New

I watch the birth
Of the new day.
There is no conquering;
Rather, the light emerges
From the darkness;
The sounds succeed the silence,
And do not curse,
But bless it.
All is as all should be.

10.28.14

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Mangia!

The following is from one of my early predecessors as Dean of the Mercer school of theology in the Diocese of Long Island.

The Rev Robert Farrar Capon

The Rev Robert Farrar Capon

He is recently deceased last year, an amazing fellow by the name of Robert Farrar Capon – priest, theologian, and cook!

The following is from the second chapter of his 1968 book “The Supper of the Lamb,” A startling compilation of truths about standing at the stove and living human life in God sight:

“Oh Lord, refresh our sensibilities. Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in, and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat, and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron’s beard. Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations. Above all, give us grace to live as true men – to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gratefully on all that comes to hand. Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that possess us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve thee as thou hast blessed us – with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Amen.”

Now there is a worthy Grace before a meal!

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Wedding Anniversary Toast

The Diocese of Long Island yesterday honored couples married fifty years and more. The longest marriage (so far!) is 69 years in the making! I was asked to toast those we honored with a lunch following the celebration of Eucharist. Here is my effort:

In one sense the passage of time is just the flowing of a massive stream that began at the very beginning of all.

We haven’t visited its headwaters, and we won’t be there when time’s current pours at last into eternity’s embrace.

But in another sense time is the space within which we live, and find each other, and bring our lives together into one. We call that time together ‘love’, and that is the truth.

That is our truth. And in that place called time we know one another better, we struggle and strain, we suffer and exult, we deepen our commitment to one another and we tell the story of who we are.

Now, in this moment in time, we pause to invite you to this:

To recall the time gone by,
To give thanks for all that has been,
To embrace this present time, and your beloved,
And to walk on in knowing love along the banks as time’s mighty stream moves still.

To each of you, and to the story, told and untold, of your life as husband and wife!

(9.6.14)

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Unbidden

Outside Saint Mary's Hall, Boston College, Chestnut Hill campus

Outside Saint Mary’s Hall, Boston College, Chestnut Hill campus

The truest freedom comes

and confidently announces its name

in a whisper,
by the realization received that
I don’t really matter, or rather
that I have my place in all that is
without all the crazy striving
the accomplishing the pushing the
transmuting of be into do,
the feathering of my own nest.

The best truth comes unbidden
just knowing without learning
that the best feathers have always been
not those I have carefully collected and
examined identified and named,
but instead the ones that simply drifted down
unbidden through life’s air and landed
in their comfort, where they are meant to be
according to the Love who every morning
is challenged, and every evening repeats
as the light dies, nevertheless,
this shall be.

[JPM, 9.3.14]

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Being Divinely Human and Humanly Divine

We have these words in the gospel today according to Matthew, chapter 16:

“But he [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.'”

One might perhaps sympathize with Peter, who earlier in the chapter, as read last week, was the recipient of divine revelation, the man of insight, the Rock, and who this week is called “Satan,” by the same Jesus and told to get behind, get in line. Whether one sympathizes in this case in the petrine direction or not, Jesus’ words quoted above seem to do more than imply Jesus’ direction that we human beings are in fact able – and expected! – to set our minds not on human things, but on divine.

His words also make clear, as I suspect most of us would admit, that our default setting is indeed to think in human ways, to set our mind on human things. In this particular case, to do so would seem, according to Peter’s example, to shy away from both the possibility and the reality of suffering – either for ourselves or for those whom we love. And yes, humanly this shying away does seem to be reasonable.

Yet Jesus makes it apparent that in this and other affairs, both our possibility and our call is to begin to think divinely! That is, to set our mind on divine things.

How to do this?

Paul’s words in the second verse of his twelfth chapter of the letter to the church at Rome seems to point the way:

“Do not conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NIV). Or, as Eugene Peterson’s rendering puts it in The Message: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

Peterson is on to something I think. To think as we automatically do, as humans, is in effect to ‘not think’ at all. It is simply to go along. To me, this in turn points to the idea that to think divinely, to set our minds on things divine, is somehow to do more, It is perhaps, as the Eastern traditions would say – and with them them mystical traditions of the West – to be mindful, to live life alive and aware of reality around us, of the meaning of our actions, of the words we speak and hear, of the miraculous persons with whom we share our days.

Perhaps today we can hear this invitation – demand? – of Jesus anew, and with Peter begin to open ourselves already, now, to the fact that more than human reality is already happening in and around us.

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Thoughts in a 3-Season Room, Entering the 3rd Season

Just one
singular
breath in and out
of the cool clear clean air
of this Sunday morning
prayer affirms silently
that no army that can create
fear mayhem sorrow disorder
and death
can overwhelm
He who already has
surrendered;
nor can it kill
He who already has given Himself
all the way to death.

Rather the one breath
the breeze through the morning leaves
the voice of the child calling out
with confidence nearby to her father,
all and each proclaim
that all good has been done,
and that the noise and armor
and fire and fright
cannot conquer He who
has been conquered,
whose life is all
and in all.

Amen,

(JPM 8.31.14)

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Underwater

The heavens streamed overnight
Noah-like torrents in the darkness before dawn;
By noon the sun casting shadows,
Heavy wet air pulling up the
Humus-rich aroma of earth and growing-green.
Walking the dog through thousands of blades

Each carefully raising its water-drop back toward heaven.
Their perfume recalls summer in Edinburgh 1982
Good and full; the dog’s right ear all the way
Is curled back, revealing white skin beneath;
As if trying to name what the soil announces
At each sodden step.

(JPM, 8.13.14)

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