A Prayer…

My Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of Thee. Thou and Thou alone knowest my needs. Thou lovest me more than I am able to love Thee. O Father, grant unto me, Thy servant, all which I cannot ask. For a cross I dare not ask, nor for consolation; I dare only to stand in Thy presence. My heart is open to Thee. Thou seest my needs of which I myself am unaware. Behold and lift me up! In Thy presence I stand, awed and silenced by Thy will and Thy judgments, into which my mind cannot penetrate. To Thee I offer myself as a sacrifice. No other desire is mine but to fulfill Thy will. Teach me how to pray. Do Thyself pray within me. Amen.
– Prayer of St. Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow

Warba, Minnesota…

Warba is on Highway 2
181 souls surrounded by nothing in particular
2 churches. 1 garage, and 1 bar
With a main street mostly vacant and shuttered
What makes people live in such a place
Where most of what you need is somewhere else?
Perhaps its force of habit,
Roots that will not release their hold
Or the dreams of those who founded the place
unwilling to die while reality watches
Maybe this is all the people who live there want
2 churches, 1 garage, and a bar.
and they’re willing to put up a sign
to make people slow down to 30 mph
and bear witness.

JK Chagnon

Night Verse #1

stars and wind and night and the beginning of autumn
the streets go quiet as the lights go on from house to house
the world settles to its rest, now the day is spent
with its controversy and the sweat of the brow
to sleep, as the poet says, and perchance to dream
and in those dreams find the wildness, the adventure,
the beautiful places where hearts go in the night
flying about on wings possessed by those who sleep
tomorrow is soon enough here and when it comes
the lights, the noises, the world, will rouse in a kind of fury
but for tonight there is sleep, and dreams, and an elusive calm

jk chagnon

Kristo Azukkide…

And on this night
When hell is broken and withered
Where light ineffable pierces gloom of night
Angels sing, with choirs of saints beyond number
Those who wait in shadows
See sunlight with the break of morning

And on this night
I see Your grave, and mine to come
Without fear and without the eyes of shame
All things fade away and so will I
Yet Your grave is clean and bright and empty
and this will stay the same.

And on this night
I, dressed in joyful white and fatigued in grace
Sing Life at an altar made with mortal hands
My music awaits another place and time
A purer lyric, illumined words
At an altar transcending time itself.

And on this night
The dark has lost its peril
Across the world the voices call Your praise
In hope and  knowing Life itself prevails
Accept this gift of mortals who see in You their hope
and grant us Light which never fades away.

There’s a Cool Breeze…

blowing through the windows as night settles in on my neighborhood. It’s the kind of cool breeze that whispers of a summer fading and the autumn to come. Short warm days, cool and dark nights, everything settling in its seasons.

Its been hot and dry and dry and hot for what seems like forever. The grass is dry, we all are dry, and yet the sky has been hard and brittle, yielding its life in dribs and drabs. Nothing of substance has fallen for days. A week without rain is a vacation. A month without it is a disaster in the making. Every promise of something good has been in vain. Every prediction has been in error. Every vision of relief is a mirage.

I, too, am hard and brittle, dry without and within for what seems like, well, who knows how long. I am tired and worn but not afraid. Sometimes overwhelmed but not conquered. Like the grass that turns brown knowing  the rains to come will restore its lush and fertile green, I too, wait in my thirsty brown cover. I wait for the God who causes the rain to fall on the evil and the good to let his rain fall on me.

And as I write this the cool breeze of this night reminds me that even the fury of summer’s drought is not eternal. A few more days, perhaps, and the rain will come, for the world outside my little house in the city and, as God is merciful, for me as well. Until then I, and the hard brown world, will wait.

From John Donne…

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

From Robert Service…

Let us be thankful, Lord, for little things –
The song of birds, the rapture of the rose;
Cloud-dappled skies, the laugh of limpid springs,
Drowned sunbeams and the perfume April blows;
Bronze wheat a-shimmer, purple shade of trees –
Let us be thankful, Lord of Life, for these!

Let us be praiseful, Sire, for simple sights; –
The blue smoke curling from a fire of peat;
Keen stars a-frolicking on frosty nights,
Prismatic pigeons strutting in a street;
Daisies dew-diamonded in smiling sward –
For simple sights let us be praiseful, Lord!

Let us be grateful, God, for health serene,
The hope to do a kindly deed each day;
The faith of fellowship, a conscience clean,
The will to worship and the gift to pray;
For all of worth in us, of You a part,
Let us be grateful, God, with humble heart.

There is Nothing…

I want, Lord, so much as to know that you are with me and that I am in the place you wish me to be. Knowing this I can be anywhere. Without this knowledge I will be alone and fragile even in paradise. Yet my eyes are dim, my thoughts too, and more often than not I wander even when I know the way.Yet, still, do not forget me. Grant me even the slightest glimpse of your presence and I will run to that light without fear. Grant me to understand the path you have prepared and I will walk through any darkness. Only the sound of your voice and I shall be joyous.Only the touch of your garment and I will be made whole.Only the thought of you and I shall be at rest. Night is coming, it has already come. The darkness is alive and furious in anticipation of the morning.Yet if I am where you are and you are with me I shall be at peace, secure, as heaven watches over my journey home.

For Boston and All of Us…

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

From Prayers by the Lake…

Think of yourself as though you were dead, I say to myself, and you will not feel the coming of death. Blunt the barb of death during life, and when it comes it will not have the means to sting.

Think of yourself every morning as a newborn miracle, and you will not feel old age.

Do not wait for death to come, because death has indeed already come and has not left you. Its teeth are continually in your flesh.  Whatever was living before your birth and whatever will survive your death–that even now is alive within you.

One night an angel unwound the tape of time, the end of which I was unable to perceive, and he showed me two dots on the tape, one next to the other. “The distance between these two dots,” he said, “is the span of your lifetime.”

“That means my lifetime is already over,” I shouted, “and I must be prepared for the journey. I must be like a diligent hostess, who spends the present day cleaning house and making preparations for tomorrow’s slava1 celebration.”

Truly, the present day of all the sons of men is for the most part filled with concern for the next day. Yet few of those, who believe in Your promise, concern themselves with what will happen the day after death. May my death, O Lord, be my last sigh not for this world, but for that blessed and eternal Tomorrow.

Among the burned out candles of my friends, my candle, too, is burning down. “Do not be foolish,” I reprimand myself, “and do not regret that your candle is burning out. Do you really love your friends so little, that you are afraid to set out after them, after the many who have strolled away? Do not regret that your candle is burning low, but that it is leaving be­hind unclear and dim light.”

My soul has become accustomed to leaving my body every day and every night, and to stretch herself out to the limits of the universe. When she has sprouted in this way, my soul feels as though suns and moons are swimming over her even as the swans swim over my lake. She shines through suns and supports life on earthly planets. She supports mountains and seas; she controls thunder and winds. She completely fills Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.2 And she returns to shel­ter in a cramped and dilapidated habitation on one of those earthly planets. She returns to the body that she still, for another minute or two, calls her own, and which sways like her shadow among mounds of graves, among lairs of beasts, among howls of false hopes.

I do not complain about death, O Living God, it does not seem to me to be anything sad. It is a terror that man has created for himself. More strongly than anything on earth, death is pushing me to meet You.

I had a walnut tree in front of my house, and death took it from me. I was angry at death and cursed it saying: “Why did it not take me, an insatiable animal, instead of something sinless?”

But now I think of myself as though I were dead, and near my walnut tree.

O my Immortal God, look mercifully upon a candle that is burning out, and purify its flame. For only a pure flame rises toward Your face, and enters Your eye, with which you watch the whole world.