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This Little Light of Mine

 “This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine;”

my husband hums the familiar

tune as I sip my morning tea; later

he will sing with the church choir

this syncopated psalm of thanks

for little lights that bravely shine

in all the darkness encroaching

on our deeply troubled world.

I will not hear that joyful sound, but…

*

outside my window, a little

light shines quietly for me, a floral

candle of delicate, shimmering filaments,

lacy whiteness whispering its quiet radiance;

so unlike the neons of our gaudy

world of celebrities and ego tweets,

so unlike bright chandeliers

aglow with pomp and pride that

only shadow deeds of darkness.

*

Bless you, little light; shine on

in your wee corner of this vast

and anxious world; few will see

your radiant smile, but those who do

will quiet sing a psalm of thanks; will even

shine, perhaps, a little brighter themselves.

That Folded Head Cloth

 

Momentous rising,

shuffling off the stench

of death; the world a-tilt;

a cosmic shining in that soiled

empty sheet, spices strewn across the barren

floor; life undying bursting

through the cloth once tightly

shrouding our mortality.

*

And that lone head cloth,

folded, tidy, set apart,

quiet in a shining

all its own, whisper of divine

attentiveness to the minutiae

of our lives, quotidian patterns,

daily tasks that shape our days; hint

of holy presence, quiet glow

in all the foldings and unfoldings

of our tidy, not-so-tidy everydays.

Lenten Emptiness

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Emptiness fills my world

this harsh late-winter day;

cold seeps into my walls,

sits heavy in my rocking chair,

spreads icily around my yard, a shroud

wrapped tight around the color

that I ache for in my life.

*

The trees in my backyard, stark branches

spider-webbed across the sky, embrace

this leadenness so gracefully;

mystery of stillness,

patience of a waiting rest.

Could it be that angels curl

in those wintered trees, breathe

with them the bitter nights, caress

their icy bark, whisper poems that seep

a solace deep into their veins?

Beneath the brooding skies, I listen

for the rustle of their wings.

Winter Still Life with Red Shovel

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Not the Grand Canyon, 

not Niagara Falls;

merely the snowy deck and roof

of a neighbor’s house, a still life framed

by my dining room window,

sun-painted tree shadows lacing

the whole in intricate, abstract patterns;

steps inviting me to walk

into the picture, to sit a spell

at the empty table, to consider

that idle shovel in the corner,

bright red reminder that, though there is so much

work to be done, work to salvage justice,

work to honor truth, work to love the neighbor,

sometimes it is good to set aside our shovels

for a time, simply rest, renew, re-ground

our lives in simple still-life splendors

that abound in unexpected

corners of our lives.    

It’s Okay, Grandma

treasure-chest

One by one she lays them in my hands: her treasured

stones, her feathers, ribbons, grimy little balls,

her brightly colored beads; relics of her miniature

life, each opening to me the secret joy aglow

behind her child eyes; and with each sacred

piece she shares, our hearts knit tight,

tiny stitches of stones and feathers and beads,

a net to hold the shining of the stars

and of the moon.

*

A sudden bead slips through my fingers,

pings across the floor, rolls to that hidden

crack where all forever lost things hide,

my clumsiness unraveling our sweet,

sweet finely-knitted trust.

*

“It’s okay, Grandma,”

her hand upon my hand.

Her tiny heart, filled with treasure

far beyond her stones, her beads,

absolves, forgives; she shows me

yet another bead, and we go on. 

*

Beads and stones, feathers and names,

thoughts and words and lists of things to do;

it seems that in this later season of my life,

they all slip through my fingers now and then.

“It’s okay, Grandma.”  

Her whisper holds, embraces me;

and I go on, letting go the stitches I have lost;

smiling at the memories, the beads I still clutch

tightly…in my hands and in my heart.

Belovѐd

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In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:9-11

The name bubbles up through the Jordan,

spills down from a dove-wingѐd shaft of the sun;

“belovѐd,” a centered inner sureness;

a strength to face temptations in the deserts

of his soul, as well, the coming rigors

of his life, the loneliness of death;

a power to exorcize demonic hauntings

crushing minds to powdered dust;

a love to heal, to mend, to touch,

to re-knit lives unraveled by the years,

forgive those who would spit

into his face, hammer his hands,

and steal his very life.

*

No thundering voice when water washed

me in the blessѐd triune name, no snow-white dove;

but gentle stirrings now and then; sometimes in silver

silence wonder-filled with snowflakes, stars,

and fir tree branches sighing in the winter wind;

sometimes in echo of Belovѐd’s laughter in the trilling

of the tiny wren who often visits on my deck;

sometimes, from quiet time to quiet time,

his footsteps stepping from the ancient tales

into the very pages of my ordinary life, his still,

small voice, “fear not, I christen you,

yes you,

I christen you belovѐd too.

Live strong, live every moment long, each soul bone

bathed in holy water of my Jordan love.” 

The Falling

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Some savor taste of light as they drift

slowly through the evening of their lives;

others whoosh in a frenzied dance

of joy, of madness, or, perhaps of fear,

attuned, it seems, to secret, wild rhythms

in the gusty autumn winds.

*

I wonder, are these leaves content

with their brief shining? weary of the weakness

creeping through their shriveled veins and ready

to let go? or reluctant? sad to leave behind

the chatter of their wind-blown friends,

the playful hide-and-seeking sun,

the stillness of the stars? 

*

I love to watch these golden, scarlet fallings,

each so alone, so, so alone; each carries

emptiness, a fullness too; each seems to hum

a lovely, ancient, tumble of a poem, hymn

to brightly colored life, to dignity of death,

a muted melancholy joy.