Poetry


Today we gathered again, and I was asked to post the following.  It was a quick write in response to a single reading of David Bottoms’ “Eye to Eye” (which follows the actual write).

Birds are not people – though some of them can, at least in part, “think” like people do.  They can problem solve – some even abstractly – and use tools.  But I think something much more basic must have gone on here – always assuming the encounter was not pure poetic license.

I’m thinking predator to predator, omnivore to carnivore. (more…)

Yesterday we read (in the Episcopal Daily Office Lectionary) in Luke 8 one of those passages I know is there, but can never find:  “The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities:  Mary, Called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.”  Back then, women and children really didn’t count.  They were not considered worth notice.  But it really sounds like there were a lot of people who routinely traveled with Jesus.  Not just the twelve.  Not just a group of men.  But men and women (and probably children).  And they weren’t all poor — though many of them probably were.  Joanna would have been a woman with access to resources.  And these women, whatever their resources were, provided for Jesus and the whole community which followed him, out of their resources. (more…)

This might have been how I should have ended last Sunday’s sermon (David’s Sin).  I ran across it today in Celtic Daily Prayer (it’s Ignatius of Loyola day in their calendar, and this was linked to the brief biography there):

O God,
I cannot undo the past,
or make it never have happened! (more…)

PAYING THE PASSAGE

Make way!
Make way!
Make way for the image of God.

Sometimes
my brother
I thought you would live forever …

Oh!
That’s right!
You will …

Be at peace my brother.

May this day find you
in good cheer
and in little pain.

Warm the home fires for me
soon.

May you find enduring peace
in the fire
of God’s consuming love.

Remember me
if you will
as you feast
at his table.

I wrote this yesterday, with the following introduction:

This started this morning (in bed) as I imagined sending an email to my friend, Leo Joseph, a Franciscan monastic and an Episcopal Priest, who is, still, to my knowledge, nearing the end of his battle with cancer.

Overnight I received word on how Brother Leo is actually doing:

John, Susan Reeve said something about an email I was supposed to have received from you this AM. I told her I hadn’t received any such. She then showed me a copy of your thoughtful prayer for Fr. Leo. Thank you for it. We ended up actually not using it for now, because, as I explained to the group, Leo, while terminal, has been chugging along for almost a year since diagnosis (even tho at one point I thought he’d be gone by last Christmas!). At this point, death doesn’t appear to be imminent yet. He continues to celebrate weekly Sun. Eucharist at St. John’s, attend Vestry meetings, take short trips & visit friends occasionally, etc. His attitude is good, he’s alert & hasn’t lost his wicked sense of humor. To look at him externally, you wouldn’t really guess he has cancer; he’s actually gained some girth because of the swelling. That being said, he tires very easily and has to pace himself, and realizes that his present condition can change on a dime. I just wanted you to know that his current status isn’t presently quite as dire as it sounded from your note. There will, I’m sure, come a time in the future when your wonderful prayer will be most useful. Harry

I might as well finish up with Wheelock now.  This is another poem about aging.  But I think there are some wonderful things, things filled with wonder, that speak to me in it.  He talks about age as a time for praise and adoration and gratitude.  he talks about the face “from which the eyes of love look out at us.”  He talks of his house, “marvellous with ghosts, where so much love Dwelt for a little while and made such music … Oh, all is music!  All has been turned to music!  All that has vanished has been turned to music!”  He seems to strike a wonderful balance between the inevitability of loss and ending and suffering and the wonder of living in God’s creation.  So here it is: (more…)

Here is another poem by John Hall Wheelock, that caught my fancy — this time from the other end of life!  I don’t know much about his life at all, but this would have happened (I’m thinking it reflects something that happened, but I could be wrong) when he was young.  It makes me think of the Dylan Thomas poem (more…)

I’ve run into this poem by Rumi before.  But I’ve been talking about the limitations of what we know and looking for common ground, recently here and here, and not so recently here, and it really struck me.  What do you think?

Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

I found that in “An Almanac for the Soul” by Marv and Nancy Hiles — which I picked up at the Bishop’s Ranch, a rather nice retreat center located in our diocese (and owned and operated by the Diocese of California).  The next daily entry in that same book comes from Arthur James, First Earl of Balfour.  It says:

Our greatest truths are but half-truths.  Think not to settle down forever in any truth, but use it as a tent in which to pass a summer night, but build no house of it, or it will become your tomb.  When you first become aware of its insufficiency, and see some counter-truth looming up in the distance, then weep not, but rejoice:  it is the Lord’s voice saying, “Take up your bed and walk.”

Anyway, these passages seemed to cohere with and comment on themes I’ve been running with.  They’ve given me more food for thought.

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