Monday, 27 October 2008

sifting sands

Abraham, I’m tired. Tired of not knowing, still keeping going, no roots for growing. My roots lie back in the boreal forest, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever return. I’m a tree who hasn’t been planted yet, trying to stay warm in a brown burlap covering. The desert is like a sieve for the soul. All my delusions of grandeur have been sifted through the sand. I have a handful of dreams and ideas, but I don’t know what to do with them anymore. Pack them away in the saddle bags for awhile I guess. I’m afraid they’ll break out here.

And, no offense, but you’re not always the best conversationalist. I’m a little lonely. I envy the Berean caravans that pass by, just out of earshot. Sometimes I talk to the sheep, just so I remember I have a voice. They listen politely, but have a bad habit of wandering just when I get to the good parts. Maybe you could introduce me to some of your friends?


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Redeemed (a short liturgy)

Covered only in shame he cries out
The weight of a thousand offences bending and bruising
And he is redeemed.

Prayers like tears slip from the concentrated anguish
He is alone in his darkness and must be unloved
And he is redeemed.

He shudders at the altar, cold to his crawling skin
Dreading the recognition of self by the holy
And he is redeemed.

Accusations crawl like flies upon the offering
Elijah’s water soon will drown them
And he is redeemed.

Blood spilled before the foundations of the world
A torrent of timeless mercy defeats moments in sin
And he is redeemed.

Sweet purging fire you fell before his cry
You were glory in his darkness
He is redeemed.


morning poem

The sun makes its way over meadows of hay
And the golden light scatters like rain
The light-thirsty ground welcomes day as it rounds
Past the moon that is starting to wane

Morning calls to wake up and I reach for my cup
Of strong coffee that fires my veins
It gives me a shove t’ward the call from above
And I lift up my eyes once again

There out in the field the secrets concealed
By the night now are shouting my name
The meadow is waking and mine for the taking
Are mercies that brush away shame

I fling open the door and breathe in some more
Of the brilliance that cannot be tamed
Under heaven’s expanse I delight in the dance
That the dawn-drunken sparrows proclaim

A new day is here and there’s nothing to fear
In the sapphire sky there’s no pain
But an endless horizon of hope that is rising
And the golden light scatters like rain


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

what is love?

Love is one of the scariest and most difficult teachings of the Christian faith. If you think that talking about love is wishy-washy or warm and fuzzy, then you’re not really talking about love, not God’s kind of love. God’s love is defined by the cross – self-giving till death with no guarantee that you get anything back. And this is how we’re supposed to love each other. Love should be so self-defining to the Christian that the Bible says if you don’t love, you don’t really know God. If you don’t love the way Christ loves, how can you call yourself a Christian? But have you met the other people in my life? I can hardly stand to listen to some of them for more than 30 seconds, let alone lay down my life for them. This is a hard teaching.

The kind of love we’re asked to give to others really is impossible, it’s superhuman. And last time I checked, I’m just a mortal. Ah, but that is the point. This love can’t possibly come from within me. I am incapable of producing it, we all are. Much of the sinfulness of this world comes from this inability. In the absence of love, selfishness takes over, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get to the top, even if it means trampling over others like lemurs on the march. Others are there to serve us, to benefit our plans for a wonderful life, to make us feel important and significant, or at least to get out of our way. This is the darkness in our hearts.

But God tells us real love comes from Him. Love is who He is. And when we encounter and embrace the love of Christ, something new is birthed in us. Our ability to receive is directly related to our ability to give. When love is freely given to us, when it abides in us, it casts out the darkness and fear of our selfish existence. We are freed to love, because we know that even death cannot hinder love’s power.

It is not enough to sing Jesus Loves Me. God’s love is not perfected in us until we love each other. If we claim to follow Christ, we must follow his path. The path of love is always down, its shape is always cruciform, it is always given away. This is how God’s love is completed in us. We don’t understand God’s love by hoarding it. God does not rest satisfied in His own flawless fullness. He rips His very heart out and offers it to us, bleeding on the cross. We learn love by living love.

Many days I am an unwilling pupil. I just don’t want to make the effort. I’d rather stay home and sit on the couch, thank you very much. Love is hard work! Thankfully, the same writer who says if you don’t love others, you don’t know God, also says that if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves. Love’s perfection takes practice. And on the days our love falls short, we fall back on God’s unfailing love.

Of course, we are still uneasy about this whole sacrifice thing. Seems a little self-destructive, don’t you think? What if I’m taken advantage of? What if I get burned, or burned out? So far, I haven’t been able to find a passage that says to love only if certain conditions are met, or that we can opt out based on certain well reasoned excuses. Sometimes you will have to love till your heart bleeds, till your hands are blistered, till your head is spinning.

But the beauty of the life of love is that it is designed to be shared. The Christian community should be a well spring of love, where giving and receiving flow naturally so that all are carried on its waves. If we are all loving deeply, we can all drink deeply. This is what true Christian fellowship is all about. This is how we share God’s love, this is how we are perfected as His bride. This is where we find rest for our souls and provision for our needs. This is where daily bread is shared because people are willing to be broken for the sake of their brothers and sisters.

This is also how the world will know we are Christians. If the people in your community were asked to define the Christians in it, would they say that Christians are the people who really love each other? If not, we have a problem. Our love inside the Christian community is directly related to our influence outside the Christian community.

To our selfish hearts, this is scary stuff. But this is real love and real life. This is real God.


Friday, 10 October 2008

my October

my October

winter's appetizer with the end bitten off
dull and dry
poplar boneyards rattling in the front yard
darkening days

I sat at the window
glass eyes
mourning brown grass

But you came in russet silk
A kiss on the sweet sour wind
You knocked on the back door
And lit the pumpkin lanterns

We roasted the seeds in auburn smoke
Drank cider crushed beneath dancing feet
And slept on a bed of saccharine decay
You gathered love into

my October


"To Autumn"

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

~John Keats (published 1820)

Thursday, 9 October 2008


I can’t help it. I always feel like a hobbit when I go walking in the moonlight. You’d think I might feel like something a little more romantic. But no, it’s hairy feet and ringwraiths. (Mmm, and lots of food… hobbits certainly know how to eat. Just don’t break the bowls and smash the plates! That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates.) Thanks to Dad reading us stories before bed when we were kids, I can picture the little company travelling by night and sleeping by day. When the moon is bright, you don’t need a lantern, or flashlight. Your eyes adjust, and the moon shadows fall sharply on the path. When you go into the deep dark woods and have to turn on the flashlight, it only makes things spookier. The trees no longer whisper conspiratorially, but are menacingly standoffish. The light is intrusive. And of course, if you were a hobbit on a dangerous and secret journey, the light would attract attention. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to head into the night alone, even if the scariest thing I ran into was a raccoon. It’s funny how just one person makes all the difference. When my husband is with me, I feel like I could be entrusted with such a quest, creeping over hills and moors and stealing through elfish woods. Just one person, and I’m not so scared of the spiderwebs or the rustlings in the dark. Just one person, and the night isn’t so cold, the trees become friendly again, and a simple walk becomes an adventure.

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