Where’s The Fire (a poem)

I work at a church
that sits on the corner
of city and power.
It can be a holy crossroads
where paths and souls
so often disparate
oddly intersect.

The crossing makes me
uneasy sometimes,
the way I suspect a
burning bush might
tingle a finger
if one dared to touch a leaf.

But I have learned that
in the hollow of my discomfort
God’s voice often speaks.

More Sundays than not
I hear sirens ringing out
amidst the music of our choir
or in the pause within a prayer:
a wailed reminder that
world and worship
always coexist.

Today was no different.
The sirens came,
their blaring grew and grew
and did not cease.

In front, a baptism
played out it’s sacred dance
with liturgy and symbols
and well-planned poise.

Then, doors flung wide in back.
An army of uniformed
helpers entered in.
A woman in a pew
reached for aid
to ready, gracious arms
outstretched.

Up front, another, too,
reached out for aid:
for hope, for love, for grace.
The baptized one
proclaiming
with careful water
spilled upon her head
the words of promise:
That Christ comes
and holds us all forever.

Water, too, in my eyes.
Concern for the one
and joy for the other
and wonder
that these two moments,
so wildly apart,
in their meeting told
one story:

Of a God who enters in
to our perfect plans,
our delicate aspersions of hope,
and flings wide the doors
with ready, gracious arms
outstretched
to take us in.

55 and Sunny (a poem)

*Poem-a-day number 11*

Warm days in winter
are my favorite kind of fairy tale.

The kind of fable
that reminds you:
the best miracles
are the regular ones,
the simple goodness
already built into this life,

lost from sight, only briefly,
under layers of coldness
and gray.

The sun lights up
a reminder:
that grace never leaves you.
It never ever leaves.

It’s there beneath your feet,
and behind your wooden doors,
waiting for the sudden burst
within you that remembers
and calls it to come out
and play.

Confession (a poem)

I sometimes struggle,
as a pastor,
with the pressure
to cut off my unseemly bits.

To take all my
unkempt emotion,
and broken edges,
and hungry humanness,
and shove it up under the rug
before company comes.

May I confess something?

I love my unseemly bits.
God made me human,
and I think She knows
what She’s about.

We’ll never get
closer to God
by being less
of what She made us.
She liked humanness
enough, after all,
to try it on for herself.

If my life is to be a ministry,
I hope for the courage
to let it teach this:

Perhaps, to draw close
to God
we need only stop believing
that we’re not.

Lukewarm (a poem)

My shower reminded me
this morning
how little patience I have
for presence without passion.
What is the purpose
Of moderate existence?

We are all careening
infinitely fast
into the vast nothingness
of obsolescence.
Why waste a moment
of existing
on forgetting to care?

There is so much
to fight about,
so much to love,
so many reasons for
taking the dare or
breaking the rules,
or even your heart.

I want to master
the art of caring too much.
Call me dramatic
or zealous, or intense.
Just never call me boring,
or hollow, or numb.

Give me your empty moments,
if you don’t want to claim them.
I’ll take them.

Here, you can have my shower.
I’m with Jesus on this one.

In Protest of Endings (a poem)

**Poem-a-day project poem #8**

In the car
one day in middle school
I asked my mom
if anyone really stays
Best Friends Forever.
She said, “not usually.”
and I started to cry.

See, I’ve
never really been
very good at goodbyes.
I see them coming from a mile off
and brace myself for impact.

As if, by bracing,
I might avoid
the sudden sense of lack
that comes with leaving.

There is one coming
for me now.
I feel it in how
each moment carries
a little preemptive nostalgia.

Remember this, I think.
Hold on to here.
Each person, place,
familiar minor habit
suddenly seems dearer
to me now.

The leaving will come.
And I will go.
It will be good and time
and all okay.
But know, whatever else,
that my goodbyes
are always under protest.

If I could keep
every hello in life
I might could give up
all the rest.

Letting Go (a poem)

**Poem #7 of my poem-a-day Lenten challenge**

Sometimes,
it is as simple
as taking note
of the way your
shoulders
are hunching
a little bit more
with each breath
you take,
and every exhale
offers back to the world
a little bit less.

Sometimes,
it is as hard
as letting
that high-backed
tension
roll itself
out of you,
and take with it
your pent up
air
and everything
else
that doesn’t really
belong to you
and give it all
back to the world
it came from.

If you can do that
and then say “thanks”
after,
please teach me your trick.

My Father’s House (a poem)

*Poem #6*

There are some
who come to my church
each day
seeking shelter,
food, and warmth.
We call them guests.
There’s meant to be
hospitality
in it,
I know.

But I admit
I’ve never been
entirely comfortable
with the idea.
Because what does
That make us?

It seems to me
that whatever they are,
we should be the same.
All guests
or all just
children of God
come home.

I guess it matters less
what words we use
than how we see.

I always see
my father:
shivering in a broken down car
a few miles
from the warmth of my own
childhood bed.

It all felt so big to me then,
so beyond me
to even approach,
forget fix.
It still does.

Every weathered face I see
and the absurd impulse
to say something light, like,
“Stay warm out there,”
make me still that worried child
overwhelmed by
what hurts.

The space between
our realities
is the chasm
of brokenness
running through
this world.

We need so much
more than a bridge
to mend this gap,
but sometimes I feel like
all I have
is popsicle sticks.