Rage and Love and Songs of Praise

Great Spirit of Life,

I confess that in these past weeks I have been angry.
No, not angry. ENRAGED.
Like a dragon with a belly full of flame
I long to torch everything filthy and grotesque
with my breath.
I would take one vast breath in
and then roar with all my might
and the structures of evil
would become
nothing but cinders
and ash.

The problem with fire
is that it burns everything
indiscriminately.
Once you let it loose,
you have no more say
in what stays
and what goes.

So it might be better
To take as my model
the California buckeye.
Never was there a plant
more lovely
or more perfectly adapted
to a harsh reality.

In early spring it is the first to show new leaves
holding candelabra of green flames
up to the light.
Then in June
it explodes into long showy spikes
of fragrant creamy flowers
rivaling any you might see
in the tropics.
Bees and butterflies
and all manner of pollinators
hover among the flowers
singing praises with their wings.

Then when the season grows dry
the leaves begin to wither
and by August they are brown
and dropping off the branches
and people think the trees
are dying.

But in fact they are merely conserving water.
In fact they are making secret plans
for regenerating.

If, in late summer,  you look up at a hillside
on which there are buckeyes
all you can see is dead branches.
Not until October do you see
the giant seeds
hanging down from long stems
in green cases,
sometimes in pairs
that prompt some people to snicker.

In November
the cases split,
and vast numbers of shiny dark globes
fall onto the ground
and the minute the first rain comes
each sends a white root poking down
into the soil.
Many more fall than actually grow
into new trees.

Yes, I think the California buckeye
is a good model.

Enjoy the times of plenty
but when things get hard and dry
and it seems that life is impossible
drop everything unnecessary
and focus on regeneration.
Make secret plans
for doing what is needed
to birth the next world.
Plant seeds profligately.

Then when things get better,
have a big party.
Wear your fanciest clothes
and invite all beings in close
for love, and songs of praise.

Blessed be.

We Need Only Be

Spirit of Life,
Great immensity of love in which
we live and move and have our being:

Sometimes words fail.
Sometimes the catastrophe is so great
and the pain and fear and bewilderment
are so overwhelming
that we run out of things to say.
It feels impossible to pray.

In those times help us remember
that it is not our words
that connect us to you,
though they can help.
It is not our deeds
that connect us to you,
though they can help too.

No, it is rather that
we can never become disconnected.
Like a bird soaring on an updraft,
we need only be
and we are held in you.
We need only breathe,
and we breathe in you.

I breathe in God,
God breathes in me.
I breathe in Love,
Love breathes in me.

I rest in God,
God rests in me.
I rest in Love,
Love rests in me.

I move in God,
God moves in me.
I move in Love,
Love moves in me.

Help us remember:
we need only be,
and we are held in infinite love.

Blessed be.

The Change That Is Our Life

Spirit of Life, moving source of all we know,
Summer begins now to draw to a close:
the unrelenting heat has subsided,
a cool breeze sings in the trees,
and the smoke is giving way to blue sky.
Change is in the air.

Some change is catastrophic:
illness and divorce and death,
fire and war and storm.

Other change is ordinary
and yet no less enormous in our hearts:
children beginning kindergarten,
teens beginning high school,
young adults fledging the nest.

Even as parents give thanks
that their children are making these beginnings,
they also sob for the times that are ending,
for their fears of what their children may face,
and for the beauty of the whole that is unfolding.

This is what it means to be alive
on this small blue planet
orbiting an ordinary star
in a spiral galaxy
in this vast expanding universe:
Change is the one thing
of which we can be
absolutely certain.

Spirit of Life, Source of all change:
Help us know that
whatever change we are experiencing,
whether catastrophic or ordinary
or somewhere in between,
You are with us.
Your love and your presence
they comfort us.
You are the whole
of which we are the parts
and we can never fall outside
of Your love.

Blessed be.

God’s Porch

If you just lost everything in a fire
If the floods have taken it all away
If the diagnosis is worse
than anything you imagined
If the pain just won’t let up

If you are afraid for the life
of your grown-up child
If you can’t keep a baby growing
If your failing parent is far far away
And you can’t afford to travel

If you spend every day in the car outside
the worksite of your toddler’s father
singing to the baby and praying each moment
that ICE won’t come today

If you are hiding in the hills with no place to go
because the trailers for the workers
burned down

If you can’t go outside
without some jerk shouting comments
about every aspect of your body

If you fear for your life
when you see a police car
If you fear for the life of your son

If you worry every day
about what kind of world
this is for raising your children
If you’re scared of the man
with his hand on the button
If you’re afraid of what’s happening
to your marriage

Come to my house.

Come sit on the porch a while.

Look up at the trees. Listen to the quiet.
Allow peace to enter your heart.
A dragonfly darts to and fro above the yard
and butterflies silently flutter.
Hummingbirds drink from the feeders
and bees work in the clover.

There are wind chimes of metal
and one of bamboo
and they sway
sometimes sounding
in the breeze.

Come sit on the porch,
or lie down if you prefer.
We have many different kinds of chairs.
Breathe in the sweet air.
Gaze up into blue sky.
See the bright colors of the zinnias.

I will bring you something
delicious to drink
and if it is cool I will tuck you in
with a blanket

You can lie back and rest and relax
And just leave it all to me.

My love will wrap around you
and you will know you are safe
and nothing will ever hurt you
again.

Come sit on the porch a while.
Come on up and rest.

I am here waiting
just
for you.

Behold!

Behold!  From before the dawn of time I have been here
waiting
for you…
I gave birth to stars that swirled away
into spiral galaxies
forming and reforming the molecules of me
into new stars
that died and were born again;
I grew larger and larger, and the stars of me
burst and joined again and again
and their partings and joinings made new elements
that danced toward each other,
and caught, and held on,
and my love made them alive.

Behold! This is all alive and dancing here together
in intricate motion:
a luminous blue-green ball whirling in space
filled with starfish and bats
and grains of sand that once were mountains
and belly-laughing babies and rivers and trains
and eagles and cats
and little buildings filled with people who love me.

Behold! From the dust of long-ago stars
I formed your ancestors
who died and returned unto me to be re-formed
into trees and rocks and soil and grass and YOU.

From air and fire and water and earth
I ripen into fruit that drops into your waiting hands.
I feed you and clothe you and shelter you
with my body,
I quench your thirst with my water,
my blood.

Behold! This is my body, grown here for you:
See, my round purple eggplants,
my many colored tomatoes,
my fuzzy rosy peaches, my little perfect grapes,
my juicy melons, my vigorous zucchini,
my beans and grains, my leafy greens,
my alluring herbs and spices.

Behold!  I have set your table with good things!
Now—this is what I want from you:

Learn to share.
Clean up your mess.
Say thank you.

Blessed be.

Be Like The River

Spirit of Life, source of all love,
this is my prayer today:

It is high summer and the air is hot and still
dry leaves crackle overhead
and cicadas buzz in my ears.
Fires rage out of control in the mountains
and cruelty rages out of control in the nation.
I weep with anger and with sorrow.

In times such as these
let me go down to the river.
The water is a blessing
so cool and clear,
so delicious on my skin,
I can let go of all I carry
and let the water hold me
and soothe me
and wash away my tears.

The river slides over rocks,
sculpting them as it goes:
all in its path is made more beautiful.
If the rocks stand in its way
it finds another way
under or over or around or through:
it will not be stopped.

The river will not be stopped.

Spirit of Life,
Help me be like the river.
Help me be a blessing
that soothes away pain
Help me be a coolness and a clarity
that dissolve cruelty and hatred.
Help me join with others
to become unstoppable.

Help our love change
all whom we touch.

Help us be like the river.

Amen.  Blessed be.

Growing Together

Spirit of Life,
Great Immensity of Love that birthed the stars
and washes through our bodies
with every beat of our hearts:

Help us know you as the greening force
that pushes tender shoots through hard pavement.
They penetrate and then grow, and grow,
prying apart the hardest places.
Lush green life reclaims ugly surfaces.

May it be so in our own lives.
May we welcome in the seeds of love.
May we encourage them to take root.
May they take hold and pry apart
any hard casings on our hearts,
anything that separates us, one from another.

Cracked open, may we all weep
with one another’s sorrow.
May we all laugh
with one another’s joy.
May we grow together, our roots intertwined,
beautiful with the life we share.

Blessed be.

A Single Pebble

At the river, there is a pool both deep and wide.  It is ringed on three sides by boulders, willows, and alders, and on the fourth side by a sandy beach.  Dragonflies zip back and forth over the shining water; swallows and dippers busily hunt for insects; and green fish with gold sparkles on their backs investigate every new movement.  Humans shed all clothing and immerse themselves naked in the sacred waters.

The water here has dropped down from a smaller pool above, in a cascade through boulders as big as cars.  Each season the pool starts high and full, and the water is cold and fast as it emerges from the boulders.  It rushes toward the far side of the pool and bounces upstream, causing an eddy that catches debris and foam. As the season goes on, and the water gets lower and warmer, algae begins to grow on the bottom of the eddy side.  If left alone, the pool would shrink into a smelly green pond.

But the people who love this river do not leave it alone.  At the downstream edge of the pool, at its lowest point, they make a beautiful ridge of rocks that extends part way across the stream.  Water flows over it in a clear smooth silken curve.  The rate of flow is the same as before, but the pool is preserved.

Each rock is placed with love and care, precisely where it is needed. The people who love this river want not to divert it, but rather to preserve its beauty.  They pay close attention, because they know that you can change the course of an entire river by placing a single pebble in the right location.

You can change the course of an entire river by placing a single pebble in the right location.

 

 

Summer Moves

Beloveds:

Since I began this venture more than two years ago, I have had a new writing for you nearly every week.  Occasionally I miss a week because of unforeseen circumstances, and occasionally I re-publish something because it fits the season so well, but I have written over a hundred poems, prayers, and meditations just for you.  A few of you have told me that these writings are very meaningful to you, and I am glad.

I am now making an enormous transition:  from full-time community ministry working from home in Grass Valley, CA, to 3/4 time parish ministry in Napa, CA, two hours away.  I will be renting an apartment (at the top of a little barn in the middle of a meadow) in Napa, and commuting back to Grass Valley every fourth week.

While I make this transition, I will need to take some time away from writing.  For the next two months, I will re-publish older poems, prayers, and meditations–so you will still receive something in your inbox each week.  I will return to writing new material in September, unless something even more terrible or beautiful happens than has happened before, in which case I will respond with a new prayer.

In the meantime, please make a donation to help me keep the website up and running.  It costs several hundred dollars each year to maintain.  This has been my gift to the world–to you in particular–but I need your help to keep it going.

Please know that wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I am holding you in my heart.  Whatever happens in the world this summer–and who knows what that might be, given all that has happened in the last couple of years–I am thinking of you and processing it all right along with you.

Let us not let world events crush us.  Let us love the summer fruit and the long hot days and the cold rivers and the cricket song and the happy shouts of children as much as ever, even as we do everything we humanly can to get the concentration camps closed and the children reunited with their parents.  Our joy in life is what feeds our work for justice.

May your summer be filled with blessings.

Love,
Rev. Leisa

 

 

Light the Fuse

Great Spirit of Life, Infinite Love,

You wanted all to shine:
every being with their own light
weaving together in a tapestry
luminescent with love;
but some stamped out the light of others
or took it for their own
and a roiling darkness
has come over our land.

Light us up now.

Light the fuse in our souls
so we can rise like fireworks through the sky
and burst into stars of love
that illuminate this dark, dark night.

We will blaze
We’ll be incandescent
We will flare and glow and glisten

We will erupt into song in the streets
We will explode into word and dance
We will liberate all who are captive
We will not take no for an answer

All will be radiant
All will be glorious
All will glitter and sparkle and shine

Light us up now.
Light the fuse.
It is time.
It is time.
It is time.

Blessed be.