what I read this morning

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:6-10

for those who mourn

Perfection Wasted – John Updike

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market—
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That’s it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren’t the same.

Let Evening Come – Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Jane Kenyon, “Let Evening Come” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005

When you forgive…

Forgiveness has the power to lead you to your True Self in God. Because the hurts of life are so great, you cannot let go of the pain on your own. At that point, you need to draw from a Larger Source. What you are doing with forgiveness is changing your egoic investment in your own painful story—which too often has become your ticket to sympathy and sometimes your very identity. Forgiveness is one of the most radically free things a human being can do. When you forgive, you have to let go of your own feelings, your own ego, your own offended identity, and find your identity at a completely different level—the divine level. I even wonder if it is possible to know God at all—outside of the mystery of forgiveness (Luke 1:77).

Richard Rohr +Adapted from The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Recording).

birthdays remind us of…

Today would have been Henri Nouwen’s 88th birthday. He wrote:
“Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection.”

cake with lighted candles

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

set your mind at rest

I urge you earnestly not to spend time thinking about the past. If your time was well-used, then let us give God glory. If it was wasted, let us despise it and trust in the goodness of the heavenly Father. Therefore I exhort you to set your mind at rest with a consoling thought that any part of your life that was not well spent has already been forgiven by our most tender God. – Padre Pio

gratitude

Three years ago – a little more than 1 month sober – I was in a mental hospital after a suicide attempt. I was pretty sure I could fool the people there into thinking I was ok, get out, and do the job right the next time.

This morning at one of my favorite AA meetings, I saw a woman I met at that hospital. She caught my eye and we smiled at each other across the room. We spoke for a few moments after the meeting and hugged.

She looked healthy, happy and I could see that she thought the same about me.

I have not forgotten all that I did in the past. I did all that, yes. Today, my addictions do not define me.

Gratitude.

Thank you, Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank God.

that enormous emptiness

in recollection of 12.22.2016 and in grateful recovery 12.22.2019

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.