How Can We


How can we
Withstand
The chaos

The unravelling of
Sanity
Values
Order

Some days it feels that
We are so broken
We can never be healed

And still
In this violent
Confusing
Aching world

You send your Spirit
Tongues of flame
To remind us

That however alone
Distressed
Abandoned
We may feel
You are with us

The Long View

When I feel despair about
The way things are
Or hopeless about
What is to come.

When I feel lost,
No longer sure of the paths
I am to follow.

When I have worn myself out
In anger or in worry.

I catch a glimpse
Of the blip of time
In which I live.

A fungus on a stump.
A stream of water carving a path through a boulder.
Prophets preaching in the wilderness
Or bearing witness on the street corner.

Let me not give up.
But, instead, hold on to
The long view.

Believing that the arc of history
Moves towards love,
Towards justice,
Towards life.

Show me my part
In this long journey.

A Message from the Trees

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I walk outside
And look up at the tree
In my front yard.

Its branches, bare.
Leaves, long shed,
Were raked and carried
To the backyard months ago.

But I see buds growing in the branches,
Promising life that will return
In its season.

What message for me, for us,
In these months of fear and challenge?

That though we have lost
Hopes and dreams …
That though our plans,
Swept up,
Now lie in the bottom of dust bins …

We are alive, growing,
Dormant, but still grounded in earthy hope.

Step outside and look toward the sky.
Life and hope and promise
Are growing in hidden places,
Preparing to break forth
In beauty and strength.

Grief

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Grief sneaks up on me,
cunningly disguising itself
so I can’t see it coming.

Or maybe I see through its costumes
and just don’t want to accept
that it’s still here,
dragging at the corners of my spirit,
masking the colors around me,
dimming my hope, my joy.

I don’t want to be sad
when the world is so shiny with tinsel
and the music calls for holiday cheer.

And then, finally,
I turn toward grief
and open my heart.

Grief and I embrace,
weeping,
into the night.

Sunrise

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I watch the sky this morning
Wondering what the sunrise will bring.
A hint of pink
And then, gone.
Oh, so you will tease me
This day.

From the kitchen window
I see a splash of color.
Rosy clouds floating beyond the trees.
Your beauty is such a mystery to me.

In the car, on the way to work,
I have nearly forgotten you.
And then I see in my rearview mirror
A glow, a brilliant gold ball
Shining through clouds above the horizon.
Ahead of me, in the west, the pink returns
And then clouds fill with dazzling white light.

Sunrise, you remind me
That each new day is a mystery, a gift.
May I never forget to see you.
May I never forget to watch for you
With wondering, awestruck eyes.

God’s Welcome

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Last week we gathered
As United Methodists,
As Episcopalians,
As clergy and lay,
As people with different opinions
On the politics of the day,
And we considered “God’s welcome.”

We listened and laughed,
Prayed and praised,
Wondered and worshiped,
Sat in silence together.

We welcomed guests
From Bolivia.
Our words translated
From English to Spanish,
From Spanish to English.
We communicated with smiles,
With gestures,
With love.

We broke bread together
Around tables in the dining hall
And in the beauty of St. Francis Chapel.
One loaf, one cup, one body of Christ.

We talked and listened and wrestled
About difficult things.
About topics
That often leave us divided, broken.
Yet we remained one people
Even in diversity.

Willing to admit
“I might be wrong.”
“You might be wrong.”
“It’s ok to think or believe differently.”
We are still one body,
Welcomed with love
Into the heart of God.

Reflections on a rich week at a 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation. The topic, “God’s Welcome.” The location, Camp McDowell, the camp of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama. The Faculty: Amy Oden and Kee Sloan. We gathered and were richly blessed.

The Endless Chatter

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I am powerless to ignore
The endless chatter of The News.
The pre- and post-disasters,
The Shocking Revelations,
The dire forecasts
And somber analysis.

I seem unable to remember
That what I need, really,
Is just a bit of silence.
A walk outside,
A time of meditation,
A few deep breaths.

What I need, really,
Is the sound of the birds,
The kiss of the sunrise,
The feeling of the cool breeze on my skin.

Help me, God of Peace,
To find moments of you
That break through
The endless chatter.