Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Undisclosed

There is a voice
Beneath all sound
It can be heard
By those who've found

The silent way
And inner ear
To quiet noise
Of loss and fear

Listen closely
With your soul
To the word
That makes all whole

The voice will speak
The truth unheard
To those who heed
With minds unstirred

And like a stream
That smooths a stone
The hearts will be
By love atoned

Then the strength
Of all that flows
Will lift all souls
From far below


There is a face
Unseen by eyes
With piecing gaze
It sees through lies

No castle walls
Or strong defense
Withstands its power
To dispense

The shining joy
That all hearts seek
In ways that steal
And leave us weak

It quenches thirst
Like ancient font
And satisfies
The homeward want

It calms the mind
And heaving chest
And gives the peace
Of holy rest


There is a power
That holds all hearts
And heals all wounds
And blessing starts

From this source
All freedom comes
A cadence heard
Of advent drums

To this strength
All will be drawn
Through the night
Into the dawn

Ten thousand times
Ten thousand more
All roads will lead
To this one door

That opens for
All hearts made pure
Who through the fight
And pain endure


There is a name
Unknown to all
Till whispered as
The blessed call

Then each one hearing
The name beneath
Will seize the day
And truth bequeath

It sheds bright light
So all may see
The landscape walked
And no more be

Tripped by the stones
Found in one's path
Nor be consumed
By writhing wrath

To speak the name
From one's own lips
Brings heart, hope, and home
Into eclipse

© 2016 Stephen Carl

Saturday, May 14, 2016

That's what it's called
A five dollar theological word
That means losing control
Of what you never had control of in the first place
Only the illusion of control
And that's what is lost
Since illusion is a waste of time
It sours the heart to truth
And siphons the hope for deliverance
Until great stone edifices sit as empty
As the hearts betrayed by fakery and foolishness

The veil is lifted
Eyes and heart are now open to the gift of every moment
The gift of every opportunity
The conviction to suck in and gulp down all of it
To take hold of it just as we are released from the clutches of fear
And welcomed to a whole different kind of awe
One we can't yet imagine or conceive
Newborns with appetites and instincts
Given a landscape undreamed
Wide open space with no fences
Only the arbitrary boundaries of ownership and by-laws
As if something that has been floating through space
For billions of years can be tethered, managed, owned
By something that rises and falls in half a Neptunian year
No chains
No claims
No names
The box of trinkets has been dumped out and scattered
Say your prayers and get ready to have the wind knocked out of you
By the Wind of all winds
Pentecost is not for sissies
It is the tsunami that wrecks our sandcastle sanctuaries
Leaving us stunned and drenched
Overwhelmed by the power of the love we thought we franchised
Pentecost is The Holy Other's dare to trust
Really let go and give up the reigns we held
      to the dead horse paradigms we've been beating
No more slogans
No more gimmicks
No more sale's pitches about heaven
No more pretend bargains
Stripped of the hocus pocus and the fault finding

Pay attention
There are Pentecost tracks in the rubble
Large paw prints of the prowling predator
Ravenously devouring falsehoods
And feeding the meek
Turning over the marketplace tables that mock the Prodigal Parent
And binding the wounds
Indifferent to the Caesars and Senators who wield woeful wands
Compassionate toward the wearied and burdened
Spewing forth the tepid temple plate-spinners
Gathering the languishing lambs and feeding them
And patiently starving those obese with lies

It isn't a day or an hour or a season or an event
It is a dawning that eclipses the shadowed life
Of everyone, even the baptized
Do not feign to tame that which cannot be chained
The Wind will conquer and claim
As the harvest is gathered
Through relentless love

© 2016 Stephen Carl

Friday, May 6, 2016

The story of Joseph in the Bible is intriguing and powerfully metaphoric for the rich and abundant life that is experienced as blessed but goes through loss, being loathed and despised, betrayed, abandoned, enslaved, being deceived, hardships, and ultimately redemption and the opportunity to bless the very ones who caused him so much suffering.

Joseph, like so many who rise in humble glory with wings of wisdom, went downward--first into a hole as his brothers pushed him and then downward from freedom to slavery as his brothers sold him, then downward to Egypt from the land of his father who believed he was dead.

The downward journey is not easy, nor fun, nor experienced as a blessing, yet it is by dying to self in the downward journey that we are born anew.

The culture in which we live, however, abhors downward.  It is all about upward.  Downward is losing with no gain perceived.  We are sold the idea that the only direction we should settle for is up; up the ladder of success, of power, of wealth, of popularity, of confidence, of credentials, of anything that is about achievement of substance.  Downward is about the opposite of what we should pursue.  And so we negate its benefits, we consider ourselves cursed, having lost our way, a loser.

Yet downward is what so many great people have gone through.  Trials and even suffering has a way of refining us.  We are assured again and again in scripture that God is with us, on our side, hasn't forgotten us, will deliver us, to trust in God's might and sovereignty and that God loves us more than we could imagine--and yet so much of the message of scripture is also about the trials and challenges that define faith.

Hardships, trials, challenges, loss, disappointments, all of these have a way of baptizing us in humility, fortitude, resolve, faith and inner strength.  And yet we define the good life without ever considering the fire in which we are refined or the valley through which we walk.  No one says "my goal for this year is to go through a serious trial or disappointment so that I can be enriched."  But we all want the depth and the wealth of wisdom that comes from facing the descent into the hole, or the slavery, or Egypt, or being betrayed, or forgiving those who have cut us off.

No matter what you face, remember the gifts that come from the unexpected place of hardship.

© 2016 Stephen Carl