Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: The Charge of Mercy

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Photo by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

It may be that making room
for mercy, letting it take hold
of you, does so only at a price.
You may never again see yourself
or another without feeling
a deep release of tenderness,
an upsurge in benevolence
like a music unfurled by light.

Many suffer, pass by day or night and
you will recognize a hoard of hurts
and consolation will spill unbidden,
even in your smile or nod of your head,
a flash meeting of your eyes and another’s.
Charity rises from the soul’s wellspring,
and fills you. It will long to act.

Even if what is returned is
disconsolate anger, even if a
ruinous emptiness
you will offer a gentling of more mercy.
And when someone pains you,
compassion and forbearance
will take charge in spite
of unjust, fearful jarrings.
You can endure much in mercy.

Who knows what being merciful can bring?
Perhaps a revolution of wholeness: begin.
Who said our human lives will be a lark?
Can we be generous if we are lazy, only smart?
Can we be kind and be selfish, then hope to heal?
We learn to be humble, then wings can grow.

You alone know your true reflection
in the mirrored passages of time,
if you answered yes when
someone needed forgiveness,
if you answered no when revenge
bellowed your name.

Either way, mercy lives on

best when you claim it, free it, use it.
It moves in the power of opening hands,
in reverberations of simple, decent care.
Some may welcome it and perhaps even you.
Many will not ever notice.
You are the one
who will be
changed by mercy
reigniting your valiant life

Prayer as a Boat

 

??????????What is it about prayer that draws or repels people? There are those who find it as unsubstantiated or irrelevant as the idea that there are other planets supporting life. People scoff at prayer, perhaps think anyone foolish enough to believe in it deserves the result– undoubtedly nothing, the naysayers state. For some it is a critical discipline their faith requires. For others, a spontaneous plea. Many fall back on it when everyday words will not address their need. And others use the very words “prayer” or “praying” as they talk as a sort of protection, to salvage or to inspire, as if it’s very invocation will work the miracles desired. I understand the urge. But prayer goes so much deeper that it can carry us away. Look to the mystics, the holy men and women, and how prayer can shape everything.

If you don’t believe in the path of prayer, then you have stopped reading. If you do or are uncertain perhaps you will let me offer a few more ruminations. It appears those who pray may or may not state belief in Divinity, may not attend a place of worship regularly or at all, and might even deny they are praying when they look as if they are. They explain that they talk to “something”, deep inside their own hearts, their higher minds perhaps, or find a ubiquitous energy experienced within nature’s confounding ways.

Prayer is a vehicle that creates and then carries a language particular to itself. I don’t mean it need always (or ever) retain a certain form or word count. Rather, it can find its own way. It is often imbued with profound feeling, searching questions or even demands. Offered up as a gift or request or a painful need, it is meant to refresh or make a stronger connection to that Other, God, and gain more understanding. Hope when it has been confounded by trials. Clarification of our lives, our paths.

A prayer may be words so often repeated that we have them memorized. It can transfix us, entreat us to go further. It may become wordless, a meditation that moves us into a realm where God seems greatly illumined within and without. A sacred unity. Have you reached for prayer and found yourself emptied of words? We listen better then; we find we know more of the answer than we imagined. We discover that Divine Love absolutely recognizes our thoughts and needs, so praying is becoming present, attuned. Aligning our souls with Spirit, a most natural phenomenon.

I am Christian but I am not writing about specific religious creeds. I came into the world certain of the abiding presence of God. Prayer for me is the language of true, whole living, a bridge that takes us from smallness of self to a greater sense of good. To the infinite source of wisdom and compassion. Without prayer I likely would not have managed to stay afloat during the often perilous voyage through the years. It is an–at least, my–ancient, sturdy boat, the underpinning that holds up my living. It refreshes, instructs and frees me. Heals the sore places and recalibrates parts that are out of sync. Redeems my petty ego with grace. It is a tool God gave us so we would not be alone, no matter what.

Prayer finds me wandering and takes me back home again. I call out and I am answered with unshakeable, encompassing Love. I don’t need every detail for direction. The responses may sometimes mystify me. But I know God knows us. If I welcome God I will understand my own heart, mind and soul more completely.

Prayer will find the words for me when I am seeking truth. All I have to do is open to its gift, the magnitude of connecting to the sacred. And today, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I am moved to pray for us all.

Prayer for Us All/Giving Thanks

Let us speak of vividness, the living
who zigzag through days and nights
stunned with self-importance, or
who become brave or transformed,
are found weakened or terrified,
who confront evil with numinous light
or fall under a burden of emptiness.

May we hold close to the certain Center,
may we find this miracle river bright;
may we answer as our names are called,
Let One Love embrace without restraint.

Let us speak of the everywhere dying,
(our flesh made for bounty yet fragile),
of those who cling to the mad glory of life
or fight to wake as long sleep closes in,
who have no time left to share common joys
yet flare and float within the singing dark.

May we hold close to the certain Center,
may we keep this miracle river bright;
may we answer as our names are called,
Let One Love embrace without restraint.

Let us speak of myriad souls now gone,
they who gave us form and voice,
who knew the finite, intimate ways
of humankind, or came to believe that
life’s velocity held times of giving, forgiving,
and left a labyrinth of trails to use, recreate.

May we hold close to the certain Center,
may we share this miracle river bright;
may we answer as our names are called,
Let One Love embrace without restraint.

Fealty: Definition 2. Faithfulness; allegiance

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I am often jolted from sleep, words blazing in my brain, sometimes whole phrases or poems that demand their places in my notebook. I obey, lest they slip away to the vast hinterland of dreaming once more. I hope they will stay in place on paper, releasing me so I can return to rest, but they often pursue me until given the gift of freedom. Which means: a life to call their own. This ultimately requires my attention in the waking life. The day has begun and I am glad of it.

But this morning was the sort of re-entry into daily life that I would rather avoid. I rose from murky consciousness toward a sheerness of wakefulness as sunlight tried to illuminate my thinking. My eyes remained closed against the morning as a weightiness threatened to hold me hostage. Unbidden words passed through the darkness under my eyelids: The music is over; your voice was lost. Too much means less and less. Travelling alone without one good compass ends good journeys. Who can even see your footsteps upon the earth?

All the things I don’t like and who among us would? Uncertainty, the remnants of loss, weariness, old hurts that reconvene like a war council. Unease remained as I pushed out memories that can still haunt me, the times when problems didn’t resolve despite earnest effort. The errors of judgment that hollowed out places where defeat still can burrow. I called on God of all, of east, west, north and south, God within and without, Jesus who finds and comforts me, reminds me of revolutionary love.

Capture all old tears and bring them back to me as shining orbs. Set me straight. Let me see again, a woman without misgiving.

My eyelids flickered and the room in its blueness came forward. The variety of pictures greeted me. Morning was grounded as light slipped over my hands and feet. I let the scattered threats fly away. But not before one more word lodged itself where the others had lain in wait.

Fealty. I knew the word from somewhere. Fealty. Didn’t it have something to do with truth? Or…money?

It presented itself many times as I prepared for the day. With a fragrant mug of tea beside me, I picked up The American Heritage Dictionary. I opened the volume.It was there, the word, right on the page before me. Out of all the pages that might have been interesting to read first, the dictionary opened to this page.

I read the first meanings: “1. a. The loyalty of a vassal to his feudal lord. b. The obligation of such loyalty.” I immediately recalled watching an historical drama, “The White Queen”, the previous night and believed I heard the word there. But, wait, a second meaning: “2. Faithfulness; allegiance.”

I sat back, held the mug between both hands and sipped. The words ran through me. Spoke to me. What am I faithful to? What loyalties means the most  and what am I called to do? Where is the allegiance that matters no matter what? My family, yes, of course, and friends. Then, as though unearthed from beneath the unwanted sourness, came this: Divine Love. Compassion and the causes of mercy and enduring hope. Celebration of all that the Creator gave us. And this fierce passion to write.

How foolish I can be, a small soul making my way through the unbearable and marvelous phantasmagoria of life. Fortunately I am still teachable.

This is the life I most care about, the one I choose. This morning began as a puzzle tossed into disarray, then reassembled in one swift movement. The day and my place in it came together again. I have my  compass. I have notebook and pen. A guiding Hand, an angel, a sudden crack in the dark that allows the right clues admittance to my heart.

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The Wiles of March/poem #8: Another Street Story

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It happened or it didn’t,
but the truth she had to offer us later
is that when he entered or left that house,
he forgot to take his soul.
He’d had it in his grasp earlier and then
crushed it into something
only fit to run the streets,
turned it inside out so it would do his bidding
as though he had no other resources
or ideas left.

It’s possible that sitting in the car
putting black gloves on that fit him like skin
and a tire iron at the ready
he wondered if there was something else he might do,
but it passed and they stepped out
he was knocking at the door
waited with hands at his sides
and she saw the man come out of a dark room
with cockiness a flimsy mask for fear.

And so that is when she wanted out
or told him to stop–
we’ll never know because she left out
the crucial part. It was not exactly quiet.

We were leaning against their old black car
smoking, watching some neighbors
carry groceries in.
One of us put on more lipstick,
a stolen neon coral,
and the other thought about lunch and fate

when he came down the front steps
with electric ease and a dynamite smile
took his gloves off and put them along with the iron
into the trunk, closed it with a bang.
The he made a small movement of his head,
which told her to get in.
So she did.

What he did we can’t say,
but we do know he crossed over
to another place.
We never saw his eyes the same after that;
they didn’t warm up
or even blink.

It’s been a year; almost Easter again.
We went to the Dollar Store for candy for our son.
Now we do other ordinary things.
But we light a candle for them every day.
If God knows where they are, He needs to fix that damage.
He needs to come right down and
shake out the mad mess like He did for us.

But who knows what can happen.
We have a few extra prayers if
you want one, too.