Poem: The Strangest Work

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The Strangest Work

Nothing, it seems, comes easy.
There is work involved, and failure,
often far too much of it.
trial and error, error and more error.
Effort.
The danger of fear sabotaging
your guardian angels.

Paul was all too right,
we are in a spiritual battle,
a conflagration unseen by bystanders
with blood and gore and real casualties
falling to the left and right,
each side trying to decide
whom to surrender to
and why

the devil is so well dressed,
in Brooks brothers and a hankie tucked, just so
while God seems far more ordinary, so easily dismissed
a beggar with pockets of gold,
riches to be given away,
to any with the courage or foolishness
to believe:
The strangest work.

About this poem

The picture was taken at the Shaker Villiage in Hancock, MA.

The poem came out of nowhere. That seems to be happening a lot this week. I am not a poet these days, just a scribe.

Tom

 

Poem: Repentance

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Repentance

Let us cease to profess a faith that has forgotten
the broken, the abandoned, the lost.
Let us put away our crosses and robes,
our pulpits and altars wrapped in old testament wrath
all holy in our forgetting that we are indeed
our brother’s keeper,
that we are neither righteous or capable
of saving souls with our hard hearts and hate
for the hungry and shattered and holy other.
that in our trappings and good fortune
we have put aside the two commandments
that could save us and those around us.

They, these two lines in a book dense with words,
are too simple.
Unadorned.
Lacking in rank or showy theology.
Too obvious in their truth
to be true.
and so we wrap ourselves in the undercard,
righteous reasons to rant,
a shell game, a magicians’ trick, all distraction and smoke
and noise. Always, the noise.

It is time to stop.
To go quiet.
To look within,
to understand where and when and how
we became broken, unblessed, angry,
to turn away from the noise and clutter
and remember the purpose of our faith:

to save us
from ourselves.

About this poem

  1. I have become that rarest of creatures, a liberal, evangelical Christian.
  2. I have tried to stay away from my politics here, because as soon as you declare an opinion in today’s world, half your audience leaves you (which half depends on your stance). But my truth leaks out sometimes. Without apology.
  3. Matthew 22:34-40 reads…  34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
  4. My sermon this week at Rupert Methodist is on repentance. I think that is what started this poem.

Off my soapbox,

Tom

Poem: Ragamuffin Man

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Ragamuffin Man

You lay late at night,
work done,
prayers said,
spent,
well used,
the day’s battle fought,
never won,
never lost,
survived,
perhaps with a lesson
to move you forward
tomorrow.

This is the you never seen.
The ragamuffin man,
with little left,
desiring to dance,
more than you can know,
to jitterbug and wail the blues
in a major key.
So tired.
So very tired.

But you do not surrender,
for you have in the past and it led to nothing,
certainly not the rest desperately needed,
not the refreshing. No,
your surrender led only to another, and another
and a dead time,
a black hole in your life
that even today feels vague,
unreal,
and dangerous.

And so you lay, morning now,
just for a moment.
You open your tired soul
and trust God to find it,
and feed you like a starving child,
until you can stand,
wobbly as a newborn
and walk again, sword in hand,
an uncertain warrior,
more afraid of surrender than defeat.

About this poem

A history lesson. Nothing more.

Tom

Poem: Bread on the Waters

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Bread on the Waters

It is time to craft
a new forever,
to seek seas unseen,
unexplored,
not even imagined,

Sail with me,
and scatter your fears like bread on the water.
Let the fish swallow them,
and die
malnourished,
while with each crumb you release
you grow lighter,
sailing above the waves and storms
beyond the horizon you did not believe
was there.

About this poem

Repeat after me. Most fears are false. Most fears are false.

Tom

Poem: Still Life

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Still Life

Still.
Quiet.
The light coming through the window.

For just this moment
you are still,
without premise, or purpose,
content,
willing,
to simply be,

to ignore the complications
and trust your God
to sort out the details
and leave you
bliss.

About this poem. 

When I fret and worry, nothing good happens. When I let go and let life happen, somehow it works. A lesson I have to learn again and again. I am a slow learner, it seems.

Tom

Poem: Beyond Icarus

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Beyond Icarus

The wind ruffles your hair.
The smell of rain fills the air.
Sand crunches quietly under your feet.

There are dark clouds on the horizon,
dark memories in your mind,
briefly, a fear of storm blackens your brow

then passes.

There is flotsam on the beach,
broken things with a long journey
and a short future.

There are dead things here too,
crabs, fish, the spar from a sailboat,
thrown to shore by a callous sea.

You walk.

You walk past it all.
You walk towards more of the same,
miles and miles of shoreline

with no destination in mind, a surrender
to your emotions, to your spirit too long trapped
in historic boxes, and too rarely

set free.

It is not fear exactly you are feeling.
The storm, after all, is still far out
and you have survived far worse.

But there is an uncomfortableness,
a sense that the shoreline is about to shift
beneath your feet, leaving you

lost.

You breathe deeply. The moist salt air
fills your lungs. You look down to your feet,
clad not in practical leather,

but in dancing shoes,
for this is what you do.
You dance across a world gone wild,

A wild jazz improvisation,

A thing of beauty and danger,
alone on the shore, with no one to know
whether you rise or fall, no one

To catch you, or cushion the collapse,
no one to reach their hand and lift you up again,
and suddenly you realize you are not just alone,

But powerful,

unfettered by expectations or other’s lies,
able to fly as far as you are willing to fall,
understanding that it is not the ground that is your enemy,

but your fear that holds you from the sun,
that your wings are not things of wax, but faith,
and so you spread your arms in this place no one else sees,

And fly.

About this poem

I have learned and unlearned a few things in my 61 years. One that never got unlearned is that I am the one that holds myself back. Always.

Spreading my wings,

Tom

Poem: The Deepest Frustration

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The Deepest Frustration

At some point all the words are said
and frustration sets in
as you stumble, still trying
to explain this love you feel,
as real as the horizon
and just as vast.

About this poem.

A love poem as a result (common to me) of not being able to find the words this morning. But as is often the case with my poems, it can also be a song to God. At its best, the two are intertwined.

Tom