Monday, August 1, 2011

Go to the Limits of Your Longing

by Rainer Maria Rilke

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Now I Become Myself

Hi Friends,

Lots of good things going on right now.

Update #1: I am working with AJS only half time right now and volunteering half-time with a community development Honduran organization called Stewardship of Christian Ministries ( in the neighborhood I live called Nueva Suyapa.

AJS: I am still doing some communications work, but what I’m spending most of my time on is helping to plan and implement spiritual retreats with our chaplain( an awesome Swedish women who learned guitar from gypsies) for each of the 7 projects. All my experience and excitement about staff retreats is coming in handy now—life comes full circle.

SCM: Mujeres Valientes (Courageous Women) is a support group for women in Nueva Suyapa who have suffered through domestic violence. It has a neat poverty reduction part to it as well where a baking group is looking to start their own business. I am helping the administrator of the group evaluate the project’s work and do some long-term planning for the future success of the group.

Update #2: I am thinking seminary. That’s not worded very accurately. I have been thinking seminary for a while now and have come to the conclusion after much reflection and prayer that it should be a go. Surprised? That makes two of us. Obviously, there is a story behind all of this, but if you have followed this blog, you should know that being brief is not one of my better qualities. Result: another blog entry.

I think God has a funny sense of humor. I was a self-proclaimed disgruntle pastor’s kid—now look at me.

I am currently applying for a masters in divinity with applications going (read: still in process) to 4 different seminaries right in Michigan, Virginia, and Vancouver, BC. Canada. My central focus for pursuing an M.div started off with pastoral care and counseling, but on a given day it expands (and sometimes contracts). I am particularly drawn to trauma counseling, restorative justice practices, chaplaincy in justice and peace organizations, and biblical scholarship in the theology of suffering and reconciliation.

Going to seminary for me seems to be the most honest expression of my faith right now. It feels like a very natural decision for me. Maybe it has something to do with finding vocation. : 0

Now for a poem: I read this one in Parker Palmer’s book “Let Your Life Speak.” Without fail, with each reading I inhale deeply, breathing in the words that blissfully speak so much truth about my life and the trajectory that promises to come.

Foreign as it might still feel, coming home to myself is an exercise I continue to pursue, but with less trepidation now as the layers unfold to something new yet familiar. It is as though I am waking up to God saying, “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; Do you not perceive it?” ( Isaiah 43:19)

Now I Become Myself

By May Sarton

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
"Hurry, you will be dead before--"
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper

Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

Love, Love, and more Love,


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Patience of Ordinary Things

Last week, a visiting North American asked me how I “deal” with the water situation here in Nueva Suyapa. What he was referring to is the fact that for the past year I’ve been living in a house with no running water. I clumsily tried to explain that, strangely enough, I‘ve come to enjoy the moments when I fill a large pot with water from one of the water storage containers in the house and heat it on the stove for a toasty bucket shower.

A few reasons:

First, I come to value water differently. You don’t just talk about water being a scarce resource, you live it because the precious stuff only comes to your house 3 times a month. Also, it brings a very simple but overlooked truth to mind: water does not come from a faucet. I know. But I think I can begin to forget where things come from sometimes: food, gas, paper, jewelry, clothes, love ( O.K. I will make a different point about the last one in a bit) all seem to appear at store for our convenience. Love doesn’t appear out of no where a wonderful gift that just happens. Many times it’s gritty, hard work. Um… now pausing to think, I think the reason why I make this point will require a whole other blog entry. : )

But even though it’s been a great spiritual exercise in remembering my role of steward of God’s earth, doing this otherwise ordinary chore is also quite lovely maybe because there can be beauty to ordinary things that just remind us that we are alive and that its no small miracle that we woke up this morning and lived to pour another bucket of water over ourselves. Maybe it’s in the most ordinary things that I am reminded of the most extraordinary of gifts.

They told me that I live in “the trenches” but what if I don’t see it that way? What if I am learning to live to enjoy the quiet and ordinary things just for what they are? And maybe we don’t have to be without running water to continuously be in awe of God and his world.

Note: I don’t want to romanticize poverty. Sure sounds like I am, huh? It’s not beautiful if you don’t’ have running water because of inefficient board of directors or not have a good public road because of corrupt officials. Righteous anger ( and doing justice :0 ) is an ethical response to injustice, but God wants us to live in hope not in gloom and grumbling. So I think we are called to enjoy life even when there are limitations because maybe we’ll discover that these supposed limitations are actually liberating us. A life in Christ transforms how we see everything. But we sometimes allow these limitations in life to actually bind us to a different pace of life where we take things for granted, are disconnected with the living, breathing, dying, and rejuvenating world, and don’t pause and slowly, but deliberately breath in and become very conscious of the steam escaping from the pot, brimming with water.

Friends, please do read and enjoy this poem. It inspired me to write this entry--big surprise.

The Patience of Ordinary Things

By Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

Love, Love, and more Love,


Friday, October 31, 2008

Where there is despair, hope...

Dear friends of Christ,

God is very much alive. On Wednesday AJS-supported justice workers and 150 residents of affected neighborhoods in northern Honduras met with top officials from five different Honduran government bodies urging them to address the killings earlier this month, the death threats against four community leaders, and serious problems with the land-titling process. And they listened. All these officials promised to act quickly to improve the situation.

I am pleased to tell you that security measures for our threatened friends, including a government body guard and increased patrol are among the promises from the Ministry of Security.

Please read the article adapted from a Revistazo (the AJS online journal) article detailing the talking points of these visits.

Read the full report by clicking here.

Thank you for all for your notes of encouragement, especially for your prayers and advocacy efforts on behalf of these justice workers and community leaders. God is moving.

I haven’t shared any poems, liturgy, anything in many months—very sad. I have this prayer taped on the wall at the office and I see it as I type away. In times like these I find it especially fitting. Dare we start acting the very opposite of what we see in the world? Dare we ask God to help us be instruments of justice and peace in our communities? Pray that God gives us the courage to pray this prayer.

A prayer

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred let me sow love;

Where there in injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy;

--Saint Francis of Assisi

Love, Love and more Love,


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Speak Out for Justice

Hello friends,

Thank you for your prayers in these last few days for our friends in danger in San Pedro. A brief re-cap: ( more information in the post below "Friends Under Threat" ) Three community leaders were murdered in the last two weeks for their work with the AJS-supported Land Rights Project and more continue to be threatened.

Now, I'm asking you to take action and Speak Out for Justice!

Please go to the following AJS webpage to send an email to Honduran Government and World Bank officials urging them to address this situation.

More on the Land Rights Murders

Write More Officials

Write Letters and Faxs and Make Phone Calls to the World Bank


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Friends under threat

Beloved community,

Yesterday I sent an email out to many of you asking for prayer on a special security matter concerning the work of AJS here in Honduras. Please feel free to post this letter in your own blogs or forward it to others so that we may all join in prayer. Thank you for those that have already responded with much care and concern.

I will be updating this blog more frequently to let other know about news on the situation and how you can send letter to the Honduran government to take action. The letter reads below.

Love, Love, and more Love,


[The letter]

Dear friends of Christ,

I pray that you are all well in mind and in spirit. Thank you for all your prayers this last year for me while I have been living in Honduras and working at the Association for a More Just Society, a Christian, non-profit justice organization supporting the work of doing justice for the most vulnerable in Honduran society.

I ask that you direct your prayers to a security matter concerning our ASJ staff and supporters.

Three community leaders working with the AJS-supported Land project in the city of San Pedro Sula have been killed this month. Four more community leaders continue to receive death threats. One woman has been told that she will not live to see this Christmas and another has received routine nightly visits by a black van at her home. Last week, our San Pedro Sula lawyer reported being followed by a man for several hours and the rest of the Land Rights team is worried for their security and that of their families. Yet these justice workers press forward in the struggle for land security for thousands in San Pedro.

The Land Rights team works in Tegucigalpa and in San Pedro Sula to assist residents of poor neighborhoods in obtaining a legal title to their land—a highly sought after investment in Honduras. The Property Law passed in 2004, thanks in part to AJS-supported advocacy efforts, has set a system in place to register and issue titles for land for hundreds of people. But not everyone supports the changes that will come.

Supposed land owners in the Cofradía sector are indignant that hundreds will have the land expropriated by the government and then have the land appraised at a lower value than these scheming owners would prefer.

For over ten months the Land Rights team and community neighborhood presidents have been pushing to finalize the expropriation process but opposition was given. Community leaders were offered bribes from contested owners to stop their work but they refused. They knew the work wouldn’t only benefit themselves but many others in Cofradía who were and continue to be threatened with evictions from supposed, contesting land owners.

Please pray for strength and peace for the families of slain community leaders Ubense Aguilar and Elías Murcia.

Pray for courage and security for currently threatened community leaders in Cofradia.

Pray for wisdom and perseverance for the Land Rights team as they forge forward in the expropriation process in order that hundred may receive legal land titles.

Pray for diligence and conviction of heart for government officials and police so that security and protection are provided to those under threat and that the expropriation process does not lag.

Thanks you body of Christ for your prayers. Please remember with us God’s promises: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you –Deuteronomy 7:8

Go to the following link (Spanish) for more information.


Grace Miguel


Association for a More Just Society (AJS)

Hanging out in the kitchen

I realize that I haven't posted anything in several months and that I haven't taken any pictures of where I am living in Nueva Suyapa. Enjoy the picture of an early Saturday breakfast at our kitchen. ( I don't have a camera and just relie on friendly visitors to pass me their pictures.) Featuring clockwise left: Abram Huyser Honig ( fellow co worker and boarder at the Venegas house), Susan Venegas ( Honduran sister and confidant in matters that are silly and serious), Russ Jacobs ( visitor to Hotel Venegas and AJS board member,), Yolanda Venegas ( AMAZING cook and fellow cohort in laughing at all thing appropriate and inappropriate), Grace Miguel ( special guest: my lovely grapefruit I was ready to devour) not featured Gary Nederveld ( visitor to Hotel Venegas and AJS board member).