Spice Song

Richly roundly smoothly darkly brown
Nutmeg plays the spicey melody
Cloves, spikey and pungent, sound deep soothing bass notes
Long light cinnamon sticks, orchestral reeds, lighten and brighten
Nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon:
Rich earthly smells ringing, singing song blankets
To cover tired eyes, wrap worn spirits in
Warmthly richness inhaled comforts
Scently goodness heals
Simply spices


Inspired by Nicolas of Cusa

“In all faces is seen the Face of faces, veiled in a billion riddles.” Nicolas of Cusa

I see the one true Face in every face;
A world’s billion riddles of the divine.
So said Cusa’s mystic of sublime grace
Whose eyes could see divinity’s design.

I know myself blinded by race, by age,
By wealth, by lack of faith in those others.
Scruffy conmen on street corners assuage
My guilt. Surely they are not my brothers?

But how can I, a white American,
Know much of life’s crueler crushing portions?
What does it mean that I attempt more than
Another to see beyond self-absorptions?

Only the love of our divine Mother
Can open our blind eyes to each other.

I Do Not Need

I do not need deep drinks to quench my thirst:
a sip supplies.
I do not need soft songs to soothe my ears:
a chord comforts.
I do not need long looks to please my eyes:
a glimpse gladdens.
I do not need sweet smells to tease my nose:
a whiff welcomes.
I do not need love’s lust to wake my skin:
a touch transcends.
I do not need rare rites to know my God:
a prayer portends.
A sip, a chord, a glimpse, a whiff, a touch,
a simple prayer brings God Herself to me.

Another Psalm-Inspired Sonnet

I feel forgotten now that I am old.
Once, long ago, I felt my life was blessed;
I had no doubts, no fears, no need to guess.
No one but God can save me, I was told.
No warmth but God’s can break cold Satan’s hold.
I planned to make You my heart’s greatest guest.
The nuns who taught me gave You all their best.
From them I learned You were my whole life’s goal.

But now, ah now, doubt freezes my cold heart.
My soul is caught in winter’s icy glove.
I long for You to melt my heart with love.
I long for You to break my ice apart.
Then, warm with Your love’s everlasting fire,
I’ll raise my voice in song with harp and lyre.

In Comfort Smug

[This past Sunday there was a hard rain during and after Sunday Mass. I was struck by the contrast between God’s wild, unpredictable and sometimes dangerous world, and the safe, predictable rites we have created to worship that God. So I tried, with limited success, to capture that in a sonnet.]

Smart lines of cars in ceaseless rhythm come
In careful rows to park as peals the bell
So many hope to shirk the chains of hell
In prudent pews amid the loud and dumb.

Where priestly man who treads the sacred boards
In surplice, alb and stole directs the show
To altar steps the chosen few who know
To bind their god in sacramented cords.

Rise hymns and pray’rs to build the prison strong
Lest god or goddess ‘spite their rites escape
Then havoc cry as gods of war do rape
In church the sav’d in comfort smug belong.

Outside Her rain in downward torrent pours
Immortal God our drab beliefs abhors.

Psalm 1 – again

Stand with our Creator, don’t sit with those who sneer
Walk with our Redeemer, don’t stand with those who sin
Run with our Sustainer, don’t walk with those who scoff

Listen to God’s Word
Learn God’s Wisdom
Live God’s Love

Grow tall in faith
Spread wide in hope
Root strongly in love

Drink deeply of God’s mercy
Share generously of God’s good fruits
Prosper fully in God’s care

If I
Sit with those who sneer
Stand with those who sin
Walk with those who scoff

Ignore God’s Word
Lust after foolishness
Live resentfully, enviously

With stunted growth
Bare branches
Withered leaves

Blown every which way
By whims and winds of fancy
Prospering in nothing important

Then my life
Blows away

We lose our way
When we do not walk with God.

Finding God in the Negative

I am used to the idea of “mountain-top” experiences, finding God in ecstasy and peace. But I often reject the downward experiences, despair and death, depression and disease (dis-ease, unease) as being anti-God, as being a sign of the devil’s work in this world.

And yet, didn’t God make us to experience the good and the bad, negative as well as positive emotions? Jesus prayed with something close to depression and despair in the Garden, Jesus called out to a God whom he could not feel close to him on the cross. Jesus was fully human as well as fully God, but he was without “original sin”. So those so-called negative emotions – Jesus’ feelings of depression and despair and desertion – are not just the result of “original sin” and the distortion of God’s good creation.

Doesn’t that means that I can find God in the negative as well as the positive? I can accept the negative as well as the positive. I do not have to find my way out of the negative to find God.

It was easy for me to recognize and treasure God’s presence at the time of my husband Gordon’s death. There was a timeliness even in the untimeliness; there were many, many small and large mercies; there was a peace that passes understanding, and there was gratitude for the life of a good man.

It was not easy for me to recognize and treasure God’s presence at the time of my unborn twin grandaughters’ death. And yet, when I read what I wrote at the time and later, when I consider what it has led me to become, to value, to release, to feel, then I know that God was there – not in any way that I wanted, but there.

God is there with me no less in my anger with Her than in my peace with Her. And I treasure that immensely.

So I love God for the peace that She blessed me with in Gordon’s life and death and I hate God for taking the twins from us before we had a chance to be blessed by their lives. I love Her for the Scripture and I hate Her for how messed up She is allowing this world to be. I love Her for all She has blessed me with and I hate Her for what She has withheld from me.

And, most of all, I love that She is OK with all of that. She does not ask me to have a peace that I don’t have. She doesn’t ask me to accept quietly Madeleine and Lorien’s deaths. She doesn’t ask me to stop fighting against Her. I don’t have to accept without questioning or rest quietly in Her peace. I don’t have to believe in order to teach, or have a faith that moves mountains in order to love Her Scripture and the fellowship of Her people. I don’t have to feel blessed and confident in troubles and problems and disease. I can be angry and resentful and I can yell at God just like I used to yell at Gordon when I was mad and frustrated, and God will keep on loving me just like Gordon kept on loving me. And, just like I kept on loving Gordon even when I was totally angry and frustrated with him, I can keep on loving God even when I am totally angry and frustrated with Her. It’s a mystery, but love and hate, peace and frustration, gratitude and anger are not incompatible opposites with God – at least not to me.

This, to me, is the most miraculous of all miracles – more miraculous than the creation, incarnation, resurrection, trinity – that I can find God’s love for me when I hate Her as much as when I love Her. “This is love, not that we love God, but that He [She] first loved us.”