Our dwelling places

My dwelling places are many, Lord:
   my house or apartment, my dorm or condo;
   my neighborhood, parish and local community;
   where I work, where I study, where I pray;
      my dwelling places are many….

First of all, I thank you, Lord,
   not only for so many dwelling places in my day
but for the gift at each day’s end of a door
   to a place, to a room with a roof overhead,
      the place I call home, 
   whether large and spacious or small and cramped,
       a place to lay down my head at night and rest…
 
My dwelling may not be a castle, Lord,
   but how many in need would deem it a palace
for its locks and safety, its light and warmth, a fridge with food, 
   a shower and toilet, a bed and a pillow, an address for mail,
for it’s being a place to return to each night
   for being a place to call home…

I thank you for my dwelling place, Lord:
   let me not take it for granted
      and keep me generously mindful
         of those who have no place they might call home…

And how lovely is your dwelling place,   
   O Lord of hosts…

Your dwelling is the universe and all the heavens
   – and beyond the heavens, Lord…

Your dwelling has no roof, no walls,
   no beginning and no end…

The beauty of your dwelling’s beyond anything
   my mind might conceive or my dreams imagine
and yet – your dwelling place is with me and in me…

You who cannot be confined,
   you choose to dwell within my soul
      and make your home within my heart…

You, whom all creation can’t contain,
   you enter my humble quarters,
      the spare, simple chambers of my heart,
   and there, in Spirit, make yourself at home…

And, Lord, as you can see,
   I’m seldom ready for company,
      for receiving any guests at all,
         let alone, you, the greatest guest of all…

So, please forgive me,
   (indeed, forgive me, Lord!)
for my house is not in order, not yet or ever ready
   to be a place where you might dwell
      a place you might call home…

And yet, you come, you enter and you stay
   and you don’t leave, you don’t go away,
      you remain within me, always,
and in making my heart your home
   you make of your heart a home for me…

Amen.

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fleeing towards you

I am frightened of living, Lord.
My whole life seems sinful or sterile.
Any fruits I bear are either false or rotten.
Nothing I do seems pleasing to you.
I am a barren tree that deserves
To be chopped down, cut up and burnt.
I bear only the sharp and bitter thorns of sin.
If only those thorns could prick me into repentance.
Inside me my conscience burns.
I dare not show myself, yet I have nowhere to hide.
What will happen to me?
Who will protect me from your wrath?
Where can I find safety?
Lord, you are my judge in whose hands I tremble.
Yet you also are the one who can save me.
Though I fear you, I trust you.
Though I want to flee from you, I flee towards you.
Jesus, Jesus, forget the sin by which I have provoked you,
    And see only the misery which invokes you.
Most kind Lord,
Confirm in me all that belongs to you.
And cast away all that is alien to you.

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All-transcendent God!

O All-Transcendent God
what words can hymn Your praises?
No word does You justice.
What mind can probe Your secret?
No mind can encompass You.
You are alone beyond the power of speech,
yet all that we speak stems from You.
You are alone beyond the power of thought,
yet all that we can conceive springs from You.
All things proclaim You,
those endowed with reason and those bereft of it.
All the expectation and pain of the world coalesces in You.
All things utter a prayer to You,
a silent hymn composed by You.
You sustain everything that exists,
and all things move together to Your orders.
You are the goal of all that exists.
You are one and You are all,
yet You are none of the things that exist,
neither a part nor the whole.
You can avail Yourself of any name;
how shall I call You,
the only unnameable?
All-transcendent God!

Gregory of Nazianzus, 329-389, Archbishop of Constantinople
The Encyclopedia of Prayer and Praise

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Psalm 95:1-7
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.

Photo by Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash