Thursday, December 15, 2016

Something Worth Writing

Like many others perhaps, I all too readily consent to various distractions when I ought to focus. Electronic gadgets and digital media particularly attract. Yet I find numerous non-electronic, non-digital distractions as well — writing instruments, for example. Inclined to fountain pens, I have several; and I spend overly much time nearly every day writing meaningless sentences to experiment with them to try to determine which one I like best based on color of ink, width of stroke, “grip” of nib, heft of barrel. The pleasures in connecting movement of hand and flow of words on paper are variously real according to which pen, but I waste time when I should be making progress and producing results of substance. I chide myself even as I continue to dither. Acutely, I realize that what would be nice would be to resolve a point in the experimentation. That is, while a desirable tool would be a nice “to have” — a most appealing pen — far better would it be to have purpose in having the instrument at all, namely, something worth writing.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Rain over night, overcast at dawn
This morning in early June
Third Sunday after Pentecost
Laden with warm, humid air

Struggle from night's sheets
I try to wake, try to pray

Just beyond the window, a
Carolina wren descants life
Lifts notes full and strong
As if in natural psalm

Monday, February 29, 2016

Reading for Life

At the end of February, on a Sunday afternoon replete with light and air prefiguring spring, I sit down to read. Immediately I stumble on words and make little progress. It is not for want of comprehending the words. Yet I cannot follow them to habit in reading, to inhabit reading. It is a longstanding problem for me, odd for one who claims to relish this activity. When I have to read this or that, I balk in starting and progressing, regardless of the material, of my interest. I often put it aside and pick up something else, to avoid “have to” for “want to” in reading. How often this warp in inclination and action has resulted in being ill-prepared for obligations otherwise willingly undertaken, such as classes and papers in graduate school, yet certainly not limited to that and then. When reading is primarily or entirely “have to,” I remain outside, marking and resisting the constraint of time and space. The good burdens. When reading is primarily or entirely “want to,” I step inside, absorbed in opening of time and space. The good allures. I fully realize there is considerable “have to” in this life, this world, to survive and to do well, especially for others. I know I have to do better in acknowledging this, in recognizing my inclination and pattern, in seeking good not habitually my own. Amid all this I yet find hours and places, truly and graciously given, to being lost in reading’s wonder. And more, I long for that life, that world, to come, of Sunday all day, of winter to spring, suffused and fragranced with light and air, wherein to lose and find myself in reading a Logos unending.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Life as Gift

In creation we move from non-being to life. In redemption we move from death to life. Or rather, in creation and redemption we are brought from non-being and death to life. How true and manifest this is in creation. It is equally so in redemption. We cannot make ourselves from nothing. We cannot raise ourselves from death. From beginning to end and all between, we have life from God as good and gracious gift, tendered in love.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Moved as the Trees

Late in February, this day begins at 5:00 a.m. with a liturgy for morning prayer from the Northumbria Community. A single light at lowest setting defines the room sufficiently. Outside, well before twilight and dawn, darkness reduces details to forms and hints of things.

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Today, rather than pushing ahead with the next words in the liturgy, I pause and close my eyes after reading this invocation. A gust of wind animates the bare limbs of the poplars and beeches near the house, that they toss and sound the unseen, the unheard. I become mindful of presence, wholly other yet intimate, and I am moved as the trees.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Achievement or Gift?

"I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son: treat me like one of your hired hands.' " (Luke 15:18-19.)

Yet the father called him "son." The father treated him so, even before the son had reached home and confessed. For the father ran to the son, far off, to embrace and kiss him: overtures of love and signs of peace, father to son. The father knew well what the son had done to him in leaving, but he did not start with the question whether the son was worthy or not. The father started with the relationship: parent and child. The father started with the son as son, as child, beloved in intimate and incontrovertible familial relationship, before any performance or achievement of the child. On this basis the father, rising from his sorrow and loss, went to the son to assure him of home.

So it is with God, with us as God’s children. We have life from the beginning entirely as gift. Then when we depart from God, from this gift, for the trough of a far country, God, grieved and aggrieved, yet comes to embrace and kiss us, to clothe us with riches of love and peace, parent to child, renewed and restored; the sacrifice, worthwhile. And thus we have life in the end entirely as gift, as grace, as festival beyond measure.