The Sweetness In Vinegar, The Promises In Suffering

"Him I covet, Him I seek, and naught but Him." - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"Deficiencies are mirrors of perfection; the vilest things are mirrors of His glory. For opposites make known their opposites as honey’s taste is known in vinegar." - Rumi

"My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promises preserve my life." -Psalm (NIV)

Vanity.
Answer vanity with “naught but Him.”
The sick person cannot heal himself.
The broken bone cannot mend itself.
The table cannot build itself.
       I endlessly struggle with depression.
       Many of the good things I do in life
       are direct responses to this struggle.
Empathy.
Kindness.
Writing.
Art.
Music.
Participation in community.
Physical training.
Balanced diet.
Gentleness.
       (all a direct response to struggle.)
       I cannot heal myself.

Your promises keep me alive.
Please heal my broken longings.
       I don’t have anything to offer in return.
       But friendship, kindness and charity.
       Amen.

Heaven’s Lamp

"What seekest thou, and what wouldst thou have?" - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"O you, the lamp of heaven, like the sun." - Rumi

"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." - Psalm

Thank You, Merciful Father,
   for the joys You bring to life.
The connections You make
   between the temporal and the everlasting.
The divine in the tangible.

Please continue to redeem my life.
Please grant strength and wisdom
   to accomplish what You’ve set before me.
Thank You for Your inspiration and inward renewal.
Grant me discernment
   in leaving behind unnecessary encumbrances.
Help me to think right thoughts
   and be mindful of peace and kindness
      in my daily interactions.
Thank You for Your forgiveness
   and please help me to forgive others.
       I love You,
       Amen.

Sewn

"And smite upon that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love [….]" - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"If you have clothes which fit and are well sewn, when will they demonstrate the mender’s skill?" - Rumi

”[…] then I will meditate on your wonders.” - Psalm (NIV)

I love You for who You are.
The Word Beyond Words.
The Thought Above Thoughts.
The Art Greater Than Arts.
The Joy Above Joys.
The Peace Surpassing Understanding.
   Please reach down into my life and teach me.
   Mend me.
   Transform me.
   Renew me.
Make my words like Your words.
Make my thoughts like Your thoughts.
Make my art like Your art.
Make my joy like Your joy.
Make my peace like Yours.
       I love You for who You are.
       And for loving me just as I am.
       Amen.

The Womb-like World

”[…] but of God Himself can no man think.” - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"And then you will depart the womb-like world: from earth go to a wide and open space." - Rumi

"I am a stranger on earth [….]" - Psalm (NIV)

Far & High Above.
Close & Intimately Entwined.
The unknowable suffusing the familiar.
Dark Matter entwined with solid space.
   An infant waiting to be born.
   A stranger in a strange land.
   A child in its mother’s arms.
   A man leaving home to find his way.
We dance and sing and play together.
We create and speak words of peace and kindness.
We listen to the tiniest echoes beneath the rumble in vitality.

I love this Unknowable You.
Because I know so many sweet parts of You.
Because we dance together in the music of this rain.
       Selah.

Our Bodies & The Stone

”[…] to love Him and praise Him for Himself.” - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"Again, the bread they ground between the teeth became the wise man’s mind and soul and reason." - Rumi

"I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways." - Psalm (NIV)

A cloud of forgiving to float upon
   like tiny-winged cherubs
   or swift-footed Hermes.
Freedom is turning the ground-up past
   into a soul of wisdom.
Forgiveness is turning loss and perceived harm
   into future kindness and providence.
On this treacherous road up the Holy Mountain,
   it is best to walk facing forward
   and minding our footfalls.
And sometimes, to maintain three points of contact
   between our bodies & the stone.
   (the stone the builders rejected)
"Faith, Hope, Charity"
"Love, Joy, Peace"
"Justice, Mercy, Humility"
       Selah.

Of Loss

”[…] it is not called a cloud of the air, but a cloud of unknowing, that is betwixt thee and thy God.” - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"A grain of wheat was buried underground, then from the ground the ears of wheat were raised, and then again they ground it with millstones. Its value grew as soul-sustaining bread." - Rumi

"I will not die, but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done." - Psalm (NIV)

The candle’s wick needs trimmed
   so as not to use its light and heat too quickly.
The incense’s fire must be extinguished 
   so that its aroma can fill this sacred space.
The fruit-bearing vine must be pruned unscrupulously
   so that its fruit receives the bulk of vital sap.
The grain of wheat is buried,
   cut down,
      and ground into powder
         to produce life-sustaining bread.

Candle’s loss is wick and wax.
Incense’s loss is light and heat.
Vine’s loss is leaf and limb.
Wheat’s loss is life, progeny, self-hood and identity.

   The light of the world.
   The fragrance of saints’ prayers.
   The fruits of the spirit.
   Our daily bread, the Word of God.

In this dark cloud of unknowing, can I only see my loss?

Knower Of Light and Seer Of Darkness,
   breathe farsightedness into my limited understanding.
That I may know Your love and grace within loss.
       Selah.

True Hearts & Counterfeit

"But fast after each stirring, for corruption of the flesh, it falleth down again to some thought or some done or undone deed." - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"His Soul’s the very touchstone of all coinage, and He shall see true hearts and counterfeit." - Rumi

"How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?" - Psalm (NIV)

Thankfulness regardless of circumstance.
Joy despite suffering.
Peace in times of struggle.
Kindness in the face of animosity.
Self-control regardless of weakness or strength.
Compassion in the face of affliction.

Please grow the qualities of Your saints within me.
Exact Your holiness through these clay hands
   and sing Your grace through this dust and gravel voice.

I love to sing Your praises.
To make music in Your name.
       Amen.

From The Coal

”[…] it is but a sudden stirring […] speedily springing unto God as a sparkle from the coal.” - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"Keep watch over your heart before His glory, so that you are not shamed by evil thoughts." - Rumi

"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." - Psalm (NIV)

You have been good to me.
You have given me space to heal
   space to create
   space to laugh and to sing.
Please establish and bless the works of my hands 
   that I might earn right livelihood.
Thank You for these recent excellent days
   of health, creativity, excellence and happiness.
Thank You for the blessing of right perspective.
Please continue the good works You began
   in and around me.
I continue to rely and hope in Your providence and grace.
Continue to encompass my path with Your presence
   and lead me to Your vision.
       Amen.

Help, Surrender, Remember

"For in the love of Jesus; there shall be thine help." - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"Surrender to Him all your I and ‘we’." - Rumi

"The Lord remembers us and will bless us." - Psalm (NIV)

My heart feels uneasy today.
  A race horse moments before the gates open.
  A new soloist peeking from behind the curtains.

Here is this heart. It is Yours.
Here is this life. It is Yours.
Here are these works. They are Yours.
Here is this body. Here is this blood.
       Yours.

Thank You for remembering me.
Thank You for helping me.
Thank You for creating and caring for me.

Can we walk arm in arm for awhile
   enjoying this pleasant space You’ve created?
There is much to be about on the road to Zion.
       Selah.

He Raises, He Lifts

"In one little time, as little as it is, may heaven be won or lost." - The Cloud Of Unknowing

"As I am not myself, this breath is His." - Rumi

"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap [….]" - Psalm (NIV)

Lift me from the dust, God Most High.
Turn these ashes to make this garden
   bloom, grow and be fruitful.
Thank You for Your kindness and grace.
Thank You for Your care and providence.
   Direct this life to Your ways
   and fulfill Your vision within me.

There is struggle.
There is suffering in the world.
Bring us peace.

There is hatred.
There is hostility in the world.
Teach us loving kindness.

There is desperation.
There is famine in the world.
Give us our daily bread.

Continue Your redemptive work in my life
   and all the lives and souls dwelling on this Earth.
       Amen.