Tag Archives: belief

Thomas’ Lament


Well it’s finished
I w
ould have to go all out
purge myself of doubt
hold on till the final hour
push for verification
of the one veritable transitory power*
to seal what happened
what was and is and ever more shall be
with the indisputable fact,
the terminating stamp,
of my own story.

Why not take their word?
I trusted them enough.
We saw him risen in the light!
Our own eyes feasted on the sight!

Where was I then
delayed in darkness
caught in traffic
held up by bandits
lost down blind alleys?

And when I arrived,
he had come and gone
the meeting was adjourned.
Was it so wrong to have yearned
to know for myself,
not only to have heard,
of what glory they were so assured?

How could he come when I was gone
and leave me, coming,
to be slapped with that second hand joy?

I did not know how he had spared me
how my delay was grace.
So I choking, sputtered
strutted through their glee:
Not me.
Not me.
I shall not believe what I cannot see!

Then you came back.

What were we doing then
eating lunch
talking about the Cubs
debating the umpire’s call?

You came back
or forward
or was it we who moved?

You came and went
climbing out of centuries
striding through solid wall
and stood once more before us all.

“Here, here,” you said
and slipped my hand
into your side pocket
wrapping me with your anguish.

The room spun round.
My skin turned inside out
and my soul’s raw quick
swaddled in the mitten of your wound
chafed next to your rib.

I shrunk
till I was no bigger
than a speck
upon your shoe.

I had loved you
of that I had no doubt.
But your gaping spaces opened my ears
to the triumph shout
of life’s Word
and seared me,
sealed me with the sight
of what till then I had only heard:
that you loved me before I ever knew
that you came back all torn
and maimed for me to see
that I would see
you love me too.

So now I sit
unable to pretend I never wore
the ring of your palm round my finger,
unable to deny
we have been wedded by your pain,
unable to forget
the moist seam of your wound
and the intimacy
in asking me to touch you there.

Unable to swill in perplexity
to feign ignorance
to sulk amidst the heart’s strivings
or fume when things go all awry,
for that which I had heard
which I saw with my eye
which I looked upon
and touched with my own hand
that which has completed my joy
has completed me.

And I am finished,
for now, my dearest, dearest love,
there is only you.



As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  John 15: 9-12

*the one veritable transitory power, from T.S. Eliot’s, Ash Wednesday

Special Note
for Topeka, Kansas Area Readers

TCF Topeka Gives logo final

Topeka area residents, watch for a fun way to support local charities, including The Sanctuary Foundation. Save this date: June 3, 7:00 am – 6:00 pm, at  Fairlawn Mall. 

On that day your gift to The Sanctuary Foundation fund will be increased by a pro-rated match gift from The Topeka Community Foundation. Watch for more details on how to stretch your dollars in supporting the wonderful work being done in Topeka.

  • We are looking for helpers to sit at our booth for an half hour or so to share with people why The Sanctuary is important to you.
  • We also  need comments from those we serve about what The Sanctuary means to you, how we may have made a difference in your life, stories, anecdotes, etc to help us let others learn more about us. You can comment here, or at our website , on our Facebook page,  by emailing us at lross@fromholyground.org.

Thanks to all your help over the past twenty five years
we are still going strong!



Pretense and True Belief

This is my body, peeled back, broken open for you.
In my palm blazed Suchness, a torn fragrant crust of What Is So.

Oh, Common One, you are so plain, so familiar, so simple that we miss you in our desire for some other novelty. We seek you in mystery, ritual, knowledge, magic – all the things we hope will take away our pain and imperfection. We think that if we can just become enlightened, then we will be one with you. But here you are, hurrying toward us, loving us so much, broken hearted, risking everything to be with us in our unenlightenment.
Jesus, you are things as they are. Here is where I meet you in such unassuming splendor and fullness. Over and over, as I bump up against imperfection, resistance, and fear I find you –
grinning at me, sanctifying the moment, redeeming in streaming satin rivers of Grace what is so.

When the dancer becomes the dance, the veil lifts. When the pray-er becomes the prayer, when nothing separates us from God – no self to comment, evaluate, compare – then the forms of prayer drop away and the heavenly hosts arrive packing picnic lunches and lawn chairs and settle in to watch the show.

Someone ought to open a School of True Belief where we could learn how to believe until there was nothing in us that was not a believer. Every June we could put on a recital. There we would solo in some show stopping number where we would cease watching what we are doing and just do it in the free spontaneous expression of the passion of our souls.

True believers are rare these days. There are many schools which teach us how to hone deceit and conceit to a fine art. To know nothing but Christ and him crucified, to be wholly available to God as God desires, one must be free of pretense. We cannot be pretending about what is real. Rather we must be full of faith in the context of the essential truths of our life.

Yet we learn by pretending. It may be a necessary step on the journey.  Pretending may be evidence of both our unbelief, and our devotion. Through the gift of the ability to make believe we can try out and imagine what seems unimaginable. The foundation of spiritual growth and theological hope lies in the ability to risk into what doesn’t make sense or seem possible. A lot of the time we look like kids traipsing around in mom’s high heels and old prom dress. We smear on lipstick and crouch in the tree house being the squirrel sisters, famous ice skating stars and novelists. We giggle and sip Kool Aid from the stemmed goblets we stole from the kitchen. It is all a sham of course. Pretty soon Karen’s little brother will come around and throw tomatoes at us. But we are practicing the fine and awesome art of becoming our dearest dreams.

I remember the wild longing of age ten when I sat in the sun eating purple grapes, warm and sweet, spitting out the seeds at my brother. Summer was interminable and nothing ever happened except the daily routine of my hopelessly mundane family and Andy Griffith reruns. That longing took me to the cool dim corridors of the public library hunting ecstasy. I would haul home stacks of Nancy Drew mysteries and American Girl magazines and read about other times and places where Nancy motored about the countryside in her roadster and something more interesting than hanging out the wash and canning chili sauce was always happening.

Can we share in the wonder and deep need of the Great Pretenders? Can we cherish our vulnerability and say:  “Go for it, pretend your hearts out! Go on. You be the Goddess of the Moon and I’ll be the Wise King. The back porch is our kingdom and the dogs can be our ladies-in-waiting. Here, you can walk on water and I’ll heal the sick.” Pretend and dress up and play until your dreams come true.

And this is how dreams come true. One day when you are playing, the ladies-in-waiting suddenly bolt, trailing their gowns made of old curtains across the lawn, to chase a squirrel. One day the Moon Goddess gets a mean streak and scribbles crayon all over your royal decrees. The castle you made of boxes gets rained on and the whole kingdom disintegrates. On a day like that, when all your pretending is exposed and you are just a little kid filled with an ache for bliss you cannot name, then someone like a Mother or a Father will come to you and pick you up and wipe your nose and tell you that you are beautiful just the way you are. And the wild hunger to be known and honored and loved for the Holy Child you are is at last met by the Holy Child of God.

And all the rules we made up when we were pretending will seem silly and useless. Like how you are supposed to eat your chips in your sack lunch first and save the gummy bears for last. How if you get home before your sister after school that means dad will take us out for a Dairy Queen after supper. How if you pray this way or believe that or wear this totem or light this candle things will turn out okay for you.

And then the very powerlessness and need of childhood that drove us to pretending in the first place, the very unacceptability of ordinary being, that tender vulnerability at the mercy of powers greater than us, and all that we did to impose sense and order – then that unfinished irredeemable self becomes the holy ground of redemption.

I do not know if our pretense amuses or offends God. I do know there is a time for us to stop pretending about what is not and bless what is. For when I stop acting out my fantasies and stay here to drink this cup poured out and eat the bread of this moment, then I meet Jesus, the one who came and keeps on coming into the world just the way it is, not to condemn it, but that it might be saved through him.

This post is adapted from my book Letters from the Holy Ground – Seeing God Where You Are
Read more about prayer at The Sanctuary Foundation for Prayer website
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Contact the author by email: lross@fromholyground.org ; on Facebook: www.fbook.me/sanctuary
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