Friday, December 7, 2012


Scrape me small, O God,
   across your great
      mercy; your terrible
    and tender hands
       pressing down
            upon my hard heart,
               clod of clay
            crumbling through
                 wire crosses
                     of a seive,
                    baptised again,
                          with every

Saturday, November 17, 2012

do not grind

Do not grind your mind
   on the failures of the day;
  you will only sharpen Death's
        voice, lies whispered
           so soft and high,
             only the dogs can hear.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

finding my stride

Today, on one of the prettiest days autumn has given us so far, I went for a run in the park.  At .2 miles I felt completely spent.  Considering I am supposedly training for a 10K, this wasn't very promising.  I pushed on however, racing against the clock and keeping careful track of the .1 mile markers which seemed to come every mile or so. 
About a mile into my run, I ran past a particularly lovely vista, a field full of purple flowers and yellow leaves, framed by rolling hills and brilliant orange autumn trees.  As I ran by, I saw an overgrown side path, leading not past the scene but into it.  And so deciding that I was not making very good time anyway, I decided to follow it.  Occasionally, because it seemed the thing to do in such a beautiful place, I would even lift up my arms and spin or take flying leaps, "wasting" precious energy that could have gotten me closer to my perceived goal. Though beautiful, it was hard work running that path.  As I ran I had to lift my legs high in order not to trip in the tall grasses.   The path circled around the field and eventually brought me back to the gravel trail, which suddenly felt easy to run in comparison. 
It's fun to fill out a phrase in the doing and living that used to be only conceptual.  Today I discovered that "finding your stride" is a real experience, one that I've never really had before as a runner.  After my extra-curricular journey, my body found a rhythm--my legs, my lungs, my arms--and I ran farther than I have in a long time with relative ease.  It felt amazing, and it was wonderful to be able to enjoy creation (including my creaturely self) in a way I just couldn't when I first started my run.
I won't spend long drawing out the metaphor.  For now, it is sufficient to say that it is always worth it to accept God's invitations to take the path of joy, even if it is the longer route or even if it ends up being more difficult than you imagine.    
At the end of my run, I saw an old man and an old woman holding hands just beginning the trail.  He was leaning on her for support and cradling a chicken in his arms.  I'm not sure where that scene fits into my allegorical journey, except to say that mystery always has the final word of every metaphor.  And that is the way it should be. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

a poem morphs and boils


perhaps i’m tied 
to superstition 
with strings 
of childish hope, 
but tell me-- 
in your grown up
is purity made
of soap? 

this isn't terrible, but the smugness of the rhyming question with no real meaning bothers me, so i change it.


perhaps i tied my
self with strings
of rotten rope
and the purity 
i paid for
is a flake 
of dirty soap.

Too easy.


perhaps the strings
of telling, 
perhaps the children,
perhaps the flakes of hope.

i let it fall apart in hopes it will reconstitute itself

A Joke

a rotting intuition
walks into a bar 
of soap.

it doesn't.


perhaps a string 

perhaps the truest thing I've said, but not a poem

A String

This could perhaps be genius.  But, alas, it is not.  But it tried.  Sometimes it's best to walk away and cut your losses.  I suppose God writes straight with crooked strings.  So maybe He could even weave this rotten poem into His purposes and for His glory, but I don't see how.  What happens, cosmically speaking, to bad art?  I don't know.  Does it all burn?  What is left of it when it is all boiled down?  What happens, cosmically speaking, to bad theology? to childish philosophy?  to our superstitions about art's ultimate meaning?  A string of hope indeed.  All I know is that purity is not made of soap, nor man for the Sabbath, so I better get some sleep so I can be up in time to teach Sunday school to the children about the fall of man (true story).  Last week we made Adam's rib out of crumpled white pieces of paper.  One child cried out in true grief at the lameness of the craft-time.  My idea this week is to give them a clothespin (representing themselves) and have them wrap it with a string that reminds them of the way God clothed Adam and wraps him in His love, even after he sinned.  A string.  Sin.  Bad art.  Covering.  Welcome to my raw mind.

To redeem this post I will close with a Charles Spurgeon quote I found today about covering.  I pray you will dip this post into a silver bath.  God bless.

"I would, brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate the pearl oyster. A hurtful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it. It cannot eject the evil, and what does it do but cover it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl. Oh, that we could do so with the provocations we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, long-suffering, and forgiveness might be bred within us by that which else had harmed us. I would desire to keep ready for my fellow Christians, a bath of silver, in which I could electroplate all their mistakes into occasions for love. As the dripping well covers with its own deposit all that is placed within its drip, so would love cover all within its range with love, thus turning even curses into blessings. Oh that we had such love that it would cover all, and conceal all, so far as it is right and just that it should be covered and concealed...

Do you want an example of it? Would you see the very mirror and perfection of the charity that beareth all things? Behold your divine Lord. Oh, what he has covered! It is a tempting topic, but I will not dwell on it. How his glorious righteousness, his wondrous splendour of love, has covered all our faults and all their consequences, treating us as if he saw no sin in Jacob, neither perversity in Israel. Think what he bore when he came unto his own and his own received him not! What a covering was that when he said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." What a pitying sight of the fearful misery of man our Lord Jesus had when holy tears bedewed those sacred eyes! What a generous blindness to their infamous cruelty he manifested when he prayed for his bloodthirsty enemies. O beloved, you will never be tempted, and taunted, and tried as he was; yet in your own shorter measure may you possess that love which can silently bear all things for the elect's sake and for Christ's sake, that the multitude of the redeemed may be accomplished, and that Christ through you may see of the travail  of his soul."
Worthy is the Lamb.  Goodnight.   

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

now about food sacrificed to idols...

....we know that "we all possess knowledge." But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.  
                                                                                                                     -1 Corinthians 8:1

      Paul could not have known the way my abdomen would blow up like a Valentine’s Day blimp the night after I read his warning label on knowledge. Nor did I anticipate the way I would spend the most romantic night of the year pressing my innards and contemplating the mystery of my intestines.  After four days of illness, the innocuous patterns on my parents’ couch began leering at me as I lay there moaning, finding more and more jeering faces as the days went by.  That morning, as I festered on my mocking couch reading the Word of God, Paul reminded me of this deep theological truth: I am a puffy puffasaurus.  After bearing for years this spiritual condition and later that night the physical, I can tell you from experience, it is not a pretty picture.  And trust me, sight is not the sense that is most offended.  The most delicate of my burps smelled like death’s twisted and rotting arm reaching out from my esophagus.  Terrorist groups around the world would pay millions to bottle the bio-hazardous toxins I was releasing into the family room air.  At this point, you may be throwing your hands in the air beseeching me to stop, the cry of “too much information” upon your tongue.  And you would be right.  I could not have made the point better myself.  Too much information indeed!   There is a gluttony of information in this culture and in my own life, some of which I’ve gotten tested for, patted on the back for, and yet not much of it causing me to live more deeply or love more fully.  
I am educated beyond my love, far beyond my love.  This verse was one star of a large constellation that I followed out of grad school last year.  I wish I could say it led to somewhere nice, but there is nothing enjoyable about pressing on your intestines and de-puffing is an obscene and humiliating process.  It’s been one year since the Valentine’s Day I spent laying on my couch wondering if I’d just made one of the biggest mistakes of my life by discontinuing my program.  And the answer is that I still don’t know.  I’ve been trying to build a life for myself this past year, but when you are building a house with love, it takes a long time to feel like you are getting very far or anywhere at all.  So in the meantime, I keep pressing, both on my internal organs and into the future, seeking to be faithful one brick and one belch at a time.   

Monday, February 13, 2012

from glory

Her hair 
and hips and hands
curve to cup the mysteries
of God, held like a golden egg
that will hatch on the Day at Last
she will receive her face, her name, 
praises   from   the   King   Himself 
who made  her from her mother’s 
egg, painted her with the Lamb’s
own blood, and sealed her with 
the Spirit of power. The God 
of Abraham. God of Isaac.
God of Maria will raise
her hair and hips 
 and hands 
--from glory into Glory.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ALAICT 2012 retreat

Six women sit on the edge of a borrowed home,
   of log and glass, heat and fire,
looking over the precipice at winter's borrowed beauty,
   of snow and trees, cold and ice.

Each hold something, someone,
  a hot cup of tea
  a foot
  a hand full of chocolates
  a tender question--

the Comforter surrounding, filling,
spilling through their lips and hands,
as they travel for miles across the hills,
reflected in their sisters' snowy eyes.

I'd rather have one moment like this than a hundred well-wrought poems.  This moment is before the other three ladies joined us.  It really was so beautiful.  Words cannot express.