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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

"Go out in Joy... Burst into Song."

"I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, empathy, compassion and gentleness.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, arrogance, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, and self-importance.  I ask to know and follow Jesus more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly."

Isaiah 55:12-13
12 For you shall go out in joy,
   and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
   shall burst into song,
   and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
   instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
   for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

1) "...burst into song;" "...clap their hands;" "...Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress."

2) First, I hear the sung version we do regularly in worship: "You shall go out with joy/be led forth with peace/the mountains and hills will break forth before you/there'll be shouts of joy and all the trees of the field/will clap, will clap their hands!"  I love these words.  The natural world participates in singing exultation. "Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress."  I think of the Rumi poem "Choose Love," in which we are told, "in order to enter your rose garden, the soul makes peace with the thorns."  Is it possible that the cypress could grow instead of thorns?  I've been doing shadow work for what feels like an exceedingly long time and I've struggled to make peace with the thorns.  Is it possible that there will come a time when the thorns will be more like the cypress?  Cypress trees are often used to line lanes and roads, they establish order, giving the landscape a manicured look.  They grow tall and straight. 

3) What is the invitation in all this? To continue making peace and pray for the cypress to come up instead of the thorns.

"Holy One, send us out, and lead us back.  Replace the thorn with the cypress and the brier with the myrtle.  Make a memorial for yourself, an everlasting sign of your promise."

Breathprayer: "Go out in joy... burst into song."

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