Wednesday, May 13, 2015

the sort of quiet I'm longing for

The week before finals is appropriately titled "hell week" in the college world. With at least one major final, project, or presentation due every day this week, I'm looking forward to a quiet week at home before work starts for the summer, a room of my own and no homework to keep me up late and wake me early. I find myself just wanting to sit still and do nothing, not even read a fun book or anything, just be. I wrote this poem at the end of April, and have returned to it this week as a sort of promise of rest that I know is just around the corner, as alien as it may feel right now.

Sit still, bird-song soaked
drenched in quiet-enough
to watch shadows shift
on golden spring grass.
And be alone and no
sweet paper voice either
just you
   and no words on your tongue.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


You are God of the people
   by which you have meant at all times
and in all places
            the poor who are hungry
            the poor who are homeless
the poor who are righteous

You are God of justice
   by which you have loved the widows
and the fatherless
            and the just who are
            at their own expense
            since there was first a widow
            since the newest orphan became desolate
            since ever justice had such name.

Yet I wonder what you think
            of the girl who loved
            who said yes when she should have said no
            who stayed quiet when she should have spoken
and the man who took your name that hurt her.

I wonder what you think
            of the people who took your name in water
            but are still loving lies more than truth
            who live the easy and the comfortable
            who are running in fear, seeing neither
the running, nor the fear.

I know a person and a dozen scarred deep
            by those water people, and thick
            by your words at the wrong time
            in the wrong place for
            very wrong reasons.
And the mouths, oblivious, go on speaking.

I’m thinking of impact, Father, of words and love
            And how this church of souls
            by which I mean living people
            have left craters I have seen
            deep and tender.
And I don’t mean liturgy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

some thoughts on Church

This summer I’m looking for a church. And I don’t know if I’m looking for a new church or a new liturgy or a new denomination, to be honest. Last year on Good Friday my home church of nine-or-so years held a Tenebrae service.  Since that night I've known I wouldn't stay and I had a feeling that the evangelical nondenominational culture probably wasn’t where I was going to end up. It made me terribly sad, that night, and it still makes me sad. I love my church. I was deeply invested there, so many people there invested in me, cared for me, challenged me, gave me opportunities to serve and watched me grow.
I moved away for school and immediately found a church that I love. Every Sunday I meet up with a group of friends and we walk to church together in the green grass of a park, through a neighborhood with a pomegranate tree and an orange tree, up a steep hill and into the cool white and wooden sanctuary of Redeemer church.  I love it there. It’s like coming home after a long trip, like diving into cool water when you’ve sweated for hours in the hot sun, like taking a long drink of water when you have waited with thirst. It has made for me a reality the words “come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I learned there for the first time the power and significance of the table of the Eucharist and its celebration. I experienced the relief of silence and private prayer in the setting of worship. I understood the power of scripture as I heard it read on its own week after week, a hundred different voices. For the first time in my life I heard the words of the celebration of Eucharist spoken over me by a woman, and the elements blessed by her voice, and it remains a sweetly poignant moment in my memory. I heard the people singing, in that church, and the elders praying for the people, and the children crying and laughing and murmuring and the heartbeat of an alive people.
I have discovered that I love pews. That there are hymns with power to move me that worship songs never did. That I love simplicity. That I need to learn to listen, and it is hard for me to do that in a “louder” way of doing church.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

{the quality of mercy}

It is raining and I feel
It is about time

If I were away two-thousand miles
I would race down to your room

and we would run to put feet
and faces and hands in the cold
rare rain and we would smile
and probably sing

I was just reading of it,
of mercy unstrained which falls like rain
and that perhaps is why I can’t believe it
like Shakespeare did,
those two-thousand miles

to a desert land where rain is neither
generous nor unstrained
where if you hesitated you might miss it
where it is quickly come and swiftly gone

and we are left not wet enough
not cold enough
just thirsty for long gray wet days

and for mercy twice blessed.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Uses of Sorrow


Who am I that I should wake
to the summons of bells calling
the hungry people to sustenance
light crowding the golden trees
and warm shapes of cool round
air fluttering my eyelids
filling my ears with birdsong?

Out there it is brimming over
yellow and blue as I dress
quietly, spilling over too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014



You should not
so splendid and solitary be
with fine hairs shining
spiked from green stem
bright color design set

I dream you tossing torn
silky petals among a
thousand fellows in birdsong
of a great field where
prairie ripples wave in the sun
water-like, you one
blotched color spot in
shining brown and green.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Theme & Variations on Stillness


I ~

     I am a little pool of water,
         stirring always with motion.
I try to hold the sky in me,
    the blue, blue sky
 but its clarity easily ripples
    in trembling concentric circles shaken outward.
I try to hold the green there
      of slender smooth trees
   stretching above, silhouetting
         slim lines, leaf shapes
    but then silent  spinning  leaf
       hits  my  face
           breaks  reflection.
Water-stillness is frail.

    I am a little pool of water
            fragile to the touch.
      Still  me. 

II ~ 

Lazy and lingering, in sweet slowing sweeps
A lone leaf falls, fleet on slopes of air
In jolt it meets water, face surface leaps
Back in smooth concentric interruption to reflection fair.

Ripples, pulled back, stretched, released, meet
To be intersection of light on smooth face
of treed reflections formed in seat
From liquid cool wet and wide, trembling in lace.

Stirred up, you are nothing but brownness beneath the trees
You have no colored image smiling at sky
Trembled answers to birches stretched and splendoured leaves
Instead, lonely, you blank and troubled lie.

III ~ 

I am a jar of river water all
     shaken up  (it's easy really sometimes
to shake me)  but I have
       methods of order to appear
 cool,   calm,  collected
         and none can guess (though some can see)
the swirling inside, clamoring
         of heart
             mind.         (Which shall win? Or you,
                       Lord Christ?)

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