Morning Musings 7.22.21

Morning Musings  7.22.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 22, 2021

I paused in my walking this morning close to Rock Creek—to gaze reverently upon a deer standing on the path, majestic, head held high.  For only a moment she turned ever-so-slightly to look at me, not a look of fear, only of wonder and query, daring and protective when needed.   She was listening in a deep feminine way of looking beneath the surface.    I felt bravery from this animal this morning, a boldness that hovered out beyond the wildness pulling me inward.  I prayed for her not to run into the traffic.  My prayer was heard and she turned, slipping into the trees and underbrush along the creek. 

The bursting moon was clear and bright.  This is the week when the full moon crosses across our sky—full on July 24.  This month, the full “Buck” moon, not as romantic as last month’s “Strawberry” full moon.   This name, traditionally coming from Native American cultures, is associated with the male deer whose antlers are in a growing stage this month.  Various cultures have different names for the July full moon, such as “Ripe Corn” moon, “Hay” moon, and “Hungry Ghost” moon.  I like “Moon of Claiming,” which reminds me that even in the midst of a hot, muggy summer, there are blessings from the garden—beans, tomatoes, beets, corn—blessings to be claimed from the world around me and from deep within—miracles abound!  As I walked, these and many other blessings I claimed –from the moon above, from the deer on the path, from the bold Spirit of Truth embracing me and the world.

And I thought of the listening of the heart, anticipating that inner voice to speak Truth, to which we must surrender our lives, the Truth that simultaneously radiates out to the world, filled with the assurance that we are loved. This is where I was as I continued my walking this morning, walking the road of tenderness, looking intently, listening deeply to the wild and the untamed.

There Is a Place Beyond Ambition

When the flute players couldn’t think of what to say next

they lay down themselves beside the river, and just listened.

Some of them, after awhile, jumped up and disappeared back inside the busy town.

But the rest—so quiet, not even thoughtful—are still there, still listening.  ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.19.21

Morning Musings  7.19.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 19, 2021

The bright sun in the brilliant sky coupled with the cool air at break of day was a welcome gift to the morning.  It is good to be walking familiar paths following Sabbath time away.  The fields of winter rye have been harvested.  The corn is a foot taller than when I last saw it.  My garden gifted me with a bushel of green beans, and zucchini larger than I’ve seen in a long time.  The beets are dried on the top, waiting patiently to be dug from the ground.  The raspberry bushes are hanging heavy as are the tomato plants, patiently anticipating a final makeover by the sun to complete the ripening. I put new food in the hummingbird feeders, trimmed the outrageous vines on the pergola!  The natural world invites meaningful noticing!

I stood slowing myself in the quiet of the morning. I am profoundly aware of “…time’s brittle drift…” and yet I stand in awe and gratitude at the wealth of plants and vegetables and fruit.  I notice a few beans I missed in the picking; I smile at a hummingbird finding morning nourishment, and I give thanks because I am deeply aware that life abounds! It is life waiting to be blessed while offering a blessing!  It is a summer morning!

Morning In A New Land

In trees still dripping night some nameless birds woke, shook out their arrowy wings, and sang, slowly, like finches sifting through a dream.

The pink sun fell, like glass, into the fields.  / Two chestnuts, and a dapple gray, their shoulders wet with light, their dark hair streaming, climbed the hill.  The last mist fell away.

And under the trees, beyond time’s brittle drift,  I stood like Adam in his lonely garden on that first morning, shaken out of sleep, rubbing his eyes, listening, parting the leaves,

Like tissue on some vast, incredible gift.  ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.15.21

Morning Musings  7.15.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 15, 2021

I was up and out early on my bike.  I was over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge before 6:30am, heading north on the Mount Vernon Bike Trail.  This path runs ever so close to the Potomac River, passing through Old Town Alexandria.  The traffic on the George Washington Parkway screams past me.  I’m feeling protected in my haven of solitude, in the midst of the frenetic world going on around me.  I lazily ride between the river, the road and the runway of Reagan Airport.  Sometimes the river less than six feet to my right; other times, the Parkway as close as three feet on my left.  The marsh land, Cat O’Nine Tails, bull rushes, Queen Anne Lace, Butter Cups, all signaling beauty and steadfastness.  The Metro and Amtrak trains sounding whistles, announcing arrivals and departures. 

A busy city beginning its day.  People scattering in varying directions—thousands on planes, landing and taking off on furious schedules, travelling at high rates of speed.  Joggers with ear buds; riders, blinking lights, smiles and waves.  The frenzied world so close—everyone with a place to go—attentiveness so fragile, not to be sustained by structures and feverish activity. 

Surrounded by the push of noise and the invitation to openness and trust, Mary Oliver moves me to mindfulness, “…to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world.”  The path—a portal, an invitation to this day, to every day!

Mindful

Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light.

It is what I was born for—to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world—to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation. 

Nor am I talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant—but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations. 

Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these—the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?    ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.13.21

Morning Musings  7.13.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 13, 2021

This early morning invited me into the sights, sounds and smells of the hectic activity of a summer day.  I sat along the edge of the Potomac River, at National Harbor, watching the day come alive.  The traffic crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, named after our 28th president who once stated his interest in good roads is to “bind communities together.”

I noticed workers preparing the piers for the day to come, even still needing to pick up cigarette butts dropped heedlessly from the day before.  A tattooed jogger paused close to me to stretch before continuing on!

I was listening with a mystical ear, noticing walkers carrying cell phones, some on ‘speaker’ so I could hear voices from persons extended from areas both near and far.  Other walkers I could hear them speaking, but not hearing the other side of the conversation. Too often that’s how our lives unfold—we hear only half of conversations.  A family of ducks swam past me, two adults and four energized ducklings.  I am amazed to watch how their necks move in harmony to the way their legs must be moving under water—a summons to unity! The Capitol Wheel stands majestic on the pier.  At night it is brightly-colored in pinks, blues, greens and purples.  This morning it is quiet and still, an invitation to my heart and soul. Poseidon lays quiet on the beach, partly covered with sand, patiently waiting the arrival of excitedly climbing children!  The planes taking off over the Harbor from Reagan Airport always stirs wonder within me as I surmise the lives of the passengers on board.  I offer a prayer for a safe flight.

I love to be the poet this morning, noticing the cluster of flies clumped in a frenzied community, a rotting log riding the river, taking in the deadness as well as the new growth along the edges where it is clear how the water rises and recedes over the days and weeks.

So much suffering globally for most of the world’s people, and in our own rough fleeting lives.  I am holding all this with me as the day quickly begins to warm.  “Take this day, loving Parent, God, Spirit.  I give it to You freely, fill it with Yourself.”  I experience deep peace, comforting presence.  I offer it out to the world beyond!  I pray, even when we get separated from the beauty and grace-filled rhythms of goodness, that we might not be lost from the great pulse of connectedness.  I believe the Center will hold. I believe in the movement of grace!

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.9.21

Morning Musings  7.9.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 9, 2021

A hot morning!  I slept later today, so the sun was high in a cloudless sky before I went outside.  How very different from yesterday, walking on the beach the day after Hurricane Elsa came up the coast.  Yesterday I found several Horseshoe Crabs, all lying on their backs, lifeless.  I flipped them over, although I pretty much knew I was too late in my rescue efforts.  These crabs are prehistoric-looking shelled animals.  By the time I found them yesterday, they were lifeless.

I remember as a child at the beach, often finding these ugly-looking animals. If I ever did find one that was still alive, I made sure I did not get too close.  I feel differently about them now.  I love to explore them more closely. As with several sea animals, I know they come up onto the beach, most often to spawn, and then sometimes, the males especially, are unable to get themselves back to the water.  The spawning, life-creating activities of all animal life, but especially sea life, have always intrigued me.  It is amazing how life—in its various forms—is created; and very often it is not simple, taking extended time and energy.  It can oftentimes be dangerous.

As I walked the beach, I kept wondering how any person’s involvement in the world evolves through the desire to care for others and create life wherever it looks to be broken and broken down.  My ponderings on the strewn beach, scattered with broken sea oats and shells, uneven mounds of sand creating beach puddles where they were not there the previous day, then a few Horseshoe Crabs—this desire for partnership with the Creator of life, stirs up from deep within me, that when we dare to speak humbly and directly from the heart, is when we discover the potential of life in each other.  This all comes out of a huge trust in life, even when it might seem as if life is crumbling.  The gift each of us can bring is to stay with it, to remain part of the brokenness.  These feelings whispered to me from within….

Whispered Poem.

I have been risky in my endeavors; I have been steadfast in my loves.

Oh Lord, consider these when you judge me.  ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.8.21

Morning Musings  7.8.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 8, 2021

The ocean beach this morning after a storm was wild and windy, sand stinging my face as I walked into it, the wind pushing me along when I turned to head back.   As I rounded the island to head toward the bay, the waves and wind subsided a bit, but the beach remained scattered haphazardly with shells littered upon the sand overnight.  Spin drift was being thrown about with a morning dance across the wet jetties!  I know this beach has seen storms before and has endured higher degrees of damage and woundedness. 

It was an untamed morning!  Lots of standing water on the streets, a few small trees broken over the walking path, electricity blinking occasionally overnight; but the morning, overcast with pudgy, deep dark clouds shading the sun, welcomed the day with a level of self-assurance to be found only in the midst of adversity.  I gathered a few shells that I will put in a glass. I will talk to them; maybe they will talk back.  I gathered oyster shells, to paint later today by the grandkids.

It was a morning for me to remember my vulnerability, on a basic level, a level of necessity, a morning to remember the spiritual courage needed to face our humanity, with all its messiness and frailty, without turning away, even when there is raging sand stinging into your face.

The highest ethic has always been the courage to be with each other in our pain and to honor each other’s journey.  This is what it means to stand in compassion, to posses the courage to be vulnerable with each other.  The littered beach teaches me this lesson, yet one more time on this beautiful morning—how important to be touched and shaped by all the encounters along the way.  I experienced this morning beach as a gift, wanting God to know I am grateful!

The Gift

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.  Earth and heaven both are still watching / though time is draining from the clock / and your walk, that was confident and quick, has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let the heart still play its true part. Love still as once you loved, deeply and without patience.  Let God and the world know you are grateful.

That the gift has been given.  ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.7.21

Morning Musings       7.7.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 7, 2021

You received God’s spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ [Romans 8:15]

Trying to stay a few steps ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa, I was out on the beach under deep gray skies, the clouds edgy and anxious.  The breaking of the waves reminds me that a hurricane is on the way.  The waves are irritated; however, even when incensed, I think of their faithful steadfast tempo upon the sand.  The humidity is really close—that’s a saying from my Mom.  But even the anticipation of the storm could not keep me off the basketball, tennis, and pickle ball courts with my oldest grandson!

Earlier, I walked past a family on the beach.  The father was walking—I think to pick up something on the sand—and his one child, a little boy called after him, “Daddy, don’t leave me!”  It wasn’t fear; it wasn’t panic; it wasn’t even trepidation.  It was simple, pure love between son and father, confident assurance between a parent and child, wanting to be in eye sight, wanting to be close!  It was beautiful!  It made my morning on the beach all worthwhile!  We are now God’s children!  I love watching the morning seagulls fly in formation, delicately close to the surface of the ocean, looking intently for fish to snag.  There is a determination, a focus of attention, not to be distracted.

I don’t often include prose writings from Mary Oliver, but today, this one speaks to me in its whimsy.  I’m holding the quirkiness in the uncertainty of this day, walking the beach, anticipating rain this afternoon.  Watering the Stones  ~Mary Oliver

Every summer I gather a few stones from the beach and keep them in a glass bowl.   Now and again I cover them with water, and they drink.  There’s no question about this; I put tinfoil over the bowl, tightly, yet the water disappears.  This doesn’t mean we ever have a conversation, or that they have the kind of feelings we do, yet it might mean something.  Whatever the stones are, they don’t lie in the water and do nothing.

Some of my friends refuse to believe it happens, even though they’ve seen it.  But a few others—I’ve seen them walking down the beach holding a few stones, and they look at them rather more closely now.  Once in awhile, I swear, I’ve even heard one of two of them saying “Hello.”  Which, I think, does no harm to anyone or anything, does it?

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.6.21

Morning Musings  7.6.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 6, 2021

“Give thanks for God for God is good, God’s steadfast love endures forever.” [Ps. 136:1]

I was out on the beach at sunrise.  It was cloudy, with a slight breeze.  A beautiful morning to walk.   Wondering about Tropical Storm Elsa, slowly working her way up the coast.  Yesterday, the waves were uncontrollable, uninhibited in their striking the shore.  It was drumming music to any beach walker, a lot different to those who were in the waves trying to stay upright and not be driven into the sand! As I walked, I stepped over thousands of shells, broken, scattered by the high tides, pulsating, pounding for days and years past, all indicative of life present and now gone. I knelt down to look more closely—not one shell exactly like another—the magnificent abundance offered in the cycle of life!  The nests of the Loggerhead turtles neatly cordoned off to resist curious onlookers, a true revealing of the mystery of life birthing slowly, within the womb of the wet sand, anticipating purposeful existence!  The life from the water, on the beach, overhead, beneath the sand—all summoning……

These mornings stir me to thinking more intently of the movement from “the restless senses to the restful center.”  I feel a calming on the beach in the mornings and in the early evenings.  This is not an escaping of myself, but a bringing myself to find the Center.  It is not about avoiding the pressures of the world, but a bringing my whole self, with all my brokenness, to find the center of inner peace.  The cadence of the waves, the plethora of the discarded shells, the giftedness surrounding me—all speak of the God who does not necessarily relieve us of our burdens or our concerns, but who embraces us that our burdens become light on our journey.

Mary Oliver is with me:  Trying to be Thoughtful in the First Brights of Dawn.

I am thinking, or trying to think, about all the / imponderables for which we have / no answers, yet endless interest all the / range of our lives, and it’s

good for the head no doubt to undertake such meditation:   Mystery, after all, is God’s other name, and deserves our considerations surely.  But, but—

excuse me now, please; it’s morning, heavenly bright , and my irrepressible heart begs me to hurry on into the next exquisite moment.

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.2.21

Morning Musings  7.2.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 2, 2021

Gray was the color of the morning.  Damp coolness offered me access into the solitude of this morning’s walk.  The clouds stationary, but watchful.

A friend gave me a book the other day entitled, How to Catch a Mole, by Marc Hamer.  I wrote about moles and voles in a MM earlier this spring.  They open me to intrigue!   I’ve skimmed over the book just a little, so I am excited to read it during my time away these next weeks.  In one of the Praises for the book, it is described as “…a healing book of wisdom, oneness and hard work … a great antidote to cynicism, irony, self-importance and fakery.  When you finish the book, you see better.” 

I love that description—when you finish the book you see better!  It makes me wonder again how difficult it is living in today’s world, a world not docile or tame at all.  In our brokenness, it becomes easy to turn cynical and suspicious, even disparaging.  These morning writings are meant to touch a seamless ethic of life where the earth story walks alongside the human story, the spirit story, the life story.  On this gray-skyed morning, I find, that one line already written inside, the indescribable openness to an emergent God!  The universe is alive!  God is present!

It is David Whyte who speaks this truth to me this morning in his poem, The Journey.

Above the mountains the geese turn into the light again, painting their black silhouettes on an open sky.

Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.

Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that first, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.

Sometimes with the bones of the black sticks left when the fire has gone out, someone has written something new in the ashes of your life:  You are not leaving.

Even as the light fades quickly now, you are arriving.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.1.21

Morning Musings  7.1.21

[As we work together to seek rootedness at the very core of our beings, Pastor Mike attempts to center himself in the early moments of each day by writing a Morning Musings.   This journal blog is a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

July 1, 2021

At early light, the atmosphere was unsettled!  It was quieter by morning standards—possibly anticipating the rain.  When I got home I hung the silver pie-pans on the raspberry bushes, readying to shush the birds!  Yesterday I visited with a 90ish-year-old man, and we got to talking about growing rhubarb.  I was lamenting that in recent years my rhubarb has not produced well.  He told me stories of his experiences of growing rhubarb and how he sincerely believes you need to “plant” a leather shoe or glove in the ground near the roots of the plant.  He told me stories of how he has seen small, lethargic rhubarb turn completely around and begin to produce beautiful rhubarb stalks.  The rhubarb I have now looks pretty pathetic, so what can it hurt?

In the life of the Spirit, it is so very important to “find one’s own rhythm.”  That does not mean to ignore the wisdom of the spiritual masters, or even contemporary seekers.  Clearly we all need the support, encouragement, and challenge of others, but no one else can walk this path for us.  We cannot live anyone else’s path of spirituality.

It began to rain not long after I got the pie-pans hung; they are alive as the rain drips off them.  I’m still wondering about the wisdom of an old shoe being buried near rhubarb.  I’m thinking about the rhythms of the Spirit in my own life, how exciting is “openness” to the joyous expressions of God’s unique love for me and each one of us!  I am reminded that as we walk our own unique path of the Spirit, it is more about intimacy than it is about routine. 

The rain may continue today, and I hear Mary Oliver pointing me to the blank page of this day, to a lovely wild place of silence.  A Lesson from James Wright.

If James Wright could put in his book of poems / a blank page dedicated to “the Horse David Who Ate One of my Poems,”

I am ready to follow him along the sweet path he cut through the dryness / and suggest that you sit now

very quietly in some lovely wild place,  and listen to the silence.

And I say that this, too, is a poem.  ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day, pastor mike  

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