Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We are the flesh

This is a prayer for professors and instructors of MFTs, counselors, psychologists, and anyone involved in the work of teaching and training healers. 
We Are The Flesh

What we find in our hands
Is the tender beginnings
Of the careers of our students
Multiplied by the aches and fears of their clients

And now hundreds, no thousands of lives
Are touched by us
For the touch of our hands goes with them
For the words of our mouths goes with them
For the tone of our voices goes with them
Yes, our voice goes with them
Everything we do becomes context for everything they do

What have you done?
Did you not know we are just humans?
Mere men; mere women; mere flesh
Our flaws can ripple
Just as our successes
Our pathology can be multiplied
Just as our health
Our ugly can be seen
Just as our beauty

And yet it is only flesh that can do this
And for whatever reason
We are the flesh chosen to do this
We are the flesh privileged to do this
We are the flesh that must do this

Humble this flesh
So that humility flows through our students
Strengthen this flesh
So that strength flows through our students
Make courageous this flesh
So that courage flows through our students
Heal this flesh
So that healing flows through our students

Monday, October 20, 2014

Little is the Beginning of Big

You give us little things
Itty bitty things
Seeds, handfuls of seeds,
Sometimes nothing but seeds

When we stand in forests and fields
With hands full of seeds
We will not weep for the smallness of the seeds
We will not despair that everything else is so grown
We will not run away for some better place to be

We are here
We have these
We can do this
We are alive
And ready to be planted
To be aliver

We are not masters
We are untrained
All we ever have to do
Is let go
Of the seeds
Whatever seeds you gave us
And let them go
To the ground
And in little things
You do big things
Little is the beginning of big
We can’t do big all alone
All on our own
All at once
But little is the beginning of big

You give us little things
Itty bitty things
Seeds, handfuls of seeds,
Sometimes nothing but seeds

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jesus Interrupted

Jesus Interrupted

Met a man
Who didn’t believe
In anything at all;
He tried so hard
To get me to join;
Tried to make me feel small;

Met a man
Who surely believed
That he knew it all;
He tried so hard
To get me to join;
Tried to make me feel small;

Winter souls
Summer souls
Freezing and burning souls
Souls like you
Souls like me
Somebody has to set us free.

Met a man
Down on his luck
With a bruise on his soul;
He tried so hard
To soothe his ache
But the world had let him go

Met a man
Who loved his mirror
Didn’t know his own name;
He tried so hard
To be someone
But got swallowed whole by Fame

Winter souls
Summer souls
Freezing and burning souls
Souls like you
Souls like me
Somebody has to set us free.

And their souls cry out
At the fleeting light
Do you want to get lonely
With me tonight?
Take a drink
Tell a lie
Making believe
We’re all alright

Winter souls
Summer souls
Freezing and burning souls
Souls like you
Souls like me
Somebody has to set us free.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

In all humility, I am Superior

You took my breath away,
Far away,
So far away;

Into the wind,
Over the water,
To the horizon,
Plunged down deep -
We are one;

I am in you;
You are in me;

No matter where I've been:
Malibu with a crashing cold surf,
Destin with soft white sand,
Accra with African Palm,
You've always had part of me
They can never hold;

The ships come in
From everywhere
Pushing white foam,
Buoyed impossibly full,
Laden with hope,
And at the Gate,
You let them all in
To tell me another secret,

And I look to you
Like a child looks to giants for wisdom,
A speck on the shore,
Surrounded by the relentless
Wave after wave of wisdom;
So deep;
So vast;
Such mysterious and violent wisdom,

But I am not afraid of you;
Your spray over the rocks
Cools my temper in the hot sun,
Your rhythm on pebbled shore
Teaches my heart how to pound and ease,
Your million water colors
Tell me to feel all my feelings,
Your winter fog wall
Is a shield about me,
Your infinity
Proves there is Infinity;

I want to see you!

But I can wait to see you again,
For you have taught me Temperance,
You have taught me Baptism;
The River will eventually flow to you,
I can wait,
Because it is inevitable,
I will see you again

I am in you;
You are in me.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Maybe it's all prayer

There are times when I cannot pray. I mean really pray. I mean talk with God like I mean it. In those times I do a lot of other things. Sometimes I don't even attempt a prayer. Other times I fall into some rote prayer expression that feels every bit as meaningless as it probably is. There are times when I read Walter Brueggemann's prayers. Sometimes I just get busy doing something that can register as productive or meaningful. Still other times I just sit there like a writer with an extreme case of writer's block. Nope, got nothing. 

I have seen couples at a restuarant unable to utter a word to each other. I watch and wonder what is the depth of their intimacy. I wonder whether they are angry with each other or whether the life has drained from their relationship. I wonder a lot of things and none of them are good. And sometimes my prayer life looks like that couple who can't find a single word to say to each other.

Prayer, what can be a simple conversation, a desperate wail, a deep confiding, an intimate connection, an expression of gratitude, an attentive listening, can also sometimes be a sort of awkward moment, an uncomfortable social situation - it can feel like a blind date mismatch.

I wish for prayer to be easier, more in the flow of my life. I wish for the mere experience of something to fling me automatically into prayer, like the thing that happened that I cannot wait to share and then I do share and turn MY experience into OUR experience. And sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't. I wish the very angst I feel, the joy the bursts within me, the laughter that explodes, the hurt, the hope, the uncertainty, the anxiety, the fear, the optimism, the dreaming, the...I wish everything I think and feel was prayer.

And maybe it is, in some sense. Maybe it's all prayer. Maybe having an intermittent prayer disability is not some new thing or the dashboard light indicating low faith.  Perhaps I am not alone to shoulder the responsibility of prayer. Perhaps...

"...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." - Romans 8:26

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Profound Sadness

A friend's tear brought me back
To innocence,
A boy,
When I believed everything,
Everyone ever said,
Because everyone was every bit good;

One honest tear
Cut like a diamond blade
Through the granite shelf;
Sunlight pierced through
Exposing a
Quivering, formerly safe boysoul,
Confused in a manbody - a broken manworld

So bruised; so scarred;
So beaten up by theology thugs,
Charlatans, Minions, and Monsters,
The Biblically conflicted and confused,
And legions of misguided innocents,
All filling their roles
For perpetuation of abomination,
Dominion accumulation,

One tear bleeding toxins
Of profound sadness;
When someone could have told a boy the truth
But hid it under a bushel instead -
Instead, a tear:
Too honest to abandon truth;
Too broken to risk seeking it;
Too angry to see straight;
Too tired to shake off sadness;
So overwhelmed by the massive soulgaps
Exposed when illusions wore off
Holes so deep they can't be filled for me,

But what about my son?

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Eavesdropping on FEAR

I woke up the other night overhearing a conversation that was in progress. I got really curious about this conversation because I think the one speaking was talking about me. Since I couldn't sleep, I decided to eavesdrop and listen in on what was being said. I quickly realized that I was, in fact, the topic of conversation and that the one speaking about me was Fear.

Fear didn't speak English - not in the conversation I was listening to. It spoke its own language. It was not a spoken language at all or even a nonverbal language. Fear spoke one of the emotional languages, so it was not easy for me to interpret the meaning of what it said in any efficient or quick way. I labored heavily translating fear-speak into English. It was exhausting at times.

I write down everything I heard. Here is what Fear believes about me:

Fear believes I am weak. It says I am merely the sum of my instincts and so is everyone else. It believes that the powerful will dominate and that I am not powerful.

Fear believes I am stupid. It wants to convince me that I don't think right and everyone else knows it - and everyone else exploits it. It wants me to believe that the joke is on me, that everyone else holds in their laughter until I am gone, and then their mocking, contemptuous and gleeful laughter pours out at my expense.

Fear believes my body is ugly. It says I am undesirable. It wants me to believe that anyone who gives me attention can have me, that affirmation is enough, that affirmation is all there is. It believes that my body is not spiritual, that my body is worthless, that my body is the problem.

Fear believes that I am dying. It says death is the end and the end is near. It says we are all dying and therefore life is pointless. Fear believes life ends when the body quits.

Fear believes that I am insignificant. It says I do not matter, that my life makes no difference, that my death would not even be noticed.

Fear believes I am powerless. It wants to convince me that life happens to me and there is nothing I can do about it. It is trying to find a way to get me to believe that I cannot resist, that I cannot subvert, that I cannot be myself because an identity will be issued to me regardless of who I am.

Fear believes I am unlovable. It wants me to assume that if people really knew me they would hate me. It wants to convince me that pretending is my best chance for love, that being fake is the pathway to acceptance.

Fear believes I am unforgivable. It wants me to believe that I have done too much that is too wrong, that I am permanently stained, that I am broken beyond repair. Fear wants to convince me that I cannot be OK because of what I've done.

Fear believes I will never get home - because there is no such thing. It says I was born to be homeless, that there is no where to go, that the very deepest and purest longing of my heart is a lie. It wants to convince me that my longing for home is evidence that I am crazy.

Fear believes I am alone, completely isolated. It says people aren't worth trusting and that it's all up too me. It says that friendship with Fear is the best I can do.

Fear believes I should worry all the time. It desires for me to be consumed in anxiety. It wants to convince me that hope is for fools and that peace is a lie because it is impossible.

Fear believes gratification is the solution, that distraction solves problems. Fear says pain is the enemy and that medication, gratification, and sedation are the solution. It believe numb comfort is the highest achievement.

After listening to what Fear believes about me, I had this response:

Fear does not know me.
Fear does not understand me.
Fear underestimates me badly.
Fear does not know God.
Fear lies.
Fear has nothing better to do.
Fear is the opposite of everything I know of love.
Fear is the absence of love.
Fear is death in slow motion.
Fear is desperate to justify its existence.
Fear is the taproot of hate: hate of self, hate of other, hate of God.
Fear has many words, but nothing to say.
Fear has many ideas, but none of them life-giving.
Fear is death energy.
Fear makes many claims, but none of them are true.

None of us is what Fear believes us to be.

We are children of God, born with the DNA of our parents - God.
We are vulnerable, yet strong;
We are sensitive, but fierce;
Our lives have inherent, intrinsic, and immutable meaning;
Our collective mistakes are a single drop of water in the galaxy;
We are the answer to God's question, "what is the most loveable thing I could create?"
Inside of us are infinite capacities for beauty, compassion, love, courage;
We were meant for each other, to help tap into our infinite capacities;
We were meant to live, to love, and to long for home;

The only power Fear has is when its lies are believed as truth.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Night Visitor

It whispers to the soul,
While  asleep at night;
A lie? A warning?
Hollywood in head,
Boulder on chest, 
Naive hopes at 9,
That 11 will bring any rest

It riots between neurons, 
While asleep at night;
A disease? A disorder?
Snuff out serotonin smiles;
Gas to cortisol flames;
Microscopic wildfires,
Igniting burning shame.

It hovers and stares, 
While asleep at night;
A devil? A demon? 
Blood chums waters,
Circling soul-shark;
Swallowing whole the light;
With its lust for the dark;

Awakened by the whisper, 
Awash in panic -
So far from the sun,
In the company of a ghost,
In the company of none;
In the company of no one;
In the company of know One;
In the company of Known One.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Joy of Confession

No one likes to confess. Confessing means there was some wrong, some violation - perhaps a sin of some sort. It also means that there is some reason to take ownership of that wrong. It also means that the ownership of that wrong is communicated to some other. Confession is difficult because it makes vulnerable the confessor.

Sometimes confession is repugnant to people because sometimes confession is forced. It is the outcome of oppressive acts perpetrated by the powerful. Even if there is some genuine desire to draw out some genuine sense of contriteness, such an outcome cannot be forced. Forced confession, even if it is a true telling of the wrongs, is contrived contriteness.

Some people view confession like self-harm, like spiritual cutting. Why in the world would a person do that to themselves? Others view confession as some sort of exhibitionism - a desperate move for attention. And to be sure, there are some people who share their darkest secrets for these purposes, but these people are not actually confessing. There are a variety of things they may be doing, but confession, in these cases, is not one of them.

So, where is this "joy" in confession?

The joy in confession comes in the relief felt in taking a secret from inside and setting it on the outside, into a social context of you and another who loves you no matter what. Two can bear the weight of the sin more than one. When confession is a discipline, a common thing, the practice of the day or week, it loses its fearful anticipation of what bad thing might happen in confession and turns into the desired process that provides so much relief of holding in anything for too long.

When confession is a frequent discipline, it functions like other normal part of the day - exhaling, going to sleep, going to the bathroom, perhaps sneezing. In the discipline of confession, there is no sense to be made of waiting for some big infraction or for the minor infractions to accumulate to a critical mass. Daily confession is spiritual health like exercise is the body.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ache

The Ache,
When it intrudes,
Is watermelon-sized,
Like a third lung in the chest,
Pressing everything else out of place;
Heart pushed back,
Tears pushed up,
Soul pushed down.

The Ache,
When it intrudes,
Makes announcements, at strange times,
Like television commercials,
Drowning out meaningful conversation,
Tarantino of dreams
Shyamalan of visions
Steven King of memories.

The Ache,
When it intrudes,
Weighs in at twice bodyweight,
Like instant obesity,
With a sweat-sheen of shame,
Knees buckling,
Lungs laboring,
Back hunching.

Oh unwelcomed intruder,
You are invited,
To leave,
And relocate,
Into the sea,
Into space,
Into Hell where you belong

This space is reserved for the One,
Who lived pre-Ache
And outlives all Aches
And redeems the mess you made
With soothing mercy balm
To the soresoul
To the worrysoul
To the hopesoul