Posts Tagged With: wonder

Wonder At What Tender Flesh Receives


Amazement should mark our every inhalation – amazement that we live,  that love and thought and breath find home in our flesh!  Amazement too that there is a distinct “I” who is the self who is invited to amazement – an “I” who is simultaneously on the journey, and who is observer, tactician, poet/philosopher, and chronicler of the way traveled.

The God-Creator of all the universe inhabits our very being.  How is it possible that someOne larger than is imaginable is integrally woven into our most intimate being’s fiber?  We should just explode, in our vulnerability!  And yet, it seems, it is vulnerability and weakness and empty openness that most draws God’s artful presence and play which shapes and shatters and sends us.

Fragile flesh is holy, the Incarnation tells us so.  I came across this translation of a piece from St. Irenaus, which prompted my musing.  I hope the poetry hints for you at some of the truth which should send all of us into wonder, and tutor our thinking, and foster wisdom.

The tender flesh itself
   will be found one day
   — quite surprisingly —
   to be capable of receiving,
and, yes,
   capable of embracing
the searing energies of God.
   Go figure. Fear not.
For even at its beginning
   the humble clay received
God’s art, whereby
   one part became the eye,
another the ear, and yet
   another the impetuous hand.
Therefore, the flesh
   is not to be excluded
from the wisdom and the power
   that now and ever animates
all things.  His life-giving
   agency is made perfect,
we are told, in weakness —
   made perfect in the flesh.

– St. Irenaus (c.125 – c.210),
adapted and translated by Scott Cairn in Love’s Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life

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

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?”

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Christ Alive! Burst Into Explosive Songs of Joy!

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]
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

Lightning Bugs and Fireflies: Lessons from Tiny Light-Bearers

This time of year I am entranced with the lights behind our house that have signaled summer since I was a small child. Then we, the children in the row home neighborhood in Baltimore City where I grew up, would take our quart jars with punched holes in their metal lids, fill them with some grass in the bottom, and go catch lightnin’ bugs! It was a wonderful sport that stretched from twilight to full dark, or until our moms called us home. Akin to catching dandelion wishes in the spring, it always seemed to me that we were reaching for magic, and expected it to bless us.

Once a few lightning bugs were captured, we’d sit and look at our jars full of flashing lights. It didn’t take forever to notice that if you left them in there too long, despite our dads’ punched air holes, the magic flying bugs would die. And so, the end of any evening, when childhood’s scatteredness did not distract us into forgetting them for games of tag or hide and seek, included releasing them. I liked to do that one by one, carefully letting one crawl out on my hand (or shaking one there!) and then tossing it into the air and watching it grab the current and fly, at first a little crookedly, away. On nights when I forgot my jar for other entertainments, and it filled with largely deceased light-bearers in the morning, I mourned them. They deserved my care and attention, since they graced the night and were willing to be held however briefly in my own spell.

It’s June, and as they visit this time zone once more, my mind has rested lightly in awareness of them. I have done a little reading about them, to feed my relaxed attention. And I find the wonder is not diminished by the prose I find. There are possible learnings from these little visitors. Maybe a “Top 10 list” or a “Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Fireflies” kind of take? Perhaps my reflections are not that ambitious. But still, these are some thoughts these light bearers prompt, and perhaps some wisdom for our lives.

  • FIREFLIES IN LARVAL STAGE HIBERNATE IN WINTER, SOMETIMES FOR YEARS.  It is good for children – or all of us in moments of beginnings – to find safe places to rest as we grow.  Doing so will help us be all we can in maturity.  We need space, hiddenness, rest, in order to become.
  • LIGHTNING BUGS ARE BEETLES – YUK!  I can’t stand bugs, but I love these summer friends.  Even beetles can be beautiful.  And we too are beautiful, no matter, and precisely because of, the roots of our identity.
  • POTENTIAL PARTNER FIREFLIES ENGAGE IN A FLASHING COMMUNICATION THAT RANGES FROM A SINGLE FLASH TO MULTI-PHASE FLASHES TO A CONTINUOUS GLOW.  When we find people in life that we wish to spend more time with, we usually recognize something about the way they carry the light are and we are attracted.  Subsequently, our own light-bearing may change due to our relating.
  • FIREFLIES ARE NOCTURNAL.  I can’t resist.  YAY for night people!  (Mornings are for rest!)  More seriously, fireflies show up when their light will be most beautiful.  Imagine the moon during the day – it sometimes shows, but is lost in the sun’s bright upstaging.  The tiny flickering bugs know that context matters.  And so it does for us.  Where and when do we most shine in our brightest glory?  And living there may be the place from which we can best inspire, tutor, encourage, be the light we are!
  • LIGHTNING BUGS ARE DISTASTEFUL AND SOMETIMES POISONOUS TO PREDATORS.  Sometimes the ‘perfume’ we put out just be being true to who we are is enough to bat back those who would be destructive to us…  we simply need to be more and more of who we are.  Psalm 37 puts it, “Be not vexed, it will only harm you.” What trouble will come, will come.  To our own makeup, our Creator’s design – to this we must be true.  The rest is about living light, and trust.
  • LIGHTNING BUGS’ LIGHT IS BIOLUMINSCENT.  Their lighting up is built into their very biology, and is no technique.  We are created to be bioluminescent too.  Our very being bears light.  This is true for all of us.  An interesting more physical reflection – how do our bodies do this?  How do we recover, in a society both increasingly health conscious and increasingly ill in preventable ways, a sense of being embodied in a ‘light’ way?  Where do we find the energy to allow our bodies to teach us how they too can shine?
  • FIREFLY LIGHT IS THE MOST EFFICIENT LIGHT IN THE WORLD.  100% of the energy is emitted as light (fyi: incandescent bulbs are at 10% with the rest as heat, fluorescent at 90%).  Here we may find a two way invitation – to integrity and commitment.  Be only and all what and who you are, and give all when you give.  These two ways of being will produce wonderful light for you and the world.
  • LIGHT POLLUTION CAN DECIMATE LIGHTNING BUGS.  Lightning bugs use light to communicate, and this light must be seen by potential mates.  When they are in settings where their light doesn’t show up – well, it’s not good.  There are ‘givens’ that must be in place for communication, and overwhelming extremes in our environment are destructive.  Perhaps we need to think about the various pollution around us – light, noise, ‘stuff’, clutter, arguments, polarizing statements.  You name more!  How does it affect our communicating, our relationships?  What do we need to be free of to grow?  We can turn out our backyard lights to help the lightning bugs.  What needs turning down or off in our contemporary world?  In your life and mine?
  • FIREFLIES NEED GENTLE HANDLING.  If you and I, or our children, go out to catch fireflies these nights, we need to remember to do it gently.  Whether we use hands or a net, damage can easily be done through thoughtless grasping or handling.  People – you and I, those we love, those we disagree with or find most annoying, the strong, the weak, the poor, the rich, the opponent and the colleague – all need gentle handling.  Life is difficult, and the ways each person experiences this difficulty are wide and varied.  We never know what is happening with – or within – another.  TLC is a good maxim.  Be tender:  be caring:  treat lovingly.  Gentleness is a strength in relationships and community building.

These are just samples of the lessons that may come from our lightning bugs, the tiny light-bearers.  They can tutor us, and have been tutor and inspiration for others over time.  Sources note that the Aztecs used the word firefly to mean a spark of knowledge in a world of ignorance or darkness.  In Japanese culture, fireflies contain the souls of soldiers who have died in battle, and lanterns are filled with them.  The Chinese believed they came from burning grass – these sparks of life.  The Ancient Mayans believed that fireflies carried the light of stars.  Ah, that one is a favorite of mine!

I invite you to join me in just being with fireflies or lightning bugs this June, if you can find them near you.  If not, find some online!  The gazing they prompt, if you just sit still, is contemplative.  There is a mantra effect to watching the lights flicker, and perhaps looking overhead at the stars.  Don’t miss their magic.

As a child, I chased them to capture them and hold them.  As a woman, long now, I watch and let them help me come to quiet and BEing in the night.  May they be a compline prayer for you, a primer for living, a reminder of truth.  And this deeper magic is a holy mystery in the ordinary, in creation… the place our Creator meets us so often.

May we meet, you and I, somehow – somewhere – someday, as light-bearers too!

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Wonder About Wonder

Amazing.  You put a really small hard shelled funny shaped seed in the ground, you water it, you watch.  And somehow a whole life form comes bursting out of the casing and reaches upward. 

I look at seeds in wonder.  I think of whatever is the magic within them that is hard wired to become something distinct – tall or short, pink or purple, fruit or vegetable, tree or flower or shrub.  How does all that energy and possibility exist in such a tiny tiny space?  Smaller than what I imagine to be a computer chip (but I’m sure I’m wrong there!), the unassuming slip of a thing holds a full span of life waiting to come to fullness.  How can something so small house something so mysterious, complex, large?

Holding a seed makes me wonder about wonder. 

When I really look around at creation and at people, at colors and life, at art and design, at words and stories and histories…  I can’t imagine why I am not bowled over with amazement tens or hundreds of times an hour.  What makes me unable to see the raw reality of so much mystery in process everywhere I look?  Is it auto-pilot settings?  Or, as I read recently somewhere, the “mixes” we have going in our heads?  (The author spoke of tapes or trains of thought we are accustomed to entertaining as a mix on an IPOD that we get in the loop of hearing.  They might be “the sky is falling-some catastrophe is en route” tunes, the “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life/vacation/family member” collection, the “I am a horrible person” or “I am – thank God – better than he/she/them” or “I find my identity in achievement/possessions/money/recognition/my significant other” playlists.)   Whatever the collections of accustomed tunes you and I replay (and wouldn’t it be fun to list our own collections, so we know when we are tuning in and can make a conscious choice about what we listen to), they often take us away from the immediacy of the moment and the wonder of now. 

GODISNOWHERE.  God is nowhere?  God is now here.  Where are we?  And what makes it difficult to come to now?  Why is it so hard to let go of the tapes, to do what is easy, to simply relax the tension and be?  The why is probably the wrong question entirely, the wrong approach.  Instead, perhaps we need the heart of a child or the wonder of the blind man from last week’s Gospel who sees for the first time in his life.  Forget the reasons we run or the obstacles or the cause of the tension.  Remember – re/Member – reconnect with what is actually happening and unfolding within us and around us.

Spring is a moment in life’s cycle that each year nearly knocks us over with the invitation to see with the eyes of the heart at the million mysteries unfolding around us in creation.    See the not-quite leaves that make the tree branches look like slightly feathered fingers.  Check out the abundance of cherry blossoms, and every other kind of blossom.  Notice the vividness of the yellow in daffodils, the shades of red on the robin’s breast.  Look for the slow collection of grass and twigs by a home-building bird.  Smell the new life possibilities in the sweet smell of turned earth.  And hold a single seed in our hands for a full 15 minutes, with wonder at the complexity of the mystery it houses in the life it can bring forth. 

Dare to wonder.  And I’ll meet you there.  To wonder about what life would be for you, for me, if we lived in wonder… and what we miss when we don’t.  But, as an old poem said of regrets, ‘even that is washed away in the fullness of now and the promise of tomorrow’, so don’t spend much time on the tapes of ‘see what I’ve been missing’ and bring your curiosity and open eyes to the next amazement. 

I’ll meet you on Wonder Way.  Gives new meaning to Jimmy Stewart’s It’s a Wonderful (Wonder-full) Life, huh?

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