February 19, 2014

Edges

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God. You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
-Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18



He farmed the borrowed land like an artisan

caring for nematodes and seedlings and the

soil itself with its imbued power to nurse life



He fed family and people in village mud cottages

harvesting with a jeweler’s eye so no precious

gem of food would slip and fall and tumble wasted



Except at the edges he left a row or two

along the fence by the road where wayfarers

and wanderers and immigrants and those



dumbstruck by the economy that left them

behind, so they could pluck and eat and praise

just as he and all do to glorify the soil’s maker



One night he dreamed of the future when

mechanized efficiency led to vast farms and

acres of monocultured crops and infertile soil



and he woke with a night terror at what he saw:

the edges were culled clean and nothing left

for anyone walking by needing a rough meal



his sweat and scream filled the bed when he

saw a godless day and place where everyone forgot

edges are where holiness is waiting to be revealed

February 14, 2014

Outside Inside Out

"You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, 'You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell. "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. "Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be 'Yes, Yes' or 'No, No'; anything more than this comes from the evil one.
- Matthew 5:21-37



Even God was impressed with his constructed outside
department store shirt pressed and untucked
dark jeans carefully chemically faded on the thigh
vanity glasses rightly matching his square face
cheerful humor sprung at just the right social moment
generous to friends and strangers with and without
breaking only the smallest of commandments
and rules of engagement on the street and at work

Inside he knew the heft of carrying his own lonesome soul
like sacked concrete up the hill to the construction site
he felt himself wretched and detestable as broken taboos
he was a prisoner yoked to his rage and anger always
always the deep cavernous drip drip of fear on fear until
stalagmites of terror tore up through his shirt and jeans
coming out of his mouth and fists and nostrils and eyes
with his inside God was not impressed but only compassionate

February 6, 2014

Chef



 "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. 
- Matthew 5:13-16
 

There is white onion chopping to be done and crying with it
and juliennes of jicama to slice and a slip and a cut and
the vinaigrette must be whisked and emulsified and tested
balancing of sweet and vinegar to please the palate
the steak is seared in the black iron pan and peppered
the potatoes roasted in rosemary and garlic browned

then the chef does his effortless enchanted toss with salt
delights the soul and its tongue with its sea water origins
taking us back to our aboriginal emergence from ocean deep
when salt is what we swam in and breathed and sang out
so much us that we didn’t know or taste it until we left it
and licked the crystallized minerals on our skin in memory

so it is with God and each other and love we walked away from
and the culinary art of the spirit that Jesus cooked up among us
now with generous offering we are salted and relished
and offer a taste of love in a bland and hungry world
needing a mere amuse-bouche of the holy we are swimming in