Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Hope for You

This reprise from November of 2011, My hope for you, contains my hopes for us all at the time.

Today, what would I add?

My hope for you . . .

that you believe in possibilities . . .

imagine a future of promise . . .

abandon despair . . .

leave the pain of a moment in that moment . . .

dance in step with the Dancer of the Universe . . .

believe in peace, for without your belief, it will not be . . . 

Friday, November 29, 2013

What Shall I Pray?

As people jump in with wildly differing points of view
claiming their own peculiar to be universal and universally

when it comes to things like the cessation of wars
when reason upon reason is put forth why it cannot be
thus, for it has always been so

when the lack of trustworthiness of the other becomes
the shaper of our character (for our actions are our character,
are they not?)

when we have somehow decided to write the script in advance
declaring an end to peace for war is, can be, the only way,
in my despair,

O Lord, what shall I pray?

Wisdom is the word that comes to me
but it is not enough – for we no longer
recognize Wisdom when she comes to
town as we substitute all sorts of sound
and fury signifying something far more
insidious, more dangerous, than Shakespeare’s

Humility runs close second – Lord let us
be humble in our pursuit of a better way
freed to recognize and receive the You
that is now and always The Better Way
but no – humility will not do, for in the
very act of declaring it found does it

I am right close to despair here, Lord.
Help.  Give me a word.
And maybe there it begins – give me . . .
a . . . word . . . just one . . . please . . .

And there it is . . . the word waiting
perhaps from before the beginning of
things . . . and it is . . . hope

In hope am I freed from judging,
condemning anger that so resembles
the despair and condemnation and
anger of those with whom I am so
angry . . . Lord, You are so much
the God of Irony I can scarce forego
the smile of recognition that surely
plays about You . . .

Hope . . . it is hope we seek (or must)
even in our not knowing . . . hope for
the lack of which our souls do starve

Babies bring hope like noone and
nothing else – isn’t it fitting, this
Advent exercise we followers of
The Way do do?

Ah Lord, irony again – a prayer
answered before uttered

and there was
and there is
and there will be


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Guilty Thanks

Yesterday, driving the interstate a few car lengths ahead, the black pick up truck must have slid on some ice at the other end of the bridge.  I watched in horror as it slapped into a right angle to the road even as my foot went to the brake as my mind screamed don’t brake!  Do not brake!  at the same time it is responding if you don’t you’ll hit him!

These things happen so fast you can’t know for sure – but I think it was more the car’s abilities and technologies than my own that stopped our own slip into skid, but the pick-up truck was not so fortunate.

For a brief instant I thought all would be well as the truck simply faced into the median, but inertia had other plans and the truck propelled into the median, which has a steep middle.  The truck flipped onto its top and into the opposite lanes.

The driver (we think his name is Gary) was thrown from the truck onto the roadway.  He was alive at the scene as best we could tell, but his injuries were severe.  His mother managed to crawl out from under the smashed top.  She didn’t seem to be hurt, but she was in shock, so it’s difficult to know.

Several folk, we among them, stopped to render aid and as is so often the case, some who stopped were people with the needed skills – a fireman, a nurse, and others.  Cell phones become the blessing of the moment as people are able to call quickly for help.  All I managed to do was to silently pray, which is not nothing, but feels at the time so little.

Often have I heard folk speak about those who slow down passing an accident with scorn.  But I think it’s nothing nefarious or nasty.  I think they’re slowing down to make sure there’s help.  And to say a small, whispered, just-a-little-guilty thanks that it wasn’t them, for how easily it could have been.

We’re praying for Gary and his mother this Thanksgiving Day as we hope to hear news of whether he survived.  We’re saying our own (guilty) thanks that it wasn’t us this time.  And we’re giving thanks for firemen and nurses and random folks with tools in their trucks ready to be used to help at a moment’s notice when a stranger lies on the pavement fighting to live when, just moments before, whatever life he led was heading down the highway blissfully unaware of what was to come.

Life is so tenuous as well as so precious, with each moment offering no guarantees of another.  And so it is, for all the moments that have passed, I give thanks.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Over the River and Through the Wood*

Over the river and through the wood to Grandmother’s house we go . . . or, in my case, over the
mountains and across I-64 to Embassy Suites I go (followed by the actual day at Cousin Betsy’s, lest you begin to pity me) . . . these days, it is the grandmothers that often do the traveling and that’s okay too . . .

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through white and drifted snow . . . alas, my ‘horse’, a turbo-charged Impreza, most definitely does not know the way (although does, and if I had GPS, it certainly would – or maybe not – how can technology that sees from the skies still not know where a road is simply because it crosses woods and mountains?)  and oh, how I sometimes envy those folk of old who could set the horse on the familiar course and take a snooze along the way . . . and while I love the white stuff, trust me when I tell you, driving through mountains covered in it is not for the faint of heart and is nothing to sing about . . .

Over the river and through the wood to have a full day of play . . . or rather to have a day full of watching people who are paid to do it -- play – football – but I’ll be sitting in the other room talking and laughing and catching up . .

Oh, hear the bells ringing ting-a-ling-ling, for it is Thanksgiving Day . . . or rather Thanksgiving Eve (if there be such a thing-ting-a-ling) after the evening worship, car loaded as I set out alone to cross those mountains, yet accompanied by the souls of all my Thanksgivings past and present, weather permitting, as I wonder yet again when I do not spend Thanksgiving at home why I insist on this evening service attended by so very few instead of taking the week off (as I say I am doing every year) and just head on home in the daylight, for I do not really like night travel very much (a sure sign of aging) but will have the smell of pies to keep me company along with all those souls along the way . . .

Over the river and through the wood – now Grandmother’s cap I spy . . . well, I am the Gran and it’ll be my gloves and scarf and fogged glasses that are espied as we all gather round each other, hugging and laughing in the sheer joy of being together one more time . . . or not – it may be quite late and I might just slip into my bed in the hotel, but no worries, the jostling-gathering-laughing-hugging-loving will happen – just not tonight . . .

Hurrah for the fun!  Is the pudding done?  Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!  Since I’m bringing the pies (pumpkin and pecan), they’ll sure be done – just hope they weather the trip and that I don’t succumb to temptation and pull off the road somewhere between here and there on the burm of the interstate with trucks whizzing by, not knowing what treats lie within or they’d surely stop to share, as I scarf down the pies myself and roll in to desperately search for some suitable substitute at the local 7-11 . . . I won’t, really, but I’ll think about it . . .

Over the mountains and across the interstate to Thanksgiving and family and love I’ll go . . . see you there.

*"Over the River and Through the Wood" is a Thanksgiving song by Lydia Maria Child. Written originally as a poem, it appeared in her Flowers for Children, Volume 2, in 1844. The original title of the poem is, "A Boy's Thanksgiving Day".  It celebrates her childhood memories of visiting her Grandfather's House. Lydia Maria Child was a novelist, journalist, teacher, and wrote extensively about the need to eliminate slavery. Wikipedia

Monday, November 25, 2013

What Would I Say?

If faced with someone I love who is about to kill themselves, what would I say?

Unfortunately, I know what I would say, because I’ve said it.  Maybe you have too.  Maybe it made a difference.  Maybe it didn’t.

What would I say to God?  Maybe where were you?  What were you doing?  Why didn’t you stop it?  Where were you?

If I were God, what would I say?  All will be well?  I am with you?  Fear not?  Were you there?

If I were talking to a father brought to the death of his son, what would I say?  If I were God, I could say I know how you feel.  But I’m not and I don’t.  I’m not God and I don’t know how it feels.  So what would I say?  I am so sorry.  

Not . . . he’s in a better place.  He may be – and so I believe – but what comfort is that in the keening pain of that excruciating loss?

Not . . . it was meant to be – for I do not believe that.

Not . . . I’m sorry he’s in hell, do you know Jesus?  It makes Jesus trite . . . and mean . . . and stupid . . . and if I know nothing else, I know Jesus is not trite or mean or stupid.

Yet the question remains, why is it so very easy to know what I would not, should not, say, yet is it so very hard to know what to say?  Maybe because saying isn’t the point, isn’t the needed thing, for words are not truth.  And sometimes, they’re camoflauge for what is just too hard to name – this happened – it is real – and there just aren’t words. . .

If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves . . . and keeps us present before God.  –Rom 8.26-28

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sermon Cliff Note: Brothers of Another Mother

Scripture:  Luke 1.68-79

Born so auspiciously . . . they both died so shamefully . . . one beheaded to satisfy the boredom and hurt pride of a licentious woman . . . another crucified as a talisman against the fears of an oppressed people that he would bring Rome’s unwanted attentions upon them . . . both died as the butt of the jokes of others . . . both, by their very existence, made others afraid . . . and in the meantime, they lived parallel lives of joy and despair . . . and urgency . . .

These were the pride of their family, cousins we could think of as brothers of another mother – two so intertwined in their lives and their destinies that where one left off, the other began.

One is the Son of the Most High . . . the other is His prophet . . .

Both spent their youth growing and becoming strong and wise . . .

One prepares the way for the other, who will be known as The Way . . .

Both were prophets, but to paraphrase Oscar Romero, a priest murdered for his witness against the injustices of the government where he lived, John was a “prophet of a future not his own.”

Among their ancestors, jealousy was the order of the day . . . from Cain and Abel . . . to Jacob and Esau . . . to Joseph and his brothers . . . relationship led to enslavement . . . and theft . . . and murder . . . yet for these brothers of other mothers, there would be none of that . . . from the first time they met, inside their mother’s bellies, they recognized the kindred and the call in the other . . . and the younger would walk in the path laid down for him by his older cousin . . . the path leading into his own kingship . . . and death. . .

It is a paradox where one follows the other by going first . . . first into the wilderness . . . first into the prophet’s journey . . . first into baptism . . . first into death itself . . . each and every step Jesus takes bears the footprints of John going ahead . . . preparing the way . . . the way laid out from before the very beginning of time itself . . .

Today we observe and celebrate that Christ, The Risen One, is our King . . . the king who comes to us an infant in a feed trough . . . The Resounding Yes to the proverbial parental question, were you born in a barn? . . . 

The King who is our brother of another mother too . . . bound in eternal kinship by our common Father . . . let us, like John, go and prepare His Way . . . in our own lives . . . in the life of the church . . . in the life of the world . . .

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Crap Gratitude List

It’s November and it’s fashionable and even desirable to make the proverbial gratitude list – the calling to mind of the things for which we are grateful: the people who matter . . . the events that mark, in good ways, the passage of our time.

This is not that list.

This is the list of the stuff that doesn’t make the usual gratitude list.

This is the list of my own discovering of what has been offered to me in the crap moments.  At its most fundamental level, this is my own declaration that I am grateful to be.  Maybe everyone isn’t.  And maybe that’s okay.  The only walk I have walked is my own, so I cannot say.

Hence, no wisdom is offered here; no greater learning to be sought.  It’s just one woman’s list of the crap and how she’s looked at it and called it, if not good, at least worth remembering.

1. I am grateful (or trying to be) when people are nasty to me – grateful that they feel safe enough with me to show themselves (up to a point).  It’s a gift for another human being to take the mask off and just be their old, hairy, even mean, selves.  Hurts.

2. I am grateful that I am someone content with her own company most days, since I am single.  Better me than someone who isn’t.

3. I am grateful that I do not always get my own way.  My head is big enough without more privilege.

4. I am grateful to walk with the dying.  They teach me things.

5. I am grateful to hate the taste of fish and sea food – at least I’m not depleting the numbers of sea creatures on the planet.

6. I am grateful that I have a big mouth – someone has to say the stuff that needs saying – might as well be me.

7. I am grateful that everyone doesn’t like me – reminds me I’m not all that – and every now and then, reminds me to take a look at me a little closer.

8. I am grateful that I sometimes let people down – reminds me to be forgiving when disappointment comes my way.

9. I am grateful to live in a place where I stand in disagreement with most folks about most things – I love a good argument and if I lived with the like-minded, who would I fight with?

10. I am grateful to have rolled in the mud-ugly of life – I am kinder, gentler, more flexible for it – sometimes.

This is no Pollyanna exercise.  I do not say, nor do I believe that everything happens for a reason or that all will be well in the end.  This is the simple realization that even the crap in my life, whether self-induced or visited upon me by others, has something to offer right in the moment of its happening.  Perhaps it’s a bit Zen, this thinking that the good and the bad can co-exist (whether peacefully or not is beside the point).  I cannot say.

Friday, November 22, 2013

When Heroes Die

What changed
when we relearned
that heroes die too?

That Dallas November
day 5 decades ago
when the magic couple
suddenly weren’t so
magic anymore that
we the people have
spent the time since
disbelieving that anyone
so ordinary, so damned small
as an Oswald could bring
it all to full stop

It takes a conspiracy –
the plan of legions –
it takes a giant to
bring down a giant

doesn’t it?

Apparently not

what changes 
when heroes fall?

The ground underneath
isn’t quite so solid
for if our giants
fall, who are we,
tiny we, to stand?
Where is our ground?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thank a Teacher

My father, Albert Lawrence Pyles (Sonny Boy to those who knew him as a boy – the only ones he would forgive for using the nickname he didn’t much care for as an adult) grew up in Depression and post-Depression rural West Virginia, the oldest of four – bright, on a farm, and dirt poor.

College was not an option in the economic realities of my Dad.  Yet it happened.

Education as a possibility was born in a public education that began with a boy whose father had to get credit to buy him the required shoes to attend school.  That journey was a painful and formative memory for my Dad, as store after store denied the needed buying power against the promise to pay.

At home my Dad read the Bible and the dictionary (the only books in his house) through and through who knows how many times.

Teachers taught him to read.

And teachers in the one-room school house he walked to in the winter coat a neighbor had given him and the teachers in the larger school he moved up to saw something in that bright little mind that they fed and encouraged and made possible for the dream of college to be a reality.

He had the mind and the desire, but those teachers were the ones who shaped that young man into dreaming what his people never could never have dreamed into reality for him.

Teachers got him to apply and paid for the process out of their own pockets.  They helped him do it.  They taught him what he would need to know to succeed in a life of learning.  They thought his poverty did not disqualify him from dreaming big.

So as I sit in my comfortable living room this morning with a Bachelors of Arts, a Doctor of Jurisprudence and a Master of Divinity under my proverbial belt, I know that, but for those women who dedicated themselves to teaching the country children that included my Dad, that thanks is a debt owed; and I am moved to offer them thanks for their service, and thanks to a country that believed (at least then) in public education, for without it, without them, where would I be?

Without teachers that cared for a tiny boy walking his way to what they had to offer . . . without teachers who shared what they knew with a hungry mind . . . without teachers that did not presume his economic poverty did not equate to poverty of mind or spirit . . . without teachers that dared to believe he could go out into the world . . . without them, I would not be here in a very literal sense, for it was in college that my parents met.

So yeah, I don’t just thank teachers.  I adore them.

In my own journey, I remember and thank Miss Taylor in 2nd grade, for taking the mid-year new kid as she was, guiding her in new ways with kindness and patience . . . for Miss Daughterty in 5th grade, the first woman of color I knew well, who managed a class of 50 with humor and skill and the patience of a saint (especially when it came to me) . . . for Mrs. Palmer in 6th grade, who forgave me . . . for Mrs. Davidson in junior high who showed me the world . . . for Mr. Hawkins in high school, who helped me find my voice . . . for Professor Weber, who showed me that learning could be fun . . . for Professor Cleckley in law school, who taught me the importance of genuine justice and to always fight for the people in desperate need of it . . . for Professors Rorem and McKee, who opened the doors of faith and understanding in the present through the lens of the past . . . and for friend and Professor Stu Hammel, who taught me to think and showed me the world and believed that two West Virginia girls could hold their own with the best of the country and in his believing, made it so.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Digging Out the Bullet

Pain – the deep pain
the walking with
every day so much
you almost forget
it’s there – almost –
pain – the hard-shell
part of a past that
can’t bear telling let
alone retelling pain

that pain – bastard
betrayer that it is –
bubbles up out of the
formless void that is
future past
(to borrow from the Moody Blues)
into the now that isn’t hurting
present and stabs its knife
right into the muscle of you
and does not stop

so that you are reduced
(why do tears reduce
rather than enlarge
can someone please tell me?)

because John F. Kennedy died . . .
50 years ago

brings you sobbing bent over

because a son killed
himself after trying to stab
a father along for the ride
50 miles away . . .

brings you screaming your agony
into the loneliness of the space
that surrounds you

because someone looks you in the face
and declares that you are the kind
who tricks and deceives and cheats
your way into advantage
50 gulps of air hence

and you drown
in the shock and awe of it all
as war is declared far too
quickly for you to pull
out your white truce flag
always carried in your back pocket
for just such occasions as this
when one son blends into another
into a president into a child into
a black man into a baptism you
never wanted . . . never – wanted
never but there you are and the
never is now always for this
hurt, these memories, that pain
shall never leave

oh, you’ll carry it better some days
than others, for that is the way of
things – and the calm bit in your
head tells you this is just not a
better day and it too shall pass
and you know it is truth yet it
is no comfort, this knowing
and so you scream – for if you
do not you will go mad
may have already done

and gritting your teeth,
you rip the knife out of your
flesh and slowly stand aright
for that too is the way of things

and even as the scabbing crusty
overlay of time healing crap
lie shit does its work and tries
to call it good, you - wound
gaping for the unseeing world
to see – walk on – what else?

and then you look down and see
the knife in your own hand
and the gaping wound of your
own flesh and the bloody
bullet lying on the ground
and a small grim smile appears
physician healing herself . . . again

maybe God makes you feel better
he’s never done so for me –
all he’s ever done for me
is pick up the pieces
it’s not nothing,
but shit God, I thought you
were a better surgeon than that –
look what you’ve done to my leg

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Words No Words

A student is killed in an ‘altercation’ with a security official on Liberty University’s campus.  Not so far away, a local politician is stabbed and his son is dead.

Details, salacious details, are sure to follow.

Analyses, over-the-counter diagnoses, pieties and impieties will be spoken.

Tear Drop Window, Monument
Valley - photo at Luminous Landscape
Here, in this now, before the storm following the storm of personal tragedy writ large, I sit and wonder with a  friend about all the little things . . . the little problems we call to mind to remind ourselves that our lives aren’t so bad . . . the little things that for some become the big things . . . mounting and mounting until the explosion comes – the small explosions of angry words and harsh judgments or the bigger ones . . . none of them can be taken back, can they?

The writer of that book was wrong I think – that book that told us not to sweat the small stuff and that it’s all small stuff – yeah – I think he might be wrong – I think it might all actually be big stuff.

I have no answers, only questions – and tears.

What do we do to keep the pressures from mounting?

How do we help each other not let the little things pile up?

What does it take to change a course that in hindsight can seem inevitable?

I wish I knew.

Lord, oh Lord, how I wish I knew.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sermon Cliff Note: When Great-Grandpa Steve Was a Boy*

On Luke 21.5ff and the ‘signs of the times’

On September 11, 2001, planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and another crashed by passengers in central Pennsylvania.  It was a beautiful morning.  None of us could scarce believe our eyes.

People seemed to fall from the sky as they jumped from the towers in a vain effort to escape the fires.

I spent the day with a friend waiting to her that her loved ones, working in the Pentagon at the time, survived.  They did.

We spent the next day buying water and needed supplies to be trucked into the City by the local Red Cross.

And then we listened with shock and confusion as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson told us that this had happened to us because of gay people and feminists.

People were babbling.  Some tried to say President Bush orchestrated the whole thing.  Some blamed Iraq, even though not a single Iraqi was on board.

If I had a great-grandpa Steve, it would have reminded me of great-grandpa Steve’s telling of the Great Depression.  Men were jumping from buildings then too.  People were predicting the end of the world then too.

It’s easy to see now, looking back, how it was sure to happen – the Depression – what with so many people investing so crazily, like the stock market was some big casino.  And then there was the drought – 7 years it lasted!

Great-Grandpa Steve said he heard a man talking about it before it happened.  His name was Ludwig vonMises.  But nobody paid any attention to him.  They could have.  And if they had, it might have all been different.  But they didn’t.

There were signs for September 11, too.  But we missed them.  They seem obvious now – they always do in hindsight, don’t they?

That’s what great-grandpa Steve would say, anyhow.  And he should know.  He was there before the first time men jumped from buildings, after all.

So when they come and try to blame you, kids, don’t you worry.  ‘They’ always try to blame someone. . . they always try to say that they saw it coming all along . . . and when it happens, whatever it may be, they’ll always try to blame somebody for it . . . and the day may well come when they’ll try to blame you.

When it’s your turn to get blamed, you just hold your head up high and don’t you fall for it. . . endings always have beginnings, you know.  That’s what great-grandpa Steve said, anyhow. . . yes, there will be wars . . . and rumors about wars to come . . . and droughts . . .  and tsunamis that make it seem like God is at war with planet earth itself . . .

But there will also be men and women who rise up in the midst of all the bad news and proclaim something different . . . you be one of them.

That’s what great-grandpa Steve would tell you, anyway.

*I don't have a great-grandpa Steve - never have had.  This is all in my imagining.  It was one of three parts to today's sermon, meant to convey the futility of searching for the 'signs' (which, have you noticed, are always about gloom and doom?  Where, I ask, is the good news in that?).  The other parts are about what's going on in the biblical text and other September 11's in history.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

About Time

Yesterday I went to see the movie About Time.  I’m not much of a sentimentalist (or maybe I am), but I have always enjoyed and come back to Richard Curtis’ movies (Love Actually and Nottinghill, for example) simply because they’re simply because.

In their simplicity, I find elegance and safety for the exploration of those feelings that poke hard at the heart – love and loss, time passing, chances taken and chances missed – in other words, life in the ordinary trenches rather than the war-gouged ones.  I like that.

So I give About Time a thumbs up, taking away some thoughtful reflection on things that really do matter. . .

About time . . . about second chances . . . remembering that no choice is consequence free . . . coming to the place where there is no turning back . . . making room for the generations . . . the face of grief . . . rewriting the script of our lives if we but could . . . allowing others to live their lives unimpeded by our best intentions . . . learning and relearning that life goes on – and that it should . . . certain days in our lives really were magic . . . even things ‘meant to be’ require work and effort in order to be . . . being alive is being aware . . . there is laughter even in rain . . . who or what is best for us is not always obvious to us . . . the best days are the days you know you’re loved and you love . . . 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Orchestrated Drama*

Orchestrated drama is just that:  orchestrated.  And I don’t know about the rest of my fellow citizens, but I, for one, have no time for it.

Both sides will compromise far too much to suit my personal values and not near enough to suit my practical need to get things done.

It is the real tension of politics.  Always has been, I suspect.

So I can’t hold with the tea-party folk simply because I cannot find my highest good in a fiscal responsibility that will not cut military spending.  Therein lies the lie, at least for me, of the tea-party aims.  Be willing to cut it all, even the part that hurts your felt values, and then we’ll get somewhere.  Until then, go away.

And I can’t hold much with my left-wing progressive friends either, so long as they remain unwilling to talk to the older folk about some sacrifice.  I’m just not willing to carve out one huge segment of the population and say they’re off limits.

If sacrifice is called for, it’s got to be shared, doesn’t it?

That remains my problem with AARP:  acting as if, as an old person, my only interests rest with self.  Don’t my interests also rest in the well-being of the generations?  I like to think so.

So from one citizen whiling her time away in a hospital room sitting with an elderly mother recovering from a car accident, I say, get on with it.  Put it all on the table.  And don’t any of you dare come back to us and speak of sacrifice unless it’s shared and proportional.

It is not the same for a rich man to give up $100 as for a poor man.  Do not insult us by pretending that it is.  Admit that military spending is as much about employment as it is about actual defense of the nation.  Quit trying to scare us.  There is only so safe we will ever be, no matter how many guns we possess.

Treat us like grownups.

*This was written late December, 2012, while I sat in intensive care with my mother (who has recovered amazingly well).  There was yet another looming fiscal crisis.  Now we’ve been given a few months of relative quiet on the fiscal front, as we sit in between one fiscal crisis and the next – a process of intentional delay and failure to address root causes that simply prolongs our inevitabilities.  I don’t know about the rest of the citizenry, but I grow weary of it.

I grow weary of Senators holding the floor of their body hostage to showmanship that accomplishes nothing.

I grow weary of a media that treats me like an idiot.

I grow weary of us as citizens, who apparently are willing to be treated as idiots, buying into the next crazed claim made by our respective partisan champions.

I am citizen and I grow weary.

And I ponder what I can do.  It seems like not much.  But there is one thing I can do – I can make my voice heard.  One voice isn’t much.  But many voices matter (in our time, they’re called opinion polls and we have become a nation that now governs by opinion polls, more’s the pity).

So one thing I am going to do is post to my own FB page what I, as a citizen, am willing to sacrifice in order to help get our fiscal house in order.

This is how it will read: “I am a citizen of the United States.  I am 58 years old.  In order to help resolve the fiscal crisis of my country and as one who will receive top-tier social security benefits at retirement, I am willing to have my social security benefits cut by 10% (it’s an arbitrary figure – I’d take a bigger cut if that’s what’s needed) in order to help preserve this system for those who come after me.  What are you willing to do?”

Maybe, just maybe, this way, we can come up with some good ideas and let our elected officials know by those nefarious polls that it isn’t political suicide to have sacrifice – it’s just that the sacrifice has to (1) have actual results and (2) be fair.  In other words, if you’re going to cut something like social security, you darned better well cut military spending, corporate subsidies, and other big-ticket items too.

How else do we even begin to look into the faces of folks whose SNAP (food stamp) benefits have been cut?  A woman I know has had hers cut from $16 to $15 per month; another with a family of 4 from $120 to $80.

I can afford the cut.  They can’t.  Cutting their benefits isn’t wisdom.  It’s scandal.  Enough.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Signs of the Peaceable Kingdom

This Sunday’s lectionary* reading includes a passage from the book of Isaiah in the Hebrew scriptures, which reads in part:  The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox. . . (Isaiah 65.25).

Since the beginning of November, there have been a startling confluence of signs of hope here on planet earth:

Syria  meets the deadline for destruction of its chemical weapons facilities.  Tomorrow is the deadline for destruction of any stockpiles of chemical weapons there.  The civil war continues in Syria, but the threat of chemical weapons usage has been eliminated and for the time being, the possibility of the world being drawn into armed conflict there averted.  Newswire

Israel/Palestine talks limp on and things look bad as Palestinian negotiators resign in face of announced additional Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but Palestinian President Abbas vows the talks will continue with this team or a new one.   Reuters

Congolese Rebels M23 call for a cease fire and negotiations continue in neighboring Uganda.  Again, it’s not a panacea and the motive for the cease-fire probably has as much to do with the recent military successes of the Congo government, but any reprieve to the level of violence in that nation is a good reprieve.   Yahoo 

Colmobian Government and FARC reach a partial accord with on-going talks on the horizon, making the possibility of an end to the world’s longest running civil war a real possibility for the first time in my lifetime.  Bouvier

Iran & Nuclear Capabilities are on the table, with Iran and the United States engaging in direct talks of this kind (which included a phone call between the two nations’ presidents) for the first time since the hostage takings in 1979.  The talks have stalled as parties with multiple and varying interests jockey for position, but it is crucial that we not miss the point that we are talking!  And there is hope.  Reaves

What are good ordinary people to do?  We have no power, no decision-making authority, we people who are not government or private industry leaders.  What can we possibly do?

There are lots of political possibilities, but for now, I leave those to the wiser in such things.

For now, I am focusing on the spiritual dimension to these challenges and I am setting myself to praying . . . specifically . . . continuously . . . concretely . . . for the peaceable kingdom God intends for the world to come into fruition . . . and my prayer goes something like this . . .
God of All Good Who Wills All Good . . . step closer in, I pray . . . keep us no more at arms’ length . . . embrace us like a parent protecting a small child from itself . . . hold us tight into Your love . . . Your ways . . . in this moment of wondrous possibility, open our eyes to Your dreams, Your vision . . . implant Your heart within each and all of us so firmly that we can imagine no other course save Yours . . . still our warring madness . . . help us move from self interest to universal care and concern and action . . . plug our ears against defeatism and the notion that war is the only way . . . unpack our imagination to the large possibilities of Your peace . . . for those who sit down at table together, knit the moments of humor and trust and empathy into a tapestry in which peace holds at the center of all . . . bless the baby steps we make towards peace into something even we could not have imagined . . . unite us around the world in the call to pray, seeking Your wisdom, Your will, Your ways.  Help us all to be brave and do the hard thing of not hitting back.  Help the negotiators to ignore the distraction of those who would subvert their work.  Love us all into Your peace.  Amen.

I wonder what God will do in these hearts, including my own.

Won’t you too join in praying for possibilities we never imagined?

*'lectionary' refers to a 3-year cycle of readings from the Bible in the Christian tradition.  This Sunday's readings include the passage above from Isaiah.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Where the Weather Stops

I live in a
          [if not the]
place where
the weather stops

Top Jack Mountain
one side snow-covered
the other not a speck of white
like a cake for twins
not twin-like at all
with one-half covered in icing
the other just plain

Sit in the chapel on a Sunday
look to the east and see sunshine
look out the west window
and it’s raining

Where does the one stop
and the other begin?
I’m guessing at the crest
of the roof line

but I lack the eyes to see
so clearly that I can know
for sure – all I know is that

here – in this place –
the weather stops
and restarts
and again
and every time
it is surprise

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Would the World Be Better if You Came to My Church?

A little while ago, I wrote 12 Reasons Not to Come to My Church, a slightly tongue-in-cheek piece on all the trendy writing out there on how to get folks into the pews for we churchie-leading types.

I then took a moment to think about the real question -- even framing it was tricky.  Here's the best I could come up with:  would the world be better if you came to my church? (as opposed to some other church or even no church at all, I suppose).

The best answer I came up with?  I don't know.  

Do I want you to come to my church for you or for me?  Truth be told, it’s both, and I’m thinking that’s okay.

I want you here for me because in order to be church, there needs to be people.  It’s really that simple.  When it comes to church, more isn’t always better, but some is always good.  And these days, we’re kind of short on some at my church, so we need you.

But our need of you doesn’t necessarily coincide with your need of us.

But sometimes it does.

I want you to come for me, but I also want you to come for you.


I suppose it’s another pretty simple reason: I love church and it’s been good to and for me and I want to share that with you.

It’s not magic and it sure ain’t Candyland.  But there’s enough good here to want to share.

I hope you’ll come, or at least come by.

*I know I left out the God part, but really, can't we take God as a given, just this once?  It is church we're talking about, after all.

Monday, November 11, 2013

UnSpiritual Spiritual Disciplines 2.0

A little while ago, I posted 10 Unspiritual Spiritual Disciplines.  As I looked them over, it struck me that what I had written was a dead give away that I am no longer young.  I like what I said, but what I said speaks, I suspect, more to my older than my younger self.

So I set about to think on my younger self in a spiritual way, wondering what advice I might give to younger Me, the hipper, cooler gal I used to be (or thought I was).

Here’s what I came up with – 10 UnSpiritual Spiritual Disciplines 2.0 – the younger, cooler version of the original:

1. Text like God’s reading it.

2. If you’re texting or surfing, include the person beside you, whether friend or stranger, in the conversation.

3. Send an inspiring, encouraging text to someone today and every day.

4. Thank God with every sip, every taste of that beer.

5. While watching the game, offer silent or spoken blessings for the players, the refs, the crowd.  And wonder what kind of game God would invent – how would the scoring go?  Who would be chosen for the team?  What would the purpose of the game be?

6. When you’re out eating, share your food with each other.  As you eat, think of it as communion.  Notice what changes when you do.

7. Decide that just for today, every time your kid speaks to you, you’re going to understand that this is God speaking to you and give your child the same attention you would give as if it were God speaking to you.

8. When you have sex, enter the experience as a child of God who has been gifted by God with the ability to experience all the senses your body intertwined with the body of another has to give.

9. Bless every person, every situation, you encounter while doing your work today.  Be specific in your blessing.  Can’t think of anything?  Then try blessing them with the things you want in your own life – happy family, good job, joy in the work, rest, no debts, freedom from worry, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, safe children – you get the picture.

10. Practice patience with those around you who don’t get you – your look, your way, your tech savvy, your music, your you-ness.  Instead of returning judgment for judgment, try returning patience, humor and understanding for judgment – just as an experiment – see where it takes you.  Might be fun.  Might be a surprise.  You’ll sure feel better for it.  Promise.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sermon Cliff Note: Luke 20.27-38 & The Case for Resurrection

Sermon Cliff Note

The short version of the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Sadducees goes like this: Sadducees: is there a resurrection?  Jesus: Yes.


A Modern-Day Parable: Happy Aunt Gladys

Aunt Gladys is a family member we all love to talk about – the one with all those husbands!  She’s always so sure this one will be even better than the last.

But Aunt Gladys is not getting any younger, and this husband hopping has to stop.  Otherwise, we’ll be the ones taking care of her in her old age!

So we invite Aunt Gladys to a party and secretly invite all her exes, with the idea that we’ll make her choose one of them.

The day of the party, we’re all a bit nervous.  Have we overstepped?  Will the husbands show up?  Our plan depends on them showing up!

Not to worry – every thing goes smoothly – and as Gladys enters the hall, there are all the husbands, dressed in their very best.

They line up according to when they were married to Gladys as if by some silent agreement amongst themselves; and Gladys, with delight on her face, walks the line, greeting each of them with a kiss and a warm embrace.

        The party is a huge success.  Gladys is positively radiant.  She laughs at all their jokes, pats their hands, and generally has a good time.

At the end of the evening, we gather round, awaiting Aunt Gladys’ decision.  We each have our own odds-on favorite and a few of us have even started a betting pool.

Impatient to be done with it, Gladys’ twin sister Alice breaks the bubble: So, Gladys, who’s it to be?  Choose!

Why, darlings, of course, I chose them all. . . but today, I choose . . . well, today, I choose not to choose.


Commentary: Is There a Heaven?

Just by asking their question, we learn much about the Sadducees.  

We learn that they’re guys – only a guy would think this is a problem.  A woman thinking that she might have seven husbands to choose from would not think it a problem.

We learn that the Sadducees just cannot believe in a heaven that is not a mirror of earth.

But the fundamental question remains: is there a heaven?  Assumed in the question is this: if there is such a thing as heaven, then we should be able to know what it ‘is’, or at least, what it is ‘like’.

Jesus gives the Sadducees an answer they can hold on to for the ‘is-ness’ of heaven while refusing to give them an answer for the details.

Sadducees only relied on the first five books of the Bible – the Torah. For them, if it wasn’t in the first five books, it didn’t count.

Knowing this, Jesus reminds them of God’s statement to Moses at the burning bush found at Exodus 3.6: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. . . God does not say I was . . . but rather, I am . . .

Jesus’ point is simple (perhaps the only time Jesus offers a grammar lesson):  when God spoke to Moses, God was speaking not only of God’s self, but also of the ancestors, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the present tense.  They all live.

There, says Jesus, is your ‘evidence’ for the resurrection, for the God-promise of life beyond death.

The Sadducees don’t get the answer they seek, but they get the answer they need.

That’s how it is with Jesus.

When it comes to heaven and what it’s ‘like’, the best answer I know is that it is a mystery.  We know that it is, but we do not know what it is like, for it is a far country.

And that’s okay.


A Dotty Ditty

the wife is the wife
the husbands are husbands
and no one in heaven cares
not even a little
for there is not here
and here not there
and there is no tween
nor twain

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Quilt-Making God

Quilt-making God
who covers me with
a warmth I can scarce
take in with its complete
and completing embracing
of all found lying under these
many covers and layers

imagine how surprised I am
to find that You are there –
one of the layers, if not all
of them – embracing
and warming to
and uncovering

the all
of everything

in every stitch
we are made
and undone

in every pattern
we are found
and put in our place
[not in a bad way]

in every layer of the quilt
You have made 
and make
that is You

there are we
a part of the 
the texture
of You

Last night I slept on the couch under the quilt I made when I was 18 or so for my parents’ wedding anniversary.  I have it now for some necessary repairs, which I’ve been slow to make.  I think I just like having it here, as I find myself thinking that I need more quilts.  There is no warmth, no comfort, like lying under the covering made so lovingly, stitch by stitch, by beloved human hands – save God.  For me, God’s love is much like that quilt, made with a thousand hands from the past guiding my inept fingers in the ways they should go.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Communication is fundamental to my line of work.  Always has been.  And I happen to think I’m pretty good at it – most of the time.

But every now and then, I get it oh, so wrong – or someone else does – usually results in laughs (although not always).

A funny one happened when my son called to brag a bit about his son’s school progress and goals scored in soccer.

We both ooohed and aaahed appropriately.  Then Ben told me the parents had taken Rowen to Toys R Us to get a prize for doing so well in school.

I then asked, what did he get? to which Ben replied, Ma, they don’t do grades at this age; it’s all different now.  (Son loves to remind Mom that things have changed since dinosaur-roaming days when she was in school).

But this was one of those miscommunication moments, as I clarified, Not his report card – what did he pick out for his toy?

This Gran is always more interested in the toys, the bling, the celebration.

We laughed, son (so serious as a parent now himself) and I, at the crossed ships (although there was no night) – even more with the answer: Rowen picked out a garbage truck.

I love that boy’s sensibilities.  And that’s why I always want to know not what happened to him, but what he did about it.  It’s always a surprise.  And who doesn’t love a surprise?

And so I remain (at least in my own head) Miss Communication.

(There really should be a prize for that too.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I am thinking that we should all be required (by common consent) to wear our disclaimers – the things others should just know about us in navigating our common lives together.

I remember an older gentleman I came to know years ago at church.

For many months, all I knew was his face, which wore a perpetual scowl, so that when I was called to serve on a committee with him, I was a bit scared, really, of this always-angry man.

As we sat and served together, he smiled – often – and the scowl disappeared and I suddenly realized one day that what I had taken for a scowl was simply gravity: as we get older, the skin on our faces (and other places) draws ever downward, so that in repose, we can look like the angriest people you’ll ever meet.

So in my friend’s case, a little sign would have handily resolved things:

I’m not scowling
my face is just falling

In my own case, there are a few that would probably be quite helpful, especially to the folks who are seeking out the pastor in me:

I hear you 
it may not seem
like I’m listening
but I am


I’m confident
that doesn’t mean
I’m always right
and I don’t think I am
(always right)
I just know what I think
and I express that with confidence
doesn’t mean I won’t listen to you
doesn’t mean my mind can’t be changed


Just because I’m confident
doesn’t mean I’m not
scared of spiders

I could go on, but I am confident that there are a whole host of disclaiming signs that would be helpful to folk when we meet, sort of footnotes of explanation to what they’re seeing and experiencing of me, for the confidence without the commentary is, I suspect, just irritating.

So please remember when we meet, the fact that I’m confident doesn’t mean I think I know it all.  It just means I know me.

There’s my disclaimer.

What’s yours?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Silly Bird

Sitting in the gathering space of the retreat center in the daylight hours, we marvel at the incessant tapping.

Surrounded by windows on all sides, it’s a bit disconcerting, until Christina deduces the cause: a small mockingbird is trying to get in.

Why he would want to get in remains a mystery.

One does not usually credit birds with strategic capabilities navigating ingress and egress.  Nor do we often think of birds choosing where they want to be based on color and beauty.

But this bird goes from window to window to door to window, proceeding around the circle of the windows and doors, methodically seeking entre, always denied yet undeterred.

This morning, we all sit enjoying a leisurely breakfast, when we’re interrupted by a light tapping.

He’s back.

He’s like the postal service, this guy – unstoppable by small things like night and double-paned glass, he continues his tapping, confident that he will find the way in.

He is, after all, determined.

Silly bird.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Always There

On retreat, I study from outside in the darkness of a cold fall night the backlit by effect wooden carved plaque of the well-known scene – Jesus and his followers.

It too is night, although you wouldn’t know it from the carving.

It is the last night.  It’s supper time.

And there he is – unknown among the 12 – he is always there – Judas.

He is always there.

As I spy inward through the glass, that is the thought that lingers.

Judas is always there.

It is a present-tense thing, isn’t it?

Whenever we gather, there is the reminder of the perpetual presence of the saints, the communion that exceeds time and space and bids all enter, bids all welcome.

If he is always there, then is he not always here?

And if he is, is that not a sign of enormous hope?

I think so.

The God of the present tense stands, sits, reclines, into all our presents and bids us welcome and we are always there – there, at the beckoning place – present in The Presence.

It argues, I think, for grace possibilities beyond my imagining.

And I am awed.

He is always there.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ode to a Black Walnut

well, not an ode, really
just a paean of praise
to that uniquely american
taste – robust says wiki
that probably says it best

the experts say to husk
when green but we always
waited til the husks
blackened laid out
on newspapers in the 
garage where it was
cool and dark

picking up from the ground
sometimes we’d husk
them on the spot
and child me luxuriated
in the brown stain that
proved me a worker
for weeks and weeks
beyond the single trek
into the woods that
was walnut time

with peanut butter fudge
chocolate ice cream
chocolate chip cookies

the english walnuts
give texture but precious
little flavor

but oh the black walnut
how it bites on the tongue
like the best Scotch 
if Scotch came in a hard
shell encased in a soft husk
the sensation sharp and clear
they taste of fall

I miss Don
he took me to all the special
places here for nuts fresh-fallen
introducing me along the way
as we trespassed by invitation-only
for Don, who walked every 
square inch of this place he could
and shared with novices like me
the eager teacher in him finding
the eager student in me

but without Don’s entre 
and lacking the skill or tools
of a good cracker, I buy
mine now from the old
ladies – somehow they’re 
the best crackers – I wonder if
it’s to do with patience?

And they too become part of the 
fall-scape – along with the 
nuts on the ground so tempting
I want to pull my car over
and pick them up from the road

and the wallers made by bears
luxuriating in the early berries
long moved on now towards
winter leaving behind the
evidence of their joy

black bears and blackened leaves
and black walnuts, now that Don
is here no more, all bespeak
fall to me 
for although Don left us in summer
it is right somehow that his Gloria
left in the fall
for that is where he would be waiting
a few nuts in his pockets and a 
smile on his face

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sermon Cliff Note: What to do with Uncle Zac?

SCRIPTURE: Luke 19.1-10

Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.

Zacchaeus too, is family.  But which family?

Maybe he’s the rich uncle everybody loves for the lavish presents he brings, but don’t want to see out in public because of all the suspicions about exactly how he has all that money – the guy we love as kids but cringe to know as adults.

He’s the one who never comes to church with us when he visits, always vaguely saying maybe some other time . . . I’ve really got to be going now . . .

Good ol’ Uncle Zac knows even more than we do as to why the likes of him should never darken the doors of the church . . . he already knows why he won’t be welcome there.

Yeah, he’s that guy.  His gospel is not good news.  It’s no gospel at all.  And no wonder, for he is who he is. . . and we are not.

So it is that the family crowd gathers on the streets leaving Uncle Zac behind sitting alone in the living room, no one bothering to explain to him all the fuss . . . but he’s listening – Uncle Zac always hears . . . and he wants to see as much as we do.

He runs outside, but forgetting him, we press in tighter together, leaving no room for Uncle Zac.

So he does a strange thing – something he’s never done before – something he probably can’t even explain to himself – he climbs a tree so that he too can see.

This grown man, known to us all our lives, climbs a tree and still we do not see him.

But Jesus does.

And in seeing Uncle Zac, Jesus changes him.

Uncle Zac didn’t get sorry to climb that tree – he got curious.  Even his meager curiosity was enough for Jesus, who takes the slightest crumb of our being and changes us into something spectacular:  he makes us beloved . . . he makes us welcome.

Jesus went to Zaccheaus’ house to stay – it’s worth remembering that hospitality is as much about receiving as it is about giving – we do no favors to another by having them to our home when we refuse to enter theirs.

Jesus was known not for who he invited to supper, but who invited him.  He makes them special simply by saying yes.  Accepting their invitations, he accepts them.

They are exactly who we think they are.  Uncle Zac was everything we thought he was.

But he was something else too: he was a child of Abraham.  Family matters.  He didn’t stop being family because he was bad, but we treated him as if he wasn’t family anymore.  We treated him like a stranger – like someone you have to be nice to because hospitality requires it.  We grudgingly let him come to our house, but we would never, never, never, darken the door of his.

Jesus’ answer to that kind of piety is the unspoken but sure reprimand:  shame on you.

Jesus is in the eye-opening business.

All he’s ever wanted from his followers when it comes to others is for us to see them as the family they are – beloved children . . .  just like us.

Is that so much to ask?

Uncle Zac, come on down now.  Let’s go to your house, okay?  Let’s hang out there on the porch.  Maybe that Jesus fellow will come and join us.  What do you say, Uncle Zac?  Won’t you come down, now?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

10 Unspiritual Spiritual Disciplines

Here are some random ideas (probably none of them original to me) about combining prayer with physical
activity, to integrate prayer – for self, for others, for connecting with God ever more – into the molecules of our being.

Blessing is my favored form of intercessory prayer – the sending out of God’s beneficence to others, particularly the random passer-by, for I never know how, when or where these blessings land, but I imagine them, somehow, making a difference in a day.

These practices are not meditation.  They are not an effort to seek to distance ourselves from our bodies, for I firmly believe that we are our bodies, our bodies us.

There’s plenty of advice out there on the how to’s of silence and meditation, connecting to God by leaving self and world behind.

These are not those prayers, those disciplines.

The purpose here is not to seek God away from the world, but in it; not as separated from creation, but of it.  This is not about rising up, but about sinking into.  This is about meeting, not finding, God, in the day-to-day of life.

1. Take a walk – just about anywhere will do.  But do it as a spiritual walk.  That’s what I like about labyrinths – it’s an intentional walk of the spiritual kind that frees the mind from having to decide where to go next.  This kind of walking is about the noticing – so it’s heads up, offering ‘up’ kind of walking.  And almost any day is a beautiful day for it.

2. Pray-bless passers-by.  Whether walking or driving, with each passer-by, offer a silent blessing.  Start out simply by saying ‘God bless you’ and see where it takes you.  I did this as a discipline for some time with a small group I belong to.  I did it while driving.  And the strangest thing began to happen – I could not even see the folks speeding by in the other cars, but my blessings began to be very specific – usually one word – health . . . joy . . . peace . . . care . . . healing . . . safety . . . humor . . . the words were unbidden.  I do not know what blessings landed, but I do know they were Spirit-given and Spirit-driven.

3. Dance.  Dance your joys and sorrows to God.  Get the feet moving and somehow, the heart follows.

4. Begin your prayers as well as your day with a smile and see what a difference it makes.

5. Sing your prayers.  Put them to any tune you like but at least once, try to singing them to a song that makes you happy just to hear it.  Maybe you can then imagine God happy to hear from you.

6. Make a gratitude list about your body.  We are embodied creatures – we were made that way on purpose.  There is no me separate from my body.  Lips for kissing and arms for hugging can be a good place to begin.

7. The next time you have a meeting, go early, before anyone arrives, and walk the space putting your hands on the chairs assembled and ask blessings for all who will be sitting there and the work you will be doing (don’t forget yourself in the blessing).

8. Go back to childhood and make your cards for folks by hand, offering blessings as you do – for the one who will get the card, for the one making it, for those who made paper and crayons, markers and colored pencils so you could.  (It’s always a nice practice to remember to bless those who bring you the materials you’re working with.)

9. Try doing a set prayer you know (Lord’s Prayer, rosary, Now I lay me . . . ) over and over as you engage in physical activity or labor – to the rhythm of the saw as you cut the wood . . . to the washing of the dish . . . the turn of the wrench . . . you don’t have to think much to do a memorized prayer and the rhythm of the work sets the rhythm of the prayer and the rhythm of the prayer sets the rhythm of the work.

10. Imagine that everything you do today is a form of prayer.  Reflect on what you prayed today by reflecting on what you did and said and thought.  Answer the questions that arise out loud.  Yes, God, I really did ask You to throw that person in the trash.  I really did want the gift of this day so I could watch people make asses of themselves on reality tv.  I did just ask the angel chorus of heaven to join me in screaming at that driver.  How cool is it that You and I got to help that little old lady?  I’m so glad I called her today – who knows when I might get another chance?  Whether your answers are laughter or shame, sorrow or joy, speak them aloud, so that you may hear with the ears God gave you what God has been listening to all day long.

Our lives actually are our prayers.

Maybe this list can help us remember.

Friday, November 1, 2013

For All the Saints

I met the great cloud
one Easter Sunday long ago
as the old man retired
came to preside at the table
I not yet official enough
not yet seasoned enough
not yet ready enough
to do – word proclaiming
is one thing – table serving
quite another

and with a bit of a shaky hand
and tremulous voice
he told of his anticipation
standing there every time
where he was sure his
mother and sister
long gone from earthly things
would be – waiting – for him

and they would dine together
as they used to do

I have never forgotten
that moment when – in
story-telling – the table
came alive for me

and I knew so many already
there I was so glad to meet
again and better here
at this table where
we could meet when
on the same side of the veil
we so often could not

and I was glad