I copied this quote into my journal in November 1997, and finally had a name for my homesickness…

“If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God…is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for.

The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when, at some moment of crisis, a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength.

The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.”

~Fredrick Buechner

Tale Told Twice

Stories repeat themselves. They circle back over us, tell again.

And every time they reappear, there’s a chance a new story will break through, because in the Kingdom of Heaven, the teller and the listener and both part of the tale.

The very best storytellers enter into the world they are telling; they story from the inside out. From the inside, Truth is more real than facts. Facts don’t always tell the Truth, and the only way to make a story truly untrue is to tell it from the outside, in.

Inside-out, twice-told, True stories might just be the most magical, wonderful, intimate, powerful, holy exchange we can have this side of the Age to Come. They are the very best work a human heart is capable of. Heavy duty Kingdom work. And we should never, ever feel powerless in the face of a suffering and broken world as long as we have a story to tell into it or against it or through it. Story is oxygen — invisible but essential. It is a balm to my soul.

If I am ever suffering intolerably, tell me a story or ten or a hundred. And then tell them all to me again. You will be performing miracles, making all things new.

Via Esperanza
As we sigh toward God
don’t lose appetite for hope.
With our small desires
He spins in-breaking beauty.
He will do what He intends.

The Hour of Lead — Holy Saturday

Poem #372 by Emily Dickinson

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious like Tombs –
The stiff heart questions ‘was it He that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before?’

The Feet mechanical, go round –
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go-

All in One Place

Just a note from the…what? Editor? Author? Blogger? Well, just a note from me: You can always tell when I’m too busy to do more than quickly notice what I’m thinking about because I post more quotations than my own words. It’s just nice to have a placeholder, an “Ebenezer,” a breadcrumb that I once passed by this way. So here’s another one of those.

————————–

“The more we are alone with God the more we are united with one another.” Thomas Merton

“The process of being conformed to the image of Christ takes place in the midst of our relationships with others, not apart from them. We learn to be Christ’s for others by seeking to be yielded and obedient to God in the midst of our relationships… Every relationship has the potential of becoming the place of transforming encounter with God, and every advance in the spiritual life has its necessary and immediate corollary in the transformation of our relationships with others.” Robert Mulholland Jr.

“Solitude is genuine only when it is inhabited. And the best way not to have people in your way is to let them into your heart.” Alessandro Pronzato

Untamed Kingdom

So much of what the media and American culture considers “church” feels safe and cozy to those on the inside, but it’s not really a force for good in our world.

Church should never be confused for Kingdom, though. And the Kingdome of God is like C. S. Lewis’s Aslan — good, but not always safe. It’s a wonderful, wild, unexpected, risky place.

As Howard R. Macy wrote: “The spiritual world cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier. And if we would live in it, we must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed.”

The question is, how ready are we for the adventure?

Winds of Homecoming

Today I remembered some lines from Rilke:

Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner — what is it?
if not the intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

I don’t know if Rilke knew he was talking about the Kingdom of Heaven, but what else could be so transcendent and immanent, so intimate and remote? What but our truest home could be expressed in language so true?

And today, I am hurled through with the winds of homecoming. I pray my life will only become less cut off.

Light Gathered

It is called Sunset
only when the last sliver dips below the horizon

Then, twilight—
The long drain off of light.

Dusk
comes only at His behest,
the very last touch.

A long night will pass
like seeds waiting to shoot up from the ground.

Dawn, too,
begins only at His call–
when the earliest light touches the sky.

Again, then twilight,
as color gathers before the sun.

It is called Sunrise
only when you see the first sliver, awash.

Like light gathered together on the Peak,
full glory takes a long time.

Old Treasures New

I have been reading through my old journals, returning to glimpses of a self I started to become before I detoured into long, desolate distance.

Tonight, this beautiful gem was uncovered from 1996 — written by an old literary companion, Wendell Berry:

“Care…rests upon genuine religion. Care allows creatures to escape our explanations into their actual presence and their essential mystery. In taking care of fellow creatures, we acknowledge that they are not ours; we acknowledge that they belong to an order and a harmony of which we ourselves are parts. To answer the perpetual crisis of our presence in this abounding and dangerous world, we have only the perpetual obligation of care…

“And so we see that we must be whole ourselves, for the good solutions must come from wholeness, our affection and reverence, not from our sense of duty, much less from desperation.”

~Another Turn of the Crank

So simple a thing as care, so deep an effect.

There is no better place to begin again. If “the antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness,” today I give my whole heart to the care of the Kingdom that cannot fail.

Embrace

Salvation is not escape
The prison door swings open
but we walk into
life in excess of what we can manage or control,
accepting the consequences.

Enter the mess of chaos,
no forcing,
no bullying.
Pay attention
Name the gathering,
the shards and splinters of broken lives:
A face, a rustle in the trees
A dragonfly, an old man’s gesture
A forced march across a desert

There it is–

Work quietly and gently,
No yelling,
No invective.
Accept.
Submit to the conditions.
There it is: beautiful

Take it to the altar of sacrifice
Make an offering of it.

Beauty does not impose.
It is a meaningless word
to those in control—
doesn’t explain anything
reveals what has been there all along

But there is always more
A storm crashing through mountains
An accident
Wounding and bruising of all sorts
A new creation in Jerusalem, in Babylon

Live in a mystery
not in confusion.
Embrace,
a deep, reconciling embrace
of all that is wrong.

Found in Eugene Peterson’s The Jesus Way,
“Isaiah of the Exile: ‘How Beautiful on the Mountains’”
Arranged 13 December 2009