The Language of Lilies

After all this hurt and all this pain

(when would that be?  After?
When does that happen?)

I choose silences.
I choose to let myself be haunted by words
rather than speak those rivers
that would erode fabricated realities.tumblr_nkysbbiivV1thfeewo1_400Tonight the wind smells like memories…
oh nothing I can put my finger on,
mind you…just memories
blowing on winds fragrant
with nostalgia and neglect.

I am mindful in these memories
of the language of lilies
and I wonder if I have missed 
some great and vital means and end
in their present beauty,
some antidote for anxiety,
some prescription for preoccupation,
some long term cure contained
in short-lived beauty born?tumblr_neun01eNyf1sq3g2zo1_1280I am mindful of Mary
there in Bethany pouring out
perfume fragrant and pervading
with extravagance
permeating every pore present
and singing the liturgies of lilies
on the winds!

Sweetly, singly soaring over that rukus of disgust and anger
that puffed up, distracted religious men
righteously piled on in their
Canticle to Cacophony!tumblr_m6aywgZh0X1ro74x3o1_500They hated her…but they hated Him more
for His blindness to her there,
clinging in tears and wild hair

sinner
whore
profligate waster
defiler and defiled!

They hated His stinky feet
smelling of humility and adoration,
perfumed in gratitude and broken beauty
and I think they would hate me, too
sitting silent and choosing
the haunting wind over the haughty story.tumblr_nkt7lsPymx1u6ehjeo2_500
I imagine the language of lilies
that day divinely appointed
and here this night now,
I look, listen midst ashes all around me
to catch a glimpse of life
in risk and recognition,
of rising up, above
the toiling, turning,
spinning and weaving…

life lived
simple and poured out
in haunting perfumed
adoration and beauty…
life as a lily,
and how it grows fleeting
and haunted by memories in the wind
and eternity in my heart.Image 002

The Last Faint Spark

The Last Faint Spark.

Constance, this devotional is by my favorite devotional writer Jill Carattini, and rather than copy and past it I decided to press it…

…and then copy out a poem here that she quotes.  I was stunned by this poem…and Constance?  You think I write poems??  *charissa laffs and shakes her head in wonder at the thought*

No, dear Constance…this is what a real poem, a grown up poem looks like!!  Just wow.

 

Still falls the Rain—
Dark as the world of man, black as our loss—
Blind as the nineteen hundred and forty nails
Upon the Cross.

Still falls the Rain
With a sound like the pulse of the heart that is changed to the hammer-beat
In the Potter’s Field, and the sound of the impious feet

On the Tomb:
Still falls the Rain

In the Field of Blood where the small hopes breed and the human brain
Nurtures its greed, that worm with the brow of Cain.

Still falls the Rain
At the feet of the Starved Man hung upon the Cross.
Christ that each day, each night, nails there, have mercy on us—
On Dives and on Lazarus:
Under the Rain the sore and the gold are as one.

Still falls the Rain—
Still falls the Blood from the Starved Man’s wounded Side:
He bears in His Heart all wounds,—those of the light that died,
The last faint spark
In the self-murdered heart, the wounds of the sad uncomprehending dark,
The wounds of the baited bear—
The blind and weeping bear whom the keepers beat
On his helpless flesh… the tears of the hunted hare.

Still falls the Rain—
Then— O Ile leape up to my God: who pulles me doune—
See, see where Christ’s blood streames in the firmament:
It flows from the Brow we nailed upon the tree

Deep to the dying, to the thirsting heart
That holds the fires of the world,—dark-smirched with pain
As Caesar’s laurel crown.

Then sounds the voice of One who like the heart of man
Was once a child who among beasts has lain—
“Still do I love, still shed my innocent light, my Blood, for thee.”

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This says it better than I just tried…

Constance, I just read my online newsletter devotional that I get each morning called “A Slice of Infinity”…and this morning’s was an excellent thrust towards the very same ideas I was attempting to convey in my earlier post about foundations and effects.

I hope you enjoy it…and I hope you don’t!

Maybe that good poke that we all need and doesn’t feel that great would be appropriate?

I do believe that our current cultural paradigm, our presupposition of “the way it ought to be” is so easily summed up by the phrase “at ease in Zion”, which means having all things, all advantages, and yet just sitting back and wallowing in self-preoccupation and self-service.

All around us, right here in this very nation, in your state, nay, in your town are humans oppressed and burdened as bad as anyone anywhere.

Are your eyes open?  Is your heart?  Will you step out and share your ease, your station, and make a way for even the least?

From a transgender woman, who is swimming away from privilege and power as fast as she can shinny thru the waters,

Charissa

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Sledgehammers and Other Good News

I found myself sighing with something like relief one day after reading a comment made by C.S. Lewis. He was responding to a statement made by a scholar who noted that he didn’t “care for” the Sermon on the Mount but “preferred” the Pauline ethics.

Lewis was of course bothered at the suggestion of Scripture alternatives between which we may freely pick and choose, and it was this that he addressed first. But his response also included a striking remark about the Sermon on the Mount itself, and this is what caught my attention. Said Lewis, “As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means liking or enjoying, I suppose no one cares for it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledgehammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion.’”(1)

To be “at ease in Zion” was the deplorable state of existence the prophet Amos spoke of in his harsh words to the Israelites.(2) Reeling in false security and erroneous confidence from their economic affluence and self-indulgent lifestyles, the Israelites, Amos warned, would be the first God would send into exile if they failed to heed his words.

The Sermon on the Mount was likely as alarming to those who first heard it as the thought of exile for those whose homeland is far more than an identity. Lewis’s comparison of Christ’s words to a sledgehammer is not far off. Those potent chapters are not unlike the electric paddles used to shock the heart back to life, back to the rhythm it was intended to have all along.

The Sermon on the Mount is like the keynote address for the kingdom Christ came to introduce and to gather us together like a hen gathers her chicks. On that mountainside, Jesus points out many of the mountains that blur vision of this kingdom. He repeatedly notes that we are not quite seeing as he sees, not grasping reality as it really is. “You have heard that it was so…” he says again and again, “but I tell you…”

His words are hard and thorough, and even the simplest of phrases is permeated with the profound glory of a kingdom we far too easily settle for only seeing in part:

Blessed are the poor in spirit…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Blessed are the meek…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
Blessed are the merciful…
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.(3)

Perhaps I have become at ease in Zion if I can read these words without wondering if I am among the blessed, if I am one seeing God or missing it.

When I lose sight of the kingdom behind the haze of selfish ambition, guilt, or fear, Christ’s words become like a foghorn calling me to set my eyes on the one I follow and live up to the hope I embody: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?”

When I find myself making demands of God, I am shown again just how much God demands of me. “You’ve heard it said, ‘You shall not murder. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister’ is guilty of the same.

For the crowds that gathered that day on the hillside, Jesus’s words were likely quite troubling. If God’s commandments were difficult to follow before this sermon, they were now entirely terrifying. Who can stand in this kingdom Jesus describes? And how is this good news? How could we ever be gathered into this communion?

And yet, in all of his wisdom, in his unfathomable love, in the middle of his sermon Jesus proclaims gently but confidently: Do not worry. It is as if he says to those rightly awake and trembling with the fear of certain failure, “I am not only the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets, but the embodiment of these good things and the one who makes all things possible for you.” This, he also says repeatedly. In his humanity, Jesus vicariously approaches our own, lifting us to possibilities we can only imagine.

The Sermon on the Mount is a concentrated example of how Jesus came to fulfill in us dynamically everything the law meant to show us. Like a sledgehammer to a frozen heart, his life cries out to all who are at ease in Zion, whether cold from self-indulgence or unaware of God’s life-giving pursuit of our affection. In this, Christ’s role is uncompromisable.

He is both the human Son of God who is embodiment of all we are meant to be in the fellowship of the Father and our mediator who bestows us the very possibility.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 181.
(2) Amos 6:1.
(3) Matthew 5:3-9.

Beautiful King (Zephaniah 3:8-20, song from March 1992)

This song comes next here, for though I had written it a year earlier, I had not done it publicly, but rather worshiped it in private.  You see, some men in our congregation, influential and controlling guys who ran the congregation, got very uncomfortable with my songs…they were either too tender, or too tough, or too sappy, or too sharp edged.  Whatever.

It was very painful, and also confusing, for the sweet Holy Spirit would hover and draw so close, and when I did the songs with the downtrodden, they loved them!

So I had been holding out…but in the same meeting that Arise our God was played, this one was the song that led us upward again, and out of the trough of despondence and repentance and back to a place of hope and confidence in the Lord.

Later in the night (and after the obligatory drawing aside by the “leaders: to rebuke me for my over-emotional songs), Lady Grace drew near me, and as I cried myself to sleep She nestled over me and I knew that They were pleased, and that was enough.  (I never could figure it out…why they criticized virtually every single thing…and yet continually asked me to lead worship.  Go figure.  I guess it is evidence of the verses in Psalm 27

Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”)…yeah…YES LORD.

PS:  there are 7 lines in each verse on purpose lol!

All ye who weep with hearts that are broken, lift up your eyes to your King
All who desire Holy Devotion, Bow you down, and call on His Name.
And He will give to you purified lips.
And you will give to Him purified lives.
And He will remove from you dullness of heart.
Pour out your lives to Him,
Your Beautiful King.

Shout for Joy, Oh Ye Daughter of Zion!  Shout in triumph, Oh Israel!
He has taken away all His judgements against you!  And He dwells in your midst, let not your hands fall limp!
He sings over you in joy, mighty and tender!
Victorious Warrior, gaze on His Splendour!
He turns all your shame to song, He brings us together!
Pour out your live to Him…
Your Beautiful King.

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All My Days (April 1996, a song)

This song was written when I was in a very good place.  I still remember the peace and comfort of Lady Grace (who was then to me, in my religious “formal” addressing of Her, The Holy Spirit. lol…imagine if someone called you “the” before your name…would be an obstacle to intimacy most likely, eh?), and how She was revealing to me the completeness and all surpassing nature of the work of the Cross…and the last words, spoken in triumph, and not in defeat or despair…It is finished.

So, I found this really flowy melody and the lyrics just jumped from me like birds to the air…I am certain that I was re-reading Song of Songs, as much of this is lifted from those verses…and again, people…read the heart of the scripture here…the Kisses of His mouth, etc, are speaking of spiritual intimacy…look deep:  as if it were a poem!  (you do look deep into poems…don’t you???   🙂  )

 

All My Days

Jesus, I love You, my Lord and my King.
My heart beats for You, my love, my Everything!
Just a glance from You, a single touch, and I am captured evermore.
Then I hear You call “Rise Up, My Love”, and I come running to the One that I adore!

Chorus:
I will sing unto you, sing a new song to you,
for You are worthy of my praise!
I will give You glory, and I will give You honor,
I will love You all my days.

Here, in this moment, Your presence is so sweet.
You’ve overcome me, my tears of love wash Your feet.
All the deepest longings of my life, my portion and my great delight
are revealed in You, Beloved King, I bow down and worship You with all my might!

Chorus:  (2x on the chorus)

Lord, as You pour out Your Spirit in this place,
Jesus, please remember that we long to see You face to Face.
Every mighty deed that You have done, for us in answer to our cry,
Cannot take Your place, for we want You, and nothing less and no one else can satisfy!

Chorus #2:
Not just the Living Water!  Not just the Oil and Honey!
Lord none of these can satisfy!

Only knowing You, Lord!  Only loving You, Lord!
Only this can satisfy!

Draw us after You Lord!  Let us run with You, Lord!
We want the kisses of Your mouth!

Not just the things You do Lord,  not just the gifts You give, Lord!
We must have You and only You!

(flow ad lib, and fade…segue into spontaneous singing and/or prayer)

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