Morning Musings 8.26.21

Morning Musings  8.26.21

[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 the 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.]

August 26, 2021

The cricket and cicada songs flood the morning! The sunflowers awaken elegantly to the gentle nudges of the early sun.  Three of them peer over the roof of the shed in excited anticipation of the day’s first light!  From their height of more than 10ft., they look across the yard, watching the sun from their untainted vantage point, ever so calmly and quietly. This morning, in this moment of grace I stand beside them, pledging oneness to the earth and to all others.  I am believing in a fresh synchronicity that holds the earth, the human soul and the Life-giving Spirit—together in one!  Denise Levertov puts words to this thoughtful Thursday morning.

The Avowel

As swimmers dare

to lie face to the sky

and water bears them,

as hawks rest upon air

and air sustains them,

so would I learn to attain

freefall, and float

into creator Spirit’s deep embrace,

knowing no effort earns

that all-surrounding grace.  ~Denise Levertov

We all start out as pilgrims, wanting to walk a journey and, at least at some level, wanting to be transformed by the journey.  That is what I have hoped for in my journey of Morning Musings, trusting that in sharing my own early-day treks, others might come to realize that genuine integrity is the unending process of letting both our inner and our outer experiences complete each other, “attaining freefall, floating into the creator Spirit’s deep embrace.”

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 8.19.21

Morning Musings 8.19.21

[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 the 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.]

August 19, 2021

“Leave your impoverished confusion and live; walk in the way of insight! ~Proverbs 9:6

The flooding torrents yesterday afternoon calls for a slowing down, especially when the water over the roads is gushing and high!  When this day begins glorious, the sun signaling the beginning of a day, I am reminded of desert-like symptoms—humidity already beginning to creep into my bones.  After three days of rain, some of it tornado-like, it was a gift to be held close by the intimate embrace of the radiance of a bright morning!  Rock Creek flowing high and muddy.  Remnants of yesterday’s downpour still standing in puddles and barely clinging to the trees.  The caring of the world this early moves me into the hope and anticipation of the day!  It is an invitation.  The deeper part of each of our lives is not to get stuck in the rubbish that very often litters the path close in front of us.  The journey out of confusion into clarity and healing is the inner crossing undertaken daily, a passage gently trodden.  I felt it around me, stepping onto a wet, damp earth—both the earth and me—seeking oneness and wholeness.

Start Close In

Start close in, don’t take the second step or third, / start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.

Start with the ground you know, the pale ground beneath your feet, your own way to begin the conversation.

Start with your own question, give up on other people’s questions, / don’t let them smother something simple.

To hear another’s voice, follow your own voice, / wait until that voice becomes a private ear that can really listen to another.

Start right now take a small step you can call your own / don’t follow someone else’s heroics, be humble and focused, start close in, / don’t mistake that other for your own.

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, / start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.  ~David Whyte

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 8.14.21

Morning Musings  8.14.21

[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 the 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.]

August 14, 2021

If you could see the ugliest leper with the eyes of Love,

His beauty would out-dazzle in your eyes the starlit sea.

If one drop of the Wine of Vision could rinse your eyes,

Whenever you looked, you would weep with wonder.  ~Rumi

I was enjoying the coolness of the morning air after several days of humidity and heat.  I was hearing the sounds of crickets and cicadas singing their hearts out at day’s light! 

When I returned I sat down in front of my grandiose sunflowers, peeking over the roof of the shed, at the bottom of my yard.  I got up on a ladder to measure their heights, the tallest one being 10’4”.  The magnificent golden flower atop the plant is not yet fully formed!  I sat in the shaded area surrounded by a miracle as I held a few sunflower seeds in my hands, left from my planting several months ago.  I pulled them closely, such tiny seeds protecting life within—the robust life I was holding gently.

And how about us?  In our smallness?  In our connectedness?  I was having a God-intoxicated moment, being dazzled by the beauty of the plant in front of me, when I thought of the woman I passed twice on my walk only 30 minutes earlier.  We were moving on the same path but in opposite directions. We acknowledged this to each other when we passed the second time.  We all are truly walking this path together, even if sometimes in different directions.

In our life journey, to truly see all that is “ugly” around us, not to judge it, but to see it with the eyes of Love is the invitation of the poet Rumi to me this morning.  Even when we are walking opposite directions on the same path we call “life,” to know that even from the smallest of seeds within and around us, there is the gift of life waiting to give birth.

It was Wayne Muller who said, “What if the healing of the world utterly depends on the ten thousand invisible kindnesses we offer simply and quietly throughout the pilgrimage of each human life?”  The tiniest seed in my hand!   The flower standing majestic in front of me!  I believe simple, quiet invisible acts of kindness do, indeed, heal the world.  I weep with wonder!

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 8.11.21

Morning Musings 8.11.21

[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 the 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.]

August 11, 2021

I was out early before the humidity of the day took hold of the morning. It was a gray beginning of the day, but with alluring abundance!  I picked a box of shining raspberries, succulent from the vine.  The foot-long purple beans from the bean tree, hanging as beautiful as ornaments.  A dozen more tomatoes to line the kitchen counter, a few summer squash hidden quietly beneath the leaves already yellowing.  I became entranced by two hummingbirds playing with each other, competing for the nectars of the flowers and the feeder.  They came and they went; and they came again.  The frivolity of these two creatures entertained me this morning.  

I once used Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese, in a sermon, and a man came up to me afterward and told me it was the best sermon he had heard in a long, long time.  I’m remembering the wild geese I saw in the sky a few days ago, ever so quickly, then they were gone!  I hear in this poem the urging to open myself to the natural world for solace and companionship. The hummingbirds open this invitation to me.  I feel renewal of the imagination, a passionate embrace, how God’s creation is “very good.” I hear the Creation Story from the Jewish Bible [Gen. 1:31], but I am hearing it this morning watching these playful tiny, elegant birds.  There is a prayerful Presence breaking into the fragments of my life.  I am contented as the sun arrives!

Wild Geese.

You do not have to be good.  You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.  You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.  Meanwhile the world goes on. 

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscape, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—

Over and over announcing your place in the family of things.  ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 8.6.21

Morning Musings  8.6.21 (flashback)

[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 the 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.]

August 6, 2021

“I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” [Hosea 2:14]

As I took to the path, a few migratory birds took to the sky as a faded pink tint slowly wandered into the cloudless sky above.  This kind of morning slows me in my walking, not wanting to disturb the quiet that holds this time of day.  Only when I got closer to a wooded area did I hear the energized voices of the crickets and some stirrings in the underbrush!

I’ve been reading parts of Dorothy Day’s autobiography.  Dorothy Day has always been a mentor to me in issues related to justice and compassion.  The name of her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, has always intrigued me.  Hers was a troubled life as she struggled to find her focus and motivation in her younger days.  In the introduction, Dan Berrigan writes that her “unflinching rightness of mind, her long and lonely truth, her journey to the heart of things” gave her the integrity of voice too seldom heard today.   Although she walked great distances in the metropolitan areas where she most often lived, it was when she walked at the beach or in nature where she felt she was “walking in God’s creation.”  She seemed astounded at one point when she wrote that “I surprised myself when I found myself beginning to pray daily.”

This seemed the similar type of longing intimacy Hosea found with God in the wilderness. With Hosea there was an familiarity in God’s desire to be in relationship with God’s people!  It was a reminder of how far God would go to woo these people closer.  It was born of grace and love!  As the sun brightened, I held this closeness this morning!

The world felt a bit lonely to me this morning, not so much loneliness from within me as loneliness surrounding me. I saw lots of geese in the sky, and I wonder where they are headed so early in the day.  Seeing these birds—magnificently present, then so quickly out of sight—reminded me how diminishment is part of the cycle of living.  Dorothy Day wrote “we have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”  It is community that many people are struggling to experience these days, much of it having been revealed in the pandemic wilderness.  The struggle to find deeper connectedness in today’s world may seem like a long lonely journey.  But we walk it in love.   We walk it with others.  The evolving pinks in the morning sky encourage me to look eagerly for the sun and to listen intently for the tender, alluring voice of God!

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 8.5.21

Morning Musings  8.5.21

[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 the 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.]

August 5, 2021

The last two mornings I’ve been up and outside before sunrise!   Today was no different.  The sky pulls me into itself at the final moments before light breaks the horizon!  The sight of the morning moon is gone for now!  I’m taken back to my several weeks I have spent in the New Mexico desert at Ghost Ranch over the past ten years at this time of the year.  I am feeling a longing within me this morning for the desert, for the wild country, the desire to be at the edge of a geography filled with hope!

In this morning I am holding the slight coolness of the air.  I considered going back for a jacket, but I did not!  I wanted to greet the touch of the air, especially at this time when we have not been touching and holding each other in ways that bring comfort and reassurance.   The nighttime coolness in the desert can seem oxymoronic!  The air changes so very quickly as the sun takes over the day.  This morning, only the slightest breeze washed over me, but I felt renewed after two emotional days, overcome with the circle of life!

I often speak of the Ignatian understanding of “holy indifference” when I sit with individuals in conversation about one’s inner journey.  I connect “holy indifference” with the desert whose environment seems completely uninterested in human presence, but one that offers a deeper gift of freedom.  Rock formations change almost never at all.  The desert setting seems only quietly aware to my being there.   But in this stripped down welcoming, I am invited to be stripped of all that is not necessary within myself.  Seventeen months ago, as this pandemic was beginning to affect and restrict the movement and interactions of people, there was much being written as to how we might use this time, being denied so much social interaction, how we might reflect more deeply on what is necessary and not necessary in our lives. 

I returned to these thoughts this morning as I walked.  I heard it once said that “the wildest, most dangerous trails we walk are always the ones within.”  I was remembering this wisdom as I walked this morning.  I held the last vestiges of the night, noticing the coolness beginning to warm, observing the colors of the sky being transformed into a new canvas! 

How about the path I am walking within me?  I want to notice what is being transformed!  I want to be open and free in order to welcome this gift!  It is a beautiful beginning to a new day!

Blessings & love on your day, pastor mike

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Morning Musings 8.4.21

Morning Musings  8.4.21 (flashback)

[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 the 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.]

August 4, 2021

I turned on my sprinkler to the garden before I set out this morning.  The predicted rain of these past few days has not made much of an impact on the plants still wanting nourishment to grow.  They are thirsty!  Last week my wife and I walked along a creek with our two younger grandchildren.   We didn’t go far; we just went in, right into the creek, allowing the flowing water to wash around our feet, carefully watching for the hidden rocks beneath the water.  It was a cool and refreshing feeling, even when the water is only a few inches deep.  We meandered, picking up sticks, choosing stones to throw just far enough to make a big spray of water! Building a dam (sort of).  It was the simplicity of being together, with being surrounded by no more than the natural world—a few birds, the sound of the water, the laughter of two children—always surprised every time a splash touched their legs.  We had entered another world where all else was left behind!  Our heightened awareness pointed us toward tree roots exposed, tiny bugs drinking with reckless abandon, and minute fish scurrying away from our disturbance. I just breathed it in—deeply with reverence and peaceful joy!

My unpretentious journey is to connect the inner life with the outer life.  I want to unlearn obsessive thinking.  I want more unpredictability!  Walking along a creek with children is a stunning way into this gift!

I’m still holding this precious time from last week as Mary Oliver draws me deeper with her words from, It Was Early.

It was early, which has always been my hour / to begin looking at the world and, of course, even in the darkness, / to begin listening to it, especially under the pines . . . as I walked by . . . so many gifts!  In the marshes where the pink light is just arriving . . . in the pines the cones were heavy, each one ordained to open.  Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.

When I go into life, and not merely on its edges, I then need only stand wherever I am to be blessed!  This is the gift received at the beginning of this day!

Simplicity!  Simplicity!  Simplicity!  I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail…  ~Henry David Thoreau

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 8.3.21

Morning Musings  8.3.21  (flashback)

[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 the 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.]

August 3, 2021

As I stepped outside, the distinct outlines of the clouds allowed my mind to wander to the desert as I walked this morning.  I wanted to be transported to the Chama Valley in the New Mexico desert. I wanted to be overcome by the beauty that surrounded me, barely aware of the humidity and heat accompanying me on this morning’s journey!

We have known for many months that we’ve had skunks in our yard. The smell is often detectable early in the morning.  We never quite knew where they are living.  We found out the other evening as they came into our yard and went to a burrow under the shed.  There were two of them and they are big!   One of them was white!  I have noticed the cone-shaped holes in my lawn, now I realize these are the remains of these animals looking for food, mostly beneath the bird feeders where the birds scatter the seed.  They really are beautiful animals, although most people will not get close enough to confirm this!  They have poor eyesight, but an excellent sense of smell.  They have a defensive spray-range of 10 ft.  They find an empty log, a vacant space under a building, an abandoned burrow, and set up their home.

I often talk with individuals who are in the midst of making decisions, mostly about their future lives.  As I listen to their struggle in decision-making, there are a few foundational points on which I stand.  I think of Pedro Arrupe, spiritual director of Ignatius Loyola, who speaks eloquently about the movements within us when making significant decisions.  He says, “Nothing is more practical than finding God; that is, falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.  What you are in love with seizes your imagination, and will affect everything.  It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude!  Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

I’m still thinking about the skunks. I like how they find a place that is empty and build a home!  I am thinking of where is the emptiness within myself at this uncertain time.   How/where/when in my emptiness of this unclear future, might I build/create a home, a place of security, to find sustenance in the emptiness I feel within.  Much is now changed or taken away.  How I strive, in the midst of this, to build a place where my heart can rest in peaceful love!

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 8.2.21

Morning Musings  8.2.21

[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 the 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.]

August 2, 2021

[This week I am writing a daily Prayer Note for a morning blog normally written by Glenn Mitchell, Director of Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development.  Since Glenn is away this week, I will include each day one of my Morning Musings from last summer into his Prayer Notes.  I will also share this blog each morning with you. But today I share the wonder of this morning!]

It is a spectacular August morning—cool, almost went back to get a jacket, but not!  This summer we have had more hummingbirds than ever before since moving into this house.  I see them every day.  They usually come in pairs, taking turns between the feeder and the Canna Lilies; spectacularly, they take their time with the Trumpet Creepers.  They come close to the window, looking in with deep longing, always with energy in their tiny wings.  They’ve been here already this morning! I am astonished! I am astounded! I am prayerful, reverent at their beauty! Oh, to feel the hunger of this amazing creature, to hold the delight of my watching!  Oh, the bequest of hungering for such simplicity offered each day—neither gold nor power!

 Summer Story:

When the hummingbird sinks its face into the trumpet vine, into the funnels of the blossoms, and the tongue leaps out and throbs,

I am scorched to realize once again how many small, available things are in this world that aren’t pieces of gold or power—

that nobody owns or could buy even for a hillside of money— that just float about the world, or drift over the fields, or into the gardens, and into the tents of the vines,

and now here I am spending my time, as the saying goes, watching unto the watching turns to feeling, so that I feel I am myself

a small bird with a terrible hunger, with a thin beak probing and dipping and a heart that races so fast it is only a heartbeat ahead of breaking—

and I am the hunger and the assignment, and also I am the leaves and the blossoms, and, like them, I am full of delight, and shaking.  ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 7.27.21

Morning Musings 7.27.21

[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 the 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 27, 2021

Today my breath praise, my thrill song, my anthem, my thanks is Alleluia!

The sun, in its rising, was bright in a cloudless sky; cool humidity at the early hour, that will soon turn sticky and hot.  The foot-long purple beans, hanging like icicles from the bean tree, bring excited giggles from the grandkids.  The green bean plants, having given totally of themselves these past few weeks, are ready to be pulled.  I picked a box of black raspberries last evening, sweet for this morning’s breakfast.  It is summer—hot and muggy these past two weeks.  The pink roses in full bloom, the Canna Lilies blazing red, the Morning Glories excited for the beginning of each day! This is the month of July at its best!

We’ve had a white skunk visiting our backyard these past two evening, just before dusk.  She likes to settle right outside our window, beneath the bird feeder, eating the birdseed scattered earlier in the day.  It is the closest I have ever gotten to watch intently how a skunk carefully looks for nourishment.  Last evening she surprised me coming out from beneath a low-hanging tree, when I was in the yard.  We looked at each other and we both retreated—she to the cover of the tree, and me to the safety of the house.  What beauty to watch her hobbling through the yard, sleek movements as she explores for food, clearly aware of what she is looking for. I open myself to the beauty of this wild creature.  I celebrate this hot July day with Mary Oliver.

While I Am Writing a Poem to Celebrate Summer, the Meadowlark Begins to Sing

Sixty-seven years, oh Lord, to look at the clouds, the trees in deep, moist summer, / daisies and morning glories opening every morning their small, ecstatic faces—

Or maybe I should just say how I wish I had a voice like the meadowlark’s, sweet, clear and reliably slurring all day long from the fencepost, / or the long grass where it lives in a tiny but adequate grass hut beside the mullein and the everlasting,

the faint-pink roses that have never been improved, but come to bud,  then open like little soft sighs under the meadowlark’s whistle,

its breath-praise, its thrill-song, its anthem, its thanks, its alleluia.  Alleluia, oh Lord.                                   ~Mary Oliver

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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