My Son’s Field of Dreams

(Picture, “The Little Prince”)

the-little-prince

My son is the one on the Flag Football Field
staring into the night sky looking for stars.

He’s the one listening so intently to the cicada’s siren song
that he doesn’t always hear the shrill trilling
of the referee’s whistle the first time…

…or the second.

He’s the one that skips over to the huddle
standing respectfully
with his hands clasped behind his back.

There is something so rooted about his stance,
like an ancient oak standing tall amidst
the jostling and swaying saplings surrounding him.

His teammates ebb and flow around him
like a fast moving river flows around the rock
anchored deep in the riverbed.

In the river…

…but not carried away by the river.

My son is the one who runs to me and says,
“See that little glowing light up there?”

I strain to see past the intensely bright lights
now flooding the playing fields.

“It’s a bug,” he says, “but if you look at it just right,
it looks like a far-away plane.”

I finally see the bright shape darting erratically,
high overhead the commotion below.

“I wonder what kind of bug it is,” I say.

My son says, “I think it is a silky white moth.”

He runs back onto the field
as his coach calls him once again
into the huddle.

My son is the one who thinks white moths are silky.

My son is the one staring into the night sky…

…looking for stars.

The Open Door

the-open-door

There was a day not so long ago when I was feeling discouraged.
Grumpy even.

I was feeling sorry for myself,
muttering around alone in the sanctuary picking up used tissues,
tossed music, broken candles, crumpled bulletins,
broken crayons, discarded inserts,
and all the detritus of weeks of winter worship.

I was preparing the way for Easter coming.
The stone rolling away.
The tomb yawning open.
Jesus set loose once again to be among us
until the end of days.

I had the church door open to bring in a breath of spring on the way.
And because the door was open,
there were suddenly two strangers in the sanctuary with me.
A young man and woman appeared excitedly exclaiming as they looked around at the beautiful wooden beams, the glowing stained glass windows, the gleaming organ pipes. They asked me if they could pray for the church. They said they were on a mission to go around town and pray.

I found myself feeling suspicious.

I wondered if this was some sort of scam.
I wondered if they hadn’t expected to find someone muttering around alone in the sanctuary and had made up something to cover their surprise.

I wondered what they were up to.

And then I wondered how I could be so cynical.
Standing in the sanctuary.
Standing in this place where people have gathered to pray together
for over 100 years.

“Yes,” I said, “Please pray for our church.”

The three of us took hands, and they prayed.
Out loud with great exuberance.
They prayed for the life and mission and ministry and people and programs and heart and soul of the church. They prayed for our neighbors and the town and the community and our country and for the whole world.

And then they asked if they could pray for me.

I felt the spirit flowing through our small circle carried by their enthusiasm.
I felt Jesus present in their great daring to pray with strangers.
The spirit was flowing and when they finished praying for me,
I prayed for them.

Tears in my eyes.
Cracks appearing in my hardened heart.
I prayed for us all.
Amen

They smiled.
We hugged.
And they bounced out as energetically as they had come in.

The spirit was flowing.

I felt peace as I basked in the warm flood of colored light streaming in through the stained glass windows. My heart was burning warm within me.

I felt full.

As if I had just finished a delicious meal of all my favorite foods.

As if I had just recognized Jesus in the breaking of a loaf of bread.

Or, in the faces of a young man and a young woman who came into my church
asking me if they could pray.

The spirit was flowing.

Jesus set loose among us.

All because

I had left the church door

open.

The Last Snowflake

snowflakes

Will we know when the last snowflake falls?

Will we know when the last songbird sings?

When the last squirrel discovers the last acorn?

When the last bullfrog belches its final love song

to a dark reflection of itself in a polluted puddle?

When neither the chicken nor the egg remains?

 When possums aren’t playing dead?

 Will we notice when bees cease to buzz?

When the blaze of green, red, blue, and purple spring becomes brown and burnt sienna?

 Will we care?

Will our descendants live in Hobbit homes covered by decimated dirt

buried beneath Earth’s burned skin afraid to walk freely in the sun?

Will we burrow our way through Earth’s drying corpse,

seeking some sort of subsistence in our celestial victim’s body?

 Will all creatures great and small exist only on museum walls?

 Will we know when the last human dies?

Will Earth sigh with relief

or like Romeo and Juliet

 star-crossed

will long-suffering Earth make one last arid exhalation

joining us in extinction

leaving only ash and dust

commingled

 in Memoriam.

Will God weep?

Send angels to carry us to eternal sleep?

Or will God turn away

go somewhere else to play

with no one left to pray for a better day?

 Will we know when the last memory fades to gray?

 Will there be anyone left to say

Remember when?

 

Remember when the last snowflake fell?

 

Remember?

Mourn-ing: Sorrowing or Lamentation

green-funerals-green-resting-place

It can be jarring to come home from a funeral service.
Eyes dry and burning
from endless weeping

and hear children playing outside.

Sitting inside the closed tomb of my house
I throw open the windows
to let their joy and laughter

come inside

To fill the newly empty place
inside me
with

Hope.

In the midst of life
is death.

In the midst of death
is life.

Breathe

in and out

Creation’s song
of life.

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted…to comfort all who mourn…to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning…” 

(ex. Isaiah 61: 1 – 3)

Me and My Good Friend, Job, Sitting in the Ashes…Again

152Jacob’s Blessing*

Is that IT?

 That I want someone to tell me

that this gets easier?

 This wrestling with the Word

This wrestling with God

Wrestling with what I believe

or

do not

believe

on any given day.

 

Each and every day

faced with

 Choosing…

 again

and

again

 Choosing…

 

Choosing Faith

Choosing Hope

Choosing to be vulnerable

Choosing uncertainty

unknowing

bewildering

and baffling

 

unclarity

 

Choosing

to follow

 

Jesus.

 

JESUS!

 

Will it always be this

wrestling match

through the long night?

 

Sometimes surrendering

Sometimes resisting

 

Always

 clinging

with grim determination

 

Always

walking away

wounded

 

Always

 aching

and broken

 and sometimes…

 

……and sometimes….

some

 times

 

walking away

 

Blessed.

*”Jacob’s Blessing”

A “Fabrication” by C. Steinbrecher

Genesis 32:22 – 29

         Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.  He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had.

          Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 

          Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”  But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”  So he said to him, “What is your name?”  And he said, “Jacob.” 

          Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”  Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”  But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” 

 And there he blessed him.

 

The Christmas Prodigal

015

On Christmas Eve, there is always one Prodigal son or daughter who slips in hoping to be invisible. One prodigal who sits in the back, near the door ready to make a hasty escape.

There is always one prodigal who has been battered by life’s storms, who has squandered themselves and their inheritance in some way…one prodigal who is lost and desperately hopes to be found…

or to find…

…something.

On Christmas Eve there is one Prodigal who has returned even if it is only to sip the bitter dregs or nibble on the crumbs under the master’s table.

I watch for the Prodigals on Christmas because Christmas Eve isn’t really for the faithful, the members, the committee activists, the Sunday regulars…

Christmas Eve is for Jesus’ lost lambs, the ones who creep inside hoping to find refuge, sanctuary, room in the inn, maybe even a glimpse of mystery…

But most of all…

…hoping to find home.

Unfortunately, like Esau, some are quick to judge the returning Prodigals. After all, where were they when the hard work needed to be done? Where were they when the fields were being plowed, seeds sown, crops tended, and the harvest was brought in?

Why do they deserve the fatted calf?

I’m glad I can’t remember the name some church folk use for those who only come on Christmas and Easter, because I watch for the Prodigals on Christmas Eve…

…slipping in late, sitting alone in the shadows of the back row. I watch for them and I smile and I wave whether I am reading or singing or praying.  I don’t stop or call on them or call them out…

I just I watch for them and I smile and wave so they know that they are not invisible…they are seen…they are welcome…and I am happy they have come.

At the end of the service, when we have sung Silent Night, Holy Night, and each of us has lifted our small light up to fill the darkened sanctuary with our combined and holy light, that’s when I move towards the darkness in the back of the church.

And like every parent of a prodigal, I smile and open my arms wide, meeting them in the shadows where they hide…

And in they come..

Safe harbor

Sanctuary

For the space of a hug and a heartbeat.

Sometimes there are whispered, rushed stories of illness, death, elder care, jobs lost, jobs found, a move, a divorce…

There are always apologies that I brush away like the wisps of sacred smoke swirling around us.

Not necessary

Not needed

Just glad to see you

Glad you’ve come.

Sometimes there are quiet tears…or deep sighs…sometimes there is simply silence.

Then they sigh and smile and slip away into the quiet, soft, darkness of Christmas Eve night.

To come again..

…or never come again.

Doesn’t matter.

What matters is this…

On Christmas Eve, a moment of Christ’s peace beyond understanding was offered and received.

A breath of hope was inhaled between smiles.

A spark of joyful reunion and a moment of unconditional love was exchanged.

For the space of a hug and a heartbeat,

…a Prodigal found their way home.

Longest Night

195

Night Falls

 “Prepare the way of the Lord, make God’s path straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.  The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  (Luke 3:4 – 6)

John the Baptist cried out, “Prepare the way” and as Christmas draws near, we can often find ourselves caught in the race and grind of holiday preparations feeling depleted and exhausted.  Juggling family, work, shopping, planning, cleaning, and decorating creates a frantic sense of intense busy-ness layered with guilt for not being in the “Christmas Spirit.”

I invite you to imagine for a moment Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.  A very pregnant woman on a donkey, a weary man on foot, urgency in every step of their journey as they frantically raced against a deadline over which they had no control, the imminent birth of their son.  As they journeyed alone through hostile territory, imagine Joseph’s worry and fear…would they get to Bethlehem in time?  Would they find shelter?  Would his son be born on the open road, in the middle of the night, just the two of them?

Imagine Mary’s worry and fear…was she feeling contractions?  Was she counting the time in between each one?  Was she afraid she would she have to give birth, without women helping, alone by the roadside…did she wonder if she would survive giving birth to this Holy child?  The angel hadn’t said anything about what would happen to her after her son was born.

Of course, we know that they made it to Bethlehem.  We know that at the end of their frantic journey they found refuge and sanctuary.  In that manger so lowly, for a time, they found peace.  Mary gave birth to hope for the world.  They discovered the joy of becoming parents.  Together they brought love incarnate into the world.

If you are feeling that out-of-control sense of careening into Christmas, come join us for our Candlelight Christmas Eve service of Lessons and Carols on Thursday, December 24 at 7:00 pm.  Come and find refuge and sanctuary from the pressures that the holidays can bring.  Come and find peace, for a time.  Come and renew your hope for the world.  Come and re-discover the joy in remembering that you are a beloved child of God.  Come, and lay your burdens down and gather at Christ’s table for the pause that truly refreshes!

Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!