Differently Wet

I look into my glass and
see the hue of sun-soaked rye.
I put my nose to its edge
and smell soil,
discern dirt,
learn of land.

The liquid on my tongue is full,
global in note. I can taste
more than I can name.

This drink is cool on my tongue,
warm in my throat,
hot to my heart.

I learned the other day that “whiskey” is
from Gaelic for ‘water of life.’ Of course,
such water is used to
slake and drown;
dream and destroy;
commemorate and obliterate.

Water is life.
Water is death. And
this sweet on my tongue slips
down the same throat that
channels breath, which will
one day end in death – to
begin a life
differently wet.

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.

Eggs, Over and Out

On my way downstairs,
I grabbed an empty
egg carton –
ripe for recycle –
recalling that
my daughter started
spring plants in one filled
with twelve fistfuls of soil:
a dozen ova of expectation;
a dozen disciples of revivification;
a dozen loci of resurrection.

My egg carton remains empty.
But still, I find the vacated spaces generative.

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

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
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?

In Praise of Easter Monday

After the Triduum with all of its drama and busyness, I have a kind of affinity to Easter Monday. Perhaps it is rooted in my earlier experiences as a parish pastor. Lent was always an astonishingly busy time with the three days, culminating in Easter, especially intense. The Monday after all that action was itself a kind of resurrection for me. This pastor slept in, read the paper, lingered over his coffee, and played with his daughters. Easter was rich, but Easter Monday was sweet. Easter is experienced differently for me now that teaching rather than preaching is the primary shape of my ministry. But still, there is something special about Easter Monday.

In a way, this is a day that is a shadow, or a ripple, or an echo of the day before. It is a softer, simpler version of an event so big that words cannot exhaust it. Monday is not quite so potent, and yet it drips with the after-glow of the resurrection. It is a next day event, when the consequences of a cataclysmic happening begin to sink in and now this experience becomes mine. It is fitting that the lectionary for Easter Sunday Evening (which in biblical accounting of time is already the next day) includes:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear. (Isaiah 25:6)

I love the sensual quality of this text. When God spins the world around and we encounter it upside down our senses themselves are bowled over with feast, with drink, with excess. We need to take a breath to take it all in. On Easter Monday we digest Sunday’s excess. In due course we see it as a kind of surplus that is given for the sake of giving. We are filled to over-flowing for the good of all peoples. Easter Monday is a good day to ask ourselves how we might be food for the nations, drink for all peoples, justice for the lowest and righteousness for those imprisoned. Easter Monday is a day to take it home; to imagine that hope has taken up residence in me, in us, in the world.

I have made no special plans for this particular Easter Monday. Marking, above all else, makes a claim on me today. But I will make a special effort to listen to the echo of “Christ is risen”; an echo that has been massaged by the hills to sound just a little like “Allen is risen.” And the familiar refrain “He is risen indeed!” might approximate “He is risen in deed!”

May it be so.

Sirocco of Life

Breathing, You animate me, Holy Breath
with nothing less than wind wed to fire – a
sirocco of life – You
expand and collapse
Your lungs into mine.

I live for Your breath. Breathe me
a breadth of love, Holy Dove as
I gaze upon Your face. Erase my
disgrace as You whisper me a
shiver. I quiver at my
hair’s raising, my