The Garden of Gethsemane: Hospice and Hope

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

The Agony of Christ in Gethesemane (from BostonMonks.com)

He’s on his knees. His hands are open —palms extended to the night sky. His bowed head and bent back round out his prayerful stance.

This is the way I picture Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane awaiting his impending death. It’s only a matter of time before he will be handed over to Roman soldiers, scourged, made to march to Calvary bearing a wooden cross on his back, and then nailed to the cross and left to die.

But in those moments before — he waits. He prays. He wonders. He beseeches His father; and he opens his heart, mind, and being to what will follow. His posture reflects his human reluctance and divine acceptance of what is to come.

My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” —Matthew 26:42

My walk alongside Christ this Holy Week takes me into the heart of such moments of agony and awe, historical, biblical reflection, and present-moment contemplations.

Last night, a good friend’s grandfather entered hospice. The news caught me off guard, as I had been praying for him and expected — alongside my friend– grandpa’s return home; more days of life and family to be lived.

IMG_6951

Photo by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

But the news of hospice care arrived, right alongside the dawn of this Holy Thursday, and so informs my prayer and contemplations this day. I hold Jesus’ journey to death and new life right alongside Grandpa Sheehan’s.

“How do we hold the mystery of resurrection inside the reality of an angst-ridden-end?”

I lit a candle next to the east-facing window in my house this morning and sat with scripture and these thoughts.

What is it to open ourselves wholly to death and welcome it, as we simultaneously mark the flow of oxygen in and out of our lungs? How do we hold the mystery of resurrection inside the reality of an angst-ridden-end? What does it mean to mark the dignity of our living selves as the circumstances of darkness press in? The Garden of Gethsemane, hospice, and Holy week bring these questions to the fore.

In my time contemplating Christ’s agony in the garden and Grandpa’s failing lungs, I found myself back in my own journey carrying a growing baby boy in my body, who I knew simultaneously would not survive many moments beyond his birth. It was an impending death – one that connects each of us in these agonizing circumstances.

“I know my call in this day, in these moments, is to not shirk away from the reality of death, but rather: be still and repeat with Christ: ‘Thy will be done. ‘”

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God’s Son: Xavi
(photo taken by Salina Caldes from NILMDTS)

Eighteen months after the experience of bearing a son and burying him a week later, I’m in a new place of understanding the gift of hospice care and Christ’s stance in that garden. I feel an intimate connection with Jesus, and all who hover at death’s door, waiting. I know my call in this day, in these moments, is to not shirk away from the reality of death, but rather: be still and repeat with Christ: Thy will be done. 

A year and a half after our son Xavi’s arrival, and brief time with us on this earth, I know a profound grace and joy in the experience of being his mother –of carrying him in my body and recognizing his direct connection to the God that made him possible.

On this day, in this time of marking our walk with Christ to the open tomb, I invite us all to inhabit fully each moment of agony and angst, trusting profoundly that a purpose for this time will reveal itself just as surely as the resurrected Christ will on Easter morning.

LIVE + JESUS!

Weaving together Humility and Gentleness: An Invitation to Consider the Warp and Woof of Love

SMF warp woof

Weaving as Metaphor: S. Mary Frances shares a tapestry made by Mary Johnson at the SAORI Weaving Studio.

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

Through the slanted wood shades of the Girard House living room windows, morning light fell on the red, black, and white cotton and silk fibers woven together by our friend Mary Johnson.

As Visitation Minneapolis’ community leader Sr. Mary Frances Reis presented the tapestry to me, she spoke the following words:

“We are called to the practice of love, rather than austerity. Two virtues in particular form the warp through which the woof of love is woven. These are humility and gentleness.”

Quoting from the Companion to the Rule of Life of the Visitation Order, Sister traced her fingers along the color lines and weaving pattern, illustrating her metaphorical point.

According to wikipedia, woof and weft derive from the Old English word “wefan”  which means “to weave.” Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while woof is the transverse thread. The warp and the woof ultimately form a fabric.  Figuratively, then these Salesian virtues of humility and gentleness, woven together become the fabric of love for our lives.

Can you imagine how humility and gentleness are threaded through love? Can you see the sisters in their urban monastery, “living Jesus” as consciously as possible: stitching together experiences at the door with neighbors in need or want of prayer – a meal, a bus token, warmth – all drawing on Christ’s love? Can you count the ways you practice living in such a manner — checking your ego, releasing anger or hostility in any given moment, and letting these virtuous acts knit you more closely with Love and Creator?

It’s not often that I get to meet one-on-one with Sr. Mary Frances. Convened to discuss themes emerging in our vocations and engagement work, our conversation took us to these Salesian elements that envelop the sisters’ ministry in Minneapolis, and inspire me in my own intentional, contemplative life.

Listening to “SMF” I am moved. I am reminded of how our co-founders Sts. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal believed we were all called to holiness. The Sisters. Our priests. Our bishops. You. Me. The neighbor. We can all live and practice these virtues that are part of the Rule of Religious life.

In my next breath, I imagine this metaphoric cloth of virtue being the cloth in front of me: all red, and black and white perfection and blemish in its unique beauty. I can jump then and fathom the ordinary gray pants and purple sweater I wear as equally made, as intentionally stitched, as that which I don with a full heart and desire to live with integrity. I imagine myself gentle, humble and eeking love as I encounter each member of creation.

And this conversation, this fabric, becomes my prayer for the day.

I invite you to hold this meditation and consider what the warp and woof of your heart is this day. May Love bless and guide us all.

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RESOURCES

For more on Salesian Virtues and Rule of Life:

Click here to learn about the Pop Up SAORI Weaving Studio at St. Jane House.

Visitation Evangelization: “LIVE + JESUS!”

IMG_0854by Phil SoucherayVisitation Companion

What is evangelization anyway?

Faith in the context of organized religion often seems decorated with a lot of trappings. The array of dogma and doctrine that we get immersed in and the rituals we are told we are obliged to participate in for the saving of our very souls offer a lot of mystery and beauty, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve found that these elements serve to distract me from my efforts to know and understand my true purpose for being. I often hear a little voice in my head screaming, “Can we please just get to the point?”

I know I’m not unique in this regard. Anyone who has faith in God addresses the “purpose” question from their own perspectives. Still, I am always fascinated by the fact that, at least in my case, I keep coming at the subject from different angles depending on my situation at the moment.

I suspect I’m not alone. Indeed, I think it’s the shared questioning that draws me and other fellow faith trekkers to the Visitation Monastery of Minneapolis. It is there that I find a sense of certainty amid uncertainty, rooted in the encouragement to “Live Jesus.”

The steadfastness that the sisters exercise in trying to identify and live purposeful lives — as individuals and as a community — reminds me there is grace simply in asking the questions. And their example keeps challenging me to not give up in my efforts.

Mass at MonasteryWhy, you may ask, am I bringing any of this up?  Well, just recently I was asked by an old friend whether I would be applying for the position of Director of Evangelization at the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

There might be reason for me to consider it. I did serve in somewhat of a similar capacity for the Archdiocese between 2002 and 2007. But when I looked at the job description, I realized it probably wouldn’t be a good fit. For one thing, I’m not sure I would be qualified. They prefer someone with a master’s in Theology. Strike one. They also want someone who’s a “Catholic in good standing.” (I don’t always get to Mass on Sunday). Strike two.

But the biggest reason I don’t think it would be a good fit is that I don’t know how the current leadership of the Archdiocese defines evangelization. Based on what I do know, though, I suspect there might be a clash of ideologies.

You see, when I was working in this area back in the last decade, I found that everyone’s definition of evangelization was different. Some people thought it meant going door to door inviting people to come to “our church.” The ultimate goal was get more bodies in the pews. Others thought it meant being an apologist for the Church.

So, one of the first priorities of our evangelization initiative was to clearly state that our definition of the task was, “To make Jesus Christ known and loved, in our time, by choosing to live out the Gospel in every moment.

Do you hear the Visitation tenet inherent in that line? Live Jesus. Sweep past all the veils, unknowns, mysteries of dogma, doctrine and ritual and what you are left with is that.

Live+Jesus!

Now that’s evangelization, I think.

 

 

Contemplating Peace in Syria and the World

Imagining a non-violent response: A Vigil for peace in Syria, held in Gaza in March 2013. – From Oxfam blog.

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

I was chopping zuchinni and bell peppers on Tuesday afternoon when I learned that the United States was considering a military strike on Syria. Standing in my kitchen, tuned into National Public Radio, I heard US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announce that the US was “ready to go” when it comes to launching a military response to the alleged use of chemical weapons on the people of Syria.

“We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take,” Hagel told BBC News.

I tuned into the broadcast for the next 45 minutes, uneasy in my belly, focused in my brain, open in my heart. 

“We can’t go without a reaction when confronted with chemical weapons.  It must be punished, it cannot remain without consequences.”

What is the response of a person of faith to such information? What is the call for a woman of compassion, a man of prayer, a person concerned for all of creation when confronted with news of war and retaliation?

A week earlier, I had read about the suspected use of chemical weapons in the attacks outside Damascus and watched as print media published images of the victims. Updated death tolls are staggering: 1,429 people killed, including 426 children.

It’s heart-wrenching, this news, these horrific, unfathomable kinds of crimes against humanity —  the consequences of a people at war.

As our leaders discern an appropriate response, my faith, education and imagination brings me into questions of next steps alongside those of our world’s leaders.

I wonder:

What is the root cause of this Civil War in Syria?
Who are the factions that are sparring?
What are their needs?Wants?
What is the role of any onlooker, any leader, any humanitarian, any relative outside this war zone?
What does it mean to answer a chemical weapons attack or provide further consequences?
Can we put out a metaphorical fire with more fire?
What would a teacher or middle school principal do if this was a hateful attack in his or her hallway?
What would a prophetic, unpopular Christ request in the face of such venomous activity?

I get to the hopeful, bottom-line of my prayerful inquiry and ask:
What response would transform the circumstances and foster an environment for peace, well-being, and thriving for all involved? 

Is it radical to not want to retaliate on the persons responsible for using chemical weapons? To assert that consequences are unnecessary, because they already naturally exist in the warring heart, the warped leadership, the sad, and terribly hurt humans at the helm of this Syrian regime, and the countless dead.

Nothing will bring back the dead.

But, as a world of resourced humans,  we are able to address the needs and wants of the people on the ground. And we are able to respond with compassion. With diplomacy. With love. With our faithful human witness to the atrocities that have preceded and included these attacks.

I pray about what’s next and I ask you to join me.

Will you hold space for a non-violent response to the already at war and weaponized world? Will you help me seek solutions that honor the dignity and God-given gifts of all involved? Will you help me see the face of Christ in each person, from the Syrian President and Defense Minister to each citizen of this Middle East Region,  to the US and British and French leaders, to the Russian and Chinese and Iranian allies, to those at the helm of Al-Quaeda?

Will you help me “Live + Jesus”?

Relax in Prayer: “Don’t try too Hard”

SFDS quoteby Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

I hyper-extended my knee during prayer this past week. The experience has left me wanting, wondering, and takes me to the center of my reflections on what it means to pray well.

I was off to a rocky start Tuesday morning. Was I running late? Was I anxious about the flow of the morning? Concerned about my responsibilities in attending to – or providing for- some festive, post-prayer-party atmosphere? Who knows. I just know I was a bit off in my rhythms.

We were celebrating five years of Centering Prayer at St. Jane House on Tuesday, along with Director Brian Mogren’s recent Human Services Award. It was a party — a joyous occasion.

I wore a short skirt, and taking my place in the circle of 17 or so other festive-centering-prayer warriors, I all of a sudden got self-conscious.

“What if I flashed someone across the circle?” Ugh. The thought of it took me outside myself, and then inspired a conscious physical correction. “I”ll just cross my legs and all shall be well.”

More easily thought and said than done.

When we pray at Centering Prayer, there’s a universal invitation to position yourself in an open stance. You take a seat. You relax. You soften your gaze. You open your palms and plant your feet firmly on the ground. You take a deep breathe. You let Love pour through you in each inhale and exhale. You take up your sacred word and let this guide you in clearing your mind completely, and letting God have all your thoughts. If you are in a really blissed-out place, or lucky, you have more than 3 seconds of an awareness that Love permeates all things and is the author of all that is good and true and is in charge in this world. You are forgiven and held and know compassion and calm.

But if you cross your legs, and hyper-extend your knee during centering prayer, this bliss is not easily yours.

Sometimes, I think this sort of hyper-extension is true for all of us. We are simply working too hard at prayer;  we are getting too self-conscious of what may be exposed; we are afraid to be truly vulnerable with God. And so we protect ourselves. We cross our legs, so to speak, and avoid all openness with our Creator.

Or not. Maybe some of us are more perfected in the art of prayer — more relaxed in age, experience, development, or practice. I think the sisters are pretty good at prayer, actually. They are my role models. But I know that they would resent this sort of praise or idolizing to a point. They would attest, “Ah, Melissa, we are all human. We all have times of darkness or difficulty in prayer.”

My point is: How do you pray? What is your prayer life like these days? Where do you find yourself in the art of relaxing, giving yourself over to the divine, offering up words of thanks or request or praise? Or simply showing up, presenting your heart to God? 

I’ll close with these sage words from our co-founder, St. Francis de Sales:

“When you come before the Lord, talk to Him if you can. If you can’t, just stay there, let yourself be seen. Don’t try too hard to do anything else.” 

Lent Begins! Papal Discernments and Vocation Journeys

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“Did you know the Pope resigned?”
It was six o’clock on Monday, February 11, 2013. I was sitting outside the Girard House when my “Following the Spirit” co-facilitator Meagan McLaughlin rang with this headlines question.
“Did you know?” she asked. “I’m sitting here with the TV on in the background and just heard this on the nightly news!”

Her surprise was not unlike my own experience in the earlier hours of the day when I first learned of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation – while standing in my bathroom.

Stammering surprise. Overwhelming wonder. Inherent disbelief. Human intrigue. How many ways are there to categorize my initial response? I was disconcerted. I was sad. I was hopeful. I was ultimately curious. “Why did he resign?”

***

I help facilitate people’s discernment processes. Because I work alongside Catholic sisters inviting individuals to prayerfully reflect on their vocations and share their stories of how they hear God calling them,  the story of the Pope’s resignation came to me as a discernment story. I read his words to the religious convened around him Monday morning, and was struck by the following lines:

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God..
I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

[L]et us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ…” – Pope Benedict XVI  Vatican, January 10, 2013

His words were bold. Courageous. Inspiring to me.

Writing on this first day of Lent, Pope Benedict’s resignation informs my prayer for the next forty days and nights. As the elected leader of our Catholic church has discerned this historic move, honoring his capacity and calling by God, I wonder how I am called to listen and act on my own discerned capacities, gifts, and abilities? I think of Christ’s journey over the next few weeks, his time in the desert, his relationship with our first Pope, Peter, and I invite this story of forgiveness and mercy and sacrifice and leadership to inspire my own.

What,  in the stillness of my prayer, do I hear God asking of me?
How is my heart inspired by the boldness of Christ’s life and ministry?
What happens if I entrust my life to the Supreme Pastor, as Pope Benedict suggests we do of our beloved Holy Church?

Will you join me in these prayerful questions and vocation journey this Lenten Season?

LIVE + JESUS!


“How does prayer work for you?” Some New Year’s Musings…

Photo by Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

Photo by Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“How does prayer work for you?”

It’s New Year’s eve. I’m sitting in front of a hot fire in a log cabin tucked inside the Snake River Forest outside Isle, MN. It’s cold out — 14 below cold.  Three of my friend’s four dogs are afoot. We have just finished a lovely grilled salmon and veggie meal, (truth-be-told: despite the fact that a crucial part of our dish was consumed in flames prior to consumption.)  My friend rests, we reflect on our 2012’s, and the conversation turns toward the theological.

“How does prayer work for you?”

We have just completed a ritual of sorts, she and I: writing out on tiny slips of paper responses to the following prompts:
“Things to release.”
“Things to embrace.”
“Things to invite in.”

We have been quiet, contemplative, and giggly as we engaged in this made up marking of our year, tossing our 2013 intentions into the fire and blowing kisses. I bowed before the flames, and said, “Amen!” as I surrendered these scraps of thought and extended this gesture as, indeed, a prayerful one.

“How does prayer work for you?” she asked again.

I am taken aback. A professed Athiest, with profound and inspiring regard for all of Creation, my girlfriend’s query gives me pause. When was the last time someone asked me this question? When was the last time I really thought about an answer? How often do I engage in spiritual or theological inquiry and debate with someone outside my faith?

My heart was on fire. I loved the moment and my dear friend’s fervor for the topic.

“How does prayer work for me?” I repeated, mulling over the largeness of the question, and the opportunity to respond.

As I paused, my girlfriend jumped back in.
“Do you really believe that God hears each one of your thoughts and prayers and answers? I mean, don’t you think he’s a little busy with the Universe, with everyone asking for help, to say nothing of who and what ever else might exist beyond?”

“Of course! I think God has the most exhausting job,” I respond, laughing — and then added: “but I think God can handle it.” Just like God can handle my beseeching, my anger, my sorrow, my joy, my praise.

At that moment, I wanted to quote my friend Zac Willette, whose theological writing always moves me. “The deal is, I don’t think we pray to change God’s mind about anything: I think we pray to change ourselves. To align our hearts with whatever God’s will or desire is, and to invite compassion, and ultimately, some action on our own parts around what, or whomever, we are praying for.”

I liked my answer. Driving home and reflecting now, I still do.

***

One of the greatest gifts of the Visitation Sisters — and any monastic, contemplative community– is this gift of prayer. When you request prayers, these women religious take it seriously; it’s the life blood of their community, so-to-speak. It fuels the sisters in their daily interactions — in their ways of being in the world. And, by extension — as a Visitation Companion, prayer is an ongoing activity of my own that informs my journey to live and love faithfully all who are around me, all who I encounter in this world.

On this New Year’s Day, as we journey again around the sun, how do you respond to this question: “How does prayer work for you?” And, might I add, “How might it better your life and animate your limbs in the coming year?”

Happy 2013!

“You have to love….It is the reason you are here on Earth.”

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

A former student sent me the following words. I find such balm in them and in this young woman’s thoughtfulness.  I am deeply moved by the author Louise Erdich’s ability to inspire and capture our heart’s compelling nature to love beyond fear, death, suffering, betrayal, woe. I invite your prayerful meditation on this text this day. Perhaps these words will speak to you and your own place in life and discernment?

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on Earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near… Let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” – Louise Erdich, “The Painted Drum LP”

Discernment: Tuning into God’s Voice (when others are speaking?)

How do we tune in joyfully to God's voice?

How do we tune in to God's voice?

by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

“How do we tune in and hear God’s voice when others are simultaneously having conversations that are within ear shot?”

This question came up in a recent exchange with a young woman discerning her life’s calling. I found it resonant then, and now — especially as our community turns toward the start of our Fall discernment series, entitled, “Following the Spirit.”

The question makes me giggle. (Read: I imagine trying to hear God speaking over the dull roar of a cocktail party;  or,  being at a family reunion and trying to share an ear of corn-on-the-cob with Jesus, only to have the butter and salt passers and burger consumers shove in on our space — and I miss Christ’s message.)

I return to the heart to of the question, and consider a litany of supporting queries for discerners: How do we hear? How do we tune in? What do we tune out? How do we know what is genuinely from God? How do we receive messages that perhaps aren’t all so life-giving or divinely-inspired and gently put them aside? Ah, the blessed process that listening is, eh!?

“I imagine trying to hear God speaking over the dull roar of a cocktail party;  or,  being at a family reunion and trying to share an ear of corn-on-the-cob with Jesus, only to have the butter and salt passers and burger consumers shove in on our space — and I miss Christ’s message.”

****

I am remembering sitting in English class at Norfolk Catholic my senior year of high school. It was early Fall and Ms. Burkink, our guidance counselor, was making rounds to quiz us about our next steps academically-speaking. We were often pulled from this Senior Writing class for such interviews. Anne Dostal sat next to me, nudging me with questions, on the heels of Ms. Burkink’s loud-speaker pages bidding the next student to come to her office (at least those she thought were college bound).

Tuning in...

Tuning in...

“Where will you go to college?” Anne whispered. “I’m getting all of this information from St. Kate’s in St. Paul, MN; if I could go out of a state, to a private school, it would be there.”

Of course, when my own parents asked a similar question at the dinner table later that week, I said, “I’d like to check out St. Kate’s in St. Paul, MN.”

Yes, I was getting the same information that Anne Dostal was in the mail (we were targeted based on our grades and ACT/SAT scores, right?) But her clarity in looking elsewhere — beyond the borders of our state, or our full-ride offers from the U, gave me permission to do so as well. It was like a gift from God, her voice — an affirmation that my own college-seeking self so truly needed.

(Background: I’m the firstborn in our family of six children, and while my father got a 4-year degree — he ran away from home to do so;  my mom left Mount Marty College after three semesters to marry her high school sweetheart. Translation: college discernment processes were not uber-familiar ones for my mom and dad, and so my search was rather hap-hazard at first.)

I think back on that process of early academic and life discernment, and think of Anne’s voice as a gift to me in my own process of tuning in to the Spirit and next steps. “What is next? How will I know what’s right? Is what is right for her, also okay for me?”

****

In today’s world, we have so many opportunities, resources, information, “voices,” if you will, at our fingertips — or drowning out our ears (not unlike the dull roar of voices at a cocktail party, or people nudging in on your sacred time tuning into Christ’s message for you). Just opening up your lap top, or turning on your phone or glancing toward the TV can bombard you with info that you need to process — pay attention to, or tune out. There are a billion messages for any one person looking for an indication on where to turn next in life….

So: how do we genuinely hear God’s call? What voices do we turn the volume up or down on? Who do we trust to process our deepest questions with? How do we hear God?

I close out this post today with nothing but a sincere prayer for each and every discerning individual out there. May you be anchored by the joy and love of God in your soul, may you have quiet space to tune in to Love’s voice; may you be shepherded by a wise, or kindred presence who will affirm and nurture you on your path. This is my prayer for you this day.

PEACE and BLESSINGS!

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For those craving more on the process of Listening, Silence, and Prayer in the discernment process, I highly recommend Fr. Richard Rohr’s current meditations under the title of “Silence” found at the Center for Action and Contemplation.

“The Invitation:” Poem as Prayer

The following poem arrived in my inbox from “Following the Spirit” discerner, Amanda Steepleton, on the heels of our Vocation-Story-telling Retreat. It speaks to my heart as a prayer;  I offer it to you for your own reflection and discernment purposes. –Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion

The Invitation

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Canadian Teacher and Author

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

© 1995 by Oriah House, From “Dreams Of Desire”
Published by Mountain Dreaming, 300 Coxwell Avenue, Box 22546,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4L 2A0
Please click here for more information about Oriah’s book.