Wisdom Woman

[In dark days, it is sometimes easy to appreciate that Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning water into wine]

Wisdom Woman
Lady God
Old Crone
I thank You
I thank You for my irascible, difficult, long-lived mother
I thank You for my disappointing, luminous, strong-willed daughters
I thank You for my own conflicted, questioning, always-questing self
I thank You for You
For Your psalms that made me something of a poet
For Your hiddenness that makes awareness of You so sweet
For words, words that comes so easily
Even after three glasses of wine at dinner with my mother
I thank You for women
Though we be ignored
Though we be marginalized
Though we be disbelieved
Though we be assaulted
Still, I thank You for all women
All my sisters
Sisters who suckled at Your generous breast
Though secretly, unknown to the loud, boisterous
Powerful, commanding men
I thank You for our strength
For our share of Your Wisdom
I thank You that we know You

Be with us
Bless our days
Our comings and our goings
Our psalms and our tears
Our efforts and our failures
Bless us with Your hope, Your love
And our faith in You, Wisdom Woman God Almighty

Maria Goretti in Heaven

[Maria Goretti is an eleven year old Italian girl who is a saint of the Catholic Church. She died in 1902 from multiple stab wounds endured resisting a would-be rapist. She was canonized in 1950 as a “virgin-martyr.” At her canonization ceremony, Pope Pius XII asked the hundreds of young people gathered to celebrate her elevation to sainthood,”Young people, pleasure of the eyes of Jesus, are you determined to resist any attack on your chastity with the help of grace of God?” A resounding “yes” was the answer.]

She left behind her torn body
It was not glorified, just gone

She was welcomed
Not by an old father
Bearded and stern but kind.

She was welcomed
By an old Crone
Who frightened Maria
Until She smiled
And opened Her arms.

Crawling onto Her lap
Maria felt her soul
Calmed and quieted
Like a weaned child
With her Mother.

Quietly, the old Crone asked,
Can you find forgiveness
My dear one?

Oh, Mother, Maria replied,
I forgave him before I died
They already tell of how
I forgave him
As I lay dying.

Ah, child, sighed the Crone
My sweet girl
That was well done
But can you forgive them?

Them? Them?
I do not understand, Mother
Only he attacked me
Only he tried to defile me
Only he killed me
And I have forgiven him.

Ah, child, sighed the Crone,
My sweet, innocent, pure child
Can you forgive those priests
Those men who say
They are My representatives
Those execrable priests
Who told you that rape
Would rob you of virtue
Would rob you of purity
Could ever defile you?

And Maria, with opened eyes
Snuggled closer and cried,
I do not know, Mother,
It is hard.
Please, can You do it for me?

Friday Night

Sitting in a booth
In the glorified hamburger joint
With four lines of description
For each fancy-named burger on the menu
Including the ones made from
100% grass fed free range
New Zealand lamb
Burgers with
Garlic aioli, carmelized onion
Sautéed wild mushrooms
Tzatziki sauce, organic ketchup
The music a little too loud,
But only a little
The waiter a little too friendly,
But only a little
The pace – the ambience, I suppose – a little too fast,
But only a little
The menu makes me smile
Not exactly with delight
A more rueful smile
At the necessary pretentiousness
Did they begin in Portland?
But the food is delicious
And Woody sits across from me.
I am slightly astonished and bemused
To realize I am comfortable here.
(Slightly astonished sounds like
A little bit pregnant
Or somewhat unique.
Let’s just say
I am astonished.)


But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

(Ephesians 4:7)

What, then, is the measure of a gift?

Do I measure by satisfaction:
Is it what I needed?
Is it what I wanted?

Do I measure by comparison:
Is it better than other gifts?
Is it better than what others got?

Do I measure by value:
How much did it cost?
How special is it?

Do I measure by the giver:
How much do I care about the giver?
How much does the giver care about me?

Do I measure by the effect:
What does the gift do for me?
How does the gift make life better?

I have measured gifts
In all those ways
And more, at times.

I have felt hurt by gifts
That didn’t measure up.

I have hurt others
By my reaction
To their gifts
That didn’t measure up.

I have given myself gifts
That didn’t measure up.

“According to the measure…”
What is the measure of Christ’s gift?
What is the measure of my gratitude?

Ah, Paul, you tricky apostle.
There is no measure, is there?

An immeasurable gift
Calls forth immeasurable gratitude.

God, Person without measure,
God of steadfast love,
God of enduring faithfulness,
God of all my days and ways,

Let my response, my gratitude
Be as immeasurable as Your gift.

Catching Up

Wow! It’s so good to see you. You look great. How long has it been?

Years, decades, a different century, a different millennium.

It sure was a long time ago.
So much has changed.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone remembers anymore, what it was like.
Sometimes I wonder if I even really lived my memories.

Oh, say, remember Jerry? Remember how anxious he got about taking tests?
Didn’t he sit next to you to take the GRE so he wouldn’t be so nervous?

He did, but it didn’t work.
When I saw Network – that reporter who sweated through his shirts when he tried to anchor –
I thought of Jerry taking the GRE.

Didn’t he live with all of you in that big house near campus?
Was he the one who started the fire in the oven, that brought the fire truck out?
Didn’t you have to scramble to hide the dope?

Yes, yes, all of that.

Wasn’t he from New York?
Wasn’t he the one who thought we could drive to San Francisco in one day?

That sounds like Jerry.
I remember going with him to Yellowstone.
On the drive there, he kept asking why no one had built a city on all this land.

You know, I never really knew…
Were he and Sharon ever a couple? Were you and he ever a couple?

Oh, we didn’t really do couples back then.
But Jerry, well Jerry only thought he was interested in us.
Then he said he was bi, but finally he just said he was gay.
It wasn’t a big coming out deal. He just told a few of us, his close friends.
I remember how nervous he was – almost as nervous as taking the GRE.

What ever happened to Jerry?
You and he were such good friends.
Did you stay in touch?

We did for awhile.
I still think of him, but I’m scared to try to find him.
He moved to San Francisco in ‘81.


Woody’s Quiet

I noticed his quiet acceptance
When someone claimed there were hardly any trees planted
At the time he retired as manager

I noticed his quiet smile
When I was still in bed reading when he returned
From walking the grounds with Larry

I noticed his quiet reading
When I made myself breakfast and got ready
As he sat on the sofa with a western and a glass of milk

I noticed his quiet pleasure
When we walked the woodland paths
After we drove to the arboretum

And I heard his quiet spirit
Echoed In his beloved woods

Framed Sunflowers

Standing at the kitchen sink
My hands buried in warm, soapy water
I busily wash dirty dishes
While my gaze lingers on the sunflowers
Framed by the window
The sunflowers that are not in the garden
But there, just so, almost in the middle of the grass
Five sunflower plants
Grown tall
Their showy heavy flowers
Bending low now
Preparing to return to earth
As summer gives way to fall.

Five absurdly placed sunflowers
Not planted
But grown tall from seeds in dog droppings
Gifts from our dogs
And from my usually practical husband
Who carefully mows around them
Because they are framed perfectly
By the kitchen window
As I busily wash dishes
Buried in soapy water.

Something Not Memory

Something not memory
drives me from my book,
eyes wandering from the words on the page,
to stare across the years
at stacks of construction paper,
colored slivers on a shelf,
flimsier than my hands expected,
easily folded, easily torn, easily ruined,
but stacked on a shelf
so yummy, so soothing,
in clean layers of colors:
browns, greens, reds, blues
but the blacks and yellows always looked harsh,
suitable only for Halloween.

Something not memory
drives me to the keyboard,
to type electronic words
on an electronic page,
electronic words of construction paper,
thinner but better than lined writing paper,
easily disturbed, easily scattered,
but still safe, still scrumptious
in something quiet, more than memory.

Paraphrase of 1 Cor 3:6-9

Whenever someone says, “I belong to the Catholic Church,” and another,
“I belong to the Lutheran Church,” are you not thinking as non-spiritual humans?

What is the Catholic Church, after all, and what is the Lutheran Church?
At most, they are ministers through whom you became believers,
just as the Lord assigned each one.
Churches may plant, denominations may water, but God causes the growth.
Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who causes the growth.
Churches that plant and denominations that water are one,
and each will receive wages in proportion to their labor.
For they may be God’s co-workers;
but we are God’s field, God’s building.