Tag Archive | Spirit

Gray Days: a Lenten Poem

Disheartening, unsettling, dark,

the drabness of these backyard winter days;

my world is weeping, weeping

for the spindly shrubs befuddled

by the warming climate’s ups and downs,

for Monarch wings that used to flit

across my deck as they journeyed

to a home now vanishing,

as other homes are vanishing

amidst the storms of nature, war,

and words that label and demean.


I want to turn away from this abyss,

but the drabness pulls at me;

something in the air within

this hostile gray, a tenderness,

faint echo of a song sung long ago

by Spirit as she moved across

the murky waters of the deep;

grace notes, scattered in the ashes

of last summer’s grass, spill across

the stones, reaching to the spindly

shrubs now shrouded in the mist,

hushed music of the spheres

enclosed within the silence of eternity.







Pentecost on My Deck


I was saddened not to be able to be in church to celebrate Pentecost a few weeks ago.  But as it was a warm day, I decided to spend some quiet time on my deck, simply looking, listening, and being open to all the wonders of my back yard.  What I experienced was truly a gift. 


Our resident mocking-bird trills her

song in a myriad of tongues—in sparrow,

wren, in chickadee and finch; red maple

sways in gentle breeze, a-blush with crimson

leaves of fire, prophesying summer sun

and raindrops dancing down from stars

that will forever sing their gladness in

the darkest of dark nights.


Two sparrows flit around their nest,

sheltering, feeding their tiny young,

all unaware of God’s heart beating,

God’s breath stirring in those fragile

fresh-born birds, mouths open wide

to take in all they can of life’s

abundant grace.


And yes, I say, yes, Pentecost

is here.  Right here.  Spirit whispering

in those flaming leaves, Spirit twittering

in the tongues of birds, Spirit caressing

tiny lives, even my own, as I sit lost

in wonder at this tender, holy

kiss of God.

Faith in Motion

St. Matthew Ebbo Gospels

St. Matthew

from the Gospel Book of Archbishop Ebbo of Reims

circa 816-835


     An ancient illumination of St. Matthew penning his gospel.  Ancient, but yet so intensely alive!  Matthew’s desk and stool are firmly anchored in heavy blocks of wood or marble, but the rest of this picture seems almost to flow right off the page.  Matthew’s robe sinuously sweeps around him and seems to breathe on its own.  His hair, too, is full of energy—tiny waves leaping from his head. The cascading movement of the grassy hill behind Matthew echoes this aliveness, and it seems clear that the artist wanted to give us a Matthew who is vibrantly caught up in the gospel narrative he writes. A Matthew whose message, too, is alive and filled with the holy movement of Spirit’s vital and often surprising energy.

     I love this Matthew, and I think the unknown artist who has given him to us has something important to teach us about our Christian faith today, many, many centuries  later.  Our faith, he seems to say, should never be fixed and inert, unmoving and unmovable.  To be sure, a faith that seeks to be biblical needs to be grounded and steeped in the message of holy scripture.  And faith that calls itself Christian needs also to be deeply connected to and embedded in the creeds and dogmas carefully crafted through the years in their efforts to interpret scripture for their times—though we do well to remember here that many of these dogmas and creeds, solid and firm as they seem now, were, at the time of their formation, freshly bold and new, Spirit-filled with insights that often audaciously stretched earlier faith understandings. 

     Rootedness is good for faith.  Like Matthew’s desk and stool, faith needs to have solidity and firmness.  But faith needs more.  It needs, too, the aliveness of Matthew’s hair and robe and of the tumbling grasses behind him.  It needs the fresh flow of Spirit-directed openness to new understandings, new insights, new perspectives.   Faith needs to be ever in motion.  Not heedlessly latching on to every new idea or movement that comes along, but open always to listen to the ceaseless whisperings of Spirit.  Open always to feel the gentle wind of Spirit as Spirit breathes afresh into our faith.  Breathes new understandings and new life that offers healing for our lives and for our troubled world. 




I looked out my window this morning and saw this magnificent view.

This Pentecost poem followed.

Fiery tongues ablaze amidst

the green of springtime life,

deep-rooted in an ancient soil of

sagas tawdry, bold, triumphant, worn;

drooping, lifting, swaying with the

steady winds of change; ever

new though ever old; each leaf so

fragile in its shining, so feeble all

alone, but coupled, linked along the

branch with other bright red leaves,

a whispered shout of presence and of

power from beyond that shines through all our

broken limbs, blesses every greening of our lives,

infuses all monotonies.

Come Spirit Wind–eternal, tender, fierce.