Microprayers: First Week

What is this quintessence of dust? William Shakespeare, Hamlet 1.Ashen brain breathes ashen prayers.My God –can ashes rise? 2.Dust clings to prayer’s mouth.I breathe;Prayer disperses… 3.Dust too collects in glory’s crevices;I longfor life, not death. 4.Water me with the condensation ofYour Spirit.Make me mud to mould.

40 Days of Mercy: Week 4

This week’s poem comes from the largely forgotten African American poet James Weldon Johnson whose book “God’s Trombones” takes as its task to preserve the language and cadence of the African American preaching tradition. The collection begins in a prayer for mercy and then moves through Biblical history to arrive at the final judgement, aContinue reading “40 Days of Mercy: Week 4”

Advent with the Prophet Jonah: Day 7

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. Jonah 1:17-2:1 There’s a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth that has particularly held on to me since I first read itContinue reading “Advent with the Prophet Jonah: Day 7”

Advent with the Prophet Jonah: Day 6

God of sea and dry land,God of Nineveh, Bethlehemand the belly of the whale,God of heights, God of depths,God of my darkest abyss:I have mademyself my god.I mustbecomeNothing.YoumustbecomeAll.I have blocked the channels whereYou reach me in my darkest hour.I have clenched my fist to fightin place of Your hand charged with life.I must go I-don’t-know-wheretoContinue reading “Advent with the Prophet Jonah: Day 6”

Advent with the Prophet Jonah Day 3

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay downContinue reading “Advent with the Prophet Jonah Day 3”

Poem after a line from Auden

Prayer, like poetry, makes nothing happen,if “make” means controland “happen” means an instant, an event.No incantations with prayer, no spells;nor with poems. You leavescratching your head,ambivalent to what has transpired.Sometimes forced, sometimes fluid,never simple, unless void of allmeaning save the surface.But prayer and poems both deal in depths;they refuse surface and befuddle the hurried.And poems,Continue reading “Poem after a line from Auden”

Vespers: After Louise Glück

Once I believed in You,still do,though belief is often evasive, often abstract,like air, which itself defies graspyet needy lungs clutch at it with the certaintythat this, this alone they must have.And I believe likethe fig tree believes in the soil,sometimes wilted, sometimes refusing fruit,always held, always known to the roots.And at the vesper light, Ibelieve,Continue reading “Vespers: After Louise Glück”


O God,As the sun rises, again,a little sheepish, overthis hesitant day,prepare the wayfor my often straying feet.May my yesterdays not repeatexcept in the way Your grace has of givingevery new day for new ways of living.Keep me. Make me new:I have not lovedas I ought to have loved;I have not taken the good as gift;IContinue reading “Matins”

Extraordinary Time

Deprived of the ordinary markings of days -drives to work, birthdays, people to celebrate -we clingmore fervently to organic signs,the constant shifts in the garden,which trees have blossomed,which ones have leaves,how tall the pea plant has grown,how white its petals.These and the aphids signal time:those and the snails migrating,the worms beneath the compost,the dead birdContinue reading “Extraordinary Time”

Holy Mess

Sanctify the compost heapwhere I trudge in dark with the day’s dank scraps.Sanctify the living stench,soil’s second chance,barren fig-tree’s friend.Sanctify the dishes piledon piles around the cluttered sink.Sanctify the time it takesto scrub and dry,to sort and stack.Sanctify numb fingers, iceon windscreen that delays the day,brittle tests when patience is small.Sanctify mess,sanctify time.Sanctify unholy pain;sanctifyContinue reading “Holy Mess”