Faith, Family, & Focaccia

A faith and culture Mommy blog, because real life gets all mixed together like that.


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A Modern Magnificat

A few weeks ago I got to preach on Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) for the first time. This has long been one of my favorite passages of scripture, with its swelling sense of praise for the way that God works in the world – by elevating the people who are most rejected and stepped on by the powerful.

As part of the sermon, I wrote an updated poem of praise based on the structure and themes of the Magnificat. I share it here because Mary’s message is a message that we all need to hear, in words that can penetrate our lives and our hearts. May it sing in your heart today.


The deepest part of us echoes with the truth that God is great, and our deepest source of joy is that God has claimed us as God’s own beloved people.

For God has seen us – really seen us – in all the ordinary smallness of our lives, in all the ways that we feel less-than, or ignored, or rejected, or even stepped on;

And God has changed our identity: instead of unimportant nobodies, serving the interests of more important people, we are God’s chosen and blessed witnesses who get to bring Jesus into the world!

God did not do this because we did anything to earn God’s special attention, but because this is who God is: God, the Holy One – the One who is completely above and beyond – chooses to call and to bless the unexpected people.

This is who God has always been, from generation to generation, from Abraham to David to Mary to us.

God has always been the true source of power, disrupting the plans of the people who are impressed by their own strength. God has a pattern of siding against the people who want to set themselves up as the ones in charge, and instead God lifts up the people on the margins – saying that their voices matter.

God’s way of working in the world is to notice the people who are hungry and poor, the ones who have been crushed under the feet of important people and powerful interests, and to invite the destitute and rejected people to eat at God’s table, where their physical and spiritual hunger can be satisfied.

But the people who did the crushing and already have more than they need? God has nothing for them.

This is the pattern God has followed all along, because every time the world rejects God’s plan, God remembers the promise made to those who came before. God remembers that God’s way is the way of mercy. It was true for Abraham, and for those who went before us in the faith, and it will be true for us and for our descendants. Forever and ever.


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Poem – the lesson of a snowflake

close up photography of snowflake

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

What is the lesson of a snowflake?

this fragile, frozen traveler

that wends a path from heaven to my feet.

Is its flight a happenstance?

Or might it be a messenger,

an envoy sent to teach me some eternal

or ephemeral

truth?

Perhaps it comes to teach me aught of beauty.

To draw me into reverent contemplation —

a frozen moment of breath-catching awe —

at MAGIC

crystallized in tiny spires of ice

that catch and play with quiet winter light.

Such power woven through so delicate an incarnation.

 

Or else, it might be teaching me of structure.

Of how the rules of physics

and molecular arrangement

can build with purpose, even in most frivolous display.

How order

in the wild chaos of a grey and cloudy sky

can even mighty nature tame

for my soul’s solace and delight.

 

But what of the most minuscule of flakes?

The germ or column bare of decorative arms?

The insubstantial chip of ice that barely merits notice

or inclusion in the family of frozen beauty?

The tiny missile that is gone

almost before it meets the chill warmth of my shivering skin?

What lesson can this disappearing flake of snow convey?

 

Why, this small bit of snow is the most wise and telling of my teachers.

For in its briefest life it carries a reminder,

that while the winter may be coming,

the warmth of life can always melt the cold.


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The Balance of Breathing

rock balancing

Photo by Pille Kirsi on Pexels.com

The Spirit is whispering behind my ear –

Divine respiration-inspiration, Ruach, Pneuma

calling me to draw her in,

draw close,

draw breath,

to share the air She spills out from her generous soul,

to train my lungs to dance the rhythm of Creation.

Persistent inhale-exhale of all life.

 

I need to practice, to re-learn, the litany of breathing:

in and out in sacred balance,

call and response,

receive and give,

embrace-release,

let Her inside and speak her name aloud.

 

The rhythm is so simple,

the common language of all animal and vegetable life.

Whatever else our differences, we all share this:

this in and out;

this every minute interchange of CO2 and Oxygen;

inevitable partnership;

most basic pattern in the dance of life.

 

But, my step stutters.

I’ve lost the cyclic rhythm,

forgotten that with every hungry gasp

must follow gift;

that each exhale must leave me empty,

needing to refill.

 

Sometimes my breath gets stuck in inhalation.

My lungs don’t have capacity for infinite expansion.

I cannot hold it all,

and, if I try, I will explode,

betrayed by my blind greed for more.

More knowledge,

or experience,

or lies that whisper my deep worth is measured by inflation,

the ability to hold it all.

And so I keep inhaling ‘til I start to shake

with fear, exhaustion, grief for my own limits.

 

But, also, I can err in breathing out,

can give until I’m empty and still push for more;

can, somehow, mistake my lungs for a sweet well

replenished from within,

despite my long experience of going dry.

Or else, misdiagnose each need that eyes or heart perceive,

prescribing, as though medicine, whatever I exhale,

forgetting that I have metabolized what I took in,

and my breath carries poison intermixed with life,

which needs to be diluted by a greener source of air.

So, I must learn, again, the rocking, rhythmic step,

the dance that nurtures life in every form:

the in and out in sacred balance,

call and response,

receive and give,

embrace-release,

let Her inside and speak her name aloud.

 

The partner-dance of Spirit-breathing life.


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Monet Musing

I have seen more than a little beautiful art in the last two days, and I wouldn’t like to pick a favorite, but there has been a “most inspirational.” Or rather, there have been 8 canvases in 2 rooms that win that particular prize. The Orangerie Museum devotes the entire top floor to two light-filled oval rooms built specifically to display the most famous of Monet’s massive Water Lilies. I spent the better part of an hour in this magical space yesterday, and the product of this time is the two poems I share here:





Room 1: The Water Under The Lilies

Water flows through sun and shadow – it is unaware? 

And when sunset lights a fire, can it see the glare? 

Can it feel the floating lilies play upon it face? 

Is it proud to know it’s beauty? conscious of its grace? 


If I floated with that water, could I rest at ease?

Would I be content to wander with no thought to please? 

I think not, and yet I wonder, whose the better part? 

For, with consciousness and striving comes an awe-struck heart. 


Room 2: Melancholy friend

In this room

There’s a reflection of my sometime mood – 

the darkness and the languor,

trailing branches dipping down to taste the water’s tears. 


There’s something of twilight and of mist

that does not look for dawn to rush in quickly

before the night has had it’s time 

to whisper necessary secrets with the voice of darkened waters. 


These waters know a subtle kind of light – 

a kind that mixes into murky water

ill-content to merely dance upon the waves

it sinks beneath – absorbs into the depths.


And in that secret, silent, submerged world

creates a healing, understanding beauty

that sits quietly with me

In this room. 


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Moonspasms: Day 30 of the April Poetry Challenge

On the final day of the 30-poems-in-30-days challenge it seems fitting to close my month-long spasm of creativity with a poem that mirrors the opening. My first, light-hearted little offering described a morning wake-up in the soft surroundings of my sunlit bed. At the close of this adventure I am offering another haiku that also deals with my bed – or rather, the missing of it in the late hours of the night. Considering how many hours of sleep I have donated to this poetic outpouring, it could end no other way.


 

Oh, inspiration

must you so often visit

after my bedtime?