Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday - Unconditional

The only realms of existence
Even open to the idea of unconditional
Are love and fake physics
We all remember those days
In senseless High School
Where some ageless science teacher
Had you skating around on frictionless surfaces
So that the equations were "easy"
And completely unconditional 
Remember there's no wind friction in the void
These days you wonder what happens
To the length of years
Totally reconditioning your mind
Into a jaded maze
Where was innocence lost
On the sidelines of growing up
In the learning of lessons unfit for respect
And the shaking off of the idea
That all love is unconditional
Left behind as dried old rattlesnake skin
Waiting for its resurrection day

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday - Others

There are so many struggles
man against man, man against God
man against himself - a total of three
but oh the variations on the theme
we are so very good at imitating
and we learn from the best
our ancestors our society
parroting the us versus them
the subconscious subliminal messages
that we don't even realize exist
the conversation around privilege
around race, poverty, hunger
shows the deeper disconnection of fear
look at the parents all huddled in groups
finding like minded definitions of yore
as the children unbiased and unformed
skip about with everyone with joy

Repentance takes Time and Tending

February 28th

Luke 13:1-9

Heavenly Father, who tends us as a gardener tending his flowers, help us to recognize

the time and tending that you have given us to heal, repent, and grow into the fullness

of who you are calling us to be, through your Word, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the

power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

The Greek Philosopher Epictetus said, “No greater thing is created suddenly, any more

than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that

there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”

In the first part of the gospel passage today, the people listening to Jesus,

including us are given a charge: Repent. It's an unsurprising charge for us, there

is precedent after all, years of prophets, John the Baptist calling out, the tradition

of repentance and penance of Lent. We are called over and over again to

repentance, but it seems that we keep needing the reminder. Perhaps we just

aren't that good at changing our habits.

Those asking him what the people who were killed did was a question of self

preservation. What did they do that they deserved what happened and how can

we avoid it? Jesus tells them that what happened to them wasn't their fault, but

he continues with the charge to repent, to turn around, to return to God. Because

when you're in a deep relationship with God, you aren't worried about self

preservation. Jesus tells them multiple times to repent.

Luckily Jesus doesn't only call for repentance. He also answers the unasked

question of how to repent. Jesus answers this unasked question in the parable

that follows his call for repentance. As a good joke ends with the punch line, this

parable ends with the important line, (Luke 13:9) “[The gardener] replied, 'Sir, let

it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears

fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'" The gardener in

the parable suggests two things for this fig tree that is not in a good relationship

with the owner: time and tending.

I think Jesus answers the question of how do we repent and return to God

through this parable by telling us that repentance takes time and tending.

Repentance takes time to confess what has gone wrong and to make amends.

Confession and reconciliation is a  process and not just a one-time thing. This is

part of the reason we make confession and absolution a regular part of our

communal worship. Part of the reason is certainly that we keep making mistakes

over and over again and we need to confess them over and over again, but

sometimes we need to confess the same sin multiple times before we are able to

make any changes. To repent means to turn around, but when we turn around,

we still have to move in the other direction. We can turn around all we like, but if

we don't move forward, we are in the same spot that we were before. If you've

ever been driving somewhere and made a wrong turn, you know this well. When

you have gone down a wrong road, you have to turn around and go back. Just

because you've realized you made a wrong turn and turned around doesn't mean

you are back where you made the mistake. And all that turning around and

driving back to where you messed up takes time. Repentance takes time. It

doesn't happen automatically even if we want it to. It takes time to recover what

was lost in the wrong direction.

This is part of the reason we have the season of Lent. There are many reasons for

this season, but one of the very well known facts about human beings is that we

know it takes time for us to change our habits, to rebuild relationships that have

gone awry. Part of our Lent tradition and practice in the church is to give

something up or take something on to bring us closer to God and we know, even

if we don't always want to admit it, that in order for us to learn from our

experience we have to have time for it to sink in. Lent is a season of penance

because penance truly is in some ways a wonderful thing. Penance, the work of

repenting, confessing, and doing works to rebuild what we have messed up moves

us beyond confession. Penance is what moves us forward to renewed

relationships once we have turned around. And while this takes time, and we

have given ourselves 40 days of Lent for this time, it also takes some serious

tending. We say that time heals all wounds, but I say, time heals all wounds only

if they are tended because otherwise they fester, and that is not what we want.

The gardener in Jesus' parable today doesn't just suggest another year of time to

wait for the fig tree to produce fruit. No, the gardener also suggests some serious

work and effort on his part in tending the tree. He plans on digging around the

tree and adding manure to fertilize and give the tree nutrients. But if you've ever

done any gardening at all, you know that this takes some muscle work, some

elbow grease. You have to haul the manure or fertilizer and it doesn't smell pretty

and you have to dig in the soil. The process takes time, yes, but it also takes the

work and effort of tending.

For us, there are many ways in which we have to tend ourselves in order to repent

and return to God. We have to put work and effort, elbow grease, into rebuilding

our relationships. As Josh called us to clean out our closets, physical and spiritual

and emotional, on Ash Wednesday, we have to put in the work of sorting through

everything that has piled up in those closets. It's not enough to take everything

out and leave it lying all over the room. We have to sort through it, figure out

what we actually need, or want, figure out what can be thrown out or recycled or

if someone else we knows needs it.

Thankfully for us, God does most of our tending for us. He gives us everything we

need around us to grow. God gives us the fertilizer, and some of it stinks just as

much as manure, that gives us the nutrients we need. God makes sure that it

rains on us and water us. God makes sure that we get the sunlight we need to

blossom and grow. But as much as that gardener in the parable acknowledges,

even with all of the right time and tending, the tree still may not grow. The tree

may not take in any of the nutrients it needs, even though they have been given.

Even though God tends us and gives us everything we need to grow and bear

fruit, we may decide not to take any of it in. We may decide not to grow or bear

fruit. God gives us that choice as well. All the while, God waits and tends us.

God is patient. God gives us the tending, the pruning, the time, the grace, to

repent, to return, to grow, to clean out our closets, to drive back the way we went

in the wrong direction. God is patient, giving us the time to work through

confession and reconciliation, forgiving us at every turn.

Gracefully, God will wait a long time, but our hope is that the waiting and tending

doesn't last forever. There comes a time when the fig tree blooms and Lent erupts into

Easter. When the closet will be clean, when broken relationships have healed, and if we

have taken in all the time and tending we need, we will be able to rejoice, eat our figs,

enjoy our renewed relationships, show off our clean closets, and celebrate the joy of

knowing God's love for us.

God is patient and gives us all we need and for this we say thanks be to God!


Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday - Nurture

Nature or nurture is a question
Only worth asking given its fallacy
Dichotomies are lies in a gradient of colors
Nature and nurture work together

A melody that makes good use of dissonance
Within its intricate staves are parts
Unheard by human ears at decibels
Not understood by time's conniving fingers

Let us soak in nature's nurturing
The salt, herbs, bacterias, aculturing weathers
That bind us to our place as generations
Make their home in the grasp of befriending land

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday - Imagine

The lazy lidded moon staring
At Malala the Riveter
Attempting to tell the world
Far beyond the blank minds
Of broken long-houred workers
That power lies in the imagination
In intuition and equilibrium 
Integrity and identity
Can you answer truthfully
When they call your name
Do you claim the inherent authority
For the light of day can be as dark
As the street of hell God walks down
Wishing to comfort the sufferers
Where you hear Him whispering
Don't stop imagining something better
My gift will be beyond all measure 
Hope like despair could eat you up
But the day that you do
Is truly the day that you die 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday - Creative

Sometimes it is in the rigid boundaries set for us that we find the most freedom. I am not unaware of the irony of the set of haiku I wrote tonight about the word creative:

What scares the public
Threatens the communal mind

Conformity is
Not the answer to our ease
It is undefined

Labels do not make 
Happy and healthy home lives
Daring greatly does

Haiku are rigid
Creativity within
Blooming green lilacs

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday - Weakness

Today I wrote two it seems. Sometimes this poetry thing is quite a surprise to me. 

Mr. Cohen had a point
When he sang that cracks
Are how the light gets in
Cracks are also how we can hear the waves
Of music wobbling through
Down the time soaked corridors
From when you and I tried to fathom
How we could be alone together
And feel a wholeness we did not know
How it pains me to admit
My weakness as my strength
My heart still seeks to love
Despite the world's greatest efforts
Though we strive perfection's way
We rebel with honest integrity
And the idiocyncracies of each machine
Reminding us of imperfection's endearing qualities 

Love is a crack we were not meant to find
Without the maturity to understand
Yet who could understand the holy trinity 
Of faith and hope and love divine 
Without the immaturity of time
We grow more intricate, every passing thought
Making what is solid impermeable 
Giving light a third quality, white
the culmination of all the colors, joy 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday - Change

even Merriam-Webster has like eight definitions 
for that tiny transition 'so'
not that it matters the world isn't paying attention
to the forgotten tension 
and those of us who live here watching 
the people and the watchers
slowly dancing a conglomerate of styles in improv hell
we notice what everyone has hidden
locked away in overflowing closets splattering the pavement
walk through your house
listen, read the signs, what does it say about you
to those who simply visit
have you changed from instinctual animal dependent 
or did the daisy petals land
on 'he loves me not' and thus you stayed like so

the season of blooming is waiting

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday - Self

The schools of birds swoop and dive
crisscrossing into and out of and through each other

and the children never notice caught up
they are in the balls and each other playing

games are all afoot they don't even know another's name
but of what importance are names to those who do not know and fun

calls to you and joy and delight dance with you
yet you barely know your self to be

dancing! The birds are dancing overhead.
The adults are sitting along the sides

trying hard not to ponder life's greatest mysteries
despite being faced with them so clearly, dearly

why does being self conscious mean knowing
others are watching you and not that you know your self

because two separate things are being awkwardly uncomfortable
always seeking outside validation for your self

and being free to swoop like a bird so easily
conscious of your self as simply enough

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturday - Renew

The Problem of Renewal
Otherwise known as Surrender

The brownness of the fields and the grayness of the sky
lack the vibrancy of real color
fading purposeless expanses of God's earth
wishing for a second chance revival

the inner dark abyss scaring all those who know themselves cowards
chasing every scared mask wearing party lover
yet never moving anywhere because it lurks inside as real being
wishing for a second chance revival

the bent up beat up broken down body waster
lying drunk on the cracked curb of Bourbon Street
among the litter of the bedazzled fiberglass parade
wishing for a second chance revival

wishing for a second chance revival
escapism born of broken armor lacking luster
the choice is known and still avoided
being a human renewed is vulnerability unconquerable


being a human renewed is vulnerability unconquerable
because the dream and wish are quite the same
to be a being fully worth being and known
requires letting vulnerability to conquer

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday - Practice

I am well practiced at the Art 
Of walking around in the dark
Watching the possibilities of the day
Dissipate as so much summer heat
Rising off the blackened road
And the coolness of the night sink in
While gazing into other people's lives
Seeing minute differences that gather questions 
In the questioning of the back of the mind
Am I happy the way I live
Should I be storing my clothes in other ways
And I, I, who have hated every moment
Every breath and fiber of my life
Am now punch drunk in love
With every question every dirty dish 
Polluting my kitchen sink with requirements
And every silly random act of kindness along the way
Reminding me of my mother's saying
Practice does not make perfect
Only perfect practice could make perfect and we are everything but perfect
But as the moon rises to greet us
Those who pay attention to its quirky smiles
And I giggle about trying to find the one mistake 
In every Turkish rug hand-lovingly-made
The wind sighs and whispers
It does not matter that perfect we cannot be
We have love to practice and to share

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday - Weed, Tend, Move Closer

A walled enclosure marking space apart
Us versus them in concrete form
Hiding all those things we are hoping to forget
Yet when we come up barren, 
lacking fruit, leaves, or berries, nothing to lend us praise
We come to sorrow we tear our wounds
And grieve in loud estate

Giving up on the weeds is the biggest mistake
Time heals all wounds... when they are tended
Cared for, cleaned, and bandaged against the rot
Ever creeping closer to becoming a person
We grasp waiting but waiting needs to be let go
For that joy-filled love-steeped quiet moment
When waiting is overcome

I was thinking about the story of the fig tree in Luke 13 and the different ways we can put ourselves in that parable. If we think of ourselves as the tree, we can see that others can get frustrated that gifts we have are not bearing fruit (parent/teacher-child relationships). If Jesus is then the gardener that wants to give more tending, then it seems to say that sometimes we need tending with manure in order to grow, we need to tend, to be tended, with the suckiest parts of our lives because that is how we grow and bear fruit. Gardeners use manure because it has lots of nutrients. What are the nutrients in the hardest places of our lives helping us to grow? 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wednesday - Relationship+

Today is an overflowing day. The price you pay is willingly reading more questionable poetry. 

A bar of soap is slippery
and always slightly undefined
When cut it is as designed 
sharp edges holding shape
But the only way it stays
Is packaged on the shelf 

Once taken out 
It immediately is eaten
By the water and the grime
Giving it it's very purpose meaning
From time to time we fancy ourselves
In need of punishment 
Distastefully reminding us 
Of simpler days

Soap is of necessity 
It's basic principal 
Cannot be held by human hands
We feel drawn
To dirt to mess to wayside train wrecks
Barely pulling ourselves away
Peace as soap
Stands no chance

Nuclear Fusion
Ah! The bitter ripples of the fountain pond
Gleaming in the midnight's unnatural glow
We missed the chain reaction of water into snow 
Changing all that of which we were fond

Our identity
A beloved child of God
See God has no taste

We wish special we
Forgetting we know of grace
Relationship is

"I made eyes to see
You forget to open them
My beloved love"

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday - Daily

we are as intricate and as simple
as the Celtic knotted cross on the wall
we are as normal
as the daily habits of brushing teeth and flushing toilets
we are passing away each day
never to be returned and never to be seen again
almost forgotten in the sands of time
as someone in the normal rush of life
for there is nothing that cannot be forgotten
and there is nothing that should be forgotten
every joy, every sorrow,
every mishap and quirk
is the artistry of a world more diverse
than one can ever imagine
we live in houses we cannot explain
yet we take it all for granted
granite counter tops quarried from who knows where in this world
built of stone which has lived for ages in the depths of vast material
countless rows of atoms compressed and polished and gleamed
into a surface barely noticed on the way through the kitchen hoping for a snack
this is the world at your finger tips
woven into the lives of those you have not met
daily striving
same as you
to be loved

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday - Aware

The clouds were very fluffy today
Hovering high above the sleepers below
Of the two million in this bustling city
How many noticed the perfect shape
Of today's cotton clouds?

My thoughts were very positive today
Bouncy excited scheming fellows
Urging me into action unplanned but joyful 
Did you take note to the tune and melody
Playing in your head?

We think in terms of space and transparency
Between you and me there is nothing
But air - zooming molecules changing pattern
What else lies unseen between the seconds of the clock
Were you aware?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday - Consider

Where were you ten years ago?
Consider all the decisions
Bringing you to this opportune moment
Not just the questions of grand repose
Of where to live and what to do
But each precious second's investment
Are your bananas organic - when was
The last potassium rich fruit you consumed 
Hanging ripening in community?
Consider the lilies of the field
And in consideration realize you've never
Never seen lilies in a field - a pond, a shop, a vase
But never in an open field, what else?
What else do you know so deeply 
There are imprints on your heart
But have never truly seen - reality
Changing our considerations
With an awareness of another side of life

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saturday - Seeds

Resurrection is part of a seed's life cycle
Growing to the song of special tending
Nature, nurture, yes, we adapt to circumstance
Knowing that what is born of unseen seeds
Is not our own but God's, for what can we claim 
When the cause was tangential to another era
Bygone, barely remembered, yet taking root
Sustained in soil we cannot admit - lest
By some completed accident we see ourselves
Fully as we were made to be in that celestial mirror
And upon seeing, change, accepting not society
Nor our pricey educational mores but truth
And upon waking step beyond into life

*I am very sorry that SSJE isn't actually doing the word of the day now because of their focus on the rule of life for Lent. However, I am still taking the word of the day for my poetry from their daily devotion. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday - Connect

All the dots unnumbered
Making what could be ordered
A beautiful pattern of color and light
Chaos and confusion
Unknowable in full, lacking definition
With softened eye and open heart
The unfathomable unrelated
Becomes a window letting through
That which is unseen deep within
Momentary connection, reconnection
The butterfly wings of elapsed present moments 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thursday - Nature

The nature of a building lies within its structure
The outside will only share so much
Of what lies between the floor plans' many layers
While every building is unique
Despite the cookie cutter rows
We make nothing perfectly the same
In the end it can be gutted and recycled
But we cannot
Our nature lies not within our floor plan grand
Even with our many varied layers
Our nature hides within unseen 
But time means nothing in the finding

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday - Grow and Rule

The liturgy of ritual is like the mother's ruler
Marking boundaries to be learned and giving space for freedom
When we plant in ash and soil
We grow what we once knew
The living dust of love 

Let me empty all my inner closets
Into plastic containing bins
Remembering, sorting, realigning
Making space for planting stardust
Relationships full of light 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Poetry of Lent

Now that the King Cake is settling in my stomach, I have turned my sights on tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, and the season of Lent. I have been thinking and praying about what to do for Lent this year and what I have decided to do is continue what I started for Advent and have not stopped doing. And that is writing a poem every day. I know, for many people, that idea makes you cringe. But for some reason, I have greatly enjoyed the challenge I set for myself for Advent and I haven't stopped. Everyday the Society of Saint John the Evangelist puts out a word of the day with a quote from one of the brother's sermons. (I highly recommend getting their emails.) I put that word in my journal in the morning and let it bounce around my head throughout the day. At the end of the day, I write down the poem that comes. What I am going to do for Lent is share them on this blog. You are welcome to read and ponder them too, and even respond. I do not guarantee that the poetry will always be good or will rhyme well, or even will be completely serious (despite being part of Lent). This is not an official devotion of the Holy Spirit community or any other church group. Holy Spirit has great devotion booklets available with reflections written by people throughout the congregation. But this is part of how I am opening the doors of my life to God this Lent. As I have learned throughout my life what it means to be a pilgrim on a journey with God, poetry is also a journey and I have no doubts that certain thoughts, themes, ideas, and images will emerge over the course of this season. I look forward to seeing what God has for me in the coming weeks.