Sustenance

29 Nov

“In forty years, you sustained them in the wilderness – they lacked nothing” (Nehemiah 9:21)

What must it feel like
to be solely sustained by God?

a little lonely
definitely uncomfortable
and terrifying beyond imagination

to be solely sustained
by the invisible

to lean on
the intangible

little wonder they built a cow of gold
to cling to

What must it feel like
to be solely sustained by God?

terrifying
exhilarating
uncomfortably familiar
like stepping back into an ancient song
drifting from a wilder country
lands which were once our own

What must it feel like…?
perhaps
with each hesitant step
it feels a bit like coming home.

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Toy Car Love

29 Nov

You love me so well
holding my hand
when we crossed the parking lot
holding my hand
when we weaved through the bustling supermarket
holding my hand
when nightmares seized my nights

You love me so well
holding my hand
and then
squeezing
squeezing
until my knuckles crunch
and my fingers calcify

You love me so well
holding me tight
tight
so tight
that my lungs have no space to expand
and I am left gasping after
all that I cannot inhale
when I am held so close
too close

You love me too well
love turned into fear
turned into anger
turned into barbed wire in my ears
as you scream
and I stay silent in the backseat
watching the suburbs blur in the night

You love me too well
You
with your intransigent vision of life
as if it too is a parking lot
to be crossed with caution
You
with your embrace
that feels more like wool smothering
every word I try to utter
choked down
in the face of that shadow anger
brooding underneath your every gesture

You
love me as if
I am something to be held
and wrapped
and buried
like a corpse in the safety
of your soil

or like a toy car
racing along the tracks you’ve laid
on the living room floor
every inch within your sight
so that you can ensure
I am all that you wanted me to be

I am sorry
You love me so well
but I cannot give you what you are asking of me
because to do so
would be to give you all the space in my lungs
and every syllable in my mouth
and every one of my damn ridiculous dreams

I am sorry
I cannot give you what you are asking of me
because to do so
would be to lay down who I am in favor of
who you think I ought to be
and that is something I am not willing to give
despite all that you have given for me.

I am sorry.
You love me so well.

Sorry.

Cotton Dream

11 Apr

Sometimes I feel like
I’m just
wishing on a wishing star
hands clenched
knuckles white
eyes squeezed shut tight
tight

tight
so I don’t see
the cold
stone
grave
in front of me.

clambering to grasp
a wonder
a sign

a life

in exchange for these halting promises I yield
from lips long scorched in the sun.

wishing on a wishing star
like plucking cobwebs to
weave a cotton dream
flicking rusted pennies into
fountains
long forgotten

praying to a God
I cannot see.

Sometimes
I kneel
knuckles white
and eyes shut tight
as the jaded and the cynics
smile sadly passing by
seeing a child
stubbornly insisting
on castles in the sky

but hope is not a wish
and you are not a cotton dream
some say I’m wishing on a wishing star
but you’re my Daddy
and I’m just reaching out to hold Your hand.

knuckles white so I can better cling
eyes squeezed shut so I can better see
the laws that govern
a higher
kinder
grander
reality

I place my hope in you
You are not a cotton dream.

Ruminations on the Golden Rule

7 Apr

To the ears of the 21st century millennial, the golden rule sounds a tad trite. Reminiscent of kindergarten days and playground fights and slightly awkward under the scrutiny of postmodern deconstruction.

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you,”
spoke Jesus of Nazareth,
“for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 7:12)

For all its triteness, we still hold these words as a beacon, illuminating the dark against the terror of lords and flies. Even those who claim: “the golden rule is dead! Treat others not as you would want to be treated, but as they want to be treated” are still inherently applying this principle: treat others on their terms, because you want to be treated on yours.

Still, I would like to suggest there is more to these words.

In summing up the Law and the Prophets, Jesus was alluding to the second great commandment:

“Love thy neighbor as thyself
I am the Lord”

Thus says Leviticus 19:18.

We often overlay this verse with “do unto others” and conclude that they carry the same message. Again, I would like to suggest that there is more.

If we search for the Hebraic version of Leviticus 19:18, the original text reads:

“Love thy neighbor as thyself,
I am that I AM

[The revealed name of the Lord, too lofty to speak, is written in its original form {YHWH} and pronounced/translated “Adonai,” meaning the Lord.]

Now why would God choose again to reveal who He is [I AM] after giving this command?  Keep in mind that God does not reveal Himself lightly.

I would like to suggest that in this particular instance, God gave His name because the command required the revelation.

“Love your neighbor as yourself
Literally, as you are.
Because I am that I AM.”

 

Since the beginning, God has loved humanity because of who He is, not because of who we are. He loved us while we were still dust, loved us in our first act of falling, loved us through our unfaithfulness and betrayals, and loved us as we killed Him on a tree.

God loves us because He is.

So, perhaps the golden rule is not merely a rule of reciprocity but an invitation to a radical and reckless kind of love. A love that overlooks offense. And ploughs stubbornly onwards, through the muck of pain and transgression. A love that confounds all our definitions of merit and justice.
Love, because it is who you are. Not because of the action or inaction of another.

 

Let us take this rumination one step further.

In James 2, the author begins by rebuking those in the church who love with partiality and distinction. He remarks on our propensity to treat others based on rank, status, wealth, popularity – power – rather than honoring the poor and powerless.

Then, he quotes the “royal law found in scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (v 18).

Here, if we take our previous conjecture to be true, perhaps James does not simply mean: “treat the poor and powerless with honor because if you were poor and powerless, you would want to be treated likewise.”

Rather, perhaps James is saying:

“Love both the powerful and the powerless, irregardless of their identity, station or history, because love is who you are. Secondly, do not alter or waver in your attitude and treatment of another based on your desire (or lack thereof) to please someone else. Simply be you, because love is who you are.”

How many times have we been afraid to be ourselves around people because we do not want to be rejected? How many of our daily interactions are dictated by this fear?

We fear rejection, so we fear being known.

And because we fear being known, we create countless iterations of the shadow-self that keeps others at a safe distance and makes rejection impossible because no one actually knows us enough to reject who we are.

I mean, God made Himself known to us and where did that get Him?
Broken, beaten and crucified.

Still.

The same refrain.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself,
I am that I AM”
The Golden Rule:

Do not simply love your neighbor as you want to be loved in return. 
But, love your neighbor as you – freely, infallibly, and fully you.
Because that is how He loves.

Falling Up (2.0)

3 Apr

sidewalks tilt up
and my summer dress sways
to an unusual wind
moonbeams in the sun
begin to beat again

falling backwards
I’ve dreamed of falling
so many times before
a paradox
I turn again
and again
in my mind

I sing about falling
up
arms outstretched
into the skies

but when the sidewalks tilt
and gravity loses its footing
I scramble to find
something to cling to
before I
come apart
inside
out

until it’s only You I’m holding

chest collapses
to the sound of lost gravity
yet I’m still breathing
breathing
I lean backwards
carried by an unusual wind

until I’m awake again.

You/Me

3 Apr

I asked if I could live with you
and never have to leave
thinking of desert years
and beauty I could not speak.

you took my hand
and kindly asked
if you could live in me.

All my life I’ve been chasing
setting suns
and hazy cliffs
hoping to catch
something on the wind
but then
an ancient voice
whispers
from deep
to deep.

Come in.

Come in.

Come in.

Eternity and dust
sigh the same refrain
as
spaces collapse
against the order of a higher plane
as
you in me
and I in you
somehow fall into place.

Come in.

Come in.

Come into

me.

I asked you for eternity.
You asked if you could live in me.

the infinite unravels

come in.

Flesh

3 Apr

Word became flesh
and made His dwelling among us
and solved for us the paradox
of signifier signified

So when I sit down to eat alone
in a crowded food court
I glance up from my fish soup
and see you grinning
“I’ve been waiting to have dinner with you.
Tell me, how was your day?”
I smile and put my spoon down.

word became flesh
Sometimes when I hurry past traffic lights
late
again.
Sweat rolling down my nose and backpack
digging into my shoulder
I feel the brush of hands in mine
in the noise
a stillness
and I think
I can rest here.

Let me just rest here.

word became flesh
to share in my wonder
as we stand under the stars
until our necks cramp
and our eyes sting

Word became flesh
for me.