Don’t Fight Lions

lion

“Willpower is not the way of life we are seeking.  Surrender is… By surrendering to powerlessness, I gain the presence of mind to stop wasting my time and energy trying to change and control that which I cannot change and control…We learn to stop fighting lions, simply because we cannot win.”

Melodie Beattie, The Language of Letting Go

I will open that drawer
and you
will fall out.
Pieces of you
will flap
and flutter about.

I will open that drawer
and you will spill
into my lap.
Dribbling,
little beads of you
will descend.

I will open that drawer
and you will lift
a kingly mane,
nostrils flaring
for freedom
and for prey.

I will open that drawer.
I
will breathe.
You
will roar.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2014

xylem and phloem

Loyola House Feb 2012 020“A thick and shapeless tree-trunk would never believe that it could become a statue, admired as a miracle of sculpture, and would never submit itself to the chisel of the sculptor, who sees by her genius what she can make of it.”

St. Ignatius (1491-1556)

if i were a tree-trunk,
i would stiffen the molecules of my ringed inner core
and repel the penetrating strike of your chisel.

if i were a thick and shapeless trunk,
i would reinforce the xylem and phloem
of my woody bones,
and i would challenge your genius
to find any finer way to feed my growth.

if i were a tree,
among other trees in the wood,
tangled and intertwined together
in a web of my brother Plant’s roots
and my sister Rodent’s tunnels,
i would say,
i want none of your workshop table.

i would resist your desire
to immortalize my frame at the Louvre.

i would care nothing
about the miracle work of your imaginative mind and creative genius.

but i —

i am a human.

and i am caught between what i know
and what i cannot know.

therefore, i say,
do what can be done.

but i know,
no chisel
has ever been
gentle.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2014

The Prodigal Pain

“And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.”                          Mark 14:35

Walk toward the pain, and you will find life.  Swallow the shallow thinking that bids you turn and run.  Refute the fear that declares you are not strong enough to endure the crucible of this moment.

Walk toward the pain and let it unveil the particulars of your life so you may see with clarity and dignity the reality of this moment.  Walk toward the pain and offer it your attentive ear as it relates what you most need to hear.

Pain is merely a messenger of the Spirit of God who wishes to convey wisdom.  Pain is a child of your heart which can be held and comforted and healed under the gaze of God’s love within you.  Pain, attended to, will be transformed.  Pain bathed in grace can be an instrument to resurrect what lies putridly decaying in your soul.

So, Friend, look to the Pain of your heart, comforted and guided by the life of a suffering Christ.  Listen to the Pain of your existence; and as he comes down the long road home to you, call out to him, “Welcome!”

In compassion, run with open arms toward him and embrace him.  Bring out the finest robe of your acceptance and clothe him.  Adorn him with the splendor of surrender.  And in celebration of what he has to teach, feast at the table of Pain’s wisdom.  Once Pain has disclosed the whole sordid, aching story, how will you respond?

For you had lost him, and now he has been found.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2013

*photo from Makezine.com 

Take a Load Off

“For all must carry their own loads.”
                                             Galatians 6:5 NRSV

Paw’s load was pecans, and Granny’s load was Paw.  Granny carried more than her share.  Too bad Paw never learned to carry himself; and sadly, Granny waited until he died to live.

Carry your own load now.  Don’t wait for someone to die because the insurance money will only insure the probability that others will line up sooner rather than later, wanting you to pick up where they recently left off.

Everyone must carry their own load.  Now is the time to take an inventory of what you need to see about yourself, the laundry list of inescapable strengths and weaknesses that parade behind you like a waddling line of downy yellow ducklings.  They will follow you anywhere.

Tend to your own load lest those ducklings obediently plunge off the precipice of your self-deceit.  You wouldn’t have flown so far down if you had known the ducklings were far too immature to fly.

Yes, Wisdom, help me to carry my own load.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2013

duck crossing

The Dark is Me, Too

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I don’t know when or where or how or from whom I learned not to look at the dark side of myself.  It’s not like I don’t have a dark side.  I have plenty of dark side.  And I don’t mean that I  learned to pretend that I didn’t have a dark side.  I knew I had a dark side; I simply learned not to look at it.  I didn’t look at my dark side like I managed not to look at someone who had spoken unjustly to me.  I didn’t look at my dark side like I both recognized and avoided the person I was embarrassed or ashamed to talk to.  I didn’t look at my dark side like I haven’t looked at some of the buskers near the subway stairs.  I know they are there; I hear them; I see them.  I just don’t have the time and money to spare, right now.  Nope, not right now.

And my dark side, let me clarify.  I’m not talking about illegal activities or heinous omissions of ethical behavior.  It’s pretending that I am listening when I am really forming a judgment about why you should be listening to me.  It’s believing I am calm and peaceful and forgiving while I am in an all-out brawl with anger and resentment, refusing to acknowledge their presence and throwing them out the back door of the “I’m So Good” Club hoping no one else ever saw them come into the place.  My dark side is the place where I know I could see (if I took a good hard look) the full reality of my brokenness, my humanness,  and my incompleteness.  My dark side is the part of me that is me, the part of me I wish weren’t me, that I was hoping would somehow change, disappear, or mature if only I could put enough distance between us.

And here’s what caught me, the question of attention.  Would it be okay to give my dark side a thorough gaze?  Or would this serve to fuel the darkness residing therein?  If I looked at the darkness, would I be swallowed up within it, rendering me incapable of ever leaning out toward the light again?

“But,” I sang to my Self, “attention need not be laced with shame nor approval.  Attention may be clarifying while gentle, humble yet accountable.”

May the light of my eyes, cast a luminescent glow, one encompassing net, about my dark side.  May the gift of a sacred attention irradiate what I have been unwilling to fully acknowledge.  May I learn to love my darkness, for that is me, too; and may the Light which has never been overcome by darkness be my guide.

***

What have you learned about yourself and God when you turned your attention to your darkness?

© Amy Persons Parkes 2013

God in the Stranger

a prayer based on Luke 10:25-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan

Merciful God, many are the times that we have been known
to pass by on the other side of the weary and wounded.
Numerous are the days, Stranger God, that we have chosen the road of convenience
over the road of conviction.
Faithful One, enliven within us a Samaritan spirit,
that we might respond with courage in the face of our fear,
that we might risk our certain agendas for unexpected grace,
that we might give ourselves over to a generosity more bountiful
than the smallness of our single-minded self-preservation.
Break open our chained hearts and draw back the drapes of our darkened eyes
that we may go and do as you have done.  Amen.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2013

Invitation (a prayer)

As surely as the envelope comes in the mail,
or the phone rings with opportunity,
or the innocent child asks, “Will you come play with me?” –
you, O God, invite me
to taste and see,
to hear and heal,
to know and be known.

With tenderness and vulnerability,
I pry open the sealed note of this moment
and pray with hope
that I will be available
and able
to respond
to You.

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© Amy Persons Parkes 2011
(written as part of the final project for the Two-Year Academy of Spiritual Formaion #30)