kept

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At some point
Having nothing to give got to me.

So I gathered stacks of artifacts
Crusted crowns and stolen thrones
And (hoarder that I am)
Hoped they could make me feel at home.
I’m chock full of treasures
And my heart sits here with them,
Waiting to not be alone.

It’s all collecting dust.
I still haven’t swept.
It seems I don’t know what it means to be kept.

And it also seems that
Nothing I possess brings back
That feeling as a child:
Tucked under watchful eye and weary smile
And warm beneath blankets that
Act as armor to the dark,
The low glow of night-lightning
And the echo glow beating in my breast.
I knew who I was, for I knew whose I was.

Perhaps being kept
Is becoming a child again,
And believing that my Parent is
Supernatural,
And Kind.

Keep me close,
(Castaway that I am)
Hidden in the hold of Your heart
And safe.
Nestled in the hole of Your hand.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to keep, and a time to cast away…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6b

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler.)

Words for the Church: Lent
1. the death of fire
2. tiny tilting towers
3. touch
4. via del vagare
6. enrich the earth

via del vagare

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Prone to wander
Via wilderness;
We are
Little lost lambs,
Fluffy-headed in and out
And reeking of our own waste.
There is no time for sheep to sit still,
When the grass is greener on the other hill.
So we trot and stumble
Away from You.

Prone to wander,
Via nurture and nature;
We are
Shedding, shoddy sheep.
Nestled in the nooks and crannies
Of the rocks,
Needless and numb and
Heedless and dumb.
Shivering in the silver slivers
Of the mountains of our making,
Far from home and far
Away from You.

The Shepherd had 99 who were perfectly fine,
Yet took the time to seek us,
To become dust.
He hooked us round the necks and dragged us bleating back
To pleasant pasture and stream.

Prone to wonder,
Via dolorosa;
We are
Fuzzy found flocks
Of infinite worth,
From infinite birth.
Time to search, to give up? It stood still at the death of the Son.
We live and breathe and have our baaing
By your seeking and losing in one.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to seek, and a time to lose…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6a

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler.)

Words for the Church: Lent
1. the death of fire
2. tiny tilting towers
3. touch
5. kept
6. enrich the earth

touch

touch

The physicality
Of Your reality
Is nothing less than incredible.
It’s incredible that skin could even contain the ineffable
GOD,
The I AM of the cosmos tied and dyed
In the melanin of a Middle Eastern man.
And just as, that You chose to touch and be touched.

Touch, ha!
It’s a dirty, complicated sense,
Amid this dirty, complicated mess.
It’s full of problems all too present,
Like odors and rashes
And odd shapes and acne,
Like memory and pain
And intimacy.

Yet,
Frail flesh curtained a Holy of Holies
And touched the unholy hordes, let alone
Lifted them hand in actual hand
Wiped away tears and
Embraced the sinner and
Did this all as a man.

And then,
You tore two curtains,
That what was inside was let out
And into us, a closer touch,
A union, such
That separation proves impossible.

And then,
The Skin of God left.
Swept away, kept for the day,
When embraces will end: never.
But it still feels like forever.

I wish I had been there.
Maybe I would press this Messiah-flesh
And be convinced of the miracle of skin,
Enough that I could look upon any face
And embrace the Him-image within.

We are lepers all.
Made whole by the embrace of the Son.
GOD didn’t just make himself touchable.
He showed me I wasn’t un.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5b

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler.)

Words for the Church: Lent
1. the death of fire
2. tiny tilting towers
4. via del vagare
5. kept
6. enrich the earth

tiny tilting towers

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You tend to break things we give You.
You tend to tear down block-built, self-gilt towers
Brick by brick.

I decorated
With the thickest curtains I own,
Anticipated
You wouldn’t leave me alone,
Separated
The thing I am inside from out,
So I wouldn’t, ever, be known.

Walls. Boundaries. Strongholds. Forts.
Call them what you will,
Psychologize them and still
They are
Designed:
To hold my willful pride
I am
Resigned:
To life that’s lived inside.
I find:
It’s easier just to hide.

You tend to break me.
You have and You will,
Yet there’s no one I trust more.
March around us still,
Seventy times seven times
Around these tiny tilting stacks, for
You are Destroyer.
Breaking bread and cracking bone
Shaking graves and rattling stone.

Broken Children, fractured Stars,
Hold your breath:
He’s building Cities in these scars.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to break down, and a time to build up…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3b

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Photo by Linnea Wheeler.)

Words for the Church: Lent
1. the death of fire
3. touch
4. via del vagare
5. kept
6. enrich the earth

beg the question

wrestle

(written for Moody Bible Institute’s Day of Prayer, March 1, 2017)

Join me in the questions.

So,
Where are you?

We are reaching in the dark,
Grasping for Your reality,
For some light and hope in this chaos.
Does Your Spirit hover over these troubled waters?

Where were You?

Where were You when?
Why didn’t You?
What are You doing?
Or are You even?
And the world around us asks:
Where is your God?

So it begs the questions,
Are You sleeping?

You are Your own defense,
And it seems circular,
Like the cycles of oppression and death
That assault us every time we open our newsfeeds.
Like the circles that we spin in
Round and round and round in our minds
Mistrusting ourselves, mistrusting others, mistrusting You.

We aren’t even looking for meaning in ourselves or others,
But we are looking for You.

So we beg in question,
Do You care?

“You are Lord.”
And we say it like a mantra or a meditation
In hopes that our words would have You at beck and call, but
You are not tame,
Though we’d like to leash you and parade you before our peers,
Our performing big-game god,
One night only, tickets available at the door
In exchange for prayers and Scripture memorization.

What fools we are.
You are an alarming, searing, unspeakable
Word for which we have no words.

So we need to know,
Why don’t You speak?

When you called us to the chase,
When you asked us to obey,
Maybe we thought – was it wrong to think? –
That You would be with us always to the end of the age.
But perhaps our definition of presence is different from Yours.
Like our minds are.
Our whole lives may be in asking,
And the gradual collapse of our souls into You.

So,
Terrify us,
Burn us alive,
Bring something good from this mess.
And we will yet praise You, our Savior and our God,
Wherever You are.

the work of the church

pray

(Exit and entry prayers, written for Moody Bible Institute’s Day of Prayer, March 1, 2017)

Upon entry:

Would you hold your hands out palms downward with me?  We all get to read the bold lines.

Father,
We come before You at the start of a day full of spiritual labor,
And our temporal labors weigh us down.

We release these things into Your care, for You care for us.

We give you our distractions,
For You are much more interesting.
We give you our homework,
For You exist beyond the pages and above the outlines,
We give you our relationships,
For they find all meaning solely in You.
We give you our complaints,
For You hear us.
We give you our worries,
For You hush and hold us,
We give you our fears,
For You are perfect Love, and they cannot stand the sight of You.
We give you our pride,
For we are so, so small, yet not one of us can fall but that You see us.
We give you our grief,
For You are solace, and comfort, and hope.

Turn your hands palms upward, please. We say together:

Father,
Give us love for You and each other.
Joy in Your presence,
Peace in our hearts,
Patience for the struggle,
Kindness for all we encounter,
Integrity and unity of purpose,
Faithfulness in prayer,
Gentleness toward all, and
Self-control in our minds and bodies.

Grant that we would be in step with Your Spirit now, as we pray.

The work of the church is prayer.
Papa, we come into your presence as children into the arms of their parent.
Hear us, as You hear Your Son,
Refresh us with Your Spirit,
Interpret our mumblings as only You can.

Upon exit:

At best we mumble.
At best we stutter.
At best our half-hearts desire to desire
And need to need.

And Your mercy listens,
And Your Spirit hears what You define
And in Christ our words are clear to You:

Maybe they only amount to “help.”

But this is true:
That here, here, is nothing.
And You, You, are everything.
And Your help is swift,
And it’s rarely what we want it to be.
But it’s always what we need it to be.

Join in the bold lines:

In our grief,
Comfort us.
In our pride,
Convict us.
In our fears,
Embolden us.
In our worries,
Settle us down.
In our complaints,
Give us perspective.
In our relationships,
Let us love.
In our homework,
Help us to persevere to the end.
And in our distractions,
Focus our hearts on what really matters:
Your Gospel.
Your Kingdom.
Your glory.
You.
Jesus, in whose name we pray.
Amen.

the death of fire

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(for Ash Wednesday)

Ashes to ashes,
We all fall down.

We are born delicate and fragile,
By death of Fire.
The flames no longer leap on the hearth, spinning in skirts of heat,
To the wild music of a living dance,
To the beat of drums and merry human hearts.

No.
The dance is gone.
The laughter is an echo.
We repent in rags and bathe in soot for the sheer anticipation of
The death of God.

Brand your mark across my forehead,
Dying One,
Tattoo it here, on mind, on heart, on body.
40 days and 40 nights of
Remembering and mourning,
40 days and 40 nights of
Hunger in body and soul,
40 days and 40 nights of
Judgment by fire and flood,
40 days and 40 nights of
Silence that feedbacks in my brain.
40 days and 40 nights
Is not that much to ask of me except that
I’m hungry.

I’m hungry, Lord.

For soot,
For silence,
For sorrow,
For Salvation.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

(Liturgical poetry during Lent is inspired by the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Art by Nadia Wheeler, photo by Linnea Wheeler.)

Words for the Church: Lent
2. tiny tilting towers
3. touch
4. via del vagare
5. kept
6. enrich the earth