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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Faith in Days of Violence

In a world suffering such pain, should we not seek to be healing?

In a landscape of houses destroyed, should I not desire to be a home?

In a time of unrest, should we not be refuge?

In a scene of blood, should I not be a tourniquet?

In an era of belief armed and firing, should we not be faith unarmed?

In a moment of fear, should I not be courage?

In a world at a loss, should we not share fullness?

In a place of crying, should my silence not embrace?

In a era of absolute answers, should we not pose a question?

In a wounded world, should we not willingly share the pain?

[JPM 8.11.14]

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Christians, Refugees, and What We Can Do

A timely essay by Thomas Reese SJ on the world today, Christians in the Middle East, and the little things that may widen a path toward life.

http://ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/refugees-and-christians-middle-east-need-our-help-and-support

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News: Bad and Good

My blog from work:

http://mercernow.blogspot.com/2014/08/news-bad-and-good.html?m=1

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Peace

שלום

כרגע היעד של שלום
בדיוק באותו זמן ונסיבות
מתי ואיפה
לעמוד לשלום הוא
להיות טיפש, טהור ופשוט;
לשם ולאחר מכן אחד שמעז
כדי לפתוח מתנה תמיד הווה החבוי הזה
מביא את המדינות המתנה
חושף את פניו אלוהי
וטיוח אנושי באמת אנשים.

The target moment of peace
is precisely in that time and circumstance
when and where
to stand for peace is to
be a fool, pure and simple;
there and then the one who dares
to open this hidden always-present gift
brings the nations the gift
revealing the Divine Face
and rendering people truly human.

لحظة الهدف السلام
هو على وجه التحديد في ذلك الوقت والظرف
متى وأين
الوقوف للسلام هو
يكون أحمق، نقية وبسيطة؛
هناك وبعد ذلك واحدة من يجرؤ
لفتح هذه هدية مخبأة دائما إلى الوقت الحاضر
يجلب دول هدية
وكشف عن الوجه الإلهي
وجعل الناس الإنسان حقا.

(7.25.14 JPM – with apologies for possibly poor translations from the original English, using online translation sites).

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Father

The 3-season room at the back of my mother’s house boasts a sign with a clock in it on the wall. The inscription there reads “Jack’s Room,” with a jaunty green Irish chapeau at the top of the J, and a shillelagh playing the role of the apostrophe. It was placed there in honor and memory of Dad by my good brother-in-law. Dad chose this room, looked forward to spending time here, but was called to eternity before he ever could.

To my right at a distance of 150 yards a father is instructing his son on the courts on the mysteries of tennis. “Bend your knees.” “Backhand.” “Take your time.” “Watch the ball.”

Many of this father’s words, continuing at this moment as I write, could become aphorisms for living an attentive and good life. But one encouragement he has called out several times would be less likely, in my estimation, to lead to joy in this life.

“Power!” he has called out. “Come on! Power!”

Today we would be celebrating my Dad’s 86th birthday if he were still where we count and measure time. We haven’t needed to measure its passing for Dad since he turned 72 in the year 2000. He wasn’t perfect. We all inherited that from him, as he did from his parents. He got discouraged sometimes. He worried. He could be pessimistic. But he carried on. Always, without cessation. When I think of Dad, I think of faithfulness. I think of commitment. I think of walking on in the path he recognized as his own, and God-given, to its end. Or in faith, rather, to its next gateway.

He called us to faith, to doing our utmost, to walking on always as best we can, to turning to the Heavenly Father for strength. But in my memory he never called us to seek power, nor to know it as an avenue to life.

Right around this date, fourteen years ago now, I was with him in his room at the hospital. We were just over a week from his death. He was standing by his bed, admiring creation in the form of a gift hibiscus gloriously blooming in the sun by the window. And he spoke simple words then, words that both summed-up life and spoke final appreciation for all of it. “It’s been a good run,” Dad said. “It’s been a good run.”

His last words, only a few days later, were quietly whispered to one of the nurses: “Thank you.”

However long life continues, I want only to echo the same.

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Saturday Morning on Earth

Entering vacation. My first night of vacation-sleep lasted ten unblinking hours somehow. As my grandmother would have said had she been puttering around the kitchen here this morning, “You must have needed it!” I woke with a backache and a languid canine awaiting attention patiently.

I awoke as well with a strong sense that, despite the tragic truth that this human world has worked overtime this past week to reveal the depth of its wounds and the pain of its brokenness, there is a deeper-down wellness indeed, as Gerard Manley Hopkins might in some moments confirm.

Where is the evidence? In simple, small, nearby truths:

The air this morning is cool and light and eager to support life.

The little lady across the street who never burns a light in her house by night and is almost invisible day-by-day, is working her way along the sidewalk with patience and love trimming the hedge that frames her property.

The big rabbit who lives somewhere in the backyard is snooping around with perfect equanimity like she owns the place, much to the chagrin of the formerly languid canine. And who knows? In some profound sense the rabbit may hold the original title to the property.

There is loving family to the south I’ll turn to visit today, and loving family and friends to the north as well. To look in their eyes this week and just to hear their voices; to converse with them on matters timely and out-of-time as well: this is enough. More than enough blessing.

This morning a man of joy who came to this country from Korea will be ordained to the priesthood in Christ. He receives a blessing surely in that, and he is a blessing as well. Rich, mutual blessing among ordinands, community, and Lord.

Hope remains that damnably thank-God stubborn thing. It starts small where it stands a chance: I hope I can vacuum this rug this morning. I hope the traffic is bearable through Jersey. Then hope dares to throw its lovely nature further afield where the dice may be stacked. Hope that the airline downing tragedy might break the Ukraine unrest, that Palestinians and Israelis might look across the wreckage between the rockets and marching boots and catch sight on either side of a living human eye and the heart that lies behind it. Hope that one of the children flowing alone to the US southern border might find their way into the embrace and into the heart of one who never expected it. Crazy hopes, as I say, but damnably stubborn.

That’s this Saturday morning in this embattled world. The trick seems to hug to ourselves these little blessings on the micro level and bring them together into something much bigger. Who in this human world believes such a move might be possible?

Ah but friends, tomorrow is the Lord’s Day. If your heart can squint a glance ahead you might at least surmise what God might purpose.

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