Polar

God bless our poor choices,
our staggering paths,
how we hunch into ourselves,
become our own thick-defended worlds
wrapped in atmospheres of deceit,
unwilling to expose our hearts,
to share a bit of warmth,
God forgive the hot words we speak,
the friction we create,
the things we burn,
how little we understand
so may of us who are just trying
so desperately
to stay warm.

__________________
Weather Report

Cold,
as turbulence pushes frigid air
into our air,
but not into our hearts.
Counterintuitively,
as relationships freeze
it will become important
to avoid over-insulation,
and to share warmth.

   —January 31, 2019

Normal

         There were also many lepers in Israel
         in the time of the prophet Elisha,
         and none of them was cleansed
         except Naaman the Syrian.

                  —Luke 4.27

Jesus has them in the palm of his hand…
but then he awakens them rudely:
God could have favored you insiders
but God favors outsiders, gentiles, foreigners.
Ouch. There goes his Oscar.

Shouldn’t there be some preference
for us, the Israelites, the normal?
Well, Jesus never was one of you,
God the ultimate outsider,
a foreigner to our world of greed and hate.

Isn’t that the God you want,
for the sake of that hidden misfit,
undocumented refugee you’ve never
granted asylum somewhere
in the city of your soul,
the you who will never fit in?

Beware your presumption
to put somebody outside the wall
as if there is one,
and you know where it is.

Beware what you label as normal,
where you think “in” is,
the favor you expect to fall along those lines.
Assure that strange three legged person
quarantined in your house
there’s no such thing as normal.

God, your ultimate belonging,
has never heard of it,
and wherever your wall is,
stands outside.

   —January 30, 2019

Fragile

Sometimes even in the clearest blue sky
a wound opens up
and grey stones pour through.

A young man steps out of the clothes
of his life
and we’re left standing staring at them.

The river backs up for a moment.
Life’s promises shrink back into our heads.
The holes in everything, it doesn’t

work. It doesn’t work.
Our cries pass through the bare trees
with nothing to catch them. Empty

spaces are more solid than things.
Love doesn’t shield us, it only
opens doors, people come in,

people go out. Water flows
among rough stones, a presence
willing to be so often punctured.

How long did the Divine hesitate
to enter flesh like wet paper
to make it holy? We are learning

to be this fragile, all of us learning
to be beautiful, wounded creatures,
learning to fly with broken wings.

   —January 29, 2019

Morning incantation

Come, breath, and fill me,
reach your tiny fingers into me
and do your magic.
Arise, gravity, and take hold of me,
bear me firmly and gently in your arms,
the way you do.
Come, sun, and shine upon me,
lay your hand on my shoulders,
and if clouds should intervene
shine upon them, too.
Awaken, heart, roar up your fire,
your gospel choir sing within me.
Come, life, and dance with me,
your swirling skirts, your wanting eyes,
the closeness of your breath.
Let all converge and praise!
And hear my praise,
how like an attentive servant
you move to my side
before I even ask.

   —January 28, 2019

Cherry picking

         The spirit of God is upon me….
         to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
         and the day of vengeance of our God.

                  —Isiah 61.1, 2

         Jesus read, “… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
         And Jesus rolled up the scroll,
         gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.

                  —Luke 4.19, 20

Yep. Jesus is guilty of cherry-picking.
He reads the part about God’s favor,
and omits the bit about vengeance.
He does that all the time.
You have to.
There are different voices in scripture,
different versions of God:
vengeful and nonviolent.
You can’t have them both. Pick one.
Jesus did.
Take sides.
Commit yourself to grace, to healing,
to redemption.
You don’t need to give equal time to vengeance.
To hell with hell.
The Spirit of God is upon us
to proclaim God’s grace
and omit vengeance.
Only when we get over violence
will the world be saved.
The Spirit of God is upon us.

   —January 25, 2019

One

In the beginning was the Word.
Nothing was created but through the Word.
There is nothing that does not embody God’s Word.
Everything that is created is the Body of Christ.

All humans are created in the image of God.
All are part of the Body of Christ.

The crucifixion happens
whenever we assault the oneness of the Body of Christ,
whenever we separate ourselves,
when we say, “This one, yes; that one, not.”

How we deny this oneness!
We hate being lumped.
Our ego pleads for some distance, some distinction.
We need to be better than someone—
a need unsatisfied in heaven.
To lose this battle is to be saved.

There is only One Thing,
and we are all part of it,
the redemption of our brokenness and smallness,
the wholeness that is
eternal life.

   —January 24, 2019

I shall not want

God, so often I ask for your gifts—
for patience or compassion or wisdom.
I ask for your forgiveness and healing,
for your grace in my struggles,
and your presence in my work.
I ask for your justice to conquer the world,
to heal us of our evil and oppression.
These things I desire, by your Spirit in me.

But now I do not ask.
I sit.
“I shall not want.”
I am present to you,
even when you are silent
and I feel only your absence.
I am grateful for that which I cannot see.
I am open to what is, without desire,
without incompleteness,
without will.
I am simply here,
fully and gladly and lovingly here.

I notice.
I let be.
I am not waiting.
I am being.
I am blind and deaf and without understanding,
and happy to be here.
We are here.
We are here.

   —January 23, 2019

Dream

God, why are you so often
like the dream I know I had
but can’t remember?

Is it enough to know
you are there
beneath the darkness
of my mind
still dreaming?

Is it enough to believe
in the mountain
because a great bear
I cannot see
wanders its dark sides
and finds sweet berries?

Is it enough to know
the bear sniffs the air
and smells me,
and later in her cave
dreams of me?

   —January 22, 2018

A prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

         The Spirit of God is upon me,
         because God has anointed me          
         to bring good news to the poor.
         God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
         and recovery of sight to the blind,

         to let the oppressed go free,
         to proclaim the year of God’s favor.

                  —Luke 4.18-19

Fill me, Spirit.
Fill me with the grace that is good news
for all who are poor.
Fill me with compassion for those who are captive
in body or in soul.
Grant me eyes of love,
with which to open eyes that are blind.
Set me free with freedom that will set others free.
Give me courage to to pray, to bear witness,
to speak, to act for justice.
Holy Spirit, let my life in every moment
proclaim your grace.
Amen.

   —January 21, 2019

Good wine

         “You have kept the good wine until now.”
                  —John 2.10

You have run out of wine,
but Jesus doesn’t believe in running out.
Forget all that”we don’t have enough.”
Have some more.

You have huge vats for purification,
as if it’s going to take a lot
to wash off all your crud.
Jesus doesn’t think so.
Forget all that “I’m not good enough.”
A toast.

It’s a wedding— which everything
seems to be to Jesus, a feast of faithful love.
He looks pretty loose after that last glass,
as if he’s about to propose.

Scholars swirl the wine and think Eucharist,
woman at the well, water gushing up in you,
blood and water from his side, baptism—
but they’ve lost him.
He’s gazing at you.

Serious theologians read the signs
like tea leaves, proven by the miracle,
but the Beloved looks past them
and catches you with his soft eyes:
“Hey. Wanna dance?”

___________________
Weather Report

Fine,
full-bodied weather,
dense and earthy         
but with a slightly sweet touch,
warming late in the day.
It will go well with hard work,
indoors our out,
or quiet reflection,
but perfectly paired with
abundant, grateful celebration.

   —January 18, 2019