Wednesday, March 07, 2007

lenten journal: borrowed words

I am wordless tonight, my friends. There are a lot of things running through my head and my heart, but I can’t seem to get them to shoot out my fingers and onto the keyboard. So I will lean a little on the words of others.

I Feel Sorry for Jesus

People won’t leave him alone.
I know He said, wherever two or more
are gathered in my name . . .
but I’ll bet some days He regrets it.

Cozily they tell you what He wants
and doesn’t want
as if they just got an e-mail.
Remember “Telephone,” that pass-it-on game

where the message changed dramatically
by the time it rounded the circle?
People blame terrible pieties on Jesus.

They want to be his special pet.
Jesus deserves better.
I think He’s been exhausted
for a very long time.

He went into the desert, friends.
He didn’t go into the pomp.
He didn’t go into
the golden chandeliers

and say, the truth tastes better here.
See? I’m talking like I know.
It’s dangerous talking for Jesus.
You get carried away almost immediately.

I stood in the spot where He was born.
I closed my eyes where He died and didn’t die.
Every twist of the Via Dolorosa
was written on my skin.

And that makes me feel like being silent
for Him, you know? A secret pouch
of listening. You won’t hear me
mention this again.

-- Naomi Shihab Nye
“The truth tastes better here” and “a secret pouch of listening” are two phrases that remind me why I think poetry matters to the heart.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-- Wendell Berry
My idea of camping involves at least a Holiday Inn, so I can’t honestly say I have lied down where the wood drake rests, but I do resonate with the image of the day-blind stars and searching for rest.
The News of the World

Like weather, the news
is always changing and always
the same. On a map
of intractable borders
armies ebb and flow.
In Iowa a roof is lifted
from its house like a top hat

caught in a swirl of wind.
Quadruplets born in Akron.
In Vilnius a radish
weighing 50 pounds.
And somewhere
another city falls
to its knees.

See how the newsprint
comes off on our hands
as we wrap the orange peel
in the sports page
or fold into the comics
a dead bird

the children found
and will bury
as if it were the single
sparrow whose fall
God once promised
to note, if only
on the last page.

-- Linda Pastan
The more I read of Pastan, the more I love her stuff. I found this link to a free e-book of nineteen poems. I also found this harbinger of better weather at The Writer’s Almanac this week:
While We Wait for Spring

The last three days snow has fallen.
No thaw this year, no day even above
twenty since the end of December.
Climbing the hill, my two boys slip, fall,
stand again. They complain, but there's nothing
to be done except to make it to the top
where above the trees we will look down
upon the river. Near the peak a barred owl
releases from the limb of a burr oak, sweeps
over our heads and out above the tree line.
Our eyes follow its flight to the river ice,
current moving beneath its blue surface.
Like the owl, our breath rises, drifts
toward something warmer, something better.

-- Todd Davis
I will return with a sackful of words I have collected and sorted tomorrow.



Tess said...

Thank you so much for the introduction to Naomi Shibab Nye. I can see I will be reading many more of her words over the next few months.

T.Gray said...

Sometimes others can better put into words what we are feeling than we can ourselves.....
In spite of my beliefs that Jesus is THE answer, here's one of my favorites, well said by the Sufi master, Hafiz.
of a great need
we are all holding hands
and climbing.
Not loving is a letting go.
the terrain around here
far too
BTW, thanks for the link. It was an unexpected gift.

don't eat alone said...

Tess -- I'm glad you find her words meaningful. She has a lot to say. Find every word you can.

T.Gray -- the Sufi poem knocks me out. I think I will use it in our Darfur service on Sunday.


Christina Hancock said...

Jesus I don't think regrets anything. Because He has a perfect plan for everything. No matter what happens, if you notice God's glory shines in all situations. Nothing is a suprise to God, He chose you before you were born. He knew when sin entered into the hearts of the angels and adam/eve. Does God feel sorrow?? Of course, we are his children. So to focus on his pain instead of ours is what should matter most of all. May God bless you in all you do.....
Humble yourself in the site of the Lord and He shall lift you up. James 5:10

Presbyterian Gal said...

I think Jesus regrets. I think God regrets. the Old Testament is full of God getting really really angry and regretting he made such recalcitrant creatures, just before wiping out 90% of them. Jesus regretted when he asked God to please "take this cup from me". And He got over it. Just like we do.

Anyway, thanks for the thoughts and poems. Sometimes, when you can't come up with your own recipe, gotta go back to Julia or Jacques or for me, sometimes, Alton.

T.Gray said...

I love that analogy! And Julia, Jacque, and Alton are all standing on other folk's shoulders, who are standing on other's shoulders, and on and on.....

don't eat alone said...

For me, taking the humanity of Jesus seriously means having room for him to have felt regret and exhaustion.

The more we talk about it, the more the line that says, "And that makes me feel like being silent
for Him, you know?" speaks to me.

I don't really see how the glory of God is shining in the genocide in Darfur or in the lack of response from the rest of the world. The plan doesn't look so perfect.

Paul said God works in all circumstances, so God is in there somewhere -- and in us -- but nothing is shining yet.


aka lucy said...

hi milton--

tess pointed me your way. i, too, love the Nye poem. your entry on "3/3" has also stuck with me (i just purchased my own copy of "Faith Club"). anyway--just wanted to say hi and thank you for the beautiful words--yours and others.