Spreading the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

—He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
William Butler Yeats

In a few days we will ring in the New Year. When I read this poem, I wonder to myself: Have I treaded softly on the dreams of others this past year? More importantly, have I spread the cloths of heaven under the feet of those who need it most? And what might that look like? Does this mean that I have focused on creating the kin-dom of God on earth—as it is in heaven? Have I helped the marginalized? As Jesus says, “for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me…Truly, I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (NRSV, Matthew 25:42-45) I wonder if I had fed anyone that needed food or drink or welcomed a stranger, or clothed the naked or visited the sick or those imprisoned this past year?

Prayer:

Lord, as I get closer to beginning a new year of my life, may I remember to recognize the blessings of being on this earth and serving you, by serving others. May I never forget to include helping the oppressed in my New Year’s Resolutions. I recognize that I may not have done everything that you have called me to do this year, but I will remember that receiving your grace allows me to give grace, in return. I recognize that my blessings are meant to be shared. I will clothe the naked, feed the hungry and visit the sick and imprisoned—whether physical or spiritual. For I am your servant, and I must spread the cloths of heaven for you. Amen.

***

Summer Albayati-Krikeche is a woman who speaks inside and outside of the church. She is a candidate for ordained ministry in the Unitarian Universalist church, and serves as an intern chaplain at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. While studying in seminary, Summer felt that all of the sacred scriptures called us to help the oppressed.  Shortly, thereafter, she decided to help those considered the most marginalized in any society—orphans. In 2009, Summer founded Orphan Whispers, a nonprofit that helps orphans in conflict and post-conflict societies, and is currently focusing on the orphans in Iraq.  

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Lost in God

Someone asked, “What is love?” God answered, “You will know when you lose yourself in Me.”

–Jalalal-din Rumi, 13th century Sufi mystic

For the Sufi mystic, losing oneself in God is the answer. In the modern world, though, how many of us can completely lose ourselves in the search for God? Between getting the kids ready for school and feeding our families, working, and volunteering for our faith community, some of us may feel as if we have lost God in the process of living. But it is important to recognize that God is waiting for us to get closer and lose ourselves in God’s loving embrace. Living can be found in losing oneself. But how does one do this?

Like the Jewish mystics, you might lose yourself in the sacred scriptures. You could spend 15 minutes each morning, reading and reflecting on what the words you read mean to you. Perhaps you could journal your thoughts—giving yourself the deadline of Christmas—like a countdown of this holy month, which culminates in the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus. Rejoice in the gift of the one who so loves us. When you awaken on Christmas morning, read your journal and witness a birth of a new you.

Likewise, you might find, like the Sufi mystics, that music and dance is a useful tool for losing yourself in God. Decide today to spend each day rocking out to the music of your choice. Lose yourself in the words and sing at the top of your lungs. Spin around as if you are a Whirling Dervish and feel the loving embrace of God as you meditate on the beauty of the music spread before you—tantalizing your ears and heart. Feel your love of God in your body and lose yourself in this feeling.

This is the month of peace, forgiveness and love. In losing yourself in God, you just may find more of these in your life. Now, that is living!

Prayer:

Dear God, may I find a way to lose myself in you, each day, during this holy month. I recognize that sometimes I am so busy; and I cannot imagine how I can squeeze in another minute, but I desire to love more and thus live more. I covenant to spend time with you each day and, I hope I will find that the greatest gift given to me, when I awaken this Christmas morning, is the gift of life and…love. You said, “…faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) I believe this, God. I will seek it, starting today. Amen.

***

Summer Albayati-Krikeche is a woman who speaks inside and outside of the church. She is a candidate for ordained ministry in the Unitarian Universalist church, and serves as an intern chaplain at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. While studying in seminary, Summer felt that all of the sacred scriptures called us to help the oppressed. Shortly, thereafter, she decided to help those considered the most marginalized in any society—orphans. In 2009, Summer founded Orphan Whispers, a nonprofit that helps orphans in conflict and post-conflict societies, and is currently focusing on the orphans in Iraq.