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stumped.

Unexpected release.photo 2

Practicing silence
standing on a stump.

The river flows
gentle unceasing low roar that becomes
white noise
like my
rumbling
grumbling
crumbling
stumbling
soul.
Honking geese whose plaintive calls somehow
I find less annoying than their human
counterparts.

I stand in an amphitheater copse of trees who seem
to have little trouble
being what they are.
Blossoms white, pink, each
a world within themselves
unfolding ancient lore secreted
within.

Standing on a stump
a chorus of shoots young and green rising round
beneath a carpet of dead, discarded leaves
pointing up
pointing at me
bearing silent witness
“You too”
causing me to start.
Dead leaves or
shoots?

Answer:

Yes.

photo

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Poetry

 

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shoulder

And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and they removed from Shittim, and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and they lodged there before they passed over.

Joshua 3:1

I try to read at least one verse of the Old Testament in Hebrew each morning. At least one. Sometimes I can’t stop. But at least I’m not racing to complete a chapter. Or two. Or three. It’s the discipline of chewing slowly. Ent-ish eating. I read hoping for something to pop, some word to stand out. This usually requires not looking deep but simply seeing what is right there before my face.

Today’s verse – and I stopped at one, temptation successfully resisted – presented a bit of challenge at first chew.

And Joshua rose up early in the morning.

Okay.

Guilt trip about not getting up earlier? Reminder of that age-old spiritual discipline of rising early to seek the Face?

Just look at the word. The Hebrew verb “rose up early” is the trilateral root SŸKŸM. It’s the root of Shechem. Shechem means “shoulder.” Quick dictionary check.

Yes. Shoulder. Because loads are placed on the shoulder, and that’s where they’re placed on beasts of burden first thing in the morning as one gets the day started. At least in that culture.

some days...

some days…

To arise early (or late, for that matter) is to shoulder the burden of the day. And how we wish at times there were a beast of burden to carry it for us!

Shouldering a burden is not something to rush into – depending on the nature of the burden, I suppose. If we wish to avoid strained backs we need to take the time to size up the load, square our shoulders, squat down carefully and then let our legs do the lifting. And sometimes as we size up the burden we’ll have to shoulder, we realize we’ll need someone else’s shoulder to help. It all depends on the burden.

We don’t know what a day will bring, what burdens we’ll have to shoulder. Perhaps here is the wisdom of rising a bit more intentionally – it’s just giving ourselves some space to square our shoulders for the load.

Because we may like Joshua have to remove from Shittim. Or we might be moving into it. We might be headed into the Jordan rift. Jordan. Literally the “plunge.” Yes, today may be taking a plunge God knows where – and then lodging there for God knows how long.

So I will stand before a cloudy horizon, take in this cool air breath.

And square these shoulders.

Boise morning

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in haverings, Old Testament

 

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weeping muchness

“…and the waters prevailed much much upon the earth”

Thinking about grief. And loss. And tears.

I’ve heard it said that the key thing to remember about the story of the Garden of Eden is not that it happened but that it happens.

I think the same is true of the story of Noah.

It happens.

We are deluged and we weep a flood of tears until our life is awash with the grief. “And it rained for forty days and forty nights…and the waters increased…and the waters prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth…and the waters prevailed exceedingly…”

Literally “much much.”

The Hebrew word is m’od. “Muchness, force, abundance.”

“…and they prevailed, the waters upon the earth, fifty, a hundred days…”

It’s as if in the fountains of the deep bursting open the earth itself wept a flood over all the loss it had experienced. A flood of the infinite muchness of grief that drowned everything.

I don’t know that we can improve on the image.

Or on the metaphor of its aftermath.

“…the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped…the rain from heaven was restrained…the waters returned from off the earth continually…and the waters decreased continually until the tenth month…the tops of the mountains were seen…”

Grief in all its intense depths waxes and wanes.

How long it takes for us to dry out!

But even when the comforting dove returns bearing the sprig of hope, of solid ground underfoot again, your life coming to rest again on it’s highest peaks, and as you muster the courage to peek out the lone window, you see a world still dominated by water, just within more manageable, more measured bounds.

Grief remains. It always remains. It can still quickly cloud up overhead and rain a river. It still has the depths of the Marianas Trench you can get lost in, and undertows that can suddenly sweep you in and out.

But there is dry land now too.

And green.

breathe child

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in haverings, Suffering

 

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filters

Another gem from Patricia Ryan Madson. Improv Wisdom.

sip. it.

sip. it.Improv Wisdom.

Yes.
I am stretching this read out as long as possible…

Patricia suggests three vantage points from which we each can look at a person or event:

First filter: to see what’s wrong with it (the critical method – commonly used in higher education, says she. Also the default vantage point of much of religion, I would add – but in reality it’s just the default human method). In using this lens the self looms large, she observes.

Second filter: to see it objectively (the scientific method). Using this lens both the self as well as others are meant to disappear.

Nothing personal.

Third filter: to see the gift in it (she calls this the improv method – I would probably dub it pneumatic). With this lens others loom large, she observes.

Yes.

This is definitely what we do, but it seems to me all too often everything gets clogged up in the first two filters and precious little even makes it to the third.The first filter alone can be enough to gum up most anything fed into it – there’s so much wrong with anything or anyone that we see or hear or smell or taste or touch – for anything or anyone to make it through that straining filter to the “gift” level can be as likely as the Aussies in Gallipoli reaching the Turkish trenches.

Hdgs_FishingJust wondering what might happen, what treasures we might discover in unexpected places and faces if we inverted the filters.

What if our first filter, the default filter, was the gift filter?

What if our primary mode, our fundamental approach to all of life was experiencing it as we anticipate the gift?

What if our “filter” was more like a great net thrown out into the sea of the world, gathering in a little bit of everything in a non-discriminatory net, all of it then dragged up on the shore of our hearts, anticipating treasures, looking for gifts, expecting unexpected good, unimagined delight. Will there be garbage in the catch? Absolutely. And we’ll know what to do with it when we find it – or it finds us through it’s pungent odor or the slice on our finger from it’s rough edges.

300px-AnatomyofafishhookBut then, as we say, “One man’s garbage…”

How insightful that it is a heightened preoccupation with self that keeps us confined to the “what’s wrong with it” filter, that keeps us from casting a larger net, that limits us instead to a single discriminating hook. Ah, but even then, if we will look even the least impressive randomly snagged gift fish in the mouth caught on our discriminating hook before we throw it back with disgust, we might find just the treasure we need for the day.

Oh to get beyond pointing out all that’s wrong in the big screen performance of life, so we might see the gifts passing right before our faces.

What might we see, and where might it take us?

cast-fishing-net

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in haverings

 

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burning a book

Really enjoying William Stafford these mornings. Book_burning_(3)
This morning’s morsel…

Protecting each other, right in the center
a few pages glow a long time.
The cover goes first, then outer leaves
curling away, then spine and a scattering.
Truth, brittle and faint, burns easily,
its fire as hot as the fire lies make -
flame doesn’t care. You can usually find
a few charred words in the ashes.

And some books ought to burn, trying for character
but just faking it. More disturbing
than book ashes are whole libraries that no one
got around to writing – desolate
towns, miles of unthought in cities,
and the terrorized countryside where wild dogs
own anything that moves. If a book
isn’t written, no one needs to burn it -
ignorance can dance in the absence of fire.

So I’ve burned books. And there are many
I haven’t ever written, and nobody has.

____________________________________

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write!”

Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.”

Oh the things we could write if we would
And the things we shouldn’t.

And the wisdom to know the difference…

437156

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Poetry

 

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stumping for God

Signs raised to heaven
warnings posted
red letter commands WRIT LARGERight_Wrong1
grinding
grinding
grinding
wood chips flying
stumping for God
while love flows on
around and through
each protested letter
soaking into soil underfoot
watering unseen roots
of stumps long dead
and discarded
resigned to the grind but
waiting to bud
and spring to
life.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Poetry

 

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the difference

I love IMDB.little big man

So often I think of a scene, rehear the dialogue, and want to snag it for a devotional or other writing. And there is the Internet Movie Database, waiting with quotes to be accessed. Nine times out of ten it has exactly what I’m looking for.

Thought of a scene this week from Little Big Man (1970, Dustin Hoffman, Chief Dan George, Richard Mulligan).
I went and there it was. What I hadn’t counted on was getting distracted for the next thirty minutes or so reading all the dialogue excerpts, hearing them, reliving those cinematic moments.

And this one floored me. Chief Dan George. Old Lodge Skins, speaking to his white son after the latest atrocity:

Old Lodge Skins

It’s amazing the difference, hearing these words as a twelve-year-old in dialogue on the big screen, and reading them now. I don’t know that I heard them at all then. I just thought the movie was funny. Yes, I have always been that deep.

Now I can hear echoes, religious voices from my past reacting to the quote: New Ageism, pantheism,
Native American Indian mumbo-jumbo.

But then I hear my own memorized Scriptures:
Christ is all and is in all.
Trees clap their hands.
Earth groans.
Mountains flee like goats.
And the stars sing sweet songs.

It made me slow down, just a bit.
It made me watch the next faces I encountered.
It helped me to hear their voices, to see their eyes, sense their stories.
And I found myself talking to my books.
And yes, they did talk back.
They said they also consider it creepy that I sniff them.

Whoa.

To truly see everything, everyone alive. In him. How that might change everything

 
 

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