Thursday, December 27, 2012

Home for Christmas


The snow-covered world ushers me home
the road stretching out beneath me
as the stars array themselves overhead

this time of year
I follow not Polaris
but Orion
his belt my beacon
East east east
homeward

The mountains rise
my mountains
not to be conquered
but befriended
like a funnel
they channel me
the final miles

Home
snow and sunshine
your outsides are cold
but your insides feel warmth
comfort
Peace.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent Poem

Advent
time to prepare
time to clear out space
in the corner of the living room
for the Christmas tree
time to clear out space
in the cluttered corners of our lives
for the Prince of Peace.

Time to prepare.
time to wipe away skepticism
and open our eyes wide
like a child's
and believe in miracles once again.

Time to prepare.
time to use our imagination
to picture ourselves in a dark field
late at night
huddled with sheep to stay warm
we are dirty and tired
and yet chosen
to be the first to receive the new King.

Time to prepare.
time to give thanks for family
from Mary and Joseph receiving the unexpected gift of a son
to our own
sometimes dysfunctional
we gather anew each year to celebrate.

Time to prepare.
Time to prepare for an upside-down King
who spends His time with the poor
the dirty
the sick
not a king of wealth and power
but one born in a manger
scented not with oils and perfumes
but with the odors of horses, cows, and sheep.

Time to prepare.
Because if we don't prepare
we might not leave room in our lives
for His presence to matter at all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Side by side

Lets go downtown
everyone says
Drinks
dancing
some places won't even charge a cover!
Ok.
Good by me.

And what a scene it is
people all around
making connections
as the bass shakes the walls
music emanating out those open doors
hips gyrating on the dance floor
sweat pouring from your face
what fun
what a scene
this
is the place to be.

unless you look across the street

you see a shape huddled under
what little shelter there is
from that constant fall drizzle
a doorway
set back
a few feet from the sidewalk
head buried under a too-thin sleeping bag
trying desperately to tune out
and sleep through the noise
and mirth
all around.

We walk by individually
but collectively we seek to ignore
and forget
the clear presence
of poverty
next to luxury
inequality amongst us.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Prisms

rainbows dancing on the walls
like angels surrounding us
let my life be a prism
that takes the light of the world
and reflects brilliant colors
into every dark corner.

Tough one

I call myself an aspiring pacifist
not passive-ist
mind you
a seeker of peace
through action
violence only begets violence
and yet
disarmament sounds easy
sounds great
how much money would we save?
lets dedicate that waste
to feeding families every day
hunger is causing our societal decay
how can a child learn when all they
can think about is that
growling in their stomach?
but if we take away
military dollars
from military families
what happens then?
will repercussions be felt
we haven't foreseen?
suddenly unemployment rises
where will they work?
and is some of that military budget
going to mental health services and support
for veterans and families?
that one needs to be left alone
or made even more of a priority

so how can you and me
fit into a solution
of peace?
and how do we do it with delicacy
a way that brings unity and harmony
rather than animosity and fear?
Hold each other carefully, my friends
for we tread on each others'
livelihoods and dreams.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Black and Yellow (an Ode to my Steelers)

I remember that black and yellow
from my youth
sitting on the couch with Dad
watching our boys clad in the 
simplicity of that same Steel Curtain
3 diamonds on the helmet
one side
we keep it simple
no fanciness here
unless you're Yancey
dancin around defenders, dragging your toes as you bring in that 
touchdown from O'Donnell.
Pure bliss watching that Colts
Hail Mary miss
memories of the Chargers theft
still fresh in my young mind
I remember Slash
he was my boy
number 10 all over the field
unstoppable
run 
throw
catch the ball
We talk about the Wildcat now
some new invention?
nobody mentions Kordell lining up in the backfield
I could watch his highlight reel on repeat
A headache for the defense every week
I remember his fall from grace
fading into Steelers memories.

I remember the Bus
St. Louis a fool to let him go
How many defenders rode his back
into the end zone for those years?
Hammering the D
wear them down
run that team into the ground

After all, we're the Steelers
6 rings on the fingers
Each loss lingers like a welt
Sometimes I question myself
ask why I care so much
but some passions passed from father to son
cannot be unlearned.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Like the stream

Can a dog pull a plow?
I'm sure it can
but is that the smart way
to work with the land?

it's like asking a thimble to work as a cup
as inefficient a practice as that may be

yet so it is with me
can I perform functionally
in various capacities?
Sure.
But where do I find true vibrancy?
the full breadth of my tapestry?
Not just a time filler.
another time killer.
How long till we find our
role in this system?
Or am I missing it
and it's as clear
as those high mountain streams
that I hold so near my heart

They move with direction, and purpose
perhaps my path also winds its way steadily,
a meandering course to be sure
but with direction and purpose
ever present.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Creation happened today

Fall on the Oregon coast
is a constant remembrance of creation
dark clouds close in
days seem dim and dull
and then the heavens open
the earth is clean, new.
the sun emerges
bringing light
joy
hope.
soon, however,
the dark clouds are back.
the cycle continues.
but sometimes
we get lucky
and rain is accompanied
by sun streaming through
prisms darting to the ground
as they collapse into themselves
ephemeral stars of the mid-day rain
tiny shards of miracles
knifing through the sky
to their ultimate destination
in the ground.
inducing life.
creation
just happened
today.

Faith like a child

Sometimes
experience
dilutes our faith
poisons the fountain of youth
from which the purest emotions flow.
Like a child's view of a parent
nothing is wrong
they are perfect
until life
until experience
teaches you otherwise.

Can we ever return to purity?
To the hopeless, unchanging, unwavering, unjudging, unfazed love
of our youth?
No.
Maybe.
I don't know.
But if I am to enter the kingdom
like a child
I'd better let
my cynicism
skepticism
judgmentalism
and capitalism
die.
and open my eyes wide
to the constant miracles surrounding me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Talkin 'bout my generation

Does it matter,
our physical presence?
In church, I mean
Do we have
to literally step foot inside
every Sunday
to worship our Creator?

The church pursues young people
with the inherent, programmed tenacity
of a bee seeking pollen
desperately seeking new beginnings
yet unwilling to allow them to take hold

The problem is
too often
the pursuit comes across as
"your life isn't right without us.
let us
change you.
heal you. "

But I don't really think that is the case
So many of my friends will never show their face
in a church
yet lead purposeful
merciful
holy
lives.

When will we recognize that each of us takes our own path home?

See it through

The youth director preached at church today, and he shared a conversation he had with his daughter, when she was 11. She was facing a tough decision, and he told us about her decision-making process, and how she ended up choosing what she did.

"Dad, it was a really hard decision, and I couldn't decide what to do.
but I know you
and I trust you
so I let you make the decision for me."

Decisions
are they made with conviction?
Or are you still struggling
with the friction between
the choices you have?
You've given voice to both paths
and found no real perceptible difference
a sound choice, either way

So what to do?
Don't make it up to you.
Let it be.
Let God see it through.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cowboy Boots

Some days
you wake up
with cold feet
little toes like icicles
don't bend them too far
they might break

some days
your worldview is bleak
eyes blurred by cynicism
and frustration
hopeless in a world of hurt

some days
you just feel small
too little
no impact
a gnat caught on a wave
crashing
on the beach
helpless

those days
I find
nothing helps
my peace of mind
like my comfy
seven dollar
thrift store purchased
cowboy boots.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why one person?

Why does one person preach every Sunday?

It's not that I don't value their point of view
or their understanding of a Creator who makes all things new
it's just that we spend all our time recreating the past
reexamining history time and time again
and I think it's time we asked
our own people
to share their stories

but why are we scared to get up front
and share our experience of the divine?
scared people will laugh?
scared someone will get up there and say something
...crazy?
but wouldn't that be a real church?
an honest church?
teaching from among our own
we have only what
we
have
experienced.

for aren't we all in this together?
scratching
clawing
straining
for grasp
on some paradigm-shifting fact
that forever eludes us
ever out of sight
beyond the next hill
around the next corner?

and what can we do
but listen to one another
and work to climb that hill
turn that corner
together?

Kingdom, Power, Glory

"...and the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen."

Kingdom
power
glory.

Kingdom
is built on feet
not philosophy
the basis of action
foundation
built step by step
step by step
step
by
step

Kingdom
power
glory.

Power.
We seek not dominance
but love
pursue the worldview
of a child
no enemies
no judgment
only wide eyes
searching for friends

Kingdom
power
glory.

Whose stories do we lift up?
those who rise above?
the frail
stories
whispered in the night

or those of excess
wasting away
with more and more stuff
headlines on the news
carry dating updates and jail intakes

who is being glorified
in our
stratified
broken
system?

Monday, September 24, 2012

NYC-Big City Lights

i.

Big city lights
busy city nights
car horns sounding as
off beats
to taxi doors slamming
claustrophobic?
sometimes.
Life presses on all sides
humanity surrounding you
fear?
not really.
if anything, kinship.
appreciation.
affirmation.
like grain swaying in the summer breeze
the distances between us
are forever changing
near and far.
near and far.

ii

that warmth you feel inside?
it's not all
just the alcohol
you feel connected
to the world around
reject those notions of barriers
walls surrounding
a few drinks in
and we all wear our hearts on our sleeve
no longer feeling the need
to be anyone other than
who
we
are.

iii

and the lights spread out before you
beyond sight
beyond view
beyond comprehension
expansive

the only apt comparison
for those big city lights
are the stars that
glimmer above every night
decorating the sky
like a paintbrush with parkinsons
they blow us away
we are but one light in the city
and in the sky we are but one star.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rocky Beach

Maybe someday
this will be just another
pristine, sandy beach
and tourists can play dune tag
and volleyball in the sand
locals will even come out on the nice weekends
with their beach towels and boogie-boards
to enjoy the feeling
of sand leaking up between their toes

but for now
I'll take the smooth gray pebbles
giving way beneath your feet
the seals' heads
bobbing on the rolling waves
of their secluded cove
floating closer
to sate their curiosity

I'll take the breathtaking impact
of waves on rocks
pinnacles, fortresses against time
the waves a culmination of forces we barely even understand
compelling them shore-ward, to land

For now
I can feel, almost oppressively, the force of the ocean
its passion rings in my ears
like the pebbles
cascading down the beach
as the wave retreats
nature's xylophone
treating whoever is present
to a breathtaking chorus

Give it enough time
and that beach might become sand
and you can take it.
I'll have to move on
and find another rocky beach.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fear is a Weapon

Fear is a weapon of mass destruction
and it's destroying our souls


everywhere you look
it's fear controlling our actions
reactions
splitting our communities
into factions
fractions of what we could be
showing us
what we really lack
is trust

fear drives a wedge between us
a wall dividing our spirits
dividing our love
our generosity
and creativity
small
insulated
lives.

we're told to be scared of everything
beware
terrorists
              governments
                                 religions
I hear
"they" are trying to
destroy us
             brainwash us
                                 manipulate us.
And naturally we rise to our guard
after all
we only hear horror stories
stories of fear
heroes and hope
are left hidden
for they bring in very poor ratings

in a day and age
where the world hangs in the balance
cold wars occurring daily
in a fearful, distraught environment
I contest the greatest WMD
the greatest thing that saddens me
is our own fear

and while fear may not
wield an easily visible weapon
you can still see it
on the faces of strangers as you walk by
for we fail to see our similarities
and commonalities
we see only the unknown
and the unknown "they" can never
be trusted

so while we build our walls of
steel
wood
people
laws
we fail to see
that despite our valiant attempts
to save life as we know it
our way of life
the "American dream"
our own fear
is ripping our collective soul
apart.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Play the sun down

Play the sun down
Beth/Rest Bonny Bear
lay it's head down gently on

the floating ocean waves
let the horizon embrace
the changing light
as lovers hold each other
evening turns to night


Few moments create pause
in a world of movement
and
instant gratification

but a sunset
over the Pacific
has an audience
beyond comprehension
time stops
the music plays
and light fades.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Innocence of the Young

Hello!

His clear, exuberant voice greeted me as soon as I rounded the corner
his blonde, curlish locks barely visible
above the front of his stroller

Hello!

The face of his father greeted me differently
with
distrust
worry
fear

and I can't help but pause
and contemplate
a world of youth
void of the curse of life experience
and pain

a world
where each stranger you meet
brings hope
joy.
new possibilities.
the world is created new through the eyes of the young.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ghosts

Do you believe in ghosts?
Now maybe I don't necessarily mean
haunting, floating
images
but spirits
leading
speaking
unsettling

I'm starting to think they are
the messengers
we hear about in movies
but maybe not haunts to scare us
maybe our ghosts
are our hopes
dreams
aspirations
things that cannot be pushed aside
but must be followed.
Addressed.
Given in to
wherever they may take us

Perhaps are ghosts
are nothing more than our own
second-guessings of our lives
because we've been too scared to live our dreams.

A kingdom coming

The kingdom is coming
and people are getting nervous
those who don't understand
those who fear the unknown
and those who are so self-assured
that they're the holy church

for the kingdom coming
will usher in a new day
new ways of life
new equalities

and the people in power
those declaring the "others" that will be left out
will be so disappointed to find
that the kingdom has come for all
not just their perfect congregation
but everyone
flawed and selfish as we may be.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Adding pieces to the puzzle

Being gone
makes coming back that much better
like a long, hard winter
helps one appreciate beautiful summer weather
a community without a member
is like a puzzle without a piece
never quite complete
and love is the glue
that holds it together
**************

Do I know my neighbor?
Do I like my neighbor?
Do I agree with my neighbor?
Do I trust my neighbor?
Do I think my neighbor would do the same thing for me?
Doesn't matter.
What matters is that I love them
and that by doing so
I add a piece to the puzzle
I help create a larger
more diverse picture
one of a larger community
where everyone is invited
and loved.

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Post-General Assembly letter to the church


To my church,

whom I love.

I am angry.
I am angry we prioritize politics
over our relationships with each other.
I am angry that members of our community
threaten to leave when their
demands aren't met
the temper tantrum of a petulant child

I am frustrated.
I am frustrated that hours upon hours
years upon years of work
done by so many different people
is so quickly dismissed by those
newly educated on the subject
by those scared of change
or spending a little money.

I am disappointed.
I am disappointed that we
as a church
missed a chance to speak
the prophetic voice in our world
we could have no longer been a thermometer reflecting society
but the thermostat dictating change
I am disappointed that in efforts
to appease the loudest
we have allowed the silent to stay ignored.

I am sad. I am sad for our divisions.
I grieve for schisms rendered
and relationships broken.
I am sad we remain stuck
in neutral
able to go neither forward nor back.

But I have hope.
I have hope for the conversations I have seen
the dissimilar theologies and worldviews
committing to developing relationships
mending rifts

I have hope for the young voices I heard
voices that demand our ears
and our respect
not simply because they are young
but because they hold the
passion
love
and commitment to reconciliation
that will guide this church forward.

And I have faith.
Even at my lowest points
when I doubted God's presence in our midst
when I questioned the motives of voting members
even as the dreams and visions I held for this week
dissolved as chalk on sidewalk in the rain

I have faith.
For while I lament
timing
urgency
immediacy
I know it is not our will, but His be done
and while we may not know where that takes us
my dear church
it's exactly where we need to be.

Even in
my anger
my frustration
my disappointment
and my sadness
my dear PCUSA,
I love you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Firestarter

How do you take the energy
from disappointment
the anger
of frustration
and turn it into positive growth?

these are the moments of holy fury
the fanning of the fire
that needs ignition

perhaps we have built the fire
and we were waiting only for this,
a single match.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A thought on General Assembly

Listen
my friends
listen
for as we clamor about
with activities
agendas
ambitions

we fail to listen for
awakenings
as we
go
go
go

I fear our own desires
are clouding our visions
like dust settling on a once-vivid photograph.

Reflections on life

Funerals
these memorials
are always bizarre.
Nothing makes you reflect on your own demise
like recognizing the death of another
and yet
I always end up more focused on life
for as we sit in remembrance of one gone
we discuss their character
their ambition
their achievements
and I can't help but wonder if
what we're talking about
is what they wanted to be about
if our perception of a life lived
matches that of the person who has died
at all.

It seems to me, then
that when I reach my end
I want no debate
there will be no room in that place
for discussion as to who I was

"A servant for all" that could be said
for love
for peace
for justice
if I can end my life with those reflecting on it
remembering
diligence
dedication
selflessness

if that funeral is not a funeral
but a day of servanthood
where all gathered don't cry or mourn
but smile as they help a neighbor
laugh as they meet a stranger
and rejoice in the servanthood of one another
I'll have lived as I wanted.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dust

From dust we came
swirls in the wind
fleeting faces emerging
from a transient medium

from dust we came
pieced together
as a clay pot
teetering on the edge of a stand.
fragile
falling

from dust we came
we are not simply caretakers of the earth
we ARE the earth
it is contained in us
when we harm the earth
we harm none other than our selves
our very being

to dust we return
when i die
do not tarry
in returning me to
my natural form
and take those ashes
pieces of the earth that I am
and let me drift home.

Reflections on the Forest at night #2

From the hike on Mt. Jefferson:

Dim shapes loom in the blackness
ancient firs, pines, and spruce
forming the pillars that support the sky above us.

Underfoot the needles form a carpet
ushering you in to the palace
letting you know
you are welcome here.

There is a hush in the air
things are quiet
respectful
reverent
only brief murmurs can be heard in the silence

and then
with the sunrise
you enter the throne room
and see the king
rising above you


It seems far easier to recognize your place in the world when you're in the right context.

Reflections on the forest at night

I recently was able to climb Mt. Jefferson, a magnificent peak in the center of Oregon. In order to summit a peak such as this, you have to get an early start in the morning: in our case, we left the car a little before 4 am. I found the forest at night to be a unique and complex place.


In the forest at night
you feel small
trees stretch upwards
beyond sight
humbling your
conqueror's mentality.

In the forest at night
mystery reigns supreme
as your single headlamp
illuminates but a fraction
of what surrounds you

In the forest at night
distance and time become relative
in the dark
only the present matters
only your next step matters

and fear is an option
as it always is
fear could overtake you
in your steps as you walked
fear of being small
fear of the unknown
fear of being present.

so you choose
whether the forest at night
is a place you really want to be.




Monday, May 7, 2012

Addressing Justice

I'm beginning to question
this idea of a "just" God
The God that would reject from heaven
those that rejected compassion and mercy on earth.
Justice doesn't seem like the right word for that
bitterness seems a better description
What if justice instead
is a striving for shalom
justice isn't
"you get what's coming"
justice is grace.
A God that holds grudges?
No.
What if justice is such a revolutionary idea
we don't even understand it?
What if justice, by definition, contains
uncompromising forgiveness?
Unconditional grace?
Maybe we've defined justice poorly.
With little breadth.
little justice.
God's justice gets bigger.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday, 2012

Empty seems to have a
negative connotation
glass half empty
like a bad attitude
we like things that are full
overflowing
filled beyond belief

yet the story of Easter
isn't about what is full
it isn't about presence
but the lack of it.
it turns our desires
our notions of what is good
and makes us question it.

Jesus only appears to a few disciples
the rest of us have only an empty tomb
not presence
but a void
not evidence
but only the glimmer of hope
that allows faith to grow.

Lent-Day 40

Cracks in the armor
spaces through which the
light shines through

revealing bits of themselves
that hurt
that are painful
that make them vulnerable.

even when the tomb
seems dark
and empty
cold
and sad
you have to remember:
Easter is coming.

Lent-Day 39

Darkness can hold comfort
it covers transgressions
fears
insecurities
like a comforting blanket
of warmth.

Candles hold the key
the Spirit present in the group
holding attention
not about each light, each person
but about the "we"
a community of light
that only full realizes itself
when darkness is all around.

Lent-Day 38

Peace feels
like falling
falling
falling
seeing the ground
rise up to meet you
a wall you can't escape
fear
terror
coursing through every
crevice of your soul
and then landing
like a fragile egg
on the downiest of pillows
safe.

peace.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lent-Day 37

I'm back among the books
searching for the words of wisdom
that will bring peace
Beckoning for the comfort of Grandpa
to still my heart
speak to my soul
in ways I can learn to hear.

I hunger for knowledge
books call to me
to challenge the ways I view the world
that have become static
entrenched in the dust and dirt
that comes with too little usage.

My thirst is for purpose
not identity
but meaning.
Do I assign value, meaning?
Or are the definitions found somewhere deep within?

Lent-Day 36

So many say
"Listen to God."
But I'm not really sure it's that easy.
I'm just not sure when it is
that God is speaking
while my mind is chattering away
like members of a Sunday morning brunch group.

"Listen, he'll speak."
Through a person?
Through a symbol?
maybe I'm making it too difficult
when really it's simple
and I just haven't learned how.
I crave silence
but even when my ears hear nothing
my senses are clouded by the dull roar
of everything flowing through my head
crashing like ocean waves
upon the clarity I desperately desire.

Listen?
While I know everyone wants the best for me
I can't help but detect agendas, plans
beyond my control.
The idea of God controlling my life doesn't scare me
as much as the notion that the people of God are trying to
I don't want to turn independence into a god
rather
it seems to lead me to Him.

So I'm trying to listen to God
but that still small voice struggles to be heard
in the clamor.

Lent-Day 35

I've been thinking
wrestling with my
restless nature
wondering why I keep searching
looking
wandering.
It has occurred to me
that writing
holds hope.
So many of my projects
thoughts
dreams
deal with the power
of pen
and paper.
Perhaps purpose can be found
through this passion.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lent-Day 34

if something tickles your core
consider it a foot in the door
for the more time we spend
in the ways we're intended
we're ourselves more than ever before.

when we allow the Spirit to search us
our lives are filled with purpose
we'll find ourselves places we never imagined
we'll recognize friends we've never shook hands with
a community that will not desert us.

Lent-Day 33

Wisdom
like a seed
needs to be nurtured.
Cultivated.
It can lay dormant.
Quiet.
Asleep.
But given the right conditions
the seed can
grow
grow
grow.
A plant is never complete
never done changing
but "success" for a plant
if possible
is sowing
new seeds.

Lent-Day 32

Smell can conjure such memories
the simplest scents carry the
weight of our lives
trapped within
so walking into a library
full of those musty books on faith
I feel presence.

I walk into Grandpa's study,
grab a book
and start to read.
Grandpa sits down next to me
and does the same.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lent-Day 31

What is our greatest fear?
The unknown.
But what is the unknown
if not misrepresented as failure?
We're scared of what is different.
Hard.
Uncomfortable.

Yet somehow fear encourages growth.
For who can become
without being pushed
prodded
pulled
beyond their comfort level
and into the realm of uncertainty?
Certainly not me.

The question is then asked:
How to be something different than stability?
For fear can push us
but it can also
hold us down
unable to take a step forward.

Lent-Day 30

I think people spend their lives
searching for freedom.
A life, year, day, even brief moment of
release
peace
from the burdens weighing them down.
But I think a solution is fear.
That moment when your heart jumps
starts beating like a drumline in rhythm
hammering with force enough to build a home
you're nervous
anxious
And then
finally
it happens
right when you lift off.
Fear.
Release.
Peace.

Lent-Day 29

Like the trials before success
Lent hits with the rains of drudgery
mired in the mud
struggling to strive towards the light of
springtime
newness
resurrection.
the months of heavenly tears
can draw to a close
the rays of warmth can begin to
pierce the wall of clouds
holding darkness in
spring is coming
spring is coming
a new day is about to begin.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lent-Day 28

You know
I don't mean to be critical
but sometimes I wonder
if churches should grow at all
I see these giant mega-churches
places big as a shopping mall
and I wonder what they're saying inside.
When I read the Gospel the sacrifices required
seem a tall order
seem like something people wouldn't want to hear
yet some churches grow exponentially
while others stay small

Maybe it's easier to
fall in line with thousands of people
on either side of you
lost in the insanity
of numbers and projectors and big screen tvs
of pastors and leaders
preaching of money
wealth
prosperity.

But the Gospel I've read takes the opposite side
if we ever think we're giving enough, well we are
lying to ourselves
unwilling to let our pride in our accomplishment and treasure
release

The idea I'm thinking
maybe mildly proposing
is that maybe the church should be the smallest inclusive community around.
everyone
Everyone
EVERYONE
is invited.
But the call to sacrifice
might keep numbers small.

Lent-Day 27

It is hard to whine
when I think of the context of my decisions
I realize how lucky I am
How many have options at all?
I think right now it'd be pretty easy to fall
into a sea of self-pity
to look at myself as a victim of
clashing coincidences
colliding interests
clouding my consciousness.
But I am lucky.
No matter what happens.
I am lucky.
Lucky to live where an education is possible.
Lucky to have people that support me.
Lucky that good jobs are probable.
Lucky to have never felt true need.
But that means
I cannot rest
I cannot stop the beating in my chest
until I've given absolutely everything I possibly can
to love my God and fellow man (and woman).


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lent-Day 26

Simple acts
turn holy
when done for the right reasons
when done for the right people.
I don't dislike doing dishes
especially after I've enjoyed a delicious dinner
but I don't love them either.
But standing at the sink for two hours
scrubbing away for those who are rarely served
it felt like an honor.
The excitement you get
The adrenaline kicks in
you're working FOR something
and though that pile of plates looks impossible
you keep working
working
working
because today
just one day
you want everyone in that place
to feel blessed.
served.
holy.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lent-Day 25

They tell me
your vocation is where your greatest passion
meets the world's greatest need.
But what does that mean to me?
If my passion is to be
purposeful
useful
than it seems like I will be searching my whole life
until my breath runs out
that even as I clamor about
trying to make a difference
life passes me by
so I want to make a difference
to matter
and it's so hard to act small
when the needs of the world seem to
forever open up to you
an invitation
to change something
be someone.
So.
If I am simply a domino
to start a process long and slow
the end result I'll never know
I'm in, I'll try, but tell me where to go
to start
to begin
this maddening art of
life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lent-Day 24

Friendship
over time
changes
in ways we cannot deny
we change
and that metamorphosis requires
an understanding
that those close to us
can adapt
react to what is new
and still connect in some manner of truth.
when those friendships are found
when that foundation is sound
these are the people you want around
they know you.
they accept you.
friendship over time is acceptance.

we aren't the same as we were
racing sticks down the creek behind your house
but the fact that we are still friends
11 years later
creates a genuine thankfulness within me
for a friend that remains

and friends that remain--
well, they're hard to find.

Here's to you, Crodgers.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lent-Day 23

I've often wondered
how the gut and the heart are connected
"go with your gut"
"follow your heart"
what are we speaking to
if not attempting some connection to the soul?

for when does the soul speak?
what chances do we give her voice
in the chaos of reason and logic
the systems and methods we've set up
disregarding the value
of that within ourselves
which is holy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lent-Day 22

Poetry
speaks to the heart
a finely sharpened knife
cutting through all the fluff
fat
garbage
permeating our lives
and getting to the real.
We've been told that our feelings are not to be trusted
that reason, rational thinking
this is the mark of wisdom
in the world we live in
but while facts show a knowledge of certain dimensions
poems speak to truth of different intentions
maybe you can tell me why the sky is blue and clouds are white
but can you capture fear in the frailty of night?
the heart speaks a language
that we have to work to understand
it's easier to just let it pass us by
emotion is betrayal, don't smile, frown, or cry
but not everything is as easily seen as the back of your own hand
and that's why poetry is more important now than ever
easy answers aren't solutions
they're rejecting the greater need
to understand our hearts
to encourage and appreciate the arts
and maybe then we can begin to start
rethinking.
rebuilding.
renewing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lent-Day 21

Some days
you question whether the rain
will ever end
infinite
waves of water reaching out to oblivion
the ocean
what's a raindrop in that body of water?
nothing.
yet to me
each raindrop
is a wall
between me and spring
the time when all things are born again
fresh
new
and yet
without the rain
can the flowers ever bloom?
what is spring if not for the winter rains?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lent-Day 20

Looking out from the house on the bluff
I noticed
the lights below were gone
instead of cozy homes
warmth pouring out
I saw
empty windows
dark
cold
missing souls.
The dark waters of the ocean crept nearer
feeding on fear and the
chilliness of the night
but then
look.
a candle illumines a window
hope born anew.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lent-Day 19

I've decided I want to live with more courage
to not shy away from the hard and difficult
but to rush to meet them head-on.

So I've started asking:
Which takes more courage?

To criticize or to work to change what is wrong?

To stop and talk to the person on the side of the road, or to drive on by?

To defend a person being attacked in a conversation, or to simply try to move past it?

Which takes more courage?

I seem to run away when things get hard
decisions cut me deep like scars
action is value, go ahead, take charge
but how could we have come so far
and still not know who we really are?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lent-Day 18

What's an old, dry bone?
Useless. Dead.

But I think we each have some dry bones within
those pieces of us made dead from sin
they need the fresh breath of God to begin
to work as they are called to.

What if the church is a dry bone too?
A parched, bland version of what was once new
what would it take to return to what's true?
to work as we are called to.

What if our world is a hot, dry bone?
a magnificent creature ours only on loan
we can help it grow when our love is shown
the world as it should be.

Lent-Day 17

Someone needs to do a study
on the psychological revelations
of domino organization
it's fascinating.

To me, it's linear.
Left to right
line up your train
as best you can
despite any mishaps along the way.

To Kady,
it's a loose downward line
falling like rain to the ground.

Chris organizes like the treeclimber that he is--
trees on the mind.
His dominoes form tight, connected bows
all culminating in a magnificent point
(that spot high up in a tree those climbers like)

To me, that first domino is a "the."
Starting a sentence.
The first word from left to right.

Kady's first domino is that first drop of rain
you feel that seems to tell you
"Take cover. The sky is about to open up."

Chris' first domino seems like the end, at the beginning.
The top, right from the start.
The pinnacle.

Maybe that's why he wins.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lent-Day 16

I have a little hippo
he chases me around
despite my pleas
and attempts to flee
his silliness knows no bounds

He's there for me on bad days
and when the days are good
whether I cry or smile or frown
he's always understood

One day I had to leave him
as I left town on a trip
he stood there and watched me go
a trembling in his lips

I never went on home to him
I've yet to travel back
how he fares without me
well, I'm scared to even ask

But some days when I miss him most
his voice it seems to reach me
while I left
I'm not forgotten
my hippo, he is my community.

(That's for you, 1229).

Lent-Day 15

How do you help the ones
that don't want your help?
You can try to give so much of yourself
for naught.
Because try as you might some
just want to be forgot.

But I refuse to let that happen
I want to reach across the chasm
that divides us
whatever it may be
I want to reach out with integrity
find our common humanity.

I'll admit.
Sometimes it may be hard for me to relate
at times I've been more than content to
skate by with my privilege by birth
brought into a place on earth
where I was appreciated
built up
lauded and
applauded.

And not everyone experiences that.
So while you may not want my help
I have to try
and maybe we'll never be able to tell if
I made a difference
but everyone deserves to be loved simply
for their very existence.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lent-Day 14

I always say to dream big, act small.
And that doesn't seem like so tall an order
after all
we each are capable of small things
but what about when our heart can only focus on the big?

So today the task I've placed in front of myself
is to picture big things without the smaller pieces within
things that won't work, can't be without
like sewing a quilt without a needle and pin.

What's a rainbow, without millions of tiny droplets of water
a beach, without each grain of sand?
What's a house without the bricks that built it
a skin cell, if not part of a hand?

What's a flock of geese without a "V"?
hundreds gathered in unity
wings beating in harmony

what's a person without community
a lonely sailor lost at sea
a fish without a school
without the place it needs to be

a snowflake carries exquisite beauty
unique, perfect in its purity
but a snowflake alone cannot cover the ground
giving us the muffled tranquility of winter sounds

how do you start a fire without the kindling?
you can't have a forest without a tree
how can you dance without learning the steps?
you can't appreciate the colors of fall without seeing each turning leaf.

one rock can cause the water to ripple
but perhaps many rocks can cause a wave
my one small voice grows stronger
flanked by a chorus of change.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lent-Day 13

Some days I wake up
and miss the mountains
rising up majestically
collecting my constantly restless spirit
in their expansive arms

I miss the trees
the shapes made from groves and clusters
green, tan, white
I play guess who with the faces on the mountainside.

I miss blue skies
somehow rendered a deeper blue
by the snow on the ground
and the chill in the air
my lungs sting with the breath inwards
but I feel so alive.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lent-Day 12

The past has shaped you
not defined you
so don't look back and feel so blue
you can rue the mistakes
but not who they have shaped

You have purpose.
a future
a world of potential
so don't sit back and focus on flaws
know that God has a plan for us all.

Lent-Day 11

This one is for the youth group here at First Pres Newport. I mean it with all the love and hope I can offer. This is not directed at anyone in particular; think of it more as a call to the whole group to draw together.

it begins with respect
a recognition that anyone else's voice
carries a value equal to yours
that despite the constant lure
to draw attention to yourself
there is a time and a place
and this is a sacred space
for sharing
open to one another
compassionate
sisters and brothers
that care
your pain is my pain
your joy is my joy

community
this is yours
to shape and mold
but you have to trust
to hold each other as
special
unique
when you feel attacked
you turn the other cheek
the language and tone must be
tranquility
not anger
not frustration
no matter the situation
each person in that circle has to be willing to look around
at every other person there
and see a beloved child of God
and they deserve your ears
your silence
your heart
and your respect.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lent-Day 10

I still remember the day
(maybe I was around 8)
my parents discovered the star i had
drawn, even etched
into the end table.
"Luke, did you do this?"
Deny it.

But they knew.

And while we laugh and joke about it now
I can still feel the humiliation and
disappointment I experienced when they
exposed my lie.
Not maliciously
but pulling a band-aid off hurts whether
the wound is real or not.

it felt so grown up
sitting down to discuss what would happen next
for for all the wrong reasons
Because I had ruined a perfectly good end table
I would buy a new one with my own money.

And while I have no idea whether my
parents actually ever planned to uphold that punishment
the fear
sadness
disappointment
I felt as I researched new end tables
is something I can still grasp.

Though we may disappoint those that believe in us
and though we may have to learn lessons on the way
we will mess up
but we are nudged back onto course
forgiven and loved.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lent-Day 9

"The strength of a person's virtue should not be measured by their special exertions, but by their habitual acts." --Blaise Pascal

To follow Christ
is from from a one-time deal
a prayer time at every meal
a commitment to never kill or steal

To follow Christ
goes beyond the extraordinary
it is a daily burden to carry
it's more of the pit and less of the cherry

To follow Christ
requires a piece of sacrifice
it's more than simply being nice
we say we're willing, but what's the price?

To follow Christ
we must commit in every single thing we do
that after each long day is through
every act was made in the image of You.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lent-Day 8

Wouldn't it just be easier
if God left me a road map for my life?
Not all the answers, sure, but hints
whenever I lose direction?

Wouldn't it just be easier
if the answer to solving
world hunger, homelessness, and aids
was a formula laid out for us to follow?
You have to at least work a little
to make a formula work.

Yet, as I'm asking these questions
frustrated with my own free will
I feel rising over me a sense of peace.
Freedom.
There are
no wrong steps
no failed enterprises
no miscalculations
on this journey,
as long as you're trying
pushing forward
on
on
on
to whatever promised land
we find on the other side of the river.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lent-Day 7

As I opened the letter
my heart skipped a beat
I'd seen who it was from
I started to read

Congratulations, it said, as the letter began
you are accepted, my very good man
we'd like you to come to our part of the land
and join our seminary family

the news was expected
I'd hoped for as much
but I felt such a touch of
excitement and purpose as I scanned through that letter.

and then

were those tears in my eyes as I folded it up and put it away?
or had that cold blast of wind
caught me at that very moment
to make my eyes water?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lent-Day 6

There's a phrase in writing
we call it the "pregnant pause"
that moment before the excitement begins
the anticipation sinking in
one can sense the building suspense
as no one knows when the pause will end

so tick tick you watch the clock
as time keeps marching onward
you try to hide and keep inside your heart
(but it pounds away like the Pacific on the ocean sands)

when will it stop? how will it end?
the pregnant pause it lingers
i think it waits until it wraps each person round its finger.

but what if the pause is held too long?
you start to wonder if something went wrong
the action was coming
the moment was near
why did the build-up disappear?
and you wind up in the place you have always feared
paused without direction.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lent-Day 5

Promises
What's a word worth?

garbage, really
we throw them out
with candy wrappers and old tires
meaningless
in the magnitude of our
oh-so-important lives

we toss them around
careless as to their power
to heal
to resurrect
to hurt
to kill

words have an ability
we never quite believe
the substance they carry
is something we just can't see

but one's word is
dedication
faithfulness
integrity
they measure a person

some words remain.
as do those that speak them.
some promises are still unbroken.

"I will never forsake you."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lent-Day 4

I'm searching for signs
as I'm writing my rhymes
spending valuable time
seeking the divine


I find Him sometimes not where I'd think
in places where righteous ones dare not to sink
in bars
in gutters
with backpacks and shopping carts full of
granola bars and clutter
most would deem dirty.

yesterday I saw Her right where I expected
drifting low on a cloud over the Pacific
light radiating forth in beams no darkness could overcome
I stopped for a moment to whisper hello.


weeks go by
and I'm still searching
wrapped up in pursuit of that wholly divine
The search will continue
until my hair turns gray and the lines on my face
grow deeper
somehow, wiser
knowing that no matter how long I search
answers will forever elude me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lent-Day 3

Last night
the house shook
the rain battering the roof
a chorus of pebbles on the shingles
the windows bowing in and out
as my reflection grows and shrinks
grows and shrinks
the wind finds instruments in the
crevices of the house
maracas in the bathroom fan
a low mournful note over the exhaust pipe
soft hissing through the window screen

the song of the storm isn't scary
its notes and rhythm guide me to sleep
held in the arms of something more powerful
stronger than I can know or comprehend
held in the presence
buoyed by the Spirit
small.
tiny.
beloved.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lent-Day 2

The day is coming
the spring of the soul
the day when the world
wakes up
reborn
anew

the day when things return
to the way they ought to be
to shalom
it will be a day of peace
justice harmony

a day when we no longer recognize separations
but see ourselves as the interconnected web
that we are

that day is coming
like the lightning breaking forth from the
darkness of thunder clouds
it shall come
hope
caught in a burst of light.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent-Day 1

What is brokenness?
Brokenness is temporary
a short term short sighted problem
that will be reconciled
what is wrong will become right
dreams shattered in the darkness of despair
will be reconstructed piece by piece
like a mirror holding the image of who we really are

what is brokenness?
brokenness is the doubt in each of our heads and hearts
that says we aren't good enough
strong enough
smart enough
to make a difference.

brokenness is the disbelief that we are
created
beloved
children of God
made exactly who we are.
for purpose
brokenness is a separation from purpose
our purpose
God's purpose.
That purpose is reconciliation.
The darkness is greatest before the dawn.
But daylight is coming.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent

Lent
Sacrifice
What to give up?
Take on?
In the season of fasting
what is my fast?
what is my gift?
Am I willing to risk
what comes first to mind?
The things that take up too much time
too many hours
stretching into days
patterns and behaviors
departures from sacred ways

40 days of discipline
am I up to the task?
I've never tried before
Never had this cross on my forehead before
but I feel called
I may not succeed
but I will try.


Today begins Lent, and as I sat in church today at the noontime service, for the first time I felt led to think about what I would do differently in Lent this year. Past years, I haven't done anything...it was never a tradition for me growing up, and I just never really got on board. But today, I sat there, thinking through things I could do differently...and while lots of people give things up for Lent, the idea of sacrifice, I like more the idea of adopting a new discipline or practice. I waste many of my mornings, and I've written on this blog just twice since my YAV year ended. I've written very little in terms of poetry that I haven't written on the blog, and I said to myself, "You need to write more. It was important to you."

So I'm going to write each of the next 40 days. Good, bad, ugly, I want to turn my writing into a discipline of sorts...expressing myself as I can. Some days I may read lenten texts or devotionals to reflect on, others I may just write what is on my mind. But for 40 days, I am going to write.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Poem in Defense

it's a trend these days
it seems all the rage
to bash on the church
and her religious ways
give me jesus not religion
the trendy they clamor
but jesus said the church was his bride
so put your hand over your mouth
and pull that log out of your eye

if the church is Jesus' bride
don't you think you should try to
help it
shape it
instead of betraying it?
sure she's got her issues
I don't deny that
it's a true fact
that her pews and aisles are jam-packed
with hypocrites
liars.
impure hearts and
idolaters.
But isn't that exactly where they (we) need to be?

so maybe mother church,
"religion" if you will
seems washed up and over the hill
to young people, like you and me
we don't want to deal with that kind of hypocrisy
when really all we want is community
and freedom to help others in tune with our beliefs.

So you say mother church isn't meeting your needs
well change it.
I dare you.
Make it real.
relevant.
revelatory.
rampant.
resurrective.
reconciliatory.
rambunctious.
revolutionary.

you. me.
we are the church.
we.