Poem – old lady smell

She arrives, shaggy
shambling, shuffling
shopping bag in tow,
big enough for a child.
Barely able to lift it,
it contains all the cares in the world
and a bakers’ dozen of romance books.

She’s
dressed in flowers and lace
a bag-like shroud
big enough to cover
almost everything,
large, shapeless
stitched from ten thousand days
of regret and disappointments.

Her aroma arrives before she does.

A dance of cat
marking territory
relieving, discharge
doing a tango with her own
urine
soaked through, layered
and a third partner,
waiting for the dance –
flowery perfume to match
cadence
with the other two
sometimes stepping on their feet.

Any one
would be enough
to stop me

but all three
arrest me, full stop
like a police officer
like a spike strip
like a strip search.

The day is over
from that point onwards.

In the beginning

Dedication.
To my friend who loves God: Many people have tried to put together a story about the life and times of Christ, using material from the earliest disciples and other eyewitnesses. It seemed to me that it would help if I shared my research with you. I have independently compiled a sequence of all the events in proper order. I hope that these words will assure you of the truth of everything that you have already been taught.

LK 1:1-4

In the Beginning, God created everything through his Word. The Word was with God, and was God. All things were created through the Word of God. The Word was filled with life, and that life was the light of all people. That light shines forth in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overpower it.

JN 1:1-5

Bazlael 12-12-12

A few years ago, I was tutoring a kindergartner from Ethiopia. The Christmas break was coming up, and I asked him what he was most looking forward to. He’s five, so I figured presents would be at the top of the list, then followed by food, and then maybe visits with family. This is of course assuming he remembered what holidays were all about, being five. I was also guessing that he was Christian – many Ethiopians are.

He surprised me. He smiled hugely and got wistful. He looked off and up. He said very excitedly – “It’s Jesus’ Birthday!”

And a child shall lead them.

He’s got it. It isn’t the break to look forward to. It is Jesus. He’s coming, again, to each of us. Coming to let us know again that we are loved and wanted more than anything else in the world.

We have a God that loves us – even when we don’t love God.

We have a God that is always there, waiting for us with open arms.

We have a God that provides for us all the time, even before we ask.

So many gods demand to be loved. Ours loves us already, loves us before we are even born. Loves us when we stray and loves us when we return.

We have a God that wants us to be active participants in bringing forth the Kingdom. We are called to be A Part of this. Not apart from it.

This is amazing to me. We aren’t passively here. We are active. God works through us to bring forth healing. When God needs someone to be fed, God doesn’t create a miracle. Poof – Food appears. No – God wakes us up to go outside of our own needs. That is the miracle. The miracle is that we aren’t all selfish animals. The miracle is that we notice and care for others.

The everyday is the extraordinary.

And all of this was inspired by a small child who got excited about it being Jesus’ birthday.

(I’m going through my backlog of half-finished posts and finishing them. This was from December of 2012. Some are becoming poems because they are mere sketches of ideas, not fleshed out. They are more stop and start than exposition. This is kind of inbetween.)

Parable of the Persistent Widow

One day Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they needed to not get discouraged but to pray constantly instead.

“There once was a judge who didn’t fear anyone – God or man. A widow kept coming to him to obtain justice for herself against her adversary. He put her off for a long time. But after a while, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear anybody there is something about the fact that this woman keeps pestering me that gets to me. I will rule in her favor so she doesn’t beat me up with her incessant demands.”

Jesus said “Look! Even this hardhearted judge will give in to someone who constantly asks for relief. Don’t you think that God (who is good) will grant relief to those who respect God if they keep asking? Of course God will, and God will help them quickly.

In spite of all this, when the Son of Man comes again how many will be found who have faith and are praying?”

LK 18:1-8

Poem – God is understood as dual

The alpha and the omega –
there you go.
Yin and Yang.
(this completely ignores the trinity
– the holy spirit is the Force)

God made us to be
God’s agents in this world.
We are part of
creation,
and part of
the creating force.
We are God’s hands
and eyes
and feet
in this world
(quote Teresa of Avila)

We are more than just physical beings.
We are souls,
created by God,
housed in these vessels.

God is the sculptor, we are the clay
(quote Isaiah)

These bodies are like cars –
they get our souls where they need to be.
They are like “avatars”
Our souls can be sorry that someone is suffering.
But because we are physical,
we can do something about it.
We can offer a shoulder
to cry on.
We can cook a meal for them.
We can hold their hand.
We can listen to them when they complain.
We can use our bodies to share the love
and compassion of God in a real sense.
No empty words here.

We have the kingdom of heaven within us
(quote Jesus).
That kingdom is our soul – created by God.

Part of that kingdom is that we have the ability
to do good in this world,
and to be a force for good.
We have the ability
to make this world better
– to bring about the kingdom here,
and now.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
(quote the Hopis)

We have the choice to use it
for good
or bad.
To use our days mindfully
or mindlessly.
Sometimes it is hard to choose good
(quote st. paul – I don’t do what I want to do).

So we pray.
We pray for advice, for will, for strength.
Just praying for these things is good –
it is a sign that we are reaching for God.
And it is essential that we not see ourselves
as God.
We are created – not the creator.
(quote Beowulf’s reference to hubris)

There is a fine balance here.

We need to wake up
to our full potential.
(quote quantum physics)
But we need to also remember that we are dust,
(quote Carl Sagan, Genesis 3:19)

We aren’t omnipotent or omniscient.
Nor are we an island
(quote John Donne)
We need to work together,
and know that we were put here,
each one of us,
for a reason.
And live up to that.

Ask, seek, knock

Jesus said “Here’s one way to think about prayer. Suppose you went to your friend’s house at midnight and asked him for three loaves of bread because another friend of yours had come to your house and you didn’t have any food to offer him. This friend might say “Don’t bother me! It’s late, I’ve already locked my door and we’ve all gone to bed. I’m not going to get up and give you anything!” But even if he won’t do this favor for you because he’s your friend, he’ll do it if you keep knocking on the door. Your persistence will win the day, and you’ll get what you asked for.”

LK 11:5-8

“So I say, keep asking and you’ll get what you asked for. Keep looking and you’ll find it. Keep knocking and the way will be opened to you. It is true that everyone who asks receives, everyone who looks finds, and for everyone who knocks the pathway is opened before them.

Who here would give a stone to his child instead of bread when he asks, or a snake instead of a fish? Would you give your child a scorpion instead of an egg? Of course not! If you, who are less than perfect, know enough to give good things to your children, then our perfect Father in heaven will give us even better things when we ask.

This sums up all the Law and the Prophets – however you want others to treat you, you should treat them.”

MT 7:7-12, LK 11:9-13

Poem – Plates

I opened the box
from my mother in law,
the heavy brown cardboard, the crisp pale paper inside.
She’d been dead a month by this time
but she knew it was coming
so there’d been time to prepare.

Every plate
every bowl
every cup
even the gravy boat
she had wrapped
herself
one
by
one

and placed carefully in this box.

She knew
that this was the last time
she would see these dishes,
these dishes that we had used
as a family
for Christmas
for Easter
for Thanksgiving
every year.

She knew
this was the end
that there would be no more holidays
for her.

We’ll continue
in our fashion
in our own new way
without her
but with her plates
so lovingly
and so carefully
wrapped.