Risk

Today’s prompt is Risk. I’m working out my own internal monologue here, finding my way into my own story.

Will you walk with her into the darkness
where the pathways begin to wander,
sometimes disappearing into deep caverns,
sometimes mere footholds along the cliff face?

Can you keep your heart steady
and your wits about you
when the wind buffets
on the very edge of the chasms?
When no light leads you
through the darkness?
When the opening into the next cavern
is bone-crunchingly narrow?

Will you follow the trails in the undergrowth
where her mind wanders, speaking softly
when you come upon her, soothingly?
Will you offer her a gentle story
to bring her back to the open ways
when your own mind is tangled
in the briars where she has led you?

Can you step out of the numbing fog
of fear that encircles you,
and step into the truth,
no matter how hard it is to hear?
Can you bear to be stronger,
and stronger still,
when you are at your most tender?

If you risk nothing, safe in your bubble,
the story will continue despite you,
the tale will unfold without the wisdom
you know you have to offer it.
To not risk it all now is to risk losing all later.
So stand up, and step out onto the path.
Follow her into the entangling forest.
Find your way outward to find your way home.


Gratitude List:
1. That glorious moment of sun washing through the window
2. Book clubs–they push me to read things I might not
3. The ExtraGive–Lancastrians trying to outdo themselves every year to give as much as possible: the fun starts tonight at midnight!
4. Thoughtful teenagers who get it: Kindness matters. Peace rather than power.
5. It’s hard to be brave, but there are so many good people who make me want to be courageous
May we walk in Beauty!


“Attitudes about interspecies communication are the primary difference between western and indigenous philosophies. Even the most progressive western philosophers still generally believe that listening to the land is a metaphor.
It’s not a metaphor. It’s how the world is.” —Jeanette Armstrong


“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns.” —George Eliot


“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.” ―Hermann Hesse, Demia


“Did you ever hear a tree pushing out of the ground or the snow falling? Great things happen in silence.” ―Mother Angelica


“Everything belongs, even the “bad” and dark parts of yourself. Nothing need be rejected or denied. No one need be hated. No one need be excommunicated, shunned, or eliminated. You don’t have time for that anymore. You’ve entered into the soul of the serene disciple where, because the Holy One has become one in you, you are able to see that oneness everywhere else. Almost like magic!” ―Richard Rohr


“In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busily sawing off the limb on which it is perched.” —Paul Ehrlich, 1973

Advent 2: What Will You Risk?

Today we make our turning into the second passage. Yesterday’s journey was quite pleasant, really, as I looked around and saw how many are taking this journey with us. That’s the paradox, isn’t it? It’s a solitary journey that we walk in community, a journey of silence that contains the whispers and singing of others, a joyful anticipation and a recognition of deep grief and pain. Can we hold both sides of the story, center ourselves within the paradox? Sure, we can. Labyrinths are funny that way. They’re disorienting and confusing, and you can never really know where you are, and yet—unlike the fragmented turnings of a maze—the pathway is a single twisting line. All we have to do is to follow the next twist ahead.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes reminds us that we were made for these times, echoing Mordecai, the loving uncle in the ancient story, telling his niece Esther the Queen: “Perhaps you were brought here for just such a time as this.” Esther risked her own life to save her people from a capricious and arrogant ruler. As we journey today, let’s ask ourselves: What are we willing to risk in these times? What will we put on the line?

Simply walking into this labyrinth is a risk. We do not know what is around the next bend, what monsters lurk deep and unrecognized within the shadows of our psyches. But walking together, holding our lights high, whispering to each, “I’m here; don’t be afraid,” we can find our way through.

Yesterday, we thought about those burdens in our packs. I have one that I don’t know how to carry, and it asks that question about what I am willing to risk. I’ll put my pack down a moment here and take it out. Open it up. See, all that rage and grief and uncertainty swirling around in there? I want to be one of the ones who stands in the gap here when my country still has not returned the children to their parents, when no one seems to know what to do to make that happen. I want to speak out, to speak truth. But I don’t know how, exactly. So it all just swirls around in there, taking up space and making my pack so heavy.

Take a moment to explore one of the burdens in your own pack, one that you don’t know quite what to do with. Write about it in your journal, or tell a friend about it. Write a song or poem, or paint a painting. I still don’t know exactly how I am going to resolve mine, but it feels lighter now. Maybe this December journey will shed some light for me. For you, too.


Envisioning Peace:
Yesterday in church, Michelle asked us to hold Isaiah’s vision of a world in which the response is peace and understanding rather than violence, ploughshares rather than swords. She asked us to consider situations in which people chose the peaceful path. During Advent, I’m going to look for stories and ideas that hold this vision.

For today’s story, I hold in my mind the vision of Queen Esther taking the risk onto herself, speaking her truth, and averting the genocide of her people. I think that one of the ways in which people step into the ploughshares vision is to choose a third path. Instead of simply capitulating to the injustice or taking up arms to fight it, this path does resist and stand up to the oppression, but with truth instead of weapons.

I think this is just what our times are calling for. How can we envision this third response?

What Will You Risk?

In last night’s dream
we were racing down the road
in a jaunty little car.
(Aren’t all dream-cars sort of jaunty?)

“Holy —-!”
I’m afraid I screamed
what you think I did
as we skimmed the edge
of the giant sinkhole.

“Did you see that sinkhole?
It almost swallowed us up!”
My oblivious car-mates
(Me, Me, and Me,
according to Joseph Campbell)
were not paying attention,
and Oblivious Driver Me
sped up to crest a hill
which was covered with debris.

We didn’t make it over the pile of junk
and had to back up,
had to go another way.

“Oh, well,” said Driver Me to Disapproving Me,
“at least we tried.”

In my head as I woke up,
a familiar voice was singing,
“What will you risk?”