Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Stand In Awe

Standing deeply
     before another
     one like us
          fully themselves.

If we only
     knew . . .

We see
     not looking

If we only
     knew . . .

We are
     put off
          by what we      
     and miss
          what we

If we only
     knew . . .

     standing before us
          one of the least
               His brethren
          A stranger
          One who will
               never die
          Glory disguised
as ordinary

And so we stand -
     and so we should -
          in awe.
     For who knows . . .
          . . . ?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weeks End

This week began with twin explosions turning what had been a celebration of endurance into an unspeakable horror as, in an instant, hundreds of athletes and their families and supporters were permanently damaged – and three were lost. Whether by sad accident or deliberate intent, the bombs exploded at the point in the race where ordinary people would be approaching the finish line. The brutal fact of a device built to inflict as much damage over as wide an area as possible quickly sunk in. Terror, common in so many parts of the world, had come into our home, onto our land. Again.

No surprise that, when the week continued with a massive explosion shaking the ground with the force of an earthquake in Texas, it felt like a psychological aftershock. Again, unspeakable damage physically. More, soul damage. We love the benefits of our chemistry but such force gives pause. And so it should.

And then back to Boston where the minute by minute accounting of the chase leading to the death of one and the capture of the other of those apparently responsible for the bombings plays large to a nation needing the week to end. And so, it has. More questions than answers. Relief at the damage averted as more bombs are discovered and disarmed. As bad as it undeniably was, it could have been so much worse.

A surging of images – plumes of smoke, trails of blood, parts of pressure cookers – but more, faces of pain, broken bodies, tattered limbs – still more, the heroes racing towards the damage thinking more of the wounded than of their own safety, the police men and women confronting embodied evil with little time to prepare and everything to lose, the jubilant gratitude of a city lining the streets to celebrate the end of the week – and those involved in ending it.

So, this is how the week ends. Longer, it seems, that the actual days of it. Flying by, breakneck speed. Paradox of time. In fact, of course, weeks end. And then, begin again. With little preparation for the new from the old – except the same challenge to pay attention. Perhaps this week will have less to pay attention to. Or will it? Why must attention only be paid to the extraordinary – when the ordinary weeks also begin and are full, too? Perhaps not so much evil, not so much heroism, not so much… But, still. The wonder of life.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Death as a Way of Life

Impending death greatly concentrates the mind. The priorities get real sharp real fast. All kinds of things suddenly don't matter at all - and some things are more important than life itself.

Jesus' whole life was lived in the shadow of his death. We get hints of it every once in a while as we see the look in his eyes as he nears Jerusalem, or as he talks about the Kingdom of God, or as he gazes into sightless eyes, or as he speaks into open tombs. The look is that of a man who knows where he came from and where he is going. It is an uncommon look.

He had a single, simple focus. His life was concentrated by death. If his life seems somehow more vibrant and richer than those around him, perhaps that is why. Theirs were lived in varying shades of gray, his in the brilliant spectrum of every color of the rainbow. It is one of the reasons why people, even those who eventually turned away, were attracted to him in the first place. He was fully alive. And those near him seemed somehow to share in that life.

You only get to be that way - fully alive - by gazing steadily into your own tomb. By living with death as a way of life.

That defining gaze allowed him to embrace lepers; to play freely with children and others who could do him no good; say what needed to be said without fear; to let some people define themselves as his enemies; to risk ridicule and rejection. He not only marched to the beat of a different drummer, he had a whole new marching band playing out his life! He lived to please no one but his Father in Heaven.

And what is more, he invites us to do the same. He invites us to come and die with Him. To die daily. And having died, to really fully live. Those who have embraced their death have nothing left to lose. And are free to live - flamboyantly, vibrantly, completely - until the death they have embraced, embraces them - and ever after.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What Was That All About

And now we find true what we probably should
     have known in the first place –
     life does not yield of unmitigated joy
          just because Death is conquered.

The hard work of waiting for the certain coming
     of life after life after death
     does not get much easier
          knowing that Death is conquered.

Death gives way – but slowly – bit by
     bit – inch by hard won inch – only in time
     which doesn’t heal all wounds
          by itself – but waits until it is no more.

And now we find true what we probably should
     have known in the first place –
     life between life and death looks the
          same now that death is defeated.

We live in the meantime and wonder
     what was that all about? That dark Friday
     that lonely Saturday that empty full Sunday
          what was that all about – and… is?

In the mean time in between time lean time
     time so thin so fragile that you can
     almost see through it to times beyond
          time seen only though closed eyes.

So used to seeing time inside out that
     when it finally is turned rightside
     up we are disoriented in the same
          place familiar but… not.

Like we will be here or somewhere like this
     then more than we are now or were more
     than time allows – invites – embraces
          made open handed by open grave.

And now we find true what we probably should
     have known in the first place –
     that was about all – known loved life
          and its only chance for redemption.