Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday - Resurrection

the street preacher
goes on and on about Jesus
and the girl nonchalantly
nods along focusing on other things

but something catches her ear
about redemption - a feeling
she's only dreamed of unknowingly
subconscious wish for good

"yo - what's that?" she says
wondering if perhaps a few
questions might be answered
for the trouble on the corner

"Jesus was a man - the Son of God
and he died, he died for all"
"Stupid, why'd he do that?"
"because of love," he said, "because of love"

"shut up" she said, "no one's that dumb"
no one loves me that much
the demons in her head confirmed
why bother for this life?

"oh no, Jesus did. Died for you,
died for me. Died so that we might know love.
Do you know love?" he questioned
wondering whether he could even answer

the girl looked at him in concern
know love? what is love?
and who's this crazy man
who loves these cranky people?

"God is love," he says, "he loves you
so much he'd do anything
to let you know." She waved him off.
"Alleluia!" was his last proclamation

what nonsense rich - how many times
was he dropped as a kid
to think that love would touch her life
the world taught other lessons

but that word - those words
had melted into thirsty synapses
redemption, love, and alleluia
there was no doubt she wanted

in the background quietly
her soul whispered in response, alleluia

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday - Sacrifice

Pattern our demise
Destroying all hope in bits
Who could forgive us?

In the end what was
And is and will be ever
Family table love

What is sacrifice? 
When you know the greatest joy
In ordinary 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday - Home

An itinerant 
Traveler am I indeed
Yet always at home

Everything loses
The way, the path, direction
Still finding yourself

I wait peacefully
Watching the trees grow taller
One day I'll come home

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday - Carry

What is the equation
Of the weight of our worries
It changes us over time
But the mass of them all
Cannot be measured by normal scales
Especially with gravity
Wavering in the new doubt
Of any constant in this universe

We forget what we carry
Getting used to, comfortable
With the feeling of rough wood
Pressing down, pulled toward mass
Worry to worry magnetically
The core of the earth crying out
To our uncomfortable souls
Waiting for redemption 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Holy Saturday - Bless

Paint the sky with blessings
Broad salmon strokes
With lilac and yellow and green
In spring additions to the world
Living in the tension
Between the death that is
And the never ending resurrection
Of new celestial life.
We are waiting
Always impatiently
Given our ineptitude 
At sitting in between
On the spectrum without extreme definition.
How do we recognize love 
In rooms of disambiguity
Except by the colors of the prism?

Maundy Thursday - Give

A spider spins out part of itself
Each day casting itself into a web
Connecting separated objects, nature
By the thinest thread of glossamer 
Yet strong enough to keep together
And trap the fly in its sights
It gives so that it may receive

My father's coffee pot receives each day
A predetermined volume of designated water 
Roasted ground dark coffee beans
The unmistakeable pungent fragrance
Waking up half the house
Delivering the poisoned anecdote to worry
It receives so that it may give

Give and take, cause and effect
We celebrate causality in ritual
Learning ever deeply softly
All we have to give is life

Monday - Pray

The window disappeared from view
It was just the yellow green leaves
The weathering fence and the red brick
The leaves fluttering in the breeze
Changing color as the shadows
Came alive in non-geometric shapes
Rapping against the buckled wood
Change doesn't stop after death
Green or gold the sunlight could be either
Splashed in bounteous array
With a start
I realized I was praying. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday - Enter

some people enter
looking for all the exits

some people enter
looking for the position of power

some people enter
looking solely for their friends

some people enter
wondering about the architecture
     and the fire safety codes

some people enter
dreaming of grand success

some people enter
preparing for their imminent failure

some people enter
looking for newness

some people enter
with cartloads of baggage

some people enter
running away from themselves

some people enter
walking simply into a room. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday - Enrich

The symmetry
Of tiled bathroom walls
Makes a difference

The clean painted corners
In oft forgotten neighborhoods
Changes minds

The well tended care
Of the hand-me-downs of love
Shows dignity

It is not the rich
Whose lives are worth living
Because of money

It is the enriched
Who know true meaning
Because of love

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday - Boundary

thinking about the sky and how it is a sphere
wrapped around a ball of rock
and that rock cuts out the core of the sphere
and so the limit there is rock, is dirt, a taurus,
and the limit on the other side is gravity
what holds the air to the earth,
but eventually it melts off into infinity
and the limit there does not exist
at least as we know

thinking about a brick wall in rectangular shape
the limits of its existence
of the formula of its function
verily exist in natural states of integers
here and there and here
in front of your face
brick in absolute unyielding tenacity

thinking about skin in various shades
yielding and limited within limits
there exists a place where you are you
and you are not
but porous enough that me touching you
exchanges particles, molecules, mass
tininess we cannot see

thinking about the world in cold circuitous routes
there are obvious boundaries
with absolute limits
found without exception each time
while other unmanageable sights
slip and slide across the boundary line
producing emotions we cannot hide
even though we don't know why
this is a mathematical mess
but a glorious mystery of time

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thursday - Energy

what does energy look like to the tired
what does positivity look like to the beat up

what does it mean to be healthy
when you've spent your whole life not knowing you were sick

what does love look like when all you've ever known
are those who have treated badly or disappointed

what does it look like when the world turns its face from you
because you are not what it wants to see

How do you define in action abstract nouns?
change happens from moments of clear eyed energy

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday - Journey

I see the questioning look
wanting to ask but not daring
inside laughter breaks out
what is it this time, musing
the outfit, uniform, so well known
but so unknown on my form
or the array of items stacked
precariously in the basket.
There is a website, right?
Interesting mixtures of things
where people try to guess
why you'd want or need to buy
those things right now together.
I glance at the man behind me in line
taking in the clues
where along his life journey
is he under this moon?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tuesday - Help

a simple gesture
an opened hand here
not an always thing
when sirens signal

heartfelt mind needed
everyone sometimes
regardless of self
though some thus needed

smile gesture give
not rocket science
silence doing duty
friends and family love

its hard to ask for
easy simply known
true underrated
fully understood

we are humans yes
only two hands is
never enough for
complete existence 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday - Gratitude

For all the unexpected light
and unsought for quiet
For all the unassuming joy
unpronounced in coming
For all the waiting eyes that see
the symmetry in the lines
For all the places where I am not
who I expected to be
For all the gentle background hums
when we forget their importance
and all the sirens of the day
saying help is coming
For all the longing desperation
which keeps us seeking meaning
For all the complications and attitudes
bringing me back to why
For all the irritations of this life
reminding me how much I care
For all the little deaths I die
keeping me mindfully alive

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday - Sustain

my God, my soil deepened richly
sustains me in eloquent silence
for there I learned
though death did speak
to my hate-filled waiting heart
that my life must be worth the gold
I weigh and more
for a man, a man with love
who knew me not two thousand years
of fated human history ago
a man who loved his mother
his friends though fraught with lies and complications
a man of love
worth more than I could ever know
died so that I might live
and that life not worth living
as slowly as an orchard grew
with strength and depth and breadth
living, breathing, ever changing
to bear the fruit of unknown destiny
all for the living dust
of one man's flesh
enraptured in the resurrection
and grateful be this little seed
for the death which brings new life

Messy Love

Lent 5C

John 12:1-8

Eternal God, who brings us together in the midst of family and friends and those we

love, grant us to take a deep breath and give to each other generously of our time and

attention. Through your Son our Savior Jesus Christ who is your example for us. Amen.

The gospel passage today is from the gospel of John. John’s gospel is so interesting

because of the number of layers he has in his story. I’ve talked about this before, the

multilevel drama of John. Always, the interplay of these levels adds depth and

dimension to the story and so in order to see what is going on, we are going to take apart

the passage for today, peel back the layers, to find the real focus of this story.

This story has five major characters in it: John, Judas, Lazarus, Mary, and Jesus. We are

going to look at each person, what role they play, and how they affect our view of what

happens.

We are going to start with John. John isn’t exactly in the story as a character, but the

author is always a major player in any piece of writing. John certainly makes his feelings

about Judas known in this story with his multiple aside comments about him. John was

writing to a community that had suffered considerable dissention and division and we

can see how issues of betrayal and disruption are not acceptable to him. We don’t know

if the community of John was suffering money issues, but John points money out as a

major issue through his commentary on Judas and highlighting the cost of the perfume.

John colors the passage so much so that it is easy to lose the main focus of the passage

(which is what happens between Mary and Jesus). There is another bit of foreshadowing

that John does to color the passage, but we are going to look at that when we look at

Lazarus. But since John so explicitly focuses on Judas, so let’s look at Judas next.

The New Testament scholar J. N. Sanders suggests that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are

all younger siblings of Judas Iscariot, because they are all children of Simon the Leper.

In many ways then what happens in this story is family drama. We all know about

family drama. The dinner takes place in Lazarus’ home, where Martha and Mary are

known to live, but if Lazarus is Judas’ younger brother, than at one point in time this

may have been Judas’ house, perhaps before he decided to follow Jesus around the

country. We don’t know much about Judas specifically before this passage. If we took

out John’s commentary on Judas, we might actually believe that Judas really did care

about the poor when he asked why the money for the perfume wasn’t given away.

However, with John’s commentary, we see Judas as a thief and betrayer. We don’t know

what Judas would have been doing with all the money he was stealing, but it’s easy to

assume that he didn’t travel with it all on his person and perhaps some of it was going

back to his family. In this case, we could almost wonder Mary had used some of the

stolen money to buy the perfume. Either way, Judas is obviously upset about the use of

the money. We might be able to understand why. Judas has been following Jesus

around and Jesus has been mightily preaching and teaching about caring for the poor.

And here is a year’s worth of money, around $18,000 today, being used on perfume. No

matter what why you look at that situation, it seems a little excessive. Because it is. But

before we look at Mary and why she would have spent that much money on perfume, I

want to take a slight detour and look at the role of Lazarus in the room.

The whole story takes place in Lazarus’ house. Within the realm of his hospitality. In the

ancient hospitality system, anything that was given within his house was a gift from him.

So even though Mary is the one who has bought the perfume , and we don’t know if

Lazarus knew about it ahead of time or not, and Mary is the one who upends the

perfume on Jesus’ feet, in society it would have been seen as a gift of Lazarus to Jesus.

And it’s very interesting to me that this gift of perfume is seen as a death gift, a gift for

Jesus’ burial, from the man that Jesus raised from the dead. John, the author, takes this

moment in the larger story to foreshadow some of what is to come in the week (or two

for us) ahead. John mentions the Passover, which is when he times Jesus’ death, as the

sacrificial lamb, and he continues to push into our minds the preparation for Jesus’

death by having Mary prepare him for burial a week early. But since this all takes place

in the house of Lazarus, John also delicately foreshadows what is to come after Jesus

dies. Lazarus was raised and so will Jesus be raised from the dead. More even than

Lazarus, Jesus will triumphantly go beyond death into resurrection. Even though

Lazarus doesn’t do much in this passage, he has a major role in the way the story fits

into the overarching gospel of John.


Once we have peeled back the layers of John, Judas, and Lazarus, what we are left with

is a very intimate exchange between Jesus and Mary.

Mary, whether Judas is the eldest or not, is most definitely the youngest of the family.

Mary we have seen before is highly focused on her relationship with Jesus and has spent

hours sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to him. Here today we see Mary come in with a

pound jar of $18,000 perfume and pours it all over Jesus' feet and starts wiping them

with her hair. It must have been quite the scene. It’s a very intimate gesture after all. To

be that close to a man who wasn’t part of her family would not have been acceptable to

society. Mary's face and head must have been quite close to Jesus' feet to have been

wiping them with her hair, no matter how long her hair was, and all these men are

looking on, probably with mixed feelings of astonishment, shame, shock, and

questioning what is going on. She makes a complete mess! The room probably stunk of

perfume for days! The floor was probably slippery with perfume. But Mary doesn't seem

to mind in the least. She never has. She is generous with her time and her money and

her gifts when it comes to Jesus. She gives freely out of love.

And Jesus? Jesus accepts Mary’s gift just as freely as she gives it. Here he is, six days

before he is going to die, the night before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, having

dinner with dear friends. And whether he knew how quickly things would move or not,

he takes the time to focus on his relationships. In this case, Jesus doesn't let anything

stand in the way of Mary giving her bounteous gift. Jesus says that Mary bought the

perfume for the day of his burial and some people point out that this doesn't make sense

because Mary, sister of Martha, is not part of the group who helps bury Jesus the next

week. However, it seems to me to make good sense, because if she bought this perfume

for his burial and she just used all of it to wash his feet, to prepare him for death now,

then she wouldn't have had any left for when he actually died. But she has already

helped in his burial, and completely out of love. Despite the scene and mess that it

causes, Jesus protects her and what she has done. He defends her. Jesus opens the space

for Mary's gift. He focuses on the relationship at hand.

The focus of the gospel passage is on this exchange of love and attention to the other

between Mary and Jesus. It’s this kind of relationship we want to be developing with

Jesus throughout our Lent practices. This is why we take forty days to focus and

strengthen our relationship with Jesus. To be able to give our messy love as generously

and to be able to receive Jesus’ grace and acceptance just as openly.

Amen.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday - Healthy

With the sounds of crying from the other room
I gaze in wonder at the city lights 
At what does Orion point his deadly bow
Casting my imagination in any other direction
Than admit my unhealthy obsession

I dream of you in spare moments
Wondering who occupies your brain space
And with slight awkward feeling wonder
In whose brain my life is fictionalized
Considering the psychology of circles and triangles

You aren't the only one trying to be healthy
Trying not to be afraid of love
It's a human condition: messiness
Riding tandem with doubt and loneliness
But we are born intrepid, we carry on

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday - Bring

I miss my future
Husband, children yet to be
Lonely in the past

A fine romance full
Gifts of flowers and jewelry
Bringing open hands

The greatest gift of
Nature, time, and space combined
Simple open love

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Thursday - Fruit

Fruit on the table
   Cool, fresh, and available
Fruit on the vine
   Ripe, ready, and rolling
Fruit of the Loom
   Comfy, silky unseen
Fruit of your loins
   Deceptively cute and unkind
Fruit of the Spirit
   Temperance remembered
Fruit of the past
   An architect's dream
   An historian's playground
   Nature's rich memoir
While simply fruit scatters the seeds

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wednesday - Vocation

Vocation

calling
Clear as the bell on an old fashioned telephone 
calling
Where connection grasps you breathless
calling
No escape and none wanted, willingly vanquished
calling
Into places words cannot express
calling
Following an unrelenting flashing deer
calling
Through yearning miles of rugged mountain scapes 
calling
While lying in bed at home awake
calling
Listening to the rain water your unquenched thirst
calling

Vocation

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tuesday - World

The World in a Carpet

From my bed I can see written in the carpet
The lines I leave traced along my pathways
Telling all who see, well, I need to vacuum
And the normal boundaries and routines
The world through which I walk each day

I go from here to there and there over
Chasing a life of meaning through concrete structures 
Wondering how soon it will all be forgotten 
As nature continues her unending cycle
Life and death and life and death and on

Each part totally ordinary, made of the same carbon chains
Variations on a theme of chemistry
Each part different from the rest 
The chances! The probability remains insane
Each inch a pattern of latent pathways


I just wrote a poem about carpet. Sometimes I wonder at myself. 
I said in the beginning, some would be good, and some would be questionable. I think we know where this one lies along that spectrum. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday - Why

The iceberg question
Always lurking beneath the surface
Under all the pleasantries of how
And where and when and who
The question of all intention

Why do we eat applesauce with pork chops?
Why is the sky blue or grey?
Why can't we trust our politicians?
Why was I created this way?
Why doesn't he love me?

The silent questions we ask at night
Staring into the shadows
Created by light and mystery
Not always seeing what's before us
Focused instead on what's behind

God asked Job so long ago
Who are you to question why?
I created infinite diversity and free will
Including suffering and uncertainty
Each is beautiful down to the atom, love

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sunday - Time

So precise, regimented
Driven by the spheres
In ordered paradigms
Being graphed regularly 
Defining other boundaries
It slips across our mind

Like so much good olive oil
And oh so wobbly!
Our measured countered ingeniouses
Come nowhere near this complexity
Three hours around a table
And who you thought you knew

Has changed - encountered 
The space between the seconds
The laugh between the lines
The science of forgiveness
We were made for timelessness
Eternity in love

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday - People

A dream, an idol, a vision
Of how we want our lives to be
The people we want to be
Cuz naturally how we are now
Is not enough 

We hear other people's voices
We hear their pain and grief, guilt and sorrow
Craving and addicted to those moments
Of happiness, belovedness, chance joy 
Never enough

We intimately know other people's lives
Notice the girl next door's cycle of bad boyfriends
But it's all just sound waves carried in the wind
What makes people people
Is it enough?

Diagrams of musclature, print outs of brain waves 
Only fully defined by interconnected webs
We are us and all the same uniquely
God's creative writing in light 
Simply enough

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday - Way

Sometimes it is the simplest words that are the hardest 
when you stare at 'that' trying to figure out if
it's always been spelled that way and when did you realize
it has 'hat' in it? Mostly these days it's the meanings
the meanings hitting you in the face totally obscured
what does it mean to trust? to love? to hold? to miss?
to hold something when the nuclei of your atoms 
and the atoms of its substance never meet and yet
you know you can feel the shape of it, the feel of it against your arm
what does growing up do to us? Maturity? Knowledge? Age?
The long and winding road speaks volumes in its name
I seek a way to wisdom instead, alas a chore
Definition is too brutish for such elegance, away
away with words layered upon each other!
sink into the wisdom of this moment 
sink into the feeling of connection
sink into the colors of creation
sink into the silence of salvation
home

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thursday - Important

Lingering on the front porch
BREAKING NEWS: Plane Flies Into World Trade Center

Family gathered round the table
BREAKING NEWS: 9.1 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Indian Ocean

Learning to drive and the feeling of freedom
Breaking News: the Pope is Dead

The moment of realization during your wedding
Breaking News: Hurricane hits City

Your first child's first smile
breaking news: beloved star is dead

Laughing with your husband after a fight
breaking news: globalization does not change love

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wednesday - Thrive

Thrive or survive man
There's a choice to overcome
Where's your enjoyment?

Given certain walls
To thrive here means to create
Beyond survival

City concrete blocks
Stifling all sense of open 
Meaning and love abide

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tuesday - Strengthen

Every repetition strengthening the muscles
Pulling, pushing, stretching, contracting
Creating a haze of strain and struggling

The angel that was midwife to my birth
From me to recreated me heard those screams 
From pain-filled dying to new life crying

The world in its one language calling out
Every lesson in years of school merely practice
For the life time string of pearly lessons waiting

I raise the blinds each morning to observe again
Each observation changing hopefully acknowledged 
A pointy thorn into a marvelous rose blooming