Holy Saturday

         On the sabbath they rested
         according to the commandment.
                           
—Luke 23.56
                  
Mysterious One,
I am at peace here,
in this in between place
where most every present moment is,
where neither the moving nor the seeing is given,
bearing the pain without yet its blessings
Sabbath interstice
between the dying and the rising:
only letting go of the world's wheel
can I wait
and trust that it is you,
and you alone
who have already begun—
who are— the rising
I can't yet see.

   —April 20, 2019

The cross

The trembling heart pierced
by the jagged torn edge
of the heart.
Life most traumatically against itself.
Evil strikes at the tenderest scandal
of God, to be embodied
in each, and subjects the body
to the horror of its denial.
We murder ourselves
slowly, viciously, in the soft places,
in the papers every day.
We are torturers and can't pretend
otherwise. And so profoundly other-
wise you are our victim
and victor, for in your love before
you climbed this hill you climbed
into us, wrapped yourself in us,
and in love will not leave that home,
though it be pierced and battered,
brutalized. You bleed, we are not
satisfied, we kill again. You bleed
pure love. There is no other hell
than this, no higher throne for you,
no greater evil you overpower.
You choose no other place to live,
no lesser love to bear than to occupy
our self-mutilated souls and fill them
with yourself, your love, your peace,
until your light transforms all darkness,
hell's unmade, and fear itself is
euthanized, till each of us is a failed
emperor, powers spent, with memories
of sin, now dead, forgiven, buried, ready
to be raised.

   —April 19, 2019

Simon's prayer

         As they led him away, they seized a man,
         Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country,
         and they laid the cross on him,
         and made him carry it with Jesus.

                           —Luke 23.26


Jesus, I am not a brave disciple.
I was merely going my way, and was here compelled.
Oh, the horror—to be humiliated with a criminal,
to be led to a death not far from my own!
The shame—to know I aided in laying this death upon you.
The fear I felt to seize such suffering in my own hands,
to bear the pain of one who bore our whole entire wound!
I shrank. I wanted to cease to be. But then I was compelled—
but not by the centurion:
it was your eyes.
Wounded and bloodied as they were, they beckoned me.
They spoke of grace even there, hope even then.
Burdened so, they moved with gratitude
that I would share the journey with you. With humble love
they invited me even through pain and suffering toward life
I could not imagine before I shared your sorrow.
Your splinters pierced me,
a wreath of thorns around my own heart.
The life they sought to wrest from you, you gave so freely.
For a moment I glimpsed what it might be
to bear the pain of the world
and not despair,
but love,
born of a life that swamps all death.
In that awful brotherhood step by step my burden lightened
until it was pure gift. How could there be joy in such anguish?
It was truly you alone, Beloved, who carried all the weight.

Now in all my troubles I feel your cross upon my back,
your arm around my shoulder, your breath on my neck,
your mournful, hopeful eyes, still gentle, holding me.
I am glad to be here. You speak to me:

           “Come to me, all you that are weary
           and are carrying heavy burdens,
           and I will give you rest..
           Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
           for I am gentle and humble in heart,
           and you will find rest for your souls.
           For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

                          [—Mt. 11.28-30]

   —April 18, 2019

Notre Dame

Has what you love not yet
fallen to ashes?
Or can you still cling?

We all have different treasures,
soon to be relics.
What is common is loss.

In the marketplace of sorrow
We all have the same coin. 
Buy nothing. Give it away. 

We seek that other fire
that needs no fuel but us,
Refining, not destroying. 

“My body broken for you”
and risen again
in hearts that burn and are not consumed. 

Grant us the grace of those we love
who are not yet ashes. 
Teach us to love while we may.

   —April 17, 2019

Marathon

You who are weary,
who have been doing this a long time,
you who struggle to keep going,
You are still going!
You are amazing!
You who don't think you can go on:
I salute you!
You can go on, if you slow down
before you tire yourself too much.
You have the energy within you—
just find your right pace.
You who run through pain,
through self-doubt and crazy voices in your head,
you are amazing.
You who don't feel beautiful,
who are falling behind what you hoped,
who aren't doing your personal best,
I salute you.
You are going on! You are doing this!
Even you who step away,
whose path does not lead to other people's finish line—
you are doing what is in you to do.
You are amazing! I salute you.
We are all doing our best.
And you who cheer your neighbors on,
who don't give up encouraging, appreciating,
celebrating—you are amazing!

Look at us do this remarkable thing!
How can we not cheer each other on?

   —April 16, 2019

Once you have come back

         “Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat,
         but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail;
         and you, when once you have come back,
         strengthen your siblings.”

                  —Luke 22.31-32


How deeply you believe in me!
How graciously you offer this kindness in my weakness.
How you see me not as my brokenness
but as the one I am becoming.
You are with me already on the far side of my faults.
You are already resurrected without my failings,
and draw me up with you.
I soak in your deep love;
I let your hope become me.
I die and rise in you.

   —April 15, 2019

Sifted like wheat

         “Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat,
         but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail;
         and you, when once you have come back,
         strengthen your siblings.”

                  —Luke 22.31-32

Beloved, I give you myself,
ripe and unripe, dappled and incomplete,
dead and raised.

I wave my palms,
         and yet I mean you harm.
I receive your body and blood in love,
         and I collude in your suffering.
We spread our cloaks before you
         all the way to the cross.
We cry for justice,
         feeding on the labor of the poor.
You are my highest treasure,
         which I will deny.
I will learn from you,
         then put you on trial,
         and not examine myself,
         and forget how never you judge me.
I promise my faithfulness,
         and I betray.

And yet by your grace I will come back.
Beloved, sift me, and redeem the wheat from the chaff.
Receive my broken, ill-fitting pieces,
bless them with your grace,
and mend me. Make me whole again.
Take my little faith with you to the cross;
in your dying let me die, and raise me new,
so that not with flawless piety
but with a widened heart, ripened by death,
I may strengthen my siblings.

—April 12, 2019

Stones will cry out

         Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
         “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”
         He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent,
         the stones would shout out.”

                           —Luke 22.39-40

The stones they didn't throw sing “Mercy!”
The five smooth stones chant, “Trust.”
Stones from the well where the woman met him
sing of the deep living waters.
Stepping stones and stumbling blocks murmur, “Grace.”
Jacob's pillow, dream stone, offers its luminous silence.
Tablets of stone shout “Attend.”
The stone the builders rejected speaks of One Who Cares.
The stone that never became bread says, “What is.”
The stone that was rolled away says nothing
but rolls away from every grave
praising and praising and praising.

   —April 11, 2019

Hosanna

I will wave palm branches today.
Yes, I know they will be burned tomorrow;
I know my praise will turn to betrayal.
My hope will vanish into terror.
I know my passion for justice will be swallowed
by my lust for safety.
I know.
But I dare to trust my fickleness will be redeemed,
and is already.
I dare to believe now because I can,
even if later I will recant.
I dare to call for justice
though I myself will delay it.
I dare to have joy, even before the disaster,
because I know I will have joy again.
God has already blessed my brokenness,
transformed my evil, conquered my death.
This is my faith: that in the face of my sin
I rejoice.
In the face of evil I have hope,
in the face of failure I am confident,
in the face of death I live life.
How revolutionary, to rejoice in the face of despair!
Mortal, flawed, inadequate and doomed,
I wave my palm for the Beloved.
And the Beloved smiles.
Hosanna in the highest.

   —April 10, 2019

"I have need of it"

         “Go into the village ahead of you,
         and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt
         that has never been ridden.
         Untie it and bring it here.
         If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’
         just say this, ‘The Beloved needs it.’”

                  —Luke 19.30-31

My dear one,
your heart, your time,
your prayer, your imagination,
your faith and your doubt—
I need it.
Your thoughts, your voice,
the way you treat strangers,
I need it.
I need your presence
where there is hurt.
I need your risk in loving those
who are hard to love,
your vulnerability in caring for what is heartbreaking,
your hope in the dawn long before dawn.
I need you to convey me into the city,
to bear me into people's hearts.
You, donkey-plain,
ordinary and waiting,
you are what I need.
Listen:
I have sent my servants
to untie you.

   —April 9, 2019

Hidden powers

There are millions
of microbes living in you,
living beings you can't see.
I wonder how many other
creatures of God as well,
how many spirits,
and how many gifts,
how many living prayers,
how many songs?

I bet they know to do things
we can't imagine,
have powers we don't have without them,
beautify us in ways we'll never see.
Alone we would be lone indeed,
but together what courage we have!

I bet each of us with our billions
can be amazing.

Let's astonish the world
with our dancing.

   —April 8, 2019

Deserted place


Leave the noise of the traffic of ideas.
Ignore fear's nicknames for you.
Desert them.
Find an empty place.

Naked trees bear witness without speaking.
Silence falls
among sparse grasses like light.
The sea breathes in and out.
A single bird descends overhead.
Only God can say your name.

This deserted place won't tell you who you are.
Listen to it.

___________________
Weather Report

Silence,
deepening throughout the day,
as the world sinks into the mystery
that spoke it.
Chance of light, with partial darkness,
both holy.

   —April 5, 2018


You, here, today

 The poor you always have with you;
         you do not always have me

                           —John 12.8

         I was hungry, and you fed me.
                           —Matthew 25.35


Beloved,
where will I meet you today?
Give me faith to go beyond my pity
for some imagined “poor;”
for now, in this moment, I have you,
not in some heavenly dream
but in this world, before me,
hurting, humble, disguised as one of me.
Give me the urgency of the moment,
faith in impending completion,
passion to feed you in your hunger,
to accompany you in your pain,
to anoint your wounded feet, now
here in this place,
before it is too late for you
and for me,
now, not in another life time.
Beloved, where will I meet you in pain today?
I am ready.

—April 4, 2019

 

Her hands, her hair

         Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard,
         anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair.

                           —John 12.3


God does not promise to save you from suffering,
or to remove you from this life and its jagged edges.
God shares your space in it, offers blessing in it,
anointing your nights as well as days.
The cross is no scheme to get you off a hook somewhere;
it's the Beloved, with you in your pain.

Let the Beloved pour herself out on your troubles,
let her pour out a jar of tears for you,
wipe your aching feet with her hair.
Let the whole house of you be filled
with the fragrance of God's blessing.
Others don't feel your pain but she does,
they will flee but she will be with you.

Lay before her your sorrows and your rage.
Feel her hands upon you, her hair, her heart.
You are in the holy of holies.
The world's derision fades away outside the gate.
She looks at you with love
that will stay with you forever.


  —April 3, 2019

Mary anoints Jesus

         “She bought it so that she might keep it
         for the day of my burial.”

                  —John 12.7

His Ash Wednesday.
At the home of one who has been anointed by death
the others carouse oblivious but
a woman of sorrows, and acquainted with grief
surrenders what she has clung to,
anoints with her treasure
—what breaking this outpouring asked—
blesses with her body
feet soon to be pierced.
The house is filled with the fragrance
of death, the dark coils that face us
toward completion.
Dust to dust.
Death is not our end but our guide.
“Now are the days you have,
this is the moment to love.”
He speaks to himself.

Buried now with love,
he will live these days even more truly.
Even the last is the first of the rest.
Having repented, repointed
toward love most giving
he too is ready to wash feet,
to pour out his body,
to face death with love.
He rises from the table, risen.

   —April 1, 2019

April fools

The “real world” is a house of illusion
built by a trickster with no jollity in mind.

So much you think is real,
but is only for the devil's merriment.

To truly see you have to know your are blinded
and see what cannot be seen.

True wisdom is courage to look foolish.
Don't fall for what your fear takes so seriously.

What you cling to, drop awkwardly.
What you have been instructed, forget.

Death is a practical joke.
Stand outside it, and see.

First you die, then you live.
Don't let the ashes fool you.

   —April 1, 2019

Deep in

Quiet One
I am here
deep in the mystery of You
The sometimes emptiness I have felt
weary, fruitless
the silence
the absence
that was You
releasing me from old ways
old assurances
Unveiling me
Inviting me deeper
into the mystery of You

Running out of thoughts
running free
Falling out of knowing
out of all understanding
into being

Presence of the unnoticeable

Mystery
vague as fog
warm us sun

Womb

I am
Here

March 29, 2019

Hollowed out

O Incomprehensible One,
you have taken the sharp knife of this life
and hollowed me out.
Scraped my insides.
Everything taken. Scoured. Empty.
You have punched holes in me
in painful places.
Helpless.
The wind blows through me.

And what is this?
Flute music!

   —March 28, 2019

The father's song

         His father came out and began to plead with him.
                  —Luke 15.28

My Beloved,
both of you,
come back to me.
You have distanced yourself,
walked away from the family.
Come back.
I want you.
My grace I give you,
my feast I give you,
come feast.
You are neither sinner nor righteous,
you are Beloved.
Nothing have you earned or forfeited:
my love is a gift.
All of my love
is yours.
Come in and feast with me.
Silence your impudent mind
and come in to me.
Here is my joy in you,
all of you, together.
Let me pour myself out at this table for you.
Come, belong to me.
Be mine.
Come.

—March 27, 2019

The older brother's song

         The older brother became angry and refused to go in.
                  —Luke 15.28

I refuse you.
I resent somebody, and your love for them.
I want to be better, more deserving.
I won't go to your heaven if he's there.
He's not my brother. Your kin, but not mine.
I denounce your party. I scorn your joy.
I won't go in.

Yet you come out to me,
here in the far country of my bitterness.
Just like him I have left your side;
just like him you invite me back.
I am no more worthy, no more loving.
He came to that point of turning to you.
I have not come there yet.

Yet you come to me.
You offer perfect love.
Will I release my resentment?
Will I rejoin my kin?
Will I come in?
Will I come?

   —March 26, 2019