Saturday, February 13, 2016

January 11,2016

    What is happiness? According to Mary Oliver, not a town on a map or a point of arrival, but good work, ongoing. Eternal work part of that great current of things which shall be established. Hope that the work of our hands is not in vain - it is only because of this we are able to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
     There is the satisfaction of the moment in desire-fulfilled, it is sweet but does not last. Then there is hope, singing from the bottom of your soul, singing things like faith, like light, like love, even when the world is woe-ridden and profligate in tragedy. Even, too, when you have the eyes to see tragedy and you are no audience member merely to weep but Ophelia stricken mad by the unsettling of it. Tip the world and shake the goodness out of it - can that bird still sing?
     I thought not, couldn't fathom it. Despair is its own madness, happiness and rest flung far out of fathomable reach and you a swimmer in choppy seas.
     Settle my heart, O great God, in Thee, the settled one, unmoved mover, Father of lights. Father of lights - what a name for the creator of a world in which shadows provide definition and we live half our lives in the darkness of night. How much of my life do I sleep away?
    How does the light fall, what does it say? Soft wrinkles in the white down comforter, shining cheap wood, mutely gleaming in the morning, slats casting lines on everything else behind them.
     What do you see? If Annie Dillard is right, and what you see is what you get, our life is a wild treasure hunt in which we learn to search the treasures with which the world is planted. Innocent Smith goes all the way round the earth to find the treasure of his home again.
     Perhaps we do not have because we do not ask, or we've had all along and just couldn't see it. It is the obvious things which elude our grasp. Life is a tale told four million times of a rich man who thought he was poor, because he didn't know what treasure looked like.
     Traherne tells me I am an heiress and the whole world is mine. Standing on a mountain with the rain falling lightly around me, I believe him. It is a danger to confuse metaphors. Until you spoke, I thought to love the world, with all its extravagant grace and beauty, was to lose it. How not to love this place so exorbitant in its offerings, so lavish in its presents? And I grew afraid and fear tempted me to avert my eyes, dare not unto seeing visions. There you thundered in, unexpected, with five sweet words -
      "I am the beautiful thing."
and the world became again my palace and playground, my friend, solace, rest and teacher. All along I have been and am learning to love you. Who else could give so bewilderingly an array of such absurdity, this smattering in excess detail, lavish enormity, delight with terror in it and cruelty with strange grace? Only you, sweet Father of lights. Glory be.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

famine & feast

Is it always famine or feast with you,
fickle faithful Father?
when I was flooded floundering with words
and not one to write,
only burning bitter question marks
in my mouth and mind—
that was famine time.

When I was set spinning
sent searching certainties
suddenly lost I had words then
overflowing abundant
confusion loss and fear in feast.

now again I am empty
and quiet
seen but not heard some days

a fickle child learning love

of unfathomable Father.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

the sort of quiet I'm longing for

The week before finals is appropriately titled "hell week" in the college world. With at least one major final, project, or presentation due every day this week, I'm looking forward to a quiet week at home before work starts for the summer, a room of my own and no homework to keep me up late and wake me early. I find myself just wanting to sit still and do nothing, not even read a fun book or anything, just be. I wrote this poem at the end of April, and have returned to it this week as a sort of promise of rest that I know is just around the corner, as alien as it may feel right now.

Sit still, bird-song soaked
drenched in quiet-enough
to watch shadows shift
on golden spring grass.
And be alone and no
sweet paper voice either
just you
   and no words on your tongue.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


You are God of the people
   by which you have meant at all times
and in all places
            the poor who are hungry
            the poor who are homeless
the poor who are righteous

You are God of justice
   by which you have loved the widows
and the fatherless
            and the just who are
            at their own expense
            since there was first a widow
            since the newest orphan became desolate
            since ever justice had such name.

Yet I wonder what you think
            of the girl who loved
            who said yes when she should have said no
            who stayed quiet when she should have spoken
and the man who took your name that hurt her.

I wonder what you think
            of the people who took your name in water
            but are still loving lies more than truth
            who live the easy and the comfortable
            who are running in fear, seeing neither
the running, nor the fear.

I know a person and a dozen scarred deep
            by those water people, and thick
            by your words at the wrong time
            in the wrong place for
            very wrong reasons.
And the mouths, oblivious, go on speaking.

I’m thinking of impact, Father, of words and love
            And how this church of souls
            by which I mean living people
            have left craters I have seen
            deep and tender.
And I don’t mean liturgy.


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