Following the storm, the electricity was out
and we gathered as a house church
by fire-place and generator.
There was wood smoke in my hair.
I leaned over to squint at the hymn.
It said, “eagle’s wings,”
so I asked them, “What is your image of God?”
and these were their answers …
Breath of life, Love, a shepherd,
a tree, puffy clouds, a beautiful sunset,
a burning bush, a rock of ages,
an invisible spirit, a loving father,
the light in a child’s eyes,
the one who gives a son,
the Voice in the darkness calling us home,
air — “for God is all around us.”
So this is my found poem.
I have put their images in order —
an order for today,
for these images, this community.
That is, really, all that clergy do.
Expect the found-god inside each one,
teach or invite or rattle them
into saying it,
collect it, put it in order,
remind them not to worship the order,
invite them to breathe the air.
This is a found poem in two senses – 1) yep, this happened and these are the exact answers of the group who weathered the storm for a house church morning, because I still have the little slips of paper I gave them to write on, 2) it’s been a couple years ago but I “found” it today as I am reflecting on my retirement after thirty-seven years from the parish half of my ministry. (Oh, my goodness, Madbury and Maranatha, what an amazing party last Sunday!) It is probably not everything that clergy do, but it certainly has been central to my life. (On Monday I will share what I think my ministry will be, based more in writing and in teaching and mentoring writers.)