Mary Martha

Can I sit
attentive to the voice of many waters
and yet
move, serve, respond?

Can I act,
responsive to a world of burning rubble
and yet
listen, stop and breathe?

Full of many things,
I forget
to choose the better part.
Caught in mindless bustle,
I catch
eternity in the friction that grinds
to a hault.
O bless the failure
that drives me kneeward.
Bless the gravel that stirs up
my knees to stretch and rise.

Face-to-face: After Emmanuel Levinas

My brother's face is not my face;
His eyes see things mine do not see,
And when I try to take his place
I'm stuck in his alterity.

I do not know what he has known.
I do not think his thoughts with him.
His father is my father. Though
He is not me, he is my kin.

Each other face I daily see,
Each gaze that pierces into pride,
Each face is still a mystery,
A space I cannot climb inside.

And yet I must begin each day
Before my brother's other face,
And hear my unknown sister say,
"Thou shalt not kill" with silent gaze.

And I must stand before a One
Who is not seen, with unseen face,
And yet is like all-knowing Sun
And stands in hated Stranger's place.

And who is my neighbour?

Love, sensing Self flex muscles,
Circumvents the question, takes a detour
Along a Jericho road,
A thoroughfare often taken, seldom observed.

Love stretches the story out,
Beyond expectation, beyond our trust,
Defeats its stock of righteous men,
Then surprises with a foe.

Love befriends the enemy,
Gives face and heart to the hated one.
Love helps us up the donkey's back,
Carries us safe, far from home.

Love takes flexed muscles, unflexes them,
Unwinds Self's tautly wrought syntax.
Wrong question, Love says. True question is:
Whose neighbour am I?
Van Gogh, The Good Samaritan

Silence

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
And keep
Faith.