Longing for God

Beauty surrounds me, yet I am not satisfied without the companionship of the Lord.   Mary Oliver, stanza six,  “Six Recognitions of the Lord”

Our deepest longing is to know God in the awe-filled wonder of Creation and most especially God’s nearness in our own hearts.   At the conclusion of “Six Recognitions of the Lord,” Mary Oliver names companionship with Jesus Christ as key.   The beauty of creation, the delights we see do not bring wholeness absent accepting a deep intimacy with Jesus in the heart, making space to be filled with God. 

We know too well the places where we seek satisfaction in wealth, accolades for achievement, a certain type of bodily beauty; all these leave us more empty than full.  

The sun is shining, ready to melt winter’s (last?) snow and ice and finally I hear birds in the morning.  Beauty surrounds me in God’s transcendence in the morning and at night with the brilliant full “snow” moon.  

Yet, Lent is around the corner.   Curiously one word for Spring in Dutch is Lente.  In spring in this hemisphere we observe a season of bringing forward, clearing out, and making space for the companionship of the Lord.   Carrying our love of things, praise, or power we are hindered in our walk with Christ.   Prepare to let them go.

In our older church calendar we had Sundays, the “gesimas” that counted down the days before Lent, a preparation for the Preparation to Easter.  This week I invite us to prepare for the Preparation and seek out companionship of the Lord, taking time to begin pulling out all we are carrying in our hearts.  Take a look at what we find and discard anything that blocks our presence before Jesus.   Remember the children’s creed:  I believe in Jesus who lives in our hearts by faith.  Make space for life.

May we open and bare our whole hearts, absent extraneous baggage, to the Source of Love, to the beauty of creation, to the satisfaction in companionship with the Lord.

Filled with Wonder

God, fill me with wonder for your Creation. Help me to hear and to hold those words of Jesus dear:  Follow me.  Stanza 5, “Six Recognitions of the Lord,” Mary Oliver 

Slow down, breathe deeply.   Stop, look, listen as we learned as children.   Touch, feel.  Be filled with the wonder of Creation.   

In a rush from task to task or task to pleasure, one loses so easily awe, wonder, and connection with the entire universe that is ours in God.   I know; I am too often in a hurry.   Today, a day we are pressed to show love to those closest to us, may we each simply make space in our hearts.   No worries about chocolate, flowers or cards.  Breathe, make space, notice how marvelously made is this world, each human, each created being.   Life.  

The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all  the stars were born.    Psalm 33:6

When was the last time you looked at the night sky?  

The wonders of Creation go from the heavens to the seas.

Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number, living things both great and small. There the ships pass, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.    Psalm 104:25-26

In Job 41, God reminds Job that humankind is but a part of creation and cannot control or fully conquer the Leviathan or God’s plans.   Humankind is part of the web of that is all creation.  We are invited to take part in God’s work and know the wonder of all that is around us.   What we do matters as every piece of the web is wondrously made and wholly connected. 

It is to this wonder Jesus invites us.  Through accepting Jesus’s invitation to humans he encountered, many marginalized, an invitation to sumptuous meals, to sights all around while walking, we, too, can come to see the Divine revealed in all Creation.   

Follow me, calls Jesus, to the path of wonder, love, and connection.  Follow me and know you are a beautiful part of all that is made but not its center.   Enjoy the freedom of caring for creation as but a part and not the whole.  And as a part help heal the whole.  

On this day, may we savor all that is around us and in us, the gifts of and connection to the Divine.   Follow Jesus on this path of Love.  

God is Present in the Body

Enter into the Mystery

I have always known you are present in everything.  But you are also present in the body: listening, teaching.  Rather than touching.  We have so grown accustomed to touch and feeling that we gradually come to an appreciative response to your Presence.  We arrive at the part of our lives that is beyond understanding.  It is mystery.  It is love of God.  It is obedience. 

Mary Oliver, fourth stanza of “Six Recognitions of the Lord.”

Most of us are not fully comfortable in our bodies and certainly are not often seeking God’s presence there.  Well, perhaps in our hearts.  Yet God is in the lungs, the arms, the brain, the feet, all of our body.  “I have come to cherish my body’s wisdom in all its dimensions,” writes Christine Paintner in The Wisdom of the Body.

As we learn to listen to our body, we learn to listen more deeply to God. I hear God’s wisdom in my body, through other people, the Word and worship.   The body is a special grace for God embodied the Word by becoming Incarnate (made flesh) in Jesus.   

As I listen more and more to my body, I begin, too, to enter “the part of our lives that is beyond understanding.”   Our faith is about our willingness to enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ, living deeply connected to God within and God present in all creation.   From this place of mystery our experience of God’s love can deepen.   

In hearing the wisdom we come to obedience.   I admit the word “obedience” remains difficult for me.  How many of us want to obey someone else, even God?  Yet God’s wisdom is like my mother over many years until her death reminding me to rest.   Near the end of her life this wisdom began to sink in, and I laughingly told her I might now obey.   I am still trying.  It is obedience to our inner integrity which may call us like Jesus to obedience unto death, “even the death of the cross.”  (Philippians 2:8).   We live love in this life to life beyond.

As we allow ourselves to know our bodies which God gave us, to listen well, we feel the wisdom deep in our bones.   From this we can come to obey the One who made us and knows the path of freedom and love and what it is to be fully alive for ever and always.   This is mystery, beauty and grace – and we embody all three.  Thanks be to God.