Monthly Archives: October 2018

These Present Sufferings

Last night, the ancient fire stoked
Poking again the ancient burns
Seared into flesh once tender-
Yet never without yearning.

Nearly thirty years, I’ve known;
Nearly thirty years I’ve heard the call’s persistence,
But reprimanded- gender demanded
A more quotidian existence.

Now they say it’s a new day.
Now it’s my responsibility
To weed out whatever lies
They sowed into my identity.

I wept to You today.
Wept, and begged, and confessed
Willing to surrender, to forgive-
Years of anger repressed.

Fearful, as Aaron and Miriam
Raised their voice in similar fashion,
And You rightly struck her pale
Until Moses pled compassion.

I sit with Brother Lawrence now,
All my energy spent-
I ponder still if I’m in Your will;
If I know how to repent.

I thought of what they kept me from:
Visible learning, belonging, a voice,
But they existed in constrained abstraction-
My conscience rejects that choice

But I might not have.
This is the thought I cannot lose-
Had clergy embraced my passionate adherence,
Praised for artificial virtues,

I would have engaged in the show,
And become a company-man.
I would have watered down the truth
Mitigating the crowd’s demands

And I know I, the corporate protégé,
Would have died in the rote
Expecting You to be pleased
With the foreign fire I devoted

Equating obedience
With the art of being heard
Instead of the manifest calling
To lay it down, to serve-

Never to learn the simple beauty
Sitting with the bereaved
When no one expects a word from me,
But hears the hope that I believe

Never to live out my faith
When only You are watching:
My gifts, my thoughts, my heart,
All to only You, I sing-

The summation of these thoughts
Lifts my broken face
A lifetime of biased rejection-
A provision of dearest grace!


The Reluctant Child

She stopped the car once,
Not even looking in my direction,
And told me of the night
She carried us both to the intersection
And tried to do us in together.

You were there then.

Later, as she ironed behind,
A tiny child of two or three,
Playing on the floor while
A man spoke of You on TV
You filled my little soul

You were there then, too.

When I learned in dark attics
What little girls must do,
What the world expects of little things,
I still recognized You
Desperately alone, unvalued,

But You were there then, too.

And as my skin hardened
Under many blows,
As I learned to hide my little self
Away from all opposed,
In the quiet, secret places I withdrew,

You were there then, too.

Relentless years, relentless waves
Eroding the shoreline of trust
No spine ever placed designations
On the just or the unjust-
It was just another thing to go through

But You were there then, too.

Death I breathed, death I reasoned,
In death I lived and grew
But You, as Life, loosed the boat
And bid me not pursue
Peace, You whispered, Shalom-

And You were there then, too.

I passed through many hands
Most of them were rough-
I learned I’m too intense,
Too much to be enough
Only loved in short bursts

But You were constant then, too.

Endless stanzas can’t convey
The moments You indwell,
You led me from there to here,
In ways I may never really tell
But one thing I always knew

You were there then, too.

You gave me another soul
To cherish, honor, obey,
And he’s unlike the host before:
He’s better every day,
Faithful when I’d fallen through

You were there then, too.

And it was never about me
You came before anything I could do
Your faithfulness predates
The heaps that we pursue:
It could only be accomplished by You

And You were there.

Reluctant, I have grown
Head-shy like the dog oft-hit
Sometimes I whimper-
Sometimes I growl- or sit-
Or fetch with head held down

And You are there then, too.

So few speak the language,
The only one I’ve come to know,
And my shoreline’s still eroded,
But even broken, or lost in the flow,

One truth shines clearly:

You are always here with me.

Hallelujah, blessed be Your name-
Your incomprehensible ways!
And may this unworthy little tongue
Never cease to praise.

Fickle to Faithful

How often I heard in my youth
If I stumbled away from You
It meant I’d never known You at all.
How often I chose to fall
To see if You would catch me.
I had to believe, to see
You weren’t as fickle as man
You lingered beyond our span-
In my folly, You remained.
I considered everything to gain,
And nothing to lose
If Your anger should choose
To smite me ere I try it.
I learned to wait when You felt quiet
To trust, to press further in
I learned not to fear my sin
So great, but paid for by Your hands
I began to understand
By looking at us in terms of years
Not by weeks, nor days, nor mere
Moods to punctuate our relationship
I found the foundation doesn’t flip
If I’m standing askew-
As long as I’m standing on You.

No one can undo all those years
Not with floods of earthbound threats,
They still say I can drive You away,
But can’t explain why I haven’t done yet.
We mortals defend Your honor
By amending all Your claims,
By saying You always or never,
By explaining away Your name

Which is the power of life and death.

Almost Heaven

I use to imagine Heaven
as a Get-out-of-Earth-Free card
in which my seventy-times-seven
is forgotten inside a pardon

And the days between gardens forever disappear
Every blighted moment, sullied by sin,
Stained and sore from grief and fear
In a twinkling, erased from the recollection of men.

Somehow sloughing off the mud and drudge
Of human epochs, human decisions,
Never again to acknowledge
Our blinded imprecisions

All the days of man, the way of all flesh,
Consumed by fog and night
The mortal moments threshed,
Discarded, ever out of sight-

But He isn’t like that, is He?
He redeems the time, each breath unseen
Inhabits our deepest miseries
Collecting the in-betweens

Beauty from ashes, all things worked together,
Let nothing be wasted.
Maybe we aren’t completely severed
From the bitter days we’ve tasted

Maybe we get to remember instead
the stories we’re now too blind to tell:
Recalling only the heaven from the lives we’ve led,
Forever unstained by our hells.

Shy in the Sky

Oh pale moon, where are you tonight?
I am ever the child in your eyes,
Longing to curl up in your dim
Reflection of light, a surprise,
A moment to remember,
Hidden in antique delight.

My moon, since my tiny fingers
Traced out your rounded shape
I named you, perhaps you did the same,
And here I linger while your landscape
Rolls on out of frame,
Your presence missing stirs

The empty black.

The Church

What if the power of the Church exists
In uncomfortable places?
Cluttered homes and cracked pavement
And hands clasped in unexpected graces?

What if decentralization
Restores the True Center,
And the Spirit seeks through the sent
Not merely those who enter?

What if, instead of a uniform meal
Sheep feed each according to his own ability,
Discipled individually
In faith-grounded motility?

What if the herd gathered less often,
But the sheep knew each other more?
If we love-feasted at appropriate times,
But did life door-to-door?

What if upper rooms are ordinances:
Locations of power-filled commissions-
What if the Spirit waits for obedience,
And the proper conditions?

Church, LLC

I have this recurring impulse,
Like an involuntary reaction,
Fervently whispering, “this is false,”
With mounting distraction,

“It isn’t this; it’s something other.”

I’ve ignored it- I’ve reprimanded
I’ve called it sin.
I’ve tried to understand it
Through the lens

Of how I must be wrong.

But the whisper abounds
Deafening as I’ve grown
Until the sounds
Of all I’ve known

Give way to what I might yet know.