Poem: The Strangest Work

easy

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: Tourists

Rome - St Peters

Tourists

The cathedral is full
of tourists,
gape-mouthed, overwhelmed
at the gilding and paint, the play of light and space
and color,
everywhere, color.
Cameras clicking.
Fingers pointing.
A murmur of wonder echoes from chamber to chamber,
a museum so vibrant
they miss the quiet God of light
all around them.

About this poem

How did we get to a place where churches and temples have become museum pieces, rather than sacred space?

We are the poorer for it, I believe.

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: The Work That Keeps Them Whole

shaker stairs

The Work That Keeps Them Whole

There is nothing elegant in them.
The wood is rough hewn and worn, utilitarian
and plain.
The walls and banister have been repaired,
not always well.
They squeak and groan with every step.
And yet,

they still lead you upward,
out,
beyond.
Not because of their age or failings,
but because generation
after generation,
someone cared enough to repair them,

understood that rising is full of broken treads
and rails,
and the work that keeps them whole

About this poem. 

More about relationships than stairs. But it could be about stairs too.

Tom

Poem: Ragamuffin Man

Hartford NY 6

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

boat-bw

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

Still life.JPG

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