I feel so much love over my soul,
it is like an Ocean I immerse and lose myself in:
it is my vision on earth while waiting
for the face-to-face vision in light.
[God] is in me, I am in Him.
I have only to love Him,
to let myself be loved,
all the time, through all things:
to wake in Love,
to move in Love,
to sleep in Love,
my Soul in His Soul,
my heart in His Heart,
my eyes in His eyes …
—Elizabeth of the Trinity
If there is love, there is hope that one may have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. — His Holiness the Dalai Lama
… the poems both affirm human love, but also show how it is itself only a pointer to something more grand and more sublime. The book never mentions God’s love, but all the links back to the garden of Eden make the point by themselves. Who is the author of life and human experience? And who, therefore, is the author of this powerful experience we call “love?” It’s none other than the Author of all reality, who has given humans a great gift and responsibility in our bodies, minds and hearts when it comes to sexual love. — BibleProject
We do not necessarily need to become religious, nor even believe in an ideology. We need only to develop our good human qualities and know that love and compassion are the most essential concepts for human survival. — His Holiness the Dalai Lama
… the good life consists of right relationships—between man and woman [covenant partners], between humanity and the earth, and between humanity and God. In the love described in the Song, we see a reflection of the love that first called the world into being (Proverbs 8), that continues to sustain it season by season (Ecclesiastes 3), and that will bring it to new life beyond death itself (Revelation 21). — Kathryn M. Schifferdecker
SONGS about LOVE as SACRED UNION:
- Wedding Song (There Is Love) by Peter, Paul, and Mary (folk): https://youtu.be/xxxsTYHvWa4
- All You Need Is Love by The Beatles (rock): https://youtu.be/_7xMfIp-irg
- Song of Songs by Ryan Malone (CHristian/choir/orchestra): https://youtu.be/IrBcbq0SByY
- Dark Night of the Soul by Loreena McKennitt (St Johnof Cross/Christian): https://youtu.be/MclLF473XtA
- God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts (country): https://youtu.be/FaQHyHwFgeg
- Love Aboundeth in All Things performed by St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir (Hildegard of Bingen / Christian): https://youtu.be/F3yEi782RC8
- Song of Solomon performed by All Souls Orchestra ft Martin Smith (Christian/orchestra/vocal): https://youtu.be/zyIR4N5EFt8
- Come by Prayana (Rumi song – vocal/piano/contemplative): https://youtu.be/DY_kysjyB8U
- Chant to the Holy Angels performed by Harpa Dei (Hildegard of Bingen / Christian chant): https://youtu.be/yjIAXI2xkEM
- Where Everything is Music by Prayana (Rumi song – vocal/piano/contemplative): https://youtu.be/C-aBaGqJmI0
- O Ignitus Spiritus performed by Harpa Dei (Hildegard of Bingen / Christian chant): (https://youtu.be/yNiRNiqzRsc
- O Deep Love of Jesus ft Simon Khorolskiy (Christian/fiddle&vocal): https://youtu.be/KLTu1xv2-Us
Don’t go anywhere without me.
— Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
Don’t go anywhere without me.
Let nothing happen in the sky apart from me,
or on the ground, in this world or that world,
without my being in its happening.
Vision, see nothing I don’t see.
Language, say nothing.
The way the night knows itself with the moon,
be that with me. Be the rose
nearest to the thorn that I am.
I want to feel myself in you when you taste food,
in the arc of your mallet when you work,
when you visit friends, when you go
up on the roof by yourself at night.
There’s nothing worse than to walk out along the street
without you. I don’t know where I’m going.
You’re the road, and the knower of roads,
more than maps, more than love.
O, happy lot!
Forth unobserved I went,
My house being now at rest.
O, happy lot!
n darkness and concealment,
My house being now at rest.
Seeing nought myself,
Without other light or guide
Save that which in my heart was burning.
To the place where He was waiting for me,
Whom I knew well,
And where none appeared.
O, night that hast united
The lover with His beloved,
And changed her into her love.
There He reposed and slept;
And I cherished Him, and the waving
Of the cedars fanned Him.
He struck me on the neck
With His gentle hand,
And all sensation left me.
O glistening sunlight — Sr. Hildegarde of Bingen
O glistening starlight,
O most brilliant singular figure
of the royal marriage,
O glowing gem:
You are arrayed as a person of high rank
who has no mark nor wrinkle;You are also an angel’s companion
and a citizen of sacredness.
Run, flee from the ancient destroyer’s cave!
Come, enter into the palace of the King.
COMMENTARY on SONG of SONGS from Jewish and Christian Scholars
All eternity is not as worthwhile as the day the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all biblical books are holy, but the Song of Songs is holy of holies.— R. Aqiva (m. Yadayim 3:5), 2nd c. CE
אין כל העולם כלו כדאי כיום שניתן בו שיר השירים לישראל שכל כתובים קדש ושיר השירים קודש קדשים The Song of Songs, along with the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, is related to Solomon as the source of Israel’s wisdom literature. As Moses is the source [though not the only author] of the Torah, and David is the source [though not the author] of the book of Psalms, so is Solomon the father of the wisdom tradition in Israel… The connection of the Song of Songs to Solomon in the Hebrew Bible sets these writings within the context of wisdom literature. – Brevard Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (21st c).
The Song of Songs, a duet scored for two young lovers, each delighting in the other, longing for one another’s presence, is one of the central books of Tanach and the key that unlocks the rest. It is about love as the holy of holies of human life. It is about the love of Israel for God and God for Israel, and the fact that it is written as the story of two young and human lovers is also fundamental, for it tells us that to separate human and Divine love is to allocate one to the body, the other to the soul, is a false distinction. Love is the energy God has planted in the human heart, redeeming us from narcissism and solipsism, making the human or Divine Other no less real to me than I am to myself, thus grounding our being in that-which-is-not-me. One cannot love God without loving all that is good in the human situation. Love creates. Love reveals. Love redeems. Love is the connection between God and us. That is the faith of Judaism, and if we do not understand this we will not understand it at all. We will, for example, fail to realise that the demands God makes of His people through the prophets are expressions of love, that what Einstein called Judaism’s “almost fanatical love of justice” is about love no less than justice, that the Torah is God’s marriage contract with the Jewish people, and the mitzvot are all invitations to love: “I see You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands” (Ps. 119:10).” — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ceremony & Celebration, 21st c.
… In short, there are two primary interpretations of the Song of Songs. The traditional interpretation is that it is an allegory of the love between God and Israel or between Christ and the Church. The dominant interpretation in modern times is that it is nothing more than ancient erotic love poetry.
I would argue that the Song is both of these things. It is a celebration of the love of a man and a woman for one another, a love “strong as death” (Song of Solomon 8:6), a love reflected in the renewed life of the earth itself (Song of Solomon 2:10-13). At the same time, the Song is also a celebration of the love between Christ and the Church, a love that is in fact stronger than death, sealed by the Resurrection.
As Phyllis Trible and Ellen Davis have both argued, the Song is a reversal of the curses of Eden. The relationship between man and woman is restored. In place of Eve’s punishment in Genesis 3:16 (“your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you”), the woman in the Song declares, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.”6 In fact, the woman’s is the dominant voice in the Song. She is in a full, robust, and mutual relationship with her beloved.
The rupture between humanity and the earth is also restored. Here, in the garden of the Song, there are no thorns and thistles (see Genesis 3:17-19). Indeed, the earth itself rejoices with the lovers.
Finally, the rupture between humanity and God is restored, if one understands the Song allegorically, as interpreters have done for 2000 years. One of the dominant biblical metaphors for the relationship between God and Israel (and later, Christ and the Church) is that of marriage. This metaphor takes some troubling turns in the prophets (see Hosea), but in the Song, the marriage is healed and renewed and rooted in love, love as fierce as the grave, love unquenchable (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).— Kathryn M. Schifferdecker, full article: https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/narrative-lectionary/preaching-series-on-o-t-wisdom-and-poetry/commentary-on-proverbs-11-7-31-8, (21st c).
The Song of Songs is a collection of love poetry. The Rabbis read it as an allegory of the relationship between God and the Jewish people. Only in the Middle Ages, in Spain and Northern France, did scholars begin to pay attention to the plain (Peshat) meaning of the text. Some went as far as dropping the allegory altogether and treating it as love poetry, as it was originally intended. — Dr. Barry Dov Walfish, (21st c).
King Solomon wrote this through the inspiration of the divine spirit, for he saw that Israel in their exile was destined to mourn God, who distanced himself from them like a groom who parted from his beloved. And he began to sing his song on behalf of the Community of Israel who is like a bride before him. — Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (ca. 1085-ca. 1160)
“God is love” (1 John 4:16) may be the single most important verse in the entire Bible …
Is it any wonder that many of the great Christian mystics are renowned as lovers of God? This can take a variety of forms: for some, being God’s lover is very ethereal and philosophically abstract; but for others, an embodied, physical, even erotic quality characterizes their mysticism of love. There is even a term—“bridal mysticism”—for the many mystics (both female and male) whose experience of profound love of God was so deep and all-encompassing that it led to a spiritual sense of being “married” to God …
[It’s important to] consider that this derives from the Bible itself. One of the loveliest books in the Hebrew Bible…. is the Song of Solomon, also called the Song of Songs or the Canticle of Canticles… It is the story of a bride and bridegroom, their passion for one another, their devotion to one another, and their (strongly hinted at) passion as physical lovers.
Historically, the Song of Songs has been read as a kind of allegory: the two lovers symbolize the caring relationship between God and Israel, or Christ and the Church, or Christ and the individual believer. This is where the mysticism of love comes in. — Cart McColman, full article: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/the-great-love-song-2021-05-11/ (21st c).
I think religion, especially when it comes to messages around our sexuality, causes a really particular type of harm in us. Now, the culture, the broader culture, also has some very damaging messages. There’s the commodificationwa of sex. You can “know” how worthy you are of desire according to how close you are to a body ideal. Once you’re too old, or too fat, or too plain, you’re no longer worthy of sexual desire and so there are these damaging messages that society gives us around the commodification of sex.
… messages from religion, those go down to our created place, our source code. Those seep into us in a very deep level and the difference is that the society has … our society has never said that the creator of the universe is disgusted by my cellulite. Do you know what I mean? So, the religious messages are saying, “This is God. God feels this way about you as a sexual being.” And that can be pernicious in a very particular way.
Well, Augustine interpreted the Garden of Eden story in a really particular way that we are so influenced by that we don’t even know the difference between the text and his interpretation. For instance, the word sin isn’t in there, the word temptation isn’t in there, the devil is not in there, “original sin” is not in there, fall from grace is not in there. All of that is stuff that Augustine interpreted into the Garden of Eden story. So then it’s like, “Okay, well who was Augustine?” Well, brilliant guy, however had some sexual hangups like all of us do. His original shame, his story, his original shame came from an incident in the bathhouse with his father when he was going through puberty and he had an erection and his father commented on it.
In the same way, the Song of Solomon is this beautiful erotic poem in the Bible, and it’s most likely the only book in the Bible that was possibly written by a woman, and it is mostly an erotic poem about a very shameless woman who has a lover and she loves her body and she loves their body and she loves sex and eroticism, and she has no shame about this. So what happens? Origen, another … church father comes along, and he goes, “No, that’s not about sex. That’s about Jesus’ love for the church. It’s just an allegory.” And okay, well who was Origen? Origen was this guy who was so terrified of sexual temptation, no kidding, he castrated himself…. Is that the guy we want to go to for direction?” — Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber, full interview: https://wanderlust.com/journal/sex-church-debunking-doctrine-desire/
I believe the meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus is summed up in the climactic line from the Song of Songs, “love is stronger than death” (8:6). If the blank white banner that the Risen Christ usually holds in Christian art should say anything, it should say: “Love will win!” Love is all that remains. Love and life are finally the same thing, and we know that for ourselves once we have walked through death.
Love has you. Love is you. Love alone, and your deep need for love, recognizes love everywhere else. Remember that you already are what you are seeking. Any fear “that your lack of fidelity could cancel God’s fidelity, is absurd” (Romans 3:3), says Paul. Love has finally overcome fear, and your house is being rebuilt on a new and solid foundation. This foundation was always there, but it takes us a long time to find it. “It is love alone that lasts” (1 Corinthians 13:13). All you have loved in your life and been loved by are eternal and true .. — Richard Rohr, full article: https://cac.org/daily-meditations/love-is-stronger-than-death-2020-03-27/, (21st c).
And in this vision, he showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, and to my mind’s eye it was as round as any ball. I looked at it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ And the answer came to me, ‘It is all that is made.’ I wondered how it could last, for it was so small I thought it might suddenly disappear. And the answer in my mind was, ‘It lasts and will last forever because God loves it; and in the same everything exists through the love of God.’
In this little thing I saw three attributes: the first is that God made it, the second is that he loves it, the third is that God cares for it. But what does this mean to me? Truly, the maker, the lover, the carer; for until I become one substance with him, I can never have love, rest or true bliss; that is to say, until I am so bound to him that there may be no created thing between my God and me. — Julian of Norwich
— Hildegard of Bingen
Loving tenderness abounds for all
from the darkest
to the most eminent one beyond the stars,
Exquisitely loving all
she bequeaths the kiss of peace
upon the ultimate King.
THERE IS NO GOING BACK – Wendell Berry
No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.
THE WHISTLER — Mary Oliver
All of a sudden she began to whistle. By all of a sudden
I mean that for more than thirty years she had not
whistled. It was thrilling. At first I wondered, who was
in the house, what stranger? I was upstairs reading, and
she was downstairs. As from the throat of a wild and
cheerful bird, not caught but visiting, the sounds war-
bled and slid and doubled back and larked and soared.
Finally I said, Is that you? Is that you whistling? Yes, she
said. I used to whistle, a long time ago. Now I see I can
still whistle. And cadence after cadence she strolled
through the house, whistling.
I know her so well, I think. I thought. Elbow and an-
kle. Mood and desire. Anguish and frolic. Anger too.
And the devotions. And for all that, do we even begin
to know each other? Who is this I’ve been living with
for thirty years?
This clear, dark, lovely whistler?
“in love I am more God than I am in myself.” … “It sounds wondrous, that the human being is thus able to become God in love; however, it is true in the eternal truth.” — Meister Eckhart
Covenant love is conscious love. It is intentional love. It is commitment to love no matter what. It requires thought and action. It does not wait for the encouragement of warm emotions but chooses to look out for the interest of the other party because you are committed to the other’s well-being.
Covenant love requires two factors: knowledge of the nature of love and the will to love. Understanding the 5 love languages will give you the information you need to have a successful long term covenant love relationship. Hopefully, as you see the benefits of covenant love, you will also find the will to love. — Gary Chapman
God willeth that we understand [this], desiring with all our heart to have knowing of them [Trinity] more and more unto the time that we be fulfilled: for fully to know them is nought else but endless joy and bliss that we shall have in Heaven, which God willeth should be begun here in knowing of His love. — Julian of Norwich
Peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings. — John F. Kennedy
We are already one. But we imagine we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we already are. — Thomas Merton
This is our great covenant:
To dwell together in peace,
To seek the truth in love,
And to help one another.
— James Vila Blake
We are already in union with God! There is an absolute, eternal union between God and the soul of everything. — Fr. Richard Rohr
Sometimes we feel empty; we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don’t know the cause; it’s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we’ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There’s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It’s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven’t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we’ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can’t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty. You want to find something, but you don’t know what to search for. In everyone there’s a continuous desire and expectation; deep inside, you still expect something better to happen. That is why you check your email many times a day!
In a deep relationship, there’s no longer a boundary between you and the other person. You are her and she is you. Your suffering is her suffering. Your understanding of your own suffering helps your loved one to suffer less. Suffering and happiness are no longer individual matters. What happens to your loved one happens to you. What happens to you happens to your loved one. …
In true love, there’s no more separation or discrimination. His happiness is your happiness. Your suffering is his suffering. — Thich Nhat Hanh
We know what we are, but not what we may be. ― William Shakespeare
When I discover who I am, I’ll be free. ― Ralph Ellison
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. ― Mahatma Gandhi
He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves. ― Gabriel García Márquez
We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men… We are who we are because they were who they were. It’s wise to know where you come from, who called your name. — Maya Angelou
Identity. It’s always God’s first move. Before we do anything wrong and before we do anything right, God has named and claimed us as God’s own. — Nadia Bolz-Weber
SONGS about NAME & IDENTITY:
- In My Life by the Beatles (rock): https://youtu.be/YBcdt6DsLQA
- Underdog by Alicia Keyes (pop): https://youtu.be/izyZLKIWGiA
- Come and Get Your Love by Redbone (rock with Native American roots): https://youtu.be/bc0KhhjJP98
- This Is Me from The Greatest Showman (musical anthem): https://youtu.be/wEJd2RyGm8Q
- Free to Be Me by Francesca Battistelli (Christian/pop): https://youtu.be/EKSQjSdU8VA
- Sing a Song performed by Earth, Wind & Fire (rock/pop): https://youtu.be/HBpsOu8jyU8
- All Kinds of Kinds by Miranda Lambert (country): https://youtu.be/02X8bX_EBv4
- My Life by Billy Joel (blues/rock): https://youtu.be/h3JFEfdK_Ls
- My Way by Frank Sinatra (swing/jazz): https://youtu.be/qQzdAsjWGPg
- I Am Enough by Daphne Willis (pop): https://youtu.be/zm-E33zgxXQ
- I Am Enough by Darnell Peters (Christian pop): https://youtu.be/o-quzpjwXxM
- He Knows My Name by Francesca Battistelli (Christian pop): https://youtu.be/1NHQJWdXfFE
- We Are the Children by Chris Kando Iijima, Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto, “Charlie” Chin (folk): https://youtu.be/_v4Teezq2KE
- Me! by Taylor Swift (pop): https://youtu.be/FuXNumBwDOM
- Songs About Me by Trace Adkins (country): https://youtu.be/dOvRw4dstkE
- Stereotypes by Black Violin (rock/pop): https://youtu.be/WYerKidQGcc
- Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves (country: https://youtu.be/kQ8xqyoZXCc
- Born This Way by Lady Gaga (rock): https://youtu.be/wV1FrqwZyKw
- Beautiful by Christina Aguilera (pop): https://youtu.be/eAfyFTzZDMM
- Complicated by Avril Lavign (pop): https://youtu.be/5NPBIwQyPWE
- Worth by Jade Turner (aboriginal music): https://youtu.be/wSEHi7uhAeA
- Invisible by Hunter Hayes (country): https://youtu.be/LiUqgL5urWc
- Who Says by Selena Gomez (pop): https://youtu.be/akaRg5C1VO8
- Name by the Goo Goo Dolls (rock): https://youtu.be/QDNka9NOsE4
- What Do You Think About That? by Montgomery Gentry (country): https://youtu.be/tJixs2FoZ_Y
- Mujeres by Julieta Venegas (LatinX rock/pop): https://youtu.be/lqwnuWWs5i4
Songs about the Names of God:
- El Shaddai by Amy Grant (Christian): https://youtu.be/DuXB1a3NBCw
- Jesus Messiah by Chris Tomlin (Christian): https://youtu.be/aZdJjxNHdow
- You Are I Am by MercyMe (Christian): https://youtu.be/2JI4CPfuLW0
- Tremble by Lauren Daigle (Christian): https://youtu.be/OE4X1avLT3E
- What A Beautiful Name by Hillsong (Christian):https://youtu.be/nQWFzMvCfLE
- Agnus Dei by Michael Smith & Skye Reedy (Christian):https://youtu.be/rEWHCkFMfLQ
Please Call Me By My True Names— Thich Nhat Hanh
Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow—
even today I am still arriving.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.
I am a mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.
I am a frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am also the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.
My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and the door of my heart
could be left open,
the door of compassion.
Lullaby — Neil Gaiman
Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake you’ll see the world
If I’m not mistaken…
Kiss a lover
Dance a measure,
Find your name
And buried treasure …
Face your life
Leave no path untaken.
A Star Without a Name – Rumi
When a baby is taken from the wet nurse,
it easily forgets her
and starts eating solid food.
Seeds feed awhile on ground,
then lift up into the sun.
So you should taste the filtered light
and work your way toward wisdom
with no personal covering.
That’s how you came here, like a star
without a name. Move across the night sky
with those anonymous lights.
NAME & IDENTITY
What’s in a name? — Shakespeare
I realize then that it’s not enough to know what someone is called. You have to know who they are. ― Gayle Forman
The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. — Maya Angelou
I am out with lanterns, looking for myself. ― Emily Dickinson
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will. ― Charlotte Brontë
We can spend our lives letting the world tell us who we are. Sane or insane. Saints or sex addicts. Heroes or victims. Letting history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better. ― Chuck Palahniuk
I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self. ― Audre Lorde
Each person you meet is an aspect of yourself, clamoring for love. ― Eric Micha’el Leventhal
Feelings are something you have; not something you are. ― Shannon L. Alder
I am not one and simple, but complex and many. ― Virginia Woolf
It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story. ― Patrick Rothfuss
We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are. ― Madeleine L’Engle
What we know matters but who we are matters more. ― Brené Brown
The good news is you are a beloved child of God; the bad news is you don’t get to choose your siblings. ― Rachel Held Evans
Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.— Theodore Roosevelt
Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame; Each to his passion; what’s in a name? — Helen Hunt Jackson
Action without a name, a ‘who’ attached to it, is meaningless. — St. Jerome
It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself. ― Betty Friedan
Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” … [My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence. ― Henri J.M. Nouwen
A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble. — Charles Spurgeon
WHO DO THEY SAY I AM? – MESSIAH: Commentary
- BibleProject video about the Messiah: https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/messiah/
“Messiah comes from the Hebrew word, Mashiach, meaning “the anointed one,” or “the chosen one.” In Old Testament times, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed by oil when they were set apart for these positions of responsibility. The anointing was a sign that God had chosen them and consecrated them for the work He had given them to do. Christos (Christ) is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term, Messiah...” — BibleInfo.com
“Indeed, in Scripture, no two people encounter Jesus in exactly the same way. Not once does anyone pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” or ask Jesus into their heart. The good news is good for the whole world, certainly, but what makes it good varies from person to person and community to community. Liberation from sin looks different for the rich young ruler than it does for the woman caught in adultery. The good news that Jesus is the Messiah has a different impact on John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet, than it does the Ethiopian eunuch, a Gentile and outsider. Salvation means one thing for Mary Magdalene, first to witness the resurrection, and another to the thief who died next to Jesus on a cross. The gospel is like a mosaic of stories, each one part of a larger story, yet beautiful and truthful on its own. There’s no formula, no blueprint.” ― Rachel Held Evans
“The idea that a human being–the Messiah–will help usher in the redemption of the Jewish people has roots in the Bible. However, Jewish sources have not, as a general rule, focused attention on the specific personal qualities of the Messiah. Images of the Messiah as humble or as a child are juxtaposed with images of a victorious and wise ruler–perhaps contrasting Israel’s current, unredeemed state and the prophetic vision of the future. In recent times, some Jews have “democratized” the concept of the Messiah, seeing the process of, or the preparation for, redemption in the actions of regular people.” — My Jewish Learning: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/who-is-the-messiah/
In Abrahamic religions, a messiah (… lit. ’the anointed one’) is a saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of mashiach, messianism, and of a Messianic Age originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible, in which a mashiach is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. Ha mashiach (… ‘the Messiah’), often referred to as melekh mashiachמל (…’King Messiah’) is to be a Jewish leader, physically descended from the paternal Davidic line through King David and King Solomon. He is thought to accomplish predetermined things in a future arrival, including the unification of the tribes of Israel, the gathering of all Jews to Eretz Israel, the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, the ushering in of a Messianic Age of global universal peace, and the annunciation of the world to come
Messiahs were not exclusively Jewish, however, and the concept of ‘the’ Messiah as a single individual is a strictly post-Biblical tradition as it is not found in the Old Testament.
The Greek translation of Messiah is Khristós … anglicized as Christ. Christians commonly refer to Jesus of Nazareth as either the “Christ” or the “Messiah”, believing that the messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus and that he will return to fulfill the rest of messianic prophecies. Moreover, unlike the Judaic concept of the Messiah, Jesus Christ is additionally considered by Christians to be the Son of God.
In Islam, Jesus (… romanized: Isa) is held to have been a prophet and the Messiah sent to the Israelites, who will return to Earth at the end of times … — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah
What if Christ is a name for the transcendent within of every “thing” in the universe? The Christ Mystery anoints all physical matter with eternal purpose from the very beginning. The word translated from the Greek as Christ comes from the Hebrew word mesach, meaning “the anointed” one or Messiah. He reveals that all is anointed! Many people are still praying and waiting for something that has already been given to us three times: first in creation; second in Jesus… (1 John 1–2); and third, in the ongoing beloved community (what Christians call the Body of Christ), which is slowly evolving throughout all of human history (Romans 8:18). We are still in the Flow. All of us take part in the evolving, universe-spanning Christ Mystery. Jesus is a map for the time-bound and personal level of life; Christ is the blueprint for all time and space and life itself. Both reveal the universal pattern of self-emptying and infilling (Christ) and death and resurrection (Jesus), which is the process humans have called “holiness,” “salvation,” or “growth.” … — Richard Rohr, more info: https://cac.org/another-name-for-every-thing-2019-02-12/
“Christians have claimed from their beginnings that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures…Jesus did not replace or deny the expectations of a messiah previously told …Isaiah 9:2-7 is a well-known oracle, a divine utterance…that uses four royal titles…As we ponder the use of those titles … two things become clear. First, in the witness to Jesus by the early Christians in the New Testament, they relied heavily on Old Testament ‘anticipations’ of the coming Messiah. But second, Jesus did not fit those ‘anticipations’ very well, such that a good deal of interpretive imagination was required in order to negotiate the connection between the anticipation and the actual bodily, historical reality of Jesus.
The oracle of Isaiah 9:2-7 is well known among us because of Handel’s Messiah. The oracle did not anticipate or predict Jesus. There is no doubt that it pertained to the eighth century BCE, the time of Isaiah the prophet. While the oracle might have been utilized to announce and celebrate the birth of a new royal prince in Jerusalem, namely Hezekiah, it is more probable that it pertained to the coronation of the new king.” — Walter Brueggemann, Names for the Messiah
“Jesus was not the powerful or effective Messiah that the Jews hoped for—or that Christians seem to want, for that matter. … The revelation of the death and resurrection of Jesus forever redefines what success and winning mean—and it is not what any of us wanted or expected. On the cross, God is revealed as vulnerability itself (the Latin word vulnera means woundedness). That message is hard to miss, but we turned the cross into a transaction and so missed its transformative message for humanity.” — Richard Rohr, more info: https://cac.org/redefining-success-2017-07-31/
“Instead of bringing about the onset of redemption, messiah will herald its completion. The actual work of redeeming the world is turned to us in history, and is done by all of us, day by day. Messiah has been waiting in the wings, as it were, since the very beginning of history, ready to come forth when the time is right. According to one legend, he sits among the lepers at the gates of Rome–today we would be likely to find him in an AIDS hospice–tending to their wounds. Only when redemption is about to be completed will messiah be allowed to arrive. Rather than messiah redeeming us, we redeem messiah.” – Rabbi Arthur Green
WHO DO THEY SAY I AM? – SON of … MAN? GOD? Commentary
- Podcast series on Son of Man:https://bibleproject.com/podcast/series/son-of-man-series/
- Podcast on Is Jesus God? https://bibleproject.com/podcast/theme-god-e15-jesus-god/
- Animated video on Son of Man: https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/son-of-man/
- Animated video on Who Is the God of the Bible? https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/god-video/
“While the title “the Son of man” is always, except once, applied by Jesus to Himself, “the Son of God” is never applied by Jesus to Himself in the Synoptists. When, however, it is applied to Him by others, He accepts it in such a way as to assert His claim to it. Now and then He Himself employs the abbreviated form, “the Son,” with the same intention; and He often speaks of God as “the Father” or “my Father” or “my Father who is in heaven” in such a manner as to betray the consciousness that He is the Son of God.” — more info: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/son-of-god-the/
“Though the Bible does not define its exact meaning, the title “Son of Man” probably refers to the fact that Jesus was perfect humanity. He, as God, came down and lived among us as the perfect human being. By doing this, He fulfilled the Law of Moses and did what no other human being was able to do. By using this title, He is identifying with the people He had come to save.
… The title “Son of Man” was a designation for the Messiah. The Book of Daniel predicted that the Son of Man would inherit God’s everlasting kingdom … When Jesus was on trial and was asked if He were the Messiah, He referred to this prediction.” — Blue Letter Bible, more info: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_793.cfm
“Although Jesus is called the “Son of God” we also find this term applied to humans and angels. The term “son of God” is applied to the first man Adam, angels, Israel, those who make peace, and Christians… The Bible often uses the word “son” to mean, “possessing the nature of,” or, “on the order of… Jesus possesses the same nature of God… God the Father, the angel Gabriel, His own disciples, the Apostle Paul, and even the demons acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God. Although Adam, angels, Israel, peacemakers, and Christians are all called “sons of God” the Scripture designates Jesus as the unique Son of God. He possesses the same nature as the Father – God. However He is not a literal offspring for He has existed for all eternity. The Bible often uses the word “son” in the sense of “possessing the nature of.” Jesus is the “Son” of God in this sense- possessing the nature of God. The title “Son” does not, in any way, suggest the Son if inferior to the Father. — Blue Letter Bible:
“Who is this Son of Man? Jon asks if it’s a physical child. Tim explains that it’s actually biblical imagery to depict a class of being. This is a “son” similar to the “sons of the prophets/Elijah” depicted in the Old Testament. Tim says the point of the vision is that Daniel represents a summary of the future hope of the Hebrew Bible, and it envisions the coming of God’s Kingdom as the coming of a human figure (“a son of humanity”), who will sit beside God, share in his rule over the beasts (remember the plural “thrones”), and receive worship from all nations.
… Tim says that the Christian claim of God existing “three in one” and the divine complexity is a thoroughly Jewish idea, but Jews have long debated who the actual “Son of Man” is. Tim says there’s a ancient Jewish author called Ezekiel the Tragedian, who believed that the vision of Daniel’s Son of Man was actually referring to Moses. Tim also says that it’s clear that the New Testament authors believed Jesus is the Son of Man, and they combine all of God’s attributes (word, spirit, wisdom, etc) with the idea of a human being elevated to God’s status.” The Bible Project, https://bibleproject.com/podcast/theme-god-e14-who-son-man/
- Son of God Biblical references reviewed in BibleTools.org: https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/441/Sons-of-God.htm
“Tim outlines the historical path of Jesus. He says that within Jewish culture, Jesus stands unique. For example, in early Christian culture, there were hymns singing songs of praise to Jesus, not just about Jesus. Christians can “praise the name of Jesus” and Paul can use the phrase “maranatha,” which means “our Lord come” in Aramaic. Tim says the point is that Paul can write to a Hebrew or Greek audience with an Aramaic phrase and have it apparently make sense. The significance is that what Jews would have said about Yahweh––“our Lord come”––Christians were then saying about Jesus in Paul’s letters. Tim says that by doing this you are essentially equating Jesus to Yahweh … Tim lays out more accounts of Jesus and says that Jesus positions himself as “Yahweh returning” from the Old Testament. For example in Mark 1:1-3 …“Lord” here is in Greek (kurios), the Greek Septuagint translation of “Yahweh.”… So In Mark 1:9, we’re introduced to Jesus as ‘kurios’.” — The Bible Project: https://bibleproject.com/podcast/theme-god-e15-jesus-god/
Jesus is referred to as the “Son of Man” 88 times in the New Testament. In fact, Son of Man is the primary title Jesus used when referring to Himself (e.g., Matthew 12:32; 13:37; Luke 12:8; John 1:51). The only use of Son of Man in a clear reference to Jesus, spoken by someone other than Jesus, came from the lips of Stephen as he was being martyred (Acts 7:56).”
Son of Man is a title of humanity. Other titles for Christ, such as Son of God, are overt in their focus on His deity. Son of Man, in contrast, focuses on the humanity of Christ. God called the prophet Ezekiel “son of man” 93 times… Son of man is simply a … term for “human.” Jesus Christ was truly a human being. He came “in the flesh” (1 John 4:2).
Son of Man is a title of humility. The Second Person of the Trinity, eternal in nature, left heaven’s glory and took on human flesh, becoming the Son of Man, born in a manger and “despised and rejected by mankind” (Isaiah 53:3). The Son of Man had “no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). The Son of Man ate and drank with sinners (Matthew 11:19). The Son of Man suffered at the hands of men (Matthew 17:12). This intentional lowering of His status from King of Heaven to Son of Man is the epitome of humility (see Philippians 2:6–8).
Son of Man is a title of deity. Ezekiel may have been a son of man, but Jesus is the Son of Man. As such, Jesus is the supreme example of all that God intended mankind to be, the embodiment of truth and grace (John 1:14). In Him “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). For this reason, the Son of Man was able to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). The Son of Man came to save lives (Luke 9:56; 19:10), rise from the dead (Mark 9:9), and execute judgment (John 5:27). …
Son of Man is a fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus’ claim before the high priest to be the Son of Man was a reference to the prophecy of Daniel 7:13–14 … Daniel saw glory, worship, and an everlasting kingdom given to the Messiah—here called the “Son of Man”—and Jesus applied this prophecy to Himself. …
— more info: https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-Son-of-Man.html
“While to the common mind “the Son of man” is a title designating the human side of our Lord’s person, “the Son of God” seems as obviously to indicate the divine side. But scholarship cannot take this for granted; and, indeed, it requires only a hasty glance at the facts to bring this home even to the general reader, because in Scripture the title is bestowed on a variety of persons for a variety of reasons. First, it is applied to angels, as when in Job 2:1 it is said that “the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh”; they may be so called because they are the creatures of God’s hands or because, as spiritual beings, they resemble God, who is a spirit. Secondly, in Luke 3:38 it is applied to the first man; and from the parable of the Prodigal Son it may be argued that it is applicable to all men. Thirdly, it is applied to the Hebrew nation, as when, in Exodus 4:22, Yahweh says to Pharaoh, “Israel is my son, my first-born,” the reason being that Israel was the object of Yahweh’s special love and gracious choice. Fourthly, it is applied to the kings of Israel, as representatives of the chosen nation. Thus, in 2 Samuel 7:14, Yahweh says of Solomon, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son”; and, in Psalms 2:7, the coronation of a king is announced in an oracle from heaven, which says, “Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.” Finally, in the New Testament, the title is applied to all saints, as in John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name.” When the title has such a range of application, it is obvious that the Divinity of Christ cannot be inferred from the mere fact that it is applied to Him.” — more info: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/son-of-god-the/
“The Gospels often call Jesus the Son of God. Mark’s Gospel especially favors this term, noting Jesus as divine via His relationship with God the Father. In Matthew 15:15-16, Peter acknowledged Jesus as the son of the living God, a view Jesus affirmed as correct. John 3:16 also famously refers to Jesus as God’s only begotten Son.” — more info:https://www.compellingtruth.org/Jesus-Son-of-God.html
“The New Testament also often refers to Jesus as the Son of Man. Matthew’s Gospel especially favors this phrase, using it more than thirty times. This title highlights both His humanity as well as His fulfillment as the Son of Man predicted in the Old Testament, especially Daniel 7:13-14 related to the coming Messiah.” — more info: https://www.compellingtruth.org/Jesus-Son-of-Man.html
My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped. — Psalm 17:5
In this season, we renew our walk along the Way. We journey through the world with our human bodies. Though we also nurture healthy thoughts and emotions, it is our body that communicates the incarnate journey to our mind and heart. Our bodies are wired, by nerves attached to receptor cells, to transmit signals that conduct information to our brain. In this way, our body teaches and guides us.
We know that throughout life, our bodies change. That the signals alter. We may have challenged eyesight or difficult hearing. Even how our bodies move may change. At different ages, we may move confidently and quickly or more intentionally and carefully. Our bodies change, and so does our experience of the world.
What does the world say to you, when you pay attention as you move through it? Do you pause and listen, hearing bird song or river rush or traffic rumble? Do you look up and around and notice new things, such as the sunlight falling through the branches, or the satellite passing through the starry night sky, or the roll of clouds over the peaks? Do you walk steady on your feet, because the earth is bare and safe, or step gingerly, striving for balance after thaw-and-freeze cycles that lay down treacherous ice? Do you sometimes tiptoe or dance, instead of walking? Do you walk backwards or whirl in a circle? Do you change the way you move in the world, surprising yourself and others as you do? Do you, if you’re able, lay down on the ground and look up at the sky?
Are you able to move independently through the world, or do you use assistance, from a hiking pole or cane to a walker or chair? How does this different way of moving alter your perception? How does it change the way others perceive the world, because they know you and care about your experience?
What do you say to the physical world, by how you are present as you live within its environs? Do you put on skis, snowshoes, spikes, or boots, and immerse yourself in the elements? Do you pick up litter or clear the trail when you’re out walking, hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing, to make it better for the next traveler? If you’re driving, do you minimize errands or bring along a friend to conserve fuel and steward energy and resources? Do you take a detour to visit a new neighborhood or appreciate and explore a different scene? Do you shovel or plow snow for your neighbor as well as yourself, to reinforce communal care and connections? Or does someone do these things for you?
Let us consider how we move through the world. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk who developed the practice of engaged Buddhism, often taught, “When we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” In other words, create a tender relationship between yourself and the environment.— Rev Gail
Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.
― Mary Oliver
PRAYER for WALKING
— Thich Nhat Hanh Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Bring the Earth your love and happiness.
The Earth will be safe
And this is it. This is the life we get here on earth. We get to give away what we receive. We get to believe in each other. We get to forgive and be forgiven. We get to love imperfectly. And we never know what effect it will have for years to come. And all of it…all of it is completely worth it. ― Nadia Bolz-Weber
The prophet is the eye of the people. ― Lailah Gifty Akita
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. — Matsuo Basho
What is a Man / Woman who does not try and make the World Better? ― ‘Kingdom of Heaven ‘ the movie
Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin,
and in their own house. — Gospels of Mark & Luke, Bible
It’s kind of spooky when you are caught talking to God everybody thinks you’re nuts. They used to call you a prophet. ― Paul Zindel
SONGS about COMING HOME:
- Coming Home by Keith Urban (country): https://youtu.be/_jgTWSZ5Tmg
- Coming Home by Diddy ft Skylar Grey (pop/rap – note: some swearing): https://youtu.be/k-ImCpNqbJw
- Ho Hey by The Lumineers (pop): https://youtu.be/zvCBSSwgtg4
- Everyday People performed by students and ft. Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Keb’ Mo’ (rock): https://youtu.be/-g4UWvcZn5U
- Come On Home by Indigo Girls (country pop): https://youtu.be/fzsxYkTzdY4
- Coming Home Pt II by Skylar Grey (pop): https://youtu.be/k84QxVJd0tI
- Come Back Home by Lauren Daigle & Petey Martin (pop/Christian): https://youtu.be/1HIF9Mg5Y-I
- Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran (pop): https://youtu.be/K0ibBPhiaG0
- Every Night by Imagine Dragons (pop): https://youtu.be/kuijhOvKyYg
- Everyday People by Sly & Family Stone (rock): https://youtu.be/YUUhDoCx8zc
- Light Up the Sky by The Afters (pop): https://youtu.be/8LQH6UDi15s
- Take Me Home by Cash Cash ft Bebe Rexha (pop): https://youtu.be/HZ_J6T9XBOI
- Take Me Home by Jess Glynne (pop): https://youtu.be/2ebfSItB0oM
- Coming Home by Gwyneth Paltrow (country): https://youtu.be/DzGxnRz_Ldg
- Finally Home by Mercy Me (Christian): https://youtu.be/rlxFee1mRtE
- Coming Home by Leon Bridges (rock): https://youtu.be/MTrKkqE9p1o
- Consider Me by Allen Stone (rock/pop): https://youtu.be/dhX7ZJS3shE
- Coming Home by Housefires ft Nate Moore (Christian): https://youtu.be/UbZzfXzi2Eg
- Perfect Symphony by Ed Sheeran ft Andrea Bocelli (pop): https://youtu.be/eiDiKwbGfIY
- Coming Home by Kaiser Chiefs (rock): https://youtu.be/MPipMQvKgKk
- Coming Home by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors (country): https://youtu.be/xqjr4uOFH4A
- Mama, I’m Coming Home by Ozzie Osbourne (rock): https://youtu.be/K0siYUjV9UM
- There Won’t Be Many Coming Home by Roy Orbison (country): https://youtu.be/YT-tFOXdwSI
- Coming Home by Tom Jones (pop/rock ballad): https://youtu.be/7IsuYfEXXlk
- Coming Home by Sheppard (pop): https://youtu.be/LyxFt9ecT28
- Coming Home by Honne ft. Niki (pop): https://youtu.be/9MNQHxX-NE0
- Til I Found You by Jeremy Loops (pop): https://youtu.be/Cb5TOFmLJnM
- Will the Circle Be Unbroken by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band／Johnny Cash／Ricky Skaggs (country Gospel): https://youtu.be/7bRJLkNqNXI
- Coming Home by Shawna Edwards (Christian): https://youtu.be/w1-xRLmEwNQ
So where are you from? What are the places, the people, the experiences that formed your path? What holds your roots? How does where you’re from help you understand who you are? How does it enable you to make a way for the one who comes in this and every season? — Jan Richardson
Where to Go with “Where I’m From” — George Ella Lyon (more info: http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html)
… you can also see it as a corridor of doors opening onto further knowledge and other kinds of writing. The key is to let yourself explore these rooms. Don’t rush to decide what kind of writing you’re going to do or to revise or finish a piece. Let your goal be the writing itself. Learn to let it lead you. … Look for these elements … and see where else they might take you:
- a place could open into a piece of descriptive writing or a scene from memory.
- your parents’ work could open into a memory of going with them, helping, being in the way. Could be a remembered dialogue between your parents about work. Could be a poem made from a litany of tools they used.
- an important event could open into freewriting all the memories of that experience, then writing it as a scene, with description and dialogue. It’s also possible to let the description become setting and directions and let the dialogue turn into a play.
- food could open into a scene at the table, a character sketch of the person who prepared the food, a litany of different experiences with it, a process essay of how to make it.
- music could take you to a scene where the music is playing; could provide you the chance to interleave the words of the song and words you might have said (or a narrative of what you were thinking and feeling at the time the song was first important to you (“Where I’m Singing From”).
- something someone said to you could open into a scene or a poem which captures that moment; could be what you wanted to say back but never did.
- a significant object could open into a sensory exploration of the object-what it felt, sounded, smelled, looked, and tasted like; then where it came from, what happened to it, a memory of your connection with it. Is there a secret or a longing connected with this object? A message? If you could go back to yourself when this object was important to you, what would you ask, tell, or give yourself?
Remember, you are the expert on you. No one else sees the world as you do; no one else has your material to draw on. You don’t have to know where to begin. Just start. Let it flow. Trust the work to find its own form.
Where I’m From — George Ella Lyon
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree.
Where I’m From — Jan Richardson
I am from orange groves
and old Florida,
from a house my parents built
in a field my grandfather gave them.
Black-eyed Susans grew there in the spring,
so thick we played hide and seek
simply by kneeling among them.
I am from a town
with more cows than people,
from Judy and from Joe,
from generations that have grown up
in one place.
I am from peanut butter and
honey sandwiches every morning,
from my grandmothers’ kitchens,
from Thanksgiving feasts in the
from Christmas Eves in the
white painted church
among the pine trees.
I am from the dictionary we kept
by the dinner table
where we ate words like food,
from hours and days in libraries,
from miles of books.
I am from the path they have made.
I am from solitude and silence,
from the monks and mystics who lived
between the choir and the cell,
from the scribes bent over their books,
from parchment and paint,
from ancient ink and from gold
that turned pages into lamps,
I am from women less quiet,
women of the shout and the stomp,
testifying wherever they could make
their voices heard.
I am from Miriam and Mary and Magdalena
and from women unknown and unnamed,
women who carried their prayers
not in books
but in their blood
and in their bones,
women who passed down the sacred stories
from body to body.
I am from them,
listening for their voices,
aching to hear,
to tell, to cry out,
to make a way for those
yet to come.
Longing for Prophets — Shirley Kaufman
Not for their ice-pick eyes,
their weeping willow hair,
and their clenched fists beating at heaven.
Not for their warnings, predictions
of doom. But what they promised.
I don’t care if their beards
are mildewed, and the ladders
are broken. Let them go on
picking the wormy fruit. Let the one
with the yoke around his neck
climb out of the cistern.
Let them come down from the heights
in their radiant despair
like the Sankei Juko dancers descending
on ropes, down from these hills
to the earth of their first existence.
Let them follow the track
we’ve cut on the sides of mountains
into the desert, and stumble again
through the great rift, littered
with bones and the walls of cities.
Let them sift through the ashes
with their burned hands. Let them
tell us what will come after.
How do you make room for those who challenge you to remember who God created you to be? What kind of holy space might God be wanting to create in your life? In you? Blessings to you as you discern where to extend a welcome, and where to receive one. — Jan Richardson
Advice to a Prophet — Richard Wilbur
When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city, Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,Not proclaiming our fall but begging usIn God’s name to have self-pity, Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range, The long numbers that rocket the mind;Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind, Unable to fear what is too strange. Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race. How should we dream of this place without us?—The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us, A stone look on the stone’s face? Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive Of an undreamt thing, we know to our costHow the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost, How the view alters. We could believe, If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip On the cold ledge, and every torrent burnAs Xanthus once, its gliding troutStunned in a twinkling. What should we be without The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return, These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken? Ask us, prophet, how we shall callOur natures forth when that live tongue is allDispelled, that glass obscured or broken In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean Horse of our courage, in which beheldThe singing locust of the soul unshelled,And all we mean or wish to mean. Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding Whether there shall be lofty or long standing When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.
Three Travellers Tell Their Dreams — Rumi
Three devout men of different religions fall in together
by chance traveling. They stop
at a caravanserai* where the host brings as a gift a sweet
dessert, some taste of God’s
nearness. This is how people out in the country serve
strangers. The Jew and
the Christian are full, but the Muslim has been fasting all
day. The two say, “Lets
save it for tomorrow.” The one, “No. Let’s save self-denial
for tomorrow!” “You want it
all for yourself!” “Divide it into three parts, and each can
do as he wants.” “Ah,
but Mohammad said not to share.” “That was about dividing
yourself between sensuality
and soul. You must belong to the one or the other.” But finally
for some reason, he gives in,
“I’ll do it your way.” They refrain from tasting. They sleep,
and then wake and dress themselves
to begin morning devotions. Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman,
Zoroastrian, stone, ground,
mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the
mystery, unique and not to be
judged. This subject never ends! Three friends in a grand
morning mood. “Let us tell
what dreams we had last night; whoever has had the deepest
dreams, gets the halvah**.”
Agreed. The Jewish man begins the wanderings of his soul.
“Moses met me on the road;
I followed him to Sinai: an opening door, light within
light. Mount Sinai and Moses and
I merged in an exploding splendor, the unity of the prophets!”
This is a true dream. Many
Jews have such. Then the Christian sighs, “Christ took me
in his arms to the fourth
heaven, a pure vast region… I cannot say…” His also
deep. The Muslim, “Muhammad came
and told me where you two had gone. ‘You wretch!’ he said,
‘You’ve been left behind! You
may as well get up and eat something.'” “Noooo!” laugh the
Christian and the Jew. “How
could I disobey such glory? Would you not do as Moses and
Jesus suggest?” “You’re right,”
they say. “Yours is the truest dream, because it had immediate
effect in your waking life.”
What matters is how quickly you do what your soul directs.
* caravanserai: an inn surrounding a court in eastern countries where caravans rest at night
** halvah: a flaky confection of crushed sesame seeds in a base of syrup (as of honey)
Silent Prophet — Carl Dennis
It’s the last day, but I’m keeping the news to myself.If yesterday it made sense for letter carriersTo carry letters from door to door,The job still ought to be worth doing.Why tell what I know and risk a walkout?Let firefighters race to the last fire.Let platoons of police set up their last linesSo the factions that come to the demonstrationDo battle only in words and gestures. The day is different, but only for me,Knowing as I do that it offers the last chanceFor a cautious investor to resist his nature enoughTo back a grocery in a battered district,And the last chance for the would-be grocersTo open a bottle of good champagneIn the kitchen of the friend who’s led themThrough the small-print maze of the application.And now they’re toasting the months to comeScheduled to move the project alongFrom drawing blueprints to cutting ribbons.Shall I tell them their expectations are dreamsIf the dreams impart to the day contour and substance? Though silent, I’m rooting for them to let the dayExpand to include the days to be denied them.And I hope that the friend who’s pouringA final round in his kitchen isn’t disturbedAs his small apartment fills with the soundOf squeaking from across the hall, though yesterdayHe banged on his neighbor’s door for quiet.It’s his last chance to endorse a womanBent on learning from scratch to play the viola,To respect her for finding an hour a day for practice,As if raising two sons aloneAnd teaching civics at a high schoolNot renowned for civility weren’t enough. Should I sit on a stone and lamentThat the day is her last if it still contains,Scrolled up within it, the years she’ll needTo master the art of voicing feelingsNot now expressed, at home or in class,About the distance between the worldShe’d like to inhabit and the world she does? Some other prophet, convinced the futureDepends on the flow of time to give it substance,May decide to speak out. I’m keeping silentAs one of her sons sits at his deskDividing a page into reasons for leaving homeAnd reasons for staying. Now on this last dayIt seems that home is best defined as any regionOn earth that has much to teach him,And now as the region fit to receive the mostOf whatever he’ll have to offerAfter he learns where his talents lie.
There is a Zen story about a student who felt he hadn’t really received the deepest essence of his master’s teaching, and so he went to question him. His master replied, “On your way here, did you see the cypress in the courtyard?” Perhaps the student was not yet very mindful. The master was saying that if, on the way to see our teacher, we go past a cypress tree or a beautiful plum tree in blossom and we don’t really see it, then when we arrive in front of our teacher, we won’t see our teacher either. We shouldn’t miss any opportunity to really see our cypress tree. There are wonders of life we walk past every day, and yet we haven’t truly seen them. What is the cypress tree on the path you take to work every day? If you cannot even see the tree, how can you see your loved ones? How can you see God”? — Thich Nhat Hanh
WHO ARE PROPHETS?
I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people. — Nelson Mandela
My religion is kindness. This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. — Dalai Lama
I’m a storyteller, not a prophet. I’m just interested in a good story. —David Eddings
Never once did Jesus scan the room for the best example of holy living and send that person out to tell others about him. He always sent stumblers and sinners. I find that comforting. ― Nadia Bolz-Weber
A writer is not a prophet, is not a philosopher; he’s just someone who is witness to what is around him. And so writing is a way to… it’s the best way to testify, to be a witness. — J. M. G. Le Clezio
I think that modern medicine has become like a prophet offering a life free of pain. It is nonsense. The only thing I know that truly heals people is unconditional love. ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
The poor are always prophetic. As true prophets always point out, they reveal God’s design. That is why we should take time to listen to them. And that means staying near them, because they speak quietly and infrequently; they are afraid to speak out, they lack confidence in themselves because they have been broken and oppressed. But if we listen to them, they will bring us back to the essential. ― Jean Vanier, Community And Growth
God takes away the minds of poets, and uses them as his ministers, as he also uses diviners and holy prophets, in order that we who hear them may know them to be speaking not of themselves who utter these priceless words in a state of unconsciousness, but that God himself is the speaker, and that through them he is conversing with us. ― Socrates
Holiness is the union we experience with one another and with God. Holiness is when more than one become one, when what is fractured is made whole. Singing in harmony. Breastfeeding a baby. Collective bargaining. Dancing. Admitting our pain to someone, and hearing them say, “Me too.” Holiness happens when we are integrated as physical, spiritual, sexual, emotional, and political beings. Holiness is the song that has always been sung, perhaps even the sound that was first spoken when God said, “Let there be light. ― Nadia Bolz-Weber
Being the soothsayer of the tribe is a dirty job, but someone has to do it. ― Anthon St. Maarten
You do not need any preacher or prophet to learn about God. The teaching is spread on the trees and the mountains, on the stars and the river, on the Sun and the moon. The ultimate teaching is written in your heart. You just need to wake up and see. ― Banani Ray
In solitude and when fatigued, one is after all inclined to take oneself for a prophet. ― Albert Camus
In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. — Book of Joel & Book of Acts, Bible
Maybe I am a prophet. I really hope one day there will come Confucius, Muhammad, Buddha and Christ to see me. And we will sit at a table, taking tea and eating some brownies. — Alejandro Jodorowsky
Maybe that’s the way to tell the dangerous men from the good ones. A dreamer of the day is dangerous when he believes that others are less: less than their own best selves and certainly less than he is. They exist to follow and flatter him, and to serve his purposes.
A true prophet, I suppose, is like a good parent. A true prophet sees others, not himself. He helps them define their own half-formed dreams, and puts himself at their service. He is not diminished as they become more. He offers courage in one hand and generosity in the other. ― Mary Doria Russell
The word “preacher” comes from an old French word, predicateur, which means prophet. And what is the purpose of a prophet except to find meaning in trouble? ― Marilynne Robinson
If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. — Pope Francis
Learn the lesson that, if you are to do the work of a prophet, what you want is not a sceptre, but a hoe. The prophet does not rise to reign, but to root out the weeds. — St Bernard
It is better for a leader to make a mistake in forgiving than to make it in punishing. ― Joel Hayward
God is in every particle in the Universe. No religion, no prophet can make division on it. ― Amit Ray
Prophets will say things others will not say. God touches the prophet’s mouth. When God touches a person’s mouth, He puts power and authority in their words. ― John Eckhardt
… is the writer a prophet or priest – does he show the truth or serve the truth?…― John Geddes
Another way of judging the value of a prophet’s religious experience, therefore, would be to examine the type of manhood that he has created, and the cultural world that has sprung out of the spirit of his message. — Muhammad Iqbal
Prophets do not bring new truth. Revelation is simply a revealing of what is already true and bringing it to bear upon our heart and soul. Revelation is based upon insight into the written Word of God, not into visions and dreams and prophecies. These other things are simply tools for expressing the Word, they are not the Word; no more than the water hose is water, it simply delivers the water. ― Chip Brogden
Our Prophet was a radical too- he fought against the injustices of his community and challenged the feudal order of his society, so they called him a radical. So what? We should be proud of that! — Abu Bakar Bashir
The Prophet Muhammad himself sought to erase any distinctions between the message he taught and that taught by Jesus, who he called God’s ‘spirit and word.’ — Ibrahim Hooper
How many more Christs, Buddhas, Tolstoys, Kings, Naskars have to rise, for humanity to have the revelation that, humanism is the greatest form of religiousness that any conscientious being can ever have! ― Abhijit Naskar
On my journey from the fantastical to the practical, spirituality has gone from being a mystical experience to something very ordinary and a daily experience. Many don’t want this, instead they prefer spiritual grandeur, and I believe that is what keeps enlightenment at bay. We want big revelations of complexity that validates our perceptions of the divine. What a let down it was to Moses when God spoke through a burning bush! But that is exactly the simplicity of it all. Our spiritual life is our ordinary life and it is very grounded in every day experience. For me, it is the daily practice of kindness, mindfulness, happiness, and peace. ― Alaric Hutchinson
If Prophets and Messengers are the closest to godliness as any human is capable of being, and yet even they fail, how the f*ck can anyone, less than perfect, be so arrogant as to expect they will do better than a Prophet, or Messenger of G-D. ― Alejandro Carbajal Estrada
I don’t want to pretend to be a prophet or a saint. I’m very conscious of my limitations. I know my flaws. — Norman Finkelstein
Between the scribe who has read and the prophet who has seen there is a difference as wide as the sea. We are today overrun with orthodox scribes, but the prophets, where are they? The hard voice of the scribe sounds over evangelicalism, but the Church waits for the tender voice of the saint who has penetrated the veil and has gazed with inward eye upon the Wonder that is God. And yet, thus to penetrate, to push in sensitive living experience into the holy Presence, is a privilege open to every child of God.― A.W. Tozer
COMMENTARY about JESUS PREACHING in SYNAGOGUE & BEING REJECTED in HOMETOWN
Prophets are not “guided and limited by in-group loyalties.” — Robert Tannehill
Preachers beware. This is what happens when you get the gospel right. — Will Willimon
After Jesus reads from Isaiah 61 he declares that they are fulfilled “today.” This is a remarkable claim since the passage in Isaiah is associated with the year of Jubilee – the time when the slaves would be set free and land returned to the original owner. N. T. Wright regularly points out that this prophetic text alludes to Lev. 25:8-12 and would have been understood as a reference to a new age of release and forgiveness for the nation (Simply Jesus, 75, for example). — Phillips Long
[Year of the Lord’s Favor]: This phrase is clearly reflective of the year of Jubilee, the year when all debts were to be forgiven, slaves were to be emancipated (Lev. 25:8-17), and the oppressed captives were to be given their freedom.This year was to occur once every fifty years, but it was seldom honored. Jesus proclaimed that this year was symbolic of Him because He is the one who forgives debts and gives freedom to humanity. That was absolutely stunning! It is noteworthy that the English words sins and debts are both translated from the Aramaic word hoba. Therefore, when Jesus speaks of sinners He is also speaks of debtors; when He speaks of the forgiveness of sins He also speaks of speaks of the forgiveness of moral and spiritual debts. — Bill Heinrich
Luke takes notice of Jewish practices, as when Jesus stood to read the Scriptures and the audience always stood to listen. This tradition is still practiced today. Following the reading from the Torah was a reading from the Prophets, which, in this case, was from the Book of Isaiah. It was the cultural norm that, after He finished reading, He sat down to preach a sermon. What has been preserved by Luke most certainly is only a small segment of a much larger sermon presented by Jesus.
… The tradition was that men of the congregation would take turns reading Scripture in the worship service, unless there was a visiting guest, then he was given the honor to lead the service. The readings from the scrolls were continued from week to week and, in any three year cycle the entire Hebrew Bible was read. That, in itself, was a difficult task to accomplish since there were no chapter and verse divisions. Furthermore, there were no vowels and all the letters were run together.It is normally assumed that Jesus simply selected a text from Isaiah, read it, and applied it to Himself. Clearly, this was not the case. At the point where the reader of the previous Sabbath ended, that was the beginning point for the reader the following week. The miracle lies in the fact that Jesus did not select the text, but His reading was the continuation from the reading of the previous Sabbath. This was hardly a coincidence, but a miracle by a divine appointment. One would hardly notice a miracle had occurred unless the order of synagogue worship was known. The custom of the day was as follows:
- The congregation would recite the Shema (Deut. 6:4), which was a short prayer. At the end, there was a moment of thoughtful silence which was when the worshipers “folded up the Shema.”
- A prayer followed.
- There was a reading from the Law (Parashah),
- There was a reading from the Prophets (Haphtarah).
- The reader would then give an explanation and life application to each reading.
— Bill Heinrich
Jesus didn’t come to bring vengeance, he came to close the book on vengeance. Jesus announced the Jubilee good news of pardon, amnesty, liberation, and restoration…but not vengeance. Jesus doesn’t bless revenge, he blesses mercy, and teaches that the mercy we show to our enemies is the mercy that will be shown to us… Does this mean there’s no divine judgment? Of course not. Certainly there is divine judgment, but it is a judgment based in God’s love and commitment to restoration. The restorative judgment of God gives no warrant to a schadenfreudeyearning to see harm inflicted on others. Jesus has closed the book on that kind of lust for vengeance. — Brian Zahnd
Even though we remember that Jubilee never fully reasserts the complete fairness and equality God desires, we look for places where justice is lacking, and places where efforts are underway to create more equity. When we see those efforts, we celebrate them. When we are able, we emulate them. When is it Jubilee? We’ll never see it. But we can access the ideal, just as the ancients did, by celebrating it, moving toward it, and dreaming of justice. — Melissa Bane Sevier
Jesus then provides two examples, well-known in Israel, of the prophet coming to the aid of outsiders: the Zarephath widow and Elijah, and Elisha and Namaan the Syrian (1 Kgs 17:8-24, 2 Kings 5: 1-19). In both cases, a prophet came to the aid of a gentile when there were people similarly in need in Israel. Luke probably means us to see an additional contrast: The widow was on the margins of society and undoubtedly poor. Naaman, on the other hand, was powerful–the commander of Syria’s army–but suffered from leprosy. In citing these two examples, not only is Jesus further identifying with the role of prophet–indeed, two of Israel’s greatest, Elijah and Elisha–but also telling his hometown people that they don’t get special treatment. — John Petty
Jesus edited out vengeance, and this gives us a key to how Jesus read the Old Testament. And lest we think that Jesus’ omission of “the day of vengeance” was simply an oversight or meaningless, consider what Jesus says to the hometown crowd in the synagogue following his edited reading of Isaiah. Jesus recalls the stories of the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the leper — Gentiles who instead of receiving vengeance from God, received provision and healing. Jesus is announcing the arrival of the Lord’s favor, but he is emphasizing that it is for everybody…even for Sidonians and Syrians, even for Israel’s enemies! Jesus is making clear that in bringing the Jubilee of God he is bringing it for everybody! — Brian Zahnd
Ramsay MacMullen has noted that one’s social pedigree would easily be known in the Greco-Roman world and that a description such as “carpenter” indicated lower class status [Roman Social Relations: 50 B.C. to A.D. 384]. At the back of his book he gives a “Lexicon of Snobbery” filled with terms used by literate and therefore upper-class Greco-Roman authors to indicate their prejudice against illiterate and therefore lower-class individuals. Among those terms is tekton, or “carpenter,” the same term used for Jesus in Mark 6:3 and for Joseph in Matthew 13:55. One should not, of course, ever presume that upper-class sneers dictated how the lower classes actually felt about themselves. But, in general, the great divide in the Greco-Roman world was between those who had to work with their hands and those who did not… If Jesus was a carpenter, therefore, he belonged to the Artisan class, that group pushed into the dangerous space between Peasants and Degradeds or Expendables… — John Dominic Crossan
Notice that they neither dispute that he has wisdom or that he performs mighty works; they are just dumbfounded that it comes from a hometown boy like Jesus. More than just a matter of familiarity breeding contempt, this comes from the ancient mentality that geographical and heredity origins determine who a person is and what his capacities will always be. They see Jesus as someone who is not merely exceeding expectations but rather is overreaching. — Juel
The refusal — or inability — of Jesus’ neighbors to accept his status confirms what the story has suggested thus far: the world’s standards of judgment appear to run headlong into God’s ways. Jesus does not measure up. The circumstances of his origin allow no way of accounting for the stories about him. His common beginnings do not fit the assessment that he is a prophet. The result is scandal and fear. The reaction of the people from his hometown also suggests that real insiders are not necessarily those who by birth or circumstance are closest to Jesus. In fact, those who ought to know best turn out to be the most incapable of insight.— Witherington
Hope begins in the dark … the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You don’t give up. — Anne Lamott
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. — Thomas Merton
SONGS about HOPE:
- Hope Linger Here by LOW Lily (folk): https://youtu.be/lv9R60CSQ54
- One Day You Will by Lady Antebellum (country): https://youtu.be/EY2Yct8LjOo
- Resilient by Rising Appalachia (country/folk): https://youtu.be/f6nXqDYj8dY
- Resilient by Katy Perry (pop): https://youtu.be/LNHM5CcvMm0
- Reach Out I’ll Be There by The Four Tops (rock): https://youtu.be/P0B0Kv7hiNo
- Hey Hey Hey by Michael Franti & Spearhead (folk/rap): https://youtu.be/IFPobQ-ewiA
- Song of Hope by Natasha Bedingfield (pop): https://youtu.be/H9eqk7Z1O3M
- Song of Hope and Peace by Jonathan van der Lugt: https://youtu.be/nmbTxiwunxI
- Broken and Beautiful by Kelly Clarkson (country/pop): https://youtu.be/aML-Fm7qIuM
- One Life by Boyce Avenue & Friends (pop): https://youtu.be/uIeEA0GdYj4
- I Hope by Gabby Barrett (pop/country): https://youtu.be/qcCH6JpcK5w
- Keep on Keepin On by Daphne Willis (folk): https://youtu.be/d_aMoO3u2lc
- The Climb by Miley Cyrus (pop/country): https://youtu.be/NG2zyeVRcbs
- Medley of Songs of Hope by Saddleback Church (Christian): https://youtu.be/qjTBWewV6O4Hope
- It’s Going to Be Alright by Sara Groves (pop): https://youtu.be/E9yNZ17j8Fg
Blessing of Hope — Jan Richardson
So may we know the hope
that is not just for someday
but for this day—here, now,
in this moment that opens to us:
hope not made of wishes
but of substance,
hope made of sinew
and muscle and bone,
hope that has breath
and a beating heart,
hope that will not keep quiet
and be polite,
hope that knows how to holler when it is called for,
hope that knows how to sing when there seems little cause,
hope that raises us
from the dead—
but this day,
again and again and again.
Advent 1: The Parable
In a mother’s womb were two babies. The first baby asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
The second baby replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense,” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What would that life be?”
“I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths.”
The doubting baby laughed. “This is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition. Life after delivery is to be excluded. The umbilical cord is too short.”
The second baby held his ground. “I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here.”
The first baby replied, “No one has ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t know,” said the twin, “but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us.”
“Mother?” The first baby guffawed. “You believe in mother? Where is she now?”
The second baby calmly and patiently tried to explain. “She is all around us. It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world.”
“Hah. I don’t see her, so it’s only logical that she doesn’t exist.”
To which the other replied, “Sometimes when you’re in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her. I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality when it comes….”
— Attribution uncertain: According to Wayne Dyer, the original story was told by Henri J. W. Nouwen. Possibly adapted from the writings of Pablo Molinero. Or penned in 1947 by Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky. Or from the Hungarian writer Útmutató a Léleknek.
The spiritual task of life is to feed hope. Hope is not something to be found outside of us. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within.— Joan Chittister
There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster. ― Dalai Lama XIV
Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. ― Viktor E. Frankl
Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality. – Jonas Salk
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. – Maya Angelou
They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. – Tom Bodett
Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough. – Richard M. DeVos
A lot of people have their big dreams and get knocked down and don’t have things go their way. And you never give up hope, and you really just hold on to it. Hard work and perseverance. You just keep getting up and getting up, and then you get that breakthrough.– Robert Kraft
Hope is the dream of a soul awake. — French proverb
Dum spiro, spero: While I breath, I hope. — Latin proverb
The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. — Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
IS HOPE ABOUT NOW or TOMORROW, IS IT a HELP or an OBSTACLE?
Grounded hope has two parts. The “grounded” part refers to a realistic understanding of our lives and ourselves. Instead of painting a smiley face over what has happened, we bravely look at reality head-on. Seeing the situation clearly enables us to work toward recovery.
We cultivate the “hope” part by building confidence in our ability to shape what happens to us next. We start by asking, “Given what’s happened to me, what am I going to do about it? How can I build a better life on top of it?” Then we set goals for ourselves and find sources of motivation to pursue those goals.
At some point, most of us will face the task of recovering, rebuilding, and rebounding from adversity. Grounded hope can help us not just bounce back, but bounce forward. — Lee Daniel Kravetz, Option B, https://optionb.org/build-resilience/advice/steps-to-grounded-hope
Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. But that is the most that hope can do for us – to make some hardship lighter. When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic. Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment. We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future, that we will arrive at peace, or the Kingdom of God. Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here…
Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment. Hope is for the future. It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment. Many religions are based on the notion of hope, and this teaching about refraining from hope may create a strong reaction. But the shock can bring about something important. I do not mean that you should not have hope, but that hope is not enough. Hope can create an obstacle for you, and if you dwell in the energy of hope, you will not bring yourself back entirely into the present moment. If you re-channel those energies into being aware of what is going on in the present moment, you will be able to make a breakthrough and discover joy and peace right in the present moment, inside of yourself and all around you. — Thich Nhat Hahn, Peace In Every Step
When considered only philosophically, hope, more often than not, seems to be at odds with rational, analytical thinking. But due to its proactive nature, hope in action touches the heart and creates its own validation. A good example of this is found in the philanthropic work of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. In the 2015 Annual Gates Letter he wrote: “Optimism for me isn’t that things will get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better — that whatever suffering we see, no matter how bad it is we can help people if we don’t lose hope and we don’t look away.” — article from ornishliving.com
Hope is not always comforting or comfortable. Hope asks us to open ourselves to what we do not know, to pray for illumination in this life, to imagine what is beyond our imagining, to bear what seems unbearable. It calls us to keep breathing when beloved lives have left us, to turn toward one another when we might prefer to turn away. Hope draws our eyes and hearts toward a more whole future but propels us also into the present, where Christ waits for us to work with him toward a more whole world now. — Jan Richardson
When God saves people in this life by working through his Spirit to bring them to faith and by leading them to follow Jesus in discipleship, prayer, holiness, hope, and love, such people are designed…to be a sign and foretaste of what God wants to do for the entire cosmos. What’s more, such people are not just to be a sign and foretaste of that ultimate salvation; they are to be part of the means by which God makes this happen both in the present and the future. — NT Wright