This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen. ~Book of Common Prayer
Most days I am overwhelmed with words, whether they come from the radio, TV, podcasts, books, magazines, social media or simply dwelling in my own thoughts. I’m barraged with what to think, how to think, who to believe, who not to believe, and why to think at all.
I’m left desperate for a need for silence, just to quiet myself. All I need is to know what I am to do with this new day, how to best live this moment.
Then I come to the Word. It explains. It responds. It restores. It refreshes. It consoles. It understands. It embodies the Spirit I need far more than I need silence.
The words I seek to hear are far more than Words. They are God Himself.
The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
There they are, the moon’s young, trying
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.
~James Wright, from “Beginning” from Above the River: The Complete Poems and Selected Prose.
And the light shone in darkness and Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled About the centre of the silent Word. ~T.S. Eliot from “Ash Wednesday”
In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls… I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope. ~T.S. Eliot from “East Coker”
As we spend time with our young grandchildren, learning what it means to be a grandparent, we watch them discover the many joys and unending sorrows of this world. We must remember to remind them: there is light beyond the darkness, there is peace amid the chaos, there is a smile behind the tears, there is stillness within the noisiness, there is grace and mercy as old gives way to new.
Praise be that this thin mark, this sound Can form the word that takes on flesh To enter where no flesh can go To fill each other’s emptiness. To words and how they live between us To us and how we live between the worth
And in between the sound of words I hear your silent, sounding soul Where one abides in solitude Who keeps us one when speech shall go ~Carrie Newcomer and Parker Palmer “Two Toasts”
In the quiet of a room they sigh. In candle’s glow they live under An icon’s shadow and an unheard cry And the Truth-bearing words that thunder– Those Sacred Silences who tenderly await the soul.
They speak of His coming, not delayed, but near for etched in unknown depths, they say, the same Image of the One whose patient tear slays the heart and gives all away– In those Sacred Silences who tenderly await the soul.
Let saving truth’s grammar unbound Those lips thirsting for syllables of love To drink deep the wisdom in whose font resound Those words below of the Word above: As enveloped in great silences The soul awaits His coming. ~Anthony Lilles
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1: 1-5
Somewhere between the Word in the beginning and the Word that becomes flesh and the Word that now exists in our hearts and hands, there is the sacred silence of God.
Advent is a time of quiet stillness, awaiting the Light brought by the Word; a flint is struck to our wick, the Darkness abolished in the eternal glow of His illuminating Word.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand; Ponder nothing earthly minded, For with blessing is His hand, Christ our God to earth descendeth, Our full homage to demand. King of kings, Yet born of Mary, As of old earth He stood, Lord of lords, In human vesture, In the body and the blood; He will give to all the faithful. His own self for heavenly food. Rank on rank the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way, As Light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day, That the powers of hell may vanish as the darkness clears away. At His feet the six-winged seraph, Cherubim, With sleepless eye, Veil their faces to His presence as with ceaseless voice they cry: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Lord Most High!
In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls Across the open field, leaving the deep lane Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon…
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence. Wait for the early owl.
Dawn points, and another day Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind Wrinkles and slides. I am here Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.
Home is where one starts from. As we grow older the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated Of dead and living. Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after, But a lifetime burning in every moment And not the lifetime of one man only But of old stones that cannot be deciphered. There is a time for the evening under starlight, A time for the evening under lamplight
Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter. ~T. S. Eliot, verses from “East Coker” in Four Quartets
As I grow older I’m reminded daily of my limited point of view; I can scarcely peer past the end of my nose to understand the increasing complexity of the world around me – to look beyond, behind and through the here and now.
I’m not alone. For uncounted generations, people have sought answers when confronted with the indecipherable mysteries of existence here. We create monuments to the living and the dead to feel closer to them. We make up our own stories to explain the inexplicable.
The Word as given to us is all the story needed as all shall be revealed – still, we wait and wait, watching for Light to illuminate our darkness and Love laid down as never before.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. John 21:12
It’s so easy to look and see what we pass through in this world, but we don’t. If you’re like me, you see so little. You see what you expect to see rather than what’s there. ~Frederick Buechner from The Remarkable Ordinary
It is too easy by the next day to let go of Easter — to slide back into the Monday routine, managing our best to survive each day, teeth gritted, as we have before.
We were blind, thinking Him the Gardener as He passed by; we just don’t pay attention to Who is right before us, tending us.
God knows this about us. So He meets us for breakfast on Monday and every day thereafter and feeds us, a tangible and meaningful act of nourishing us in our most basic human needs though we’ve done nothing to deserve the gift. He cooks up fish on a beach at dawn and invites us to join Him though we have done nothing to deserve it.
The night before he shared a meal and broke bread in Emmaus to open the eyes and hearts of the blinded.
It is time to open our eyes, our minds, our hearts to Who this really is. This is no mere Gardener.
When He offers me a meal of His Word, I will accept it with open eyes of gratitude, knowing the gift He hands me is nothing less than Himself.
He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute. ~Augustine
It turns the mind inside out~ created inside His creation, cradled within an earthly embrace by way of heaven, bathed while cleansing the bather filled from emptying breast to become food for the hungry.
In the beginning the Word breathed and articulated life with such eloquence, knowing its utterance must come from human lips and tongue and throat
whether as infant’s cry, toddler’s chuckle, child’s whisper, adult’s prayer of praise, the aged’s last sigh.
We, who are ineloquent aside from the Word, are speechless, listening.
And so the light runs laughing from the town, Pulling the sun with him along the roads That shed their muddy rivers as he goads Each blade of grass the ice had flattened down. At every empty bush he stops to fling Handfuls of birds with green and yellow throats; While even the hens, uncertain of their notes, Stir rusty vowels in attempts to sing.
He daubs the chestnut-tips with sudden reds And throws an olive blush on naked hills That hoped, somehow, to keep themselves in white. Who calls for sackcloth now? He leaps and spreads A carnival of color, gladly spills His blood: the resurrection—and the light. ~Louis Untermeyer from “Ash Wednesday”
The Word Who was given within and for the world reaches out to us unstilled dwelling in darkness– O people, His loved children who turn away, only our ashes remain. His touch ignites us to light again, His blood has spilled across the sky.
VERSE 1 It is Ash Wednesday’s early morn. The old, the young, the newly born Await the mark of Adam’s dust To seal their wills in Jesus’ trust.
VERSE 2 Prepared to walk the Lenten trail They face death’s dark and shadowed vale. Rememb’ring Christ who led the way They bravely march beneath his sway.
VERSE 3 You came from dust and dust would be Without the Great Son’s victory. The gift is free yet must be claimed By goodness lived and evil tamed.
VERSE 4 It is Ash Wednesday’s early morn. The old, the young, the newly born Await the mark of Adam’s dust To seal their wills in Jesus’ trust.
When, in the cavern darkness, the child first opened his mouth (even before his eyes widened to see the supple world his lungs had breathed into being), could he have known that breathing trumps seeing? Did he love the way air sighs as it brushes in and out through flesh to sustain the tiny heart’s iambic beating, tramping the crossroads of the brain like donkey tracks, the blood dazzling and invisible, the corpuscles skittering to the earlobes and toenails? Did he have any idea it would take all his breath to speak in stories that would change the world? ~Luci Shaw “Breath”
Breath created the world by forming the Words that tell the stories that change everything and us.