You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2015.
“Deny yourself: take up your cross”
This was all good, Jesus, until you got all morbid.
Suffering? Really? And death?
I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been listening
And, although I think you’re right,
let’s not go too far, here.
You’re walking a narrow path, my friend,
between Temple and Empire,
and you’ve always maintained the balance.
What changed? What do you know?
Deny ourselves? Shall we cut ourselves off from our people,
our families, our communities, our faith?
Shall we push change so hard that they ostracize us,
shun us, cut us from their body
so the infection cannot spread?
Take up our cross? Quite the image…
We are not criminals to be killed by slow torture:
What offense do we give the Empire
that they should crucify us, hang us up as examples?
I don’t get it, Jesus – are you asking us to die?
to make such a fuss that we must be silenced
ridiculed and humiliated?
Do we really have so much power?
Do they really have so much fear?
I guess we do get a pretty big crowd…
How many did we feed the other day?
Three thousand? Five? Somewhere in there.
And perhaps you can’t sit forever between a rock
and a hard place.
One or the other will give, eventually;
either to open up some space
or to squish whomever is between.
And, I suppose, better to prepare for the coming squish
better to expect it
to choose to live in that precarious space
In case, whatever happens,
squish or crack,
the space opens up to reveal God.
It’s for the best,
One moment of pain
a betrayal that wasn’t
couldn’t be, (right?)
if to spare the beloved
a lifetime of suffering.
Peaceful living in wartime chaos
the resistance of embodied love
among a few
tortures the heart already pierced
by each life lost;
narrows focus until
violence appears the only path
for ending violence.
Until one life seems a small price to pay
to ransom millions.
Drunk on grief
marinated in the power of anger and hate
the desire to eradicate
all who ressemble –
– even in the superficial, the external –
the apparent cause
of all that bubbles within
seethes and writhes,
seeking an outlet;
the desire to wipe the slate clean,
to rub out offensive words
burns with single-minded intensity.
Do not become bitter.
Face to face with a story not our own
face to face with pain
and implications of complicity!
Moan aloud, exclaim
not for the wounded heart before you
but rejecting responsibility
“Not all!” – and turn away before the shatter
skewers you with flying shards.
Hope would be a simpler thing
if it came with bright light and rainbows
if the valley of the shadow of death weren’t so…
Peace would be simpler
if it caught our attention
spread among us with the fire
To walk in the light is to be
above all else
open to the aching
convulsing pain that humanity suffers;
open to it in our own lives
tightly bound to the lives of others.
To hope without hostility
is to trust that no valley is endless
that no night endures forever
that joy comes in the morning.
To live in peace without bitterness
is to find the right, and remain
calm in the midst of chaos
focused on all that can be
rather than what cannot.
To love is to remember that hope and peace endure
by the grace of God –
– whom we are not.
Love is a better way.
For those days when you do all the work:
Read everything possible
Talk it through
Push and pull, stretch and twist
Even write! And write again…
And still, despite it all,
(or perhaps because of;
all that preparation can be constipating)
You walk the dog –
any indication of what an ugly
mangy mutt you see
at the end of that verbal leash –
Still, we pray all the more
for the whispered rustlings
stirring among disjointed words;
for the flowing, and the crackle,
upward-seeping capillary phrasing
The one who grooms the matted fur
stripping away muddied words,
Who trims away the snarls
And maybe even adds the bow-around-the-neck
To the dogbreath-slobbery mess
I was trying to preach.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Even when I’m waking the dog.
Remind me that I do not walk it alone:
that some dogs are so homely they’re cute;
that all dogs were created by the One
who called me to this crazy preaching thing
in the first place,
And who will not let me fall so totally
that I forget,
in my doggiest days,
I do not walk alone.
Some days we need the reminder that
with all their mess and slobber,
are a part of your creation.
“Thou shalt not”
Doesn’t really leave us much
in the way of wiggle-room
So we play with that last word in the commandment.
Because “murder” gives us the leeway
to continue killing
when it’s convenient:
When we will benefit from death
in newly-accessible goods
in suddenly-attainable power;
When we use killing to control
those around us –
– easier by far than controlling ourselves.
“Murder” is that which happens to us
that which we cannot justify
by some dispelled fear
or righteous anger.
“Murder” is unreasonable, cruel,
the taking of innocent life,
valuable life, or maybe
life that looks, somehow, like ours.
And “thou shalt not,” we cry,
in the echoes of “Why did you shoot me?”
“Stop shooting”, “I can’t breathe”.
After silent hands raised in calm obedience
to a lesson taught by parents who weep
to teach it.
“Thou shalt not,” unless you feel your own life,
your own self, threatened
by twelve-year-old men playing
with the normal violence of their lives;
by faces you most often see as targets
through the crosshairs.
It isn’t “murder” if the victim wasn’t innocent:
lily-white and pure as snow,
child-like and angelic in face and speech,
as they cry to us for help.
“Thou shalt not,” we cry
in irony-free certainty:
‘Thou shalt not,” but if you do, the penalty
is death, which is not murder, though intentional;
an acceptable death: calm, reasoned,
which is different, you know.
Because it is a death that will make us
feel safer, despite the statistics;
knowing killers have been mur-
no, that’s the wrong way ’round.
And it is not “murder” when we discuss it first –
-“it” the crime and “it” the criminal,
now one and the same,
sentenced by twelve who don’t consider themselves peers,
covetous of their privileged humanity,
determining the terms of life and death.
“Thou shalt not,” we cry,
until we cannot recognize ourselves
in the one humiliated,
carrying the means of his own death;
the human reduced to the sum of his crimes
Then we shout, instead,
“Killing is justified!”
“Killing is justice!”
Then we should instead,
For we shall not murder – no, of course not.
We are not unreasonable,
not cruel or unusual –
– unfortunate, that. Unusual
is the person who stands, weeping
at the foot of the cross.
For all the “shalt not”s we have manipulated,
all the innocents tarnished by our fear,
all the sinners judged
by those who judge themselves worthy,
all of the humanity forgotten, denied –
– as it crucifies itself so that “thou shalt not”
but I still can.
Because it isn’t “murder” if it doesn’t hurt me,
if it’s not my body on the cross.
It isn’t “murder” if I cannot recognize the image
reflected back through one-way glass
from curtained execution-room sterility.
It isn’t “murder” when our sense of order
is upset by disruptive life
or the fear of life’s disruptions.
It isn’t murder until we ourselves stand convicted
under the weight of our own sentence, our own phrasing;
staggering to the top of the hill we have created,
out of blind-justice-reason and the illusion of balanced scales.
We slip in the blood of countless “Thou Shalt Not”
and wonder: who will weep for me?
Someone said today that writing is not
-in writing, it should be noted.
Begging the question of what is healing
For certainly, the act of putting pen to
paper will not
cause the bleeding to stop.
Eyes will not be opened as the words
are set forth;
children shall not rise from their
and I do not wonder that Jesus
didn’t take the time
to write his own story.
In his limited time, he chose to heal.
I wonder if Mary, in her grief,
kept a journal
or wished she could;
(did Peter? Or James, or Joanna,
to hold the stories told over a fishy
To keep the intimate, first-person details
of shared story,
to keep the perspective from shifting
or, perhaps, to shift it?
To manipulate, tease, pull, sift, explore
in such a way that the conversation
that the lost voice lives anew,
suddenly audible in scratching
In the intimacy of stories kept close
there is room enough to ask that
which lodges in the throat
which might bring blame, or shame,
Face to face, pen and paper call forth
Why this body, this time, this anguish?
Why, now, was there no healing
though the curtain of my heart was
and my world is summer-noonday
Why did Mary, Peter, Thomas even
find reprieve before their grief
while three days in –
– three weeks, three months –
the stone is not rolled back?
Writing does not heal. The voices fade
in folded paper, unmoving pen.
Not in scribing but in speaking:
Talitha cum! Lazarus come out!
was breath restored and life renewed
In quiet resurrection party afterglow,
did those same words,
calm the reverb of a still-palpable
In the writing, in the holding,
in the heart-hearing moment
are the first stitches to mend the
is the glimmer of sun in noonday
is the first, rough filler
in the crackled not-quite-shatter.
The words we commit to paper
cannot restore breath
and quicken only the heart
But in the grappling with memory,
the rhythms and patterns
that speak with stilled tongues
to answer our desolation
there is the healing:
the promise of new life,
miraculous as any