Water into wine

The promise of the banal,
the dull and unremarkable,

the dark wine hidden
in the clear, regular jar,

in the plain and the pained
the beautiful and life-giving,

stars in the night
and the silence ripe with song,

what wasn’t even meant for drinking
become the finest drink,

the hopeless afternoon
impossibly made brilliant,

what lack already may be
made an abundance,

the first Word that turned
the dark light,

is in your plain chipped cup,
God swirling, sea-dark, intoxicating,

and has turned.
You haven’t tasted it yet.

   —January 17, 2019

The silenced

Attend to those who are silenced,
seen and not heard,
told “Don’t cry,”
threatened into muteness.
Listen to the pain we can’s stand
the story we don’t want to hear,
the truth we avoid.

We who hold the microphone
will do well to be quiet
and hear the voice of the silenced,
and give the oppressed an audience.

Justice cries out;
righteousness listens,
and hears the voice of God.

   —January 16, 2019

The beloved

         A voice came from heaven,
         “You are my Child, the Beloved;
         with you I am well pleased.”

                  —Luke 3.22

You are baptized
into Belovedness,
bathed in divine delight.

It washes away all else,
your other names, other selves,
all that is not your holiness.

Your work is no more than this,
to trust your Belovedness,
to return to it, to receive it.

All evil springs
from the distrust
that we are the Beloved.

Immersed in this grace,
you breathe in the world,
you breathe out heaven.

Baptized into the Body of Christ,
you are the flesh of God’s love,
living as if on fire.

The whole world sings in you.
You belong to us all.
A great bird rises up,

calling for its mate,
singing with beauty,
crying out in joy.

—January 9, 2019

Prayer on a busy day

God,
when I feel like I’m riding a leaky canoe
in raging whitewater
with a broken paddle,
help me remember
you are my strength,
you are my peace,
you are my breath.
You are the river.

I am only in this moment,
not occupying the whole day.
I am responsible for my attitude,
not for the world.
I do not need to be a hero,
only present, only
transparent to your love.

Heart of peace, beat in me.
Breath of love, breathe in me.
Eyes of grace, open wide.

   —January 8, 2019

Smile

You know how a smile can change you,
how a single stranger’s smile,
even a small one,
can light your day.
What a gift, to be smiled at.

The universe sees you,
and your smile
changes it.
What a gift,
to smile at the world.

As we look up at stars,
the stars look up at us,
and see us smile,
and they smile.
What a gift, to know
why God has put you here.

   —January 7, 2019

The eleventh day of Christmas

         The Word became flesh and lived among us.
                  —John 1.14

On the eleventh day of Christmas
I feel the stretch.
Presents unwrapped, put away,
family gone, New Year’s past,
resolutions already broken…
and here we are, still counting days.
That one bright night,
angels and candles and all,
was not a singular event, but a lasting truth.
God, you are not just passing through.
You are here for the long haul:
the chemo regime,
the enduring grief,
the extra year of school,
the parenting that never ends,
the long work of aging.
Give me courage.
Give me perseverance, to last,
to go the distance
on the long road to wisdom,
to healing, to justice, to joy.
Help me trust you are here,
all the way.

   —January 4, 2019

Magi

         Magi came, asking, “Where is the child?”
                   —Matthew 2.1-2

I will be your wise one,
led by wisdom and discernment,
your star, not mine.

I am a sovereign of my own choices,
among your royal priesthood.
I offer you my power.

You are the star I follow,
with my eye on your light
every day.

I am always seeking,
never too complacent to ask,
to observe, to discern, to wonder,

looking for your light in this world,
in those I meet,
in my own dark sky.

I am not deterred by weariness,
the unknown, the strangeness,
the settledness of others.

I seek the child, the tender,
the hope, the small
amid the strong and violent.

I bear valuable gifts. This is the reason
I am in this world. I kneel
and offer treasure, every day.

I know my quest threatens
the powers of might, and I am not afraid,
and do not collude with them.

I am not afraid to find another road,
always seeking, open to the new.
Lead me.

   —January 3, 2019

Emmanuel

         The earth was a formless void
         and darkness covered the face of the deep.
                           —
Genesis 1.2

         The Word became flesh and lived among us.
                           —
John 1.14

Sky’s been smashed, earth trampled thin.
There’s a hole in the sun, light oozes out,
a split tomato. Weather your enemy now,
you’ve earned it. Alliances have that
white stuff that leaks out of batteries.
Our shadows splattered all over each other.
Politics after the kids put the car back together,
sort of. Think of great grandchildren breathing plastic.

But that’s all the cosmic stuff. No matter.
The real pain is, shepherd on the hillside,
you stink. All your smallnesses add up to
a whimper. Your guilts, who could count,
pile up like compost you haven’t decided
to compost, can’t stand, can’t part with.
Worse, your shames and your fears. Two
intruders come in opposite windows. Crap.
Trying so hard, but your life is still
a dead frog dissected with a rock.
Though it’s not your fault.

In this splintered, wrinkled, twisted mess,
not from above, not shining in like a clever sunbeam
(No. No atmospheric effects. Please.)
but from way down dark inside
a hope infuses the whole thing, an embryo moves,
a presence the presence of things,
a light breathes, doesn’t have to speak,
meaning, I am here. Composes a silence
meaning, There is no translation. You are
me. If God were an artist you would be
the gleam in her eye when the light is just right.
The wreckage is not a ruin, merely the backside
of something beautiful. Behold, God in her pajamas
in you. Blessed is she who believes it is possible
to be redeemed, possible because, in fact, fact.

Numinous delight, inclusive of galaxies, offers you.
Receive yourself, fresh and promising, and—listen:
beloved.

   —January 2, 2019

Prayer for a new year

         “See, I am making all things new.”
                  —Revelation 21.5

This is the first day of the new year,
the eighth day of Christmas
the eighth day of Creation,
which is every day, made new.
This is the day that the Lord is making.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

On this eighth day of Creation
I pray, O Holy One:
create me new.
Breathe into the dust of my life
your love, your beauty and joy.
I let go of what is gone;
set me free from the chains of the past.
In this new year may I be made new
every day, rising from the death of sleep
to be created as the image of your love,
new and free, open and present.

In this new year may your will be done,
your realm of grace come.
In your tender mercy, God,
make all things new.
Amen.

   —January 1, 2019