Posts Tagged With: joy

Teach Me Where I Keep Company with Fear: Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is a staple of Lent, of Fridays, of pleading for mercy and forgiveness. As Friday has just passed, I share with you this translation/poetic rendering of the psalm from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness.  I particularly have been moved over the years praying with these words, and offer it for your Lenten lingering.

The bold in the text below is mine, with some comments which follow for your rumination.

But first, here’s a suggestion for your presence with the psalm. Simply read through it once and notice the echoes in your own heart/being.  Then take some moments of silence and read through/pray through it once more, lingering wherever feels right.  Do not analyze it to death or think up a storm of words and concepts to tame or control your time with it; just let it say some of your heart to God and listen too for what God may be speaking to you.  Enjoy some conversation of your own with Our Compassionate Friend then, and close your time with the psalm with a last reading.  If you wish, then see my last notes below the text.  But pray with it first! And last!  And perhaps, only!

Have mercy on me, O Gracious One,
according to your steadfast love;
According to your abundant kindness
forgive me where my thoughts and deeds have hurt others.
Lead me in the paths of justice,
guide my steps on paths of peace!

Teach me, that I may know my weaknesses,
the shortcomings that bind me,
The unloving ways that separate me,
that keep me from recognizing your life in me;
For I keep company with fear, and dwell in the house of ignorance.
Yet, I was brought forth in love,
and love is my birthright.

You have placed your truth in the inner being;
therefore, teach me the wisdom of the heart.
Forgive all that binds me in fear,
that I might radiate love;
cleanse me that your light might shine in me.
Fill me with gladness; help me to transform weakness intro strength.
Look not on my past mistakes
but on the aspirations of my heart.

Create in me a clean heart, O Gracious One
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Enfold me in the arms of love, and fill me with your Holy Spirit.
Restore in me the joy of your saving grace,
and encourage me with a new spirit.

Then I will teach others your ways,
and prisoners of fear will return to You.
Deliver me from the addictions of society, most Gracious One,
O keep me from temptation
that I may tell of your justice and mercy.

O Gracious One, open my lips and my mouth shall sing forth your praise.
For you do not want sacrifice;
You delight in our friendship with You.
A sacrifice most appropriate is a humble spirit;
a repentant and contrite heart, O Merciful One, is the gift You most desire.

Let the nations turn from war, and encourage one another as good neighbours.
O Most Gracious and Compassionate Friend,
melt our hearts of stone,
break through the fears that lead us into darkness, and
Guide our steps into the ways of peace.

We are not to be those who keep company with fear.  Love is our birthright.  Still, we each have our own endlessly creative ways of getting lost, becoming separated, not consenting to living as one who is loved so very much.  We need teaching from the one who delights in our friendship.  We need rescue (isn’t Lent about being with the one who rescues us?) from our distinct patterns of fear and isolation, of consenting to being bound to an identity that is not our true one.

We are loved!  We are beloved ones!  We are cared for by One who sees much farther than we do into our hearts and who – with all the heavens, the stars, the planets, the sparrows, the lilies of the field, the wondrous creations which flow from Trinity Love – intended us to be and to know joy.

Most of us keep company with fear to some degree and in some seasons.  We have our reasons to.  That we become afraid, that we are limited, that we do not understand – this is no problem.  Inviting fear to be our close companion and the traveling partner that we attend to and allow most to shape us – this is.

Once more, we must learn to live loved – learn to live in the light of One who scatters darknesses we are not even entirely conscious of.  Our humility is simply fact – we don’t know and don’t see.   We are creatures, not Creator.  But we are oh so precious.

So, have mercy on our weakness and blindness, Lord.  Guide us truly.  Show us where we keep company with fear, and give us heart to choose more consciousness of you than of what freezes us.  Teach us to lean on your grace.  We will trust that you know what we each need to be restored.  Help us choose reconciling and freedom; and help us be gentle with ourselves as you unfold for our vision our attachments to lesser ways, our holding tight the ropes which bind us.  We will find joy as we watch you unravel our complicated patterns, our clutched protections and pretenses.  We will learn to relax in your love, and so more deeply live in it.  And perhaps we may yell with pain and joy at our releasement, like Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when his dragon skin is removed by Aslan (Christ figure in Narnia) so he may once again become a boy – an oh so much wiser, humbler, easier to be around boy.

I love Nan’s proclamation of promise to God:

Then I will teach others your ways,
and prisoners of fear will return to You.

Joy!  To be with each other, to aid, to support, as we recognize how we are imprisoned by our own choices, and learn to choose trust and living loved.  And we all return to you!  And the Saints will come marching in!  I’ll meet you praying this psalm.

Categories: Lent | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Not Live Our Whole Life as a Dance?

SAMSUNGJOY!  SMILES!  DANCING!  Advent (and LIFE!) practices!

This year I have been reading a number of ancillary works on Therese of Lisieux, my ‘confirmation saint’ and one of my (thank God, many!) familiar companions within the communion of saints.  As I finished one of these texts today, I came across an excerpt of a song that I wanted to share with you all, as Advent’s O Antiphons draw us daily closer to the celebration of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Joy, rooted in utter confidence in God’s mercy and love, was for Therese a way of expressing her love of God.  She invited the novices she mentored to PRACTICE SMILING.  This joy of which Therese spoke was not for her – or for her novices, or us – the absence of suffering or the presence of comfort and consolation. It is a way of making concrete our gratitude for God’s tenderness with us and for us, and God’s entering into everyday companionship with us.  It is a way of making concrete – literally – with our faces – our trust (or desire to trust) the Abba that the Babe of Bethlehem will tell us about and connect us with in wondrous ways.  It is a “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” sung in the very everydayness of each of our lives – from laundry and dishes to errands and bill paying, from creative work to doldrum must-dos, from loving and caring to weeping and mourning.

In a time when we hear of Laughter Yoga meetings and the great value of humor and lightheartedness for our health, it strikes me that this young Carmelite friend tutors us to live this in a very grounded way.

thereseLife brings moments of happiness and of suffering — seasons sometimes of both.  Our weaknesses and sufferings Therese sees as opportunities to both let God lift and carry us (Jesus’ arms as the elevator, as she puts it), and as ways to give our lacks of courage or downright failures or very difficult pains to God who can meet and transform and use these.  Her confidence in God’s love – felt or not – is a reciprocity to this extravagant love she has received.  And she insists that that confidence should appear in our manner of speaking, walking, talking – and appear on our faces!  Smiling and communicating a positive presence are possible for us to choose — and they make a difference in others’ days as well as enhancing our own.  Truth is more that whatever this moment’s emotion, pain, joy, work, delight, grief bring.  Truth is that we are “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians).  Will we choose to inform our way of being with this truth, and so communicate Good News?  Evangelize, if you will.

What better way to prepare a way, these last days of Advent, for our hearts to welcome the Child of Christmas with true eyes that see hope and wonder?  God enters our vulnerable flesh, our everydayness, our seasons and moments.  Can we live in the reflection of that joy, that gift?  Can we inform our faces?  Our lives?  Our tones of voice?  Our interactions and chores?  Our work?

Can we just smile?  How about practicing that this week — all of us?  Perhaps we might find we can do more than smile…. we can make of life a dance!  Or better, we can wake up and say yes to dancing, as our Dance Partner stands by with hands and arms outstretched, inviting our entering in.

Check out this prayer/song, from the text on Therese of Lisieux.  May we celebrate being here and now – alive as we are in this moment, with whatever music is playing!

“Teach us, Lord, to put on anew every day
Our human condition
Like a ball gown, that makes us love about you
All its small details like indispensable jewelry.

Make us live our lives –

Not like a game of checkers, where everything is calculated,

Not like a sports match, where everything is difficult,

Not like a theory that breaks our head –

But like a feast without end
Where the encounter with you is being renewed
Like a ball,
Like a dance,
In the arms of your grace,
To the universal music of love.” *

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us!  May we open our hearts to learn this lesson, this way.  

* [1] Song sung by Madeleine Delbre (1904-1964):  Nous autres, gens des rues.  Quoted in Therese of Lisieux and Marie of the Trinity: The Transformative Relationship of St. Therese of Lisieux and her novice, Sister Marie of the Trinity,  by Pierre Descouvement, trans. By Alexandra Plettenberg-Serban

Categories: Advent, Carmelite, Saints | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aslan’s Resurrection Romp and Roar

The rising of the sun had made everything look so different – all the colours and shadows were changed – that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing.  Then they did.  The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.

“Oh, oh, oh!” cried the two girls rushing back to the Table.

“Oh, it’s too bad,” sobbed Lucy; “they might have left the body alone.”

“Whose done it?” cried Susan.  “What does it mean? Is it more magic?”

“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs.  “It is more magic.”  They looked round.  There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

 

“Oh, Aslan!” cried both children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.

“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy.

“Not now,” said Aslan.

“You’re not a – not a -?” asked Susan in a shaky voice.  She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost.

Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forehead.  The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came all over her.

“Do I look it?” he said.

“Oh, you’re real, you’re real!  Oh, Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know.  Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time.  But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation.  She would have know that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.  And now – “

“Oh yes.  Now?” said Lucy jumping up and clapping her hands.

aslan-resurrection“Oh, children,” said the Lion, “I feel my strength coming back to me.  Oh, children, catch me if you can!”  He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail.  Then he made a leap high over their heads and landed on the other side of the Table.  Laughing, though she didn’t know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him.  Aslan leaped again.  A mad chase began.  Round and round the hill-top he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs.  It was such a romp as no one has ever had in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.  And the funny thing was then when all three finally lay together panting in the sun the girls no longer felt in the least tired or hungry or thirsty.

“And now,” said Aslan presently, “to business.  I feel I am going to roar.  You had better put your fingers in your ears.”

And they did.  And Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare look at it…

“We have a long journey to go.  You must ride on me.”

Excerpted from  The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Macmillan Publishing, 1950, 131-134.

THANKS to C.S. Lewis for this Narnian window into the truth and joy of this day!  I don’t know about you, but the romp and the excitement and the laughter and velveted paws and landing topsy turvy — these all seem SO fitting.  I’d love such an Easter experience – and hope for one, one day!  And I hope to see you there – with all of creation – in the celebrating, romping  joy!  Unending, including everyone and everything – amazing wondrous magical mysterious laughing rescued embraced love and delight!  Blessed Easter, one and all!

Categories: Easter, Triduum | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Are We Not Alive With Joy?

I’m finishing these days Madeleine L’Engle’s Bright Evening Star: Mystery of Incarnation.  Yes, I KNOW we’re out of the Christmas season and into Ordinary Time.  Ah…. but of course the Incarnation makes Ordinary Time utterly Extraordinary!

These few paragraphs went past my eyes today, and I really wanted you to see them.  May they feed your amazement and bring you joy!

spitzer-saggitarius-glorius-blue-space-800“Jesus is the Son of the One who created the stars in their courses, and yet, as Christ, he was Creator of the stars and without him was not anything made that was made.  

We will never understand with our finite minds that, yes! he shouted the magnificence of the universe into being, and yet, as Jesus, he left this fiery home and came to our little blue planet as an ordinary mortal.

Everything is more than it seems, and we get occasional glimpses, revelations, but when we try to analyze and explain them we lose them.  

Angels were his chariots, and he rode upon the wings of the cherubim, and he is further away from us than galaxies billions of light years away, and he is as close to us as the beating of our own hearts.

He is with us because of a love beyond our comprehension, and it is only through our own love that we are able to know him at all.  And it isn’t even our own love; it is Jesus’ love, expressed through us.

So what has happened to us?

Why are we not alive with joy?”

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christ Alive! Burst Into Explosive Songs of Joy!

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Christ behind us in all our yesterdays.
Christ with us in our today.
Christ before us in all of our tomorrows.
Alpha and Omega, Christ, Lord of all!

Leap and spin, you powers of heaven!
Burst into explosive songs of joy,
all you companies of angels.
Let the throne of God be surrounded
with the praises of all that has life.

The earth glories in her Maker.
Now mountain and valley glow in splendor;
The sea on the shore whispers the praises of Jesus.

Rivers stream through thirsty soil,
bringing news of gladness –
the Redeemer is risen!
His glory fills the earth!
The trees thunder their praises,
And loudly clap their hands.

Sound a trumpet throughout all the earth.
Our Morning Star is alive!
Risen in splendor, He is among us;
the darkness is driven back.
We, His people, join in the dance of all creation.

[excerpt from Exultet in Celtic Daily Prayer, Northumbria Community]
SAMSUNG
 
 
 
 
And an Easter Prayer for you, friends/fellow journeyers/disciples:
 

May Christ alive, raised by His Abba,
give us peace and light in every darkness,
song and joy and dance that inspires us to see as He sees;

foolish exuberant wonder in the beauty of moments,
the extravagance of creation – in microcosm and macrocosm,
and a partnership in praise with creation’s voice.
 
 
May we grow – with grace – a committed humble love,

patterned on Christ’s,
that serves and celebrates;

committing to real presence

with those he would have us love as he loves us –
fragile, beautiful, frustrating, beautiful people –
the focus of Trinity-Love and deepest delight.

Christ alive, our love,
guide and tutor us.
But this Easter day, we dance!

Categories: Easter, General | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Good Friday Prayer

We coSAMSUNGme to be with you, Lord.
We will remain,
open-vulnerable-empty,
inviting Spirit to hold us here and with.
Whatever we feel or think matters little.
We know what suffering and dying is,
and we honor yours with attending-tending-listening
as witnesses and companions.
We do not understand, grasp, capture.
We breathe with you.
And would hold you tenderly, stroke your forehead,
tell you our heart, look deeply into your eyes,
protect you from every harm.
And yet, as happens, we cannot protect you (or anyone).
As Risen One,
teach us/transform us SAMSUNG
with Trinity love as we remain here,
by your side, with your dying.
It is not easy.
May the beauty of creation and spring
hearten us with hope that dances, even today,
joy that is birthed deeper than death,
and love that embraces your ‘givenness’
and finds courage to commit
to being entirely given ourselves.
We remember.  We celebrate. We believe.
Categories: Easter, Lent | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“So Much Life,” says the Bumblebee. Is Easter Sinking In?

So much life, so much color, so much sweetness, so much pink!  Where does one little bumblebee start?  Looks like Easter to me!

It makes perfect sense to me that the Easter season is even longer than Lent.  It’s sometimes harder for we humans to take in the magnitude of abundance and good and life than it is to dwell on limits and pain and the difficult.  Sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but I believe it to be true.  All those blossoms are there these days.  Will we let ourselves be blown away by them?

Jesus’ resurrection appearances in the Gospels are so many moments of “can you hear me yet?” “can you get it yet?” “do you see there’s really life, peace, hope yet?” “can you let go of your fear yet?”  “can you dare to trust yet?”  It seems that, in light of the disciples’ slowness to really get it, we should be patient with our own hesitancy to put both feet in the “all is always well” basket.  Stronger than that patience though, we must also be strong in resolve, willing to remain wide open to abundance and Easter and redemption and new life.  Even if we hide in closed rooms, as the disciples did, we should keep our eyes open for God who walks through obstacles to wish us peace and let us know it is alright to rejoice… as God does in raising Jesus, as Jesus does in being with us, as the Spirit does in dancing-praying-guiding from within our hearts.  We are to be, as the old banners used to read, Easter people.  We read reality through the total of the paschal mystery – through death and resurrection.  And we hold the hand of the One whose wounds are oh-so-real and oh-so-amazingly-transformed!

So today I offer the image of the bumblebee facing all those gorgeous azalea blossoms on just one section of one bush.  There are hundreds of bushes like this on the street on which I live.  Hundreds of thousands of blossoms.  Easter is so far beyond our ability to hold – and yet its reality is so much more abundant than anything this small buzzing insect faces.  And it’s our reality – and all of creation’s reality.  Rejoice!

May we consent to be blown away by life, by resurrection, by all we continue to learn of what God is up to in our mind-blowingly huge and microcosm-small universe… and in each of our hearts and lives.

Blessed Easter Season!

 

Categories: Easter, General | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dazed to Dancing: Depending Disciples

United with the moment by moment story of Holy Week, today an empty tomb and a Jesus transformed turns we dazed disciples to dancing delighters.  Jesus is raised!  Abba has raised him!  Some have seen, others believed, many have witnessed – and we rejoice!  Hearts just broken are invited to soar!

“You changed my mourning into dancing!” (Ps. 30:12) 

In the midst of the Easter Vigil last evening, a few verses (of so many) particularly caught me.  In Exodus 14, Moses instructs the complaining freed and fearful Israelites, who are thinking it might have been better for them to be slaves in Egypt:  “Fear not!  Stand your ground, and you will see the vistory the Lord will win for you today.  These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.  The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”

So many places in scripture remind us that it is God who acts.  Our job is to know ourselves as little, dependant, blessed, cared for, provided for, precious, called, chosen – and to not get in the way.  Remain.  Be still.  Keep still.  Watch.  Wait.  Be Awake.  In the midst of the holy night we have just commemorated, the mystery shows Jesus in wait.  It is Abba who comes to the tomb.  It is God who raised Jesus from the dead.  God’s name is faithfulness, presence, life, love, hope.

Therese of Lisieux comes to mind here.  She knew herself as little, and that littleness was great, as it highlighted the greatness of God who cared for her.  It made her a child who ran to the arms of Jesus whenever she needed to be lifted, calling his arms her elevator, as she had no way to climb any height of perfection.  Her perfection was in trust and leaning, depending and hoping, and in knowing it was God’s desire that would make her whole and holy.  “All is grace.”

Yesterday we noted the women who remained by the tomb, feeling what they felt, being near the One they loved.  Loss has stilled them.  And Jesus, with all human life poured out, had been carried and closed in that tomb, more than stilled.  Past the point of waiting, in death the utter emptiness of the house of his body cries out:  Where has he gone?  Where are you hiding?  And the one Jesus named Abba answers first with ripped curtain and thunder clap – and then with rolled stone and empty burial cloths.  He is NOT here!  He has been raised!  He goes before you!  Do not look for him among the dead.  Go!  He will come to you!

Jesus ever goes before us.  His living and dying and rising are his own – and they are ours.  United with him, we disciples live too these mysteries.  And we remember that dancing is the proper response to what God does in our lives.  Leaping and spinning are in order (see last year’s Easter blog post at https://inspirited.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/leap-and-spin/ or Northumbria Community’s reading for Easter).  Emotionally the change is a quick one, and we sputter and breathe to catch up.  All the pain of Friday (Jesus’ and ours – and all the world’s and creation’s) is more than real, but the real-est real, the truest true, the surest sure is the glory of this day, the amazement of God’s action and life, the eternal of the Creator of the Universe’s specific invitation to union with the Trinity in love and forever.

All chains break.  All tears shared, held precious, and resolved in laughter.  All ruptures healed.  All limping mended.  All lacks filled.  All thirst quenched.  All hunger satisfied.  All darkness enlightened.  All longing filled.  And because this is all provided by a lavish God whose very identity is an extravagant insanely committed love, the abundance is WAY over the top.  (Like 5 loaves and 2 fish making TONS of leftovers!).  And we can collaborate with it!  That is our mission and call!  Alleluia!

Can we touch this amazement today?  Perhaps we can be reassured by Moses’ words.  “These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.”  Whatever makes us each fear re-capture by what hounds us, and tempts us to despair and to settle for a known enslavement  – this we are rescued from.  Depend on the God who acts in raising Jesus, who whirls and dances with and over our coming to him with his Beloved son.  And dance your way to serve and tend and care for – his sheep, the earth, the poor, your family, the annoying, the hurting, the old, the young.

“Fear not…be not discouraged!  The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love.  He will sing joyfully because of you as one sings at festivals…  At that time I will bring you home…  when I bring about your restoration beofre your very eyes, says the Lord.”  (Zephaniah 3: 16b-20 excerpts)

God brings about our restoration, our rescue, our redemption.  We may not even know what that means.  And that’s alright.  Regardless, we can learn to lean and remain and be still.  We can put on our dancing shoes and kick up some joy!  We can pray to depend when we’re dazed, to trust when we feel tried, and to look for the evidence of the loving gathering raising action of the Creator of all.  And we can tend to one another in this confidence.

Happy Easter one and all!  And may the season bless you with new ways to be, a new joy, and a closeness and peace in the presence of the Risen Jesus.  Measuring the mystery is useless.  Dancing the delight as disciples – this can lighten our hearts and be witness of a something more we still are learning about.  Blessed Easter journeyings.

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Leap and Spin!

The invitation to Leap and Spin feels utterly appropriate this morning. And so I share words once more from the Northumbria Community’s resource. May you experience as well as believe that darkness is driven back. May you leap and spin! May you dance with creation!  Alleluia – Lumen Christi!

Blessings one and all! – Joanne

Leap and spin, you powers of heaven.
Burst into explosive songs of joy,
all you companies of angels.
Let the throne of God be surrounded
with the praises of all that has life.

The earth glories in her Maker.
Now mountain and valley glow in splendour;
the sea on the shore whispers the praises of Jesus.

Rivers stream through thirsty soil,
bringing news of gladness –
the Redeemer is risen. His glory fills the earth.
The trees thunder their praises,
and loudly clap their hands.

Sound a trumpet through all the earth.
Our Morning Star is alive!
Risen in splendour, He is among us;
the darkness is driven back.
We, His people, join in the dance of all creation.

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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