Monday, September 09, 2019

Made for joy


So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” (Luke 15:4-6)

Made for joy

The joy of children reveals the heart of God and the heart our Lord wills for us.

The Holy One seeks our heart in a million ways through graces and beauties, blessings and smiles, each glowing with the heart of Eternity, eager for us to know that Love prevails and always will, in every circumstance, even those most difficult.

Like children whose hearts are free because they know caring eyes and arms are always there for them, we, too, are intended to know. Knowing, we live.

Life … is to know the hungry heart of the Great Love who hunts for us, seeking to find and fill every lost corner of our lives until we are home, fully and forever, rejoicing, sharing God’s own joy at having his lost ones safe in the divine arms.

So look and see. Open your heart to everything this day brings. Every grace and smile, however small and seemingly insignificant, is a sacrament of the Love who aches for your nearness.

Every beauty and each drop of renewing rain from gray morning skies is intended for your awakening.  

Hold out your hand. Feel the dew of heaven that greens earth’s old crust. The Loving Mystery seeks you in all that is life, eager to carry you home that our joy may be complete.

Pr. David L. Miller





Monday, August 26, 2019

That smile


I love the Lord, because he has heard
  my voice and my supplications. 
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2)

That smile

I call to you today, O Lord, for I know that you hear me. Even more, I know that you cherish this life and that nothing in me is to be held back. You want to hear it all as if you didn’t already know the inner voice of my soul even before I utter a word.

Speak each thought and word, you say, each emotion, frustration and joy, inviting me to come close to you with that smile that tells of your love.

And for reasons I will never understand, seeing, feeling your divine smile evaporates whatever weighs heavily on my heart. Tangled knots of emotion release their grip. The heart, suddenly free, floats … lighter, higher, joined as one in that smile of Love you are.

It is a great mystery to me how this happens, as are you.

But in that moment … in this very moment … I know I am heard. I know I am welcome. I know I am cherished. I know that my existence and well-being is important even in this world that grows more impersonal every year.

I know as the heart knows, so I call on you. For you are the Love who hears me.

Pr. David L. Miller







Monday, August 12, 2019

Every. Single. Time.


Jesus said "Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life(John 12:24-25)

Every. Single. Time.

I stand at the brink of a new time, a new chapter in which I may more fully (and finally!) become myself, that soul the Loving Mystery within aches for me to become.

There is excitement, anticipation of finding the great joy for which the soul most longs. But every new beginning starts with an ending, and endings are about letting go, something I have never done well.

There have been too many letting go moments, although no more than in any other life, I suppose. Those moments come to mind now, especially the painful ones—places I didn’t want to leave … ever, people with whom I spent precious times of joy and immense pain, moments that blessed me beyond every expectation … and still do.

I savor them in the graced halls of memory, wishing I could transport myself back in time to those people and places to laugh with them again and give proper thanks, holding them in the arms of the love the years have only burnished.

Bittersweet melancholy, however, does not obscure this undeniable hope for that great More the longing soul can never receive, except by opening hands and heart to what the loving Lord of our lives has yet in store.

Whatever comes, I know: It will be laced with the Great Love that has sought and found me on the journey despite my failures of faith and courage. That’s the way this Love is, this Wonder who holds us and always will.

Our lives are like this. We let go, however unwillingly. We turn the page to the next chapter, not knowing what that is. We experience thousands of little deaths, before our final one. And each time, every single time, Love has an answer, and that answer is the Love who fills us again and again with the life that is eternal, now.

Pr. David L. Miller





Thursday, August 01, 2019

It's you


‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)

It’s you

You are a pearl of inestimable value, priceless. Never doubt that. Never denigrate yourself. And never allow anyone to make you feel small. It’s a lie.

For you bear a mystery. Christ, the Infinite Love fully enfleshed in Jesus of Nazareth, lives in you. This is your truest identity, a treasure hidden in the depth of your soul, of every soul.

We can deny it, ignore it, bury it … or allow it to be buried … beneath thousands of distractions that prevent us from listening to our hearts. But the pearl of great price is always there, a gift hidden in the depths of our humanity, awaiting discovery.

Our deep joys lead us to the place this treasure is found.

What fills you with energy? What awakens generosity of spirit? When do hope, faith and love fill you? When does your heart swell with joy and exhilaration? When does gratitude for life spill from your lips … and perhaps your eyes, too?

Such questions open the treasure of your soul, revealing who you are … who Christ is in you.

Infinite Love lives in you, a Love who wants you to know how loved you are, a Love who longs to live through your life, a Love who shines from your face and fills you with the joy of knowing ... the treasure you are.

Pr. David L. Miller











Monday, July 29, 2019

Smiles of knowing


 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ (Luke 11:12-13)

Smiles of knowing

If we pray only for what we need or think we need … or to avoid something we fear, we miss the greatest gift.

The language of spirit sounds ethereal, unreal, something floating about or … woo-woo, especially in this age when only that which is material and measurable is considered real and worth examining.

You cannot nail spirit down. It is like the wind. It blows where it will, Jesus says, and you cannot control it.

But we surely know its presence. The presence of spirit is life and energy, vigor and confidence. The absence of spirit … to be dispirited … is a state of enervation, wasting, sadness. Verve and joy fade to gray.

But not today. Today, every day, the greatest gift is given.

The One who is Life and Love pours out Spirit that asking … we may receive ... and receiving … we may know Life and Love coursing through our hearts, as mysterious as it is immeasurable and unquantifiable, yet as real as the smile on our faces.


Smiles of knowing a Spirit most holy, from an ever-generous Source. Just ask.

Pr. David L. Miller




Monday, July 22, 2019

Just one


 Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. (Luke 10:40-42a)

Just one

I need just one thing today, you, Beloved One.

Morning dawns, and the world impinges on consciousness with no concern for my inability to sort and single out the tasks of the day. Each cries for attention at once, reducing me to immobility and a nagging sense of inadequacy.

The mind flails in one direction and then another trying to get a handle on the day to make it all feel controllable.

This is nonsense, of course. Life rushes ahead at its pace, not ours. We control very little, and the needs of the day quickly bury awareness of the one thing our monkey minds need that will allow us to breathe … and enter a place of peace.

So breathe … and know; there is One who looks at you and smiles. That smile is your peace. It gives you everything you need to take life one step, one moment, one task, one challenge, one conversation at a time.

The Love that shines in the holy smile of Christ speaks your name, not “Martha, Martha,” but my name, your name. “David, David, take a breath … and listen to the Love that whispers the truth.

“Do what I have placed on your heart. Just one thing. Then move on to the next, knowing everything that gets done … and what cannot be done … rests in the warm light of my smile, as do you. Always.

Pr. David L. Miller 


Thursday, July 11, 2019

New day


Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.’ (Matthew 9:17)

New day

Make me new today, dear Friend. It is not an unusual request. Normal really.

I often need to be made new, to feel the fresh air of morning filled with the awareness of a Great Love that is everywhere … and everywhere eager to greet me to tell me who I am.

So make me new again. Pour the wine of your loving presence into my tired heart. Shatter the shell of old hurts and sadness that haunt me when weariness settles on my shoulders.

Let me drink deeply of the Love you are that I may know, again, that there is nothing to do, nothing more to prove, no need to be anything different or better than this old heart that needs you most of all.

I pray with no fear, no doubt or worry because I know you. You have given me that singular privilege.

With a smile, even now, you pour the inebriating wine of your presence and burst open a tattered, old identity I have carried around much too long. Must is a big word in that old self. Should occupies a large space, too.

But there are no musts and no shoulds with you. There is only this Love that comes and breaks apart the idea that our value, our worth, is determined by our accomplishments, by building an identity around what we have done, as opposed to what happens in us and what flows from us when we know … you.

We are what your love makes in us, awakens in us. We are what we feel and know when inebriated with the Love that is fresh and new as early morning air.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, July 08, 2019

Seasons


Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Matthew 9:14-15)

Seasons

There are moments and even whole days when I feel and know you near, Blessed One. And there are days of longing when I do not feel the one thing I most need: your presence.

I hunger to be alive to your holy presence, my heart enfolded in your love, every moment of every day.

But this is not the life we lead as human souls. Instead, there are seasons of nearness and seasons when I must learn again that there is nothing I can do to make happen the very thing I most want.

I must wait for the time when your constant love is revealed to my inmost heart, moments when your nearness overwhelms every other thought and feeling, releasing the quiet, exquisite joy of simply knowing … you.

You are present always, in everything … and even in me. This, I know. You married yourself to this earth, joining your divinity to our earthly existence, a glory present in all creation and in the mystery of our own souls.

This is why I come here, to write these few words of prayer to you, that I might speak your name in hope that the blessing I most want will fill and lift me into the joy of heaven even as I live this life.

For heaven is every place and every moment you fill me. It is here and now as I spend this time alone with you.

Thank you for this time and for the seasons of our lives, for intimate moments of knowing you near … and for the moments you seem far off, telling us again how much we need you.

David L. Miller




Thursday, June 20, 2019

Together, we


But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

Together, we

I come to this private place where there is just you and me. That’s all. Nothing else exists in the entire world, but we two, together, sharing one love.

Here, the soul wakes, if only for a fleeting second. But one moment of awareness is enough, exquisite and precious, a pearl of inestimable value.

The restless heart quiets, having all it needs, knowing as only love knows the Love you are, the Love we are, together, two, yet one.

So you invite me to be here, Holy One, alone with you, beyond every distraction, with no other purpose, no goal other than togetherness that we may be … we.

So I come, to be made human and alive again, to know what the heart most needs to know, to be healed of every broken thing within.

And I will protect this private place, a holy preserve within, where you are pleased to live and give yourself to me, we, two, together.

Pr. David L. Miller




Friday, June 14, 2019

Your servants, the bees


Friday, June 14, 2019

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
   and all your faithful shall bless you.  They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,

   and tell of your power, 
to make known to all people your
* mighty deeds.  (Psalm 145:1-12)

Your servants, the bees

I sit in the breezeway and watch the bees work their way through lavender blossoms of catmint, sage some call it. They ignore me, and even though they are but 10 feet away, I do not fear them though they number in the dozens.

They are too busy to concern themselves with one human observer of their tireless work. They gather sweet nectar and pollinate creation’s goodness so that I can sit here each morning and be carried away by the myriad diversity of exquisite colors and an extraordinary universe that bursts with life everywhere I look.

Their labor calls to mind a few words from the Easter Vigil liturgy that always makes me smile … even laugh. Sometimes weep.

The writers of that ancient prayer thank the Holy One for the burning candle, a pillar of flame signifying the breaking of death’s power, fed by the melting wax which “your servants, the bees” have provided.

I give thanks for the bees on their morning mission. They carry me into awareness that we live in a universe where everything belongs, everything has a place, and everything has a role to play in a great and holy work, called life.

All that I survey in my morning ruminations makes the life I live and love possible … and beautiful … and filled with hope. The bees and the innumerable processes of nature that surround go about their business, serving the divine Creator’s great work, paying me no mind, yet blessing me every moment.

So I thank you, O Lord, for everything that blesses and gives us life. Thank you for every hand that has touched and cared for me in these days when medical challenges reveal how profoundly I am dependent on the expertise, the skill and the common human goodness of others.

Thank you especially for your servants, the bees, who tell that we each have a part to play to make life real and good, beautiful and bountiful. May I be as faithful as they, loving all you are, all you have made… and doing my small part.

Pr. David L. Miller

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Smiles


 ‘You are the light of the world.’ (Matthew 5:14)

Smiles

Let my heart be light today, whatever comes, whatever happens. Let the light of the Love you have privileged me to know and feel shine in every room, on every face, in every moment today.

Let me not lose myself, fearfully forgetting who I am and everything you have given me in a lifetime more surprising than any I could have conceived for myself.

Let me live in the warmth of the smile that fills your face and sparkles in your eyes, as you tell me who I am, “You are the light of the world.”

The joy in your eyes beckons me to wake up and realize I am not empty or wanting. I hold a treasure, the Love that you are, the Love that shines in your face for me, for every human soul and all of creation.

This Love lives in me. This is who I am. And it is enough. It is always enough and always will be.

So I will look at the sun and the sky. My eyes will embrace the greening of the earth, flowers purple and red, lavender and pink, the trees finally full. I will savor the cardinal’s call and follow the flight of the heron that splits my vision as I gaze heavenward.

And somehow I will see your smile in all of it, and I will know everything I need to know … to smile.

Pr. David L. Miller




Monday, June 10, 2019

Born for joy


[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Born for joy

Joy finds you when you are not looking for it, when your heart is wholly fixed on the moment, when you give something from your depths and the voice of the Spirit whispers in your heart, “It is for this joy that you were born.”

Sunday’s baptism was more boisterous than usual. Three small children bounced against the font making waves across the face of the waters. I handed them the two baptismal candles to hold until the moment we lit the light of Christ for Amelia and Madeline, twin girls.

Wide-eyed and impressed by their great responsibility, the children stood quietly until they discovered baptismal candles make fine swords. The ensuing fencing match proceeded half-way down the center aisle until they were summoned back to the water’s edge as each twin girl was lowered into the waters of eternal blessing.

Completing the rite, Will, the twins’ four-year brother and victorious fencer, held back, not wanting to leave the font despite his father’s entreaty. He looked up at me, and I spontaneously reached for the shell of anointing oil and marked him as I had just marked his sisters, “Beloved Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”

“He blessed you,” his father whispered and led him by the hand back to the front pew.

The service continued with prayer and sharing the peace, when another child, Lilly, grabbed me from the back around the legs, giggled and refused to let go.

It wasn’t many years ago that we blessed her in the waters of life and lit a candle. Now we see the light of God’s love in her smile and little girl laugh.

“You were born for this,” the inner Voice of Love whispered as I returned to my place and sat down, thankful for everything that had led me to this single moment when I heard the voice amid tears and purest gratitude.

But it is not just me, of course. The Spirit’s inner speaking is the deep truth of every human life. Each of us is born to share the joy of knowing God’s love flowing through us. We are born to know and share this joy.

Just be where you are. Give yourself to bless the present moment, whatever it is and wherever you are.

Joy will surprise, even today.

Pr. David L. Miller

Monday, June 03, 2019

Planting Life


 I waited patiently for the Lord;
   he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
… 

He put a new song in my mouth,
   a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
   and put their trust in the Lord.
 (Psalm 40:1,3)

Planting Life

Planting season is late this year. A chill spring and incessant rain discouraged putting seeds and new plants in ground, lest they rot or drown.

But, today, an irresistible desire to share in the miracle of life moves me toward my flower beds. I want to hold life in my hands, put it in the ground and see it grow. I want to nourish beauty to life … and feel it deep within myself.

I do not plant to decorate the earth but because I need to feel something new coming alive within me.

Today, I plant and hope, knowing a day will come when waves of exquisite beauty, like no other on earth, will delight my heart and beckon me beyond what I am. Colors and contours will lift me beyond the confines of what I have known and felt and believed, and I will become more beautifully alive.

On that day, and there will be many, my heart will sing for joy at the wonder of life that awakens Life in me. And I will know you and love you and know that there is no separation between me and you, Holy One.

For it is not I who plant this day, but you, my Lord. You sow seeds of your own blessed life in me that will awaken a song of your love in my heart, a song that you give to me, alone, that I may sing the particular blessing for which you fashioned me.

This is what I want in all that comes, a new song, a new way of being and seeing and loving and blessing that whatever comes, I may feel you singing your song of Love through the life you have given me. 

Pr. David L. Miller



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

One little girl


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4-6)

One little girl

She was five, as close as I could tell, but I am not a good guesser about such things. She sat on the concrete walk by a Spanish river as adults sipped wine at outdoor cafes long into the evening.

A cascade of jet black hair, full and free, fell across on her shoulders and nearly half-way down her back. Her attention fixed on the doll she held in front of her face. Eye-eye with her baby, she carried on a spirited conversation in a language I do not understand.

She never looked up at me. I doubt she ever realized I was standing there, less than 10 feet away, transfixed by her beauty. My existence was irrelevant to her.

I raised my camera to capture her, but immediately changed my mind and slowly lowered it, knowing I had almost committed sacrilege, breaking the trance of total trust and innocence, perhaps introducing fear into a beautiful heart absorbed in the joy of this single moment.

She was free. Anxiety had no place. It was banished. All that existed was her, her doll and whatever point of conversation moved her to hug companion to her heart a couple of times.

Her image comes back to me today, sharper than any photo I might have taken.

Although she never said a word to me, she speaks of the life that could be mine … and on some days actually is mine, a life where every fear evaporates in the warmth of knowing Love, where all that matters is being in the moment, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, with the Love who speaks wisdom through little girls … in a world aflame with God.

Pr. David L. Miller







Monday, May 27, 2019

Real peace


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

Real peace

Peace, one word for which there appears no definition. Not of real peace that is so much more than the absence of conflict.

Peace is not an inside job. You cannot give it to yourself. You can strive for it, but when it comes you know it is a gift you’ve been granted by a Source you neither control nor begin to understand. It is a gift from beyond that one knows ever-so personally within.

Even now.

The breezeway beckoned this morning. Early morning sun slanted through the bushes and iron grates that frame this sanctuary, making a mottled light, golden patches and gentle shade dappled across the padded arm chairs and concrete floor.

The light warm, yet requiring loose sleeves for comfort, led to the chair and book, the coffee and quiet, to sit and know that I am within, not just here but everywhere, within the compass, encompassed everywhere, inside a Love that beckons me here that I might know … and know that this knowing is all I will ever need to live the life of blessing and being blessed that my heart wants beyond all else.

There are so many people I want to bless so that they know … what I know … here, in this light.

Peace, it seems, is about being within … and knowing it. It is not something produced or arising from deepest soul, but the ultimate well-being, the blessed and holy quiet the soul knows when it steps into the awareness of reality, which is not what we usually imagine that it is.

Reality is the Love who meets us in every love. Reality is the Love who speaks in dappled light, beckoning us to know, always, “I am with you and I will never let you go.”

Reality is the Love in whom we find our peace.

Pr. David L. Miller



Monday, May 20, 2019

Sanctuary



So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
   beholding your power and glory. 
 Because your steadfast love is better than life,

   my lips will praise you. 
 So I will bless you as long as I live;
   I will lift up my hands and call on your name
(Psalm, 63:2-4)

Ronnie fell into my arms as we both wept tears of sorrow. We’d just laid his beloved Peggy to rest the previous week. He’d lost his partner of 65 years, wondering how he could ever go on.

Now, here he was, lumbering up the communion line to the front of the sanctuary, cane in hand, his miserable hip giving him pain with every step.

At the front, I wrapped the bread in the linen in which I held it so I could wrap him in my arms. The moment, the place, the intimacy of sharing the bread of life, provided a container, a holy vessel, where the bubbling cauldron of emotions we shared could spill out and be held in loving reverence.

Everyone present would understand even if they knew nothing of what Ronnie has just gone through.

For we were gathered in a sanctuary expansive and gracious enough to hold us and everything that is in us—pain, sorrow, confusion, hope, joy and especially love, great love that needed tears not words that could be shared in a place where they would be honored and considered holy.

This was the moment and this the place big enough, safe enough, gracious enough where great sorrow and great love could meet and be transposed into an even higher key where love shared becomes the Love who holds and heals every wound of ours.

This is Holy Communion where hearts shared know the Heart who shares everything truly good and loving with us.

Where else does this happen? Where else can it happen? In this cynical world, what other space—except maybe a 12-step recovery group—invites our vulnerability, offering sanctuary to our tears where great love and hope can be shared unashamed?

The sanctuary that held us was not a room but a people who gather to receive a grace and be made into grace that they might become the human beings they were always intended be and, at our best, that we actually want to be.

For a moment we were those people, Ronnie and me, and everyone present and looking on, too. We knew the Love who gathered us that we might finally become ourselves.

Pr. David L. Miller


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Shepherd's voice


[T]he sheep follow [the shepherd] because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ (John 10:4-5)

The Shepherd’s voice

The shepherd’s voice resonates deep within us. We recognize the voice for it is the voice of a great and unsurpassable Love, a Love we know because our souls are made in Love’s image.

Soul, a word so impossible to define, is the presence of this Love within the human being, longing for communion with its unlimited Source. Only so, do we know ultimate safety and peace and freedom to be whatever it is we truly are.

The soul hears and recognizes the Love who is its Source in all that is born of Love—in kindness, in sacrificial acts of care, in heartfelt service, in true friendship, in those who carry on in hope when life is most difficult.

The voice of the shepherd is heard in all of this and more. Each such sounding of Love in our soul in some measure fills and fulfills our hearts, unless we have succumbed to the illusions of the world that suggest fulfillment is about personal victory and getting more than others.

Our souls are made by and for the Love who is creation’s Source. We can and do forget this. All of us do, and some never know.

There are those so abused or simply denied the Love the soul craves that they cannot hear or trust the deepest cry of their own hearts to know Love’s care and presence. Something must break through the hard crust around their souls before they know the beauty of their own creation and the One who seeks them in every love that comes their way.

For it is true: The Shepherd, the Christ, speaks in every love crying out for our souls. Love calls for the beloved. Calling us home.

Listen, just listen. Love seeks you. Everywhere.

Pr. David L. Miller