Sunday, May 24, 2020

On a Day of Memory


On a Day of Memory

Blessed are those who mourn
those charged an awful price
who grieve still and always
who are able to fully remember
and even now weep weary in that remembering

Careful are those who mourn
careful to balance ideologies --
the obligatory pride in nation
with the seething anger at the mechanism --
in order to keep their souls intact

Envied are those who mourn
envied by many guilt-laden survivors
who carry their own deliverance as a cross
who wish to impart to those grieving
the peace they themselves cannot seem to find

Carried are those who mourn
hoisted high as names on street signs and monuments
on prayers and quivering petitions
on the lips of their legacy
in the energy of a Creation that erects Ebenezers

In each morning of new mercies,
kept and cradled be all those who mourn



Wednesday, May 6, 2020

For Teachers . . . Thank You


A few years ago, a woman I barely know (whose children are not a part of our local public school system) asked me nonchalantly  if our high school is “as HORRIBLE as I’ve heard”.  

Ok, see I have a loyalty bone that is connected directly to whatever part of my brain creates the anger monster, so I did not respond too well in the moment. I mean, hey, that’s my kids’ school! It felt like a question born out of ignorance, privilege and idealism. I wish I had had the wherewithal at that moment to take a breath and answer more thoughtfully, because here is what I would like to say if she were to ask me that question today:

Of course our school has problems, just as every school, business, organization and family, for that matter, has problems. Think about it:  Our school is an ever-changing organism composed of administration and teachers struggling to reach and teach the personalities of several thousand young human beings all at once. Wild and wondering human beings whose frontal lobes are not yet fully formed. Human beings with a million different personalities and bents and backgrounds and learning styles and combinations thereof.

These educators are dealing with adult-sized children who are all trying to figure life out in a thousand different ways, and most of them have no clue how vital this education will be to improving their futures. Nevermind that some of them walk into the school setting out of an unimaginably painful home life, mounting a desperate (unrecognized) search for meaning and purpose and love.

So, yeah, I’m sure sometimes that can get a little sticky and make a day “horrible” at our high school.

However, what I have myself witnessed in this “horrible” environment might also just blow your mind. Teachers often giving up their evenings to come watch my kids (“their kids”) in a loooong play or musical. And they are genuinely proud of them. Paraprofessionals forming strong bonds with kids and their families to support them even outside the school environment. Dedicated admin, directors, coaches all strategizing programs to best fit the community struggles these future world-builders, their students, are facing. Teachers reaching into their own often-shallow pockets to provide necessary tools for a young life whose potential has not yet been self-actualized. They are giving their time, energy and heart to believe in our kids.

Recently, I have heard from teachers who are brokenhearted at this sudden disconnect with their classes. They just miss them. I hear teachers tell how they sometimes find themselves in tears because they can’t seem to get some of their students, the ones who need connection the most, to connect through the online methods and continue their education during this difficult season. And it’s not because these teachers are worried about a bad score on a standardized test stealing their job from them (Those tests have died a rightful death this year. Thank you, Lord!). It’s because they worry that next year, when things do return to some sort of normal procedure, these precious souls will find themselves even further behind in their learning and will want to give up.

Yes, community is a messy and sometimes “horrible” thing, I guess. Sometimes it’s downright terrifying. And it is a constant, dizzying process to try and make things better. But let’s recognize what kind of fight our educators go up against every day. I’m so thankful God put it in the hearts of a select few of His creations to desire this battle. We, as a society, need them more than we know.

At the end of the day, these teachers are human, just like you, with worries and families and struggles and weaknesses. And, no, we won’t always agree on tactics, practices and plans, but I can tell you that they are doing their best to build something beautiful in their classrooms and in relationship with these kids and in our collective future.

I’m glad to stand close by and cheer them on.




Thursday, April 30, 2020

Final Poem of PAD Challenge



The Tune of the Moon in the Late Afternoon

Like an actor in the wings awaiting her cue
Peeking ‘round the velvety curtain of blue
Halfway concealed, half in full view
Hear the tune of the moon in the late afternoon


Hastening the darkness so that she might shine
“The Sun’s had his circuit,” she wiltily whines
Then plots a great thieving. “His light shall be mine!”
Sings the tune of the moon in the late afternoon


I take in her opus as the Sun’s bedding down
For I too wait and wail in the wings for a crown
So I praise our shared hope hidden in the sweet sound
Of the tune of the moon in the late afternoon



Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Poem - Total Time Elapsed



Total Time Elapsed

Feeding the frenzy of milliseconds
is a good Captain
kind and compassionate
joyous and jealous
wary and ever-watching --
and all of this is good


Coasting tall on the tides of time
are we misled miscreants
cleverly clueless
insatiably seeking
eternal, yet ending --
and all of this is good


The question is one of what we spend
which the true currency
mammon or moments?
riches or routines?
what’s spent, what’s kept
and which of these is good


And in the end comes an accounting
of total time elapsed
of words tendered as wages
of talents long expended
of trust nailed to the Perfect
and of Who is reckoned good



Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Love Poem



A Love Poem

The Love that shaped the earth’s foundations
and beckoned forth Life’s living fountain
and held up the Hill of the Skull
calls out to me
my ears gone dull and defiant
as I battle for faux height in a land of faux giants
and jockey for might and position
grieving and graying in vile indecision
and yet Love’s echo
won’t
die
down
the sound is sweet
but to a broken vessel, foreign
Love will pour in every ounce of
good to become known and
understood and to take back
what Love has always owned
and isn’t that lovely?
that while I was trying to scale heights
someOne yet above me was
pressing down
pressing hard to keep me grounded
and tangled in that Vine by which
the finest of Love nourishes
every
starving
soul

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Trying to Pray

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

A poem on a hard day.


Like a Dream, But Holy

She closed her eyes in prayer
and found behind those eyelids
no clear image 
all was warped greyish-brown
as if subliminal sludge were
dripping across her mind’s eye
muddying her God-eye
her ethereal focus all blurred and distorted


She parted her lips to petition
and felt a greedy quicksand
seize her penitent tongue
dragging the words away to
the abyss
those determined whispers unable to
fly their verses to the heavens


Her pleading became beyond --
beyond sensory and
past human effort --
into groanings of Spirit-depth
like a dream uncontrollable but holy 
and this blind, mute seeker --
she tries to trust that the Helper will be
sufficient for these weak days
filled with murky, music-less invocations


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Holy Week Poems - Easter Sunday

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixaby.

Run


See the place where He lay --
it's empty,
so run with the news!
Falter not at death's broken shackles lying about. 
Stumble not at loss of eloquent phrase.
Be plunged deep into believing waters
and rise with resurrection songs on the tongue.
See the place where you once had lain --
it's empty,
so run with the news!



Saturday, April 11, 2020

Holy Week Poems - Saturday

Image by Pexels from Pixaby

A Day in Between

Sit
in the
silence this
holy Sabbath.
Strain your soul and hear
fear fading to freedom
in the hours lodged between
the vile wrenching and the rising.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Holy Week Poems - Good Friday

Image by congerdesign from Pixaby


Friday

Abram set his eyes on the twinkling stars
to count his promised progeny.

Messiah was swallowed in shadows as the sun itself died at midday.


Moses commanded the children’s doorposts
be clothed in a sacred lamb’s blood.

In agony, the true Lamb of God bathed humanity in His own lifeblood.


David wielded a harp and a lyre
and carefully led his cherished lambs.

The Son of David bore the mode of His own execution
and was Himself slaughtered before the eyes of His beloved flock.


All of ancient holy writ angles toward this
to this ghastly moment
the putrid wine
the violence
the confusion and chaos
the sound of crushing
the infinite abandonment
on that Good Friday fuming with dashed hopes.


And we have caressed and cradled iniquities,
coddling, nurturing rebellious stains.

This Rescuer took them from us, strapped the offenses to Himself
and murdered them all in His own demise.


 



Thursday, April 9, 2020

Holy Week Poems - Thursday

Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixaby

Holy Thursday

Arrange the table, prep the meal
A few more grains descend
Lean in close t’ward sweet reveal
Oh, sacrament, begin


Sing and pray, then take some rest
While blood drops fall as sand
Upon this field of violence
Of combat, soul and hand



Then follow on, yet stand apart
Beware the watchful eye
Acidic lies slide off the tongue
While fading hours slip by



But morning's call doth break the spell
Confront thy sin . . . and cry



Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Holy Week Poems - Wednesday


Photo by Ernie A. Stephens from Pixabay

Two Wednesdays

Crawl carefully back across the timeline
to a holy Wednesday sandwiched between
parades and persecution
The bustle in the sacred city continues and
an unseen treachery is taking root
yet the Word keeps His mid-week agenda under wraps
Peeking around the shadows of silence
we hungry followers plead,
“Tell us now, please,
What are You up to in this day, Lord?
What is Your perfect plan on this Wednesday?”
No reply – we are left to wonder


Then whiplash now into today, dear one,
to this messy bend in a week stuffed full
of fear and press briefings and bland busyness
This mute mood distracts us from our distractions
as we battle the depths inside a different kind of silence
The frenetic movements are quieter today
and so we hungry followers plead,
“Tell us now, please,
What are You up to right now, Lord?
For heaven’s sake, what is Your perfect plan doing on this Wednesday?”
Wisdom offers no audible reply just yet
so we repent 
we worship
in hope, we wait






Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Holy Week Poems - Tuesday


Holy Week - Tuesday

Come walk the way of holy feast
Bask in the words of thy High Priest
Ponder a fig tree so soon deceased
As Tuesday rolls around

The grimy grip of jealous hate --
Whilst vilest demons salivate --
In His countrymen, doth lie in wait
To steal His rightful crown

But stay yet watchful, humble souls,
And trim your lamps with ample oil
Your name’s writ on celestial roll
Soon evil will be bound

For you hear Him counter each wayward plea
With His Self-ordained authority
So, mountains, get thee to the sea!
The King has come to town!


It's our bi-yearly Poem-A-Day writing time during April. I haven't been staying on prompt too well, but I think the topics of the day and especially the greater topics of this special week warrant their own works. I pray you are all well and leaning in to the Lord in these exceedingly strange days.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Unusual Kindness

I haven’t been on a big grocery run in 10 days per CDC recommendations. There are five adult/adult-size people living under our roof right now, and we have begun scrapping the bottom of the storehouse, so I decided to get to HEB early when they opened to try to load up for another week and a half or so of isolation.
But apparently, HEB is only allowing a certain number of shoppers in the store at one time, and even before they opened, the line of shoppers waiting to get in stretched maybe fifty deep into the parking lot, all spaced out, with empty carts in hand, standing in somber silence. Waiting for their daily (or weekly) bread.
And since I didn’t have two hours to wait in line, I turned around and headed back to our local Walmart to scavenge for what we needed. Walmart wasn’t crowded, but it was busy-ish. No crazy hoarding going on. But what struck me most as soon as I walked in was, again, that same somber silence. Every face like stone. Not like the usually noisy bustle of our Walmart. Some customers wore masks. Many wore gloves. All were on guard. The sweet greeter at the entrance was hustling about trying to quickly get someone to refill the anti-bac wipe container by the buggies at the front. She was beginning to panic.
And no one spoke. Everyone just seemed . . . angry. Not like an overt anger because there is still no toilet paper or Germ-X in stock, but a low-key, droning, simmering anger. An anger at life in general right now, I suppose. An anger spiced with fear.
We are all afraid of one another right now, and that’s just so very sad.
I thought about crying right there in the baking goods aisle, because the only flour in stock was the bulk-ginormous bag variety, and I had to get flour, but where in heaven’s name was I going to store that much flour in our already human-crowded, pantry-deficient little house? Aaaah!! See, it’s the little things, the stupid things that are making me spiral lately.
And I remembered (was Spirit-reminded, probably) that just before I left the house, I had been going through our Acts study, reading chapter 28 where Paul and company are shipwrecked on this little island called Malta. And I remembered how the Word told me just this morning that the natives on that island, strangers to Paul and Christianity and maybe even to upscale Roman civilization in general – the natives showed them “unusual kindness”.
UNUSUAL kindness.
And me there in the baking goods aisle with all this fury and grief about a needlessly large bag of flour. And all the other shoppers carefully navigating around the other humans in their path to get the last bag of frozen tater tots or carton of Go-Gurt, eyeing any coughers like they are armed enemy assassins. The anger and quiet grief stewing below the surface of this suddenly broken “unbreakable” society.
God, we need you to make us able.
Able to show this unusual kindness somehow. At a distance even. To break through the cold terror clouding our collective hearts. When we can’t hug the hurting, show us how to support one another to Your glory. We don’t know how to get through this, Lord, and still keep our humanity, still let the divine spark shine.
God, show us how, make us able to love one another with unusual kindness right now.