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Spring in New England is a matter of opinion.

And so I sit further from my children;

Seeking the warmth of sunshine

Removes me from the shaded playground;

Grants perspective.

For they who had been so rough,

Guide small strangers down scary slides

With unaccustomed tenderness.

Other mothers comment

on my perfect children

And I mix laughter with awe

That perhaps I have done something right.

To seek the sunlight

Can be to find the vision

Hidden by familiarity.

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Glory to God in the highest!
Unto us is born this day
a Savior: helpless
vulnerable
entirely dependent
upon our compassion
our willingness to give room
to the presence of God
on earth.

Unto us is born this day
a baby
who bears the image of God
who contains the blessing of God
wrapped up, swaddled,
snuggled into the softest bed
available.

And angels sing, if we have ears to hear
the eternal song of counting
fingers and toes,
the coos and whispers beyond language
to soothe a screaming newborn,
the universal lullaby
of welcome
where we set aside,
for a moment,
the harshness of the world.

If we have ears to hear
what the earth-bound angels
announce,
then, God of mercy,
may we open our doors
to desperate strangers,
even if they’re from Nazareth
that backwater town
from which nothing good
could possibly come;
because we might be giving room
to God-made-flesh.

If we have ears to hear
the joyous, raucous,
exclamations of shepherds –
dizzy with the new-baby-smell
that clings, still, to their hands
despite the dirt –
if we have ears to hear,
beyond the impulse to dismiss
these evangelists who disturb our night
proclaiming the impossible
that God is here!
Right here: even here!
then, God of all,
may our eyes be opened
to the presence
of light in shadow
of eternal in temporal
of the Body of Christ
still walking this earth.

Creator God, source of life,
may we have ears to hear
the song of angels
in the voices of all
who call us to care for one another
as though we were caring for you;
who invite us to see
You
in unexpected human flesh,
who remind us that there is no
“us” and “them”
just your love incarnate
in a diversity of bodies.

Abiding God, resting,
trusting,
in our frail human protection,
may we have ears to hear
the proclamation of the shepherds
who guide your children
to see you
in Bethlehem feed-troughs,
nosed-at by sheep;
in hospital bassinets,
shaking with addiction;
in donated carriers,
outside closed borders:
in swaddling clothes,
God-with-us now as then,
on earth as in heaven.

God of Grace, upending power,
in whom vulnerability overcomes fear
and love triumphs over death
may we have ears to hear;
If our minds and bodies can be
still
for long enough
to hear the ordinary,
extraordinary,
blessings of incarnation.
Then,
may we run, like shepherds
like sheep
to hold the child
so that Mary can get some rest
knowing her baby is in good hands.

Glory to God in the highest!
For unto us is born this day
a Savior.
One who will
heal the sick
house the homeless
nourish the hungry
release the prisoner
teach our children
care for our parents.

Glory to God in the highest!
For unto us is born this day
a Savior, a babe like any other:
God’s anointed,
God incarnate,
Love-made-flesh
given into our care.
Tiny fingers curling around ours
holding tight
calling us anew
so that there might
finally
be peace on earth.

When all you have has been taken
     stripped away
     eaten – devoured!
When you come face to face
     with the end
Two choices remain:
To consent to the violation
     silent acquiescence
     to one’s own powerlessness;
Or to stand, invisible before the aggressor
     and give before it can be taken
     keeping that which still remains.
Did you think to rid yourself entirely
     of responsibility? Obligation?
Which has more honor:
     graceful garments and beautiful words?
     or silent promises kept, unseen?
You shall not devour me.
I do not choose
    the glory of mortals.
    No edifice can contain
         the God within.
I give, by my own will, and so reclaim
     Myself: loving, compassionate
     generous, dignified.
My giving, my choice coerces you
     (although without the violation
     you would have imposed)
To do what your piety refused.
My two coins, given freely,
     mean you cannot devour me
     but must care beyond your empty words.
My two coins, given freely, devour
     your finery, your status, your honor
     this feat of engineering in which you would
          hide God
I give. I choose! Not out of my poverty,
     but out of my abundance.
And my abundance devours you:
     the poverty you seek to clothe
     in sumptuous lyricism.

Sometimes, God sneaks up on us.

Certainly, we expect to hear God speaking here, where we gather.

We come for just that purpose: to listen, to worship,

and sometimes it is enough.

But sometimes we get hungry;

listening attentively is hard work!

And sometimes the word doesn’t quite cut it,

doesn’t give us enough to chew on,

doesn’t fill the gnawing, empty place within,

but only makes us more aware of feeling

hollow.

It is tempting to sneak off,

to rush away from the speaking,

to answer a different call than the one that brought us here.

We plot our escape, absently

massaging our empty bellies,

not noticing, at first,

the basket:

for the taking, not the giving.

The basket, from which we pull, grab,

gorge, devour;

we fall back, sated, filled, overfilled,

and, finally, aware:

uncomfortably aware of the hungers of others.

Watch, you who gather here,

as all are filled by the God who slipped in;

in Word, yes,

but in the word that spoke the simple word: eat.

And we are joined in satisfied hunger,

feeling together the relief from emptiness,

pulled from ourselves into a greater Body

in the experience of abundance

in the experience of grace.

One Body, taken within our own.

One Body consumed, incorporated,

giving life and sustaining us,

God incarnate abiding, within us and through us,

the Word made our flesh,

devoured, renewed, eternal, enough,

surprising us in bread, in flesh,

in Word, in Body,

in life.

When grief hits – really hits

when finality folds in upon you

with all its echoing emptiness

Some people run, just for the sake

of moving

of having something to do

with still-living flesh

arms and legs that cannot contain

the unbearable.

And I watched as the men looked

rummaged, flailed, fled

I, whom grief turned to stone

unmovable but for the flood

pouring down my cheeks

clinging to my lashes

until the world blurred:

lost its form in a haze

of light and water.

Movement again, yet not

with the speed of whirling grief.

My eyes, half-blind, streaming

saw first the dirt

upon the stranger’s hands

as though he’d been entrusted

with coaxing new growth

from fertile earth.

Between tear-shimmer above and below

he appeared,

walking through the garden

in the cool of the morning

radiant with the first light of day.

“Where is He? For I know

He Is

somewhere

and I promised to follow.”

And he spoke, and the world became

perfect,

as on the first Day.

One word, and I was made new.

The mirror reflects too clearly,

all crystal-clear flaws

shards of foolishness, cutting deep

within my soul.

The more perfect reflection

have I found in the depths

of your eyes

where love does not dwell on imperfection

on that which I guard jealously

so as to keep the mirror pure.

Therefore, the day when I beheld

in that mirror-gaze I so needed

not only affection,

but grace!

You dare, cherished reflection

to scour the vulnerable depths?

to show me what I so despise

even clothed in forgiveness?

You were to be reflection, not judge.

Your eyes were to be mirror,

sightless before the windows open to your gaze.

Your eyes were to be mirror,

reflective of untarnished future

bright-white dreams and

weightless.

It takes gall, indeed, to forgive that

to which I would deny entry;

to see me with all the sharp-edged clarity

I so long refused.

To see in those eyes, in which I had found

the means to like myself

(or, at least, to hate myself less),

compassion? empathy?

I did not seek after those.

For your eyes to blur my reflection with

mercy? with grace?

I defy you.

I reject the mirror that dares

to pierce me so cruelly;

to cut me open on crystalline splinters

and expose my hidden darkness

to generous light.

For the mirror to see, could there exist

a more devastating

betrayal?

I cannot forgive your

forgiveness.

Based on John 6:64-66, 70-71
with thanks to Karoline Lewis for words that started this train of thought.

It’s for the best,

she decided,

One moment of pain

a betrayal that wasn’t

couldn’t be, (right?)

if to spare the beloved

a lifetime of suffering.

Be hopeful.

 

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.

Be positive.

 

Drunk on grief

marinated in the power of anger and hate

the desire to eradicate

to annihilate

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

or ideas

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.

Or hostile.

 

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…

Dark.

Peace would be simpler

if it caught our attention

spread among us with the fire

of passion

To walk in the light is to be

above all else

vulnerable,

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 –
-proudly, without
any indication of what an ugly
mangy mutt you see
at the end of that verbal leash –
We pray.
Still, we pray all the more
for the whispered rustlings
stirring among disjointed words;
for the flowing, and the crackle,
upward-seeping capillary phrasing
Spirit.
The one who grooms the matted fur
stripping away muddied words,
flea-bitten clich├ęs…
Who trims away the snarls
And maybe even adds the bow-around-the-neck
of recognition
self-reflection
challenge
or Word
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
flat
that I forget,
in my doggiest days,
I do not walk alone.
Some days we need the reminder that
even dogs,
with all their mess and slobber,
are a part of your creation.