Getting off the freeway on my way to the office this morning, the red light stopped me. Standing on the sidewalk is Molly, with a sign not unlike the photo above, but with her name signed at the bottom. I knew of her from her boyfriend, Paul, whom I met at the same corner about a year ago. I was stopped, opened my window and handed him a couple of bucks I had in my ash tray. We chatted and even gave him my baseball cap because it was drizzly. Then green light intruded on our light conversation and I drove off. From that little chat, I found out his name was Paul, and has a girlfriend who was sick at the time, Molly.

Back to this morning, I gave Molly a couple of bucks from my ash tray. Then I asked: "How is Paul?" She said "Excuse me?" She was stunned I knew Paul. She answered: "Paul died after last Christmas." Then green light. She gave me a beautiful goodbye smile and said 'thank you for remembering Paul.'

Tears came up as I drove to the office. And thought about the big stories about Michael Jackson life and death. For Paul? This story is the only one published in the blogosphere about a guy named Paul.

How about you? What story will they write or tell about you when you finally go? How would you prefer to be remembered: for what you've accomplished, for what you've accumulated, or for how you affected the quality of their days, maybe even their lives?

Do not be afraid when some become rich,
when the wealth of their houses increases.
For when they die they will carry nothing away;
their wealth will not go down after them.
Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy
—for you are praised when you do well for yourself—
they will go to the company of their ancestors,
who will never again see the light.
-Psalm 49 / nrsv


Let us cross to the other shore.

"Let us cross to the other shore," Jesus said to his followers. Then while on the boat, a violent storm raged. The scared disciples woke Jesus who was sleeping. "Master, do you not care that we might die?" He stood up and commanded the sea: "Be still. Be calm!" The sea obeyed. Turning to the shaken men, he said to them: "You of little faith!"

I am invited by God to cross this river of life to the promised land. The unpredictable river is life itself. The boat is this body and its senses, the mind, the heart, the soul. And within this boat is the Divine. But I forget this Presence when dark clouds, or storms overwhelm me. The oars are my prayers. My strength, my endurance, and my determination come from my longing to be with the Beloved.

How about you? When was the last time you were afraid? What was your conversation with God like? What makes you keep the faith?

Here's a breath prayer for those uncertain times:

On your inhale, pray "I Am with you..."
On your exhale, say "You are with me."
Repeat until the prayer comes from the heart,
then 'be still, be calm' and feel the Love.


Thy will be done: A Meditation from St Cyprian

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
This is not that God should do what he wills, but so that we may be able to do what God wills. For who could resist God in such a way as to prevent him doing what he wills? But since the devil hinders us from obeying, by thought and by deed, God’s will in all things, we pray and ask that God’s will may be done in us. For this to happen, we need God’s good will – that is, his help and protection, since no-one is strong in and of himself but is kept safe by the grace and mercy of God. Moreover, the Lord, showing the weakness of the humanity which he bore, said Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, and showing his disciples an example, that they should do not their own will but God’s, he went on to saynevertheless, let it not be my will, but yours.
But it is the will of God that Christ both did and taught. Humility in dealings with others; steadfastness in faith; modesty in words; justice in deeds; mercifulness in works; discipline in morals. To be unable to do a wrong, and to be able to bear a wrong when it is done; to keep peace with the brethren; to love God with all one’s heart; to love God because he is a Father but fear him because he is God; to prefer nothing whatever to Christ because he preferred nothing to us; to adhere inseparably to his love; to stand faithfully and bravely by his cross; when there is any conflict over his name and honour, to exhibit in discourse that steadfastness in which we proclaim him; in torture, to show that confidence in which we unite; in death, that patience in which we are crowned – this is what it means to want to be co-heirs with Christ, this is what it means to do what God commands, this is what it is to fulfil the will of the Father. (Universalis.com)
Praying with the body:
Standing or sitting on a chair, raise your arms heavenward on your inhale with the words "Thy will be done..."
On your exhale, bend forward touching earth, or your knees, saying "on earth" then swinging up on your inhale, praying "as it is in heaven."
Then sit quietly, hands on your lap, and listen to the Breath of God in you.


Bloom recklessly!

Everything is blooming recklessly;
if it were voices instead of colors,
there would be an unbelievable shrieking
into the heart of the night.

-Rainier Maria Rilke

Yes. Springtime. Everything is blooming. Everything comes back to life. It's a time for birthing, for being born, for waking up. It's a time for stepping out into the light.

Look at this fence flower. Ponder the effort it must have taken to squeeze through that teeny space. Maybe because it caught a glimpse of light, a promise of life. Imagine it doing everything it can to breathe in that life, that light, that freedom. It sought the light and was awarded with the joy of blooming, of being able to yell... I Live!

How about you? What keeps you from fully stepping into the light, with both feet, with your whole being? What do you need to do to be what you love, to do what gives you life?

Standing, sweep both arms toward the back,
palms open, and lift up your chest as you inhale,
gathering Divine Light into your heart
saying inwardly:
You are my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

Swing your arms up, hands in fists,
with a steady and fearless heart say:
You are the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

-from Psalm 27


Another day...

"Another day..." That's what the stranger said to me as we exit the coffee shop this morning. Instead of filling in the blank with the predictable "another dollar", I said inwardly "...thank goodness."

Saying "thank goodness" for this day is an acknowledgement for the gift of another opportunity to act, think and speak from a place of love, peace, and happiness. It's another day to get better in letting go of worries and anxieties and fears that keep me from seeing the Divine in everyone. It's another day to die to this world of inordinate desires and consumption, of plugging and numbing my senses with instant pleasures that inevitably lead to pain and sorrow. It's definitely another day to be present, to pay attention, to accept and breathe in blue skies, green trees, red-yellow-white flowers, and children playing in the sun. It's another day to breathe out lovingkindness to all beings.

How about you? How do you greet the day? Can you smile in front of the mirror first thing in the morning and say "you lucky you"?

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favour and honour.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.
-Psalm 84 (NRSV)


Live. Pray. Sketch.

Sketch: A rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not intended as a finished work, often consisting of a multitude of overlapping lines.

Live. Pray. Sketch. Modified from Thomas Merton's beautiful quote:

What I do is Live.
How I live is pray.
How I pray is breathe.

Lately, I caught the sketch bug. Bought a book, An Illustrated Life, showing sketchbooks of 50 artists. I started to carry a Moleskin sketch book and pen with me wherever I go. The sketch above was based on a photo from a Seattle Times photos of the week slide show.

As with the definition above, my sketch was a quick drawing, consisting of a multitude of lines, not intended as a finished work of art.

Maybe this life is God's sketch. Not done yet, simply a basis for the masterpiece-to-be. I can't wait to see the final product.

For now, I wonder how can I help the Artist create this masterpiece quickly? What do you think?

Praise to you, Divine Artist,
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.

-Psalm 139


The Shadow Knows

The Shadow Knows

Sit under the forbidden tree,
And never mind the tempter.
Gently close your eyes,
And step into the world of shadows.

Sit with them in peace,
And listen with your heart.
They will talk about being ignored,
about being pushed aside,
about being forgotten.

They will say,
‘We bring you mercy and lovingkindness
From the Good Shepherd.
This is why we follow you around.’

Sit and listen with your heart.
They have much to say to you
about your fear of shadows.
Because you have much to learn
about love.