Slow spring

The trees here are still mostly bare,
their infinite fingers of resolute patience.
They are in no hurry. What will come,
will.

South of here it’s different, and farther north.
But this is here.

On some twigs the tenderest green
emerges, a different green, and fragile
as new things are.

Without yet the singing, buzzing and sweetness
they gather life in near-freezing wind, bare,
or nearly so.

Sap runs. You can’t see it.
Small things underground shift,
and something larger than all this.
Tomorrow is more open than the western sky,
moving.
 

 

Sometimes the wind

Sometimes the wind that strips everything
is the strong breathing of a yes.

The river of life wears away your little island
and bears you somewhere fertile.

Receive the gift only departing can bestow,
the holy not in what is anointed

but in what is next,
the beginning beyond the silence beyond the end.

In thickest darkness is a door felt, not seen.
It gives.

Beside you in confidence
God is uncompleting the journey for you.

Lay your hand on the dark door. A voice
says, “Come, join my becoming.”

 

 

Do you want to be made well?

         
         One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
         When Jesus saw him lying there
         and knew that he had been there a long time,
         he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

                  —John 5.5-6

Sometimes not.
We want to hang onto our hurt.
We’re accustomed to adapting; sanity seems odd.
Sobriety scares us. Wholeness intimidates us.
It’s uncertain beyond the prison gates.
There’s shelter in anger, in victimhood, in helplessness.
And how can we live without the pity?
What would life be like without the drama?

Do you want to be forgiven?
Sometimes not. There’s stability in despair.
You can get so far behind you don’t have to run.
You can get comfy in the doghouse.

And there is this: someone will tell you
it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.
Easier to stay paralyzed than to bring down the temple.

Sometimes the greatest courage is needed
not to fight monsters, but to live an ordinary life.

Do you want to be made well?
It will be work. It will bring on the unknown.
You will stand on new legs. It will hurt.

Take up your mat and walk.
He will find you.

 

 

Home

         
         Those who love me will keep my word,
                  and my Father-Mother will love them,
         and we will come to them
                  and make our home with them.

                           —John 14.23

The Holy One is not a king on a high throne.
You don’t have to move your heart’s belongings
to the far-off city with gold streets.
God is not a destination.
God is a family. God is home.

The Beloved lives with you,
moves in with her plants and quilts,
a homemaker.

Beloved, you are my home,
my family, my belonging.
In you I can wear my pajamas.
No matter what happens to me,
how others treat me,
or even what I think of myself,
you are the warm, sold place I am safe,
I am free, I am myself, I am loved.
You are the family that includes me,
the beloved that know me,
that claim me as your own.
You live with me, make a home with me.
I am not separate or different.
I am one of us. I belong.

We all are. We all do.

 

 

And she prevailed

         The apostle Paul, guided by a dream, went to Philippi.
         At the river some women had gathered for prayer.
         Lydia was baptized, and offered her home for Paul and his friends.
         Scripture records this: “And she prevailed upon us.”

The inner guide, the Teacher in us, follows a silent voice.
We learn to listen.

We go to new places and enter new experiences,
accepting not being “at home.”

We go down to the river: place or origin, place of flowing,
place of washing, place of gathering, place of prayer.

We are welcomed by women. We are dependent on women.
Scripture silences them, but they are leaders, they are heroes.

They are a community of faith and struggle, marginalized
but at the center of life. They are praying for us.

A seller of purple cloth, a strong woman, appears.
She opens her heart. She is transformed.

A woman’s voice within you speaks.
A woman’s voice within the Church speaks.

She makes a home for us. She welcomes us.
She is the temple. She is life. She is God.

The Transformed One, the Welcoming One
prevails.
 

 

Earth Day

         
Beloved Earth, I sit with you
not as a “resource” for me to use,
or an “environment” for me to occupy,
but as a friend,
a creature of God,
a living being.
You are Word given root and wind,
cell and sinew, mountain and depth.
Your seething, your burgeoning, your swirling
I dance with.
I am part of you.
I belong to you.
I live and die in you;
your living and dying is in me.
Your storms breathe in me,
schools of fish move in me.
Your diversity, your exuberance,
your teeming abundance
is my home, my body.
You are my teacher,
my mother,
my flesh.
Oh, Beloved Earth,
speak to me.
I will sit
a long time
and listen.
 

 

“As I have loved you”

      
         This is my commandment,
         that you love one another as I have loved you.
                  —John 15.12

that is,
with tender attention
and stout resilience,
that is,
despite your blame and fear,
your betrayal yet to come,
your lack of repentance,

as I have loved you
when you were determined
not to deserve it,

that you love as I have,
withholding nothing,
excusing no one,

that you pour yourself out
for the unworthy,

as I have
pour yourself out
of your life
into eternal love
and as I have
rise
new,
perfected
in love.
 

 

Holy longing

On vacation I witnessed
birds and whales
that had traveled farther than I.

They take with them
their memories, their songs
and the sacred longing

that guides their migrations,
that leads me
in all my rambling,

the silent knowing
that seems like hunger,
seems like not knowing,

the sure desultory path
that is life, the way
that is the blessing,

the holy wandering
to life that awaits,
always toward you.
 

 

Do you love me?

wo Greek words are translated as “love.”
Philios is brotherly love, loyalty, affinity.
Agape is self-giving compassion.

Jesus says, “Peter, will you give yourself to me?”
Peter says, “Lord, I’ll be your pal.”

“Peter, do you care deeply for me?”
“Jesus, you know I’ll be loyal.”

So Jesus meets him where he’s at.
“Peter, will you be my friend?”
“Yes, Lord, I will.”

Jesus asks deep, self-giving love of us,
love not for our sake but his.
Sometimes the best we can do
is lightweight friendship.
And in his deep love for us,
Jesus takes whatever we can offer.

And directs that love, whatever it is,
toward the rest of our kin,
for that is where we really love God:
“Feed my sheep.”
Sometimes we discover our love for God
by loving others.

Always Jesus invites us deeper.
“Follow me.”
Peter may not expect much of himself,
but Jesus promises that he will go on:
“You will be led where you did not choose.”

Pay attention to what tugs at your love,
however weak it may seem.
Let it lead you deeper.
 

Gone fishing

Peter says, “I’m going fishing.”
What? So soon? Fishing already,
in the smelly little boat,
not running through Jerusalem
preaching resurrection?

Why not? Why make him change jobs?
Why make him seem so different from us?

If resurrection isn’t about real lives, our real lives,
then what good is it?
Maybe Peter experienced Easter then went home.
Carried on. No big career change. Just a changed heart.
After all, we go on living.
The changes are mostly within, mostly slow.

What changes is how we see the world,
how we love people, how we trust,
how we risk for the sake of justice—
as fishers, bus drivers, lawyers.

How will you proclaim the good news
in what you do today,
not in some fantasy life, but this one?
How will you live the new life
in this one?

Today is a good enough day
and this is a good enough place
to embody resurrection,
to rise with crazy joy.
I’ll go with you.