Today I’m thinking of an old poem: “Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment,” written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1797. I’m also thinking of an even older poem: the Book of Revelation.
(Perhaps I should apologize to those whom the title of this post fooled into expecting a clip from “Xanadu,” the 1980 roller-disco movie featuring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly. But I’ll try to do something with that movie next week!)
In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a guest missive from my own dear father, Howard Webber. On this rainy morning in Holderness, New Hampshire, he offered some affirmation for me, and some wise words for fathers everywhere.
(Incidentally, I asked my mother to do a guest missive too. She only laughed and said, “That’ll be the day!”)
I’m in Holderness, NH, enjoying some vacation time with my family. (There’s a big motorcycle rally going on this week in nearby Laconia—that accounts for the background noise in the video!) In between naps and family excursions, I’ve been thinking about a question this week, and I’d really like your help with it.
Please leave a comment and help me wrestle with this question. Suppose there were a church assembly where you could honestly say to people, in every minute they spent with you, yes, this is the best, the brightest, the most rewarding thing we could be doing together right now. What would that look like?
Hello, friends! I’m releasing this edition of The Merry Mystic a little early, so you can have it for Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is a celebration of the Holy Spirit: a noise like a rushing wind, and tongues of fire, and speaking in tongues, and all that. And whenever I think of the Holy Spirit, I think of this beautiful little poem by A. A. Milne.
The Merry Mystic Celebrates the Sexy Ebullience of Creation
Spring is on my mind and in my heart this week. Trees are leafing out overnight, and foals and fawns are frolicking in the meadows. The sexy ebullience of creation is made manifest. It’s like a recapitulation of the seven-day creation story from Genesis. I picture God as calling all living things, both into existence and toward God’s self simultaneously. This call is a deep enchantment, a longing that is part of our incarnational being, a magnetism that draws us Godward.
That’s the idea of “Come To Me,” a song from my 2012 album As a Deer Longs. Without a band and a DJ, I can’t do this one live, so here it is as an MP3.
In case the lyric went by too fast, here it is in full:
Come To Me
I am ready now.
I have trained myself for this.
I summon you:
Come to me!
Bird of the air, I summon thee:
Flap your wings and come to me!
Beast of the earth, I summon thee:
Stomp your feet and come to me!
Fish of the sea, I summon thee:
Shake your fins and come to me!
I shine my light and draw you like a moth to a flame,
I sing the song and send the sound of saying your name.
I pull you to the edge and then I pull a little more,
I light the fuse and spread the news and open up your hidden door.
Now come to me!
I open up a path that you won’t find on the map,
I light the dark and make a spark that bridges your gap.
I dance before the altar and you feel the earth shake,
I touch you and your sun comes up and tells you that you’re wide awake.
Now come to me!
Fly me, whale me, stork me, quail me, hare me, snail me, come to me!
Bear me, bee me, mare me, flea me, manatee me, come to me!
Louse me, mouse me, goat me, stoat me, tick me, chick me, come to me!
Bat me, gnat me, frog me, rat me, dog me, cat me, come to me!
Come to me!
My Store page tells you how to buy that album, if you’d like to hear more.
Hello, friends. Here’s a Mothers Day special, in honor of my own wonderful mother.
Here’s the text of that version of Psalm 23.
The Lady Is My Mother
The Lady is my mother;
I shall not want.
She tucks me in between clean sheets;
She reads me a story.
She cleans the cut and binds on the Band-Aid;
She combs down my hair for our name's sake.
Even though I tremble and cry out in darkness, I will waken with relief,
For you are with me; your hand and your voice, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me with macaroni and cheese
in the presence of my siblings;
You set fresh milk on the table, and only gently scold me when
My cup runneth over.
Surely love and generosity shall sustain me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lady for ever.
Already and Always Enough
The hardest commandment you ever gave me,
dear Spirit-Friend, was this:
to enjoy being alive, and
to speak for the joy of being alive.
And I need your help now, because
I’m screwing it up.
I am guilty of impossible yes-ing:
yes to one project on top of another,
yes to writing, composing, and singing,
yes speaking, preaching, recording, and posting,
yes to everyone who calls, emails, or walks into my office,
yes, yes, yes.
I am guilty of egregious multitasking.
This past week, I worked on writing while
not enjoying a movie at home with my family.
I worked on a speech while
not enjoying a hot shower.
I worried about my church while
not enjoying lying in my warm bed.
In short, I was a fraud.
I posed as a speaker for the joy of being alive while
not enjoying being alive.
And I was ungrateful, another great sin.
I was like a child
who counts up his birthday presents and then
complains that there are not enough of them.
I wished for more hours in every day, and
more productivity, and
I said, in the silence of my heart,
I need more power.
And, forgive me, but that was a prayer.
It was to you that I spoke, dear Spirit-Friend, when I said it.
To you I said, Help me, and I need more,
but what I really meant was:
You’re not helping me enough.
What you’ve given me is not enough.
What I am is not enough.
So please, may I ask for your help again?
This time, I’ll stipulate that when I say,
What I really mean is,
Help me to see how your help
is already and always enough.
O Spirit-Friend, please help me:
to enjoy your abundance,
and to enjoy being abundant,
and to know how it is enough, and I am enough,
already and always.