If words fail, being only breath,
Look to the one who was himself
The Word, though many said not.
Look to the one whose last
Breath, crushed by Satan's
Knee, was "Forgive."
Look to Him
Lent ends with a mirror:
I am the mocker, the spitter, the thief.
Like a child resenting their small role in the pageant,
I greet grace with a petulant, What about me?
This is me.
My role is the soldier with the reed and the crown,
the voice crying, Crucify! and, Messiah, come down.
I’m Judas and Pilate, am Herod, am the priests;
am the nails in the feet and the spear in the side,
am the object of all mercy’s most prodigal gifts,
am the face of Christ shining in victory.
We travel through cosmic debris.
All the time a war wages – starshower missiles,
The mayhem is our doing.
Harmony – meant to be sung –
ended with us.
Begin again with us.
From ashes we stand,
cupped hands opened to receive,
to re-enter Your orbit.
(Inspired by this translation of Nelly Sachs: https://nellysachsenglish.wordpress.com/2015/09/20/whoever-comes-from-the-earth/)
The text is darker in this weather, more emphatic, as though while he wrote, outside prison walls Saint Paul saw the fall of some Ephesian rain-drops and thought: If my plea should fall on hard soil… Did he see the runaway slave in the wet, uncertain, standing at his master’s door, with letter dripping ink on solid Colossian stones, and fear a silent and stony reply? Raindrops soften soil. Outside is damp, garden drenched. Too much heart is a flood when heart hears abject pleading. Letter drips today with softening truth, and yet for all my rain I still am clay.
Acknowledgment sounds with our morning yawn:
We have been in need; we have been held safe.
And the quiet of the dawn routine declares
That we are weak, are strangers to this day.
Awaken slowly. Infants in the world,
What will you do now? Fresh from the night’s grace,
Will you shake your horn’s fist at the first sight
Of anguish lurking at the silent light?
Forgiven much, enrage. The open space
Of day defies you. If all now unfurled,
How would it be to wait, to be, to say
Yet not my will? Grace’s true cost lies there
And we are not prepared. Our kinship chafes
As we seek love, reluctant, through the dawn.
Jeffrey Smart painted this dying day:
burnt orange in floating smokestack steam,
needle-lights stretching in fluorescent dream,
the sojourn of light sinking in silent sway.
Daytime paints its canopy away
and minutes pass in inches as we glean
each moment, weigh each instant gram by gram.
Apologies buy flowers; much to say,
yet time is rare. I wish that now could be
a canvas on a wall that we could share.
I cross the bridge; I mount the street of bells.
Ascend, descend; the sound within us swells,
and expectation greets the seated air.
No movement; move. I gather you to me.
Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?
No, only the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit can cleanse us from sin.
(New City Catechism)
God, no water is enough.
Stains worsen when washed deeper in;
this is the deepest, from Adam to now.
can wash away blood;
only pure Breath can restore breath.
Nothing giving; the remedy hurts worse than the ill.
Yet grace gives us this:
gentle water as symbol,
another’s death as the price, impossible signed
in this simplest plunge,
taken right back to the source.
What is the Lord’s Prayer?
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
(New City Catechism)
Hands upraised, hands open
imploring yet worshipping
receiving yet giving
asking yet content
forgiven and forgiving
on earth, as it is in heaven;
daily caught in moments’ fear…
Our Father here and Heaven’s king:
teach us how to pray.