Improv on James 3

The Revised Common Lectionary calls for James 3, all those tongue metaphors. Here are some new ones of mine.

The tongue is like …
a pilot light that cooks pie or burns a house …
fuse, trigger, cancer cell,

or look at all those cars with their
cylinders and carburetors,
nav systems, snow tires,
but it’s the ignition key turning
that makes a family vacation
or a DUI homicide.

The tongue is small, yet it can bless or damage.
There is no condom for a tongue.

The human being sees butterfly nebula
and finds quarks and gluons,
but no telescope can trace the light years
of a single word –
betrayal or compliment, lie or truth —
into its a black hole.

And no one can separate into nano particles
a fifth grader’s first poem,
or the hurting laughter of hate radio.

With this one tongue
we sing the hymns of Isaac Watts
and we curse the Muslim making salaat,
joke about the lesbian,
whisper loud and unkind
about the child’s autism,
unsay in ten minutes of gossip
a friendship of years.

Does a mouse click
on both prayer chain and porn site?
Can a teacher or a spouse or a therapist
or a pastor or a grandparent
both mock and encourage?

Yes. No. Not for long.

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5 Responses to Improv on James 3

  1. Matthew Stevens says:

    Hi Maren:

    Really, really, like your re-working of James 3. Genuinely contemporary readings of the scriptures is something we need a lot more of . Well done!

    Miigwech & zhawendaagozi.

    Rev. R. Matthew Stevens

    London Conference, United Church of Canada,

  2. Nancy Rockwell says:

    This is wonderful, Maren! Amen! – Nancy

  3. Well said – you made some good points in your poem about the tongue.

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