E-Letter 175

Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Devotions | 0 comments

…with an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.

ÐWilliam Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey

I’m trying to see the bright side of blight on 21 tomato plants that I have faithfully coddled, botanically speaking, by watering, composting, weeding, fertilizing, pruning, and staking. Standing sentinel over my garden this morning, steaming coffee cup in hand, it amazes me that I’ve spent so much energy perseverating over little brown speckles working their way up some plants like chicken pox.  Dreaming and working for a bumper harvest, I’ve overlooked the beautiful, graceful curves and shades of green tomatoes dangling from vines eager to offer their bounty.  How must the Master Gardener feel, I wonder, about eyes straining to see brown viruses and weed-strewn fields of dirt rather than his gift of small, green harbingers of hope that will eventually redden?

I’m trying to see the bright side of deep-seated anxiety about controversial decisions made by our denominational leaders attending the recent General Assembly in Detroit. These past few weeks my days have been filled with a jumble of emotions as I try to sort through conversations, documents, opinion columns, blogs, FaceBook entries, and newspaper and magazine articles. It amazes me that I’ve spent so much time perseverating over all the negative reactions and criticisms flung over metaphoric barbed wire fences erected between those who disagree. How must the Master Tearer Down of Walls feel, I wonder, about eyes straining to see dispute, difference, and argument rather than his gift of small, enfleshed harbingers of hope that will eventually unite us?

I stand with Lura Currie, bent with grief and fighting tears, as she reels from the news of her bedridden son’s critical health condition that may require emergency surgery. Waiting for a word from the doctor while she prepares dinner for our session, she whispers over and over, “God has a purpose in all of Steven’s suffering. I believe that. I just don’t see it.”  I struggle to see, and in witnessing her suffering, a patient God reveals to me that such love – the love that Lura (and Doug) knows – is a gift. “We do not and cannot love on our own,” the Master Lover of All whispers. The ability to love is a divine grace showered upon all, as scripture claims, but it is a gift accepted only by those willing to suffer the abrasive, transforming realities of love.

The poet, Franz Wright, works with grieving children and teenagers suffering from mental illness.  His poetry – prayers, really – spring from his experiences of serving the difficult to love and unloved.  I share with you his poem/prayer, “One Heart”.


It is late afternoon and I have just returned from

the longer version of my walk nobody knows

about. For the first time in nearly a month, and

everything changed. It is the end of March, once 

more I have lived. This morning a young woman 

described what it’s like shooting coke with a baby

in your arms. The astonishing windy and altering light

and clouds and water were, at certain moments,


There is only one heart in my body, have mercy

on me.

The brown leaves buried all winter creatureless feet

running over dead grass beginning to green, the first scent-

less violet here and there, returned, the first star noticed all

at once as one stands staring into the black water.

Thank You for letting me live for a little as one of the

sane; thank You for letting me know what this is

like. Thank You for letting me look at your frightening

blue sky without fear, and your terrible world without

terror, and your loveless psychotic and hopelessly


          with this Love.


My eye made quiet by a grieving woman’s witness to the prayerful power of harmony and joy, I glimpse for a fleeting moment, the life of things. I see the L/love that unites, and I am transformed.