Monday Thursday (a poem)

When I was a kid
this was my favorite
service of the year.
The strange irony
was how it brought
my faith to life.

Though I never understood
why we called it “mon-dee”
like that rough day of
week’s opening with
an extra southern twang,
I figured it just meant
that something new
was about to begin,
in God’s time rather than ours.

I loved the drama of it,
the low light and
the muted stained glass.
The twelve candles guttering
and gusting out with
each new story told.
The sweet familiar taste
of bread and juice
made sweeter in their
proper day and time.

I felt closer to Jesus
then than ever.
I could see myself
sitting at his table,
his hands cupping my feet,
bearing bread to my mouth
with my name on his lips.

When the final moment came:
the deafening beat of drum
and the louder silence after
that carried his death,
I admit I still felt giddy,
just to know so well
that I belonged.

All these years later,
both grown and pastor,
I could laugh at
just how wrong I was,
how much I missed the point.

Except that,
all these years later,
I’m not entirely convinced
I did.

Sticks and Stones (a poem)

Sometimes it feels like
the world is flooding.
Like God is breaking
her promise,
or more like we’re
breaking it for her.
Some days, all the
bad in this world roars
like one awful giant
made of broken.

Some weeks I wonder
what chance we all stand
against the rising tide
or the thundering colossus.
But every time I’ve almost
resigned myself to us all
being swept away or devoured,
I am startled by the sudden
appearance of good.

Usually it’s just a little thing
a pebble of promise or
tiny twig of goodwill:
a prayer answered,
a positive shift in health,
the rise of an earnest voice,
a stranger’s compassion,
the company of faithful friends,
or a sign of hard won progress,
however slight.
Against giant and flood,
what can a few sticks and stones
like these do?

Except enough sticks
make for a sturdy ark
and a few well aimed rocks
can lay a fearsome giant low.

And every evil ever known
has been undone and overcome
by a little wood and
a rolled away stone.

Loud Mouth (a poem)

I have never been able
to keep my mouth shut.
Not since the day
I was born.
I have holes
in the pocket where
my secrets are kept.
And I slept through
the class where
they taught us
how to hold our tongues.

And so I am always
saying the wrong thing,
the overly honest
and earnest thing,
the words that don’t belong
in polite company.

It’s not that it doesn’t
terrify me, sometimes,
to tell the truth,
it’s just that other things
terrify me more.

See, I have never been able
to keep my mouth shut
but I’ve had it shut for me.

And nothing scares me
more than the dark
of the boxes
where secrets get locked
like bodies in coffins
buried alive.

Enough layers of dirt
can muffle any sound
but silence
doesn’t mean
there’s nothing
desperate to be heard.

Why do we speak the hard truths?

To shout down the silence
and build, with our voices,
a world where the hard truths
no longer exist.

Matters (a poem)

I used to believe
that becoming a pastor
would make me
a better Christian.
But it’s the Monday
of Holy Week,
and I’ve spent my
whole day
dealing with the drama
of a shattered screen.

It’s amazing
how quickly
Worship becomes work,
and a holy Monday
fills with the mundane.
But then Christ
knew ordinary too,
and isn’t that kind of
the point?

After all,
on his Holy Week
Monday, he, too,
was consumed
with the immediate.
He, too,
was dealing with
the drama
of cracked glass,
and how we reach
one another,
and where to spend
the coins we have.

Maybe sometimes
what matters
isn’t escaping from
all the ordinary
that is, but simply
letting Jesus
sit beside you
in life’s beautiful,
messy mundanity.

Traversing the Tension (a poem)

It is strange
being a pastor
during Holy Week.
Even as you’re urging
your people
to wait, to stay
in the hard days,
in the quiet pain of it,

it’s your job to look ahead,
dream ahead,
write ahead:
To Easter
and its far off sun,
crafting words that
will banish
the shadows.

But Holy Week
with its somber,
slow unraveling,
keeps its hooks in us too.

The path we travel
in these weighty days
(perhaps even always)
calls us to keep our
spirits split
and our feet
in two different
countries,
called Hope
and called Grief.
Somehow both
citizen and stranger
to each.

The Eye and I (a poem)

There is something
to the quiet
that claims me
for a moment
in the chaos of the storm.

In the pointless afternoon
shamelessly stolen
for myself.
In the slow, unplanned
meander through
world and thought.
In the holy hermitage
of my own being
and the refuge of
uncontested silence.
In the temporary distance
from love and friend
and the cacophonous crowd
of other lives
that all so often fill me.

In this eye of life’s
vibrant hurricane,
in the vast but tiny
universe of my own
existence,
for a few deep breaths
there is only me and

I am enough.

All Mad Here (a poem)

I played basketball
for one season
in seventh grade,
the year I grew
seven inches in six months.

I was awful,
all legs and awkward,
daunted by the frenetic pace,
and sneaker squeaks,
and the yelling of my
teammate’s dad turned coach.

I much prefer
the collective frenzy
of March Madness

with its blown up brackets,
and its barstool sideline seats,
and its upsets that have
nothing at all to do with
my inability to dribble a ball
and run at the same time.

Basketball is just so much
more fun this way,
guessing and hoping
for someone else’s win
and tagging along
with friends
for the whole wild ride.

Though I am just as bad
at this game, and honestly,
maybe even worse.

Retraction (a poem)

I have spent
a lot of time lately
apologizing.
I’m sorry
I have an opinion
and feelings
and thoughts.
I’m sorry
that sometimes (often)
I know what I’m
talking about.
I’m sorry
the way your eyes
slide over my body
makes me uncomfortable.
I’m sorry you
bumped into me
stepped on my toe
cut me off.
I’m sorry God made me
a woman
and queer
and gifted
and smart.
I’m sorry I know
that I’m worth a damn
that I have something
to contribute.
I have spent
a lot of time lately
saying I’m sorry.
But I’ve thought
about it,
and you know what?

I’m not.

Daily Bread (a poem)

When we were kids
we ate dinner
as a family
almost every night.
I would set the table
while my mom cooked
and then we’d sit
down to eat,
take each other’s hands,
and say grace.

When it was my turn
I often said
the old rote words
those “God is good” ones
you know?

Until my parents made
me make words of my own.
And so I learned
that I, too, could
speak to the Divine.

I have loved
the Table ever since,
and relished Table-talk
with God.
There is so much
Grace in the space
of a shared meal,
and so much broken
in this world
that a little
broken bread
can help to heal.

Miracle (a poem)

Even after a long, hard day,
and even when
I’m running late,
I sometimes take
the slow bus
through the city
and relax
the way we used to float
down lazy rivers
on summer afternoons.

I love to watch
this city happen,
with its storefronts
lit in hope of company,
and its people
on their way to
anywhere unknown,

or laughing over drinks,
or reading while their
laundry turns behind them,
or settling, for however
short a time, into
the rhythm of their
daily shuffle to or from.

With a watchful, eager eye,
every moment is a story
worth telling.
Every living snapshot,
a marvel of miracle.
I swim in them and
remember what a gift it is
to be human,
and all, somehow,
together.

Last night as
I rode the
long way to my house
feeling home, already,
the whole way there,
it struck me that
someone else might be
floating lazily along
through this city we share,
soaked in the wonder
of every impossible
life being lived,
and to them my life
would be a worthy marvel–
I am a miracle too.

I’ve never thought
of it that way
before.