Category Archives: Poetry

Peace

In one way of looking at things, the US has been at war in the Middle East for about 18 years now, right? That is like something out of medieval history. I used to read about the 30 year war or the 100 year war and think, “Make peace already.”

It turns out we’ve always been at war, pretty much.

It turns out I don’t know what to call this war in the middle east — like it seems other wars had names: WW2 or the Vietnam War. Can we not stop being at war if we don’t even have a name for it?

I tried to google — like when did it start 2001 or 2002? Well that was complex! I know less now than when I started. And it might have ended in one sense in 2014? but we’ve been in emergencies since then?

I do know this: Peace is better than war.

I bet soldiers would agree. I bet pretty much everyone would agree!

“Foreign policy” is obviously not something I know much about (nor is war and battles clearly), so why have I brought this up? (And I realize, shame on me, I should understand more, but apparently the older I get the less I actually know. And I used to be so sure.)

Because Tyler, Texas, a place I had never heard of before, has an Art of Peace celebration in September. Starting September 14, you can check out the poetry anthology here. If you are in Tyler, Texas, they have all sorts of activities from a Peace Pole, to a Peace Meal, to an Open Mic, and likely more.

I wonder what it would look like, feel like, if other communities everywhere celebrated Peace with Art? If we talked about Peace? If we could visualize Peace the way we can visualize a super-hero movie? I wonder what Jesus would do?

FTGOG

Genesis and poetry

Mary Szybist’s poem “In the Beginning God Said Light” has much to mull over; these lines knocked me flat:

God, did you make us
to be your bright accomplices?

How it changes things, “accomplices” instead of “companions” or “servants” or ….insert your word. Not to mention “bright” — what a way to invoke “light” and to contrast with some feeling that an accomplice would be a shadowy figure, limmed in darkness.

A powerful poem all the way through.

Midrash for Mark 3:20-35

First family

After explaining to the disciples

And to the crowd

And even the scribes from Jerusalem

That his mother and brother and sisters where those

Who do the will of God

There is no doubt in my mind

that he did go outside the house

And smiled at his family,

Opened his arms wide,

And his littlest brother who was not yet thirteen

Ran into his arms and Jesus

Swung him around

As normal.

 

Which broke the tension, and his sisters

And other brothers scrambled to him.

Jesus had watched over them as a big brother does

Had held the family together after Joseph died

Had shown them love

Every day of their lives.

 

Mary was the last, the children stood aside

and he saw the sorrow in her eyes

He didn’t say anything

There was nothing to say

They both knew where the journey was going

And that it was necessary.

Mary touched his cheek gently and tilted her head

An apology for her fear.

Gently he embraced her

On her head she felt his breath,

Pressed her ear to his chest and heard

The beating of his heart.

In Praise of the Festival of Faith and Writing

Bring 2000 readers, writers and potential writers, all of them people of faith and you have the experience that saved my life this month: the Festival of Faith and Writing (every other year, at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan – where it was cold. Very cold.). There were several tracks of programming and the rule seemed to be that I always wanted to be in two (or three) places at once.

In the midst of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, memoir, etc., I did not expect to find a science fiction writer! Jo Walton (best known for Among Others, although I would recommend My Real Children unless you are a hardcore science fiction fan; I’ve just started on her other books) is a luminous and highly imaginative writer who is truly from the science fiction crowd. In her discussion on science fiction and faith, she noted that generally science fiction at its root is a “what if”. What if dinosaurs still roamed the earth? What if there is a superhero? What if there is time travel? What if …..

So when “what if” meets faith – what happens?

Speculative theology.

I have a term now for what my novels are trying to do, some directly and some indirectly. Not that I am much past the first draft phase. I have a long way to go. But I have a term! I have a way to talk and think about my goals. I really cannot express the joy and amazement of this. Jo’s discussion was broad and wonderful and helped me to see relationships between books and writers that I just would not have made on my own. And it is always super wonderful to find another fan of the amazing writing of Ted Chiang.

At the Festival I was inspired by Kwame Alexander, Luci Shaw, Sandy Sasso, Fleming Rutledge, Jonathan Merritt, Scott Cairns, and so many others. Just randomly talking to people and editors was excellent!

Time to read and write….

Later in this summer, and I am a little giddy with excitement when I think about it, is the Festival Gathering of the Network of Biblical Storytellers. That’s where about 200 people, nearly all extroverts, feels like 2000 people!

Holy Saturday, Happy Easter

I realized that I have no profound words to offer today, so then I realized: let’s use other people’s. I went searching for John Updike’s poem “Seven Stanzas on Easter” because it is perfect. I found it plus this blog entitled “In the Meantime”, so I’m just going to share the link, because it is excellent.

Happy Easter y’all! May it be green with hope and alive with wonder.

My story part 11

Here’s a story of the most important sermon I ever heard; and a story of when I knew — deep down with a click — who I fundamentally am.

This was before we had our baby, as best I recall, and it was at our first church, the one that cherished us in our losses and taught me so much and made me often quite angry. The head pastor was a very serious gentleman. Very brilliant, very studious, very reserved. He connected with many people with an equally formal manner; but we rarely interacted. He was perhaps far over my head; or perhaps his very seriousness just blocked me from connecting with his words.

Yet in fact his sermon changed me entirely.

I think he was preaching on are you a sinner or a child of God and the answer was something like each of us is both. I didn’t really listen to a word he said.

What I heard was how he started: Who are you?

And I thought of all the roles I play — wife, daughter, sister, employee….. and suddenly:

like a crack of silent thunder 

I realized I was a poet. At that time I hadn’t written poetry in years. But I knew. There in my core I am a poet even if I never write another poem, even if I never again feel that tingle of a poem landing in my hands and heart.

I poked my husband and whispered in his ear, “I’m a poet.”

As a secret identity, being a poet can mean that I see unexpected beauty. Or weep and gnash my teeth at horrible injustice and suffering. Or try to reach out and connect with other people’s inner poets. Sometimes badly. Sometimes — ever so briefly — it feels like a flame.

FTGOG

 

Interrupted by the Overwhelm and Poetry

So completely overwhelmed, my friends. This morning I went to a beautiful lecture/speech and the speaker said, to the effect anyway, “When we hurt the least of us, we are hurting God. God suffers when the hungry are not fed, when the thirsty do not have water….to help God is to help each other.”

I nearly cried right there and my eyes are suspiciously moist now.

Here’s a poem, written a while back initially that I have been working on for a while.

 

The Body of Christ

 

We remember Him by breaking bread or

Is that the way He remembers us? Either way

Breaking is messy – let’s be glad it isn’t glass

Imagine the shards

Stabbing us

The drops of inevitable blood

 

Instead, today, with each piece pulled free and given,

Tiny crumbs fell to the ground, creating an abundance of memory

Reminding us of dogs who also

Deserve salvation and the birds of the air

And even of mustard seeds

 

Close your eyes. Wonder about mysteries

Wonder about wholeness that is found

only in the beautiful broken mess and then open your sight

to the cross, to what we are remembering

to Whom was so messily broken for dusty us

 

Interrupted by poetry

The Body of Christ

 

We remember Him by breaking bread or

Is that the way He remembers us? Either way

Breaking is messy – let’s be glad it isn’t glass

Imagine the shards

Stabbing us

The drops of inevitable blood

 

Instead with each piece pulled free and given,

Tiny crumbs fall to the ground, an abundance of memory

Reminding us of dogs who also

Deserve salvation and the birds of the air

And even of mustard seeds

 

Close your eyes. Wonder about mysteries

Wonder about wholeness that is found

only in the beautiful broken mess and then open your sight

to the cross, to what we are remembering

to Whom was so messily broken for dusty us

 

(Remember please this is copyrighted; all rights reserved)