October 24, 2012

Art of Reformation

You can take a hunk of brown moist modeling clay
squeeze it in your hands and eye it oozing between fingers
like ribbons rolling out on the table top

shape it into a dove or a fish or a water bowl
maybe throw it on the wheel and tactilely
coax it into a vase or an abstraction of yourself

and then having reshaped the stoic block into sculpture
you have to decide: put it in the kiln and fire it
preserve its beauty in brittle perfection

or keep it supple and soft, wet and moving
so that when the times require creative reformation
you can give thanks for the dove, the bowl, the vase

then reimagine what this poetic mud can be
and spin a chalice or hand-shape a plate
and invite everyone to bring the bread and wine

or get a camera and pose the earthy medium
flip the shutter once, repose, shoot again
and make this reformation into claymation

animation of the potter Spirit keeping all things fluid
aquifying calcified statues like you and me and church
freeing our joints to be the art of God's desire

October 17, 2012

Do for Us Whatever We Ask

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."   Mark 10:35-45

Give us flimsy blue ribbons for first and second place
and a shiny plastic trophy for the dresser top
affirming our fragile, boyish, hurting egos

Make us more special than everyone else’s specialness
put a sash around us and notice that adorable hair curl looping down
so you can truss up our needy, hungry girlish souls

Grant us every wish from Maseratis to mansions
and manufactured beauty to immaculate perfection
so all will be well and no grey spills through the cracks

Then watch us fall into predictable chemical dependency
as we crawl through the numb dumbness
of our lives made false and empty without scar or scuffle

Cry for us as we grieve the years gone by
and every chance we had to sacrifice our golden selves
was stopped by our boundless need to step on and over and win

Comfort us when we slip and somersault on the icy road
toward preciousness and piety and strawberry preserve sweetness
that keep us from ever feeling warm fleshly earthy life

as you did, as you loved with abandon every one and every thing
as you counted the cost of being vulnerably human and then
spent it all in every daily cross of getting yourself out of the way

and letting each Spirit-filled encounter with life’s dirt and dander
urge and move you to crazy ways of embracing the pained
with the same holy hug that held you tight even through death

Good Lord, whatever you do, don’t give us what we want,
give us what we need.  Give us your last place loser crown
your humility of embodied love, your humble, open, crucified arms

Give to us aging boys and girls hearts and minds and souls
of men and women who know their lives have meaning
when we give them away losing as beautifully as you

October 10, 2012

Calling All Jerks

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'" He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.  - Mark 10:17-22

Like Steve Martin’s Jerk
we think we only need
this one precious thing

a paddle game is all
and we will be satisfied
slogging out the door

until we see the TV remove
and pick it up with an artifice of glee
and mumble: this is all I need

but you know how this goes,
don’t you fellow jerk?
one more thing will do it

and we will finally in our bones
against all past comic failures
be satisfied and done with grabbing.

And then our de-jerkifying Jesus
stops us and tells us to let go
drop the lamp and put down the ashtray

let go of it all, including yourself, so we can grasp
the one thing we jerks are always questing for
and no, jerk, it is not a thermos

October 4, 2012

And He Took Them Up in His Arms

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.  – Mark 10:13-16

Make us enjoy bubbles blown in the wind
and chased after in giggling glee
before they pop and splatter on our faces

Move us to climb the summer night to the rooftop
watching the Perseid meteor shower till dawn’s twilight
with guttural wows and oohs at the sparkling sky streaks

Give us energy for playing in the debris of the world
turning mud into castles and sticks into houses
and we imagine we are kings and queens again

Give us eyes to see an enchanted universe
where every magical dream and foolish hope
are possible and expected and make us giddy with anticipation

Take our sticky adult minds and thin our thick thoughts
until our flowing childhood wonder returns at every cricket
and we are moved by every chocolate kiss and lip kisses, too

until finally you elicit our antediluvian praise
and we sit back in your loving arms and your welcoming chest
and we know very little except that we are and we are in you