The coming

         The sun will be darkened,
                  and the moon will not give its light,
         and the stars will be falling from heaven,

                  and the powers in the heavens will be shaken
                           —Mark 13.24-25

It sounds terrible and threatening,
but it’s nothing new, is it,
this ancient vision of climate change
and power struggles.
Jesus says look at the tree:
you can see summer is coming—
but in this case you don’t know when,
like someone coming home
at an odd hour unannounced.

We’ve painted this picture
with a touch of dread and panic, haven’t we?
The end is coming and heads are going to roll.
But it’s spring, not winter.
It’s the homeowner, not a thief.

The end is already upon us, always has been:
our own self-destructiveness.
The interruption is not the calamity:
that’s already in place.
The interruption is the Beloved,
who comes into our dissolution,
intervenes in our collective suicide,
re-directs our plunge toward oblivion,
and most shocking of all,
tenderly accompanies us
even through the worst of our withdrawal.

It’s not the end; it’s the clay being reshaped
by hands with a vision
for who we can be
before we are fired in the kiln
into durable vessels.

Give up your misgiving.
You’ve been given every gift to await the coming.
Welcome the it.
Watch for every moment
the unseen hands
lay themselves upon you.

   —November 30, 2017

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We know everything

We know everything. We read a lot.
We understand how things work.
We’ve mastered the calculus,
foreseen the vectors of cause and effect,
and applied ourselves
to the the necessary lies and habits,
the anonymities,
the anesthesia of busyness,
the closure of certainty.
We already know everything,
everything worth knowing, anyway,
so much that nothing else can get in,
nothing worm its way into
our philosophical offshore account.
We are secure,
while under—
                                under that something
we didn’t know of,
didn’t know there was anything under,
something swells, something in darkness
moves, draws near, gathers,
like stellar dust coalescing into a planet.
A tenderness honeys in an open field.
A mystery leans toward us
as if to touch us, as if to whisper:
         You have no idea
         how much I want to be with you.

 

   —November 29, 2017

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Keep awake

         Keep awake.
                  —Mark 13.37

The Beloved comes,
obviously out of place
but unnoticed, sneaky,

slipping in through a side door
disguised as a service worker,
a delivery boy,

not an elaborate costume
but it works every time,
the bag lady,

lurking in the heart’s empty lot,
the street a palimpsest of angels
and their uncanny sense

of the divine among us,
eternal Word made stinky flesh,
tenderness in rough places,

a child’s inept call
to wonder and compassion
that every once in a while

disturbs us,
rends our heart,
and we wake.
 

   —November 28, 2017

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A simple prayer

God fill me today,
and take over my life.
I pray only that you guide me
and that I listen.
Give me clarity to sense your delight for me
and the will to do it.
Give me only the strength to do
what you would have me do today.
Lead me, keep me, sustain me.
Grant that I my live this day
in humility, gratitude and trust,
with courage, hope and love.
Amen.               

   —November 27, 2017

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Black Friday

Tall ships sail the November sky.
Brown leaves run from the wind,
hide behind stone walls.
A half moon backs up into the sky
to see if it can make it all the way across.
I notice.

Curtis is in prison.
I’m thinking of lots of people in prison,
some for being black or gay or angry or truthful.
A mother clings to her child in a UN tent,
a girl is hauled out of the dark room again.
All those: in treatment, getting a transplant,
Parkinson’s, depression, divorce just finalized.
I see you.

Spirit stirring in me, my new self,
my regrettable outburst, my forgiveness,
the grace given, the opening, the bud,
my horizon still moving on,
those who come with me.
I know.

I hear there’s something
at the mall
but I see nothing there,
nothing.

It’s all elsewhere.
It’s all here.
                

   —November 24, 2017

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Giving thanks

You who are the Mystery at the heart of all things,
Source of all that is,
to you we give thanks.
For the gift of Creation, and the wonder of this world,
we thank you.
For for every creature and the web of all living things
to which we belong, we thank you.
For the gift of life, and the miracle that we are here today,
we thank you.
For gifts of sight and hearing, the gift of movement and touch,
and for all the wonders that we behold, we thank you.
For all the people who have blessed us, we thank you.
For all our loved ones, for any who have taught us, helped us,
loved us, accompanied us or prayed for us, we thank you.
For the food we eat, and all those around the world who provide it,
we thank you.
May our gratitude overflow to others,
especially those who do not have what we do;
may our thanks take form in giving
and in working for the world you intend for us.
O God, fountain of our souls and earth of our lives,
we thank you,
and pray that we may always live in humility, gratitude and joy.
Amen.

   —Thanksgiving Day, 2017

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Fat sheep

         I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.
                  —Ezekiel 34.20

God notices our injustice,
and despises it.
God sees our systems that favor some
and exclude others;
it is God whom we exclude.

The Realm over which Christ reigns
is no heaven in the clouds,
but this trodden earth,
this very place where we foul the water
of our companion sheep,
this world which Christ will dismantle
and rebuild, re-make like the potter and her clay.

To be loyal subject of this Sovereign
it will not be enough to doff our hats
and hurt each other. Piety will not suffice.
The divine passion for the others
will rule our hearts and actions,
lead us from prayer to justice,
enlist us in the royal work of the new Realm.

The fat sheep like it as it is.
The lean sheep are remaking the world.

   —November 22, 2017

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I will shepherd


father-son-walking.jpg

         [Ezekiel 34.15-16]

The diagnosis, the procedure,
the boss’ memo, the suicide,
the lonely corridor.
         I will shepherd you.

The God who vanished into a question,
the way you can’t find,
the path through the tangled thorns.
         I will seek the lost.

Addicted, shamed, incarcerated,
unforgiven, violent,
over-busy, despairing.
         I will bring back the strayed.

Memory of abuse, ache of loss,
heart a cracked empty jar,
forty pound bag of fear.
         I will bind up the injured.

The difficult meeting,
the ones who wound,
your daughter’s treatment.
         I will strengthen the weak.

How much longer can you do this?
How will it end?
How do you know?
         I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep.

         I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep.

   —November 21, 2017

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Be where you are

When you are in a dark place
and you want to get out of it,
remember that life is not somewhere else,

but where you are.
The story may or may not be
that you quickly escape.
But the story surely is that God is with you
where you are.
Before you leap toward the escape hatch,
be where you are.
Notice. Look around, even in a dark room,
and see God there
before you leave.
 

               
November 20, 2017

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Hidden treasure

         “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.”
                  —Matthew 25.25

Whoever you meet
probably has treasure
hidden within,

riches from God
they have buried
in fear.

Those of whom you disapprove—
you notice their annoying,
self-serving behavior,

but do you notice
the treasure? Do you
notice the fear?

Fear of what is demanded,
fear of being inadequate,
of being judged, of being used?

Everyone you meet
is a nervous treasure chest
searching for their own key.

What can you do
to treasure the treasure,
to steady their hand?
             

   —November 17, 2017

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