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

What Wondrous Love

What love you have for us, O Merciful One:
the sparrow chirrups faithfully and
the daffodil sprouts through snow,
joy greets us daily with the sunrise
and grace finds us every night.

What love you have for us, O Forgiving One:
that new visions reveal your relentless hope
though the world is overwrought with war,
that your foolishness surprises our hearts
when cynicism has corrupted our wonder.

What love you have for us, O Beautiful One:
trouble has yielded to delight and
miracles have greeted us in peace,
gladness has overflowed our hearts
and redemption knows our names.

What love you have for us, O Merciful One!

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Love Supreme

O Love Supreme,
our foundation and our irritation,
our comfort and our chastisement:

The earth quakes with the marching of racism
(in every generation, new boots carry the same hatred)
but we who know Love Supreme will not be shaken.

The air blisters and scorches with words of hatred
(old words, dusty words, dead words to spark torches)
but we who know Love Supreme will not give up life’s zeal.

The demons burn with the consuming madness of fear
(delusions of supremacy, rationalized and normalized)
but we who know Love Supreme will not be afraid.

The waters rage and teem with threats of war
(vanity & selfishness multiplied by megaphone & weaponry)
but we who know Love Supreme will not surrender peace.

O Love Supreme,
our strength and our humility,
our direction and our deliverance:

Let the peace of your lips
be the confession of our hearts
and the fierce joy of our lives so that no one
is threatened or isolated by the accomplices of evil.

Let the glory of your name
be the rebuke of every prejudice
and the mercy of every hand so that no one
is degraded or violated by the mechanisms of sin.

Let the promise of your word
be the measure of your faithfulness
and the tattletale against death so that no one
suffers in this world without your attention and relief.

O Love Supreme,
our defiance and our determination,
our broken and tortured and resurrected one:

We seek your healing love for Charlottesville.
We seek your unfailing love for those afflicted by bigotry.
We seek your abiding love for the mourning.
We seek your convicting love for the rich and powerful.
We seek your redeeming love for the Church.
We seek your impatient love for white folks.
We seek your supreme love and your transformative presence
always always always.

O Love Supreme,
our hope and our dance,
our sass and our satisfaction. Amen.

“Love Supreme” as an honorific for God
is borrowed 
directly from John Coltrane’s
album A Love Supreme, which I commend
for your spirit’s comfort & groundedness.

Cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Storytime

Tell me a story of love that grows like an apple tree; and anyone can stop to rest in its shade or relieve the gnaw of despair with its fruit; and there are no illusions that it’s pristine & pretty because everyone knows apple trees are gnarled with tight, knobby branches and rough bark; and no one believes that “pretty” is the point anyway, so no one is deterred or discouraged or distracted by a perfect row of tulips.

Tell me a story of love that pours like a summer rainstorm; and no one runs for shelter or says gloomily “When will it stop?” or hunkers under an umbrella or glares when they’re splashed; and the common experience of being absolutely drenched & deluged by love makes everyone a little kinder, a little more playful; and everyone realizes as they skip through puddles that the rainbow isn’t love’s beginning but its fulfillment.

Tell me a story of love that trembles like an earthquake; and no one is safe from its impact and everyone is at risk of losing their hearts’ walls in the rubble; and the foundations of self-interest are no match for the wild strength of love; and the measure of it looks like a jumping needle or a pounding heart or a quiet spirit; and no one ever really gets used to the unexpected ways that it shifts your worldview in the flash of a moment.

If you know that story, would you live it aloud so that others might know it too? I’ve been looking for a little inspiration…

on 1 John 4:12