"Wheels Turning Inward" is a is a rich collection of over fifty poems, following a poet’s mythic and spiritual journey that crosses easily onto the paths of many contemplative traditions. The artwork at the top of this page, is one image found in the Gordon Moore Memorial stain glass window at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, by the artist Kim Clark Renteria. The image of these three circles, is emblematic of both the Trinity and the title for this new collection of poetry now available from Friesen Press.
This poem was inspired by the teachings of Geshe Michael Roache and Lama Christie McNally; the writtings of Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Thomas Merton; the writtings and teachings of the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault, Dom Thomas Keating, Dom John Main, and Dom Laurence Freeman; the theologians Paul F. Knitter, Marcus Borg, Paul Tillich, and many others. The poem touches on practicing meditation as a sacramental act, which is something Buddhists have been doing for over 2500 years, and Christians since the time of Christ and the early days of the Desert Fathers and Mothers.
Answering God’s call to hoilness (wholeness) through a sacramental practice of meditation is one way to experience the “Reign of God” in the present moment. Sacraments are an “outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace” whereby the Spirit of God becomes present to us; sacraments are a means of grace and a vehicle for the Holy Spirit to enter into our lives. Dom Thomas Keating has often said, “that intimacy with God requires not effort, but simple consent.” Here are some suggested books to learn more about these peactices and the intefaith dialog between Eastern and Western spiritual traditions:
Beyond miles and miles of Sonoran and Chihuahuan desert
Criss-crossing the Southwest and Northern Mexico,
Where local folks know how to stand “tall in the saddle” as they say
Across a landscape that seems to go nigh on to forever
Even beyond the Boundlessness of you, O’ God,
Here imaginations may touch the beauty of all creation
And horizons meet the very edge of eternity.
Here you may see from Terlingua to Tuscon,
Marfa to Manhattan, Edna to El Paso
Across vistas of high desert plains,
Mountains, valleys, arroyos,
Streams and rivers merging together.
Where fingers of saguaro cactus
Point upwards in prayer,
While honey and velvet mesquite,
Althorn, ocotillo, lechugilla,
Agave and creosote bush
Bow with grace when touch by the breath of God
Traveling on windblown currents.
O Lord, let such a landscape echo back through each of us,
Expanding our sight, to become a vision
That comes to see heaven reflected
Through your divine made eyes.
May such a vision arise in us each
As it did for Christ and the Buddha
To echo, again and again
As we view heaven
Through divine made eyes.
Ansel Adams - El Capitan 1947. This is the majestic El Capitan (Spanish for "The Chief"), and to the right of it (behind it) is the highest mountain in Texas, Guadalupe Peak.
this morning, quite early
an hour or so after dawn
while walking to my office
i saw a parking garage attendant
in the courthouse district
of downtown Houston
waiving a red-orange traffic flag
back and forth
back and forth
with the word
there he was
waving Jesus around
for all the world to see
he was waving Jesus
like a Tibetan Buddhist prayer flag
flying in the wind stirring up the Holy Spirit
he was waving Jesus as a message
as a hope
as a charity
as a blessing
as a reminder
so that we might
wake up and remember too
if you listen along with me
you can hear
of the homeless the poor the imprisoned on parole
like voices from heaven
as they too pass
Come, Lord Jesus
Come, Lord Jesus Come, Lord Jesus
uttering his name without pause as a prayer, as a song, as a thought
in the back of my mind I can hear them singing
"Jesus loves me this I know, so the Bible tells me so" ...
i'm sure it is a prayer
a cry from heaven even,
it must be
for i hear the voices too, the voices of angels appearing and arising as unexpected messengers as strangers
i think i see Jesus smiling, i'm sure i do,
in the smiles on their faces
as i pass by looking, seeing
but staying quiet all the same
not a whisper crossing my lips
not even a small hello
but certainly a smile, and a hint of some
blessing unasked for
grace given freely
a witness to
in the world
the Kingdom of God
coming closer and closer
The Harris County Courts District is at the northeastern edge of downtown Houston, Texas, quite close to Minute Maid Park. Within the district are several social services organizations, various county agencies and courts, the Harris County Jail, as well as Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal), and Annunciation Catholic Church. The district includes a diversity of people. It is quite common to encounter the homeless, the hungry, and even the sick; or county prisoners dressed in orange stripped suits working outside the jail for the day; various professionals involved in the courts or county administration; and the public at large going to and from an Astros baseball game. Harris County, Texas, is the third most populous county in the United States; which makes it larger than half the states in the Union and many countries throughout the world.
It isn’t known when it began, God’s longing, Certainly no one mortal knows. The angels might know, But for most, it is still a heavenly secret, A mystery of mysteries Long hidden.
Some would say that it was always there Has always been there From the first instant, Long before the big bang, Banged! Leading up to the first Thought that caused Creation to explode suddenly Out of the emptiness and nothingness Of all reality, which is still expanding, Still growing Still arising within us each.
Many would say, and I would be one, That God’s longing is eternal. It is a deep longing, a true longing, A longing that lingers slowly And perfectly Stretching out far past our own imaginations, However far back or forward we are able to imagine. It is almost as if God suddenly awoke And being alone, In knowing loneliness from the beginning Sighed deeply, sighed so deeply In that loneliness, That in breathing out Some portion of God’s breath left His body and being To seed all creation.
Perhaps it was then, in that moment When the breath of God first moved Across the waters of earth Or moved through the depths of Nothingness giving birth to creation. Or gave breath to both Adam and Eve, And then to all humanity.
Sometimes a thought crosses my mind A single thought born out of my own breath As I breathe in deeply during meditation And out once again quietly and stilly.
Sometimes it comes to me then, in a split second That this was when God’s Holy Spirit first appeared And continues to appear throughout all history. I even imagine that in some secret way My own loneliness and longing are helping to give birth To God’s Holy Spirit And the compassionate loving-kindness That follows God’s gift to all humankind. I know this much, that God’s longing for us runs so deep And so true That He gave up His only begotten Son, even unto death So that we might come to know Him and He us. And that by this miracle of love God’s Holy Spirit comes to dwell and rest in us.
On the third morning The women came first, Somehow knowing in their wisdom As women often do! Anxious with sorrow, Walking in the stillness of night Just Before dawn And the movement of day. They came, Looking for their Lord. Where they found the stone turned, Rolled from His tomb. Their Lord’s body gone, Taken away!
Two disciples came later, to learn That this was more than an “idle tale,” Of women, unbelieved. When entering the tomb, they too saw The linens that once wrapped His body, Lying where he was laid. Then Returned home in amazement, Not recalling the scriptures Or the words of Jesus, Even the one whom he most loved.
While Mary stayed, weeping outside, to See angels sitting in the tomb Where once her Lord’s body lay. Jesus speaks, calling Mary by name after asking; “Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek? The living are not Among the dead.” She sees him now, Rabbouni, her teacher, Moving to embrace him, at last knowing his face and voice. He says; “Hold me not, for I must ascend to my Father. Go, and tell my brothers, what you have seen and heard.”
He has Risen, He has Risen! He has risen from the places of the dead and dying, He has risen from the solitude of the tomb. He has Risen, to his Father and our Father. He has Risen, to his God and our God. Hallelujah, Christ is Risen!
Let us rise as well, above the noises and distractions of life to understand that God calls us too to death and resurrection. Calling us to die immeasurable times; To die daily in ourselves.
Let there be a death to our egos and selfishness, A death to our poverty of spirit and faithlessness, A death to doubt, hopelessness, and sorrow, A death to grief where grief can no longer be borne, A death to intolerance and “the wish to kill,” A death to violence and war, and fearful hearts, A death to abused and unloved hearts. Let there be a death to it all! Let the illusion and suffering of life be washed away by the Passion of Christ, creating in us the mind of Christ! So that we me may join with Him In many Resurrections, Let there be Resurrections upon Resurrections One after another and another, Let there be Resurrections without end.
Ron Starbuck is the author of Wheels Turning Inward a collection of over fifty poems. His poetry and prose is an expression of and a response to encountering God's call. We are all called to become God’s people and called to embrace the holiness (wholeness) of the Lord, regardless of what faith we may actually practice. When we come together in and through our relationships, in a spiritual community and connection with one another, we become and act together as a "People of God."
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 (NRSV)