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A Broken Chain’s Reaction

By Ken Woodley

The music of the silently singing universe

hums through the deafening gravity of our human chains.

Each atom rising through the iron clouds within us.

and the hunted dreams of every solar system

circling the relentless sun inside us.

A small, streaming voice beyond the universe 

delivers an invitation that flows through our hearts,

splashing its meaning everywhere,

soaking us clear through to the other side of our bones,

filling us with a resonance of no mere reason,

rhyming to infinity with the space inside our souls

where the chains begin pulling against themselves

as our fingers, arms and visions 

reach for the invisible all of everything

that holds gently forever on to us

always.

The sound of God’s lips 

touching our frost where we were most frozen 

and alone

fills the air.

We sip this newfound dew

in communion with each other.

A dove spreads the wings of humanity’s longing

and flies toward the rainbow of our reflection.

Every link in the chain finally snaps when you offer me your hand

and I willingly accept

all of the colors that we share,

kneeling and tasting

your prayers inside me

and all of mine in you,

the chain’s broken links chiming

as they fall into a resurrection

of the flowers we blossom together, 

one petal at a time.

The earth and sky one place now.

A garden again.

By Ken Woodley


The music of the silently singing universe
hums through the deafening gravity of our human chains.
Each atom rising through the iron clouds within us.
and the hunted dreams of every solar system
circling the relentless sun inside us.
A small, streaming voice beyond the universe
delivers an invitation that flows through our hearts,
splashing its meaning everywhere,
soaking us clear through to the other side of our bones,
filling us with a resonance of no mere reason,
rhyming to infinity with the space inside our souls
where the chains begin pulling against themselves
as our fingers, arms and visions
reach for the invisible all of everything
that holds gently forever on to us
always.
The sound of God’s lips
touching our frost where we were most frozen
and alone
fills the air.
We sip this newfound dew
in communion with each other.
A dove spreads the wings of humanity’s longing
and flies toward the rainbow of our reflection.
Every link in the chain finally snaps when you offer me your hand
and I willingly accept
all of the colors that we share,
kneeling and tasting
your prayers inside me
and all of mine in you,
the chain’s broken links chiming
as they fall into a resurrection
of the flowers we blossom together,
one petal at a time.
The earth and sky one place now.
A garden again.








Love Came Down At Christmas: Keep Unwrapping it

By Ken Woodley

Our orbit through space and time has brought us to this moment.

We see something, you and I, in the depths of the darkness.

Over there, beneath Orion’s Belt but above the Big Dipper.

There is a light coming over the horizon of the wilderness, like planet Earth slowly appearing from behind the dark side of the moon.

A star that twinkles out a Morse Code message, pushing back against the darkness that tries to convince us that there is no God and that we are not—and could never, ever be—loved.

Now something seems to have fallen from that star.

Come from the sky.

Tumbled down from a heaven which the darkness denies.

The darkness trying with all of its might to persuade us that the light we are following is a figment of our imagination.

But the light won’t be stilled or silenced.

You take my hand and we follow.

I hold your hand and we keep on going.

And now, look. The flickering grows brighter, as if our persistent steps have somehow fueled the light’s desperate reach of transcendence.

A desperate reach toward … 

Can it be true?

A desperate reach toward us?

Toward us all?

You bet your life it’strue!

And there is more. 

There is something inside the light.

As if the light has wrapped the greatest gift of all inside its bright shining:

A love brighter than the sun.

A love that has found us.

And will find us soon to be holding candles in a darkness that is becoming, for us, nothing more than a place for the light of this love to shine with deepest effect.

And now—just like that—the wilderness has given way to the straw of a manger.

To a mother and her newborn.

To a father carefully tending the small fire that keeps us all warm as we gather with those who were there in the darkness with us, called by the light to unwrap this love.

A love that breathes.

A love that cries out into our own wilderness until our wilderness begins to heal.

A love that goes by many names, including, quite miraculously, our own.

Our own…..if.

Our own if we let the light of this love reach out through us toward  each other and to those whom the darkness still ensnares with its thorns of intellect, logic, doubt and despair.

If we go out into the wilderness of others and scatter their darkness with this truth:

There is a God.

We are loved.

And this love is forever and for everyone.

A love that is absolutely the only Christmas present that matters. A love the fits us perfectly. A love we will never have to take back to customer service for an exchange. A love we never outgrow.

A love, however, that is waiting for us to unwrap it all the way.

Until there are no more ribbons. Until there are no more bows.

Until there is no more paper. Until there is no more Scotch tape.

Until……….there is only love. 

The love Jesus was born to tell us about. The love that he was willing to die for.

Opening this love, however, is not always so easy. Life has a way of wrapping corners of this Christmas present back up. Stress wraps up a corner here. Anxiety wraps up a corner there.

Things happen in our lives, and in the world around us, that can make us feel that the gift isn’t even there anymore. That some all-powerful Grinch has come and stolen it away.

But this love can never be taken from us. It’s always here. It always will be.

Sometimes, though, we need to unwrap it all over again. And again and again and again. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had to unwrap the gift of God’s love. But every time that I have it’s been there waiting for me. Any day of every month.

The truth is that Christmas doesn’t have to come once a year. And it really should not be confined to the 25th day of December. Every day can be Christmas Day if we remember to unwrap the gift of God’s love first thing every morning.

And then give it away to everyone we meet.

Because, as we sang together earlier, Love really did come down at Christmas.

But then Love did something way more important.

It stayed.

AMEN

By Ken Woodley

Our orbit through space and time has brought us to this moment.
We see something, you and I, in the depths of the darkness.
Over there, beneath Orion’s Belt but above the Big Dipper.

There is a light coming over the horizon of the wilderness, like planet Earth slowly appearing from behind the dark side of the moon.
A star that twinkles out a Morse Code message, pushing back against the darkness that tries to convince us that there is no God and that we are not—and could never, ever be—loved.

Now something seems to have fallen from that star.
Come from the sky.
Tumbled down from a heaven which the darkness denies.

The darkness trying with all of its might to persuade us that the light we are following is a figment of our imagination.

But the light won’t be stilled or silenced.
You take my hand and we follow.
I hold your hand and we keep on going.

And now, look. The flickering grows brighter, as if our persistent steps have somehow fueled the light’s desperate reach of transcendence.
A desperate reach toward …
Can it be true?
A desperate reach toward us?
Toward us all?
You bet your life it’s true!

And there is more.
There is something inside the light.
As if the light has wrapped the greatest gift of all inside its bright shining:
A love brighter than the sun.
A love that has found us.
And will find us soon to be holding candles in a darkness that is becoming, for us, nothing more than a place for the light of this love to shine with deepest effect.

And now—just like that—the wilderness has given way to the straw of a manger.
To a mother and her newborn.
To a father carefully tending the small fire that keeps us all warm as we gather with those who were there in the darkness with us, called by the light to unwrap this love.

A love that breathes.
A love that cries out into our own wilderness until our wilderness begins to heal.
A love that goes by many names, including, quite miraculously, our own.
Our own…..if.
Our own if we let the light of this love reach out through us toward each other and to those whom the darkness still ensnares with its thorns of intellect, logic, doubt and despair.

If we go out into the wilderness of others and scatter their darkness with this truth:
There is a God.
We are loved.
And this love is forever and for everyone.

A love that is absolutely the only Christmas present that matters. A love the fits us perfectly. A love we will never have to take back to customer service for an exchange. A love we never outgrow.

A love, however, that is waiting for us to unwrap it all the way.
Until there are no more ribbons. Until there are no more bows.
Until there is no more paper. Until there is no more Scotch tape.

Until……….there is only love.

The love Jesus was born to tell us about. The love that he was willing to die for.

Opening this love, however, is not always so easy. Life has a way of wrapping corners of this Christmas present back up. Stress wraps up a corner here. Anxiety wraps up a corner there.

Things happen in our lives, and in the world around us, that can make us feel that the gift isn’t even there anymore. That some all-powerful Grinch has come and stolen it away.

But this love can never be taken from us. It’s always here. It always will be.

Sometimes, though, we need to unwrap it all over again. And again and again and again. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had to unwrap the gift of God’s love. But every time that I have it’s been there waiting for me. Any day of every month.

The truth is that Christmas doesn’t have to come once a year. And it really should not be confined to the 25th day of December. Every day can be Christmas Day if we remember to unwrap the gift of God’s love first thing every morning.
And then give it away to everyone we meet.

Because, as we sang together earlier, Love really did come down at Christmas.

But then Love did something way more important.

It stayed.


When Darkness Fears Its Own Shadow

By Ken Woodley

There was darkness all around.

I closed my eyes as tightly as I could to keep from seeing it, but I could hear the darkness breathing.

I felt its touch.

The darkness spoke my name.

My tongue and lips trembled in search of a prayer: an army, please, Lord, with swords raised, spears held high to push back against all of this darkness.

But no thundering hoofbeats came.

There was no clatter of metal weapons.

I was completely on my own.

Totally vulnerable to the darkness that, I felt certain, would soon have its way with me.

I was as helpless as the day I’d been born and reached frantically for the only thing I saw—even with my eyes closed—in a flash of flickering light beside me:

A small shoot had come out from the stump of Jesse.

A branch was growing out of his roots.

I opened one eye to take a peek.

Outside my window, a corner of the dark horizon was turning gray.

The spirit of the Lord began to call, like a single bird on a lonely limb of the last tree standing.

Darkness picked up its chainsaw to finish the job of clearcutting all hope but it was already too late.

A spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might began to brushstroke traces of pink and orange in the sky.

There was more to the world, after all, than the darkness that had surrounded me.

Shapes began to emerge in the gathering light.

And, even with one eye closed, I saw miracles.

I saw a leaf on a tree.

I saw my own wrinkles and veins.

I saw the wolf lying down with my lamb.

The lion was eating straw like the ox.

And a little child was leading them.

A little child coming from Bethlehem.

No army to the rescue.

No swords and spears.

Just this little child.

And—what amazing grace—I knew his name.

“Jesus,” I called out to him.

And the darkness understood then that it had met its match.

Darkness knew the game was over.

Darkness knew the final score was set in stone for all eternity.

I opened both eyes as wide as I could and there was suddenly light all around. The little child had brought the light that never sets.

A light that could not and would not be extinguished.

A light that hope can trust.

A light that also shines inside us toward others waiting in the darkness.

I could hear the light breathing.

I felt its touch.

The light spoke my name.

My tongue and lips trembled with “Amen.”

And then I cried out, “Hallelujah!”

Its echo became a refrain, and the darkness, itself, had turned to light.

By Ken Woodley

There was darkness all around.
I closed my eyes as tightly as I could to keep from seeing it, but I could hear the darkness breathing.
I felt its touch.
The darkness spoke my name.
My tongue and lips trembled in search of a prayer: an army, please, Lord, with swords raised, spears held high to push back against all of this darkness.
But no thundering hoofbeats came.
There was no clatter of metal weapons.
I was completely on my own.
Totally vulnerable to the darkness that, I felt certain, would soon have its way with me.
I was as helpless as the day I’d been born and reached frantically for the only thing I saw—even with my eyes closed—in a flash of flickering light beside me:
A small shoot had come out from the stump of Jesse.
A branch was growing out of his roots.
I opened one eye to take a peek.
Outside my window, a corner of the dark horizon was turning gray.
The spirit of the Lord began to call, like a single bird on a lonely limb of the last tree standing.
Darkness picked up its chainsaw to finish the job of clearcutting all hope but it was already too late.
A spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might began to brushstroke traces of pink and orange in the sky.
There was more to the world, after all, than the darkness that had surrounded me.
Shapes began to emerge in the gathering light.
And, even with one eye closed, I saw miracles.
I saw a leaf on a tree.
I saw my own wrinkles and veins.
I saw the wolf lying down with my lamb.
The lion was eating straw like the ox.
And a little child was leading them.
A little child coming from Bethlehem.
No army to the rescue.
No swords and spears.
Just this little child.
And—what amazing grace—I knew his name.
“Jesus,” I called out to him.
And the darkness understood then that it had met its match.
Darkness knew the game was over.
Darkness knew the final score was set in stone for all eternity.
I opened both eyes as wide as I could and there was suddenly light all around. The little child had brought the light that never sets.
A light that could not and would not be extinguished.
A light that hope can trust.
A light that also shines inside us toward others waiting in the darkness.
I could hear the light breathing.
I felt its touch.
The light spoke my name.
My tongue and lips trembled with “Amen.”
And then I cried out, “Hallelujah!”
Its echo became a refrain, and the darkness, itself, had turned tino light.
























When Darkness Fears Its Own Shadow

By Ken Woodley

There was darkness all around.

I closed my eyes as tightly as I could to keep from seeing it, but I could hear the darkness breathing.

I felt its touch.

The darkness spoke my name.

My tongue and lips trembled in search of a prayer: an army, please, Lord, with swords raised, spears held high to push back against all of this darkness.

But no thundering hoofbeats came.

There was no clatter of metal weapons.

I was completely on my own.

Totally vulnerable to the darkness that, I felt certain, would soon have its way with me.

I was as helpless as the day I’d been born and reached frantically for the only thing I saw—even with my eyes closed—in a flash of flickering light beside me:

A small shoot had come out from the stump of Jesse.

A branch was growing out of his roots.

I opened one eye to take a peek.

Outside my window, a corner of the dark horizon was turning gray.

The spirit of the Lord began to call, like a single bird on a lonely limb of the last tree standing.

Darkness picked up its chainsaw to finish the job of clearcutting all hope but it was already too late.

A spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might began to brushstroke traces of pink and orange in the sky.

There was more to the world, after all, than the darkness that had surrounded me.

Shapes began to emerge in the gathering light.

And, even with one eye closed, I saw miracles.

I saw a leaf on a tree.

I saw my own wrinkles and veins.

I saw the wolf lying down with my lamb.

The lion was eating straw like the ox.

And a little child was leading them.

A little child coming from Bethlehem.

No army to the rescue.

No swords and spears.

Just this little child.

And—what amazing grace—I knew his name.

“Jesus,” I called out to him.

And the darkness understood then that it had met its match.

Darkness knew the game was over.

Darkness knew the final score was set in stone for all eternity.

I opened both eyes as wide as I could and there was suddenly light all around. The little child had brought the light that never sets.

A light that could not and would not be extinguished.

A light that hope can trust.

A light that also shines inside us toward others waiting in the darkness.

I could hear the light breathing.

I felt its touch.

The light spoke my name.

My tongue and lips trembled with “Amen.”

And then I cried out, “Hallelujah!”

Its echo became a refrain, and the darkness, itself, had turned to light.

Deaf To The World, But Hearing God

“They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then he looked up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, and his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.”

—The Gospel of Mark

By Ken Woodley

There are times—too many, I’m afraid—when I am just like the deaf man in this story. I cannot hear the voice of God telling me that I am loved. 

Honestly, I think many, if not all of us, experience this deafness from time to time in our lives.

The world has deafened us to the small, quiet voice within us. We can no longer hear it. Our head and heart and our soul are filled with the world’s shouting about anything and everything but God’s love. And we don’t even know it.

We believe that we are still listening to God’s voice of love. We haven’t stopped praying. We haven’t stopped reading scripture. We haven’t stopped our meditation and contemplation. We’re still going to church. We believe we’re just as tuned in to God’s frequency as ever.

But we are not.

The world has become too loud. Sometimes, I think, I mistake something that the world is saying as being the words of God.

But God doesn’t talk to me like that. God never says those sorts of things about me. Words that may make me feel good about myself but don’t bring me peace. Words that might feed my ego and my need for affirmation but are the equivalent of drinking Diet Love or Love-Lite.

I should know better.

There is a distinct difference between the way God assures me that I am beloved and the way the world says, ‘I love you’ one minute then withholds affection in the very next heartbeat, telling me that I am not good enough.

When I am deafened to God’s voice of love, something else happens, too. Just like the deaf man in the Gospel of Mark, I develop an impediment in my speech. 

My voice begins to sound more like it has been taught to speak by the world. I am too prone to mimic the world, rather than articulate the true speech of love that God tries so desperately to teach us by assuring us we are loved. That all of us are.

Truly loved by true love. A love that never demeans or seeks to diminish or lure down false pathways. That never says, ‘I love you’ one minute and then throws you into the recycling bin.

When I recognize the sound of the world speaking in my own voice, I understand that it has happened again—I have become deaf to God’s voice of love. I have closed myself off to that voice of love and begun listening only to the world, and without even realizing it. 

And so I cry out to that love and for that love as the world seems to gather its breath so that it can blow all of that love away. Even the tree limbs begin to sway in the gathering breeze.

It is then that I can suddenly discern that I am no longer hearing the wind in the leaves but, instead, the sound of Jesus beside me. And then he leads me away from the gathering storm.

“Be opened,” he tells me, when we are alone. “Be opened and receive God’s love. Be opened and speak plainly of God’s love. Do not let the world close you up and away from me.”

And so I am here. With you. Speaking of love as plainly as I can. And listening. Listening with all of my heart.

“They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then he looked up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, and his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.”

—The Gospel of Mark

By Ken Woodley

There are times—too many, I’m afraid—when I am just like the deaf man in this story. I cannot hear the voice of God telling me that I am loved.
Honestly, I think many, if not all of us, experience this deafness from time to time in our lives.
The world has deafened us to the small, quiet voice within us. We can no longer hear it. Our head and heart and our soul are filled with the world’s shouting about anything and everything but God’s love. And we don’t even know it.
We believe that we are still listening to God’s voice of love. We haven’t stopped praying. We haven’t stopped reading scripture. We haven’t stopped our meditation and contemplation. We’re still going to church. We believe we’re just as tuned in to God’s frequency as ever.
But we are not.
The world has become too loud. Sometimes, I think, I mistake something that the world is saying as being the words of God.
But God doesn’t talk to me like that. God never says those sorts of things about me. Words that may make me feel good about myself but don’t bring me peace. Words that might feed my ego and my need for affirmation but are the equivalent of drinking Diet Love or Love-Lite.
I should know better.
There is a distinct difference between the way God assures me that I am beloved and the way the world says, ‘I love you’ one minute then withholds affection in the very next heartbeat, telling me that I am not good enough.
When I am deafened to God’s voice of love, something else happens, too. Just like the deaf man in the Gospel of Mark, I develop an impediment in my speech.
My voice begins to sound more like it has been taught to speak by the world. I am too prone to mimic the world, rather than articulate the true speech of love that God tries so desperately to teach us by assuring us we are loved. That all of us are.
Truly loved by true love. A love that never demeans or seeks to diminish or lure down false pathways. That never says, ‘I love you’ one minute and then throws you into the recycling bin.
When I recognize the sound of the world speaking in my own voice, I understand that it has happened again—I have become deaf to God’s voice of love. I have closed myself off to that voice of love and begun listening only to the world, and without even realizing it.
And so I cry out to that love and for that love as the world seems to gather its breath so that it can blow all of that love away. Even the tree limbs begin to sway in the gathering breeze.
It is then that I can suddenly discern that I am no longer hearing the wind in the leaves but, instead, the sound of Jesus beside me. And then he leads me away from the gathering storm.
“Be opened,” he tells me, when we are alone. “Be opened and receive God’s love. Be opened and speak plainly of God’s love. Do not let the world close you up and away from me.”
And so I am here. With you. Speaking of love as plainly as I can. And listening. Listening with all of my heart.
























Wings

By Ken Woodley

From the farthest branch 

of the highest limb

of the tallest autumn-leaning tree

a yellow leaf begins to end,

weighed down by

all of the gravity around it,

descending toward earth,

its ascendant seasons done and gone,

all grip on life fluttering in the breeze,

the joy of sipping sunshine communion from the sky

lost forever.

Spring has died.

Summer is following in its wake.

The fall of the yellow leaf has come

and winter waits with its epitaph.

The halcyon existence of all that the once-green leaf

has ever known

is terminally ticking away

and I find my heart and soul

reaching out toward its helpless

hopelessness,

twisting in spiraling flutters with it

downward,

except for the brief breath of breezes

that lift us into a resurrection mirage

before every grain of time’s trickling sand

runs out into this desert feeling we share.

This yellow leaf and I know each other,

instinctively,

so many of my own seasons

fallen behind me, too,

with only memories of blooms left for me to wander in

among the maze-like gardens

where I become lost

in the scattering recollections

of things that were 

and might have been,

and never should have.

All of my tomorrows 

seemed locked in one day

that might have been yesterday,

the sky becoming more and more a distant voice,

barely articulate to me now

as the tangled earth awaits,

an embrace of intemperate mourning

among all that has fallen before us,

the yellow leaf and I holding on to each other

for dear life,

trying to remember the words of a prayer

that miraculously spreads its wings 

just before we hit the ground.

The yellow butterfly and I rise,

fragile but forever,

into newness of life,

season-less and un-calendared,

toward everything that exists

on the other side of the distant mountains

within us.

By Ken Woodley

From the farthest branch
of the highest limb
of the tallest autumn-leaning tree
a yellow leaf begins to end,
weighed down by
all of the gravity around it,
descending toward earth,
its ascendant seasons done and gone,
all grip on life fluttering in the breeze,
the joy of sipping sunshine communion from the sky
lost forever.

Spring has died.
Summer is following in its wake.
The fall of the yellow leaf has come
and winter waits with its epitaph.

The halcyon existence of all that the once-green leaf
has ever known
is terminally ticking away
and I find my heart and soul
reaching out toward its helpless
hopelessness,
twisting in spiraling flutters with it
downward,
except for the brief breath of breezes
that lift us into a resurrection mirage
before every grain of time’s trickling sand
runs out into this desert feeling we share.

This yellow leaf and I know each other,
instinctively,
so many of my own seasons
fallen behind me, too,
with only memories of blooms left for me to wander in
among the maze-like gardens
where I become lost
in the scattering recollections
of things that were
and might have been,
and never should have.

All of my tomorrows
seemed locked in one day
that might have been yesterday,
the sky becoming more and more a distant voice,
barely articulate to me now
as the tangled earth awaits,
an embrace of intemperate mourning
among all that has fallen before us,
the yellow leaf and I holding on to each other
for dear life,
trying to remember the words of a prayer

that miraculously spreads its wings

just before we hit the ground.

The yellow butterfly and I rise,
fragile but forever,
into newness of life,
season-less and un-calendared,
toward everything that exists
on the other side of the distant mountains
within us.



With Our ‘Hole’ Hearts

“Hallelujah!

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.”

—Psalm 111

By Ken Woodley

Take my hand and I’ll take yours.

We’ll hold nothing back.

We’ll release our “Hallelujah!” from the highest peak, but also from the deepest valley. From the brightest day, but also from the darkest night.

We’ll give thanks to the Lord with our whole heart.

Every inch. Each corner of our heart.

Across our heart’s entire lifetime.

Down every hallway of our heart and inside every room—even those that we keep carefully locked, and sometimes pretend aren’t there.

Down certain hallways and inside particular rooms—those we try to pretend that we have left behind forever—is where we find the holes in our heart.

The places of deepest pain and sorrow that seem too deep and wide to wade through.

The places that make us feel as if we’re drowning.

How, we’ll surely ask ourselves, can we shout “Hallelujah!” about the things that have torn so many holes in our heart?

Such a thing is impossible, we’ll tell ourselves. It simply can’t be done.

But then we’ll turn on the light and find there is a way after all. We’ll discover that we aren’t alone in that room with the door that we had carefully locked. 

We’ll discover that the Lord has slipped in beside us after we’d turned the key, opened the door and stepped inside.

We’ll turn on the light see that we are not alone in that room that has been furnished with sorrow for so very long.

Sorrow walls and sorrow ceiling.

Sorrow sofas and sorrow chairs.

Sorrow air for sorrow breathing.

Sorrow holes in sorrow hearts.

But our hearts will keep on beating.

And then our hearts will win.

Because we’ll feel the Lord surrounding us with love, filling our hearts with love because the holes are where the Lord’s love most truly finds us, filling every hole of sorrow until the love runs over.

And we’ll feel the current of that love taking us away, out of the room, down the hallway. 

And we’ll hear the key falling to the floor because we won’t need it anymore.

The room is still there. We cannot erase any moment of our lives. But the door will remain open. The light always on. The shades ever raised. 

The holes are still there, too. Right there in our heart. They always will be.

But they are no longer places to mourn and fear because they are filled now with the Lord’s love.

God loving us just as we are. 

This is a miracle of truth for us all: the holes in our heart are where the Lord loves us the most because that is where we need it most.

For that we absolutely can shout ‘Hallelujah!’ and give thanks with our whole heart.

Every square inch of our lifetime.

Holes and all.

Especially when we find ourselves—again—in that room with the door we kept locked for so long.

The window within it now seems to have a different view.

“Hallelujah!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.”

—Psalm 111

By Ken Woodley

Take my hand and I’ll take yours.
We’ll hold nothing back.
We’ll release our “Hallelujah!” from the highest peak, but also from the deepest valley. From the brightest day, but also from the darkest night.
We’ll give thanks to the Lord with our whole heart.
Every inch. Each corner of our heart.
Across our heart’s entire lifetime.
Down every hallway of our heart and inside every room—even those that we keep carefully locked, and sometimes pretend aren’t there.
Down certain hallways and inside particular rooms—those we try to pretend that we have left behind forever—is where we find the holes in our heart.
The places of deepest pain and sorrow that seem too deep and wide to wade through.
The places that make us feel as if we’re drowning.
How, we’ll surely ask ourselves, can we shout “Hallelujah!” about the things that have torn so many holes in our heart?
Such a thing is impossible, we’ll tell ourselves. It simply can’t be done.
But then we’ll turn on the light and find there is a way after all. We’ll discover that we aren’t alone in that room with the door that we had carefully locked.
We’ll discover that the Lord has slipped in beside us after we’d turned the key, opened the door and stepped inside.
We’ll turn on the light see that we are not alone in that room that has been furnished with sorrow for so very long.
Sorrow walls and sorrow ceiling.
Sorrow sofas and sorrow chairs.
Sorrow air for sorrow breathing.
Sorrow holes in sorrow hearts.
But our hearts will keep on beating.
And then our hearts will win.
Because we’ll feel the Lord surrounding us with love, filling our hearts with love because the holes are where the Lord’s love most truly finds us, filling every hole of sorrow until the love runs over.
And we’ll feel the current of that love taking us away, out of the room, down the hallway.
And we’ll hear the key falling to the floor because we won’t need it anymore.
The room is still there. We cannot erase any moment of our lives. But the door will remain open. The light always on. The shades ever raised.
The holes are still there, too. Right there in our heart. They always will be.
But they are no longer places to mourn and fear because they are filled now with the Lord’s love.
God loving us just as we are.
This is a miracle of truth for us all: the holes in our heart are where the Lord loves us the most because that is where we need it most.
For that we absolutely can shout ‘Hallelujah!’ and give thanks with our whole heart.
Every square inch of our lifetime.
Holes and all.
Especially when we find ourselves—again—in that room with the door we kept locked for so long.
The window within it now seems to have a different view.







Your Song

By Ken Woodley

Your notes call to me through the sun-filled leaves.

They dance with me through the swirling clouds of sorrow.

I cup them to my ear to catch and remember

the way you sang them to me

deep in the wilderness of myself

when the silence felt like quicksand,

pulling me in

and under

toward the torn places

inside me

that feel like the farthest edge of the world

but where I always find you

in the moment of my most dire need,

driving dragons away

into a place where dragons breathe no fire

and I go dancing beneath the sun-filled leaves

through the swirling clouds of sorrow

that give your song

my voice.

And we sing.

And we sing.

And we sing

as others remember

how you sang to them

deep in the wilderness of themselves

when the silence felt like quicksand,

pulling them in

and under

toward the torn places

inside them

that feel like the farthest edge of the world

but where they always find you

in the moment of their most dire need,

driving dragons away

into a place where dragons breathe no fire

and they go dancing beneath the sun-filled leaves

through the swirling clouds of sorrow

that give your song

their voice.

And they sing.

And they sing.

And they sing.

And I hear your voice

in their song

echoing in my soul

as the silence bursts into supernova

And we sing.

And we sing.

And we sing.

All of us.

Every single one.

Together.

Even you.

Especially you.

By Ken Woodley

Your notes call to me through the sun-filled leaves.

They dance with me through the swirling clouds of sorrow.

I cup them to my ear to catch and remember

the way you sang them to me

deep in the wilderness of myself

when the silence felt like quicksand,

pulling me in

and under

toward the torn places

inside me

that feel like the farthest edge of the world

but where I always find you

in the moment of my most dire need,

driving dragons away

into a place where dragons breathe no fire

and I go dancing beneath the sun-filled leaves

through the swirling clouds of sorrow

that give your song

my voice.

And we sing.

And we sing.

And we sing

as others remember

how you sang to them

deep in the wilderness of themselves

when the silence felt like quicksand,

pulling them in

and under

toward the torn places

inside them

that feel like the farthest edge of the world

but where they always find you

in the moment of their most dire need,

driving dragons away

into a place where dragons breathe no fire

and they go dancing beneath the sun-filled leaves

through the swirling clouds of sorrow

that give your song

their voice.

And they sing.

And they sing.

And they sing.

And I hear your voice

in their song

echoing in my soul

as the silence bursts into supernova

And we sing.

And we sing.

And we sing.

All of us.

Every single one.

Together.

Even you.

Especially you.


Agape Grace

By Ken Woodley

Neither of us saw it coming

that late, but not too late, afternoon in Galilee

by the sea at sunset,

the light skipping across the water

as if someone had thrown it 

from the other side of the sky.

It just happened.

Neither of us could stop it.

Neither of us wanted to.

The light shining to us.

Then through us.

Completely.

A heart-on collision.

There were so many broken pieces

that felt wondrously brand new.

My hands were at the end of your wrists.

Your fingers were at the end of my arms.

We started to put ourselves back together again

the way we’d been born

but stopped and asked ourselves “Why?”

This kind of love is not ours to break,

you said with my voice.

And we couldn’t even if we tried,

my dreams told your sleep

as your heart beat inside me,

the word love so far beyond the tip of our tongue

that it spoke in the wind

and became the air we breathed in holy communion

with each other,

walking out across the water of the world together

to see if anyone would believe

that all of this is true,

despite the echos of hammers on nails

and the wounds that will never go away

but give our love a place to go

and grow flowers from the scars.

By Ken Woodley


Neither of us saw it coming

that late, but not too late, afternoon in Galilee

by the sea at sunset,

the light skipping across the water

as if someone had thrown it

from the other side of the sky.

It just happened.

Neither of us could stop it.

Neither of us wanted to.

The light shining to us.

Then through us.

Completely.

A heart-on collision.

There were so many broken pieces

that felt wondrously brand new.

My hands were at the end of your wrists.

Your fingers were at the end of my arms.

We started to put ourselves back together again

the way we’d been born

but stopped and asked ourselves “Why?”

This kind of love is not ours to break,

you said with my voice.

And we couldn’t even if we tried,

my dreams told your sleep

as your heart beat inside me,

the word love so far beyond the tip of our tongue

that it spoke in the wind

and became the air we breathed in holy communion

with each other,

walking out across the water of the world together

to see if anyone would believe

that all of this is true,

despite the echos of hammers on nails

and the wounds that will never go away

but give our love a place to go

and grow flowers from the scars.