Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Leap and Dance [reposted from 2007]

Imagine knowing the presence of someone you have never met yet you knew in the core of your very being that this someone was indeed extraordinarily special. You cannot see or hear them, much less anything else, because you haven't been born yet. Warm and cozy insider your mother's womb, no cares in the world for any ordinary baby, but for John soon-to-be the Baptizer, it is very different. Imagine the thoughts, the vision...

Shimmering in

Understated majesty

Sapphire and silver

Herald the Coming

Afar that way but

Drawing, drawing

Incrementally nigh.

Coming in

Glistening glory,

With awe, pondering

The wordless beckoning

The spirit replies

Yea! Follow the Star!

I follow, immersed in

Glimmering glory

My soul shouts

In joy inexpressible

He comes! He comes!

My Lord, He comes!

Oh how I would leap

And dance before

His coming, if not

For this womb.


Friday, December 14, 2012

He draws nigh...[reposted from 12/20/2007]

We draw closer to the time when that earthbound Star arrived so long ago, that our breath sometimes catches in the awe of it, and the One who let it come to us. Luci Shaw wrote the poem you are about to read and I found it by way of British university chaplain Maggi Dawn. It is one of my especial favorites about this time of year, about this season and why it yields such shy majesty.

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest .
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly.
Quiet he lies whose vigor hurled a universe.
He sleeps whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by doves' voices, the whisper of straw,
he dreams, hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he is new.
Now native to earth as I am, nailed to my poor planet,
caught that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.



Presiding bishop’s Christmas Message 2012

December 13, 2012

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] “Discover the love of God poured into our world in human form,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says in her Christmas Message 2012.

The following is the text of the presiding bishop’s Christmas Message 2012:

Christmas Message 2012

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined." Isaiah 9:2.

These words were spoken long ago to people living in anxiety, fear, and despair, people feeling bereft of security, safety, and any sense of God’s presence. We hear them early on Christmas, forgetting that they were first spoken hundreds of years before the birth we celebrate. Human beings across this planet still yearn to know that a more gracious and divine reality is active and evident in our lives.

The birth we celebrate is meant for this world mired in darkness and fear, yet it also becomes easier to discover in a tiny voice crying in protest over being cold and wet and hungry. We hear that cry in the midst of war’s ravages in Congo and Afghanistan, in the rubble of hurricane and earthquake, in the demeaning of chronic poverty, behind prison bars. That flickering of hope surges as the world turns to investigate this surprising new life, one heart at a time. The light grows as hearts catch fire with the same light that illumines the stars, pulsing hope and new life, even out of black holes.

Those who search in dark and despair, in dank dungeon and deep devastation, will find divine light given for the world. Light that will not be put out, so long as any creature remains to receive it, until and beyond the end of time. The darkness will never put it out.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5
Go and look – and discover the love of God poured into our world in human form. Hope reigns abroad, in the cosmos and in human hearts. And rejoice, for a child of the light is born in our midst!

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Friday, December 07, 2012

A birthplace shown to us by Denise Levertov

Denise Levertov compiled a small book of poetry gleaned from several of her numerous volumes of poetry. This small book The Stream & the Sapphire is a series of poems of faith and doubt, a record of Levertov's journey from agnosticism to one of faith. I highly recommend it for those who seek the contemplative in a modern context.

As we continue on our way toward Bethlehem, I offer a selection from this work to accompany us along the way...

" 'The Holy One, blessed be he, wanders again, ' said Jacob, 'He is wandering and looks for a place where he can rest.' "

Between the pages
a wren's feather
to mark what passage?
Blood, not dry,
beaded scarlet on dusty stones.
A look of wonder
barely perceived on a turning face --
what, who had they seen?
Here's the cold inn,
the wanderer passed it by
searching once more
for a stable's warmth,
a birthplace.

Images, words, wonders. We ponder them in our hearts

as Mary pondered all that the Angel had revealed to her...
the majesty mysterium.


Saturday, December 01, 2012

"What will we find there?"

Tell me again
why I am standing in a bitter wind
sand flying all over
and around me

trying to fasten a saddle
on this stubborn camel
trying to keep my goods
from being lost to the desert.

Best robes and turbans
packed and still I wonder
will I really need them
where I am going,

off on some journey
where I am not sure of
what is to be found...
or whom?

There was the dream,
there was the voice that
well, seemed to speak
with such authority,

with such crystal clarity
I could not help myself
but move with purpose
to follow, of all things...

A star, immense,
stunningly bright
the effulgence of which
never have I seen.

Across the open dunes
we wonder, what is beneath
that star...
What will we find there,

some miracle, some treasure
a fortune teller, a prince?
Too early to tell
So we wait...



Photos courtesy of:, openstock photo,

The Mystery of Advent: Journey to the Manger [repost from 2007]

The following is a repost of an entry I made in 2007 for pre-Advent 1 Sunday. I will be reposting the poetry I wrote for that season in the coming weeks. It is my contribution to Advent Online. Blessings, Catherine.

This is the time of year when my sense of Christian mysticism becomes a bit more fine tuned than at other times of the year, with the exception of the Easter season. The road to Easter is a cold and mystical journey. There is something inherently awe inspiring about the anticipation of Emmanuel and the human mind trying to comprehend the concept --much less the reality-- of God with us. Some people simply cannot get their mind around the juxtaposition of the divine and the human as one person, in the flesh, looking much like us, as being anything but extraordinary. Actually a lot of them think it is wishful nonsense, a panacea for the trouble this world is in, that we who do believe are a bit muddle in the head. Then there are those who believe but aren't sure what to do with the information. There are many who try to analyze it to death, thereby not experiencing the wonder that comes from just letting the concept be.

The category I know I fit into is the one where you know its real, as real as the stars and roses blooming. As real as wondering how a horsehair can produce on the taut string of a violin the soaring sound that elevates our souls to a state of such elation that we hear a little echo of heaven. The words are hard to come by because those particular words don't exist...yet.

And so the season of Advent is this way for me. There are those of us who do get it and understand it. Perhaps not as well as we would like in this life but we understand the concept of the "thin place", the ethreal, the inexplicable. We believe in miracles. We know they happen. We see them daily. Where others see the ordinary, we detect the inordinary. It is not an easy life by any means. Your friends think you are one apple short of a bushel, or the only nutty chew in the box of See's candy. Or you end up with an unusual sense of well, "sight". That's all I will say on that subject for now.

One of the most common ways Christian mystics tried to express their experience was in writing, either prose or poetry. And so I have sought out poetry and prose that reflects attempts by both ancient and modern mystics, to put into words what can best be described as their perceptions of mystical experience or epiphany.

As we enter into Advent I will be sharing with you examples of both to enrich your journey on the way to the manger. I decided that we need hope and spirituality at this time, not only in the world and in the Church, but in the Holy of Holies of our hearts where God's Spirit dwells.

For now I would like to point you to a few web sites and blogs that may be of help to you as you prepare for your anticipatory journey.

The Way of the Pilgrim has many resources and examples of mystical writings, especially about the Jesus Prayer.

Anamchara is the site that led me to the first one. It also speaks of the Jesus Prayer and has articles on the prayer as well as how to make a prayer rope by tying knots in a particular pattern.

Christians Mystics: A Journey into the Presence of God has many resources, both scholarly and grassroots on the subject of mysticism as well as examples of their writings. I really like this one because it leads you to more.

Then there is Mystics In Love, a very good site that explains what Christian mysticism is and what it is not. You will find several examples of writings from some of my absolute favorite mystics here.

Every evening, I look skyward and marvel at the stars and light from the heavens. It does make you wonder...

Silent air
crisp in clarity,
I see God's eye

I look forward to sharing my finds with you as we prepare for the coming of The Child.