Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Song For The Broken-Hearted

for those whose situation does not yield for a cup of kindness here.
for those who will still wonder where their next meal will come from in 2016.

for those who have long given up on 2017 and 2018,
and the years beyond long long ago when you were deeply hurt.

for those who lost their jobs in 2015 and are tired of all the paperwork to complete
in order to receive benefits that are pathetically shrinking.

for the disabled, either short term or long-term,
mentally, physically, or in any way.

for those for whom holidays lost their meaning long long ago,
perhaps during childhood.
instead they shine a light on a shattered innocence and faded laughter and dreams.

for the lonely.

for all of you, I have been to many of your desolate places.

i wish you a spark of hope, some warmth for your heart,
and a silent prayer that despite all appearances,
you will know the simple but life-giving fact that you are loved and lovable.

a sincere happy new year 2015, my sisters and brothers
~ mark andrew nouwen

At The End Of The Year

At The End Of The Year

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline’s longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.
As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.
The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.
Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.
The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.
The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.
Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.
We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

John O’Donohue (1956 – 2008)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Co-existence Is A Foundation, But Peace Is Much Deeper.

"Real peace implies something deeper than polite acceptance of those who are different. It means meeting those who are different, appreciating them and their culture, and creating bonds of friendship with them. Family, culture, religion, community, and friendship are all realities that are vital for human growth. But we need to learn how not to remain enclosed or imprisoned in such groups. We have to cross boundaries and meet others who are different. Coexistence is a foundation, and it is important, but peace is something much deeper. To create peace we have to go further than just saying hello. We have to discover who the other person is and reveal who we are. As we listen to and really meet one another, we begin to see the work of God in the beauty and value, in the deepest personhood, of those who are different."
~ Jean Vanier, Finding Peace (Anansi 2003).

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Scraping Off The Mud That Hides The Light

How long have you been caked in mud? I'm not talking about dirt, the kind that you can quickly shake off like a Taylor Swift song; I'm talking about deep, dense mud that you've either covered yourself in or had flung at you by someone else. Maybe you think that this is all there is to life, that your ship has sailed, that happiness, even contentment is something for those other people, but not you. You're just surviving, and it seems that's all there ever will be. I don't have a magic potion, I can not snap my fingers and send you back in time to a place when you felt unsullied and non-violated by the spindly cold fingers of that someone, or that system that kept you from shining the light inside. But I can stay here and say that no matter how dark, no matter how grim things may seem or actually may be, that light is still inside of each and every one of you. It may take time to uncover it, to scrape off the mud, but it is there. As much as you may have tried to go it alone, to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - something that we often hear is a noble thing to do - that is just another lie. We need others - others who will confirm our inner light even when we can't see it, others who won't provide easy answers, but will sit there with us as we scrape off the mud. The priest and author Henri Nouwen was wise when he wrote that we must be careful where and with whom we share our pain. If we are not on the road to healing - be that through professional help or some other aid - we may soon find ourselves bleeding all over the place and feeling that many people are walking away with different parts of ourselves. Cry inward, he writes, and the inner light that you do still possess will eventually pierce the darkness.

This is not the end, no matter how dark, dank, and devastating as this may be. Let us begin again and again and again.

Mark Andrew Nouwen