Her Pivoting Ear

 

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same pair, two months ago

Near dusk, near a path, near a brook,
we stopped, I in disquiet and dismay
for the suffering of someone I loved,
the doe in her always incipient alarm.

All that moved was her pivoting ear
the reddening sun was shining through
transformed to a color I’d only seen
in a photo of a new child in a womb.

Nothing else stirred, not a leaf,
not the air, but she startled and bolted
away from me into the crackling brush.

The part of my pain which sometimes
releases me from it fled with her, the rest,
in the rake of the late light, stayed.
~C. K. Williams  “The Doe”

 

Oh little one
to have been born
in June over three decades ago
so wanted
so anticipated
but lost too soon
gone as swiftly
as a doe disappearing in a thicket,
a memory that makes me question
if you were real,
but you were
and you are
and someday
I’ll know you when I see you.

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Scattered Joy

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The settled happiness and security which we all desire,
God withholds from us by the very nature of the world:
but joy, pleasure, and merriment, he has scattered broadcast.
We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy.
It is not hard to see why.

The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world
and oppose an obstacle to our return to God:
a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony,
a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe
or a football match, have no such tendency.

Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns,
but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
~C.S. Lewis from The Problem of Pain

 

It is easy for us to lose focus on the “why” of our existence:
so much of our time and energy spent seeking safety and security,
striving for a journey filled with happiness, joy and contentment,
as if that sole goal is our only ultimate destination and purpose.
This is not our home, we are mere wayfarers.

The nature of a fallen world leads us down roads
filled with potholes and flat tires and hurting people
scattered by the wayside, often alone, oppressed and suffering,
ourselves sometimes among them.

Though we rejoice in the glimpses we have of joy broadcast like seed,
sprouting brief moments of happiness,
and the temporary comfort of contentment,
God calls us to know discomfort
so that we gratefully accept the gift of grace,
and understand what it means to give it to others:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.
~Matthew 25:35-6

 

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Dare to be Happy

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Every morning
the world is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped ashes of the night
turn into leaves again…

…each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.
~Mary Oliver from “Morning Poem”

 

We are called to dare to pray,
reflecting back
what comes down to us
from above,
whether brilliance, or clouds,
or the darkest night,
our prayers are dotted with
these unfolding moments
of joy.

 

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The Poem Itself

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In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem:
in Christianity we find the poem itself.
~C.S. Lewis from Miracles

 

Science fails
to love us,
to grasp the hand of the dying,
to give hope to the weak and afraid,
to become sacrifice for our sin,
to offer us everlasting forgiveness and grace.

Science is merely the footnote
to a Word far greater,
a fermata allowing us
to dwell indefinitely
on His ultimate symphonic Work.

 

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Tangled Threads

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Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth.

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs-

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.
~Rainer Maria Rilke “Sunset”

 

We stand, wavering, on the cusp of light and shadow~
struggling to untangle our feet of clay from the earth
to avoid sinking like a stone, mired and stuck.
As darkness begins to claim our days again,
we seek to rise like a star illuminating the long night,
brushing eternity with our branches.

 

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Each Other’s Harvest

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That time
we all heard it,
cool and clear,
cutting across the hot grit of the day.
The major Voice.

Warning, in music-words
devout and large,
that we are each other’s
harvest:
we are each other’s
business:
we are each other’s
magnitude and bond.
~Gwendolyn Brooks  from “Paul Robeson”

 

We all can hear it now~
the Voices of the Forgiven
forgiving the unforgivable.
They are louder than any gunshot;
penetrate deeper than any bullet.

They are harvesting hearts
with their faith, their obedience,
their tears, their words.

This is how the gospel resounds
through the crushed and broken-hearted.
This is how Christ forgave His enemies
in the midst of His suffering at their hands.
This is His amazing grace in action
with families reaching out in love
to the one who has taken so much from them.

 

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The Colors of Truth

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…I forced to mind my vision of a sky   
close and enclosed, unlike the space in which these clouds move—
a sky of gray mist it appeared—
and how looking intently at it we saw
its gray was not gray but a milky white
in which radiant traces of opal greens,
fiery blues, gleamed, faded, gleamed again,
and how only then, seeing the color in the gray,   
a field sprang into sight, extending
between where we stood and the horizon,
a field of freshest deep spiring grass   
starred with dandelions,
green and gold
gold and green alternating in closewoven   
chords, madrigal field.
Is death’s chill that visited our bed   
other than what it seemed, is it   
a gray to be watched keenly?
Wiping my glasses and leaning westward,   
clearing my mind of the day’s mist and leaning   
into myself to see
the colors of truth
I watch the clouds as I see them   
in pomp advancing, pursuing   
the fallen sun.
 ~Denise Levertov from “Clouds”


Tears fell from heaven last night
after a long dry spell;
not nearly enough tears have watered this parched ground
and surely more will come.
No matter what our color,
we are closewoven in our love for unity
and our hatred for hatred.
No matter how broken, how shattered,
we bind each other together
to be a tapestry
woven in colors of truth.

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