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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Epiphany of the Ordinary

A while ago I had the misfortune of cutting my finger severely and having to have it bandaged to such a degree that it greatly inhibited the way I did things. Simple tasks, such as buttoning a shirt, became a great challenge. Zippers were suddenly seen as an obstacle and a challenge, not the usual convenience of fastening that they once were. There are many things in my life that are conveniences that I take for granted in the living of everyday life in these modern times. Thermostats, indoor plumbing and refrigerators for food are just some of many modern developments that I assume will work and take for granted. Yet for many people in the course of human history this was not the case. 
The season of Epiphany, the season after Christmas, is a season of ordinary time. In a world so often fascinated by the most recent toy, electronic gadget, celebrity, sporting event, or entertainment with a bigger and bigger audience, the church offers a time to be still and remember the most simple acts of living and loving. God knows every hair on our head, every sparrow in the woods, every button we need to button. There is a great pleasure, I believe or have come to understand, that God expresses in the simplest acts of our life. When we turn a key, put on a sweater or take a bite of food there is a quiet presence of the divine smiling and aware. The epiph-any of the ordinary, the change that takes place in our daily habits and the knowledge of the importance of our simple acts, turns our focus from the fanfare of our culture and procrastinating distractions to an embrace of who we have always been and an acceptance of where we have been called to be. 
There was a storyline running through the 2000 movie, Chocolat, of a fine chocolatier making fancier and fancier chocolates in an effort to impress a favorite customer whom she wished to impress. She keeps asking with each more elaborate offering if this is his favorite, yet. In the end it was not the fanciest chocolate, but the simple hot chocolate that was the favorite all along. There are many ways we seek to impress and affect others with care and affection, often outdoing ourselves in order to finally make things perfect. There are many ways we seek to do the right things to be better and ultimately impress God, in order to be accepted and loved and heard by God and others, when who we are and what we do has already been seen and heard before we even began our efforts. Love proceeds all things, we sometimes forget this and try to force it, like starting a car that is already running. This is the time to be still and listen to the already present touch of God upon our most simple and acts of living. 

is helping and giving sometimes the thing we shouldn't do

Recently, I found myself sitting at a meeting where we were trying to address the needs of our community and how we could help. After hearing and helping create a list of people we need to address and needs that need to be considered I felt like we had it all wrong. Why were we the one's in the room wanting to help, why not those who needed help. And how would I feel if people were planning how to help me? What might be needed is not help, but better pay, more work, ways for people to find their way to make it themselves and in turn be in the seat to offer to help others.

We were talking about ways to help, but never looked at why taxes were so high, why wages so low, why drugs use was so rampant. Was the ability and need to help, helping us more than it might help someone else?

From this train of thought I began thinking that perhaps the driving force of the church to reach out and help, to give money and support to those in need might in fact be more of a   diversion from faith, than an expression of faith.

We need to help, we need to speak up, we need to be silent, we need to pray, we need to be engaged; but all our needs need to come from our response and faithful relationship with God. We need to ask the questions about why we are doing what we are doing. We need to wonder when we are going astray, and why is it we need to be the one's always giving and helping - not the one's needing help and receiving.

We have been helping in Haiti for years, maybe the help of the churches is not really helping as needed. How can a culture of receiving become the culture that is teaching, helping and offering missionaries to the United States.  It might be time to turn things around.

Simply put: are we helping out, giving and trying to make a difference because we feel we have to or should do such as christians, or because we feel that the actions we are taking are specific actions God is calling us to make?

Monday, January 20, 2014

A litany of light

A Litany of Light

 Jesus, you were before all time, created all time, and are beyond all time,

Give us courage to take our time, to be still when needed and to act when called forth.

Jesus, you are the holy light, which enlightens all things, and nourishes us with your warmth.

Give us eyes to see, to see with appreciation those things that are most precious and most obvious, and to accept those things that are different and challenging as a potential for blessing.

Jesus, you are the proclamation of hope in an age of anxiety, times of stress, and circumstances that seem overwhelming.

Surprise us with a new and broader understanding, enlighten us with a compassion grown from listening to the heart of others, and inspire us to speak forth the truth you have given us to share.

Jesus, you noticed those who others overlooked, you touched those who others would not come near:

Open our eyes and hearts to see those we are overlooking, not hearing and taking for granted.

Jesus, in your suffering and betrayal, through your death and resurrection, we have been made whole and given the power to be healed and to heal.

We accept your anointing, the anointing that comes through our own sufferings, wounds and loss. Bless those who come to us seeking help and healing, and give them patience as we learn to embrace our callings.

Jesus, you are the way to the infinite, to the vastness of all life, all energies, all understandings, all that ever was, ever is and ever will be:

Give us the joy of wonder in everyone and everything we meet. Help us to hear your word in all that we encounter. Make us aware of our connections to all around us.

Jesus, who died and rose that death would no longer be the final ending.

Thank you for those near and dear, though dead, yet alive within our hearts and always present with you.

Jesus, unite us in the oneness of eternity that is known fully in your presence everywhere.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Religion is simply the act of remembering who we are, and then being that person with all the limitations, pain and joy that are ours.
Any yet we forget, we make religion an escape, we make our lives an escape, we make our world an escape in order to become what we desire or wish to be, something without limits, without pain and ultimately without joy
Honestly facing God leads us to a mirror that shows us who we really are, that we are just for a moment, will be forgotten, that we are amazing, that we will lose everything eventually and be always an intersection between the light and substance.  Facing God will cause us to run away from truth into fantasy or finally be alive.
Anyone who wishes to amass power and control is a fool not to use religion, to manipulate it and those who can be manipulated by it. And, yet, in using it will find that it is like lighting a match in a lake of gasoline to see better, it cannot be contained.
To think that there can be a life without religion or faith is to imagine a life without habits and memory. We can say we are not following any habits, nor remembering and reflecting.  We can also pretend to be a bird, but pretending to be bird does not make us able to fly.

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