The day we prepare to honor
the saints who have gone before,
first we get honest about the skeletons in our closet,
about how monstrous we can be
and what’s spookiest about us
and what we most fear,
about our masks and false personas
and our secret aspirations,
about how we trick each other
and parade about stuffing ourselves with junk.
We get honest about it,
and also laugh about it.
We laugh at ourselves,
and also laugh at our evil.
Then, having lightened ourselves of the burden
of our righteousness,
tomorrow we can move on freely
without guilt or pretense
to be the saints we actually are.
October 31, 2019
He has seen you in your awkward need
and given himself to you.
He has invited himself into your life
and feasted with you.
He has made you his family,
He has overruled the chastisement of the crowd,
the shame that dogs you.
Why wouldn’t gratitude fill your heart
and change your ways?
“Half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor;
and if I have defrauded anyone of anything,
I will pay back four times as much.”
October 30, 2019
He’s short, and everybody ridicules him.
He’s resentful and bitter. No sense of humor.
Give thanks for him.
He never gets along with others. Bad listener.
Hard to talk to. Always has his own agenda.
He’s a loner, can’t seem to relate to people.
Off by himself, in his own little world.
He’s selfish, obsessed with his own wants,
clever at cheating others, without remorse.
Lift him in prayer.
He’s no saint, nobody you’d set as an example.
Without morals. Surely without grace.
Then someone comes along and sees
who’s inside him, hidden, waiting—and says,
Zacchaeus, I’m having lunch with you.
Maybe the sooner we shed our judgments
and see us all as equals on the journey
the sooner we all become the saints we are.
October 29, 2019
Some time from now
(I will not get to choose)
people who have known me or not
(not of my choosing)
will lower my dust
into a hole in the ground,
or scatter it in a beautiful place.
It is they who will choose
the scattering of my dust.
But while I am breathing
I will choose the scattering
of what is not dust.
as a mass of air moves through the area,
and we will breathe it,
not some other air,
until it passes.
Various fronts will collide
but none develop into anything
but the present.
October 28, 2019
The color of fire, the color of heat,
the color of work in the hands of
the blacksmith, the glassblower,
the stoker, the welder.
Gentle oven, afterburner,
soft and silent center of a sun,
color of things being consumed,
Then how could I not be?
October 25, 2019
The tax collector, standing far off,
would not even look up to heaven,
but was beating his breast and saying,
“God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
The knifest wound,
the weightest load,
the nightest dark
we haul around in us
is our shame,
the awfullest place in us,
the unmost part of us,
our deepest subtraction.
Ashamed before God,
unable to be a being
worthy of God’s shine and delight,
a little part of us
Dare to bring that parenthesis
out of your secrets,
open this grave,
step out of your hidden terror,
shed even the invisible costumes
only you know you wear.
Stand nude before God,
and listen and hear:
Yes, my Beloved. Yes.
Yes to you, all of you.
Every beauty of you
and every bruise.
You are not my Apology.
You are my Beloved.
October 25, 2019
In this tough world
to find the way of kindness
is all that matters.
But one must be tough
to shield a way of kindness
for those whose world
is bereft of it.
October 23, 2019
The Pharisee, standing alone, prayed,
“God, I thank you that I am not like other people:
thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”
Wow. What a hypocrite.
What an egotistical, arrogant, judgmental person.
God, I thank you that I am not like him—
Oh… wait.… Crap.
God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
I confess to you all the people I want to be better than.
But I am not.
It is your goodness, not mine, I live by.
God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
October 22, 2019
Geese process up the aisle of the sky
as if sent.
All these flagrant leaves shine
as if they’re worth something.
Trees fling them
as if they’re doing the right thing.
I walk among them, breathing,
as if caught up in something
in the upper levels of heaven
unknown to me
but unfolding before my eyes.
Walk, they say,
as if you are aflame with beauty.
Live, they say,
as if you are holy.
October 21, 2019
God, help me today
to love with gusto,
to forgive with courage,
to look for your grace,
to seek presence, not comfort,
to be grateful in all things,
to receive you in whatever form you come to me.
Help me today to be who you create me to be,
not what others desire,
to trust you in what is difficult,
to let your love flow through me
without impediment or hesitation,
to be present in this life,
not hankering after one I imagine.
I surrender myself to your love thriving in me,
love that unites me with all your Beloved,
with all Creation, with you:
for even though I am not fully aware
I am fully yours,
and I give you my thanks;
I give you my life.
October 18, 2019