begin again

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Life is in
The Begin-Again.
(Dust and blood and birth)
In You Who Are,
The Beginning that begets all beginnings.

Each morning I am
Again,
Blinking through the after-death and learning how to walk,
Shaking off graveclothes and
Unbound by binding and
Unfurled by finding.
Light is suspicious, it’s too good to be true,
That once again I’m gifted this.
So I ask:
Who Are You?

Each day I am
Again,
Given the answer, but remain
Laughably human
And tragically fallen,
Muddying and bloodying myself and others,
In this undead dying death.
Some days I love a little bit more and hate a little bit less,
But it’s hard to tell from day to day
Whether I’m rising or falling
And just how far away
I am from
Who You Are.

Each night I am
Again,
Releasing tensions by deathbed
Into the hands that have always held them,
And waiting in my tomb for the dawn.
I hide from You behind You, O my Shield,
And I yield to
You Who Are.

Wake me, You Who Are,
Again,
A resurrection in Resurrection
And a life encased in Life.
Each morning, may I
Remember the reality of rebirth,
May it be
Branded and built into body and soul,
That when I render to You my end,
I will be in Your arms:
Whole.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11:25-26

(Liturgical poetry during Eastertide is inspired by the I AM statements of Christ. Photo by Linnea Wheeler)

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
ancient strain
within the knot
lay me down

new wine

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(for Easter Sunday)

This day is relief,
As the earth vomits up Someone it is not equipped to keep,
As the weight that dove graveward two days back
Now stretches the world
Beyond taut belief,
Beyond boundaries and limits.
The tension builds to climax
And glory vaults skyward, in trampoline spring.

And we are stretched also,
Pressed down, shaken together, and running over
With the Undefinable that defines all things.

It tires me out, this glory.
The resurrection is both half and whole,
A seamless salvation in a sewn and tattered soul.
I just keep waxing worn and thin.
Who’s idea was it to put new wine into an old wineskin?

Brothers and sisters,
(Speaking of wine)
Today is the day to drink deep and be merry!
Let yourselves forget for a moment
The troubles of life on this earth.
Heaven’s hilarity has crashed in upon us
And laughter is echoing inside and out.

See it, green and tensile, bursting in buds and wild with heat.
Breathe it in, fragrant and alluring,
Feel it, rippling and supple to the touch.
It repeats itself time and again until we listen,
It copy/pastes until we see:
That He will make what is not, to be.

Everything is beautiful, now and then.
This day may be the brightest now,
But we have yet to see the rest.

“What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.”
Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

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

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
hatch

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

hatch

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Much of life seems to be waiting,
In spaces between events.
And somehow all I want to do in those silences
Is fill them with speech.

Better yet to forego the making of many words
And instead sit quietly for a while,
Being, not doing,
Letting God do the heavy lifting.

Time waits for no body
But the one who hangs above the Skull.
I can wait a day,
And anticipate the hatching of the Sun.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b

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

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

black and blue

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(for Good Friday)

The gloves are off.
And on this black and blue day,
The earth is beaten systematically,
Bowed head to bloodied toe,
Bruise upon bruise and
Blow upon blow,
Until rips radiate from rendings,
Unsewable and unsalvageable,
And black and blue mingle to crimson
And the blood on the floor is
The blood of God.
Would that we groan under this gravity,
And buckle at the breaking of His heart.

Here,
Naked God is
Affixed to naked cross.
And in response
The clothing of the temple is torn in two,
Revealing all, to all, for all.
This is intimacy at its most shocking, and unashamed.
Here is God, the exhibitionist.
Nobody wants to see that.

Look at Him.

See Him bleed.
It’s not pretty.
See Him suffer.
It’s not simple.
See Him die.
It’s not easy.
It’s never been easy.
It’s not supposed to be easy.

So shut up for a second and
Look at Him.
It’s not Easter yet.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to tear, and a time to sew…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7

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

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
hatch
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

we gather together

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(for Maundy Thursday)

Eat with us,
Here on dirty floors, redeemed with threadbare cloth.
We gather together
To eat with you,
People of dirty and barren hearts.

“Loyalty and courage”
Ideas of importance and impracticality,
Ideas that hold weight in our mind’s eye
But won’t hold water in Your world.
You know that stones scatter.
Despite all our grand and daring schemes
To be better,
To be holier,
To be closer,
We remain, scattered in dust.

But even stones can sing.

You,
Who nailed Your arms open
To gather the world under your wings,
Gather us now in this place and the next.
The willful and the weak,
The pompous and the poor,
The ruined and the rash,
The hopeful and the whore,
As stone-hearted as Pharaoh,
As forgetful as your people,
As fearful as your disciples.

Break Bread,
Pour Wine.
That we might eat and drink of Thee,
And not just remember, but be.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5

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

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
hatch
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

all will be new

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Hello little flower,
Welcome to the world.
Spring is wide and full of wonders.
You are born of something wilder than it,
That shoots up through new stems
And pulses in the bud.
You will slake your thirst on rain
And curl your toes in soil,
And grow.

You’ll survive the bluster of summer storms in the company of many,
And push clouds back by iridescent proclamation.
You’ll lose some petals, and maybe even come away bent,
But you’ll still spread your fragrance and be visited by bees
In the long languid tracks of the day.
In the brief nights you’ll close your eyelids tight against the cool,
To wake again at dawn and be beautiful.

When autumn comes
And nips at your heels,
Muster your courage.
The days will shorten fast.
Knowing your end,
The bending down to earth
And the partaking in the fall,
You will curl your petals in close one last time,
And burst in brutal release.
Frigid dawn will see you hang, brown and withered on the stem.

White winter will cover you
In a snowy grave.
And you will be forgotten
Under drifts and pillows,
Solitude and iron earth.
Winter will think it has won
And mock at your death.

Wait until spring, little flower.
All will be new.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2

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

Words for the Church: Holy Week
battle-blind
we gather together
black and blue
hatch
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth
battle-blind

battle-blind

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(For Palm Sunday)

Trample our foes
Under metal-shod heel
Under ramrod doctrine
And volumes of steel.
You are, in our red-rimmed and battle-blind sight,
A war horse for nothing but wild-eyed fight.

Wield your savior,
Oh tyrants and slaves,
Sharpen him,
Ready Your god for the war.
Forget all about how He came on a colt.
It’s foolish to think He would come for the poor.

Palms ready now,
To deliver the blow
To the face of an enemy
You hardly know.
Arm your children with verses
Hosannas arise!
Raise them up in the knowledge of
Shrill battle cries.

Brandish the Infant,
The Shepherd, the Lamb.
His Gospel is Peace
And Mercy toward man.
When He bleeds in a week
And your paradigms die,
Just focus on future pain
Etched in the sky.

When true judgment comes and you’ve spent lives in war,
And the blood of the nations drips thick from your sword,
Perhaps you’ll be shocked at His judgments that day.

Perhaps you forgot Whom He came down to slay.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time for war, and a time for peace…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8b

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

Words for the Church: Holy Week
all will be new
we gather together
black and blue
hatch
new wine

Words for the Church: Lent
the death of fire
tiny tilting towers
touch
via del vagare
kept
enrich the earth

tiny

galaxy

There was a giggle and a flash of a smile,
Red-tinged and wild for the release
Of something she’d prefer not to show
And couldn’t help but let go.
And behind the eyes
The simple phrase, a tiny
“I think he likes me.”
And it struck lightly a blow
To my soul, memorized and remembered,
Of the moment I realized that of You.
Something so infinite
Capsuled in a feeling so tiny
That it was the only place it could fit.

enrich the earth

Worms

What would you have me do?
When brokenness is at the root
And worms through branch and breast and fruit,
And manifests, legion-like,
Rearing ugly heads;
Latching, leech-like,
In beautiful human beds…

What would you have me do,
My Cure?
I know but do not want to know,
See but seek darkness,
Hear but hold silence.
I am neither Love nor Grace.
I am unholy host.
I am the one I hate.

Indict me now by this plea:
As I forgive, forgive me.

We were created whole,
To be loved and to love,
And now we are taught, too, to adore
These worm-eaten apples of your eye,
Despite what writhes from sockets of flesh.
Should we not hate the infested, but that which infects?

How difficult is the difference,
For worms enrich the earth.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to love, and a time to hate…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8

(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
5. kept