Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Iona 1991

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Fallen, fallen
is Babylon the Great
Babylon is behind me here
Still I carry Babylon within me
When I see Babylon
I see the fallen city
the cities of the plain
smoke rises
a stench

the cry of the poor
lost, homeless, hungry
to the Hearer of Pain
cries to me
come out of
self-worth is shuckin’ and jivin’
only the Hearer gives worth

city of endless accumulation
your need is for me
city of greedy power
weakness is my power

at the margin again
wrong margin?
Timmy at the piers
his margin addresses mine
scruff to scruff
“Do you want a muffin?
I bought two and only ate one”
“oh sorry I just ate.”
“Well . . .
Can I have a hug?”

lost in the face of the city
I hug sorrow
I hug loss
I hug addiction
at water margin
hearts opened wide
blessing descends
loss in common
in the glow
of the Risen
in both
lepers alike
right on the right margin

city of imprisonment
sedates the Sedate
settlement of sedation
outside the door
the City wall
the Sedate
the Settled
come out of her
be with the Risen

my monastery
of repentance
of resurrection
Timmy at the piers

I Went-Setting-Poor Marie

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

That’s what they would say behind her back, “Poor Marie.” I thought I was the reason she was poor. That much was true.

But the truth was worse. My father died when I was 15 days old, after a long illness, large bowel cancer. It was particularly awful I guess; I overheard them saying he had his Hell on earth. My mother was left with a baby, she had to move back in with her family, he didn’t leave enough to bury him, and she had no income. So “Poor Marie.” It happened in the middle of World War Two, so there were rationing and food shortages, I guess. Oh and I was born Caesarian, to add injury to insult.

Luckily there was some relative or other connected to Pet Milk, so she had the means to feed me. Just as luckily , a job was found for her doing war factory work and after the end an office job as a file clerk. She never learned to type. She had dropped out of school at age sixteen to go to work to help support her family. It was 1929. She collected Social Security as a widow. She refused to apply for welfare. She wouldn’t take charity. So all my childhood years we lived with her family. There were her parents, a brother, his wife and their child.

And I was not the most ‘normal’ kid, I wasn’t who was expected, I wasn’t who was wanted. For one thing I was a boy, She wanted a girl. She told me once she wanted to name me Judy.

She also had as little contact with my father’s family. In later years, when she was angry with me, she would tell me I was like my father. She told me he punched her in the stomach when she was pregnant with me. And she avoided his family. I was taken a few time to see my grandparents but very seldom. I last saw them when I was twelve, just before we moved a thousand miles away.

Much later she got in touch with his sister Pauline and her husband Bill and put me in touch with them. I visited and Aunt Pauline had pictures of me when she was keeping me. That was news to me. She also called a neighbor lady who knew me when I was a baby to come see me all grown up.

I Went: The Call, The Message Lost

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

I was asleep when I woke to a voice calling my name. I looked around. No one there. I left the bedroom and the call seemed to be coming from downstairs. I went downstairs and no one was there. The voice seemed to be coming from outside. I opened the door and went out on the porch. The call was coming from up the street. I went up to the corner of Madison Street. The voice was coming from down that street. So I walked down that way. I saw a bundle of newspapers waiting for the carrier to take them. On top of the pile, Jesus appeared, a mini-Jesus who looked just like the pictures of him in my Sunday School books. He said, “I
have something to tell you.” Then a car came down the street and he disappeared. I went home, and back to bed.

Was this a dream? If it was, it is the most vivid dream I ever had. I can still see all the details. I have never
forgotten. I have never forgotten not getting the message. It seems to me I have been seeking it ever since.

I was then a young child, I don’t know what age. I think I am still that age.

I Went: It Begins, First Contact

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

I was a small child then. I have no idea how old I was. I had a room of my own. Every night I would cry and cry and cry. I don’t remember why. I do remember my mother coming  to ask me why I was crying. I would answer, “No one loves  me.” She would reply, “I love you.” I hope I did not say, “You’re only saying that because I’m crying.” I think that  was true.

I was abandoned, all on my own, lost.

“I can’t do this” But I found a place to turn to. On my desk was a picture of the Good Shepherd and sheep. The sheep were flocked. The colors were pastel pinks and blues. It had a thermometer on it. Desperate, I saw the picture. And I tuned to the Shepherd. I pictured him come and sit on my bed, the very Jesus in the picture. I said, “I can’t do this. But I can if you lead me. Lead me and I will follow.” So I put out my hand. Jesus sat on my bed and took my hand. I ceased to cry and slept.


I Went

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Maundy Thursday, first hymn
“Here I am Lord.
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.”

It hit me then.
I went.
Look where I wound up.
I may not be in the place I wish,
But here I am, Lord.

So I need to trace my steps
and missteps.
What a long strange trip it’s been.

The thread that runs through the land of unlikeness is:
I want to follow Jesus,
I want to follow the Gospel,
to live the Gospel life.

Confessions of a Reprobate

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Oh God of my people I confess before you
that I have not lived in accord with you laws and ordinances
Specifically I confess to you:
I have not been an achiever
I have not been a winner
but often a loser
I have not been aggressive
I have not stepped up
nor have I leaned in
I have not resisted the aggressive
When people have wanted to win, I let them win
I did not speak back when a man told me I was too f–ing meek
I have not gotten rich
and when I have had money I have helped others
I have constantly sought to serve others and not myself
I have striven to be informative, not argumentative
I have striven To comfort the afflicted
and tried not to unduly afflict the comfortable
I have done my best to be kind and helpful
to angry and difficult customers
I have tried to exploit the earth and other species
as little as possible.
For these and all my other offences against the law and ordinances of my people
I wish to be sorry
to repent
to mend my ways
if only I would
Bless me, sinner that I am
and keep me from the pit of total reprobation.

Good New, Bad News

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

The good news is that I am doing what is good for me or at least feels good. It feels as if I am doing what God created me to do, what feels proper and appropriate in my deepest self, the deepest desire of my heart.

I’m trying to get closer to God, I’m doing this by reading the Daily Office Scriptures in the most original languages we have. I have good Greek and not so good Hebrew, but this is improving both of them. I am reading the Hebrew in pages with both the Hebrew and the English. I plan to do some detail work parsing the Hebrew grammar to improve my understanding.

I am not doing this during the Offices but later, so as to keep prayer and study separate. I will also continue to pray in all my other usual ways. I am awed the the rightness of this. I feel more like myself, and that’s good thing. I haven’t often felt that,

I hope to reap benefits not only for myself but for others. I want to find ways of writing about what I discover. In seeking God I am seeking Wisdom, and in seeking Wisdom I am seeking God. It is not for me alone, but for sharing, for gifts for others.

The bad news is that I don’t have enough income to meet my expenses. I am living on meager Social Security and Food Stamps. I only once had a well-paying job and that was in stock that died and I sold. My best earning years were spent in a monastery, and coming out from there in late middle age did not make for any successful career or income.

I have been looking for some part time work. I did physical labor for a while in a grocery store, but my arthritis grew on me until I could not bear it. I tried hard. I am in poor condition. I tend to sleep a long time. I think I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At age 44 I had mononucleosis. I bounced back far too soon. A few days and I was back into full monastic discipline. The Guestmaster, whose assistant I was, scolded me angrily for leaving him with all the work. I was sick for Holy week.

I am looking for office work; I have lots of experience there. I have sent out resumes but have received no replies. I am discouraged but I do keep trying. Ramping that up will be part of my Lenten work. At age soon 74 it is hard to find work.

And in the back my mind and I cannot quell it, is that, selfishly, part time work would hinder my search for God/Wisdom.

I guess prayers for me are in order.

Spiritual Reading-Exile

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Psalm 137 Super flumina

1 By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, *
when we remembered you, O Zion.

exile, far from home, far from Zion, from Jerusalem
far from our center, our heart, our life
How did this happen? What idols did we worship that led us here?
How did we alienate ourselves from our Zion, our heart, our center, our God

2 As for our harps, we hung them up *
on the trees in the midst of that land.

our joy lost, our culture, our hopes and dreams nullified
so we sat by alien waters and contributed our tears
lost in a desert, no nourishment for our hearts
wandered far in a land that was waste
inhabiting a death in life

3 For those who led us away captive asked us for a song, and our oppressors called for mirth: *
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”

Now our captors want us to entertain them with the shreds of our culture
“And the darkies are happy all day.”
like “Negro Spirituals” in their hymn books so they can join in
these mamzers won’t even let us hang up our damned harps
We know singing those songs won’t revive us but they delight alien masters.

4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song *
upon an alien soil?

Our songs are roots music that won’t root in this alien soil
we ourselves don’t root and grow here
the food of our joy withers on the vine
we starve for our Jerusalem

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, *
let my right hand forget its skill.
6 Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, *
if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

I will remember, I will, I will, I will.
I will maintain my skill, my love, my way of life
It will be there waiting for The Day
I am alive
I’m not dead yet
I can still sing my own song
Never forget. Je souvien

7 Remember the day of Jerusalem, O LORD, against the people of Edom, *
who said, “Down with it! down with it! even to the ground!”

Avenge me, I cry, revenge, revenge, revenge
revenge those destroying my life

8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, *
happy the one who pays you back for what you have done to us!
9 Happy shall he be who takes your little ones, *
and dashes them against the rock!

My own feeling of revenge are abhorrent.
I am abhorrent.
How can I feel these verses?
How can I not?
I know myself in knowing this
Bowed down and ashamed.
I repent in dust and ashes.

Women’s March

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

A thought about yesterday’s marches hit me at church
(thoughts like this often come to me in worship)
and I tried to express it but it was inchoate and didn’t strike other people well.

I started out seeing this as women’s marches, about women’s issues. I was struck by men marching. They supported the women, I thought. And I thought that it was good. I wish I had marched.

But it struck me another way, that women needed support, as if they could not do it on their own. It struck me as an index of the sexism in our culture. This is not to say in any way that I at all think men should not have marched. But I saw the sexism of our cultural sexism laid bare before my eyes. And that men will take over everything you let them. Which I thought was a major point of the march

And then I remembered 1965, when a small group from my college went to Atlanta to ask Dr King how we could help. He told them that he had plenty of marchers for the last day’s march into Montgomery but he needed bodies for the first day’s march out of Selma. And we went and did just that.

Bodies. White bodies. Bodies less likely to be savaged by the forces of law and order. It had to have the patronage and protection of white folk. Another index, of the structural racism of that day, And of this?

I also remembered When in the religious life we attended the life profession of a sister in a “sister” order. She made her profession to our superior, not hers. It takes a man, I thought. I pointed out this dissonance to our superior. Then it changed. It takes a man.


Christmas Prayer

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Isaiah 29:13-24 (NRSV)

The Lord said:
Because these people draw near with their mouths
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote;
so I will again do
amazing things with this people,
shocking and amazing.

So many times my heart is far away, and my worship learned by rote.
Lord please do again amazing things, shocking and amazing.
Wake me up again to You.