Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our heats, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead
Act,- act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead.
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
a forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us then be up and doing,
with a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.
The story beneath, the relentless pull to life. The hint that perhaps there a footprints of another.
These are the echoes that whisper in the dark corridors of my journey. And the voice speaks to my core lie and says “you are not alone.”
And that is enough. O to be accompanied.
Source: “A Psalm of Life” from The Complete Poetical Works of Longfellow
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin & Co., 1893.
“What is hope?
It is a presentiment that imagination is more real and reality less real than it looks.
It is a hunch
that the overwhelming brutality of facts
that oppress and repress is not the last word. It is a suspicion
that reality is more complex
than realism wants us to believe and that the frontiers of the possible
are not determined by the limits of the actual and that in a miraculous and unexpected way life is preparing the creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection…. The two, suffering and hope, live from each other. Suffering without hope
produces resentment and despair, hope without suffering
creates illusions, naivete, and drunkenness…. Let us plant dates
even though those who plant them will never eat them. We must live by the love of what we will never see. This is the secret discipline.
It is a refusal to let the creative act
be dissolved in immediate sense experience
and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren. Such disciplined love
is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints the courage to die for the future they envisaged.
They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hope.”
Source: “Tomorrow’s Children” by Ruben Aves. from Hijos de Maoana, by Rubem Alves. Salamanca, Spain: Ediciones Sigueme, 1976.
Hope is a single drop left in the center of the flowers after the rain. It is the courage that says I will speak in the face of oppression and violence. It is a flower striped by Creator. It is daring to step, putting one foot in front of the other into the swirling unknown. It is a cloud edged with purple and gilded with gold. It is finding a voice for those who have no voice. It is planting seeds, knowing that I will not see the outcome.
It is my reality. I live into hope unseen.
The disinherited will know for themselves
that there is a Spirit at work in life and in the hearts of men
which is committed to overcoming the world.
It is universal, knowing no age, no race, no culture and no condition of men.
For the privileged and the under privileged alike,
if the individual puts at the disposal of the Spirit the needful dedication and discipline,
he can live effectively in the chaos of the present the high destiny of a son of God.
High Destiny, by Howard Thurman. From the Lenten Poetry companion, neighborhood ministries.
I was first introduced to Howard Thurman in the Mystic Activists. His book, Jesus and the Disinherited, was our focus this fall for a month. It was not enough time to do it justice. But I am learning that theology must come from the bottom up.
We are in a focused time of prayer for our Dreamers. Tomorrow is the deadline for a permanent solution for these children, now grown, who were brought to the states before age 5. They are woven into the very fabric of our culture and society. They are our teachers, they are in nursing classes and serving in our Armed Forces. Dreamers work in every service profession. And they live in a constant state of uncertainty. They never know when their permission could be suddenly gone. And so, quite literally, would they.
The challenge of Scripture must also be read from the bottom up. This is who Jesus hung out with, which often earned harsh criticism from the powers that were in place. The validity and application of Scripture is only as significant as its application to the lowest among us. In fact, when we understand Scripture in this manner, we also see ourselves in that same way. We are the they, living in the most need and desperation.
It is only from this reading of Scripture that we can form a compassionate response to any issues of justice. Literally, the word for compassion with passion or with feeling. Compassion comes when I am moved in my innermost self by the pain of another. I must choose to enter the story. And today, the story is that of our dreamers.
I would ask you today to stand in prayer for the dreamers.
“We are not experiencing utopia here on earth.
But God meant things to be easier than we have made them.
A man has a natural right to food, clothing and shelter.
A family needs work as well as bread.
Property is proper to man.
We must keep repeating these things.
Eternal life begins now, “all the way to heaven is heaven, because He said, ‘I am the Way.’”
The Cross is there of course, but “in the Cross is joy of spirit.”
And love makes all things easy …
Love is indeed a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, of each of us, but it is the only answer …
to the saints everyone is child and lover.
Everyone is Christ.”
Utopia by Dorothy Day. From the Lenten Poetry Companion, Neighborhood Ministries.
A harsh and dreadful thing…
The phrase reminds me of the Denise Levertov reading where she equates mercy to rage and joy.
Why do we make the gospel into a Hallmark movie? This thing that we are asked to do is both easy and hard. The call to love God and love neighbor, is the whole deal in one phrase. And it takes a lifetime to live into.
These natural rights are not the norm for many even in our “wealthy” country. Privilege is real, an unseen line that divides and creates distinction. If you don’t believe that, you probably live from a place of invisible privilege.
“Eternal life begins now.” The kingdom of God is a both and. It is coming and it is here. I am to long for it and work for it today. It is the sublime paradox.
It is in this paradox that I find hope. And love, as easy to love as it is to love a little child or a lover.
And this is the kingdom of God. Even so come.