A Poetic Interlude


Partial Paralysis

Desert surrounds me
Sun, heat, sand – all unrelenting,
as far as I can see.

Between what was and what will be
I remain
unable to take the next step.
I came to this wilderness time
with intent
to seek You out in the emptiness,
longing to hear the sound of You in the stillness.
Yet here I stand
without moving
bound by shades of yesterday.

A man on a mat for thirty-eight years lay
waiting for a miracle in waters stirred up.
He could not move far enough, fast enough
to find wholeness
before the waters quieted and he was left to wait

How long have I lived like him,
lying in brokenness?
I remain unmoved, confined in fear ,
immobilized by doubts,
while those with power
walk all over me.

You showed up and saw him there –
restricted by  his body, limited to his mat,
unable to move beyond.
You assumed nothing of him
and asked if he wanted to be made well.
He explained his predicament but did not answer

You watch me limit myself
each day a repetition of routine –
wanting wholeness and never quite
getting there.
You ask if I, too, want to be made well.
My answer is no more direct.

You healed him anyway
with a direction to walk.
Did You see in him more than a
body broken?
What did his words hold out to you?

If I were to take up this mat of mine –
woven by others who would keep me still –
where would I go?
Did that man ever miss
knowing the limits of his life?
How did he bear sudden wholeness?
I’m not sure I’m strong enough
to walk away with You.

The man was paralyzed, at least in part,
yet he heard Your call to life quite clearly.
Was there a hesitation
between the Word and re-action?

New life surged through his being
as he believed
he could take up his mat and walk
toward all things possible.

Most days, I wait for the miracle
and long for the stillness of knowing
I can make my way to the waters
if I so choose.
But I cannot quite believe
Your call is enough to set me free from all that binds.

Forgive me
I want to be made well,
to take those first trembling steps
and bear the weight of my doubt
here in the midst of my imperfect life
bound to a mat woven
with so little justice.

I wait in this shaded spot.
Give me direction.

This poem is from my book,  Negotiating the Shadows: Daily Meditations for Lent. Eugene, OR: WIPF and Stock, 2010.

RCL – Year C – Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 5, 2013

Acts 16:9-15
Psalm 67
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9

Opening Prayer

This week has been very hectic so I am sharing a poem from my book, Negotiating the Shadows: Daily Meditations for Lent. Eugene, OR: WIPF and Stock, 2010, pg. 17-18. This week’s Gospel reading is of Mary anointing Jesus. This poem reflects primarily on the Mark and Luke version of the story but is relevant this week. Opening … Read More

Something a little different…

I wrote this for the Multifaith service of Hope and Remembrance for Sandy Hook that is taking place Sunday at 2:30 in Concord, NH. Truth Rediscovered I watch the sun rise on cold ocean shore. Brilliant scarlet streaks across the horizon as if light has been cut away from darkness. Waves, winds, and the cries … Read More

Lulu! Get Out of The Tree! (Really, it’s a post on Advent, but the cat was in the tree)

Twenty years ago when I preached my first Advent sermon, I began by confessing just how much I did not like Advent at all. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. I love this season of waiting for the Light. Christmas lights all over the place and carols playing in stores and on the radio are just plain fun. I still don’t like the crowded stores or the increase in entries on my calendar and to-do lists, but they serve as a reminder of the choices I get to make about how I prepare for Christmas. It’s not all crazy consumerism nor is it all serious spirituality. For me Advent is an opportunity to regain a little balance in my life through both a little extra frivolity and a renewed effort to choose hope, peace, joy, and love in Christ over despair, anxiety, complacency, and apathy often in the world. Advent is a time of waiting. Sometimes waiting on tiptoe with joyful anticipation  and sometimes waiting with agonizing impatience for the One who is, who was, and who is to come.

The theme of the first Sunday of Advent is traditionally hope. In honor of this and in an effort to maintain the balance between work and relaxing in my life, I’m sharing a poem from my book, A Circle in the Dark: Daily Meditations for Advent, 2011. (To find the book, Click Here)

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” Jeremiah 33:14-16

Broken Hope


darkness creeps closer than expected
pressing cold fingers on window panes
slipping through glass
touching restless dreams

disquiet in the night


warring images deter sleep
violence witnessed in battles
familiar and foreign
wound long after a body heals

unrest wakens in the dark


tears of grief flow unheard
for the child lost
despair grips harder
in the absence of light

hope breaks in silence


days are surely coming
when light will burst through
with justice in hand
to fulfill a promise

Let us not walk in darkness too long

RCL – Year C – Frist Sunday of Advent – December 2, 2012

Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

Politics, Pondering, and Profundity

Series 1:
Job 1:1; 2:1-10
Psalm 26
Series 2:
Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm 8

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Mark 10:2-16

Here are the most popular headlines from a few news sites…

Most viewed (from http://www.npr.org, on 10/7/12)

Most shared (from http://www.bbc.com/news/, on 10/7/12)

Most popular (from http://edition.cnn.com/ on 10/7/12)

And lastly, Trending Now (from http://www.foxnews.com/, 10/7/12)

After reading through these headlines, I think the Psalmist has a very good question for God:  what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Ps 8:3). Of all the things going on in the world today, lines on Mars, pigs eating a farmer, and uncooperative clothing command our attention? I’m not even sure how some of these stories qualify as news. I know there is an entertainment factor, but the important news gets lost in this.

To be honest, I will be preaching from Psalm 8 this Sunday because I lead worship in a psychiatric hospital. However, I’m not sure I’d want to tackle the other texts, particularly the Gospel reading with its statements on divorce and adultery, even in a more traditional setting. Divorce is an emotional issue and one that is not easily navigated even by emphasizing the “what God has joined together, let no one separate” part of Jesus’ pronouncement on marriage. Nor would it be particularly helpful to set the context for what Jesus said and why he might have said it. With all the debate around marriage equity and traditional marriage this passage presents challenges for both those in pulpits and those in pews. It raises the question of what is important.

Those who asked Jesus the question were testing him. He didn’t give them the answer they expected and maybe raised questions. I will leave the pondering of this text for those of you who are brave enough to preach it…And because I want give my full attention to tonight’s presidential debate!

So, I’m going to end this with my own response to pondering Psalm 8 and suggest that we all spend a little more time deciding what is really important for our lives, the lives of those around us, and the world in which we live.

The following poem is from my book, A Circle in the Dark: Daily Meditations for Advent. Eugene, OR: WIPF and Stock, 2011, pg. 70-71.

Profound Insight

In the light of the moon
at the ocean’s edge
seeking the moment when
horizon meets darkness

under countless stars
on innumerable grains of sand
awed by the vastness
of the universe

I am mind full
and wonder that You
who created all that is
would take notice of me

Your majesty and power
fill me with awe
and confront me
with transforming truth

You so loved the world
that I may walk in light
through the darkness
bearing Your honor and glory

the moon and stars
adorn night skies
a thousand miracles
are a handful of sand

You’ve done all this and still
You love the particularity of me
asking only that I love
with Your love in return

A gift You deem me
worthy to receive
without hesitation
You make me whole

In gratitude and awe
I lift my voice with
ancient words of
gratefulness and praise

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is
Your name
in all the earth!

A Circle in the Dark: Daily Meditations for Advent

Grace, Hope, Forgiveness, Etc. …

RCL – Year B – Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – August 26, 2012 1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11), 22-30, 41-43 with Psalm 84 or Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 with Psalm 34:15-22 Ephesians 6:10-20 John 6:56-69 I am on vacation this week and didn’t want to skip posting. The poem below is from my book, Negotiating the Shadows: Daily … Read More

A New Take

RCL – April 29, 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Easter Acts 4:5-12 Psalm 23 1 John 3:16-24 John 10:11-18 Something a little different this week. The headlines are full such disturbing, unsettling things. In contemplating the state of things in the world and this week’s scripture readings, I decided that fewer words are better for … Read More

Palm Sunday

RCL – April 1, 2012 – Palm Sunday Mark 11:1-11 or John 12:12-16, Psalm 118:1-2,19-29 I am on vacation this week, so I am sharing this poem with you. It is from my book, Negotiating the Shadows: Daily Meditations for Lent, Eugene, OR: WIPF and Stock, 2010, pg 113-117. Palm Sunday Two parades cross town giving onlookers a … Read More