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.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

some thoughts on Church

This summer I’m looking for a church. And I don’t know if I’m looking for a new church or a new liturgy or a new denomination, to be honest. Last year on Good Friday my home church of nine-or-so years held a Tenebrae service.  Since that night I've known I wouldn't stay and I had a feeling that the evangelical nondenominational culture probably wasn’t where I was going to end up. It made me terribly sad, that night, and it still makes me sad. I love my church. I was deeply invested there, so many people there invested in me, cared for me, challenged me, gave me opportunities to serve and watched me grow.
I moved away for school and immediately found a church that I love. Every Sunday I meet up with a group of friends and we walk to church together in the green grass of a park, through a neighborhood with a pomegranate tree and an orange tree, up a steep hill and into the cool white and wooden sanctuary of Redeemer church.  I love it there. It’s like coming home after a long trip, like diving into cool water when you’ve sweated for hours in the hot sun, like taking a long drink of water when you have waited with thirst. It has made for me a reality the words “come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I learned there for the first time the power and significance of the table of the Eucharist and its celebration. I experienced the relief of silence and private prayer in the setting of worship. I understood the power of scripture as I heard it read on its own week after week, a hundred different voices. For the first time in my life I heard the words of the celebration of Eucharist spoken over me by a woman, and the elements blessed by her voice, and it remains a sweetly poignant moment in my memory. I heard the people singing, in that church, and the elders praying for the people, and the children crying and laughing and murmuring -- the heartbeat of an alive people.
I have discovered that I love pews. That there are hymns with power to move me that worship songs never had. That I love simplicity. That I need to learn to listen, and it is hard for me to do that in a “louder” way of doing church.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

{the quality of mercy}

It is raining and I feel
It is about time

If I were away two-thousand miles
I would race down to your room

and we would run to put feet
and faces and hands in the cold
rare rain and we would smile
and probably sing

I was just reading of it,
of mercy unstrained which falls like rain
and that perhaps is why I can’t believe it
like Shakespeare did,
those two-thousand miles

to a desert land where rain is neither
generous nor unstrained
where if you hesitated you might miss it
where it is quickly come and swiftly gone

and we are left not wet enough
not cold enough
just thirsty for long gray wet days

and for mercy twice blessed.

Friday, March 28, 2014


Life is absurd
the bubbles on the green pond are absurd
how they bobble and burst

It is absurd that I should living
be sitting here talking in the sun with you
about the paradoxes we already live
know it or not

see it or blind

ears but not hear

hearts but don’t—

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Uses of Sorrow


Who am I that I should wake
to the summons of bells calling
the hungry people to sustenance
light crowding the golden trees
and warm shapes of cool round
air fluttering my eyelids
filling my ears with birdsong?

Out there it is brimming over
yellow and blue as I dress
quietly, spilling over too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014



You should not
so splendid and solitary be
with fine hairs shining
spiked from green stem
bright color design set

I dream you tossing torn
silky petals among a
thousand fellows in birdsong
of a great field where
prairie ripples wave in the sun
water-like, you one
blotched color spot in
shining brown and green.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Theme & Variations on Stillness


I ~

     I am a little pool of water,
         stirring always with motion.
I try to hold the sky in me,
    the blue, blue sky
 but its clarity easily ripples
    in trembling concentric circles shaken outward.
I try to hold the green there
      of slender smooth trees
   stretching above, silhouetting
         slim lines, leaf shapes
    but then silent  spinning  leaf
       hits  my  face
           breaks  reflection.
Water-stillness is frail.

    I am a little pool of water
            fragile to the touch.
      Still  me. 

II ~ 

Lazy and lingering, in sweet slowing sweeps
A lone leaf falls, fleet on slopes of air
In jolt it meets water, face surface leaps
Back in smooth concentric interruption to reflection fair.

Ripples, pulled back, stretched, released, meet
To be intersection of light on smooth face
of treed reflections formed in seat
From liquid cool wet and wide, trembling in lace.

Stirred up, you are nothing but brownness beneath the trees
You have no colored image smiling at sky
Trembled answers to birches stretched and splendoured leaves
Instead, lonely, you blank and troubled lie.

III ~ 

I am a jar of river water all
     shaken up  (it's easy really sometimes
to shake me)  but I have
       methods of order to appear
 cool,   calm,  collected
         and none can guess (though some can see)
the swirling inside, clamoring
         of heart
             mind.         (Which shall win? Or you,
                       Lord Christ?)

Monday, January 20, 2014

on clarity and silence

   I have time now to sort thoughts. I lay awake at night and try to follow trails, threads, sort them in my mind so I can return to them later.
   I was driving home from a friend's house on one of the coldest nights of the winter and I passed the library. Snow was heaped against the windows and the Christmas wreaths were still up despite it being several weeks into January. But inside the orderly bookcases were flooded with warm light and I thought how much  I want that for my inward life.

Some days I don't know how to write this blog anymore. I wonder why I started writing and why I continued. I write a lot these days but I write for myself. I write poems that I re-read for the truth I wrote out of myself and the insight that helps me to gain clarity. But those poems for the time being will stay in smooth black ink on creamy lined pages or in the word documents of my computer.

So I wonder what to write.

I am trying to learn gentleness these days; and quietness. I'm trying to learn what it means to love as Christ and so I sit with things a long time. I swallow words and speak differently than I started out to. I see how powerful words are and how carelessly we use them. How carelessly I've used them. I'm trying to relearn what it truly means to think before you speak.
 I am learning silence and stillness. Listening.

I'm searching for clarity.

So if I'm silent here, it's because I am wondering what to say and I'm learning how much better it is to say it in person. I'm trying to know my own heart and to go out from myself to know as much as I am able the hearts of others and learn to serve them beyond myself. I'm failing at it a lot, but I'm slowly learning. I'm trying to be patient. To be quiet.

I have stories and stories that I would love to share. But just for now I am turning them over in my heart like you would turn over a beloved keepsake in the light: studying nuances, considering shadows and intricacies, memorizing lines and shades. I'm soaking them in like a child who goes outside in the first warm spring sunshine: hungry.

So all of this is to say one little thing, I suppose. I used to try to post at least once a month, not abandon this little blog of mine which only a handful of people read. But I may not worry about that this year. If it happens, wonderful. If it does not, equally wonderful. I pray that I am present living life whether or not I have capacity to write from it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Night [slats]

I lay back flat
look up slat by slat
above my eyes shadows varying shade

Used to be
I never thought
drifted too quickly to wonder
the shape of virtue
or line of wisdom
I mulled daytimes, walking.

Restless now
Tossing I turn heaps over in my thoughts
past dark

Could be I was sitting
skirts tangled in a tumbled heap
of books waist deep

Empty slat shelves
staring me down.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

from "Riprap"

In my mind, the arguers never stop
the skeptic and the amazed
the general and the particular, in their
   uneasy relationship.

Then the robin sings.

Then the bulb of the lily becomes the stalk,
the stalk opens into a handkerchief of white light.

O what is beauty 
that I should be up at
four A.M. trying to arrange this
thick song?What is beauty that I should
bow down in the fields of the world, as though
someone, somewhere,made it?

O what is beauty
that I feel it to be so hot-blooded and suggestive
so filled with imperative

beneath the ease of its changes,
between the leaves and the clouds of its thousand
    and again thousand opportunities?

~Mary Oliver, from The Leaf and the Cloud 

Friday, January 3, 2014

on threads and writers and readers and poets.

 Reading books changes the way I think. I'm reading Annie Dillard right now, The Maytrees, and I find myself thinking in her odd cadence of sentences, thinking in words and lines, in similes and metaphors. I look at the world differently and wonder at it, try to see it from different perspectives.
     I'm reading Anna Karenina and noticing how Tolstoy uses children's relationship with adults to highlight aspects of the adults' characters. I wonder of that's true, if children have intuitive sense of adults the way Tolstoy thought they did.
     I walked out of the library yesterday with a book of collected Rilke poetry, translated from the German by Robert Bly. I sat down to read and skipped the introduction, going straight to the first set of poems. I fell in love with the first poem so much that I wanted to write it down then in my commonplace book, memorize it, run the words over my tongue and discover the mystery of their meaning.
     Sometimes I think I care too much. I run to show my sister Rilke and she laughs at me but she reads: first in German out loud and we laugh, and then her face quiets and she reads the English translation and her eyes get thoughtful. "That's interesting," she says, and I wonder how she doesn't read it again and sigh with the beauty of it, and try to puzzle out its intricacies and meanings. I know she has her own deep cares; she tells me of the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem she read the other day that was beautiful, and that too, the first poem in the book.


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