Count My Bones (GS4)

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(for Green Season)

I hunger
For a rightness
I find nowhere in my fallow furrows,
For a justice
I find absent in our global grave,
For a freedom
I will not find, so I cease to look.
Apart from Him, we are utterly empty,
And scraping the sand for manna
Will only fill us with the dust we’re made of.
This stone is not a well.

Count
My
Bones.

And tell me, can you cover them with sinew and with flesh?
Long dead shards of burnt-out tries
And truth-like-lies,
And malnutrition of my eyes,
This is not nourishment!
Feed me, or I die.

I am child, who knows nothing but empty tummy and the cold.
Warm my body in the folds
Of your love, of your life,
Of your rightness.
For this place is not right, and
We are distended.

Roll away this stone
From the well of your resurrection,
Discard the scorpions,
And the fools who insist that they are eggs.
We beg,
Give us bread, not stones,
Give us flesh, not bones,
For you are Father,
Bread, and wine.
May we feed on You,
Intoxicated by your fullness.

Chew on this:
We are not empty.
For He is ours and
We are His.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6

(Liturgical poetry for the Sundays between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday is inspired by the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12)

Inherit the Wind (GS1)
Rain-world (GS2)
Quitting (GS3)
Let me be (GS5)
here (GS6)
careful of the cut (GS7)
Slap (GS8)

grief

grief

Grieving people don’t need “perspective.”
Grieving people need hugs, and kisses,
And the wrapping up and binding of wounds,
And the assurance that yes, it hurts,
And I wish I could abolish the pain,
But I can’t
And I don’t understand,
And I love you.
Because I’m not God;
(How often I forget)
And even though he understands all things under and over and through infinite planes
He still doesn’t try to fix it (yet)
But holds us close to his wounded side,
And let’s us scream into his shoulder.
And tells us He knows our grief.
The least I can do, and the most,
Is hug like Him and tell you I’m not.

Quitting (GS3)

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(for Green Season)

Why wait?
Why lie in silence
Like the silence of this long night of the world,
Where sleep doesn’t come,
And I search the ceiling for signs,
For worry that maybe the silence means something unsaid.
It seems that
Waiting should be done by the dead.

Why shine a light?
Candle-flicker in a window frame
Seen by people I cannot name.
I speak with words trembling, but
Grace in graceless places
Is deemed old and crude, and
This is no place for us.
And when I fail, I wish I could trust.

Why turn the other cheek?
It only makes me weak.
And isn’t truth what we say
When we’re hurt?
Silence before the shearers
Is giving in to fears, isn’t it?
And it’s only ever fitting that I’m only ever quitting.

Why pray?
Casting cares up into thin air
And I know You hear,
But it isn’t quite clear
If You leave me hanging to teach me a thing or two
Or because my will doesn’t match up with You.
(Perhaps there’s something to be said
For the power of a Word).

Why rest?
Sitting still seems only empty
When weights are heavy on your chest.
Will I miss the will of God?
Will your Spirit pass me by?
You say soar on wings like eagles,
Should I flap my wings to fly?

Struggle not, my soul,
Unless you struggle long with Him,
Unless He dislocates your hip,
And leaves you clinging.
Wait,
Shining and turning and praying and yearning,
For a salvation You cannot create.

One day
I’m told
I will inherit the earth.
I’m not sure I’ll know what to do with it.
But listening for the beat of Your heart
Might best be done in silence.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Matthew 5:5

(Liturgical poetry for the Sundays between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday is inspired by the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12)

Inherit the Wind (GS1)
Rain-world (GS2)
Count My Bones (GS4)
Let me be (GS5)
here (GS6)
careful of the cut (GS7)
Slap (GS8)

coexistence

coexist

I heard it said the other day
On Christian radio
(So it must be true)
That, obviously, faith and discouragement can’t coexist.
And it struck me that
For this announcer to be so bold
It’s assumed that many believe just this.

And I was discouraged by this,
(Faithless, that is);
Discouraged that
Sad souls would think themselves unworthy to be saved
Because they were, simply, sad.
Discouraged that
The broken-hearted would try to muster up some healing,
And when they broke again,
Would think it was permanent.
Discouraged that when disappointment comes and the days get rough,
It’s “obviously” my fault for not being faithful enough.
Insult to injury has never been so clear,
To those who weep for justice here.

Is not discouragement, in a sense,
When hope collides with reality?
This makes the heart sick,
And to be heart-sick is to touch the scarred wrist of the world,
Feel the feeble pulse,
And know that Someone else bears self-inflicted scars.
The One who wept had faith in His Father,
But it didn’t stop him from feeling,
From hurting,
From dying.

This is not obvious,
And neither is it en-couraging,
That God would come to a discouraged people and tell them to buck up,
Be brave,
Stop all that crying,
And get on with being faithful.
No.
He loves the broken-hearted,
He came for the sick,
And He knows we can’t save ourselves.
Let the weight pull us to our knees in surrender,
Not to our feet in self-will.

Deliver us now from our self-made faith,
And lift up our heads by your grace.
That we may live the life that you lived,
Saddened and saved in this place.

Rain-world (GS2)

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(for Green Season)

Blessed are the tears,
Stored in bottles upon shelves
In God’s study.
Cherished mementos of every time
Sorrow knocked droplets loose.

The shatter
Is beautiful,
For rain is truth and grace in one
Salt and water of life from opened eyes,
Oil of heaven flowing from our heads
In blessing,
And it waters the ground of our souls
That we may heal.

Wonder at the weight of these.
The mystery of this rain-world is ever unknown, the why,
Understood by none but the One
Who didn’t just feel, but cried.
He grieved for His friend, and knew
Us.

One Who Weeps with us,
for us,
in us,
Gather our tears.
And tear the clouds asunder as You did the curtain,
That the Comfort may come
And enter through the salty eyes
Of those who watch the watery skies.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

(Liturgical poetry for the Sundays between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday is inspired by the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12)

Inherit the Wind (GS1)
Quitting (GS3)
Count My Bones (GS4)
Let me be (GS5)
here (GS6)
careful of the cut (GS7)
Slap (GS8)

Inherit the Wind (GS1)

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(for Green Season)

Blessed is the dust,
Walked upon and kicked, into clouds
Of witnesses.
The mangled body parts of Christ,
Bruised heirs of a kingdom beyond our wildest dreams.
This wildest scheme:
To take gutter trash,
(Aren’t we all?)
And make the paupers royal;
To clothe shameful in Unashamed,
To heal the sick and cure the lame,
To give the nameless ones Your Name.

We, the poor,
At least we had our pride.
Then you knocked it from us as a breath,
(Aren’t we all?)
You chose to inherit the wind.
Stunning, surprising, and true.
And here we bow our heads, our shame,
To the humblest of us – You.

We, the poor,
Look to you, the Poorest, and adore.
For you embraced our poverty to make us rich and undiminishing.
And left your Spirit in the gutter with us
To finish, dust to Dust, our Finishing.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3

(Liturgical poetry for the Sundays between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday is inspired by the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12)

Rain-world (GS2)
Quitting (GS3)
Count My Bones (GS4)
Let me be (GS5)
here (GS6)
careful of the cut (GS7)
Slap (GS8)

Words for the Church: Epiphany

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(for Epiphany)

Dawn in our hearts
And hang glory from the winter sky,
In tinsel of faded stars, clouded purple garlands,
And the robed and slippered moon, yawning as he goes.
Yes! Our Light!
Stream through frosted pains to weary faces,
And waken us from death-sleep with your luminous kiss.

The sun is irrelevant,
The moon is frail:
You illuminate.
And the light is Peace,
And the walls are Salvation,
And the doors are Doxology,
And our made-righteous hearts burn within us
At the ever-unfolding reveal.

Yes! Our Glory!
You are here.
Bring us to the glory of
Your Everlasting There.

(inspired by Isaiah 60; photo by Linnea Wheeler)

vinterfelt

winterfield

I went back to my childhood home
And midst the rustle of the new year,
I took a walk through the back acre trails.

Stomping grounds of old have grown cold.
I remember them,
Warm with promise of adventure.
I explored for hours, flattening fields and breaking twigs,
With the fire of youth burning in my boots.

Now,
The staccato spikes of soybeans, stripped clean by wandering deer,
Appeared and disappeared out of drifts,
And the wind off the field, honest and direct,
Blew through me with force,
Scent-shot with distant wood smoke, steel, and snow-soaked sod.
The trails feel odd now,
But the wind I know well.

Is this renewal?
To see the old by the New,
The forgotten by the memory…
My feet and heart were here.
Every step pounded roots deeper into this clay acre.
I touched this bark and branded memories to mind.

I was present here, and having been absent so long, the roots are shadows,
The damage done, the mark made on this man, by things I don’t and do recall,
In places I do and don’t understand.

My roots are elsewhere now,
Buried deep in people and places of another terroir.

And I stood on the edge of the field
And opened my heart to the wind,
To hear the stories of the struggles and triumphs borne in small places
Of this country, of this heart, of this mind.
The smallest roots run long and deep,
Like the smell of a winter field,
Like the texture of trees.

We talk of impact,
As if by force, we will be remembered.
As if by speed, old pain will pass away.
But it is slow erosion
Of ice seeping into rock,
Smelling of shrapnel, cold and hot at once,
Or the caress of a yellow sky
At four in the afternoon, eastern;
Or the silence of Indiana light broken only by sparrow-call,
Or the sound of hot water splashing over dishes,
Or the coffee poured into the cup with the chipped handle,
Or wind off the rich and fallow field:
These are embedded so deep my skin has closed over them.
These can’t be removed.

These things make us, if we let them.
And when we return, they embrace us as old friends.
When I reach the city tomorrow, will it embrace me?
Perhaps. I forget if I’ve let it.