Bliss & Blues

Blessed are you, O GOD, O Eternal Mercy,
and woe to us who cannot welcome mercy
in our hearts and in generosity to others.
Blessed be the strangers who bear grace.

Blessed are you, O GOD, O Delightful Joy,
and woe to us who cannot dance & whirl
without the highs of risk or consumption.
Blessed be the companions who seek peace.

Blessed are you, O GOD, O Righteous Way,
and woe to us who cannot remain planted
with patience to bear fruit or reap healing.
Blessed be the diviners who point to oases.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Sensual

How beautiful you are, my love,
how very beautiful!
Your hair is like goats along the hills;
your teeth are like shorn ewes that have been washed;
your lips are like a crimson thread—so lovely;
your cheeks are like pomegranate halves.
(Song of Songs 4:1-3)

Sure, maybe it’s a poem about God. This poet wouldn’t be the first one to look at creation and imagine how it reflects characteristics of God: the wind as God’s whisper, the sunset as God’s smile, a sparkling stream as the glint in God’s eye.

It’s also possible, despite (or because of!) its location in the middle of the Bible, that it’s a poem of physical adoration, a celebration of human beauty, an unapologetic delight in the joys of sensuality. The poet gazes upon a beloved and cannot cease in adoration:

Oh my gosh, your eyes!
My goodness, your hair!
Be still my heart—your smile!

Then again, maybe it’s not either/or. To pause in delight, to celebrate a love (and to celebrate the Love of all loves), to be full of wonder, to be satisfied by the mutuality of adoration, to give thanks for the senses and sensualities that make life so acute—these too are gifts of the Creator. As the late Mary Oliver wrote about prayer: “Just pay attention … [this is] the doorway into thanks.”

Thank you, O Love, for touch and affection. Thank you, O Life, for the flood of your beauty through all of my senses. Thank you, O Creator, for putting my spirit in flesh.

written for the Stillspeaking Daily Devotional

Six Wings

With two they covered their faces;

Interrogate the ways we watch the world,
O Holy Magnificence,
for too often we hide the eyes of our hearts
from the blaze of your love as it is at work
on earth as in heaven; too often we watch
with cynicism, judgment, and self-interest.
Now cover our sinful gaze
so that the eyes of our hearts might look
in wonder, thanksgiving, and possibility
until we are embarrassed by your beauty
entrusted so extravagantly to all creation.

With two they covered their feet;

Reveal the habits by which we take root,
O Divine Hovering,
for we are quick to settle in loose sands
of consumption, jealousy, complacency;
our faith tiptoes in your fierce presence
lest the sands catch fire in your purity.
Now cover our timidity
so that we might not be so enamored by
security that we miss the holy journey.
Grounded in your goodness, make us
unafraid through the whims of change.

With two they flew.

Keep us forever in your holy judgment,
O Perfect Life,
where each heartbeat might be freed up
from the constraints of sin and violence
with a rush of grace and a blush of glory
and an unashamed song of deliverance.
Now uncover our joy
like the flight of an eagle, like the shine
of a pearl, like an abundant catch of fish.
Let our redemption not be in vain. Put
your love in us to use, and we will soar.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Unknown

There are so many things to say, O Spirit —
delight and thanksgiving and frustration
and rage and heartbreak and hope —
yet no words are adequate to express it all.
Listen with us in the fullness of silence, we pray.

For all that we know,
for all that is unknown,
we pray your mercy.

There is so very much to be done, O Spirit —
hospitality to extend, food to share, sin to repent,
racism to exorcise, relationships to repair —
and we are tired before we even begin.
Set before us our part of your work, we pray.

For all that we know,
for all that is unknown,
we pray your mercy.

There is so much to wonder and understand, O Spirit —
the symphony of galaxies, the forbearance of love,
the season of justice, the fulfillment of prophecies —
our hearts toss and turn with questions.
For patience while we view in a mirror dimly, we pray.

For all that we know,
for all that is unknown,
we pray your mercy.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Praying for Presidents

On Christmas morning, as my two teenagers began to open a shared present, I told them that the gift needed several caveats.

“First,” I said, “remember that we believe in the work of peace more than the work of war.”

“Second, world domination is a terrible business; remember that the manifestations of colonialism continue to impact and undermine peoples around the world.”

“And third,” I admittedly sheepishly, “I’ve played this game since I was a kid, but I can never manage the strategy to win it.”

With a synchronized roll of their eyes, my son and daughter finished opening the present: the board game Risk, which challenges players to conquer the world region by region. Risk posits each player as a conqueror, a global leader of sorts—or at least, a global contender.

And in the contentious world of global leadership, not only in a board game but in real life, might often rules the day. Might of military. Might of voice. Might of money. Might of influence. Might of ego.

Which is why we pray—with renewed discipline in this new year—for our worldly rulers to be guided by righteousness more than mightiness. To defend the cause of the poor more than the cause of the rich. To strive for peace in such a way that all people will have enough.

We pray for rulers and royalty, for presidents and parliaments, that those in leadership might love the work of peace more than the work of war.

on Psalm 72, written for the Stillspeaking Daily Devotional