Tag Archives: grace

Arise, O LORD

Psalms 10:12

Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

We who are weary here, crushed

beneath the burden of our existence in the world,

who cannot lift our heads for the weight of sorrow…

Some of us mutter to ourselves of our own misery,

defeated by the darkness to spurn any talk of light,

so drenched in wallowing are we that only the sharp

cutting of our tongues (and other weapons) upon the happiness of others brings

us any unpained recognition of being alive – and we curse that, too.

And some of us, bowed down with sadness and fatigue,

still cast our sight, like fishing lures, for any bite of hope,

bobbing along the surface, waiting for the nibble of a small comfort, or,

if brave enough, diving into the deep, submerging

the whole breadth of our brokenness into the ocean of divine mercy,

to be swallowed up by a greater being than ourselves,

one that is quick and liquid ready and eternally alive…

 

Rise up, O Lord, and bring with thee from the depth of the waters

all who have given themselves over to faith in the gulf of hope,

all who have sunk down in their littleness and plunged into their wounds

so they may seek and discover the love that abides there –

not their own miseries, but thy joy and thy triumph!

Lift thy hand, oh God, and with it, the multitudes

who, in their weeping and wretched afflictions,

did not spurn thy name, nor destroy thy images,

nor deny the gift of hope though the world made a mockery,

but who, rather, cast into the deep and trusted thee in the swim.

 

The One who lit the stars and set them in motion,

who pulls the tides with light-reflecting orbs,

and teems the earth and every body with the rush of life,

this is the One from whom I draw my living

and in whom I will pour all my tears and laughter and blood –

though the world forsake me and taunt me with their miseries,

I shall not be overcome… for I am already drowning in love.

 

© 2014 Christina Chase

 

Advertisements

Departed

I would like to say that I am innocent… But I am not.

Psalms 18:21

For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

When I was nine years old, I was a thief. Not only did I steal gulps of wine with my friend from the kitchen (warm alcohol in a Mickey Mouse tumbler) and grams of chalk dust from the school gym supply (folding it up in some paper and sticking it inside my wheelchair while waiting for the short bus to come and take me home) and various small things – construction paper, carbon, broken chalk – that I wanted and I judged no one would miss… but I also stole knowledge. At the end of third grade, I was allowed to stay inside with my friend Beth for recess one day and we decided to open our teacher’s desk drawer and find that secret list. A secret list existed near the close of every school year with the names of the teachers that each student would receive the next year. We all wanted to know what classroom we would end up in – would we get our favorite teacher, would our friends be with us? But, that information, as I recall, was never shared until the summer. Beth and I didn’t want to wait. We wanted to know.

If memory serves, I was the one who instigated and told Beth to do it. Being physically limited, I was used to “bossing people around”. Not only did we find out who we would have for teachers, but also who our friends, and people with whom we would like to be friends, were going to have. Before the end of the school day, we whispered the secrets to everyone that we could. Eventually, other kids in other classrooms let it slip that they knew – and when asked where they had heard the news, directed authorities to Mrs. B’s class. Mrs. B made us all put our heads upon our desks until the guilty party, or parties, confessed the crime. I did not raise my head. I did not say a word. And neither did Beth. Mrs. B couldn’t keep us there forever, we had to go home. But, as we were lining up to leave, a boy in my class told Mrs. B that I was the one who had told him, that I was the one who had stolen the list. My teacher looked down at me and I looked up at her with my big brown eyes. I remember myself mumbling something about Beth, ready to throw her under the bus – we really weren’t that close anyway – but Mrs. B had poor hearing. She just regarded me through her glasses, her bright red lips extra thin and tight. But, then her face softened. She didn’t believe the boy. She didn’t believe that I could do something so wrong. To her, and to most everyone as I would find out in my life, I was an innocent.

Indeed, this may seem like a small and innocent offense – what real harm was done? But, the harm was to my classmates who were all under the shadow of suspicion, for that afternoon with their heads down in the dark and silence, and, for all I know, for the rest of Mrs. B’s life. And the harm was done to my relationship with Beth, for we never did get close. Perhaps she overheard my mumbled ratting or perhaps the guilt was just too much for me. And the greatest harm, I know, was to myself. For I showed myself, in this incident, my true colors. Thievery was easy to me and I honestly felt no guilt about that. I was even proud. Proud that me, who everyone thought was a little angel in a wheelchair, could commit such an act that got the whole third-grade buzzing. The fact that I so blatantly got away with it just added to my happiness over the whole event. But… what I was willing to do to Beth… how I was willing to hide behind the cloak of innocence with which my wheelchair draped me while pointing my finger at her…. this is not only a crime against someone whom I considered a friend, this was, and I say this most seriously, a crime against God. Sneaky, deceptive, smarmy, and proud of myself, I was bolstered up for many years by the memory of this robbed knowledge.

It was not merely the ignorant act of a child. For, was there not some innocence in Eve when she simply wanted to gain wisdom, as I simply wanted to know? And, was there not also pride and greed at grasping for something higher than herself, to put herself at the level of a superior? And was there not shameful finger-pointing, a desperate attempt to inflict any punishment that she deserved away from herself and onto a co-conspirator? Wasn’t Adam, too, guilty of this last crime, this greatest crime: willfully inflicting harm upon another in an attempt to hide from the consequences coming justly to oneself?

To escape justice, the first humans had to hide themselves from one another – to hide themselves from God. But… there is no hiding from God. And don’t I know that, too! Knowledge thief that I am, did I not dare to proclaim that there is no such thing as God and devote myself entirely to a godless life with myself as the center of a meaningless universe? No, I never committed murder in that life – although I did strangle my soul’s promptings and suffocate my own spiritual nature. I did not steal – but I had already hijacked my own reason. And I did not commit adultery or anything like that – although I did desecrate the temple of my body. I broke the ways of the Lord by departing from my God. From truth. From real love. From life itself. And though this willful act was not committed through wickedness, I was still far from the truth of my identity as a being lovingly Created in divine image; I had banished myself far from the tree of life and the reality of reality.

Forever east of Eden, we thieves of knowledge go –
and the innocent truth of who we really are, we can’t get to know.
There, but for the grace of God, would I, ever seeking, lie;
it’s grace that’s brought me home again… I cannot hide from I.

Christina Chase

 

Before the World Began

Pefect Gratuitouness…

2 Timothy 1:9

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Before I was… I AM.

Before time… Eternity.

Before space… Infinity.

And even now, as I live and breathe,

in me, around me, all through me and

everywhere there is a there – and even where there is not… Grace.

Beyond matter, the particles and energy and all that can be detected with tools and brains,

beyond matter is Ultimate Reality, is Truth;

The Source, still and silent as It churns and sings with Life,

is beyond the reach of our physical senses, of our intellect and imagination.

Beyond grasping, the One Who IS, Infinite/Eternal One… is.

 

So… who am I?

I did not exist before the Word,

I would not exist without the Word,

for, through, with, and in the Word,

I am made flesh

and spirit.

No useless matter hurls through a meaningless universe,

for all is called forth into being by Being Itself.

Why does something exist instead of nothing?

Because the Infinite/Eternal One, Who is no thing, exists.

The finite cannot reach for the infinite

without losing its fine uniqueness that is its own particular identity;

Rather, the Infinite, ever-invisible/intangible and ever-motionless, reaches out

for us.

The perfect gratuitousness, which is the measureless Will powering Creation,

calls forth, through the unfathomable Word, the finite from no-thingness –

for no reason and no need, save for love.

Pure love, unadulterated by the finite, is Divine Reason…

is the eternal why…

is the Life of Grace.

 

Restore me, Infinite/Eternal One, to my reason for being.

Still and silent, with the speed and song of Thy Love, of Thee,

reach into my intellect and imagination, reach into my finite body and senses,

without a word, speak Thy Word into my soul,

and I shall be redeemed.

Not because I deserve to be, not because I have grabbed such,

not for any reason or any need – save for love.

The finite cannot take on the infinite without losing itself infinitely;

But the Infinite assumes the finite

in Christ

and, by the Gift given us before the world began,

the finite loses its finity in the infinity of the soul, and

restored, renewed, those who live,

though in the darkness of intellect and the weakness of human will,

shall see Light… Infinite… Eternal… Truth.

Christina Chase

Cut to the Heart

Who likes to hear that they are wrong?

Acts 7:52-54

52. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

53. Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

54. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

I like being right.  I like knowing the answer to a trivia question when no one else around me does, I like being able to explain something to someone who is confused, and I like being recognized and praised for a job well done.  Who doesn’t?  Now, I don’t like flattery or pretty lies, and I don’t like being patronized with compliments or winning a competition or game because someone let me.  I like being right – not being told that I am right.  But, of course, there are many, many times when I am wrong.  Most times, I don’t know the answer to a trivia question and am unable to explain something to someone who is confused.  I don’t do that many things well and I know it – I know it and own it freely.  I am flawed, as all human beings are, very far from perfect.  And, in my own human particularity, I have many, many faults and have made many, many mistakes.  I know this and I don’t hate myself for it at all.  But, still, I really hate being wrong – I hate that feeling that I get when my answer is incorrect or my understanding of something is totally off.  It does feel very much like being cut to the heart for a split second.

With years of maturing and becoming more fully myself (a human in need of grace) I’ve learned to get over this infuriating blow of being wrong and the feeling stabs much, much less – though I am no less often wrong.  But, I have to continually guard myself against anger at the person who shows me to be mistaken; I have to perpetually remind myself that I should be grateful to those who show me where my faults lie, how I need to improve so that I can become a better person.  Because life isn’t just about knowing trivial knowledge, facts and figures, but about living in relationship with others.

To be my true self, to be who I am created to be, I must always seek right and good and true relationship with my fellow human beings, with Creation, and with our Creator.  If my relationships are not right (which also means not good, which also means not true) then I myself am not right.  I can be the most ignorant person on the planet when it comes to knowledge of the world – but, if I have love, then I am enlightened in the ways of truth and goodness, far wiser than the smartest person in the world who has no love.  The smartest person might think that he is loved by the world for his knowledge and, being honored and praised, think that he has love.  But, love is not something that is possessed.  Love is given and the moment that love is received, it is given again – to the one from whom it was received and/or to others, without end.  For true love can never be stagnant.  And the only reason, the only way, that we human beings can love at all is because we are first loved by our Creator, by God.  Receiving God’s love and then giving that love is the first and most essential right relationship.  If I can do this, if I can let God love me and then love God and God’s creatures in return (for if I am to truly receive God’s love then I must give it away) then I am relating to Creation, to the universe and every being, every creature, within it in the fullness of truth.  The truth is that we are all loved into existence.  And so, without loving, we will always be out of order, out of step, out of touch – we will always be wrong.

Next time somebody points out any kind of error that I have made, whether it be in the knowledge of information, or in the loving of God and God’s Creation (which includes myself and my fellow human beings) I will try very hard to remember not to kill the messenger.  I may not like the feeling of being wrong, but if I try to defend myself against the feeling with anger and deflection and excuses that are lies, then I will be even more deeply and painfully wrong.

I am a human in need of grace, as each and every one of us is, and if that grace comes through the form of a rightfully correcting teacher, preacher, or loved one, let us not be afraid.  It is Christ, who knows all of our hungers and shares all of our sufferings, who is helping us.  We may feel hurt by the human style or tone, but we must not let that harden us to the truth of the message.  What is true is true.  And the truth will set us free.  So, let us not gnash our teeth at each other, but, rather, learn how to love.

Christina Chase