I found this poem the other day at Northwoods Contemplative and it speaks to me in the most amazing and direct way. I am in a period of intense wrestling with my relationship to institutional religion, while my faith in God and experience of sacred presence has never been stronger.
If someone says, “To be enlightened you must
fast and pray all night,”
Have dinner and go to bed.
If you see a sign, “This way to salvation,”
run the other way.
If someone says, “This book is the truth,
you can buy it from me,”
Take your money and buy grapes and roses.
If someone says, “He’s talking tonight,
thousands will be saved.”
Go for a walk…listen to the birds
and watch the clouds, and leave
your backpack, your Bible and your Buddha
under a tree and hope
they will be gone when you return.
Where we are going you can’t carry anything,
not even your name.
If there is logic in the above,
be afraid, it’s a lie.
But if you feel something in your chest
as beautiful as the grass beneath your feet,
be grateful…open your arms
and forget everything
you ever thought you knew.
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts
(photos taken in the Killarney Forest in Ireland with a wide angle lens, I love the sense of awe and disorientation it creates)