Week 4: Trusting the Promise

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:2-3, NRSV

This is the time for realizing
That this deep hope is
For something real.

Impossible
Say the voices around us
Firmly fixed in cynicism, despair.

Impossible
Says the evening news
With its montage of tragedy.

Impossible
Say the politicians
Inciting suspicion, fear.

Impossible
Says the hurting heart
Daring to dream no more.

Impossible
Says the “rational” mind
Trading wonder for logic.

Impossible
Say the statistics
And the violence
And the hatred
And planetary ruin
And hungry bodies
And broken lives…
And…

Yet…

A bright star emerges
In our longest, darkest night
And those wisest among us
Choose to chase it.

What they hear it saying
Through the shining
Is worth the vision
They journey to find.

POSSIBLE
It says of:
Equality
Justice
Kindness
Forgiveness
Redemption

POSSIBLE
It says of:
An end to poverty
A nonviolent way
Radical compassion
Peace on earth
The kingdom of God

POSSIBLE
It says of:
A table of welcome
With a feast spread wide
For all people–
Even those we fear
Even those who fear us–
To come and be nourished
And reconciled
And healed
And blessed.

POSSIBLE
It says of:
Our deepest need
The deepest dream
Of the Holy
Birthed in us
Through us
With us
For us.

This is the time for realizing
That this deep hope is
For something real.

Spiritual Practice: What possibility are you invited to follow this Advent season? What does it mean to trust the promise of the incarnation in the world today?

The Journey Called Trust

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“Give yourself, then, to this divine and infinite life, this mysterious cosmic activity in which you are immersed, of which you are born. Trust it. Let it surge in on you.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism

The gift of disruption,
This angel visitation,
Will not be complete
In the same moment
It arrives.

Now we enter the longer part
Of the journey called
Trust
When everything has gone back to normal
But nothing has.
And we carry within us
Something we can’t yet name.

I search for an answer
Looking for the single key
To unlock the door to the future.
It will not come.

I’m as guilty as anyone,
Wanting to see where we are going,
Wanting the outcome to be some version
Of what I think I want it to be.

What is it exactly that I hope for?
What is the deepest, truest thing
That needs to continue or emerge?
How many forms might it take and
What forms might it already be taking?
Will I be present enough to see?

Can I trust the mystery of incarnation enough
To believe that the Holy is always
Coming into life in some new way?

On this long journey,
There is no bypassing
The necessary work
Of tending our inward spaces.
As long as we stay on the surface,
Surface will be all we see.
The invitation is to go deep
Into the dark unknown-
The cave, the womb, the starry night.

Temptations abound of
Avoidance and neglect,
Understandable because
Once you enter,
Nothing stays the same.

Halfway is no way.
Once trust is required
We either journey forward
Or we don’t.
Apathy and cynicism will try to get their way.
Don’t let them.
Healing is engagement.
Incarnation is embodiment.
We give ourselves over to our deep hope
And we are changed.

This fleeting visitation has meant something real
And it is coming to life in you.
Let it grow.
Trust what it will be
Even though you can’t yet see
Or maybe even imagine.
Give your whole self
To the trembling, awe-filled
YES that your heart
Has been yearning
To say.

Now we enter the longer part
Of the journey called
Trust.

Spiritual Practice: How are you invited to stay with the call of God in your life even when you can’t see where it will lead? Pray for steadiness of heart, deep trust, when uncertainty tempts you to abandon the journey.

What Is In Your Heart?

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.” –Deuteronomy 8:2

This is the time for taking the time to enter into your own depths, to know what is in your heart.

Parker Palmer describes the soul as a wild animal, which is a helpful metaphor in a wilderness season. “Let us remember that if we go crashing through the woods, screaming and yelling for the soul to come out, it will evade us night and day… But if you are willing to go into the woods, and sit quietly at the base of a tree, that wild animal will, after a few hours, reveal itself to you. And out of the corner of your eye, you will glimpse something of the wild preciousness [you are] looking for.”

I realize that while Lent is a wilderness time; most of us are still consumed with the tasks and demands of daily life. Who has hours to sit at the base of a tree waiting for the soul to emerge, whether in your living room or in the actual woods?

It is up to you to determine what you are willing to give. Ultimately, we make the time for what we want to make time for. There may be no more important act right now (for ourselves and the world) than finding a tree to sit under or a warm room to sit in to just pay attention to what is yearning to be noticed within. This is where the reserves are strengthened for living the justice we seek. It is where the most tangled questions knotted up in our minds find gradual release and even response.

But there is also this: being in the season of Lent means the wilderness is not only with us in our set-aside moments of prayer. We are in the wilderness at work, in meetings, driving to the store, and having dinner with our families. The radical way of humility and trust enfolds us as a constant possibility throughout the day. At any moment, we can use whatever is before us as an opportunity to glimpse something of the “wild preciousness” of the soul and then to live from that place.

Perhaps, living in this way, we might see something of the “wild preciousness” of all the other souls we encounter too.

This day take the time to discern what is in your heart. Spend time simply being present, waiting for the wildness of your own soul to emerge and reveal itself to you. Throughout the day return often to this inward wilderness space. Allow it to bring you perspective and patience and humility and grace.

God is searching your depths, in love, seeking out what is in your heart and inviting you to join. The wild preciousness within is longing to be discovered- to be lived.