The Greatest of These

Friends, a poem I wrote for chapel at Luther this last week…

Faith, and hope, and love abide but which of
these charisms do you prize, deep
in this time of COVID, this time of
hoping for a cure for social paralysis, this time of
putting our faith in the science, even while
others despair of besting this tiniest of beasts?

All the while that spiky protein spins – it
mutates, and revolves, and rolls with the punches.
Don’t you just hate it? Or, perhaps you prefer to
hate something, or someone seen – like maybe
an incompetent politician, or your next door neighbour, or say
a racialized person, or perhaps someone
hating racialized people…

It seems hatred seeks something or someone
concrete to sink its teeth into,
aching to slake its thirst. And we know
so well the power of hate;
its grip in our belly,
its throttle at our throats
its sweet-bitter taste on our tongues as we
take down this one,
rake that one over the coals.

But love, love brooks no business with
hate – never sated by seeing
my sworn enemy put in her place,
but grace-fully love questions the place of
putting in place in our economy;
our oiko-nomos; our oikos; our house.
Love is a house-holder, setting the table instead
of settling the score – always finding a spot in the
ever-widening circle that is finally eternity, where
hatred is seen for what it is: abject fear – fear
cast out by love, by
… embracing those I fear, by
… embracing those afraid of me, by
… embracing the fears inside of me.

The disciples were locked in by fear but
Love walked through the door. Beloved
Thomas feared the truth but love exposed
its wound and wound its way around Thomas –
around me, until I found and now still find
me and you and those I hate in the
very same circle, in the same herd, shepherded
there by Love.

Faith, and hope, and love abide, these three beside
one another but the greatest of these is love and
the greatest of these is…
it really is.

Silently, Resurrection

I like to think that the resurrection
was silent, and unseen too, like
the rising of a stalk from a seed
deep in ground; like
the birth of thought while attending
a tree.

I like the idea of
resurrection as a
surreptitious inversion upending
trumpets, and triumph, and spectacle –
life sneaking out of death, a tiptoe
no-one knows is there… until
they do and then it disappears like
a shiver down your back, like
a déjà vu arresting you, like
dawn’s glow, spring grass’s green, comet crossing sky:
my eye sees, and then it doesn’t, and then it sees differently.

I like to think that the resurrection is everywhere
because it was first there, silently.

Holy Rain

The rain is soft outside my
window this late night, this early morning,
this liminal time. And sleep? It
sits at the edge of the room. It
hovers over my head. It
is phantasmal, appearing dimly, still
beyond reach, mirroring my failed grasp of
You – You, slipping through my fingers as if my
digits were made of space, as they are.
You will not be held, even while
You hold me, mold me, move me in
Your gaze: piercing, precise, and so
painfully close but never close
enough. I melt into desire and become
one with the rain outside my window:
falling on You,
through You,
with You.

Musings on March

My relationship with March is
complicated. I want it to be
what it cannot: a younger May
stripped of any hint of January.
Instead, March is fiercely March.
It is a month with a mind of
its own and it brooks no challenge
to self-expression. Now its
ice winds cut across my skin even
while shadows shorten and trees
begin to drip sweet. March snow clings
to shadows tenaciously – white knuckling
the wheel of life.

The other day I ate my salad outside on an Adirondack chair,
bundled up like a swaddled babe, the sun was stroking my
face even while the wind scratched it. The snow chuckled,
nervously.

Including Green

When I was a child
I was told that
blood runs blue until
it spills in the air, where
it’s painted red. I’ve since
read that blood is not blue
but then when I view my veins,
I see green. Maybe my blood
Is tainted with envy or maybe
it’s enviro-blood, scouting out
ways to minimize my-its-our
carbon footprint, or maybe
it’s a sickly green, at sea in
seeing naught but ought, not yet
aware of freeing waves of grace
awash in every colour
including green.

Prayer, Interrupted…

Prayer, interrupted… now
by my toe’s twitch; communion with
the Almighty stayed… now
by the realization that I am
double booked next Tuesday and
cannot be in two places at once unlike
the ubiquitous God, whose call
I have just dropped … now
by sleep – sometimes sneaking up on me,
sometimes evading me, me who cannot be
like divinity, neither
slumbering nor sleeping.

Prayer, interrupted, or
perhaps prayer converted
from pious pleas to
embodied aches and yearning… learning to
embrace my humanity as I
embark in a conversation
encompassing all that I do – and don’t…
my flesh now made word.

The Heavens are Shattered

This bare tree framing the sky lays
bare the state of my soul:
a little bit empty
now and then
I might be seen through
but this too is gift:
the tree frames sky
and I frame why.

Branches cut up what is on high just
like lead pieces glass together by dividing:
the power of the line meets
the strength of the translucent.
The heavens are shattered
and so beautiful…

At Their Feet

These plants on my windowsill
watch me day in and out,
looking about my office, they
track my comings and goings,
sniggering at my sweltering
sense of self-importance.

These plants are close to the earth
and hold the long view, knowing that
instantaneously – in a geological sense – I
will be in the earth feeding their fellows.

These plants also cheer me on, when I
close my laptop and play with the rocks
in the silica-now-glass container on
“my” oak tree-now-desk.

These plants weep when
I fail to taste my apple, when
I forget to thank them, when
I refuse to listen to their call
to pinch myself
alive.

These plants are poets of the first order:
Aloe Vera and Christmas Cactus – and when
I am wise, I sit at their feet, in a manner of speaking.

The Word Became Fire

The Word became fire, and now
burns within us – warming
hearts kindling the
thought that love becomes us – our
skin glistening hope.

The Word became dirt, and now
dwells below us – holding
us up, soul on soil, gracing
our grasses, grains, gardens;
all our eating now holy.

The Word became wet, and now
rains upon us, now
baptismal bath, now
living spring, now
we are sated with sacred
surging, pulsing, raging.

The Word became air, and now
fills our sails, our souls, our lungs
enlarging; this Word waits
upon us serving us breath, death
abated until the day our flesh fades into
a memory, a word, a poem.

The Word becomes us, making
us fit; it suits us, dressing us
with holy splendor, bending us
back again to our origin:
in the beginning, Word.

Your Hold on My Heart

Yesterday the sky wept, and
the branches of the trees
bled a bit of red. The earth
knows something that
I do not.

I want to read the earth.
I ache to converse with trees,
to listen to the stars, and
to feel the heartbeat of the soil,
but I am a soul too easily
sated with white noise,
with white… but at night
when my pen befriends me
and my guard goes down I
begin to hear, to see, to be differently,
Your hand on my shoulder, Your hold on my heart.