The Barefoot Author

Walking Gently Where This World and Imagination Meet

A Prayer for September 11th

Published by Tesi under on Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Turn Your Spirit Loose

O God,
turn your Spirit loose now,
     and me with it,
that I may go to where the edge is
    to face with you the shape of my mortality:
        the inescapable struggle
           and loneliness and pain
                which remind me
                    that I am less than god after all,
                        that you have made me with hard limits,
                            limits to my strength
                                my knowledge,
                                    my days.

Facing those limits, Lord,
grant me grace
    to live to the limit
        of being unflinchingly alive,
                   irrepressibly alive,
                            fully alive,
                   of experiencing
                        every fragile,
                                                          beautiful ounce of being a human being;
of doing my duty
         and a little more;
of loving the people around me,
         my friends and my enemies;
of humbling myself to take others seriously
          and delightedly;
of applying my heart to the wisdom of simplicity,
          the freedom of honesty.

O God,
turn your Spirit loose here,
      and me with it,
that I may go to where the silence is
      to face with you the utter mystery
            of questions without answers,
                   pain without balm,
                           sorrow without comfort,
                                    and fears without relief,
                                            which hound my days
                                                      and haunt my sleep.

Facing the mystery, Lord,
grant me grace
     to wrestle with it
           until I name the fears
                   and force them to set me free
                             to move on with whatever limp I'm left with;
      to wrestle with it
            until the pain teach me
                    and I befriend it,
             until the silence subdues me
                     into an awareness that it is holy
                            and I am healed by it;
     to wrestle with it
             until I go deeper in it
                     to gratitude
                            for all the shapes of wholeness
                                     and of hope that bless me.

O God,
turn your Spirit loose now,
           and me with it,
that I may go to where the darkness is
          to face with you the terrible uncertainty of tomorrow;
                   of what will happen,
                            of what might happen,
                                   to me
                                          and to my children
                                                  and to my friends,
                                   to my job,
                                          to my relationships,
                                                   to my country;
            all that I cannot see, but fantasize,
                        that I would prevent, but cannot,
                                  and so must accept as possibilities.
Facing the uncertainty, Lord,
grant me grace
      to look at it directly and openly and truly,
      to laugh at it with crazy faith
               in the crazy promise
                       that nothing can separate me from your love;
       to laugh for the joy of it,
                the joy of those saving surprises
                         that also stir in the darkness.
And, so, I trust,
          despite the dark uncertainty of tomorrow,
                     in the light of my todays,
                               in the cross,
                                      and in a kingdom coming,
and, so, I move on and pray on
with Jesus, my friend and redeemer.

--Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

Faith Causing the Absence of God

Published by Tesi under on Tuesday, February 19, 2013
So, this is what I'm contemplating today. The sense of the absence of God, and how it scares some people away and draws others closer.

"The more a human being advances in the Christian faith, the more they live the presence of God as an absence, the more they accept to die to the idea of becoming aware of God, of fathoming Him. For they have learned, while advancing, that god is unfathomable. And from then on the presence of God assumes value in their eyes only against the backdrop of absence. The mystic, in his long and complicated pilgrimage, experiences alternately the presence and absence of God. But, by degrees, the absence of God is felt more and more and the mystic understands that this absence is now the norm. Thus the mystic is someone who has had a long-term confrontation with God, like Jacob in the struggle that he \waged all through the night, someone who does not cease to confront God...What the mystic experiences...is a kind of distancing from God in proportion to advances in the deepening of their faith."
                                                                                                      -Jean Francois Six

I'm never quite certain how to respond to people who are doubting God, or abandoning their faith because they don't see Him. Don't hear Him. Don't get any answers to their prayers.

Partly I don't know how to respond because I feel like they've discovered the greatest secret of the Christian Faith: Many, many of us don't feel God, a lot of the time. And I think the above quote is right, that it's often not the result of doubt--it's the result of faith. Yet, because our churches train us to act as if we NEVER doubt, never feel His absence, never feel lost or abandoned because we don't feel Him as we once did, we're left to believe that because we don't feel Him he left. Or because we don't feel Him, we're doing something wrong. We're left believing that that which often comes as a mark of deepening relationship is exactly the opposite.

There's a quietness to the faith that carries on in the present absence of God. A gentleness much like sitting beside your lover in a dark room. You don't see them, you aren't talking to them (or if you are, they aren't talking back), yet even though your senses don't perceive their presence...you know they're there. Because sometimes the lights come one, and you have a conversation. But even when you don't...you still know they're there. And it's a gentle, quiet peace. A peace that comes with maturity of relationship, and less...NEED, I guess, of constant reminders. "Yes, I'm here. Yes, I love you. Yes, I'm here. Yes, I love you..." "I KNOW. I know in a way that means you don't need to keep telling me. It's okay. Let's just sit together."

I'm not sure if this is making any sense. Please feel free to let me know if it is. My head aches again, and I've only just had my tea. So...here's hoping this gives you something to contemplate today as well.


Remember Your Song

Published by Tesi under on Monday, February 11, 2013
It's Saint Caedmon's Day.

Caedmon (died 680 A.D.) lived in Ireland in a time when history, news, entertainment, life and love were all shared by word of mouth, and by music. Ballads passed down from generation to generation carried the life-blood of the People.

But Caedmon couldn't sing. Couldn't play a note, couldn't even remember a story in the proper order. When his turn came, so the story goes, he would panic; words would get jumbled, notes lost, and singing would come to a standstill if he even tried to join. 

So he began to avoid any situation in which he might be called upon to sing. One night, having left a warm, joyful hall full of singing lest the harp be passed to him, he fell asleep on his bed in the cattle shed, where he'd gone to sleep with the beasts. 

In his dreams a man came to him, and stood before him. 

"Sing for me, Caedmon," he said. "Sing for me."

"I can't sing," Caedmon protested. "Why do you think I'm out here, instead of at the feast?"

"Sing anyway. Sing for me."

"I don't know what to sing."
"Sing about the beginning of the world, and sing about creation."

And so Caedmon sang. In his dream, before the man who had called on him to sing, he sang a song of love and praise to the Father of Heaven, Creator of All. And, in his dream, the song was so beautiful as to draw tears from the hearer.

But when he woke, the song was still with him, and he sang it for everyone who would hear. The story of Caedmon tells us that he sang for poor and rich, educated and simple, man and woman and child. He sang the stories of the Creator, the stories of Love. 

And so the man who couldn't speak a story, much less sing one, became the carrier of the greatest Story, because when told to open his mouth, he trusted that the song would be there.

And so today, 
    we think of those whose song is unsung, 
         and pray that they find their music
    we think of our own song
          and ask if we have sung it well
              and if not, we take a breath
          and ask for grace
              and open our mouths to sing.

I cannot speak, 
unless You loose my tongue;
I only stammer,
and I speak uncertainly;
but if You touch my mouth,
my Lord, 
then I will sing the story
of Your wonders!

Teach me to hear that story,
through each person,
to cradle a sense of wonder
in their life,
to honour the hard-earned wisdom
of their sufferings
to waken their joy
that the King of all kings
stoops down
to wash their feet,
and looking up
into their face
'I know--I understand'

This world has become
a world of broken dreams
where dreamers are hard to find
and friends are few

Lord, be the gatherer of our dreams.
You set the countless stars in place,
and found room for each of them to shine.
You listen for us in Your heaven-bright hall.
Open our mouths to tell our tales of wonder.

Teach us again the greatest story ever:
the One who made the worlds 
became a little, helpless child...

So many who have heard
forget to tell the Story.
                                                         --Adapted from Celtic Daily Prayer
                                                          From the Northumbria Community

Praise Be to You for Life

Published by Tesi under on Monday, January 28, 2013
Praise be to you, O Lord, for life
    and for my intense desire to live;
praise be to you for the mystery of love
    and for my intense desire to be a lover;
praise be to you for this day
    and another chance to live and love.

Thank you, Lord,
    for friends who stake their claim in my heart,
    for enemies who disturb my soul and bump my ego,
    for tuba players,
        and story tellers,
            and trapeze troupes.
Thank you, Lord,
    for singers of songs,
    for teachers of songs,
        who help me sing along the way,
    ...and for listeners.
thank you, Lord,
    for those who attempt beauty
        rather than curse ugliness,
    for those who take stands
        rather than take polls,
    for those who risk being right
        rather than pandering to be liked,
    for those who do something
        rather than talking about everything.

Lord, grant me grace, then,
and a portion of your spirit
that I may so live
    as to give others cause
        to be thankful for me,
thankful because I have not forgotten
    how to hope
        how to laugh
            how to say, "I'm sorry,"
    how to forgive,
        how to bind up wounds,
            how to dream,
    how to cry,
        how to pray,
    how to love when it is hard,
        and how to dare when it is dangerous.
Undamn me, Lord,
that praise may flow more easily from me
    than wants,
thanks more readily
    than complaints.
Praise be to you, Lord, for life;
praise be to you for another chance to live.

--From Guerrillas of Grace

A prayer for those I love, and for myself. May the Peace of Christ be with you this day.
In the name of the Father, gracious
    the Son, loving
        the Spirit, convicting.

Precious three-in-one.


I Need to Breathe Deeply

Published by Tesi under on Sunday, January 27, 2013
Eternal Friend,
grant me an ease
to breathe deeply of this moment, 
              this light,
                     this miracle of now.
Beneath the din and fury
      of great movements
            and harsh news
                   and urgent crises,
make me attentive still
     to good news,
           to small occasions,
                and the grace of what is possible
                     for me to be,
                           to do,
                                 to give,
                                        to receive,
that I may miss neither my neighbor's gift
           nor my enemy's need.

                                    --From Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle by Ted Loder

This is my newest discovery, a book of prayers that bring me to my knees by their beauty and their understanding. 

I want to say things like this. I want to write things that make others understand God, themselves and the world better. 

I tried doing that last night, though I'm not sure if I succeeded. I'm working on it again today, but writing real things about real life is hard. Pain, mistakes, God, hope, darkness...good things to share but hard sometimes to unearth and put on paper. 

Sometimes saying other people's prayers helps.


The Cracks Let Out the Light

Published by Tesi under on Saturday, September 08, 2012
I found this in my Celtic prayer book last August, but last summer was full of love and dancing, so I am not sure I really got to process it thoroughly. Today, as I read it again, I'm reminded of the vulnerability of walking barefoot through the world. Opening yourself to picking up thorns along the way. To feeling what you walk through without the protection of shoes. It feels like the same idea to me...what about you?

"We are called to intentional, deliberate vulnerability." Rule of the Northumbria Community

"I had a vision of a house. Every time a crack appeared in the wall, or damage in the house, I dashed out to repair it as quickly as I possibly could, like most of us do, so that the inside of the house was protected and kept safe from the weather and the storms. And the Lord said to me, 'This is what your Christian life is like. Whenever any cracks appear in the wall that has been built up around about you over the years by the world and by yourself you dash out and fill in the cracks so that no one is able to see what is inside. But i want the world to be able to see what is inside. I want to be able to come in through the cracks in your life and I am not going to fill them up either, I am going to flow in and out of these cracks. So when you see the cracks appear in your life, do not rush out and fill them in. Let Me come in."
                                   David Mattches

I know I have filled cracks. Even after God has flowed into them, I've patched them up carefully so as to prevent anyone from seeing that I had cracks that God had to come in through. But if the cracks are sealed, God can't shine out of them, can He? Be weak, for then He is strong? Glorify Him in your weakness? Admit what you cannot do--let others see you admitting it--so that when you do more than you can on your own, they know it to be God? It's not a fun thought, but maybe it's an important one?

I was reminded again this week how scared I am of being out of control of my emotions. Instability is one of the things i hate the most, because I feel like a failure when I can't be immediately available to everyone who needs me. But more and more I'm reminded that instability is human, and if I want to help those who experience it, I can't say ANYthing if they think I'm always in complete control. Hard thought, but maybe an important one? 

We Walk Barefoot Together

Published by Tesi under on Monday, August 20, 2012

It's not really a day for words. There are words somewhere; good words about stories and about Story, but they're still sitting in a dark corner in the back of my mind, cloaks pulled up to hide their faces as they puff at their pipe and wait to be named. Soon, maybe, they'll save me from the shadow and reveal their true intentions. But for now, I just have pictures. 

This is the day I began to share my Journey with my Love. June 2, 2012. 

Why are we barefoot?

    Being barefoot carries very personal symbolism for us. All our lives we have felt close to nature and being barefoot lets us connect to the earth in a way that the insulation of shoes does not allow.
    Spiritually, being barefoot expresses a knowledge that we are on Holy Ground, standing naked and vulnerable before our Father and Creator.  The act of going “barefoot through life” also represents a desire to connect deeply—to feel everything and always be able to be hurt—or to enjoy—each experience that comes our way.

I said it better in the last entry, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. We have been given Love. We know beauty and pain, hope and faith, loss and second chances. 

And now we walk together. Barefoot, through the perils of the world. Will you take off your shoes with us?