Sprouting Glory: A Christmas reflection

hybiscus in ash.jpg

Dusty, the longing rises from the ground,
a small leafy sprout breaking from the stump.
Where the green is, eyes look in wonder,
as hope grows from sprout to sapling.
The earth, scorched with anger and loss,
ignores at first, but cannot fail to notice,
amidst the ashen landscape, as first leaves
and buds begin to raise their forms to light.
While all around seems decayed with death,
here – only here – life begins again.
Like a phoenix, hope surges in flames,
as Holy Spirit quivers amongst every leaf and branch.
Now, now is the moment, the time of arrival,
and all the angels cry out, “Glory!”

An Angel at the Altar

Blake - Zecharias and the Angel.jpeg
William Blake, The Angel Appearing to Zacharias, pen and black ink, tempera, and glue size on canvas; 1799-1800.

an angel at the altar
heaven’s glory shatters earth’s sanctity
a voice indescribable yet understandable
a promise of hope unimaginable
confusion for old Zechariah
“our age – my wife – a baby – God – now?”
his call and God’s response
no utterance or voice now
his silence itself a testimony
that speaks of the ineffable
what has happened
what is happening
the first flutter of life within Elizabeth
gestates a voice of hope for humanity

 


 

I wrote these words after reading and reflecting on Luke 1:5-25 as part of my Advent readings. Zechariah has always struck me as a figure we all could relate to from Scripture. He encounters and angel of the Lord in the Temple, the place of all places that it seems like such a thing should happen. Yet Zechariah is so overwhelmed and confused by the message the angel brings that he doubts it could be possible. Struck dumb until the birth of the child, his silence becomes a message, even as the baby that his wife, Elizabeth, carries in her womb will be “a voice of one crying out,” directing attention to the Messiah. There is so much in here about speaking and silence, hearing and responding, as part of God’s work in relationship to humanity.

Listening at Morning: a prayer poem

grass with dew.jpg

sunlight, splashing across
fresh-cut grass, leaving diamonds
affixed to each blade, like teardrops.
criss-crossing tree trunks and branches,
still Spring-bare with slightest buds,
interlace like fingers in prayer,
rising up from the earth.
dim, white-washed morning sky,
painted too thin across
the heavenly canvas, sweeps
away yesterday’s darkened thoughts,
as the birds cry out, “good morning!
good morning!” “heigh-ho! heigh-ho!”

in the morning stillness, the house
sighs with furnace blowers and
creaks with popping timbers.
no one else stirs beyond sleeping breaths,
and i wait for Your voice
and all the diamond-treasure graces
You bring fresh each morning.

The First Day: a poem

image 4 - light overwhelming darkness.jpg

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. (Luke 24:1)

the first day:
walking with heavy loads and burdened hearts
to the place His breathless body lay.
every hour seemed so still
since that dark day.

but now, the first day:
their hesitating procession to the tomb
finds the place, but not Him;
and aching emptiness
meets anger’s anxiety.

yet, on the first day
two men send shivers of loud light
mingled with a message:
‘He’s alive like a new day’s dawning!’
and they remember His words.

this first day is the third day
that sends the dark day running.

[This is a poem I wrote as part of the Eastbrook Church Lenten devotional, “Hungry for God.”]

Apocalyptic Christ: a poem

visions of horror shudder
the human heart
heaving oceans and lurching beasts
clamor over creation
raging conquerors crush and kill
life scurrying under the sun
and history’s wheels roll over
all vulnerable souls

then lightning flashes the skies
and tear-filled eyes see
heaven’s in-breaking rule snaps in
like a curtain torn in two
all the boiling cauldron of earth
stops short in hearing a baby’s cry
and all human hearts find unshakable rest
in vulnerable visions of glory

Holy Week Poems

This year I pulled together a cycle of poems related to themes of Holy Week here on my blog. The poems follow the journey of Jesus, at times through the eyes of different characters. They are part of a longer series of poems that I am not ready to share yet. I wanted to simply gather them into one post here, so you could read them one after the other as they were mean to be read.

“Unseeing in Sleep”

“Maker Unmade”

“Nothing for Him”

“The Glory”

“Three Figures”

“Joseph’s Offering”

“The First Day”

“Unbelievable Words”

Unbelievable Words

Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. (Luke 24:12a)

unbelievable words move me,
send my heart shivering.
could this be what He meant,
or is it the nonsense of grieving hearts?
in that reeling moment,
suddenly i am running to the tomb,
leaning in, and looking at the
empty linen strips.
His body gone, but no angels for me;
none for me who left Him to die.
i feel so alone and confused,
like a soul in exile from the world.
what can all this mean?
what did Jesus mean?
were these all unbelievable words?

[This is the eighth in a group of original poems composed for Holy Week.]