Saturday, December 23, 2017

'Immensity Cloistered': Meditating Upon Mystery

The poet considers the baby Jesus, awaiting birth from Mary’s inside: (Read it slowly. Repeat. Repeat again. Meditate on each brief word picture. Listen for the Spirit’s voice.)

“Whom thou conceiv’st, conceived; yea thou
           art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;
Thou hast light in darke; and shutst in little
Immensity cloistered in thy dear wombe.”

John Donne, La Corona (Donne, Poems of John Donne, 319)
(Source: Reformation Commentary on Scripture ©2015 T. George, Ed.)

May the divine ‘immensity’ enter in the little room you have prepared for the Holy One, and from there bloom forth, forever changing you and everyone you touch.

O Holy Night. O Night Divine. O Night When Christ Was Born.

Be Born. In Us. Today.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Prayer for A Boy Turning Ten

(To be read by the boy today and each ten years hence…)

A prayer for a boy turning ten, that during the span he celebrates the turning of many, many more decades this ‘may have happened to you’ more than not:

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost, green thrives, the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave a stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to do.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen to you.

Sometimes, by Sheenagh Pugh (sources: Good Poems, Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor© (Penguin Books, 2002); Sheenagh Pugh, Selected Poems, (Dufour Editions, 1990)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Friendship Bench

Acacia is Tiny. That’s her nickname. Acacia’s arms are not fully developed. Acacia knew what it was like to not ‘fit in’ to school and social circles. She didn’t want other children to feel what she felt. So, this “Tiny Girl’ came up with a ‘Big Dream’: provide a Friendship Bench to every school in the United States and Canada.

Friendship Benches exist for children who want a friend to talk to, to play with, to remove the sense of being ‘all alone.’  If a child is looking for a someone to play with on the playground, she sits on the Friendship Bench and other children then come and invite her to join them. I asked one child whether her schoolmates were reluctant to sit on the Friendship Bench because they didn’t want to be noticed as being in need of a playmate. She looked at me with this quizzical expression meaning, “what are you talking about?”, and politely said ‘no.’

So I got to thinking about whether adults have any ‘friendship benches’.  If you walk into a restaurant and see someone alone at a table, do you ask if you can join them? If you walk into a bar and see someone alone at the bar do you take the barstool next to that person or sit three stools away? If you walk into your house of worship and see someone alone in a row do you sit next to them or start another row? Maybe children who grow up with Friendship Benches will be better at this sort of hospitality, of being the friend to one in need. 

I think about sitting on the Friendship Bench like I think about the season of Advent. It is waiting, sometimes all by ourselves, for ‘Jesus’ to show up. It is a frustrating business, this waiting alone. The hardest choice might be whether we want to sit on the Friendship Bench and wait or to remain in our rooms and sit all alone.

I pray this Advent season for those who are lonely, that they will find the courage to take a seat on one of life’s ‘friendship benches’. And wait.  And I pray that someone, maybe you, will be the Friend who will come and sit next to them and ask if they would like to play.