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Restoration Blues

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WH Auden was right,
power corrupts,
and absolute power
corrupts absolutely.

We hear,
subvert the probe,
fear the caravan,
another mass shooting,
twelve more lives lost.

Yet today
democracy decides.
Women—black, white,
indigenous, Asian—
help flip the House.

Fresh hope rises.
Now is our time.
From sea to shining sea,
keep democracy alive.
May happiness shine.

Blessed be!
Amen! Alleluia!
Blessed be!

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Shelley

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Each day poses new questions.
So today I ask,
How can I engage the challenges and gifts
of each new day?

Shelley, my friend,
also has her quest
as she rejoices in each new moment
and navigates about the trees.

Then she returns to our humble hermitage,
where she finds friendship and food
and takes a long nap, following kibble,
and sleeps peacefully into the night.

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Tomorrow We Vote

I see more clearly now,
peering through the marine layer
over San Francisco Bay
this Monday afternoon.

Today my vision becomes clearer
through the fog of news
that scatters truth and wisdom
to the wind.

Today I come home again
to what is just and true,
celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
from the halls of democratic peace.

Again I hear the clarion call,
from the streets of California to the halls of Congress.
We say out loud again,
“Today we march, tomorrow we vote.”

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I Feel Called

I know that poverty must cease.
I know this through the brokenness
and conflict in my heart.

I know that protest
is my most prophetic act.

I feel called today
to bring people together
to break bread and tell the story.

I feel called today
to listen to the heartbreak of our broken world
and celebrate the wonder of creation.

I feel called today to fall in love,
to feel at home,
to be touched by God.

I feel called
to compose a new paragraph
for life.

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Restoration

What do you want to tell us, Earth?
We humans, I mean,
who walk upon your face,
so replete with cosmic beauty.
You have many lessons to share,
burdens we must bear.

I join in your sorrow
for the children who tonight
will die of hunger,
sorrow for the lobotomies of extraction
that ravage your mountain tops
and leave an ugly scar.

I pray today for the compost of your soul,
the genesis of a great Easter moment
when you will be restored,
and all your offspring
will once again rise up in gentle beauty
to sanctify a better day.

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I Saw Christ Today

I saw Christ today.
Eighteen women and men
filling out applications
to discover a place to call home.
A place of privacy,
of protection from the weather
and of violence in the street.
As I gazed at these seekers,
I thought of Thomas Merton,
who one day in Louisville,
at the corner of Fourth and Walnut,
looked around at those on the street
and was moved to say,
“I loved all those people.”
In a similar way
today at St. Mary’s Center in Oakland,
I looked around the room
at the urban refugees
working on their applications
and felt like Merton many year ago.
I loved everybody.

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The Kiln of the Divine

Welcome morning’s
gentle sunshine,
her cool, crisp breeze.
Earth speaks today
of wondrous beauty.

We gather this morning,
vessels of clay,
shaped, formed and brandished
by the winds and storms of life.

Now healed, warmed and strengthened
in the kiln of God’s embrace,
we venture forth again.
Welcome and give thanks
as we await the day.

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À La Maison: Songs of our Home

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This country, so wise;
this country, so deep,
has ancient stories to tell.
For many dangerous memories,
I weep.

Many years ago,
1568 I think,
my Huguenots family
set out from Rochelle,
with dreams in their heart.

To Canada they went
in search of a home.
In circles of culture
and language of home,
they lived in settlements
to reclaim their roots.

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Arc of Compassion

Wisdom flourishes and abounds.
Squirrel dances from limb to limb,
stops to look,
then darts away.
Blackbirds hover in the sky,
surveying all of us below.

Puppies, birds, kittens
take their place in church,
although already blessed
on this Saint Francis day,
when all of life
is gift, grace and promise.

Even the asphalt jungle,
of this city is a chapel
where homeless saints abide.
All is holy now,
nothing lies outside
the compassionate embrace
of the wise and ancient one.

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Silent Depths

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Allow your heart to swell,
mind to open,
soul to grow.

Ponder the face of Jesus,
listen to Pope Francis,
discover God
in our flawed and fractured world.

Follow the promptings of the spirit
in the midst of each new moment,
experience the fireball in your heart.
From silent depths of wonder,
let flow the energy of love.

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Shouting Back

Today I stand up to face the world,
a world lacerated by wounds
of race, dollars, and psychic pain.

In the midst of so much sorrow,
I search for and discover a hope
that springs from the heart of the Earth,
from buried seeds that refuse to die,
a resurrection of new life.

Hope comes from the center of things,
where all that remains unexpressed
surges to the surface
and shouts, “Here I am. Listen to me!”

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Morning in France

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“Bienvenue to our dear land,
welcome to our ancestral home,”
I hear my mother say.
“Your family was born here.”

They faced the terror of the turbulent sea.
They came from this country,
where they spoke French,
told stories of the homeland.

In Canada, they lived in French settlements,
spoke French to keep their culture alive,
where all souls are free,
where all souls are free.

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Gazing into Mystery

How do I tell you
about mystery,
share with you
those precious things
I still do not know?

The chickadee could tell you,
“I’m confident,”
as could the raven and the cat.

It’s my words
that get in the way.
My soul knows
what as yet I cannot tell.

Gaze into the mystery.
Let your questions
say it all.

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Separation

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“Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here.”
These are the opening words
of a prayer I learned as a child.

Today the media on radio, TV and print
is inundated with outcries of outrage and pain
announcing the separation being inflicted
on children and parents alike.
Echoes of fascism spill into today’s news
and flow into every broken heart.

As today we witness “man’s inhumanity to man”
through misplaced political force,
I join the chorus of outrage that overflows
from the conscience of the people.

I glance at the prayer card in my hand
and read the closing words:
“Ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Amen.”

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In My Father’s Name

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My father, Richard, love stories. In the evening, he would relax on the front porch and call out to neighbors, inviting them to join him and tell a story. Their stories contained many memories—memories that are now recorded on cemetery markers and baptismal records and in ancestral tales of things long past. Stories were also told about the first fall of snow, the red and golden leaves of autumn, and great ships that sailed the stately St. Clair River.

Stories activate memories of my ancestral roots, of the days when my family ventured forth to Canada from Ireland and France. As I reflect with family and friends on our story, I am grateful again today that all our journeys are reminders of who we are and the destiny we are called to fulfill. On this father’s day, I listen carefully with the ear of my heart and give great thanks for the ancestral grace that flows through our hearts and minds on this memory day.

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All Is Beauty

I hear wind.
I feel rain.
I see dark nights
and bright days.

Enthusiastic moments
follow doorways to despair.
I envisioned triumph,
ponder loss.

All is beauty now.
Yes, all is beauty.

Even in the wind and rain,
darkness and light
triumph and loss;
even in divisions,
all is beauty now.
All is beauty.

 

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Rose

I want to live like a rose,
without agendas or regrets.
I hear hidden voices say,
break the chains of conformity.
See the lilies in the field,
the cattle as they graze.
Listen my friend,
let the Earth teach you.
Heed the compass of your heart.

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Theater of Love

Birds proclaim their a cappella song.
A spider weaves its web.
Children celebrate
ring around the rosy.
Even the frog on the riverbank
jumps for joy.

Is not the world around you
a theater of love?
It is God’s new creation.
You are invited to
play your part,
sing your song.

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Imaginings

May you be seized by a dream,
be passionate about what lies
beyond conscious thought.

May your imagination soar,
your vision be a portal to new life.

Now is the time for aliveness,
to make the story matter
and the future real.

Now is the time to hope,
pray and struggle
at the doorway of a new tomorrow.

Meander through the lessons
of yesterday and bid the past goodbye.

Celebrate the divine nudges that bring hope.
Set your imagination free:
this is why you are here.

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God is a Verb

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Each day when we reflect on the gift of beauty manifest in the natural world, we arrive at a new emergent meaning for our planetary home.

With an indigenous mind, we are able to explore the root cause of species loss, the diminishment of topsoil, and the vast devastation taking place on our planet.

Thomas Berry offers wise advice: “The universe is a communion of subjects rather than a collection of objects.” Herein lies an insight into the devastation of our planet: in some indigenous languages, communication is primarily through verbs. Nouns exist as forms of a verb. In some Native American cultures, God is a verb.

In contrast, Western languages communicate mainly through nouns. This use of nouns encourages the perception of oneself as the subject and of an “other” as the object, rather than allowing the perception of everything as one flow of action.

I believe we can all learn from the indigenous mind and the way it communes with the natural world, the way it celebrates divine presence and listens to the Earth speak. I invite you to try it. Can you see all of life through the lens of a verb?

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