Broken Things

Broken Things, by Julie Miller

You can have my heart
Though it isn’t new
It’s been used and broken
And only comes in blue
It’s been down a long road
And it got dirty on the way
If I give it to you will you make it clean
And wash the shame away

You can have my heart
If you don’t mind broken things
You can have my life if you don’t mind these tears
Well I heard that you make old things new
So I give these pieces all to you
If you want it you can have my heart

So beyond repair
Nothing I could do
I tried to fix it myself
But it was only worse when I got through
Then you walked right into my darkness
And you speak words so sweet
And you hold me like a child
Till my frozen tears fall at your feet

You can have my heart
If you don’t mind broken things
You can have my life if you don’t mind these tears
Well I heard that you make old things new
So I give these pieces all to you
If you want it you can have
My heart

Written by: JULIE MILLER

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Julie Miller (born Julie Griffin, July 12, 1956 in Waxahachie, Texas) is a songwriter, singer, and recording artist currently living in Nashville, Tennessee. She married Buddy Miller in 1981. They sing and play on each other’s solo projects and have recorded a duets album on HighTone Records.

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Prayer for the Day of Atonement

Angus Dei by Fransisco de Zurbarán

Prayer for the Day of Atonement

So then, let thy worshipful awe (fear), O Yahweh our God, come over all thy creatures,
and reverent dread of thee upon all thou has made,
that all thy creatures may be in awe of thee
and every being bow before thee
and that they may all become bonded together to do thy     will with all their hearts,
even as we know, O Yahweh our God,
   that thine is the Lordship,
   that might is in thy hand
   and power in they right hand
   and thy name exalted above all that thou hast created.

Day of Atonement: September 18/19

Source of prayer unknown

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Learning Humility

I suspect most people go to school to become expert, competent, respected and respectable. Who goes to school to be humbled; to be humble? And if you are so fortunate as to learn humility – to become humble, you will never be able to be proud about it, or to post some degree for achieving it… you will just have to live it.

As many return to full-time studies and schools of various sorts, may we be a people aware of the the curriculum of the spiritual life: below is an excerpted portion of Michael Jinkin’s insights on learning humility from the Rule of Benedict:

One day this summer, just a couple of weeks before the beginning of our fall term, I decided to read The Rule of St. Benedict straight through.

What began as an act of discipline, and, frankly, a bit of a chore, quickly became a delight. I had never before read the whole thing in one sitting, but reading it that way, especially right before the school year began, I saw parallels I had never before noticed between the mission of Benedict’s monastic community and that of the seminary.

… Benedict envisioned a learning community of a very specific sort. God calls people, says Benedict. But they need to learn and to be formed in order to live the life God calls them to live and to do the work which the Lord calls them to do. “Therefore,” Benedict writes in the Prologue to his Rule, “we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.” With a clarity that has never again been achieved in an official church document, Benedict writes what he calls a “little rule … for beginners.” (Rule, p. 96)

“In drawing up [the community’s] regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. Do not be daunted immediately and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset. But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”(Rule, pp. 18-19)

… Repeatedly, woven into instructions in almost every section of the Rule, one finds a reminder that community members are to live together in humility, competing with one another in doing good. Again and again, particularly in what I have come to regard as the heart of the Rule, chapter 4, “The Tools for Good Works,” Benedict marshals passages from every corner of Scripture to admonish the community members to love as Christ loved, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, to never repay evil with evil, to refrain from judging others, to renounce yourself and to reject pride. Closing this section, Benedict describes the community as a workshop, what we might call a laboratory, where all of these virtues are practiced daily until they become habitual. (Rule, pp. 26-29)

It was while reading this section that I remembered something that happened several years ago, in the first years of my tenure as the academic dean at another Presbyterian seminary. I led that faculty into a revision of the school’s curriculum. Before we began the fairly conventional work of looking directly at the curriculum, what we expected students to learn and how we envisioned that happening, we spent two years engaged in self-reflection and research, asking how we could better serve the church and society. In looking into the results of one of our research projects, as we disaggregated the findings of our study, isolating the responses of lay persons from those of ordained clergy and other groups, we found something fascinating.

When we asked the lay persons in congregations what they valued above all else in a church leader, they overwhelmingly said, “humility.”

This was especially surprising because, given the variety of populations we were polling, this finding hadn’t shown up before. The larger aggregated group included pastors, other church professionals such as Christian education directors, judicatory leaders and other religiously related professionals like chaplains, counsellors, leaders of social service agencies and so forth as well as the lay persons; these other categories of respondents simply had overwhelmed by their sheer numbers the findings from the lay people. The aggregated data told us that people value knowledge, expertise, and character in church leadership, but humility had only shown up way down the list of characteristics.

But the lay people, when their voices were allowed to be heard on their own, overwhelmingly, said that they wanted leaders who are humble. They said they wanted leaders who were not proud or puffed up. They wanted leaders who listened (as one lay person said) “as if I’ve got a brain too.”

… Maybe St. Benedict shows us a way to do what we need to do educationally and formatively to provide to the church and society the best leadership possible…

Let us construct a life together in seminary that… provides the formation of character and Christian faith even more than professional formation, and which prefers wisdom over the mere acquisition of information, so that those who graduate from our theological seminaries will be the kind of persons from whom and beside whom and among whom the people of God will want to learn, worship and live. 

 To read the entire article go to “A School for the Lord’s Service” ( Sep 05, 2017) written by Michael Jinkins, president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
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The Child has time to take time as it comes

Fun with my grandson this summer

“The child has time to take time as it comes, one day at a time, calmly, without advance planning or greedy hoarding of time. Time to play, time to sleep. He knows nothing of appointment books in which every moment has already been sold in advance…

… the child is not afraid at the fleetingness of the present moment: stopping to consider it would hinder us from accepting the moment in its fulness…

… and only with time of this quality can the Christian find God in all things, just as Christ found the Father in all things….

A child that knows God can find him at every moment because every moment opens up for him and shows him the very ground of time: as if it reposed on eternity itself. And this eternity, without undergoing change, walks hand in hand for the child with transitory time. God defines himself as “I am who I am”, which also means: My being is such that I shall always be present in every moment of becoming.”

From “Unless You Become Like This Child,” by Hans Urs von Balthasar

For more, see “Invitation to a Mystery.”

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Your Eyes are so Big and Bright

Your Eyes are so Big and Bright My Son

Your eyes are so big and bright my son
I can see you smile with your eyes
But if I could never see you again
I’d still see the smile of your eyes, son
   see the smile of your eyes.

You eyes are so full of life my son
I can hear you laugh with your eyes,
But if I could never hear you again
I’d still hear the laugh of your eyes, son
   hear the laugh of your eyes.

You eyes are so big and brown my son
I can feel you love with your eyes
But if I could never feel you again,
I’d still feel of love of your eyes, son
   feel of love of your eyes.

Written March, 1988 for my son Nathan

I have had the great joy of writing a song for each of my children so that they knew their song growing up.  This was written for my son Nathan; I post this in celebration of his birthday today.

To me this is the echo of Zephaniah 3:17 as I have sung this song over my son.

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The Bucket List

Gabi Rizea: Romanian sculpture of rotting tree stump into bucket perpetually pouring out

The following is taken from Ann Voskamp’s reflections on the “bucket list”:

… I wander into a little Mennonite General Store in a village so small you’d miss it if you blinked too fast. The 100-year-old wooden floor planks creak. No electricity or lights or fluorescent bulbs buzz or flicker. Lanterns hang in grey lit rooms, brave flames burning back the morning’s mist. A wood stove crackles in the middle of the store, surrounded by shelves of kettles and pots and stacks of bread pans.

And there it is — on a windowsill of an old wavy glass window —- a wee little miniature steel bucket.

I pick it up.

That is what you often pick up when you’re in pain — a bucket. Like you’re carrying a bucket of weight. Like you can fill yourself up with all the things to drown out all the pain. Like if you fill yourself up with a bucket list of all the experiences — you could douse out all the pain.

Pour your heart out…

I turn the little bucket around in my hands — and there it is in my bruised heart: Maybe the best way to deal with pain in your heart — is to pour your heart out.

Slowly — I tip the bucket over.

Maybe…. When I hit the bucket— I don’t want to leave a bucket list as much as I want to leave an empty bucket — a life poured right out.

Maybe — the best kind of bucket list — is a list of how to pour your bucket out. The purpose of your life is to find your gift — and give it away.

The gifted are the ones who find their gift — make it into a gift for the world.

The bucket sits perfectly in the palm of my hand. I can’t stop thinking:

Maybe — the best way to get rid of your pain — is to pour your life out.

Maybe empty buckets — are the fullest kinds of buckets.

If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to Me, you’ll find both yourself and Me. (Matthew 10, The Bible)

Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.

In other words, adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember: Though He was in the form of God,He chose not to cling to equality with God;

But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new…” (Philippians 2, The Bible)

Christ poured Himself out — to make us new vessels. And as we pour out the Christ in us — Christ makes new vessels all around us — and in us.

When you pour out your broken heart, pour out your life — you pour out your pain.

It keeps falling on my cracked places like a gentle rain:

Live with His attitude in your hearts.

Christ’s attitude about hearts — was to pour them out — not to try to protect them.

Let your heart live unguarded again — and you let love capture you all over again.

In the upside down Kingdom, you have to guard your heart from being wrongly guarded.

Guard your Heart?

True: You guard your heart against sinful thoughts getting in… or out — but don’t guard your heart against love… that needs to get in or out. Guard against sins — but not against hearts.

Guard your heart against evil — and there is no doubt: a prison of loneliness is evil.

Guard your heart from the things that will crush your heart: bitterness, loneliness, uneasiness, defensiveness.

Guard your heart from being guarded because everything you do flows out of your heart — and a heart can’t flow if it’s walled off, blocked in, and shutting out.

Your heart can’t be walled in — because your heart has to flow out. Because out of the overflow of your heart, your whole life flows.

Live with walls to block out pain — and you will block out all the love that’s trying to get in.

Live with walls to block out pain — and those same walls will block your own love from flowing out.

Your job is not to find love. Your job — is to find all the walls you’ve built to keep love out. Because you have to tear down those walls — so your own love can flow out. This is only way your life can flow out — this is the only way you can live…

Taken from Ann Voskamp: “The Absolute Best Bucket List You Can’t Miss — Or You Miss Out on the Life You’ve Always Wanted.”

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The Mystery of the Poor

St. Joseph’s House on Chrystie Street.

As Dorothy Day was preparing a supper at St. Joseph’s House on Chrystie Street in New York, she looked around at all her fellow workers and thought how hopeless it was to try keep up appearances:

I looked around and the general appearances of the place was, as usual, home-like, informal, noisy, and comfortably warm on a cold evening. And yet, looked at with the eyes of a visitor, our place must look dingy indeed, filled as it always is with men and women, some children too, all of whom bear the unmistakable mark of misery and destitution.

Her look was burdened with questions she and others had of her work with the poor:

Aren’t we deceiving ourselves?

What are we accomplishing for them anyway, or for the world or for the common good?

Are these people being rehabilitated?

How can you see Christ in [these] people?

She answers these nagging and cynical questions:

It is an act of faith, constantly repeated. It is an act of love, resulting from an act of faith. It is an act of hope, that we can awaken these same acts in their hearts, too, with the help of God, and the works of mercy, which you, our readers, helps us to do, day in and day out over the years…

How can I help but think of these things every time I sit down at Chrystie Street… and look around the tables filled with the unutterably poor who are going through their long-continuing crucifixion.  It is most surely an exercise of faith for us to see Christ in each other. But it is through such exercise that we grow  and the joy of our vocation assures us we are on the right path…

The mystery of the poor is this: That they are Jesus, and what you do for them you do for Him… The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge of and belief in love.

From Dorothy Day, “The Mystery of the Poor” quoted in “Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter.”

Dorothy Day was well acquainted with poverty and misery. After her father’s printing press burnt down in an earthquake, the family descended into “humiliating poverty”, David Brooks writes in his fine book, “The Road to Character.”

War, the onslaught of the Spanish Flu pandemic, the fall of currency, and the general poverty of the poor all brought about great insights to what ministry is, and what suffering does for us in the Curriculum of the Spiritual Life.

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