Thursday, February 11, 2016

breathe and pray as deeply as possible

It is hard to know where to start here at the end
of this stay in the hospital.
You are resting your eyes
and I, your son,
keep watch,
thankful for your life
of quiet strength
and dry humor.
These six days of disruption
have exhausted you.
Pump your ankles,
slide your heels
and raise your arms
each hour.
Walk when you want to sleep
and don’t forget to inhale
as deeply as possible
ten times in succession all the long day.
Let’s make each labored breath a prayer
for yesterday was Ash Wednesday
and Sunday is Valentine’s Day.
Let’s make each breath a prayer
for God has enough love
for us to make peace with being human
and I do believe
beauty will emerge from the ashes.


breathe and pray as deeply as possible
by troy cady
for my father
february 11, 2016















Wednesday, January 27, 2016

if i had no voice

If I had no voice but the force
of dreams like countless drops
of rain drenching the thick forest
bed, whose black trees
with fallen limbs stand
ready to fall, forgotten,
this mute darkness
could be borne for the night
until tomorrow, with the weather’s change,
the watchers would come walking,
throwing calls to hidden life
they believe is there,
ready to hear just one true note, however briefly.
If I had no voice,
would you still strain to listen?



if I had no voice
by troy cady






Saturday, January 9, 2016

a soldier of the cross

i would like to take that piece of cloth
for which the soldiers gambled
and fix it to the cross
on which the Savior died
and fly it like a flag—
a white flag of surrender—
knowing i was the soldier
who gamed the system

i was the soldier aloof to the innocence
of the One who suffered
to the suffering of the innocent
the soldier who gamed grace
the soldier with the fever of power
the power that comes with position
the same soldier who rationed carefully
guarding my fair share
while exposing without care
the vulnerable naked
the nakedness
the indignity of the Dignitary
i was the soldier who stripped
the last defense of the defenseless
the defense of the One
who would have freely given it to me

i am the soldier
looking for that cross now
with the piece of cloth I won
and the spear that pierced Jesus’ side

i want to fix the cloth
high to the cross
with my spear—
fix my weapon
to the wood—
to fly the cloth
as a flag
high on the cross
so others can see
this sacred ground
from far off
and plead mercy
at the place of grace.

i pray that while I am up there
hanging the cloth
i may get caught on the cross
by the humble spirit of the Servant
who is somehow still here
and buried
and risen
all at once

and humble
giving all
once and for all



a soldier of the cross
by troy cady










Friday, January 1, 2016

strange reasons to be happy for the new year



“There’s something special about a fresh start.”

A few weeks ago a friend was telling me why the new year is one of her favorite holidays to celebrate. I had had the opportunity to serve as her coach for the preceding four months. In the autumn, we had been meeting regularly for her to consider questions related to her vocation. A number of issues in her workplace concerned her in 2015 and now, at the end of the year, she was looking forward to 2016.

The last time I remember getting very excited about celebrating the new year was in my childhood. As a pastor I tend to put most of my emotional energy into Christmas, leaving little left for the week after. Last night, for example, my wife and I went to bed before midnight. Our wishes of Happy New Year were spoken this morning in the kitchen after a loaf of banana bread was placed in the oven to bake.

Still, my friend’s sense of excitement over the new year is beginning to rub off on me this morning. I feel happy. I can’t explain exactly why but here are some random reflections that may be of interest to you.

1. Uncertainty. That seems a strange reason to be happy. Yes, I’m uncertain about…well…the whole year. Who knows what is to come? I’m uncertain on a number of fronts. In the forefront of my mind right now are questions related to my work—and especially that which I regard as my life calling.

There are so many possibilities. With possibility comes openness and with openness comes uncertainty.

2. Trust. When life is uncertain what can one do but trust?

I believe there is a Person who loves us all beyond measure and telling. I believe this Person showed us his love by coming close to us in Jesus. I believe that Jesus shatters our certainties because he wants us to practice childlike trust.

I admit that I use the word “believe” in an aspirational sense. Last year at this time I chose a “word for 2015.” My wife started doing this while we lived in Spain. One year she chose the word “Freedom.” It was her way of saying she wanted to grow in freedom and learn to practice it and extend it to others. It made a big difference in her life, this practice of “choosing a word.” In fact, it made such a difference in her that at one point that year I jokingly said to her, “Heather, you’re so free it’s scaring me!”

Well, last year I knew I needed to grow in belief—specifically, to stop doubting myself so much. The problem with doubting oneself is that if you’ve been given certain talents but you doubt you are any good you deprive others of the benefits your talents can offer the world. We are all invested with certain abilities that can serve the common good. If you are plagued with excessive self-doubt, the effect of your talents is greatly diminished.

I typically admonish others to have a healthy sense of self-doubt (otherwise we become cocky, arrogant and proud) but if one has too much self-doubt it is not good. That is my problem: excessive self-doubt.

So, last year I sensed the Person-Who-Loves saying to me, “Stop doubting yourself. Believe.” That is why I chose that word and that is why I think it will be my word again this year.  I think I need more practice at it.  Yes, I believe, but I am still learning to be God’s child, to more fully trust.

3. Risk. When trust is strong, one can take risks, experiment, try new things.

I remember when our son took his first steps. We recorded it on video. My wife and I were across from each other, sitting on the floor. One of us sat in the doorway to our bedroom and the other sat a short distance away in the doorway to our guest room.

I remember Nic looking at me as he walked towards me. I suppose he wasn’t really thinking about walking. He just wanted to get to Daddy.

At that time in his life, walking was risky for him. He could fall, which was not pleasant in the least. But as he saw that he was surrounded by people he could trust, he felt bold to take the risk.

I know that as I practice trusting, I will also need to practice risking. In fact, without risk trust is not really trust.

So this will also be a year of trying new things, risking. But, with risk comes the next item…

4. Swallowing pride.

Those who know me well know that I like people to think well of me. I want them to think I’m…creative, wise and successful. I suppose most everyone likes to have others think well of them but I do believe it can be a hindrance to growth.

The past two years I feel I’ve been tested in this arena, especially. As I stepped into new vocational adventures I’ve lost some friends. Some of this loss is due to simply moving on and loss of contact—but some of it is because a handful of people question the wisdom of my choices.

It’s humbling.

In starting something new, it’s humbling when others see your fragile missteps. It’s humbling being dependent on the good will of others. It’s humbling coming to grips with your own limitations.

But in that place of humility we find a source of strength. We can see self-sufficiency for the sham that it is. We can see the wonder and beauty of companionship on the journey, that we are not alone, that others are right by our side…cheering you on despite your limitations. We discover that we really do need one another and that is not a weakness—it is what makes us strong.

In fact, I feel that if I had any success in the practice of “believing” in 2015 it was due in large measure to the experience of “shared belief”—that is, I saw others believing and that gave me the courage to believe as well. Thank you, friends, for believing with me (and for me) when I felt weak.

Because of that, not too long ago I sat down to simply remind myself who I am, imperfections and all. I am a firm believer that, whatever faults one carries, one should always just be one’s own self and not try to pretend to be someone they are not.  

Out of that honest inventory, I then wrote down four words to serve as a focus, to consistently nurture these ways of “being me.”  They are:

Teaming
Writing
Coaching
Creativity

I share these thoughts with you in hopes that this might encourage you to reflect on how to practice “being yourself” this coming year—after all, the world needs you to be you.

Peace,
Troy

Friday, December 25, 2015

what i want to ask mary and everyone like her

The movies only show
the before and after.
They find a place to labor
and next thing you know
the baby is born, there’s laughter
and new life to savor

the babe swaddled
the cow lowing
the manger proportioned perfectly for paintings

but
how did they cut the umbilical cord
I want to ask Mary and
everyone like her

that part we never see

and
how does it feel when God kicks inside
growing
stretching your skin
in those early stages of pregnancy
does he make you sick
does he make you crave strange foods
so you grow heavier than you want
how do you find sleep
in your third trimester
does the baby hear your prayers
for deliverance
does he want it too
is he distressed by your distress
how do you stay happy
when your feet hurt

and
now that the baby is here
are you ready to lose more sleep
have you prepared yourself
that you will never be able
to clean up all the messes he makes
how will you carry on
when he says something
you would never dream of saying to others
when his actions are out of your control

are you ready for the detachment
that is sure to come
as the baby becomes a boy
and the boy becomes a man
and dies
and how do you think it will feel
when he comes back to life
and meets you with a sword
that pierces your soul
a pain more intense than labor
and so a life more full than the child’s

this is what I want to ask Mary
and everyone like her



……………………………………………………….



what i want to ask mary and everyone like her
by troy cady










Tuesday, December 8, 2015

contractions

when the hour approaches

when the hour of new life
the hour of new life emerging approaches

the hour of death feels nigh
as the hour of new life emerging approaches

that is when the pain intensifies
as the hour of new—

the new life is coming soon
the new life born of pain
the new life of the long breath

the deep breath gasping
the hand grasping
for the hand inside
unreachable until the hand emerges
the small curled fingers
the gasping cry

the time is now
the new birth
the hope unsilenced amid the irrational
fear silenced
for the new life
feeding and wild

no telling what will come next
no telling when the hour is pregnant with new life
no telling words
no words
this new life
these long breaths
these long breaths
this new life
this life
this long life so short
this long life unshortened




contractions
by troy cady









Sunday, December 6, 2015

tender mercies

Most Sunday mornings I have the privilege of offering a prayer during our church’s worship gathering.

This year for Advent our church is focusing especially on the theme of joy. One of the key Scripture texts for today’s worship gathering is Luke 1:68-79.  As I read the passage earlier, this phrase spoke to me in particular: “…because of the tender mercy of our God.”

“Tender mercy.” What a precious phrase! “Tender mercy.”

It struck me how much fierce hate and aggression we are exposed to on a day-to-day basis. Lately, the news has been filled with too many stories and opinions related to mass shootings, terrorism, and corruption. And then there is a new expression I hadn’t seen before: “micro-agression.” It’s an idea that conveys the kind of environment many people have to face each and every day. It’s the experience of being struck by hurtful words, suspicious stares, skeptical thoughts and snap judgements. The repetition and regularity of micro-agression one experiences when going from one space to another, one day to another, begins to take its toll on a person’s psyche and soon we are left with more micro-agression in retaliation for the initial micro-agression.

After a while, all these micros pile up to make a macro. And soon we find ourselves lashing out at each other.

But the good news of God is a story of tender mercy. What a precious phrase!

I am fortunate that I get to spend many of my working hours practicing tender mercy in ministry with children. Children thrive on tenderness in much the same way a seedling thrives on gentle care and attention.

Today, I have the privilege of seeing Grace’s children present the Christmas story to another group of people in sore need of tenderness: the elderly. We did this program last year at the same place we will visit this year and here are a couple of the pictures from it.








What displays of tenderness! I do believe the world needs more of this.

So, this is the prayer I will make this morning in worship. It’s a prayer that comes as a response to our time of offering financial gifts as worship. I find it very telling that money and hate too often go hand-in-hand and am hopeful God can write a new script through us in which money becomes a way to show the tender mercy of God. Here is the prayer. I invite you to make it your prayer, too.   

Father,

We are filled with joy this morning because, as your word tells us, you have shown us your tender mercies.

Tender mercies…tender mercies. Thank you, Lord, for your tender mercies.

We are reminded recently that we live in a world where we see anything but tender mercies in the daily news cycle.

Even the season of Advent has sadly become tainted by the antithesis of tender mercy. We go from the vibrant colors of Giving Thanks to Black Friday in a matter of minutes where tender mercy diminishes so that cold, hard cash can be made.

Cold, hard cash…cold, hard cash.

Lord, forgive us for weaponizing currency. In a day when money and guns go hand-in-hand, and money becomes a gun…cold, hard cash…Lord, forgive us.

Our legal tender is anything but tender.

And that is why we pray to you. We pray because it is in you and you alone we can find true, unspoiled tenderness and mercy. As we present you these offerings, have mercy, Lord. As we bring these gifts to you, may they be a loving, soft-hearted response to your gentle tenderness.

We give in hopes that you will take our offering and use it to demonstrate your tender mercy to a world that needs displays of tenderness. Make the world a place of gladness and joy, Father.
           
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.