Food for Thought-A Celtic Benediction for the Night of April 30th

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A Celtic Benediction

by Richard Bryant

May the unforeseeable

moments of time

greet you as a welcome friend.

May the unknown fears

of tomorrow become

undeniable blessings.

May your friendship to others

be given without regard

to the time,

the place,

or the person.

May you seek solace

in dark seasons

and find joy

which transcends the ordinary;

in the God

who has guided your journey,

loved you from birth,

and restores your soul.

Hear our prayer.

Amen

Food for Thought-The Session

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The Session
By Richard Bryant

It was just a nap
or so I thought.
A momentary lapse
is what I sought.

When I awoke
I could see
a man who looked
a lot like me.

How did it seem?
he said from behind.
What was the dream?
Were the memories kind?

When I spoke
he began to write.
With each note
I thought he might

 ask of me
“What do I think the buses mean?”
“The closing doors, what could they be?”
“The angry men, who could they have been?”

I heard not a single question.
I saw no Dr Freud.
There had been no session.
Should I be annoyed?

After all, it was I
who had the dream
and couldn’t see
what it seemed
to be
or
not to be.

Food for Thought-Gratitude on Wednesday, the Last Day in April

Grateful Card.2jpgWhere has the month gone?  It seems only yesterday that the foolishness of the first was upon us and now we stand at the precipice of May Day.  Some of the most exciting May Days of my life were spent in Red Square playing tourist between a group of neo-Stalinist protesters and the OMON security police.  However, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. That’s a story for tomorrow.  Today has been a better day.  It turned cooler on our little corner of the Irish prairie.  The clouds blew by and the wind dropped in to see what condition our condition was in.  How did it find us? Pretty good for the most part, recovering from yesterday’s courthouse drama and looking ahead toward the future.

Today I’m grateful for the support of my family.  My calling would be impossible to fulfill if others had not been called  to walk this journey with me.  That’s why I always begin my nightly gratitude with a reminder to myself (and the world) how important my wife, children, and parents are to our ministry.  It’s impossible to overstate this reality.  I’m also grateful for our extended, wider family in America as well as everyone here in Ireland.  I come from a small town and I like the fact that I’m in a small town where people wave and know your name.  I’m grateful for our congregations and the women and men who make them living and breathing Christian communities of faith.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to live out my calling in this time and place.  I’m grateful we have a roof over our heads, clean water to drink, and food to eat.  I’m grateful that we can afford to eat and buy that food locally.  I’m grateful it’s not illegal for me to do my job or the people I serve to worship publicly. I am grateful for the health and well-being of my wife, children, and parents.  I am grateful for my health.

I’m grateful for the ever present reminders that I can simply exist in creation or live as a active part of creation.

I’m grateful for all life around me.

Food for Thought-Some Ideas on the Road to Emmaus

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1. Seven Miles.  Emmaus was about 7 miles from Jerusalem.  On that first Easter Sunday, our two anonymous guys were travelling from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  Here’s what I think:  distance helps with perspective.  Sometimes we need to step back from something to see what’s really going on.  My question would be, “what is your 7 miles?”  We’ve all got a “7 mile” trip we need to make somewhere in our lives in order to gain a deeper awareness and greater understanding of what God may be doing and where our world  may be going.

2.  And we think we’re informed.  The two guys who meet up with the disguised Jesus believe him to be the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s happened over the past few days.  They think they’re the ones in the know.  They have all the alerts, feeds, and Twitter subscriptions so they don’t miss a thing.  Who knows, they may even be the two people who actually click on the “one secret no one wants you to know” pop-up ads.  That’s how plugged in these two guys are.  Yet, as we see, they understand nothing.  Don’t we do this all the time?  We plug ourselves into electronic outlets and consume volumes of useless trivia, gossip, and nothingness.   Then we meet our friends and family and ask, “Did you hear…?”  And we can’t believe they don’t know, that they don’t read, or they don’t care?  If you’ve been there, you’ve been on the Emmaus Road.  On the Emmaus Road we realize that the story we’ve heard is only a portion of  reality and it isn’t even the useful bit.

3.  Break some bread. Hospitality is the key to having your world enlarged.  When the two guys and Jesus sit down and break bread together, that’s when every thing clicks.  Breaking bread is the key.  Breaking bread is an all-purpose metaphor here.  You can break bread or you can just sit down and talk.  However you do it, this is when the magic happens.  Communities come alive around the table.  Fellowship becomes a family when listening and sharing combine.

Food for Thought-Birds of Caution

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Birds of Caution

by Richard Bryant

Birds of caution
Never fly
Dreams of motion
Make them sigh

Content to watch
From their place
While others seek
Open space

From Earthen jails
Their only homes
Still their voices sail
Above and alone

Past the trees
Over the hedge
Down the street
To my window ledge

It doesn’t matter
I can listen
To flying chatter
They’ve done their mission

The song has found me
And I don’t care
If the bird flew in air.

Food for Thought-Gratitude on the Last Tuesday in April

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I have much to be grateful for today.  Why is that different from any other day?  It isn’t really.  It is remarkable in that I witnessed an incredible act of mercy.  This mercy was not for me but for someone else.  Someone from my congregation received a miraculous reprieve and was not sent to prison.  I am grateful for her, for the sake of her family, her infant son, and her partner that today turned out differently than once anticipated.  Though a sense of ending  has finally come; questions remain in the hearts of many people.  How does one make sense of this and things like it?

We impose an unrealistic sense of order upon the chaos we inherit to create a sense of meaning (for ourselves) on the world around us.  It does not make the world any less chaotic, more sensible, orderly, or just.  Instead, it makes our world easier for us to deal with and accept when the distortions of our well-ordered unreality unravel as they inevitably will.  When we can begin to take apart, piece by piece, (either in our own time or through external events that force us to do so) our unrealistic sense of order, it is easier to create a new sense of being that doesn’t try to understand chaos and rationalize the unthinkable.  Instead of wasting our time and energy to understand it, we can move beyond it.

Food for Thought-Gratitude on a Moving Monday Evening

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Today has been one of those Mondays.  Do you know the kind?  The kind which blends seamlessly from Sunday into a new day, full of disorientating promise and mind-altering reality.  That kind of Monday.   Once  you wake up, wholly unsure of the time, the place, the continent, or the language coming from the radio it takes more than a few minutes to remember that indeed, it is Monday April 28th and you are in Strabane.   At that moment, the first of many today, I realize that I am grateful to be alive.

I am also grateful for other things.  I am grateful for my wife, children, and parents.  I am grateful for wee Ruby who I’ve taken to introducing as our other daughter.  I am grateful for our friends and family in America and Ireland.  I am grateful for the congregations I serve each day and the women and men who make them a living reality.  I am grateful for the opportunity to live out my calling in this time and place.  I am grateful for our home, the clean water we drink, and the food we share as a family.  I am grateful we can afford our food and can buy it locally.  I am grateful that it is not illegal for me to practice my faith openly and lead a faith community.  I am grateful for the health of my wife, children, and parents. I am grateful for my health and well-being.

I am grateful for the promise of the future unseen.  I am grateful for the reality of Spring.

I am grateful for all life around me.

Food for Thought-The Streets

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The Streets 

by Richard Bryant

Trapezoidal streams
walk the streets.
Looking past each other
they go their way.

No one ever goes home.
Everywhere you see
people talking with their fingers.
The text that can’t be ignored.
Horns are beeping.
To drive where
no one has gone before.

Text, text, text
Send the message
they must read it
before they sit down
Down to eat
Down to read
Down to dream
of Idols American
and Factors X.

X Marks the spot
Where I stand
Watching the world
Slip and slide
Toward oblivion.

Can I help
Pull it back
From this tiny square
We will see
What I find
The next time
I go outside.