Morning Musings 5.12.21

Morning  Musing   5.12.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 12, 2021

There was calmness to the morning, the sun not able to assert its full blazing sway over the morning sky, discouraged by the mantle of clouds.  It felt as if the world around me was in slow motion, not many sounds, no wind, few birds to be seen.  It was as if I was walking under cover of a morning blanket of hesitation, uncertain how this day needs to unfold.  The Japanese wisteria is beautiful white, clumps of succulent flowers hanging from the pergola in our backyard.  This day begins with a personality all its own!

I was reading a book the other day that reflects one of my pet-peeves.  It is a book on prayer, this chapter entitled, “Breathe.”  It begins by saying that the least favorite three words in prayer life are “Let us pray. . . .”  Despite the fact that kids often hear these words “lettuce pray,” when we say “Let us pray…” there is the suggestion that we are praying only when we define it as such.  Too often the assumption is that prayer only happens when the correct position is assumed, with eyes closed, hands folded, head bowed, possibly arms outstretched.  And then we add words.  Too often we then go to books and books, pages and pages of written prayers.

I’m not saying that reading written prayers isn’t praying, only that reading written prayers and praying are not always the same!  I don’t like restrictions in praying. I want to breathe prayers in; I want to breathe prayers out.  I want to take this day, every day, every moment of this and everyday and breathe life—God’s life—into it!  I want my life to be a prayer!

The World I Live in.     “I have refused to live / locked in the orderly house of reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in is wider than that. / And anyway, what’s wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn’t believe what once or twice I have seen. / I’ll just tell you this:

Only if there are angels in your head will you ever, possibly see one.”  ~Mary Oliver  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“Lettuce pray!”  Maybe that is my sincerest prayer to begin my day!


Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 5.11.21

Morning Musings   5.11.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 11, 2021

The sun was brilliant!  The air was cool!  The sounds were music!  What a stunning way to begin my day!  But as I walked today, I seemed deep in thought!

Dawn is one of the most gracious gifts given to me each day!  The words of Kahlil Gibran are sitting at the gate of my heart this morning.  This is what he writes:  “To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” 

“Every morning you’ll hear me at it again.  Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend.” [Psalm 5:3]

These words from Psalm 5 get my attention because in the morning I trust that God hears my voice as I place all the pieces of my life upon the altar of this day, presenting into this day all that my life has to offer.  Only, I pray, that God’s fiery, loving attention might descend to consume my life into the life of God! 

I don’t rise at dawn simply to watch for God.  I do not even always begin my day with open wings and an open heart.  There are times when the wings of my heart remain folded in on themselves.  Yet, even in my hesitation, prayer still happens in me.  These are the mornings when I walk or sit with uncertainty, yet trusting that what needs to rise within me will, indeed, come to the surface.  It can be tolerance for those who do not agree with me; or simply the refusal to judge others;  sometimes, a more intentional will to forgive;  maybe a greater effort to live the day with a non-violent heart;  always a calm and hopeful spirit in the midst of an anxious world.  These are my offering back to God so very often at the beginning of my day!

Coupled with the songs of the birds calling to me, or an unexpected movement in the underbrush, the wings of my heart slowly begin to unfold.  It was the melodies of the singing coming from the trees and the wires above and around me as I walked this morning.  This is the praise that flows from me to the Giver of the Morning! 

Give me, O God, an open heart to receive the song You attempt to sing into me on this day!

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 5.9.21

Morning Musings 5.9.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 9, 2021

“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth…..” [Is. 43:18-19]

“Mary stood weeping at the tomb . . . she turned and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know . . . .” [John 20:11-13]

I could feel anticipated warmth in the air this morning; still a cloudy sky, but the light of day worked its way into the beginning of the day.  I walked without feeling tingling coolness.

Last evening I found something in my yard that I seldom see:  a dead bird; but this was more than a dead bird.  This was a bird that was beaten up, left there on the ground.  Because I seldom see this kind of event that is a natural event in the world of nature, it took me by surprise.  I was still thinking about this image on my walking today, even as the day burst forth with a newness of life I have looked for these past few days!  I was remembering Isaiah, how the prophet never lost hope in the newness of life that comes from God.  I was thinking of Mary at the tomb, weeping, turning around, not recognizing He whom she loves most deeply.  But when she does, then is able to walk out of her wounds, out of the garden, in order to proclaim the new life of what she has now experienced.  The scene in my yard, reminds me how important it is to be able to find a pathway out of our woundedness, to seek the healing in our lives which helps us cease to cling to our wounds lest we remain forever victimized.

This was a lot I was holding in my walking this morning.  Today is Mother’s Day, a powerful reminder of life giving birth, but only through pain giving way to abundant life.  Yesterday was my mother’s birthday.  I think she would have been 91.  (My sisters would know for sure!)  Sometimes her birthday fell on Mother’s Day, and I always thought that was so cool because it carried added meaning to me when it did.

Your winds over my waters; your light in my dark; your seas in my earth;  your seasons in my sky; your beasts in my deep;  your breath in my flesh;  Create O God, from my awakening depth!  Amen!       ~Jan Richardson

On this Mother’s Day, in those places where love does not always seem like love, and where life is sometimes difficult to find, may our “turning” take place out of our woundedness to discover the deep Source of love and life!

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 5.7.21

Morning Musings  5.7.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 7, 2021

An unexpected morning without rain, as I set out.  The sun slowing, breaking through the blanketed clouds covering the sky.  I enjoyed the commonplace atmosphere of this morning.  The language of the world around me continues to call out.  When I think about prayer (but I know prayer is never about thinking), I am intent in that there is always a voiced determination to work to overcome adversity and rise above our differences.  It got me thinking a bit more about how prayer takes shape in my life and how it shapes my life, how it has become my life!

The iris growing near the windows in the back of the sunroom are so very close to opening.  In her poem, Blue Iris, Mary Oliver reminds us how the true nature of prayer is not in the asking, not even in the receiving, but most especially in the simple posture of openness—openness to the unexpected, unanticipated, and unforeseen—we become a waiting receptacle .

Blue Iris

Now that I’m free to be myself, who am I? / Can’t fly, can’t run, / and see how slowly I walk.

Well, I think, I can read books.

“What’s that you’re doing?” the green-headed fly shouts as it buzzes past.

I close the book.

Well, I can write down words, like these, softly.

“What’s that you’re doing?” whispers the wind, pausing in a heap just outside the window.

Give me a little time, I say back to its staring, silver face. 

It doesn’t happen all of a sudden, you know.

“Doesn’t it?” say the wind, and breaks open, releasing distillation of blue iris.

And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be—the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 5.6.21

Morning Musings  5.6.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 6, 2021

The brightness of sun-up, the coolness of the air—both offered an ideal morning to walk! The seeds from Maple trees are everywhere.  They are scattered across the streets and paths, floating in the creeks, flung near and far!  It is a sign of the abundance of life that opens to us in springtime! 

As a child we’d love to watch these seed pods.  They fly like helicopters, with each seed having its own “wings.”  They spiral downward as they fall from the tree. They are called samaras, and although several other trees have similar samaras, naturalists tell us that the ones from Maple trees fly best and fly farthest.  There is a technical precision in their construct. Even as an adult, I still love to sit and watch them “fly.” I’ve read that their aerodynamics is near perfect, even scientists have studied their makeup when designing small flying machines.  They are like tiny angels, supported on each side by a small “wing.”  When you look closely, it is amazing how the wings widen toward the tip of the pod, helping to keep the seed aloft longer.  The shape of these wings also helps “plant” the seed, so when it lands, it does so—seed first, keeping it upright, waiting for a foot or a paw to push it into the ground. 

I mowed my grass last evening, and this morning when I looked out at the lawn, it was as if newly-planted with these seed pods.  Hundreds of them were standing upright across the grass, one more reminder to me at the beginning of this day, of the abundance offered by Nature and the virtuosity of the world around us.  As we move into the final days of the Easter season, this Celtic prayer tugs at my heart with miraculous meaning, reminding me, how in the noticing of the ordinary is to be found the most astonishing gifts—today a samara from a Maple tree!

Beyond Easter.   Beyond Easter, we go singing.

Having been grabbed by resurrection, we are full of tears and laughter.

The way ahead is unknown.  It will always be like that.

But having danced in the light, we will look for glory everywhere.

***************************************

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning musings 5.5.21

Morning Musings  5.5.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 5, 2021

It was only a slight drizzle as I stepped out into the morning.  By the time I returned the rain was coming much harder.  The dawn remained gray, with no direct sunlight breaking into the morning.  I could feel energy surrounding me as I walked, the sounds drumming on my umbrella, but totally out of rhythm with my walking.

Again this morning, I’m holding the language of the rain that washes above me and around me. This is the language of the elements, of energy, and of the Spirit.  The language of life asks for our ears and calls for our souls.  It calls for relationship and intimacy, the courage to listen and be present with ourselves and with others.  In the same way, I seek to be present by listening to God.  This takes courage in a no lesser form.  I believe the same could be said for our relationships with people.  It takes courage to be quiet, to be present, to be attentive, and to listen.  But when we are able to do so, together we become a gift, a treasure, which is not just from those we are with, and from the world, and from ourselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about Michael Collins, who died a week ago.  He was the astronaut aboard Apollo 11, the first spaceflight ever to land humans on the moon in 1969.  Sometimes he is dubbed as the “forgotten astronaut,” the one who stayed aboard the spacecraft while the two others walked on the lunar surface.  I was only 16 at the time, but even then, my heart went out to the one who was least remembered and lesser known.  I have continued to follow him over the years, always being reminded of the importance of collaboration in service of our goals.  I also remember a few of his reflections while circling the moon as the other two were on the surface—his reminding us of the fragility and beauty of our own planet, calling for us to care for it like the treasure it is!  In one interview, when Collins was described as “the loneliest man” as he circled the moon alone, his reply was that “it was almost like being in a church or a cathedral,” describing parts of the spaceship as an “apse,” where there was an “altar.” He was describing the guidance and navigation system of the spacecraft. 

He sometimes laughed and said how when there were so many people who wanted to talk with him during those hours alone, he’d simply press the “mute” button.  He wanted the quietness of his surroundings, what I hold when I walk each day!  I enjoyed it this morning in the rain!

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 5.4.21

Morning Musings  5.4.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 4, 2021

The morning burst forth with boundless radiance!  I could not help but absorb the dazzling abundance of the world around me!  Many of the blossoms on the trees were felled by yesterday’s rain;  yet, deep through the wooded areas and fields were greens flashing glorious welcome!  Birds calling to each other!  How I wish I knew what it was they were voicing aloud for the entire world to hear, at the beginnings of each new day!  Thus begins my day that I hope will continue to begin anew with each step along my way.

I’ve been thinking yet again of how nature communicates with us, and vice versa.  All communication inherently places us in relationship, and in many ways I feel this relationship to be a more intimate experience of nature, maybe precisely because this bond is less manageable and more mysterious.

One of the very first things I ever read by Thomas Merton was his classic essay, “Rain and the Rhinoceros.”  I was drawn to it because of pleasant memories as a child lying in bed listening to rain falling at night.  In the day, I’d love sitting on our screened-in porch watching the downpours beating into the earth.  Here are a few lines I like most from Merton’s essay:

 “The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor.  Think of it:  all that speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water.  What a thing to sit absolutely alone, in the forest at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world . . . .”

I remember the sound of rain from my childhood. I pay attention to the birds now calling in the mornings.  I hear the waves.  I take notice to the wind in the trees.  There is nothing I would rather hear, not because it is a better noise than other noises, but because it is the voice of the present moment, “the festival taking place right in front and all around me” (Merton).  I believe it is an heroic capacity to listen acutely and to understand more genuinely the language of life.  It is life-giving—energy of the Spirit!  It is about being present to ourselves and to others.  It is about deep listening to God!

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 5.3.21

Morning Musings  5.3.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 3, 2021

It was gray in the early pre-dawn shadows and it never did change much, ever as daybreak signaled the beginning of the morning.  The birds were awake in full chorus, singing me along my path.  The cool warmth welcomed the beginning of this week.  A few days ago a friend had several buckets of Canna Lily bulbs that she was giving away.  Although I have never known too much about Canna Lilies, I was eager to accept some of the tubular bulbs.  I planted them along the side of my shed in a spot where they will get full sunlight, and will be readily seen when we are in the backyard.  Before I planted them I was told they technically do not have either a top or bottom, that the rhizomes can be planted horizontally with the eyes facing up—but they will grow regardless.  I cannot remember how exactly I planted them, but it is good to know they are adjustable enough to grow toward the light—an adaptable gift I appreciate, both in the natural world as well as in humankind.

As I was listening to the cacophony of birdsong, I realized how this vocabulary of nature is the spoken word coming from the universe.  For me this morning, the natural vocabulary was the singing of the birds, as if calling me to Morning Prayer; and when at the beach this language is the lapping of the waves that sifts slowly into my soul, layer by layer.  Often I have sat on the sand, as the sun sets behind me, water turning a greenish-blue, watching the low-flying gulls, and I experience the Vespers bells of the setting day.  This becomes the invitation to experience the world as alive, the deeper calling to share intimate connection with all that exists.  I especially love to see children playing outside, talking to dirt, stones, little insects—usually all with laughter and bonding. In this interaction I experience the meaning-filled energy of life!

Mary Oliver communicates this simple reality so very well in her poems.  Here is one of my favorites:  What Gorgeous Thing.

I do not know what gorgeous thing the bluebird keeps saying, his voice easing out of his throat, beak, body into the pink air of the early morning. / I like it whatever it is. / Sometimes it seems the only thing in the world that is without dark thoughts. Sometimes it seems the only thing in the world that is without questions that can’t and probably never will be answered, / the only thing that is entirely content with the pink, / then clear white morning and, gratefully, says so.

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 5.2.2021

Morning Musings  5.2.21

 [During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May 2, 2021

“I am the vine and you are the branches.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit. [John 15: 5]

Up early.  Shorter walk!  Lots of clouds, but the sun squeaked through!  Yesterday was filled with dirty hands and dirty knees as Mackenzie and I worked with the mulch throughout the day.  For me, the spreading of mulch around flowers and trees calls forth the connection with the natural world.  A reminder of this relationship is powerful in the passage from John’s Gospel.  This text is one of the most demonstrative scripture texts on intimacy. 

I do the pruning of my Trumpet Creeper, Wisteria and Clematis in the fall of the year.  These vines spend the summer climbing over the pergola on the deck; but the late fall is my time to cut them back in order to anticipate new growth and beautiful flowers the next summer.  I can never read this scripture text without returning to my deck and noticing the snarled vines encircling the upright poles.  These vines exude so much life, natural, wild, invading and beautifying, all at the same time!  Abundant magnificence!  Clusters of flowers, delicate fragrances, bird nests, buzzing bees, cool shade—all gifts shared by these vines.

God’s life!  God’s devotion!  The untamed and uncontrolled love of God!

I’m going back to a text by Thomas Merton, from his book, No Man is an Island, where he reminds us that the best way to foster an interior life is not to remove ourselves from the world; but rather, to immerse ourselves in all that is most ordinary.

“One of the most important—and most neglected—elements of the interior life is the ability to see the value and beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendor that is all around us in the creatures of God.  The first step in the interior life is not, as some might imagine, learning not to see and taste and hear and feel things.  On the contrary, what we must do is begin by unlearning our wrong ways of seeing, tasting, hearing, feeling, and acquire new, right ones.” 

This sounds so much like what I deeply believe, that: “Everything that is—is holy.”  Inward grace embraces outward grace—the intimacy between vines and branches!

 Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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Morning Musings 5.1.21

Morning Musings  5.1.21

[During this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to Covid-19, we all are longing to be grounded at the very center of our being.  One way Pastor Mike attempts to experience such rootedness is by sitting with his journal, usually in the early moments of each day.   In this blog Pastor Mike shares an early morning journal entry, a way of holding and anticipating the light of God’s love washing over our waking hours.]

May, 1, 2021

Oh, what a beautiful May Day!  May Day was originally a Celtic agricultural celebration marking the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.  It was a day of celebration of spring, with dancing and music!  It was often spoken of as “bringing in the May,” a time to gather colorful wild flowers!  This May 1st morning was close to perfect for walking—cool, a pristine sky without a cloud.  Only the waning half moon watching as I walked playfully, breathtakingly alive with wonder and anticipation!  Today I plan to work with mulch around the house.  I may have my four-year-old granddaughter with me.  She will love the work and the fun—both will be the same for her—and for me!

As I walked I was totally consumed by every part of what surrounded me.  I believe it is not easy for us, most often, to be fully present to our surroundings, including to individuals who come into our daily happenings.  Very often, sadly, we settle for shadows and glimpses, for fleeting moments and conversations that sift through our fingers like sand—and then are gone.  It is so very easy in our lives to become clouded over from impinging distractions as we are carried through countless pressures, anxieties and demands.  Sometimes we seek to escape;  other times, to over-power the obstacles with adrenalin-driven pursuits; still other times, with our intellects, our determined skillful maneuvers , we strive for something out of reach, always looking, but never finding, and then realizing we are still lacking in what we need most.

Over the years, I’ve learned from Thomas Merton, an invaluable lesson about wakefulness.  Here is one of his poems that helps sum up my ongoing journey to deeper contemplative awareness, stillness, seeking not to miss the work of God close around me.

Stranger.    When no one listens to the quiet trees; when no one notices the sun in the pool;

where no one feels the first drop of rain, or sees the last star;

or hails the first morning of a giant world; where peace begins and rages end;

one bird sits still, watching the work of God.

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

Blessings & love on your day,  pastor mike

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