9/11/2021

from Psalm 113

God is higher than our deepest depths are low

God is brighter than our darkest day is dark

God raises us from the rubble of our troubles

God lifts us from the ashes of our destruction

God comforts our minds, our hearts, our souls

So that we can feel secure and honored, loved and protected

Just when we need it most

When fear and sadness,
Danger and divisions
Threaten to overwhelm us...

God fills our emptiness with Her grace, 
God blesses our sorrows with Her comfort, 
God mourns with us,
With all of Her oft troubled people

Praise God! Amen

Mysteries

All of my friends are mysteries to me.

Wendy’s steady gentleness
That can still speak hard truths when needed

Ann’s proud self-assurance
That hides her too-real insecurity

Norma’s thoughtful faith
That welcomes my many doubts

Carol’s urgent caretaking
That out-strips her diminishing strength

Their lives, their souls are ever mysterious to me
But then so is my own

My writing, my praying
My fractured relationships
With my children and
My sometimes God

No friend is more mysterious to me
Than that God
Whom I am never really sure
Even exists

But whom I talk to daily
Not to seek favors
Or even salvation

Simply because
As mysterious as it is to believe in God
It is impossible not to.

My Heart

My heart wears sundresses
And swimsuits
Biking shorts 
and gardening gloves

My heart wears Woody’s kiss
And Mom’s creeping walk
Texts with my daughter
And Facetime with my grandchildren

My heart wears Afghanistan
And Texas
The unvaccinated 
And the arrogantly ignorant

My heart wears God
That old gray man of my childhood
That gaping hole of my young adulthood
That graced Jesus of my middle years
And the bountiful Lady Wisdom of my old age

My heart wears life
Beating steadily
Through fears and tears
(I remember the panic attack
In the shower
Two days after Bob left)
Through joys and jumbles
(I remember how it leapt up
Watching the puffin’s awkward landing
In the almost arctic waters off Kodiak Island)
Through the mundane and the miraculous
(Right now, this moment, my heart happily wears
My mouth's pleasure in
That golden cherry tomato
Picked this morning)

HUSH!

Hope speaks in silence
When I let my mother tell
Again 
With yet more exaggeration 
Some never was version of our past
Happy family
Happy father
(Drinking?
Mania?
Abuse?
Arrests?)
SSSHHH

Hope speaks in silence When I let my sister-in-law praise her God Her very personal god Who answers her prayers And saves her family Always Even when they are hospitalized Because they didn’t vaccinate (Prosperity gospel? Pre-election? Inerrancy? Prayer warriors?) SSSHHH
Hope speaks in silence When I ignore that Facebook post By a friend who applauds So many things I despise (All lives matter? Pro-life? Homophobic? Sexist?) SSSHHH
Hope speaks in silence Hope that I will learn better How to love Those that I would Too easily Make enemies of HUSH!

Deciding

The decision begins when I open my eyes
Head on the pillow
Body still 
Sleep still
Under the summer quilt
That quilted illusion of safety

Quietly quietly on my pillow
Not yet awake enough to even stretch
I must decide
How will I live this day
This gift
This increasingly miraculous time
Beyond three score and ten

Shall I start with a dulcimer duet
With my still sleeping husband
Who will not mind my waking him

Shall I start with a whole string quartet
Energetically exercising
Perhaps on my bike
My 27 speed not enough used Fuji Absolute

Shall I drum in my day
With answering emails and paying bills
Neither restful nor beautiful
But somewhat satisfying

What instrument shall I play first
Shall I read or write
Pray or practice the keyboard
Walk the dog
Make a cuppa
Or close my eyes again
Because I am retired
Free of clock discords
Free to choose 
What music to make
To start each day

A Gift from God by Way of Another Poet

I am from New Orleans, Louisiana. When Hurricane Katrina hit 16 years ago today, most of my family’s homes were too damaged to be liveable. 14 relatives evacuated to the homes of me and my friends in Virginia. My mom stayed with me for 3 years then. This morning, Hurricane Ida has bullseyed New Orleans. So finding this poem this morning felt like a wonderful gift from God:

my brain and
heart divorced

a decade ago

over who was
to blame about
how big of a mess
I have become

eventually,
they couldn’t be
in the same room
with each other

now my head and heart
share custody of me

I stay with my brain
during the week

and my heart
gets me on weekends

they never speak to one another-

instead, they give me

the same note to pass
to each other every week

and their notes they
send to one another always
says the same thing:

“This is all your fault”

on Sundays
my heart complains
about how my
head has let me down
in the past

and on Wednesday
my head lists all
of the times my
heart has screwed
things up for me
in the future

they blame each
other for the
state of my life

there’s been a lot
of yelling – and crying

So, lately, I’ve been

spending a lot of
time with my gut

who serves as my
unofficial therapist

most nights, I sneak out of the
window in my ribcage

and slide down my spine
and collapse on my
gut’s plush leather chair
that’s always open for me

~ and I just sit sit sit sit
until the sun comes up

last evening,
my gut asked me
if I was having a hard
time being caught
between my heart
and my head

I nodded

I said I didn’t know
if I could live with
either of them anymore

“my heart is always sad about
something that happened yesterday
while my head is always worried
about something that may happen tomorrow,”
I lamented

my gut squeezed my hand

“I just can’t live with
my mistakes of the past
or my anxiety about the future,”
I sighed

my gut smiled and said:

“in that case,
you should
go stay with your
lungs for a while,”

I was confused

the look on my face gave it away

“if you are exhausted about
your heart’s obsession with
the fixed past and your mind’s focus
on the uncertain future

your lungs are the perfect place for you

there is no yesterday in your lungs
there is no tomorrow there either

there is only now
there is only inhale
there is only exhale
there is only this moment

there is only breath

and in that breath
you can rest while your
heart and head work
their relationship out.”

this morning,
while my brain
was busy reading
tea leaves

and while my
heart was staring
at old photographs

I packed a little
bag and walked
to the door of
my lungs

before I could even knock
she opened the door
with a smile and as
a gust of air embraced me
she said

“what took you so long?”

~ John Roedel (johnroedel.com)

I Wanna Be A Republican

God is great
American is great
Therefore God is American

Abortion is bad
Being on welfare is bad
Therefore poor women are bad

Foreigners are dangerous
Revolutions are dangerous
Therefore immigrants are dangerous

The Civil War ended slavery
Everyone has been equal since then
Therefore black people are greedy

God created two sexes
Man and woman He created them
Therefore gay marriage is a sin

I wanna be a Republican
I want easy answers
I’m tired of thinking

Figs

All winter we anticipated the figs

Three years ago
Woody planted two fig trees
Trees, he warned,
(My tree experienced husband)
Weep the first year
Creep the second year
Leap the third year

And our fig trees leapt
For joy
This year

Last year, one tree gave us
A few juicy figs
Plum rich, wildly satisfying
On our dinner table
Our mouths remembered that taste
As we watched our leaping trees
Bud out, we saw those infant figs
And our mouths coveted their musty sweetness

But our trees could not evade
The pirate birds
With light bodies, strong wings
Sharp beaks, gripping feet
And a taste for ripening figs

We hung sparkly twists of metal
We got a dog
Long legged, deep bark
Beautiful white
Squirrels and rabbits
Run before her
Deserting, finally, the banquet
Of our summer vegetable garden

But oh those birds
Those beautiful pirate birds
Who feast on our figs
Laugh down at our dog
Laugh among our sparkly hangers
Laugh with their bellies
Full of young figs

While our mouths salivate
In vain anticipation
Of the never to be
Ripe figs on our dinner table

Old Questions

What God has joined together
let not fear pull apart
let not water drown
let not life sunder

But when it does
why then
cannot the good remain
at least for the children

When life hands us 
lemons
we are told
make lemonade

Who can reach high 
above the sour
to grasp a sweetener
for lemoned families

From whose hand drips down
the honeyed sweetener
into the sour
juices of divorce

Whose strong arm
can clear a path
through the impenetrable forest
of never was, never could be

Can faith forgive
Can hope redeem
Can love endure
Can God

I Feel Old Today

How much longer, God, 
How much longer shall I live?
A hawk circles, circles
Now higher, now lower
Now wide, now narrow
No, not a hawk
A vulture
Searches, waits
Hungry with a wide hunger
Its own language
Wordless but loud
Cracks the vaulted sky
The hungry vulture circles
Waits for the answer
That is death
Over springtime’s soft green shoots
Over summer’s emerald growth
Over fall’s gray brown tree limbs
Over winter’s white cold
The vulture circles
Now higher, now lower
Now wide, now narrow

I remember when I looked up
And saw hawks, falcons, eagles
And felt my body could soar with them
Now, today, I feel old, cold
My neck would hurt, I think,
Were I to look up
And what would I see
Just that vulture, waiting
Waiting for the carrion
That he expects will answer
His hunger

What will answer, finally,
My hunger?
Will my spirit grow
When my body dies?
Is this the short asking inbreath
Before the long answering outbreath?