land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Confession

O God, in whom we live and move and have our being,
We beseech you to hear us and make us whole again. 
In the midst of our everyday life it is easy to forget your mercy,
your grandeur and your love.
Controversies and old wounds can haunt our lives
and keep us from celebrating this life with a grateful heart.
The familiar sights and people around us are easy to overlook,
and in so doing we miss angels and miracles.
Holy God, lead us again into the awareness of your peace,
Forgive us for selfish attitudes, for our reluctance to spend time with you,
and for our indifference and apathy in matters of deep concern to you.
Forgive us again, and in so doing strengthen us
to forgive again those who have hurt and harmed us.
Have mercy on us, so that we might have mercy on those in our lives.
Renew us with your healing touch.   AMEN.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Why is it so?

In a recent study it was reported that Maine is the least religious state in the United States of America. This study has caused me to reflect and process the implications of such knowledge. One of the questions that has arisen is, ‘Why has this happened?’ and ‘What caused this to happen?’
What led those people to Maine, who have been wounded by organized religion? What caused or was attractive to this place to gather people who have such an experience to feel at home in this climate? What caused those people to stay who were mostly of a feeling that religion is not important to them? 
Are there collective wounds that have made it a welcoming place for like-minded wounds?  And if so, what might the mission of the church be to such a people? What is the history, the common thread that makes this such a place? Is it the climate, the collective stories, the landscape, some particular people, or is it something that is deeply subconscious in nature?

Emotion is not Passion

Emotion is not passion. It is so easy to be touched by injustice, tragedy or a sense of duty but quickly transfer what might become passion into that which is emotion. To be upset, angry and feel one's emotions flaring is the great escape from the deeper possibility of action which passion would provide.

Emotion will divert our energy, will assuage our focus and ultimately move us from action to empty threats.

The passion of Jesus kept him quiet in the face of the injustice that was being thrust upon him, his passion kept him focused on the larger love and realities that were not swept away by the emotional moment. Peter, his follower, was caught up in the emotion of the night and ended up betraying Jesus and his own heart.

Passion can move a mountain with its silence. Emotion will blow away like the seeds of a dandelion and with those seeds begin habits of avoidance that become hard to remove.

Recently, the efforts of a few in our country who are profiting on the violence in our culture and spreading fear to protect their deceit have caused the government to follow their fear and not the desire of the vast majority to address our violence. Listening to the news and hearing what was done instills in me a sense of duty to speak up and to address this injustice and stand with those affected by deep tragedy. This shadow to passion, emotion, can quickly seduce my energy and need to respond and dissipate my action into  puddles of ineffectiveness.

Passion knows when to be still, knows when to bend, knows when to wait, and most importantly acts fully and with deep conviction and total commitment when the moment is at hand.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What if?

In the story of Christianity there is the story of the Virgin Mary being impregnated by God, and bearing the Son of God. This has always posed a number of questions for me. One of those questions is how many other people did God approach before Mary said yes? Did God first go to the people of means, the people who were established in the religious community? They would have more to lose if they were found with child and having to explain that it was God who fathered the child. Did it come down to this young girl, whose ignorance and naiveté made it possible for her to say yes. Do we find it harder to be open to God when we have more to lose?  When we seem to or think that we know how things should be or how they work. Is the naiveté and openness of an innocent mind and heart sometimes what is needed for us to be faithful and one with God? Those who so often struggled with Jesus were the religious leaders and people in authority. As a religious leader it would follow that my position and education might be in fact what keeps me from truly hearing God. What I have come to know as tradition, custom and knowledge passed down through study and learning might inspire me at times, but when God is shaking things up and doing a new work or renewing his people, I might be the one in the way.
When Ananias heard God tell him to go to Paul and heal him in Damascus, he went on and risked his life to do such. How often does God speak to us and our fears, desires for comfort and safety, and our own ego question and rationalize away the still small voice of God?

Friday, April 12, 2013

This is Important

from google images
With a riveting fascination God watches the ant carry its crumb up and over grass and sticks. When every bulb grows up and finally breaks through the soil a host of angels sings Alleluia! Every little blossom and bloom of leaf on a tree is counted and painted carefully with the light of God’s paint brush. Every time a chicken lays an egg and clucks her song of its arrival, it is taped and replayed again and again in the heart of God. With every breath of God we feel the tide come in and go out again. And with every sunrise God shouts out to all that forgiveness is going to be flooding the planet again. With every day a tree stands still and waits patiently as birds live and breed in her limbs, God holds it gently like a precious and delicate treasure.
So often, I come to church with great sorrow or worries. I listen for God and cry out in my confusion. So often I feel so unworthy and undeserving of the many blessings that  surround me. “Why would God want to listen to my endless concerns and needs,” I feel. There are so many more deserving people, people in more pain or need than I could ever imagine.
How deeply arrogant it is to feel so special that I would be so undeserving. For a God who counts every tap a young chick makes upon its egg as it breaks its way out in life, who pauses every time I blink, and who stares intently on each rock upon the shore – watching it slowly move and change over the eons of its life; for such a God my thoughts and your thoughts are flowers upon the table, and our longings are the paintings upon Her walls.
We are important, we are crucial and everything around us is intricately interwoven into this rapt attention of God’s love. To think that we know or understand more than even an introduction into the volumes of God’s love is ridiculous. Again and again, the desires within us keep us from hearing the endless chatter of God, closing all the windows in order to dim the bird’s songs of joy in response to the jokes God keeps telling them.
If I will not dance, God will give me a song. If I will not sing, God will show me something beautiful. If I will not smile, God will simply hold me – and gently with the utmost respect and patience.

Fogged In Treasure

phot from google images

From time to time we are engulfed in fog here in Maine. Sometimes, it can be quite thick. When out on the water it can quickly disorient you and your position. Generally speaking a fog tends to slow us down and make one more cautious as we proceed along. Waking up to a foggy day is always an invitation to return to sleep. And looking out on a foggy day is always a lure to curl up with a book and a cup of tea.
One thing about fog is that it can burn off quite quickly. As the sun comes out and heats up, what was once gray and dreary can be suddenly a bright and cheery day. It is the bright light and heat that dispenses the fog. Just as quickly as the fog vanishes, so too, is our memory of its weight. But when we meet again with this mystical beauty of the morning mist or dense fog all memory of it in our library of consciousness returns.
The opportunity of a slower journey, a more cautious approach, and a time to be still and reflect is always a rare jewel. Such treasure reveals a deeper desire to understand oneself, the world about us and our relationship to the larger dimensions of our mortality and a life beyond what we can see. If we have no fog, but only clear skies, we are lured into a more active, goal oriented perspective. The fog and gray tends to derail objectives and big plans. Just as many jewels are found in caves and underground, so too are the jewels of the soul found in our various fogs. Rarely is a jewel of great value simply found lying on the ground on a sunny day, unless it is one recently lost and belonging to someone else.
Jesus said, “What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops.”   Matthew 10:27
In the intimate moments of reflection, when things are slower, and the fog is thicker, we can hear things more clearly. In the dark of the night radio waves travel much further because the sun’s rays are not interfering with them. And small sounds in the house can seem much louder. When it is hard to hear what God is saying, it might be because there is too much light, and too much activity. What we hear when quieter voices become audible might be the wisdom we need to learn. The fog off the water or the fog of our muddled thinking can be transformed quickly with the light, whether from the sun or from the epiphany of a new understanding. And when we find ourselves moving again in the brightness of the day, we need to speak out, act on and apply those things we have heard.  In the same way, a jewel needs to be set and displayed in fine jewelry where the light can reflect its beauty to others.

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