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

Buried talent

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

God, what coin of you
         is buried in me?
What gifts have you given me
         that I have interred,
         rolled a stone over?
What skill or passion, grace or yearning,
         have I hidden away in fear?
What is the breath of your Spirit in me
         that I neglect?

What is the fear that binds me?
         What am I afraid of?

Is it real?

What if I were to spend myself for you,
         to put your treasure in me to use?
         What would that be like?

Would you, the Giver of My Life,
         not be pleased?


Beloved,
         lend me your shovel.
 

   —November 16, 2017

Heaven

Why long
for that other place

suffused with with music
and beauty,

that God-soaked world,
when we haven't begun

and hardly know how
to endure

this
one?


                                   

   —November 13, 2017

Become a bird

First, when you were wanting,
it was beautiful.
Now you are attached,
and it's necessary.
This will have you wasting your life,
tying and untying knots.

You can become a bird
without a path
but a sure knowledge of home.

The sky spreads its arms wide.

 

   —November 9, 2017

Like the Realm of God

How is this like the Realm of God?

Bridesmaids await the groom.
Some run out of oil.
The others decline to share.
Right when the groom comes
the unprepared ones run off to buy oil.
The others enter the hall without them.
When they return, the groom rejects them.

Bridesmaids who aren't prepared,
others who refuse to share,
those who run away right when they're needed,
those who are happy to desert them,
and a groom who refuses to admit his friends:
none of these people are behaving well. None.

How is this like the realm of God?
A voice in your heart recoils, says,
“This could all be different!”

There. That is like the realm of God.
 

   —November 8, 2017

Being there

         Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom....
                  —Matthew 25.1

Jesus tells a story: bridesmaids await a groom who is delayed. Some run out of oil. The others won't give up their oil, so those who are short go out to buy more. When the groom comes, they're off at the hardware store. They return to the party too late to be admitted.

We think the maidens are “foolish” because they didn't plan for the groom's long delay (as if that's a spiritual issue). And we suppose they had no choice but to dash off to get oil, and, sadly, they miss the groom. But is that really the point? Were they really just the lighting crew? Does it occur to them (or us) that maybe they could just run out of oil, and the groom will be glad to see them because he'd rather have their company than their flashlights? Their purpose is to meet the groom—but right when he needs them most, they're off taking care of their own worries. They aren't there for him.

But they're not alone. Everybody in the story fails to be there for each other. The “wise” maidens could have shared. It wouldn't have killed them. But they make their sisters go shopping at midnight— and are happy to go to the party without them. They're not willing to be there for the others.

And the groom—in what way is he not a jerk? He won't let his friends come to the party—because they're late? After he himself has made them wait all fracking night?? And on top of that he insults them, saying, “I don't know you!” He vaporizes his friendship over tardiness? Wow. What a prince of selfishness.

So what's Jesus up to in this story? I think he's setting us up. We're so anxious to “get” the story, to believe something pious about it, to judge between wise and foolish, we miss the actual relationships—like the maidens out buying moral-of-the-story oil instead of just being there. Life is about relationships, not lamps. It really doesn't matter what we think, or how much “oil in our lamps” we have, or how well others meet our expectations. What matters is that we're there for each other.

Pray that you might run out of oil, having given it away to be there for someone in need. Trust the Bridegroom will be happy for you to be there.

   —November 7, 2017

Sutherland Springs Beatitudes

Blessed are they who are devastated,
         for theirs is the realm of heaven.

Blessed are they who grieve for this country,
         for they shall be comforted.

Blessed they who are nonviolent,
         for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who long for a culture of peace
         for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are they who seek healing, not revenge,
         for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are they who desire only blessing for all,
         for they shall see God.

Blessed are they who work for the healing of the world,
         for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who meet opposition
         in their work for peace and justice,
         for theirs is the realm of heaven.
Blessed are you when people dismiss and insult you.
         Rejoice, and be glad:
         great is your reward in the heart of all things,
for in just this way
         they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

   —November 6, 2017
 

My children

God kneels
on the street

Silence
It's been like this

ten thousand years
Still kneeling

weeping
hand outstretched

My children
No judgment, no ire

Whole-making music
under our broken song

If only the others
could hear

Deep silence
Gentle weeping

My children
                        

   —November 1, 2017

Love poem to God

     
         You shall love the Holy One your God
         with all your heart
         and with all your soul and with all your mind.

                  —Matthew 22.37


Beautiful One,
even walking toward you
I am falling.
Even as I sit beside you
something in my gut drops,
lets go
         inside you.

I think about you in night moments
with desire that isn't craving.
I look for you everywhere.
I see your arms around me
until I see them.
I feel your breath on me
         inside me.

I am told to fear, to worship,
to believe, to save my soul,
but that's not love.
I forget my soul
         for you.

I'm wounded by your sadness,
revived by your hope.
I want happiness for you.
Ah, what I would do for you!
I want for you all beauty,
all joy, all wholeness,
for you, beloved,
                           for you.                       

   —October 27, 2017
 

Your neighbor as your self

         Love your neighbor as yourself.
                  —Matthew 22.39

Neighbor,
stranger,
you are my self,
the rest of me,
my dark other,
my thrown shadow,,
of God,
beloved
         if only I will see.

How I treat you
is how I treat
my own hidden self,
unspeaking,
longing,
waiting for me to set free
         my own blessing.

Mirror,
neighbor,
my only wish
is that you
receive love;
deeply
         receive love.

 

   —October 26, 2017

Only love

From my attempts
to be right,
to protect myself,
to win,
to survive—
anything other than to love,

you save me
only
by loving me.

Beloved,
be my heart.
 

   —October 25, 2017

It's easy to forget

It's easy to forget
on a dirt road pothole day,

easy to mistake
in the gray, tattered dishrag of life,

easy to miss
with news wailing,

easy to disbelieve
when you fall to your knees
not in prayer but something
much worse,

that here in the dull and rough
God is dreaming
a glorious thing

and we
still becoming
can find it.

   —October 24, 2017

Angels

Even among those of us
most needful
or on the edge
the angels of God
don't really judge
whether we are good or bad,
they are not sent on any mission,

they just really like
to be with us.   

   —October 23, 2017