Monday, August 08, 2022

Doors

 

Be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. (Luke 12:36-37)

Jesus’ parables always give us something to see. Here, it is a man, a landowner, returning home from a wedding, filled with good food and fine wine, eager not to be served by his minions but to share the joy.

For me, the story awakens an image of Jesus hurrying home. Hungry to be with him, I throw open the door and our smiles meet with a tear of loving recognition.

For it is not just any wedding from which he returns. It is his wedding, the marriage of time and eternity, heaven and earth, mortal flesh and Eternal Love.  

He comes, eager for us to open the door to Love’s living appearance wherever and whenever we feel him nudging our hearts from slumber. Heaven and earth are wed, a union known in every moment of love and beauty, grace and hope, care and wonder.

Yes, ugliness endures, and hatreds rip the loveliness of life asunder. But the wedding has happened. Earth and heaven are joined to save us from ourselves and our cynicism.

Jesus approaches in every love and beauty, grace and care, hoping that we just might open the door and embrace him so the joy in him might infuse our souls with the Life who is Life.  

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus says in another place in Christian Scripture. Yes. Always.

Our task and hope is to watch, pay attention, like at Christmas or Thanksgiving, or when we are waiting for a certain car to enter the drive, listening for the scuff of shoes on the walk, the knock on the door and the arrival of a heart for whom our hearts long.

He comes every time your heart warms in love and gratitude, care and hope. He knocks in our longing for the beauty of heaven to shine amid this world’s troubles.

Open the door. Embrace the moment for all your worth. He’s inviting you to the feast.

David L. Miller

 

 

 

 

Monday, August 01, 2022

In the field

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. (Matthew 13:47-48)

There are not many things but only one, or so it seems in the coffee shop.

An Indian woman, gold ring and chain in her left nostril, feverishly punches a long series of digits into the computer as Bianca, a young African American woman, offers a joke to occupy the delay as she waits to take my order.

Behind them, a pale girl with pink highlights shares the laugh as she shakes an iced latte and delivers it to a waiting customer, seamlessly moving onto the next order as she will to mine in a few moments.

No need to hurry this along. Everything here happens to plan. Movement and moment flow as one, each of us encompassed in this carefully choreographed dance of caffeinated fulfillment.

From my usual chair by the plate glass window, I take it all in. Not just the seven working here today, nor the dozen scattered about tables and chairs, drinking, reading, talking, peering into computer screens or off into space. No, much more.

I see all of us caught up in an all-embracing field of force that is drawing, drawing, drawing us toward a single far-off point shrouded in darkness. We move, each towed in a great sway of Love toward a common home whose presence we feel in this gentle moment of shared laughter and harmonious movement.

Love pulls us to the home Love is, to the final, omega point where the many are finally one and realize we always were though we seldom recognized it. We live and move in the field of Love, sometimes consenting, often resisting this gracious tide that envelops all of us and everything, including the olive-skinned youth who splits my field of vision, gathers his drink and hurries out the door.

Who knows where he is going? Well, Love does and lives there, too, pulling us toward its embrace regardless where we are or where we go.

Deep peace and consoling tears, quickly hidden, accompany this awareness. And why not? For in a single moment the wonder of your presence, the joy of your love and the beauty of your divine intention are clear enough.

We all live in you, in the field of the Love you are.  I know it now. But please remind me, won't you, when I forget.

David L. Miller

 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

The pearl in the park

‘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 13:45-46)

A bench in McCollum Park invites my presence and awakens prayer: Dearest One, help me be open to you. Fill my thoughts with your pea ... ce.

Consolation and Presence washes through me before I finish the word, answering the prayer that is deepest in my heart and most often on my lips.

Peace: the presence of Love Unlimited, Love Uncreated, the Mystery who is the soul’s source and deepest center, always present, waiting ... for the mind and heart to open the door upon which this holiness knocks.

Today, I manage to find the handle. The door effortlessly swings open, for it is not I who open it but this Love whose longing to console my heart infinitely exceeds my own.

Questions that occasioned my retreat to the park recede then disappear, knots untied, my heart released from solving the mystery of myself, what I am to do and be as my seventh decade draws to a close.

The question of choosing this way or that remain. Shall I continue in a ministry which has long drawn me or let it go for another way of loving life in the name of the Love who won me long ago, playing with my heart, coaxing me close in the days I chased Blondie, my cocker spaniel, across the wide fields of the Warren fairgrounds? 

I think it was then that I first knew the Love who sets the heart free, even though I didn’t understand who this Love is or what was happening in me.

But then do we ever really know who this ever-greater Love is or understand the mysteries of our hearts? A bit, I think, especially in moments when we feel ourselves enveloped in the Love who invited me to this bench on a July afternoon.

After all, Love’s joy is revealing the wonder of Love Unlimited in the confines of our finite hearts, the pearl of great price at home in mortal measure. Who knew it could be so? Well, we do.

I came out here looking for a bit of peace, only to discover, again, that it is not peace I crave, but You. For You, Loving Mystery, are my peace, the Holy Presence who says, “Stay here awhile. I have something beyond all the world’s wealth to give you.”

David L. Miller


Thursday, July 21, 2022

St. Vernon

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the people who are wise and smart. But you have shown them to those who are like little children. Yes, Father, this is what you really wanted. (Matthew 11:25-26)

The world’s a better place because Vernon Yung lived. I think of him every time I come upon these verses in Matthew 11. Vernon is one of the little ones—the natural, unpretentious, open-hearted souls—in whom Jesus delights.

But then so did I, and pretty much everyone who had the pleasure of being warmed by Vernon’s contagious joy.

It’s his smile I remember more than anything else. A gentle sweetness surrounded him, which some suggest is common among those with Down Syndrome. Maybe so; but that’s beyond my knowledge.

All I know is how glad I was to see him and he to see me on the occasions he brightened the door of Salem Lutheran, on those weekends he visited his parents on their farm near the sprawling metropolis of Guide Rock, Nebraska, population 220, give or take.

During the week, Vernon lived in a group home in Hastings, a little more than an hour away if you drove the speed limit, which almost nobody did. He worked in grocery there. I crossed paths with him one day as he was stocking a shelf with cans of something, totally absorbed in his task. It’s been 40 years, but the image sticks with me and warms my heart each time it comes to mind.

And each time I smile remembering his smile and the halting cadence of his voice as he spoke to me. Vernon loved laughing, a good meal and the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, suffering and celebrating their fortunes during football season.

On Sundays, he took pride in serving as an usher, greeting people and handing out worship bulletins at First St. Paul Lutheran in Hastings. Envisioning his smile, it’s hard to imagine anyone better equipped for the job.

But when I imagine Vernon I tend to see him with the little clutch of people gathered around Jesus as he praises the Loving Mystery of God for the love and joy that shine in these unsuspecting souls who have no idea how much they bless the rest of us.

I have no idea if, in heaven’s eyes, my life has contributed half as much to this world’s good as Vernon’s 62 years, which ended in 2020. Such assessments are well beyond my paygrade.

Such comparisons are not the point, however. What’s important is the Love who shined in St. Vincent and still does. That Holy Mystery found him in a thousand ways through people who treasured him that he might shine with the light of the Love who would illumine all our hearts, given half a chance.

So, whatever else you do on these hot summer days, you might just give it that chance. Find a moment to sit and savor faces and places where the Love Who Is has found you. Stay there long enough to feel your heart warmed; then go embrace your life.

If you do, someone you least expect may bless God for having known you ... though you know nothing of it.

David L. Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Made for joy

At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’ (Matthew 11:25-26)

Watch. Do not ask what he means. Just watch Jesus. What does he do? What is his mood? What moves him? Whisper his words, and listen to his heart. “I thank you Lord of heaven and earth ... .”

He turns about to take in the clutch of human souls gathered around him. Raising his eyes into the Loving Mystery he calls Father, he gives thanks for the divine generosity that illumines the hearts of the small and simple with the light of Love Eternal.

Elation sweeps him into a current of joy and love for the simple and pushed aside, the no-counts and the forgotten whose eyes sparkle, aware of the wonder of God’s loving kingdom alive within them. They feel its presence in the healing love that flows from him, touching their broken places, assuring their anxious hearts that Love’s healing rule will by no means exclude them. They are the wanted, the sought, the found, blessed of God. As are we.

Their joy brings Jesus joy. He sees and knows they experience the living, loving Presence with whom his heart dwells in constant communion. Truest of friends, he wants to give them what he has, to share the fullness he enjoys that they may enter the intimacy that flows, an unending current of life, between his heart and the One who is Love.

This intimacy, this participation in Love is the home we have craved since our first breath and will until our last.

Jesus’ face, his joy unveils the Eternal Mystery, the Spirit of Life for whom our hearts long. Watching him, what he does, what brings him joy, moves his anger, elicits his tears, we see, we meet, we are enfloded in the Love who longs to give us everything it is that we may know the joy for which we were always intended ... even amid the mess of the moment.

David L. Miller

 

 

Friday, July 15, 2022

The Love who sees

 

 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

To see anyone is to see their need, or at least to see they are every bit as needy as yourself. This is one of the more striking and attractive characteristics of Jesus in all four biblical portraits of his presence: He sees.

He sees human beings in their neediness. He sees that being human is not easy. He sees that human souls break down beneath the burdens life heaps upon them. He sees human hearts long for a gentle word, an understanding presence and a way of being that lightens their load.

He sees and welcomes the burdened to come as they are and rest in his presence, the presence of compassion where there is no need to be anything but whatever it is they are at the moment.

One doesn’t begin to understand this, not really, until you imagine him turning his face to glimpse the hidden need your eyes cannot deny and speaking directly to you, “Come ... and rest.”

Only then, do we begin to feel why human souls clamored near to him, hungry to feel whatever it was that made their hearts breathe and burn in his presence.

They came because he was ... and is ... the Love who sees. The Love who welcomes. The Love who whispers the truth that we are creatures of Love, created by Love to know the Love he is coursing through our lives and hearts, giving relief, release and purpose.

My burden is light, he says of that purpose. Maybe so, though I don’t always believe it. Bearing the weight of love, both the receiving and the giving, will break your heart and teach you just how weak and inadequate you really are.

But it is for this receiving and giving that we are born, and it is only this that fulfills and completes a human life. It is our chief beauty, however much we might fail in the endeavor. A single moment of truly knowing and truly loving sparkles with the brilliance of eternity.  

And even when we break down beneath the weight we carry, the divine voice continues to call, echoing through the centuries in search of our souls, a voice earnest and eager who beckons, “Come. Rest in the Love who knows you.”

David L. Miller

 

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Drawn forward

 As you go, proclaim the good news, “’The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” (Matthew 10:7)

Thoughts and images flash into consciousness, one after another, often passing away as quickly as they appear. But some return and linger, seeming to bear a message we need to hear.

One moment, one image keeps drawing me back to a small, side chapel in a Spanish cathedral where I gazed at a black Jesus hanging on a knotted, wooden cross. His body twisted, tortured and lifeless, his humanity stripped away, the suffering and sadness the world inflicts and endures hangs there, emblemized in this one man.

Seeing it again, alive in my mind, a flood of images races through me even on these bright, summer days while walking Bailey, my daughter’s dog: Places I’ve been. Things I’ve said and done that cause me shame. People I have known whom I have blessed or disappointed. Places and moments of human suffering I will never forget.

And amid this flood of graces and joys I hardly deserve, and moments I’d erase if I could, there hangs this Jesus, suffering the worst the world can give, yet still loving, forgiving and blessing, even his torturers.

If there is anything truly divine in human history, truly transcendent, it is this moment ... and this tortured man whose love didn’t break, fail or dissolve into hatred when hatred poured its fury on his flesh.

This image, this Love draws me not into the past but ahead, into the future of what we each might become as we savor the moment of Love’s great victory over all that is not love, knowing this Love is for us, drawing us close to heal and transform us into its image for the sake of a broken world.

The kingdom of heaven is the wonder of Love transforming time. It is the transcendent Love in Jesus pulling us beyond what we are, beyond what has been, into the future of what Love will do.

Most of us are drawn into God’s future kicking and screaming, resisting Love’s holy gravity because of fear, ego, envy, pride, old angers and the conviction that loving is foolish and na├»ve, instead of the only thing that can save us from ourselves and each other.

But Love is patient and never ends, tugging at our hearts, restless in our souls, drawing us near to feel its transcendent power. It just keeps coming.

David L. Miller