It’ been said that if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy. We can’t become truly pious if we’re too busy to make time for God and for others. I have a tendency to do this. I become so caught up with expedient things, I lose track of the things that have eternal value. I forget that even Jesus made time to get away and rest. I miss bits of God’s grace and the people He wants me to serve. I forget to listen for his voice. This poem is a good reminder to slow down and pay attention. I had a very hectic weekend, so I even if nobody else needs to hear this today, I do!
Slow me down Lord, I am going too fast:
I can’t see my brother when he’s walking past.
I miss a lot of good things day by day;
I don’t know a blessing when it comes my way.Slow me down, Lord I want to see
More of the things that are good for me.
A little less of me and a little more of you,
I want the heavenly atmosphere to trickle through.Let me help my brother when the going is rough:
When folks work together life isn’t so tough.
Slow me down, Lord so I can talk
With some of your angels.
Slow me down to a walk.Brother John G. Ottis
as he braved a twisted, tortuous road
beneath an angry, grey-streaked sky
burdened by wood and love
he held me in his heart
so carefully I did not fall
and shatter on the stones
when he stumbled
He laid him down in dirt
until ribbons of pain tied him
to the angry, blood-stained sky
still holding me in his heart
so carefully I did not suffocate
as his lungs clawed the heavens
to keep from bursting
When it was finished
he held me in his heart
I did not spill out
when his blood rained down
beneath an angry, night-black sky
to purify the broken earth
When he died
he held me in his heart
as I have always lived
as I shall always live
so carefully held
in his heart
[NOTE: I wrote this on Resurrection Day (April 4), 2010.]
Many people are now experiencing an after Christmas let-down. The gifts are opened, the parties are over, family and friends have gone home. Hopefully, as Christians, we see Christmas as a beginning, not an end. Advent is only the start of the liturgical year, and when Christmas Day is over, the Christ candle remains and is lit during our services to symbolize the presence of Jesus with us and His ministry on earth. That ministry now belongs to us, His body, the church. Below is a poem composed by Howard Thurman, and African-American theologian, educator and civil rights leader. It expresses my thoughts well:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
How are you planning to carry Christmas forward into the New Year? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
The day slips into memory; the storm
No longer keens among the weary trees.
A savage people in their anguish freeze
Before the God who wears a human form.
Stilled is the sound of battle, stilled the cry
Of pain, and stilled the voice of hate and fear—
For one brief moment all creation hears
The hush that echoes farther than the sky.
This night begins a day that for all time
Becomes the dawn of Time; the dream ignites.
The candle that alone withstands the night
Will kindle yet a flame to save mankind.
Listen for the laughter of the stars:
A child is born; tomorrow will be ours!
– M.A. Moore
One of my English major moments!
This short poem was written by Avery Brooke, a spiritual director and author of books on prayer and meditation. I think it captures the essence of the Christmas season in Christian community.
Mary, Joseph and the young Jesus, hold hands in a circle.
We, with family (and friends), hold hands in a circle.
And God’s circle weaves in and out of our circle while the light grows brighter,
the hearts fonder, and we feel like singing.
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
As I was looking for a filler to finish off our church newsletter this morning (yes, I am the editor), I came across this poem I wrote years and years ago. I thought I’d share it as it speaks to our many roles in life and how to handle them.
A Modern Day Psalm
Does life really have to be this hard?
I just want to be myself for a change instead of someone else’s
Whatever it is I spend most of my time being.
Sometimes my relationships seem to be strangling me instead of fulfilling me …
I want to be free
I want to please myself.
The trouble is I’m not really sure who I am or what pleases me
I’m to accustomed to being all of those other people instead.
Maybe I can find myself and You, too, if I really pray.
Maybe there’s a place for me in Your plan. Me the wife, and mother and daughter and sister and all the other Mes.
Maybe You’ll tell me if I listen.
Some of you probably saw this one coming–you know I love John Donne.