the fear of what we think we know? What of the fears we are taught and believe even when evidence proves otherwise? What of the fear of ourselves? These are the fears we need to fight. This is the spirit that is the antithesis of love.

Fear is common, ordinary, vulgar, reactionary. Love, true unabashed unconditional love, is uncommon, extraordinary, refined, revolutionary. Love is the rainbow in the sky after a deluge. Love is the beauty of a clear blue sky. Love is the purring of a cat on your lap or the wag of the dog’s tail as you walk in the door after a long day at work. Love is a heart open to the light and beauty held in the darkest of fears. Love is a man born for the sole purpose of granting us grace for the sins borne of our fears. Love is faith in that grace sight unseen. Love is the breath of life.

Journey

A great teacher once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

 

My journey begins

The mazes of my mind pulling at me with the fingers of memory,

Calling to me with the voices of ages past.

My feet search in the darkness for the first step

Of the spiral staircase loretto-chapel-stairs

Leading downward away from, nay, TOWARD

A deeper knowledge!

 

I find the railing

Gently tracing the turning of the wood with my fingertips

As I step down

Searching, seeking the next step

From the darkness of the mind’s maze

Into the light!

 

The light whispers to me

The still, small voice

Of Love.

I strain to hear

Forced to travel on

Deeper down, into the depths

Searching, seeking the next step.

 

Deeper still I travel.

The whisper now a gentle hum surrounding,

Wait, WITHIN me!

My heart beats in time with the hum.

 

I turn down the spiral

Into the beating of my heart.

I reach the last step.

Darkness pushed back by light.

The labyrinth of my soul spread out before me

Encircled and encircling in LOVE!70fae49478696bc3ed50f944c55d0063

Love

1 Corinthians 13

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I am a creature of love. I was created in love, sustained by love, given to God through love, born to joy, and raised by love. I give love. I speak in love. I am love. Or at the very least I try. Real, unabashed, unconditional love.

I have known for many years that I pick up on the emotions of others or just out of the air quite easily-good, bad or indifferent. To say that this is taxing is an understatement. However, it is a large part of who I am, of how I react and interact with my world, of what I learn and how I learn it. It makes me me and is informed by my faith, hope and love. Yet, I do have my limits. Recently I have been struggling to work with what is coming at me at an almost constant pace. I am constantly annoyed, I snap at the drop of a hat over the simplest of things, I sense a dark cloud following me around…and I don’t like it! It’s not me! I’m not my happy, centered self and I aim to change it!

I know that the world is on the brink, that the way of this current world is hatred, anger and divisiveness. I know that there are forces working to eradicate all that has been created, produced and done in love. I know that many feel the only road to take to fix this trend is to use the same tactics being used against them. As President Trump stated the US needed to do earlier this week, many are fighting fire with fire, fear with fear, hatred with hatred, anger with anger, and divisiveness with divisiveness. We are no longer working for a common goal, toward the common good, with the better angels of our nature. We find it easier to work for ourselves, toward what is good for “me”, and against our better angels. We are envious, boastful, proud, dishonorable and dishonoring, self-seeking and self-serving, easily angered, and oh boy do we ever keep records of wrongs! I can no longer participate in this faithless, hopeless, loveless vision of the world. I must return to the arms of love!

Mahatma Gandhi, one of my favorite peacemakers, once said “be the change you want to see in the world.” This is my intention-One person, one moment, one act of love at a time in my little corner of the world. How is this going to help a world in crisis? How is this going to fix the great big problems we face? LOVE! Love grows mustard seeds in the worst of conditions, love moves mountains, and love conquers all! Simple acts of love-openly receiving unsolicited hugs from students who may only see love at school, saying “thank you” to waitresses and store clerks who rarely hear it, giving of myself and my time FOR the benefit of something or someone rather than against, paying and praying it forward. It will not be a quick or easy way to change the world, but it will be my way for “love is patient, love is kind.”