difficult, divine

trinity

(for Trinity Sunday)

You are Three but One,
Above, beyond, outside, more,
Difficult Divine.
I can accept the concept,
But living is to adore.

You are One but Three,
Through, with, in, beside, and here,
Kindest Deity.
Embrace me in sweet death
Such that sweet life begins clear.

Father, Brother, Ghost,
Behind, before, surround me,
Dearest Trinity.
I see. Impart, yet fully
Present, past and future: free.

birth of a nation

pentecost

(poem #2 for Pentecost; poem #1 here)

See the Spirit scatter
Eternal Flame into a thousand tongues,
Simmering in saints of every race
Until every language sings His grace.

See! A million tiny candles on a million tiny hills (for He owns them all):
Such is sight that births sight from thin air.
To be owned by Him is to push back the night, to be in and not of,
And the giftings are numerous, beautiful, fair,
And the greatest of these is love.

Rekindle in me
The heat and the flame
Of an earlier day,
When I sparked at Your name,
Let the sputter of embers within me
Drive me down to my knees,
And the power of prayers translated from groans
Lift my head and remind me:
I am not my own.

Saints:
Witness the birth of a holy nation,
Showering fruit and fire like the Son.
This is the gifting of re-creation:
We burst into flame as one.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:7-12

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

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
within the knot
lay me down
finer line
dwell

dwell

pentecost

(poem #1 for Pentecost; poem #2 here)

I stand among stone-throwers
Ashamed, and sin-hurled into the melee,
And the only light in this dim world
Radiates from His face, leaning down,
Bending to touch this dusty ground.

Accusations are words made weapons,
Forged in bitterness, formed by a truth:
Caught in the act.
I wait, we all wait, to hear the verdict.
Will it be love? or fact?

In stillness, there is naught but
Scratch upon scratch,
Nail into dust, scarring rifts in the earth,
And silence of the pregnant kind.

A stone falls.
And the thud breaks the spell.
He walks away,
A greybeard with too many years
To be blind to this separating light.
He saw sin, and it wasn’t at the center of the mob,
But within himself, the night.

To dull and deathly thuds,
Fallen stones and falling followers,
They leave, the accusers, the accused.
And I stand, left lonely, and simmer inside.

He writes, this Word.
And the Light of Him is more holy and fierce
Than any “holy-man mob” hell-bent on sealing heaven
against those who need it most.
And I think,
Would that this Word would dwell in men and not just among them;
Would dwell in me, like a tongue of fire from an eternal flame,
Like a love that could never be quenched.

I am
Unworthy,
So I drop my stone
And leave Him and His soiled bride alone.

“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:7-12

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

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
within the knot
lay me down
finer line
birth of a nation

finer line

tapestry

(for Ascension Sunday)

Salvation is a seamless garment of glory,
Woven before and beyond the world,
And stretching along the lines of
Eternity in our hearts.
It is complete, a holy raiment,
Drenched in blood and covenant.
This is the way of truth to life,
Of God and Man, of Jesus Christ.

What kind of a Way is this?
Narrower than a Pharisee,
More tripwire than binding rope.
With all these camels squeezing through the needle,
How then can any be saved?

What kind of a Truth is this?
Honest as fire and
Just as destructive.
It incinerated my old comfy clothes, and my new garments hurt!
They are better, but not broken in.

What kind of a Life is this?
That rips me apart each day
Just to sew me back together.
Until death parts this ragdoll,
There will always be tears.

But here I am still,
Dangling by this thread
Between heaven and earth,
With the scarlet cord
Slicing through bone and marrow, spirit and soul.
I’m too tied up to break free.

Family:
You are clothed in the Sun.
Tangle yourselves further up and further in
To Him whom you have known and seen.
There never was a finer line,
Yet the labor is comfort
And the cut is kind.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
John 14:5-7

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

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

lay me down

greenpastures

Lay me down
In fields of green, where grazing is my greatest aspiration.
We are worn out by grasping for greener grass, when we could just let you lead us.
And here I am, refusing to gobble grain that was purchased at great cost,
Like me, even when I’m lost.

I am a sheep and I am a child,
All that is within me is woolly and wild,
Yet I hear Your voice and come tripping and rolling down the hill in your general direction.
I’d make a great viral video.
Not so sure about that whole follower thing.

Lead me along,
Through valleys of twisted thoughts and deeds ill-done.
They are my own and not my own,
As I am Yours but act unknown.
Maybe half of my life is falling,
Over things and off of things,
Into sin and into Your arms.

And even now
I think wolves are just wonderful.
They appreciate young blood and fresh ideas.
Until I’m scattered and attacked, I’m smitten.
After, I’m limping, longing for a Word long-written.

Lay me down
By law and by love,
By the laying down of Your life
In satisfaction of the same.
Let me listen,
And by listening be lost and found
And wrapped and wound,
And called by Your name.
Fences are friends, not foes, in this field.
Your calling is not just to obey, but yield.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:14‭-‬18

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

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
within the knot

within the knot

IMG_7014-2

Plants are lazy.
All they do is sit around and grow.
Yet He is one, and so are we,
So there’s something vital in the flow.

This ecosystem is
Meant for growth at its root:
Vine to branch and branch to fruit.
When I separate from the tangle of Vine and branches we call Your People,
All I intake is pollution and smoke.
I shrivel, withered and parched, which is why you call us to remain.
Except,
To be within the knot is not all it’s cracked up to be.
It seems that certain branches strangle their neighbors over resource and space,
Cannibalizing others in the name of grace.

It is the way of things in nature to cling to survive,
But what we cling to determines if we thrive.

Flow from within me,
That I may grow from the thin me to
A flowering sapling, a taller tree,
A fruit-bearing defender of all I see.
Let me be in the thick of the wait,
Bearing up under it when beleaguered,
And always, ever,
Remaining.

Maybe plants aren’t lazy, but patient,
And confident of soil and Vine.
The root of the matter will always be:
I am His, and He is mine.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:5‭-‬8

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

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
ancient strain
lay me down

ancient strain

bread2

This Bread breaks daily,
Yet was broken only once.
Heavenly, and unleavened
By fancy turns of phrase or personal renderings.
“What does this mean to you?”
Is reduced to
“Take and eat.”
This is a reduction of falsehood, not freedom.

This good grain,
Has textures our tongues don’t understand,
And distasteful undertones we’d rather remove.
But we don’t choose the Baker or the Bread, sisters and brothers.
We don’t get to curate to our taste.

I would rather gorge on grass-fed meats and imported cheese, craft beer and sommelier selections to match my farm-to-table repast.
Excuse me, but this Bread isn’t locally-sourced, and it tastes a little stale.
This Wine has funky undertones; do you have something lighter on the palate?
I crave gourmet food,
Even when I know it could turn to ash in my mouth,
Even when, mid-bite,
I could be struck down for letting the grumbling in my tummy reach my lips.

You fill me, as with the richest of foods,
With things as simple as words and bread,
But this is an ancient strain,
Grain that fed forefathers and sustained prophets,
Crumbs that fell from heaven to the wilderness,
As from Your fingers to the five thousand,
As from Your table to Your children.
It is ever-filling, never-failing,
And our taste for it can grow.

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
John 6:48‭-‬51

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

Words for the Church: Eastertide
new wine
begin again
within the knot
lay me down

new wine

IMG_6911-2

(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

IMG_6932-2

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

img_0679-2_28383424416_o

(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