Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

Poetry Corner

Poetry Corner: To Keep a True Lent – Robert Herrick

To Keep a True Lent

Is this a Fast, to keep
The Larder lean? And clean
From fat of veals and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d go,
Or show
A down-cast look and sour?

No: ’tis a Fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat
And meat
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife
And old debate,
And hate;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
Not bin;
And that’s to keep thy Lent.

 

Robert Herrick, 1648

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Poetry Corner: from spiralling ecstatically this

from spiralling ecstatically this


 

from spiralling ecstatically this
proud nowhere of earth’s most prodigious night
blossoms a newborn babe: around him, eyes
–gifted with every keener appetite
than mere unmiracle can quite appease–
humbly in their imagined bodies kneel
(over time space doom dream while floats the whole
perhapsless mystery of paradise)

 

mind without soul may blast some universe
to might have been, and stop ten thousand stars
but not one heartbeat of this child; nor shall
even prevail a million questionings against the silence of his mother’s

 

smile- whose only secret all creation sings.

 

e e cummings

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Poetry Corner: You Know I Love You – Thomas Carlisle

christ-the-king-smallYou Know I Love You

Every morning
can be an Easter
celebrating
another happy ending
and a new beginning
annunciating
that he loves us.

In the quiet
garden of our waking
from guilty nightmares
of the ways we work
to fashion
and to fill
the crosses
of the world
he says
Good Morning
and we believe
it must be good
if he
can call it good.

Along the road
if we can fall in step
we hear his words
of necessary
suffering
and where it took him
and where it may take us—
and like sunrise
in the afternoon
mysteriously we perceive
the power
and the glory
of his love.

Or in a hidden room
nailed tight
against our fears
and other enemies
while hugging our griefs
and fairer memories
in sad embrace
his laser light
punctures our partitions
our seclusions
and exclusions
to tender
his shalom
and proffer
whatever proof
our rationality
requires.

Or in the place
where we have earned
our livelihood
through nights of toil
he authorizes
a breakfast break
and those hurt hands
provide
prepare
and serve
a further
sacrament of love.

Is it always
his love
and never our
or can we hear
as Simon Peter did
the cardinal question
of priority:
    Do you love me
    And love me more
    than all your other
    masters
    and mistresses
    and fascinations?

If we are honest
we reply:
    Of course I don’t
    even when
    I think I do;
    Of course I can’t
    being the one I am
    continually liable
    to casual denial
    brutal betrayal
    and cozy naps
    when all the time
    alertness
    is most needed—

How can you
count on much
from me?
Of course I want to
mean to
hope to
try to—
sometimes.
You know
how petery
I am.

Why do you
keep asking
if I love you?
What can I say
when what I do
betrays
the partiality
and poverty
and trifling
of my love?
why do you keep
repeating
your assumption
that I might?

What do you mean
when you persist
in saying
that the way
I show my love
must be translated
and transfigured
in terms of feeding
lambs and sheep?

Are you implying
it is only
as I incarnate
your love
by doing what I can
in love
for people
that I crown
you Lord of me
and thereby
Lord of all?

Thomas Carlisle

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Poetry Corner: Mysteries, Yes – Mary Oliver

Mysteries, YesPortrait_of_Shakespeare_-_geograph.org.uk_-_956704

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

 

Mary Oliver

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Poetry Corner: Fr. Charles Peek – Springing

SpringingPortrait_of_Shakespeare_-_geograph.org.uk_-_956704

The catalpa tree flowered while we were not looking,
Possibly spurred on by the blossoms already on the lilac tree nearby,
But with no help at all from us, owing to us only
That years ago now I planted this tree from a wild shoot in the yard
And still pay for the water it needs during the dry days of August heat.

The blossoms seemingly sprang overnight into spring
And just days after the last of its annoying dried pods
Fell upon the lawn to be picked up, raked, or mowed over,
The picker, raker, and mower wondering if the tree is worth it.

Butterflies will flit among its flowered branches and its neighbors,
Cone flowers from the arboretum and butterfly bushes from Karen
Planted near last year’s mallow now spreading and the zinnias Nancy nurtured
From seed bed to planting, along with the bright marigold we place
To guard our tomato plants from the rabbits we won’t begrudge
But do not intend to feed with the later summer’s feast.

Do you garden, someone asks? No, we say, but we do reap!

 

Charles Peek
Kearney, Nebraska
June 7, 2016

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Poetry Corner: The Agony

Portrait_of_Shakespeare_-_geograph.org.uk_-_956704THE AGONY

Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin, let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man, so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments, bloody be.
Sin is that Press and Vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine.

– George Herbert 1593-1633

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Poetry Corner: Longing, Lenten

Portrait_of_Shakespeare_-_geograph.org.uk_-_956704Brett Foster (1973 — 2015)

Longing, Lenten

The walk back, more loss. When I open the door
it’s over, so I set to piddling: tidy
end tables, check the mail, draw a bath.
The restless energy finally settles
as I pass the mirror. I peer into it.
My nose touches glass. Not much left,
already effaced, not even a cross
to speak of. A smudge. A few black soot stains
like pin points on the forehead. The rest
of the blessed ash has vanished to a grey
amorphousness, to symbolize… not much.
Except a wish for those hallowed moments
to be followed by sustaining confidence.
Except spirit, which means to shun its listless
weight for yearning, awkward if not more earnest
prayer and fasting in the clear face of dust.

 

 

With thanks to http://www.journeywithjesus.net, taken from Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, editors, Before the Door of God; An Anthology of Devotional Poetry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 425pp.

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Poetry Corner: The Mood of Christmas

Portrait_of_Shakespeare_-_geograph.org.uk_-_956704The Mood of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the start in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

– Howard Thurman
(with thanks to Fr. Chuck Peek)

 

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“I Stand by the Door” – Rev. Sam Shoemaker

Nancy Brown and the Recovery Commission of the Diocese of Nebraska submitted this beautiful poem by the Rev. Sam Shoemaker as a reminder to keep our doors open and warmly welcome all our brothers and sisters into our lives and our churches in the Christmas season just ahead.

 

I STAND BY THE DOOR
     By Rev. Sam Shoemaker
doorI stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out,
The door is the most important door in the world—
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There’s no use my going way inside, and staying there,
When so many are still outside, and they, as much as I, Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where a door ought to be. They creep along the wall like blind men. With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door, Yet they never find it . . .
So I stay near the door.
“The  most  tremendous  thing  in  the  world Is for men to find that door—the door to God. The most important thing any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands, And put it on the latch—the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man’s own touch.
Men die outside that door, as starving beggars die On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter— Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live, on the other side of it—live because they have found it. Nothing  else  matters  compared  to  helping  them  find  it,   And open it, and walk in, and find Him . . .
So I stay near the door.
“Go in, great saints, go all the way in— Go way down into the cavernous cellars, And way up into the spacious attics—
In a vast, roomy house, this house where God is. Go   into  the  deepest  of  hidden   casements, Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms, And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is. Sometimes I take a deeper look in,
Sometimes venture a little farther;
But my place seems closer to the opening . . . So I stay near the door.
“The people too far in do not see how near these are To leaving—preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door, But would like to run away. So for them, too,
I stay near the door.
 “I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help The people who have not even found the door,
Or the people who want to run away again from God. You can go in too deeply, and stay in too long,
And   forget   the   people   outside   the   door. As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there, But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too. Where? Outside the door— Thousands of them, millions of them. But—more important for me—
One of them, two of them, ten of them,
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch, So I shall stay by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
 ‘I had rather be a door-keeper . . .’ So I stay near the door.”

 

Note: Rev. Sam Shoemaker was a co-founder of A.A.
For more information on Rev. Shoemaker, see this link http://aa-history.com/samshoemaker.html

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Poetry Corner: Adult Advent Announcement

Portrait_of_Shakespeare_-_geograph.org.uk_-_956704Adult Advent Announcement

O Lord,
Let Advent begin again
In us,
Not merely in commercials;
For that first Christmas was not
Simply for children,
But for the
Wise and the strong.
It was
Crowded around that cradle,
With kings kneeling.
Speak to us
Who seek an adult seat this year.
Help us to realize,
As we fill stockings,
Christmas is mainly
For the old folks —
Bent backs
And tired eyes
Need relief and light
A little more.
No wonder
It was grown-ups
Who were the first
To notice
Such a star.

David A. Redding

(Thanks to journeywithjesus.net – find their Advent poetry page here)

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