I have a spiritual discipline that involves reading one gospel over and over again each season and then, near the end of the season, seeing what have come of the connection of that particular time and the text. So I am in the northern hemisphere and this is a look at Luke as seen through summer eyes.
It’s sticky, mosquitoes are everywhere,
and there’s time to think about pregnancy.
The old woman and the girl
with their ankles swollen and
their song and leaping
sit in the long late twilight
with quiet Zechariah who can’t talk
but must pay attention to crickets.
And shepherds wander
the short hot nights, always
wondering if it’s angels or thunder.
Simeon and Anna,
too long retired for anything
but swinging on the porch
while the world goes by
till they see this baby …
And there’s this middle school boy
with his puberty full of god
whose folks come home from vacation
and leave him in town.
And this is one of his grown-up stories —
how it was sweaty work
and smelled like pig,
cleaning toilets in that motel 6,
near Four Corners —
and the kid wasn’t in Vegas anymore,
but he remembered how good things
used to be in Des Moines.
And no one could be blamed
for rolling up the window to drive by
get the cops on the cell
after they’re out of East LA.
The sycamore in August is full of leaves
but the short guy can’t hide.
And that’s Luke, too,
somehow telling us he’s up that tree,
or he’s weeping with a napkin
and an alabaster jar,
or he’s watching Jesus
weep himself over the city skyline
with twin holes
that does not know peace.
And because Jesus is who he is,
there’s a promise
for the felon on his right
in the middle of their execution,
for the national guard from the Bronx
rolling bones for his suit.
And three days later
there’s some kind of extra inning
and he’s invited to an end of the season
barbecue in Emmaus
and somewhere between the cole slaw
and the ribs
Jesus just stands there with
corn bread in his hands,
and Luke goes into the house
and pulls out his last postcard to send
to his buddy Theo —
“having a wonderful time,
wish you were here.”