Monday, November 23, 2015

Gospel Challenge, For This I Was Born

For this I was born, 
and for this I came into the world…

He told Pilate he was born to testify to the truth.
Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
In the face of violence, he answered.

He choose a cross,
and a grave.

He testified to it again yesterday:

Gospel Challenge
John 18:33-37

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gospel Challenge, Week 3, In Those Days

In those days,
after that suffering, 
the sun will be darkened, 
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
the powers in the heavens will be shaken…

when you see these things taking place
you will know that he is near, at the very gates.
Mark 13:24-32

So, where are you?

Paris is burning
128 are dead
her borders are tightened
She quakes
like Japan, again
under a tsunami warning.

High speed trains derail in Echwersheim
killing at least 10
while millions of homeless refugees
seek asylum and are turned away.
Not here! We must keep ourselves safe.

O, and what about those 147 murdered by Islamic extremists
at Garissa University College in Kenya back on April 2
barely a blip on our radar
the news media failed to report.
“Black lives matter”, too.

We’ve seen the sign of the fig tree
generation after generation after generation,
twenty-one now, and
still you don’t come.

So perhaps we’ve misunderstood the Scripture?
Who is this Son of Man coming in clouds?
Are we looking for the historical Jesus
riding on his white horse?
or should we be looking for our own enlightened conscious Selves,
humankind evolving into a greater force of love.

the sun is still dark,
the moon still fails to give its light
stars still fall
and no one comes to the rescue.

by Sheila Conner
Gospel Series

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gospel Challenge, Week Two - The Treasury

The Treasury

“...contributing to the treasury…
she out of her poverty
has put in everything she had…”
Mark 12:43-44

I see him standing there in his long black coat and hat,
his prolific gray beard having never been trimmed,
the feathers of his sidelocks
at the corners of his bobbing head
catching flight in the morning breeze.
He mumbles his prayers from the treasury of his heart
and places scraps of paper in the crags of the stone wall.

Gray matter her wailing wall and prayer book,
she reaches in and pulls out
tattered and faded souvenirs
of times and places her heart has been broken.
She recites those memories back to her God
and reminds him of promises he may have forgotten.

For some unexplained reason,
my thoughts go back to our Gulf Coast
beaches last summer
when sand and sea lay hidden
beneath several feet of thick, brown sargassum,
rank and decaying.
It had washed onto the shores from the heart of the ocean.
The tourist industry wanted to sweep it away so its trade would flourish,
but ecologists ask us to let it stay.
As it piles up and rots,
it not only holds tiny and fiercely biting mosquitos,
but also holds the sands
and allows dunes to build
preventing the beaches from eroding.

His scraps of paper,
her faded memories,
rank seaweed from the ocean depths
all prayer.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Gospel Challenge, Week 1

I've kind of given myself a challenge (we'll see how long that lasts!) to write at least one poem a week, using the Gospel for that Sunday as a jumping off place. That will keep me writing AND perhaps get me back in Scripture in a different/new way. I'll post them on Monday mornings.

So, yesterday was my first challenge, and TWO poems came from that Gospel.  The first, written before church.

The Blame Game

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him,
she knelt at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here…”
John 11:32

Lord, if you had been here…

if you had only been here when
     Barton’s and Courtney’s lives spun out of control,
if you had only been here when
     Monica determined, “Enough is enough,” left, and took Joe with her,
if you had been here when
     Laura walked out on Mike, broke his heart, and shattered his body…

That’s what I’m tempted to say Lord,
Where were you?
Then I could let the blame rest
at your feet.

But my theology tells me you were here,
and still my family broke,
still my children suffer,
still my heart aches.

Sometimes I wonder what good God is…

Then you turned the table...
     “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Shit, Lord, that’s not fair.
I believed, I believed so damn hard,
and it all broke anyway.

So, is this what your glory looks like?
a garment torn to pieces?
from singing to ashes?
If so, it sucks.
If not, then what?
What will your glory look like in the lives of my children
   and my grandchildren?

Do I believe?
I believe Lord, help me in my unbelief.
     where are you Lord?

The second poem, inspired by the Gospel being read at church.


Settled in her quiet space that dreary gray morning,
pen and paper in hand,
she read the Gospel for the day,
     John 11:31-44.

In her own dullness,
eyes blinded by fear and despair,
all she saw was blame:
     Mary’s, “...if you had been there…”
     His own, “...if you believed…”

Her heart a cave*
a stone lying against it.
Bitter tears fell,
hot anger flowed thick black ink on the page.
She wrote, The Blame Game.

The priest read from the same Gospel later that morning
and the stone was rolled away.
“Father, I thank you for having heard me. I know you
always hear me.”

Faith means someone sees.
The leaf continues to float down the river.
She leans into the flow.

(Faith, by Czeslaw Milosz, from the Separate Notebooks: Poems, translated by Renata Gorczynski, Robert Haas and Robert Pinsky, Ecco Press, 1984)

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Rub thumb’s fingernail over
what was once an open wound,
no longer raw, but instead scabbed,
dull, unfeeling.

My heart seems on this day
to be likewise,
dense, scarred and dumb
to Mystery.
Flat, deflated, depressed, empty.

Om namo Bhagadvate vasudevaya…

Rip open my heart Beloved,
soften and lift it.
Cause the petals of this lotus
to open again
that the fragrance of our Love
might fill my senses.

Brighten this day with
Your delight.