He Taught Us How to Listen

In the paper yesterday I read of the passing of a good man whom I was fortunate to know.

He was well-respected and accomplished and had done a lifetime of good work. When some friends and I knew him, he had developed Alzheimer’s, and it affected his language prominently. But he still had much to say.

One day, while we were near him and listening, he managed to get out a story that was very important to him — something he needed us to hear. It was a story about a meaningful time in his life when he had done a selfless act for his colleagues. It took several minutes for him get the story out, piecemeal, but the more words and thoughts expressed, the richer and deeper the impact of the story on all of us.

That day, he taught us how to listen — intently, mindfully, compassionately — and he taught us about the rewards to be found if we do.

He showed so much courage in sharing his story, when many may have chosen to be silent out of frustration, fear or shame.

What he shared was the content of his character. And Alzheimer’s hadn’t taken that.

Could not. Cannot, in fact.

So thank you, brave and storied soul, for venturing out with your Self.

Rest in peace, R –

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Incarnate Moments

Life fully lived strings 

from thin space to thin space, 

each moment of authentic self realization 

and intense relationality blending into the next. 

Looking back, these are the times of enrichment,

of transcendence; pillars of immovable, illimitable time, 

standing forever in what must be the Divine awareness. 

In these silent spaces, walls break down and connections are made, 

or rather, are discovered, as they must pre-exist in the gaze of God. 

The illusionary separation between what is defined as “me” 

and what is defined as “other” melts away like morning fog, 

and the space between glows with the fiery breath of God 

like a cloud of innumerable particles in endless daylight dance. 

The nature of this experience draws out and twines together 

everything that is true and lasting in me and in the other, 

like together with like. Water that clears increasingly 

as the welling depths are tapped, the cores mined 

to their purest elements, coming together 

with the richness and strength of One.

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Take Us Down To The River

Many are hurting. Many are alone. Hearts ache. Let’s go down to the river and pray…
Take us down to the river,
to a churchyard of Oak and Beech,
where the singing shoal of an ancient Soul
wraps each heart within its reach.
Bend our knees to the water
by the weight of a world forlorn,
that in bowing low in its healing flow
we may rise as ones reborn.
There’s a spark inside each eddy,
dancing fire within each wave,
and this flaming flood lights our living blood
like a fountain from a grave.
This world needs us to come here,
to be silent, still, and stay
as we take a hand and we understand
and our spirits join to pray.
Raise us up in the river
with a hope that will never die,
as we look above to the Face of Love
found forever in the sky.

Living River

The Cahaba River at Living River Camp and Conference Center near West Blocton, AL

What Will Be

What is happens to be what is.
What has been, what has been.
Why do we deny this?
Cut out the disliked pages?
Change the unblended colors?”
Scratch out faces that don’t resemble ours?
Try to smear the dried ink storylines?
Snip the cut corners? Blot out the misprints?
Is it for want of power? Control?
The deep longing for unblemished days?
Is it out of fear — fear of facing imperfections?
Little dead spots hidden in life’s immortal egg?
Are we ashamed of unnamed sins?
What if, instead, we write a new chapter?
Claim the strength birthed from struggle.
Let the lifeblood find new veins.
Watch the river take a turn.
See authenticity claim perfection’s prize.
Hold the tensions ’til they heal us, inside out.
Bricks made stronger by the straw.
Knotty Post Oaks on a hard clay hill.
That’ll stand the test of time.
What is happens to be what is.
What has been, what has been.
But what of what will be?

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The Beggar

O gracious God, help me to see

each beggar by the road as me,

with hope’s last flame an outstretched hand

for water in a desert land.

And grant this answered prayer today,

for strength to walk the weary way

with others, so that they would see

Your Spirit come alive through me.

In such a way, the lost are found,

the common path made Holy Ground

because You love this world and me

enough to share our poverty.

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What My Soul Looks Like

If I could know what my soul looks like

I think I’d see a rocker on a hardwood floor

creaking quietly the heart of its rhythmic chant —

I’d touch with clutching hands the worn silk

or cotton foldings of an elder’s garb —

I’d feel myself in every curve and corner

like the last puzzle piece put back into

the one and only place in the cosmos

from which it was cut, to which it must return —

I’d hear my name the way it must have sounded

in purity of silence before ever being spoken,

before anything on earth had ever heard its name —

I’d look into oceanic depths of the kindest eyes

and feel their pulsing colors painting the canvas

of me always alive and safe and whole —

I’d know for the first time the blessed absence

of a cold longing that can only end in the warmth

and abiding foundness of an all-embracing Love.

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An Addict With Alzheimer’s

He made himself known in the
bathroom of a halfway house
where by the bed he’d lost
his borrowed dime store glasses
with bottle thick lenses through
which his crooked world was framed
and missing the mark like something
he thought less than man or woman
he tottered downcast and blinded
toward the bed to wait for Mama’s
forehead kiss and trusted tucking
safe into the feathered shell of night.IMG_2399