Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13: A Woman’s Paraphrase

God channels the outflowing love of a righteous woman to nourish those who wither.

These are the truths she knows:

  • The wise follow God’s path
    And not the ways of the world.
  • To do what is right and just
    Is worth more than any showy achievements.
  • Too much haughty pride
    Leads to sorrow and loneliness.
  • Plain work patiently done
    Is its own reward.
  • Truth is solid, settling easy on the soul,
    Lies are bubbles, bursting peace.

These are the ways she lives:

  • She desires goodness,
    She spurns evil,
    She honors everyone as a neighbor.
  • She accepts correction
    For she values the wisdom
    That comes with knowledge.
  • She builds heart’s home
    On the love of God
    Lest her life lie in ruins.
  • She hears the cry of the poor
    And she helps
    For she knows what it is to need.

The Two World Problem

We live in two worlds simultaneously
Said the psychiatrist
The internal
And the external

We see two worlds simultaneously
Said the artist
The beautiful
And the ugly

We experience two worlds simultaneously
Said the philosopher
The good
And the evil

We struggle with two worlds simultaneously
Said the author
The one we want to remember
And the one we want to forget

We know two worlds simultaneously
Said the theologian
The already
And the not yet

We will live in two worlds
Said the Rabbi
The Olam HaZeh
And the Olam HaBa

They all agree
We – I – inhabit two worlds

But
I have a problem:
I constantly confuse
The two

I Wonder…

Is the lesson in the sermon
Or in the helping?

Is the example in the suffering
Or in the feeding?

Is the victory in the cross
Or in the manger?

Is the divinity in the miracles
Or in the humility?

Is salvation in the belief
Or in the doubting?

Sensate

I hear the yellow pop of a balloon
And the orange sizzle of bacon.

I feel the velvet night sky
And the corduroy city streets.

I taste the sweetness of my husband’s sleep
And the sharpness of my mother’s love.

I see the music of my wet skin
And the noise of my scurrying thoughts.

I smell the smoke of disappointment
And the perfume of slowly waking up.

Hypotenuse

I am at right angles
Too often
With too much

Fruits of the Spirit
Seem to rot
Before I share them

I can’t even forgive some people
Once
Much less seventy times seven

I am the fig tree
Cursed for barrenness
When the Christ wanted fruit

I am sleeping apostles
I am denying Peter
I am doubting Thomas
I am me

I travel my right angles
Looking for the hypotenuse
That will connect my wanderings
With faith’s straight line

Free To Be Slaves

Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
1 Cor 9:19

But what if I am not free in regard to all?
How can I then willingly make myself a slave to all?

When light skins say to dark skins
You do not deserve…
Are dark skins free to be a slave to all?

When men say to women
You are not worthy…
Are women free to be a slave to all?

When able say to disabled
You can not do enough…
Are disabled free to be a slave to all?

When rich say to poor
You have not earned enough…
Are poor free to be a slave to all?

When educated say to uneducated
You do not know enough…
Are uneducated free to be a slave to all?

When believers say to nonbelievers
You do not know God…
Are nonbelievers free to be a slave to all?

When young says to elders
You are too old…
Are elders free to be a slave to all?

When we say to the homeless
Not you…
When we say to refugees
Not you…
When we say to prisoners
Not you…
When we say to the mentally ill
Not you…
When we say to the abused and neglected
Not you…
When we say to the lonely and alone
Not you…
When we say to those we dislike
Not you…

When one says to another
Not you…

Can any I be free to be a slave to all?

Help me, Lady Wisdom
I will never be free enough
To be a slave to all
Except through your grace
Free and unbounded

Luke 6:20-26 More or Less

Raising his eyes toward me Jesus might have said:
“Blessed are you when you feel poor and scared,
for even then the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you when you are hungry for more justice,
for that hunger is blessed and satisfying.
Blessed are you when you weep,
for weeping is as good and holy as laughter.
Blessed are you when you hate what you have done,
and when you berate yourself,
and recognize when you have done wrong
on account of your conscience.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your understanding is your reward
here and in heaven,
for your ancestors struggled
in the same way.
But woe to you when you are smug and self-satisfied,
for such feelings are their own reward.
Woe to you when you are full of your own accomplishments,
for such feelings will leave you hungry.
Woe to you when you laugh at others,
for such laughter will leave you lonely, grieving and weeping.
Woe to you when you brag and boast needlessly,
for you know that to be false pride.”

Not Quite

Her post
           What is one thing you were taught you needed
           to do or be as a woman or non-binary person
           to be good or worthy or loveable?
Has haunted me
For days now
One thing…one thing
I couldn’t decide

Then I realized

It was never one thing to be
Or one thing to do
It was – always – one thing to avoid
Avoid being “not quite”
And there were millions of ways
To be not quite

Not quiet pretty enough
Not quite obedient enough
Not quite dressed right
Not quite religious enough
Not quite thin enough
Not quite lighthearted enough
Not quite small enough
Not quite careful enough
Not quite serious enough
Not quite ladylike enough
Not quite good enough

Exhausting
And not quite helpful

Almost Romans 8:28-30

Incredibly, unbelievably, miraculously
All things work for good
For those whom God loves
(And her love knows no limits
Of person, time or place
Infinite love from our infinite God)
We are called according to her grace
For she foreknew everything and everyone
She predestined our salvation
She gave us her own son
That we might conform to his example
And not the expectations of this world
So that he might be the firstborn
Among all her loved children.
As she predestined our salvation
So she calls to the ears of our hearts
And as she calls to us
So she bestows her grace for justification on us
And as she and only she justifies us
So she and only she shares her glory with us
(The only glory worth having
The only lasting glory)
Now and forever

On My Heart

What is on my heart this morning?

This morning
I put on a sundress
underwear
sandals

Those are on my body

But on my heart?

Always under my heart’s clothes
Are decades of Catholic school
Sacraments and rosaries
Pagan babies and Mary, Queen of the May
Memorized prayers and Latin rituals
A fearful God, harsh Father
Ready to condemn me to everlasting torment
Should I break a rule
And fail to be forgiven
By one of His men

But then
With the swing of a cosmic rolling pin
God struck me down with unearned grace

So I rewrote the psalms
In the image of God, loving Mother
Because now
My heart wears grace as a sundress
Fitting lightly
Flowing comfortably
Whether I run or sit
Stumble or fall

My heart wears love as sandals
Protecting my tenderness
From rocky disappointments
From sticky expectations
From burning falseness

This morning
Lady Wisdom
Is on my heart
And I am grateful.