Guest Posts — Ana Lisa de Jong and Jellaludin Rumi

So, here is the story on these two poems. I have been very lucky to read Ana Lisa de Jong’s upcoming book “Heart Psalms” so that I can write a “blurb” or endorsement for it. Wow! It is hard to marshal my thoughts around that. This first poem is the opening dedication to the reader.

Then this morning I went to the monthly meeting for the Spiritual Care Board at the Strafford County House of Correction and Don Brautigam, our chair, read the following reflection from Rumi, Persian Poet of the 13th century.

The two poems spoke to each other!

I thanked God for you
and He said,

‘They are simply Me,
come to you through a thousand
different means,
and counting.

I love you through your friends,
and that person on the street
that smiled,
and the brush of next door’s cat
against your skin

Counting?
You cannot measure all the
ways I love you.
But begin.

And keep measuring.
As the sun will rise tomorrow
I come again, and again,
and again.’

Ana Lisa de Jong

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness –
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice –
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jellaludin Rumi

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Our Loss of Barbara Bush

God, I give thanks for Barbara Bush,
who spoke her mind plainly,
who loved deeply and for all her years,

who claimed the power of women,
named with honestly
the dangers of generations of prejudice,
and chose literacy as the cause
in which she could make a difference.

As the book of her life closes,
may her words be read by the world. Amen.

Bias has to be taught. If you hear your parents downgrading women or people of different backgrounds, why, you are going to do that. Barbara Bush

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Two Poems — Washington DC

Sometimes it just happens — two so very different poems about — in several ways — the same thing  arrive at the same time. I wrote the next poem after preaching in Bethesda, Maryland. Pastor Dee Ledger … well, you can read the story. And then an “anonymous preacher friend” was inspired by a Johnny Cash dreamscape.

April 15, 2018

I go to Washington to see cherry blossoms.
taking the metro from the job
I have this weekend in Maryland
and arriving for almost the last day
of the blooming
of these trees of friendship.
It is raining and chilly
and blossoms are shedding
drifts of beauty around the Tidal Basin.

It has been a long time
since I’ve come to the capital
and it has not been a demonstration,
against one of many failures
in justice and peace —
the monstrous unwelcoming of refugees,
the national idolatry
of the semi-automatic golden calf,
the destruction of public lands.

But this is also Washington
where people live and work,
where I met my husband years ago
on a sidewalk outside a theatre,
where children go to school,
artists paint, poets write,
and some honor those who elected them
by working for humanity’s good.

Today I see Washington, pink,
under a long grey shadow.

A band plays under a tent,
shielding their guitars from rain.
My friend and I walk,
sharing a plate of funnel cake, a country.

“Sometimes, Johnny Cash comes to me in a dream:”
by “anonymous preacher friend”

D.C. Nightmare

I hear that train a-comin’,
it’s rollin’ round the bend,
and we ain’t seen no sunshine
since I don’t know when.

We’re in a D.C. nightmare;
something we have to fix,
so that train it keeps a-rollin’
until November 6.

When I was just a baby,
my mamma told me, “Son,
be careful who you vote for;
‘cause crazy folks will run!”

But I thought that she was kidding;
that we’d always be free;
and these grifting, con-men’s lyin’
is what just tortures me!

The politicians fingering
their massive campaign fund,
while filing non-disclosures
to silence everyone.

Well, you knew we had it comin’
when we let these clowns win;
but I will be damned if I will
let it happen again!

We’re in a D.C. nightmare;
something we have to fix,
so that train it keeps a-rollin’
until November 6.

Well, when they free me from this chaos,
when that voting booth is mine,
you bet I’ll beat the bushes
and vote ‘em out right down the line.

Far from D.C.’s nightmare,
that’s where I’ll want to stay;
and we’ll send these ones a-packin’
to someplace far away.

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The view from my study window — Guest Post by William A. Deans

Glad to share this poem of the seasons of life by William A. Deans. A god piece to read with the singing of “I was there to hear your borning cry” by John Ylvisaker

“Time Falls Away.”

There are those moments in one’s life that are so intense, so exquisite, you want to hold them for all time…
but time falls away.
Your first encounter with the love that will complete your life, a chance glimpse of beauty and grace from across the room, every fiber of our being prays for this moment to last for all time…
but time falls away.
You stand before the altar pledging before God and everyone to love this amazing person who might have loved anyone but has chosen to love you, and you want this moment to be frozen in time…
but time falls away.
Early one morning you stand in the sterile atmosphere of a hospital holding the physical evidence of passion and love. This amazing child looks back at you in total innocence, devouring your heart, and you pray this moment might never end…
but time falls away.
One night you sit by a bedside crushed in spirit, wrapped in heartbreak. Somehow you must find the words to explain the unexplainable. Death has penetrated the sanctity of your home and taken your love child. It feels as though the grief of this moment will consume you forever…
but times falls away.
Additional children grace your home filling it with magic and mystery, wonder beyond measure. You long in your heart of hearts for this time to freeze itself in eternity…
but time falls away.
Days, months, and years come and go. Life threatening disease raises its ugly head threatening each one you hold dear. It dominates every conscious moment, driving you toward despair. It seems this terrible shadow will never leave your doorway…
but time falls away.
The profession which defined your identity fades into retirement, and the delight of travel comes front and center. You wish moments in the country-side of this place or that could go on forever…
but time falls away.
You wake up one day and realize that you have buried a generation which had marked your being; a brother, your parents, their brothers and sisters, and other whom you held close to your heart…
and time continues to fall away.
One night your heart erupts in pain, two stents and a heart procedure follow quickly, and in the blinking of an eye you are made undeniably aware that you, like time…
are subject to fall away.
A sage from yet another time long since fallen away, offered this truth, “This too shall pass.” It is in the very nature of life and death.
Time always and forever falls away.
(from his book — “Odyssey: a Journey, One Verse at a Time,” published in 2015)

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The Work of Easter –Aotearoa / New Zealand … words of Rosalie Sugrue

Rosalie Sugrue writes — inspired by my “Work of Easter” a couple days ago and her own context!

With thanks to Thurman and Tirabassi
(A note to those down under: too many words for Jim Strathdee’s tune)

When the song of the wind starts to growl,
when the clouds dim the sun in the sky,
when the chocolate eggs are melted,
and the bunnies back to being pests,
the work of Easter begins:
to visit the those who can’t get out,
and those who won’t remember
whose only moment left is now.

Winter prods and
Easter prompts us:
to write cards to friends not on the net,
to stand up against oppression,
to notice discrimination,
and write emails and submissions
to hassle those who hold the power.

Winter prods and
Easter prompts us:
to move from
complacent indoor comfort
by turning thought to action
and see Christ alive in justice
and find compassion risen indeed.

To bring the peace where we can pass it,
share hosannas beyond church
and hold Alleluia warmth as music in our hearts.

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The Work of Easter, after Howard Thurman

When the lilies lose their petals,
when trumpets are quiet, new shoes scuffed,
chocolate eggs melted by small fingers,
bunnies returned to the shelter,
and sermons start to doubt themselves,

the work of Easter begins —

to offer spring cleaning or garden care,
errands or a mini-respite
to a family on hospice,

to learn Narcan and carry it always,

to write thank-you to funeral directors
who drop prices beyond break-even
for low income families,

to offer deep and tender comfort
especially to those who do not expect it,
mourning a miscarriage,
an elder with dementia,
a long–time companion animal,

to name resurrection in the midst of life
for the poor, the refugee,
the vulnerable,
and the groaning creation –

Justice is risen,
Compassion is risen indeed!

and, as for music —
to make Hosannas beyond the church,
and Alleluias in the heart.

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Trigger Warning, a confession and assurance of grace

A Confession (Isaiah 6)

God, I am a person of unclean lips
and I dwell among a people of unclean lips.

I talk of bullet points and bullet journals.
I mention scripture and then say
that it triggers a response.
I become exasperated and say –
“shoot me now”
or name something in a situation
a ”smoking gun,”
and instead of “under pressure”
I say I am “under the gun.”

I am so careful naming you,
naming myself, avoiding words for sin
that speak of skin tone or vision,

but when the monstrous ugly idol
of my society
climbs onto my tongue
to normalize its violence,
I am not gun-shy enough. Amen.

An Assurance of Grace (Psalm 19)

When the words of our mouths,
do not match the meditations of our hearts,
God sends us forgiveness
and big angels with wide wings for editors.

(Perhaps this is too much a prayer specific to people in the United States)

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