Monday, August 31, 2009

Two Found Poems

Found in my old journals, that is.

I have been filling my father's worn, scarred, but still strong Filson briefcase with my journals to pack them away as I clear out of my room in anticipation of the coming adventure to Chile. I was flipping through several volumes as I placed them side by side in the brass zippered case, reminiscing about where I was, what was going on, and rediscovering expressions of my theology.

Here are two poems I found in those pages.

John's Prologue

Taste with your ears
the spiced syllable story of
Gospel honey.

Is it any wonder the bees
the way they do?


Gonna Be Alright

My deep rooted oak
wilds of the ocean
free dancing
fruit stand colorful
lights of the city
arms of a friend
Gospel music singing, God?

my deep feeling
ancient of days
word painting
human friend?

Is it all gonna be alright?

Can you feel me in the wind-
catch me floating on sweet olive air?
Do you see me on a city block walk?

Listen for me
in the ping of rain on roofs
Feel the warm weight
of me in you at center.

And know
gonna be alright.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Here I am!

Likeable Qualities

Friday Five from Rev Gals....I Like Me!

Five things you like about yourself...

1. My hair...thick. strong, lots of it. Going gray...finally makes me look my age! Changes colors depending on how much time outside. Sometimes the subject of compliments. Had someone once ask me what number it was...assuming I dyed it. I answered 39. 39? Yep. It's how many years of living it took to get it looking this way!

2. My speaking voice. Gift of good voice genes and practice cultivating. Grandfather on Mom's side was in radio/television. Dad was in radio and has done event announcing. Mom is known for doing some taping/speaking too. It has allowed me to do much to be of service to others.

3. A capacity for language. Brings delight to me and has at times been helpful to others.

4. My okay-ness with my body. Was born short and chubby...going to die short and chubby. It's healthy and has served me well so far...and stayed proportionally the same for forever! Must be meant to be, I figure.

5. My intuitions about dynamics and how to understand/navigate them. Those nigglings have taught me much and served me well in the work environment and at home--even when they are wrong, there's a lesson to be learned.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Praiseful Women

There are times—
times when I loosen up
down to the elements
and, like bows on a kite line do,
my spirit lofts on breezes,
changes perspective,
and knows more upon
its quiet knocking home.

Once—and oh, it was lovely,
it whistled so achingly real
the laughter of praiseful women
who blew dandelions in my sleep.


Danger or Grace?

(Written for Xavier...that's why it reads a little funny here...)

I am having a hard time shaking the irony from in between the trite adage about the dangers of assuming anything and the glory of the Assumption of Mary.

On the one hand, dealing with anything less than the reality of what is before you can get you into trouble. On the other. Mary, fully human, was incorporated into the fold of heaven immediately upon her death. Suppositions and full welcome, together in one word…one act….Makes me think about my own assumptions—of both kinds, really.

What are my assumptions about the others who gather with me in the assembly of the faithful? What barriers do they place for me? Is there truth to them? How firm or loose a grip do I have on them? Yet, there is a desire on my part to be assumed into the group of those who make their home here at Xavier. To be assumed wholly, completely, as one of the many fallible, messy, generous, loving, people who find their way here. It isn’t just a part of me that proclaims the Word, it’s all of me, and that’s what comes with me to the table.

Perhaps that is one of our calls—to change our assumptions, or even broaden them—so that when we welcome people, it is a welcome of the whole—heart, mind, spirit, confusion, anger, glory, song, and silence… And, yes, maybe that will mean we appear the fool sometimes. What is real isn't always neat and tidy, pretty and punctual.

Then again, surely those coming have assumptions too—or at least, I know I did when I first came here. I assumed the presence of love. Of care. Of welcome and concern and awe and attention to the act and prayer of worship.

Perhaps it is a mutual assumption of truth. Offered and received, multiplied and shared. Accepted, cherished, yes, even questioned, but with openness and frank simplicity.

Bold, but wow—wouldn’t it be great? Hmm—maybe at this time of renovation and restoration it’s time to create a new saying about what happens when we assume.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's Pouring Possums

From the Zoology Department of RevGals, this Friday has Gone to the Animals!

Best wild animal story…

That would have to be when I came home from work in southern Louisiana only to be greeted by members of my community standing in the kitchen, waiting for me. “We have a problem.” “Um hmmm….??” “Go look in the garbage can.” Why? “Go look.”

I go outside and lift the lid to the garbage can, the garbage can sitting in a wooden frame to keep it off the ground, a wooden frame too high for me to get the leverage necessary to lift the garbage can out of the frame—which will come in later.

Lifting the lid and peering in, while concurrently aware that it is about to POUR BUCKETS as it can do only in southern Louisiana, I see the problem. Not only garbage bags, but also a possum, a large possum, taking a nap about half way down, curled onto a tuffet of refuse-plumped Hefties. Happy as can be, or so it would have seemed.

The others are watching me from the kitchen door.

It begins to rain.

I go back inside.

“What are you going to do?”


“It can’t stay!”


I go back and try to lift out the garbage can without it tilting toward me while thinking “Possums, mad possums, potentially mad, wet, rabid possums…if it gets hatey about me moving it around, what’s the plan, Bright-light?”

Couldn’t get the leverage to lift the can out.

Went back inside, now soaked.

??? So???


Went over to the Boarding School and asked the high schoolers if anyone was in the mood for an adventure….that involved a possum and the pouring rain.

I love my kids.

Several of them came with me, we lifted out the can, dumped the thing sideways and ran. The possum stayed put.

I could only imagine what might happen if the dogs found it and the garbage…in the pouring rain.

I explained to the possum that the rest was up to it and it had only a moment to figure out its next move—which I was not planning on witnessing.

I checked back in twenty minutes or so—possum gone. I shoveled garbage back into the can.

The other story I considered telling here was coming out onto the porch one night and realizing I was being watched—over and over and over again…looked out, and saw brown flashlights…about sixty or seventy sets of them…right there. The cows across the road had come to school. It’s a funny thing to be surrounded by cows…not something for which one has an instinctive plan. Bears, sure. Snakes, yep. Bees, wasps…uh huh. But cows?

There’s also the armadillo I watched eat breakfast in the clover. That was rather sweet, really. Named her, too. Amarilla.

Yes, it was a she. Had a little napkin tucked in front and a bow behind her left ear. I don't know for sure...but it was definitely cute to watch it eat breakfast.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another poem for Mary

Sometimes it feels so good to write a poem for Mary... I did the first one here and added another tonight. Can't really explain the mood that leads me to it...only that sometimes I just need the refreshment that comes with it. Like cold sasparilla on a hot day, a nap, a walk with quiet company.

That Free

I need you, Mary,
you and the others…
the women who gather
to praise and laugh and eat together.

The strong women, bold women
of life’s mysterious grace
who are free and at ease
in the beauty of being;

who can bear the weight
can dance the light
sing the pain
and drink the cup.

Oh yes, I see
and I want to be

that free, that free.

To say yes and amen
and pass me the pie
and how can I help
and can’t she sing well?

To say look at her go!
and want to come along?
and I am so tired
may I lean on your arm?

Oh Mary, in my praise-tinted,
glorious, fits of imagination,
I say Woman, I am glad
to be born one of you.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Graceful Swallow

For another step in the process of going to Chile for ten months, I have to submit an FBI background check. That requires fingerprints to be taken, a letter written, a payment included, and prayers sent that all arrives and it's treated in a timely fashion.

As I write this, I just got home from being fingerprinted at 1 Police Plaza downtown
and hearing someone try to jump the turnstile there. Naturally, given that this is police headquarters, the gentleman was subdued--but he did not go gently into that good night. This brought about a fascinating sociological moment.

Before the hoo-ha, there'd been half a dozen or more of us in the room waiting for various services. When escalation was apparent--the man was clearly yelling multiple varieties of obscenities and audibly flailing about while the police were trying to contain the incident--everyone except me left the room to go watch. I was the only one left in the room. And I wondered what possessed them to go.

What makes people do that? I do not have that want to go witness someone's suffering/violence when made apparent in that way...when the going would be for its own sake. Given looks on people's faces, it was more of a "fight-fight-fight..." sort of gleam, rather than concern for an individual who was clearly over an edge of some sort. The women behind the counter said the same man had already
tried to gain access several times today.

A disturbing insight into human behaviors and inclinations.

Later in the day...

I have spent time since this morning trying to understand why this event has stuck with me so potently. Some of it came from a conversation with a friend who spoke of spirits who are manifest not physically of themselves but through actions of another. I can go along with that in concept. I know evil exists. I know that there is darkness that seeks to overcome the strength of light.

But, I also know that for reasons of illness, chemistry, and/or mystery, people lose the capacity to straddle realities sometimes. I think there are those who can walk the line. People who are sick, who might or might not not know it or choose to acknowledge it, but who live in two places...somewhere where they are alone in their understanding of reality and in the present moment with the rest of us. Sometimes events occur--predictable or not--or choices are made--that remove the ability to fight for the tensioned balance. When that ability to straddle is compromised, chances are it is the here and now that loses.

I have seen that happen to someone I love. Because I believed I could, and believed I was compelled to try, I have reached across the border and groped, hoping to find the solid flesh of the person I wanted to reach. I reached with direct speech, I reached with love, I reached with the grace, the absolute grace, of God.

I wasn't reaching for evil, I wasn't reaching to cure or even protect from outcomes that would arise from the situation. I reached for the real. I reached for love. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy. And it didn't change any of the surface reality. Things were still unfortunate, things were still messy and tenuous. To do that was one of the three biggest lessons I have ever known about the true potential for love.

While I sat in the room, I prayed for the man, for the police, for the family of the man. Did they know where he was? Did they know that he needed someone? Had they lost track of him? What would his day be like from here on out? Would he get the help he clearly needed to draw him back? Who would know where to reach? Who would be the voice and face of love for this man?

These are questions I am left with at day's end. Questions I will sleep with and not answer. Not directly, anyway.

I learned once that a swallow bird is biologically incapable of flying in a straight line. Seems like grace is often like that too.