I have seen the Great American Eclipse.
I went to the public library
where young and old
were sharing the glasses
that keep us safe.

But also this eclipse –
my friend will be deported Wednesday,
the one who rings the church bell,
always is generous
when anyone needs money,
has no criminal record,
speaks English, will be taken
from his medical care.

Also the leader of our nation
affirms Nazis,
does not condemn racism,
protect indigenous lands
national parks, or the earth.

At the library,
a man of eighty hands me vision.
I pass it on to a ten-year old.

Our hands touch
and this is what keeps us
from fear
when darkness passes over.

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Reflection on Matthew 16: 13-20

Star-writer God, I read your words.
Wind-singer God, I listen to your harmony.
Seed-planter God, I eat your harvest.
Lava-chef God, I am warm by your power.
God of eagle and blue heron and chipmunk,
I find myself like a playing child,
all swoop and stalk and scamper.

Who do I say that you are?

John said — vine, light, gate,
bread, word, and hardest of all — way.

Pilate said King of the Jews.

The disciples cited popular confusion –
Elijah, John, Jeremiah,
or any one of the prophets – I understand
because I live in a time
that desperately needs prophets.

Peter took the simple answer,
and you called him – rock,

leaving him to discover for himself –
Satan, cock-hearer, nude swimmer,
fire-tongue, ex-con, and
omnivore in a kosher culture.

I stand before you
in all my stories, metaphors and names,
rejoicing in the one and many you.


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Prayer for Spain

God, for those in Spain who mourn
friends and family, we pray.
For those who still in the hospital,
struggling for life, we pray.
For those bruised and hurting
and those who are so marked
by running and dodging
the sudden roar of fear in their lives
in Barcelona and Cambiis
they will never be the same, we pray.

And for others we pray.
We pray for small children who love
to play with trucks,
not yet thinking that these
are like the guns
their parents discourage.

We pray for tourists,
who treasure seeing the cities
of other nations and their own,
tasting new food,
listening to cadence of,
say … Catalan,
and seeing beautiful sites,
for some of these will decide
never to travel beyond
screens in their own safe houses.

We pray for walkers
of all ages, all countries, all faiths,
all histories of the heart,
holding hands or shopping a little
among friends and strangers.

They love to wander so many places
some like Las Ramblas,
and now wonder –
is this a street that makes
tomorrow’s sweet memories
or my Via Dolorosa? Amen

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Laura Martin at University of Virginia Medical Center

Laura Martin is one of the writers in our new book A Child Laughs, Prayers of Justice and Hope. She is  Associate Pastor at Rock Spring Congregational Church in Arlington, Virginia and has written a powerful personal reflection about her experience being at the University of Virginia Medical Center on Saturday, August 12 and posted it on Facebook. I asked whether I could re-post it here as  the guest post this week for our more international audience, and also asked for a little background of how she happened to be there. This is what she writes:

I attended the KKK counter-protest about a month/six weeks ago, and also went to the NAACP’s program that day. The clergy I spoke with at the NAACP event told me that they were even more concerned about the August 12th rally than the KKK rally. I asked to be connected with the Clergy Collective to be involved in plans for the weekend. The organizers sent out a call for people to be stationed at various “safe sites” and hospitals throughout the area. I volunteered for the hospital and was assigned to the UVA Medical Center, which is closest to downtown. I am also a graduate of UVA.

You (all five of you) walked in to the ER
With blood on your clothes.
Hit by sticks.
Beaten by shields
Thrust into you.
Police say that you can’t have your backpacks inside.
(Why didn’t they tell me that, as I sat with my own in the waiting room?)
You are still bleeding
Beyond the bandages.
I take your bags to my car.
You go back and are stitched,
Hours pass.
Hospital on lockdown.
Security check,
Security check.
Three of you are released.
You want to return to the rally,
With hospital bracelets and bruises
And cuts.
Wait, wait—
People have been hit by a car.
Twenty stretchers lined up outside.
Clean white sheets pristine
For now.
Get back, get back.
Security check, security check.
There is not enough room in the ER to triage
So the lobby of the hospital is made into triage.
Siren one,
Siren two,
Siren blue.
The other two of you are released.
“I had to get plastic surgery,” you tell me.
Your treatment took five hours.
“I am worried about my transgender friend.
She’s elderly and was left alone at the church.
Let’s go look for her.”
Driving through the streets.
Nazi flag,
She is at the church,
Are we?
When I get home I find that I too
Have bruises.
Siren one,
Siren two,
Code blue.

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Prayer for the Floods

God who walks across the water,
reach out your hand
to the people of Nepal, of India
and of Bangladesh.

Come to them in food packets
and medical supplies,
and clean drinking water.
Come in helicopter and boat
and elephant rescues.

Come, in the hopes of rebuilding
after the loss of livestock,
the homes crushed under landslides.

Lift up those who sink in grief.

Walk with our feet; lift with our hands.
Come with our love, making peters of us all.

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Apocalypse 2017, poem by Stephen Price

These are just the kinds of times that call forth the inspiration of apocalyptic writing. Stephen Price, frequent contributor here is channeling the essence of this form — not of prophesy but of description of the times. Try reading it aloud for the full impact.

And the angel took me
and showed me
a nation torn apart by the hatred
of those who could not acknowledge their brothers and sisters.
They gathered in the streets
accompanied by a makeshift militia armed with assault rifles and hand guns
They had dressed themselves in helmets, elbow pads and sap gloves
they carried baseball bats
for they had come to wage war, not to demonstrate
And they screamed, “don’t hurt me” as they attacked unarmed people

They attacked those who disagreed with them
who sought peacefully to call them to repentance
They drove iron chariots into crowds of innocents
and some of the innocents died.

And I saw slick spokespeople
speaking of hatred and violence being “on all sides”
while others excused the actions of “disaffected young white men”
There were many who were deceived

I saw the saints gathered in a line
faced off against the militia of darkness
Their faces glowed as they sang
“let our light so shine that they may see our good works
and glorify our God who is in heaven”
or was it
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”?

While far away I saw
two men, faces puffed and angry
screaming words of distain at one another
while reaching for fire and fury to hurl at one another
to prove they were not afraid
not caring that such would destroy millions

And I said from beneath my pillow
O spirit, this is too much for me to bear
Can these things not be changed? Or are they doomed to come?
Let me wake from this evil dream.

And I heard a voice
like unto the Son of Man
These things are already here
pull your head from your….pillow
and take up your cross and follow Me.
For if they are not to destroy you all
it is time
to stand up
in My Name
to be willing
to lay your life and body down
To risk everything for the Kingdom

Then the saints sang louder
reaching out their hands, inviting me to join them
And I had to decide

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Refection on Matthew 15: 21-28

She is not the downward facing dog,
and he is not at his godliest,
and yet a child is healed.

And, if you’ve ever
let your ignorance show,
like toilet paper stuck to a shoe,
your first reaction
flash like tooth-spinach,
or your prejudice fart in public,
you’ve got this.

Being tired is a bitch,
the only one in this story,

and everyone of us has said
some damn-near unforgiveable thing,
but in the end what matters
is not — what did you learn?

but — was the child healed?

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