Weeping Cherry

Words burn. Wounded words
Smolder from the day before.
Scorched, we mourn in the stench of scorn.

I sit at my computer screen.
You stare out the door
At your weeping cherry trees.
Bereft, we gather what is left.

An unknown bird, brilliant yellow,
Lands in a weeping cherry tree.
Offering his bell-like song,
He cocks his smart red head.

I freeze. You tiptoe toward your camera.
A joint mission takes the place
Of bitter and bewildered thoughts
And leads us where we both belong,
Dizzy in the healing heights
Of chasing God’s own creature’s song.

Come to Terms Quickly

“Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Matthew 5:25-26

I don’t think in a straight line.
My thoughts lead to places unexpected,
That make no sense to the casual observer.
Tell me to put two and two together
And you may regret it, or at least walk away
Shaking your head, bewildered and frustrated.

In fact, my thoughts will do that for you —
Walk away shaking their heads, that is.
A brilliant idea will feel ill at ease, unwelcome and unwanted.

The Savior says, “Come to terms quickly with your accuser.”
This morning, original thoughts, feeling broken and betrayed,
Stare at me from the mirror, attempting reconciliation.

“Your accuser will hand you over to the judge,” the Savior continues,
I glance at that lonely original thought, whose accusing eyes brim over,
And my stony heart melts.

“Come to terms quickly with your accuser,” Jesus continues,
“Or you will be thrown into prison.”
By now, I’ve opened a notebook
And write the beginnings of a story
That may or may not make sense to every reader.

“You will never get out until you have paid the last penny,”
My Lord says.

By now, the words are tumbling onto the page,
Singing and skipping and keeping up perfectly well
With my zigzagging logic.
The fine is erased from the books
And the prison door is flung open,
Unable to hold back the colors, sounds and smells
Of free thinking.

Sanctuary Doors

We stopped attending worship in March.
Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter happened at home and online.
We watched live-streamed labyrinth walks and posted #stayhome selfies, grateful to gather in this way.
The sanctuary doors remain closed,
Save for a dedicated crew who virtually serve the body of Christ.

“A little while, and you will no longer see me…”

We had heard reports of the virus for weeks.
It didn’t seem real.
Then we learned about social distancing and non-essential businesses.
Then it forced our doors closed.
When would we see each other again, take communion, sip coffee in the fellowship hall?

“…and again a little while, and you will see me.”

Like a thief in the night, holiness transformed our loneliness.
Encouraging chalk messages appeared on sidewalks:
“Stay safe!” “Love is stronger than fear!” “He is risen!”
Pink, green, yellow and blue letters bearing good news greeted us in the morning.
Daylight hours lengthened.

Parents and their kids drove through a neighborhood,
Pausing and honking their horns in front of a house where a four-year-old celebrated his birthday
Behind closed doors.
Neighbors anonymously left groceries on doorsteps.
Strangers in masks cried for each other over job losses,
Trying to make sense of it all.

In a little while, we saw Him —
In each other, in creation, in ourselves.
We still mourn our losses,
But the sanctuary doors are flung wide open today,
In the broken heart of the body.

You Send, I See

You send the September breeze
When my heart aches at seeing summer end.
The breeze ripples through the maple boughs,
Still bendable in the early fall heat,
So that I hear the trees whisper
Of beginnings in the endings.
Of going underground to work the magic of growth.
You send what You know I will see.

Years ago, that Arizona noon hour,
You sent a white dove for me to see
As I wandered, crushed, defeated,
On the crowded sidewalk in that mountain town.
Your dove strolled ahead of me,
With her feathered head bobbing,
Past the best burger joint in town,
Flipping through discarded potato chips
And dodging hurried footsteps
Of people on their lunch breaks.

I was grateful that You sent
That impossibly white dove
On that impossibly discouraging day,
To remind me of Your provision.
Of course it was You,
Holy Spirit,

Or maybe the dove was a daily visitor on that street,
And You simply shifted my gaze
Toward her bobbing head,
As she nibbled on crumbs, blissfully unaware
That we see You in her.

My Voice, Our Voice

In Your eyes, it was good,
It was very good.
We were good.
I am good.

You spoke our voices into being
And hoped that we would speak
The same goodness that You had seen
On that seventh day.

I had forgotten my voice
Until I heard it in a mountain stream,
Yearning to run free of debris and defilement.

I heard it when a grey squirrel
Looked me in the eye
As he feasted on black walnuts
In the towering tree.

I heard it in the dandelion,
Who lives to nourish and heal,
Whose brilliant yellow blossoms spring up
Again and again,
And who refuses to die
Because she knows we need her.

I heard it in the ponderosa forest,
High in the peaks,
Standing against icy runoff
And monsoon floods,
Whose seeds need fire to wake from their sleep.

And when I looked for You,
I realized we are all Your voice.
We are that voice that spoke us into existence
And that had hoped we would love Your world
As much as You loved her.

When We Had First Begun

I wondered if I’d pass this way again.
Stained glass shimmers in the morning sun;
Worship service ends at half past ten.

“I miss them,” was my thinking now and then;
My soul’s rest in God had just begun.
I wondered if I’d pass this way again.

Bible studies met an idle pen
And contemplation formed a church of one.
Worship service ends at half past ten.

This morning, though, I remembered when
They welcomed me in late October’s sun.
I wondered if I’d pass this way again.

Emerging from the womb of my den,
I join old friends to praise the risen Son.
Worship service ends at half past ten.

Voices soar in praise and sweetly blend,
Recalling days “when we had first begun.”
Grateful that I’ve passed this way again;
Worship need not end at half past ten.