October 14, 2013


The same night he 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. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved." The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.
- Genesis 32:22-31


Because I journeyed too close to the event horizon
because I dreamed deeper than REM and hallucination
because I half-nelsoned the mystery into self-revelation
because I knew silent stillness is not the only holy way

I limp with a hip socket struck by marvelous pain
I limp with an ego wounded and the wound a blessing
I limp a survivor from a close encounter with the other
I limp slower and wiser, purple hearted from the battle

I could have walked briskly away from the one hiding among us
I could have danced on with a smooth sliding stroll
I could have run tremulous from the infinite unknowable
I could have feigned my gait as if I were free of divine wrestling

Do you walk hiding all your out-of-joint questions and doubts
Do you slip away from the ring when the bell sounds three
Do you hide from the God who would rather have a wrangle
than let you walk on without knowing you are known

October 12, 2013

Trickster Savior

 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."
- Luke 17:11-19

His hair the color of gasoline

his smile as wide as a wild coyote

unpredictable as an August tornado

he comes to play his saving tricks on us

He sends ten lepers to the priest for healing

wondering if any will make a u-turn when wonder strikes

doing exactly what he says is missing the point

but the trip wire for exposure of myopic seriousness

He frustrates the easy day with interruptions like cats

and watches our pressure gauges glide past red

he slips a nail under the new car tire

and waits for profanity to roll

Everyone knows there is a trickster among us

No one seems to remember that his cunning

is the way he lets us in on the joke of grace

and traps us with his playful, winsome befriending

October 5, 2013

How Not to Be Thanked

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, 'Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, 'We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'"
 - Luke 17:5-10

We did these servant duties
the feedings and healings and knitting and praying
the giving and cooking and fixing and cleaning
and then we tied these obligatory faith tasks

to neoprene white weather balloons hydrogen-filled
launched them into the stratosphere and beyond
to see where the ghostly wind might take them
soaring over cities and oceans and stadiums and slums

we let them go from our slavish egos to became part of 
the seasons and the cycles and the ways of the global organism
so they were no longer us or part of us and no longer
tied to our oxygen-weighted lungs and brains and blood

we imagined they might rise up to God and burst from glory
and fall back to earth and shower the love-dry human fields
with drips of kindness and drops of compassion
and our entire selves might rise and burst and water and praise