Sermon

I have been forgiving you
Since the moment
I learned
But how can I respond
When you ask me for forgiveness now
Long after
I have cried my tears
Long after
I have stitched my heart
And coaxed it
To heal
How can I say
I forgive you
When the forgiveness I extended
For so long
Went unseen
How can you ask
“Forgive me”
When you never acknowledged
Your wrong?

I cannot be the one
To give you a badge
That says you have crossed
From that to this

I cannot be the one
To say,
Yes, now you are doing it right.

I did cry a river.
And then I moved my tent
And planted a new garden
New flowers
In new dirt
And I wait painstakingly
To see what grace will emerge
From my pain.

You hurt me.
Instead of speaking truth
You hid it
And when I found it
You ran away
And never looked back
Leaving me
To clear away the shrapnel,
My ears still ringing.

You slipped away slowly
Then quickly
As I grasped at ways to help
Ways to bring you back to life and love.
An honest parting of ways,
An honest confession that you did not love me
An honest word that,
Our time was good but it was over
Would have been a welcome balm.
I grieved that you did not count it worth your own pain
To tell me it was over,
Instead leaving me bewildered
Left to assume what must be true.

I forgive you and forgave you already,
But how can I be your priest
And absolve you of your wrong?
How can I forgive
What you never confessed?

Do not say to me,
“Forgive me, I have changed.”
Tell me the wrongs
That you now recognize
And tell me that you understand
Even a small bit
Of how I must have felt.
Tell me that at last
You feel a little bit
Of my pain
As I once felt yours
So deeply.
Tell me you are sorry.
You are so, so, sorry.

Sacred

 

Your skin
Pressing comfort
As i feel your weight and warmth
Reminding me
Like a gentle pinch
That I am real
Reminding me
That you are real too
That you see me
And I see you.

Beware,
Those who use others
For their own gain
Stealing their labor
As surely as stealing their house
For the ground on which you stand
Is sacred
And will not forever allow you
To desecrate its gentle soil
With your cruelty.

I do not miss
Ice cream cones or toys
Of childhood.
I do not long to curl
In my mother’s arms
Though I might
Miss that too.
I miss waking every morning
And immediately knowing
That today is sacred.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

On Living in Community

I’m starting my forth week here in Houston. One of the emphasis-es of Mission Year is living in community. Not just with your neighbors, but with other Christians, living in close proximity and sharing life together. I would like to take a few moments to share some of my insights on living in such a community.

The idea of living with and sharing life with other Christians is nothing new. When times were very dark and bleak in the middle ages, groups of believers, usually unmarried and of the same gender, started forming monastic groups, where they dedicated their time to serving God and serving one another. Many of these groups also had an emphasis on preserving biblical passages and on serving the poor.

Today, usually in the inner cities where social problems abound, there is a new serge of mostly younger believers who are choosing to purposefully live with other believers. Some refer to this as the “new monasticism”. This is distinguished from, say, a group of college students that simply share a house together. Living in community means that you are intentionally seeking to support and care for your housemates. It means challenging one another to make life-giving choices. It means setting aside time to eat together and be together even when its hard. As a part of the community, we all have different gifts and personalities, but all of us have the goal of “Loving God, Loving People”, and all of us want to seek to serve the “least of these” and to be a good neighbor in our neighborhood. Continue reading

The Lonely Road

This is a journal entry that I wrote several months ago. I recently came across it, and I was stunned at how directly it spoke to my heart. I want to share it as an encouragement– not because I have perfectly overcome loneliness, but because I still struggle sometimes with that feeling. I believe God will help me to be completely full of joy, so I don’t have to be lonely–but it is a journey and a struggle nonetheless.

 

No one can get my oil for me,

I must get my own.

Nobody can dig this well for me,

I must dig my own

No one can pray this prayer for me,

I must pray alone

 

There is a wellspring deeper in me

Deeper than my most intimate friend can touch

Deeper than my father can reach

Deeper than my mother can know

 

Their words fall in like pennies

And the water below rises in anticipation

To hear them falling, falling, echoing

A sound that resonates and vibrates in my soul—

But the waters wait untouched

Continue reading

If I can’t find Him

If I can’t find Him in the cinema

Or  in the alter call

Can’t find Him in the silence

of the cedars standing tall

 

If I can’t find Him in the music

Can’t find Him in the wave

Can’t find Him in the burning bush

Or in the sermon notes I save

 

If I can’t find Him with my belly full

With clothing on my back

Can’t find Him with my body whole

And checkbook in the black Continue reading