Friday, March 10, 2023

The great beauty

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom (Matthew 21:43)

In every goodness, every graced smile and every beauty of the human heart, the kingdom of the Loving One is known, regardless of the doctrine believed or denied.

Graced are we, if we have eyes to see it. For then, every moment is an occasion for knowing the heart of God melting the icy cynicism that chills our hearts. Graced are we, too, if the love’s embers spark a tender flame for the crying needs that crowd the news any time you risk watching.

The Spirit, Jesus says, blows where it will, and we don’t control it. But we surely know Love’s Spirit when its breeze brushes our flesh and opens our heart.

We know when we feel gratitude for the holy privilege of being alive and when love for this earth and its troubled inhabitants bubbles within. We know when the world’s most bitter suffering awakens the heart’s most gracious impulse. We know when the simplicity of human grace and care awakens the beauty we hide and moves us to share whatever share of it still lives within us.

The blessed kingdom for which we long and desperately need comes only as we open our hearts to give and receive the Love who comes in every love and every beauty. Its beauty appears when we seek for others the kindness and justice we naturally want for ourselves. And it is blocked whenever we indulge our egos or demand our rights as if there were no higher call.

The kingdom’s great beauty shines in the crucified Jesus, who refuses his rights in the name of loving enemies and forgiving those who have no right to anything but his rejection and condemnation.

But it also belongs to those who hunger and thirst for that love, not only for themselves but for everyone and everything, everywhere. Lord only knows, most of us do a lousy job of loving that way, our best efforts stumbling at best.

But the desire to know and share the sweet fruits of this love are a sure sign the Spirit’s untamable winds are blowing. And blow they will, so often revealing God’s loving rule in places and people whom you’d least expect, even in yourself.

David L. Miller




Tuesday, March 07, 2023


Jesus our Lord … was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. (Romans 4:24b- 25)

Images imprint themselves on our hearts. We recall them when we hunger to remember and feel what we most need. So it is that I often recall a painting of Jesus blessing a gaggle of children. It hung on a gray, concrete wall in a long-ago Sunday school room. I remember because I was and always will be one of those little ones in need of his blessing.

Perhaps that is why the image of a twisted crucifix has also engraved itself on my heart. A dark-skinned Jesus hangs heavily on the nails, leprous and lifeless, his desiccated body shredded by torture. I saw it in a Spanish cathedral and couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of it. It’s too brutal, too troubling. But I cannot forget it. Every year since, I find it on the internet and let it take me in.

Looking at it, I see the suffering of forgotten people in places I will never be. I feel the Love who embraces them all and forgives everyone, everywhere, everything. And I weep, loving the One who bears shame and rejection that I may know the Great Heart for whom our aching hearts long.

David L. Miller



Sunday, February 05, 2023

Always enough

For [the Lord] did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him. (Psalm 22:24)

A lazy afternoon. “Sorry I’m so quiet,” Dixie sighs, looking up from her book. “I’m not much company today."

“It’s alright,” I respond. “Your presence is enough.” And it is.

It’s enough to know she is here with me, and I am not alone, like so many who have lost their loves. It is for this, after all, that we are made, not the state of marriage necessarily but to know and share the comfort of other hearts.

Wonderfully human, this need. It stirs our hunger for others and for a much greater heart who is loving, powerful and near, a Blessed Presence who doesn’t run away or hide when we are hurt or afraid, forgotten or rejected.

We fly into the mercy of God on the wings on this need. Like so many of old and Jesus himself, we pray our distress, begging to feel the beams of Love’s presence enfolding and holding us near. Hungry to be heard, we call out to the One who never hides his face, who is always there and whose presence … is always enough.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Songs in the night

I commune with my heart in the night; I meditate and search my spirit (Psalm 77:6)

Sometimes I wake with a song silently singing in my mind. Old songs are just there, hymns and melodies resonant with the Love who is far warmer than sky-blue winter mornings. They wake my heart to the gift of a new day, and I smile back at this Love who is always there, no matter how long or dark the night.

It has always been so. Believers in the God who so loves us have long sung their joys and sorrows, hungry for words and melodies that fill their hearts and comfort their sadness.

Feeling lost and alone, the Psalmist wrote, “I commune with my heart in the night,” trying to remember what it was like to feel God’s love. Many translations render this verse, “I remember my songs in the night.” Of course. For our songs bear us into Love’s holy presence, healing our hearts and lifting us to laughter when nothing else can.

Sometimes only a song can say what needs to be said, so I’ll sing along, or least smile, when music opens my eyes.

David L. Miller

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Just like them

Have … sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8)

I’ve come to the age of those I most wanted and needed when I was young. Their faces pass before my mind and bless me even though some are more than 40 years gone. And I wonder: Have I become more like these souls who showed me what it is to be human?

They’d all known hardship. Most had suffered losses that dampened their eyes long after the fact. But bitterness was unknown among them. They breathed kindness, a gentle humility that did not demand that life and others must go their way and do their bidding. Humble is the word. They needed less, demanded less and loved more, grateful for the gifts life had given.

I wanted to be just like them—still do. They left a great deal of joy and blessing in their wake, extending far beyond their time and place through the hearts they touched, like mine.

Love made them the way they were—are still are. Somehow, they looked around and knew: The fields and faces, streets and graces were all a sacrament of Love’s embrace. So, like them, I sit here in the presence of Christ’s great love, praying to be made human, like them.

David L. Miller

Saturday, January 07, 2023

Circles of light & Sydney, too

When the wise men saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1o-11)

I can’t let Mary go. Christmas has passed. The ornaments are stored in their boxes, but Mary remains. Her silent radiance still shimmers from the tapestry on the family room wall. Rapt in love, Mary’s eyes caress the infant Jesus, lying in the straw of a manger, while a shepherd leans on his staff to peer over her shoulder at the child.

One of the Magi kneels in adoration at the creche and offers his gift. Two others, gifts in hand, stand in reverence until it is their turn to kneel in the warm light around Mary and her child.

The shepherd, the magi … and me, all of us drawn to this circle of light that love might heal and restore our humanity.

Mary and this child, who is Love’s blessed face, is an icon, a holy image on which we gaze to be made human again. Drawn into this circle of light, we see and feel what God is doing in us and in everything. The Holy One is drawing us home into circles of love and light, circles of care and healing, where our vulnerabilities encounter Love’s great grace alive in human hearts and hands.

We are not and never were intended to be alone. Home is the circle of light that appears in every circle of care and belonging where love lives.

I see this sometimes when I watch the news and witness how human hearts gather around the needs of those who fall, who struggle or suffer outrageous fates, like a football player in the prime of life who collapses in cardiac arrest in front of a stadium full of people and millions of television viewers. Grown men kneel, cry and pray; paramedics rush to work their wonders, and watchers stand vigil at emergency room doors.

But I’m even more impressed by my young friend, Sydney, and the circle of light around her. It’s not just the little smile that crosses her lips as she works her phone and laptop from a hospital bed, but everything and everyone around her.

Eight days ago, she had a heart transplant, a harrowing experience for anyone, especially so if you are only 14. She is doing well and has every hope of being able to do things and live in ways that have not been possible for her.

It’s possible because of a host of people that daily surround her in this circle of light.

Nurses, doctors, therapists and specialist of many kinds: OT, PT respiratory, art therapy, psychological services: I neither know nor can name them all. But they’re all there, present in that circle with Sydney’s fantastic parents and twin brother, grandparents and family near and far; friends at work and school; members of her congregation and hundreds of others who have and continue to pray for her. And, most poignantly, there is a donor and family who gave an incalculable gift so that Sydney might live abundantly.

Quite some circle, all of it—all of them—aglow with light and life, love and hope, tears and joy, more beautiful than I have words to say, alight with the love that streams through the darkness of the centuries to this time, this place, this girl.

The warm circle of light around Mary and Jesus—and Sydney, too— reveals what our loving God has had in mind for us all along. And every time we find ourselves in such a circle, we are home, truly home … in the Light whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

 David L. Miller




Saturday, December 31, 2022

A long night’s journey into life

A long night’s journey into life

I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

Tears are telling. Warm as life and silent as night, they are the voice of your soul. They come to remind you that you are so much more than the thoughts you direct from one thing to another to navigate your days.

They sneak up on you, these tears, like at a moment when gratitude overwhelms the heart from a hidden reservoir rising within to wash away everything that is not love.

It is then we are finally ourselves, not the one you routinely show the world but the self the Blessed Source made as an emblem of Love’s holy image in time and space.

So it was as, we sat at a table in a hospital lounge, waiting for news of a heart removed and another implanted in a young girl. We waited, parents and grandparents, pastors and friends, seated in a holy temple of healing, knowing our beloved lay in the hands of hearts dedicated to preserve what only One can create.

And all the while, we knew: in another room, in another hospital, in another town another family wept tears of another sort while giving a gift of life to be winged over a Midwest prairie and rushed through Chicago streets to waiting hands who would sew life back into a girl named Sydney. Our Sydney.

Opening my mouth to speak only tears came out, gratitude for a holy place given to heal what is broken, for the hands who packed a heart for travel, for the pilot of the plane, and the driver of the transport car, for the 24-hour days and long years of study and practice that enable human hands to do what was once unthinkable, for a grieving family that suffered the unthinkable and still managed to give; and for the family at this table so palpably filled with fear, love and hope that we might burst amid the long hours of unknowing.

Words capture but a glimpse of what our hearts know. Tears do that job. And two words, thank you. Thank you … for all of it, for all of us, for the whole blessed mess of living and dying, all of it teaching us the beauty of loving and discovering we are more human and more like you, Loving Mystery, than we had imagined.

Thank you for the love wringing prayers of hope and healing from our hearts and for the tears that do the talking when nothing else can.

And thank you, Holy One, for the beauty of a life preserved. Our Sydney.

David L. Miller