Adieu Iceland

This land is continually being born:
it ever brings forth new marvels, new
vistas, new possibilities. It sings of
change, and the power of play. I feel
this playful change seeping into me,
calling for

a molten mind,
a soul on fire, and
volcanic vision – even

while ice expands the fissures of my being open
and glaciers forge fjords of futures unbidden.

This land is etching itself onto
the geography of my body:
my skin now taut with
wonder, my lips now
quivering in hope,
and my heart
erupting now as
deep calls to depth,
and I feel myself shifting
while taking leave of this
tectonically trembling Ísland.

Advertisements

Finely Tuned in Iceland

We are nicely ensconced in Reykjavik, “we” being Gwenanne, myself and six brave pilgrims from the Waterloo area on a “Fun in the Midnight Sun” tour organized by TourMagination. We managed to negotiate yesterday’s jet lag and were up bright and early, and in time to make it to worship at Hallgrímskirkja, pictured below.

The church is a powerfully intoxicating. Built over 41 years, it looms large in Reykjavik, with its tower designed to mimic the spray of a geyser and the church itself is said to call to mind mountains, glaciers and the rock formation of this island nation called Iceland (Island in Icelandic). Visitors line up to go up the tower, take a handful of photos, and then leave, but we decided to forego the tower experience and worship with the local congregation.

Today is Trinity Sunday and the resident priest Irma Sjöfn Óskardóttir both preached and presided. The service included special guests in the form of a choir from the Dómkirkjan (Cathedral Church) of Reykjavik. They crafted a service that was inspiring, although we really understood nothing, aside from our ability to make out the form of the Lutheran service, with its overarching structure of gathering, word, meal and sending.

As the priest presided in this architectural wonder, with a kind of simplicity that draws heavily on our hunger for transcendence, I wondered how the space felt for her. I recall some years ago – in Keffer Chapel at Luther, where I work – while presiding at communion, the sense that the building was a part of symbolic clothing I was wearing that day (alb, stole and chasuble), mindful that where we are becomes a part of who we are. And then back in Hallgrímskirkjam, I heard the choir sing. I closed my eyes for a time and as the piece came to the end, the music just kept on going, spiraling around the room until it settled into silence. I thought of my colleague, Gerard, playing flutes in various guises and how he flowed through the instrument, and it struck me that the sanctuary was a kind of instrument transforming the voice of the choir; sanctifying it, in a sense. The space itself became God’s handiwork. It was a holy moment for me.

Later in the day, we enjoyed a conversation by Arnfriður Guðmundsdóttir at the University of Iceland concerning how climate change is impacting Iceland, and the church’s response to this. It was quite a different moment in the day, but holy in its own way as Arnfriður spoke of the ways in which hope can found in the tenacity of faith and its passion for justice for people and the earth. Fittingly, we learned that Guðmundsdóttir means “daughter of Guðmund,” and “Guðmund” references the hand of God. She too, was God’s handiwork. For her and for the day, we are all grateful.

20190615_164215

Into Loaf

The preferment is now in the oven for the night,
and three loaves of rye are in
gestation. A deep satisfaction comes of this
mixing of primal elements:
water and oil;
salt and flour;
and now a little honey for hope.

Can you imagine a more fitting metaphor for
life? This long night of rising is not dark, though.
The oven light sets this bread on fire. This
brightening in oven is
like Christ in grave;
death is tested and
found to fail as
sour dough takes wings
and makes bread of
tohu wa-bohu, of
chaos.

Tonight I sleep, while the world is born again.
Tonight I pine, waiting for You to slip into loaf.

Easter on Monday

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’” John 20:16

You said my name today and
my heart exploded – not
strangely warmed not
merely melted – but it
became a raging
sky and with each
thunder-beat,
lightning arced
me through.

You said ‘I see you’ and my
name became my resurrection.
I wonder at the thought – ‘Allen’ now
hanging in the air and I rising to
meet it. My name embraces
me and now I am in the between –
where You are and where I was – the
heavens inhabit me and I them as
I surface from my mire,
clinging to the miracle of
You speaking me.

At the Edge of Eternity

These days our tree
weeps joy,
bleeds peace,
sweats sweet spring …

I gasp and she
replies, but I do
not yet speak her
tongue. All the same,
I can see her buds brave
frosty mornings and,
at midday, her branches
shimmer, like locks, with
warm sun on glistening wood.

Pregnant with promise, she
preaches resurrection, she
hymns creation, she
lauds God.

With my hand on her trunk,
at the edge of eternity,
I wonder about her roots: are they
sated with humus, or do they
pine after the sky, which
her crown so delicately nibbles?

Come Sit with Me a Bit

Not so very far from
the door You stand, You,
source of my life, my strife both.
You stand between here and there,
and yet ‘stand’ is not quite right:
You whom I chance to meet with
the breath of a child, in
the wrinkle of the aged, on
the hard, smooth surface of
a rock – grandfather, grandmother.

I do not know You and yet I know You knowing me.

Come, sit with me a bit.
Let our breath be as one, so when mine
ceases, death is bested by love.
Let our seeing be as one, so that hope
finds a fallowed field seeded with tears.
Let our hearing be as one, so I finally
hear the trees, the stars, singing You,
in my hearing, seeing, breathing
You.

Limping toward You

And then You come to me
again, and again, and again,
slipping Your words into the silence
of my speech. You right and write
my wrongs in strophes of
reconciliation, allowing
my ears to be hallowed
by Your cries; my
eyes to be sanctified by
the sight of Your tears
now made mine.

You are not
content to see
me face to face
but embrace me
from the inside out:
Your presence now my joy,
Your absence now my hope,
my words now my tongue
limping toward
You.