Too much?

 

I grew up thinking that there were some things that should be left unsaid.  The truth could be too painful, or scary, or frightening.  We were supposed to tone it down, be nice, say the right thing.

A few years ago I came across Frederick Buechner, and a slim volume he wrote called “Speak what we feel: Not what we ought to say.”

It’s funny how the straw the breaks the camel’s back can be miniscule – a sunset over the ocean, the laugh of a child, four perfect chords, a few words folded into harmony and truth.  And once that straw drops, the walls come crashing down and captives are freed to speak what they feel, to argue and rage, to complain and debate, for this is relationship.  

Thankful tonight that there are people for whom we are not too much.  Thankful tonight that God is not surprised by us, and that even the act of wrestling with God is a way to relate deeper and more truthfully.  

 

You cannot shock Him with the things you want to say.
Let it go. Erupt into glass-shattered expression.
The hurt, regret, sorrow, frustration, bitterness . . . Rage.
Send the fragments of your broken soul showering down.
To the pavement. To the end of things.
Look how it glistens. Reflects light.
Little pieces.
And when you are done, you will feel better.
Let the silence clothe your nakedness.
Feel the breeze, how it swirls into your newly opened soul.
Tender as it caresses a raw, exposed heart.
Listen to the sounds of the sweeping. Broom and dustpan.
The shards being swept away. Splintered remnants and slivers.
Quietly going about His Father’s business.
You’ll be okay. You are loved.
Fiercely.
In a shocking sort of way.

~Heather Eure
via Burnside Writer’s Collective

Water

The shattering weight of summer-light pressed down and through shadowed tree covered lanes as we walked home from the cafe. Turning a corner, we saw the girl in front of us dancing through, and around, and between rainbow streams of shimmering water, spraying and spinning and spiraling. There was beauty in the interplay of light and shadow, of sprinklers and water and scintillating rainbows that scattered shards of light profligately, without regard for whom might see, or appreciate this holy symphony of movement and color.

“…it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash…”

~ Marilynne Robinson – Gilead

This was one of those moments.

Leaving Neil’s house, biking down to the lake, I was struck once more by the extravagance on display – water in blues and greens, as far as the eye could see, shimmering and sparkling, evidence of grace.

Water is not only for the deserving.

Water does not only quench the thirst of the pure.

Water gives life to all, evenhandedly, without condition, without restraint.

I stopped my bike on the shore, captivated by the joyous call of the water.

Finally, unable to resist, I gave in to its siren song, leaping into the blue-green womb with abandon and laughter, over and over and over again…

Thankful.

Humbled.

Blessed.

Made new.

“…water was made primarily for blessing…”

lake michigan

preparing for grattitude

 

 

In heaven it is always autumn;
His mercies are ever in their maturity.
We ask our daily bread,
And God never says
You should have come yesterday,
He never says
You must ask again tomorrow:
But today, if you will hear his voice,
Today he will hear you…

 

He brought light out of darkness,
Not out of a lesser light;
He can bring thy summer out of winter,
Though thou have no spring;
Though in the ways of fortune or understanding or conscience
Thou have been benighted till now,
Wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed
Damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now,

 

Now God comes to thee,
Not as in the dawning of the day,
Not as in the bud of the spring
But as the sun at noon to illustrate all shadows,
As the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries,
All occasions invite his mercies,
And all times are his seasons.

 

~ John Donne, Christmas Day, 1624

Psalm 150

Psalmo CL
Ernesto Cardenal

Alabad al Señor en el cosmos
Su santuario
de un radio de 100.000 millones de años luz

Alabadle por las estrellas
y los espacios inter-estelares

alabadle por las galaxias
y los espacios inter-galácticos

alabadle por los átomos
y los vacíos inter-atómicos

Alabadle con el violín y la flauta
y con el saxofón

alabadle con los clarinetes y el corno
con cornetas y trombones
con cornetines y trompetas

alabadle con violas y violonchelos
con pianos y pianolas

alabadle con blues y jazz
y con orquestas sinfónicas
con los espirituales de los negros
y la 5.ª de Beethoven
con guitarras y marimbas

alabadle con toca-discos
y cintas magnetofónicas

Todo lo que respira alabe al Señor

Toda célula viva

Aleluya

—–

via – ululatus sapiens

Psalm CL
Ernesto Cardenal

(a loose translation)

Praise the Lord all the universe
His sanctuary
radiating 100,000 million light-years

Praise him for the stars
and the inter-stellar spaces

praise him for the galaxies
and the inter-galactic void

praise him for the atoms
and the inter-atomic gaps

Praise him with the violin and the flute
and with the saxophone

praise him with the clarinets and  the horn
with trumpets and trombones
with cornets and trumpets

praise him with violas and cellos
with pianos and  pianolas

praise him with blues and jazz
with symphonic orchestras
with black spirituals
and Beethoven’s 5th
with guitars and marimbas

praise him with record-players
and cassette tapes

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord

Every living cell

Alleluia

—–

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord…

*images via Nasa’s Image of the Day gallery.

Paying Attention

Paying attention is hard to do.

When I was a home-schooled first-grader, I would often get in trouble for being distracted.  My teachers (mom and dad) would talk about diligence and what it meant to be a hard worker.  My five year old self had a hard time connecting those concepts with penmanship, math, and spelling.  I remember feeling especially wounded when, in an attempt to keep me focused, they pulled the curtain closed in the window of our one room school-house.  It didn’t work though, because I just ended up staring at the patterns on the red and white checked curtains.

While there was some truth to my parent’s critiques, I don’t think that the whole problem was how easily I became distracted, or how I quickly became distracted from what I was supposed to be working on.  I think the problem was that I was aware that there was SO MUCH to pay attention to!

The clear blue Andean sky with clouds pouring in over the mountains every afternoon of the rainy season, turning from fluffy white cotton balls to grey, threatening monsters – Tubby the German Shepherd running and barking and chasing birds, just dying for me to come outside and join him in the joy of movement – Florencio the gardener planting new flowers next to the office building…  Every moment was pregnant with meaning, and surprises were just waiting to spring out of nowhere to thrill me – IF I was paying attention…

As I’ve grown older, it’s become that much harder to stop and really pay attention and see what is going on around me – in my own life, in the lives of the people I love the most, or even in nature and the people whose lives cross mine for the blink of an eye.  I get so focused on my agenda.  I am running late for work, or have to take care of errands, or am quickly running into the store to avoid getting wet.

And while I see the need for responsibility, sometimes we just need to stop and SEE what is going on around us – to let wonder transport us away from the ordinary, and let us see that the mundane is really extra-ordinary.  Sometimes we need to stop running, put away the umbrella, and let the rain soak through our clothes, trickle against our skin, and turn our eyes up to the heavens and experience the rain.  Splashing in puddles, watching the lightning dance upon the clouds, tasting the raindrops on your tongue – this is worship.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

~ Gerard Manley Hopkins

Last week I came across an account of an experiment performed in 2007 in the Washington DC metro system.  During morning rush hour, a violinist opened his case, removed his violin, and began playing.  He played for over an hour and in that time frame only a handful of people stopped to listen.  Most ignored him, distracted by cell phones, iPods, minds lost in thought as they prepared for work and the demands of the day.  Only a few truly heard him and saw him for who he was – Joshua Bell, a world-famous musician who routinely sells out concert halls, playing some of the most difficult violin pieces composed on a Stradivarius worth 3.5 million dollars.  He was right there in front of them, but people couldn’t see him.

The most fascinating aspect of the story was the following:

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away. ~ WP

I love how the children were able to recognize beauty.  I love that they had not yet lost their capacity for amazement.  And I wonder how we might go about becoming people who never lose (or regain) that sense of childlike wonder?  I wonder how we might become people who learn to see?  I wonder how we might learn how to pay attention?

Maybe if we could learn to see, we would recognize that the world is charged with the grandeur of the glory of God?  Maybe if we could pay attention, we could see the wonder that surrounds us?  …  maybe…

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

via JR Briggs