Category: Poetry

Waking up in “Trump nation,” I feel Psalm 146ish

Do not trust in presidents and ideologies, traditions and institutions, creativity, ingenuity or good will. No human being or organization can truly liberate and heal. These cannot offer pardon and release, not really, and someday you may require forgiveness to carry on.

Establishments crumble and people pass away, and on that dying day every grandiose scheme is forgotten.

True privilege and fortune is being loved by God. He is your help and your hope. Learn to trust him – the God of your generation and mine.

With precision and unfathomable patience, God created the earth, the sky, the oceans, our solar system and galaxies of others. He remains faithful forever to everything and everyone he made.

No matter what religious people say, and how misguided their priorities, remember that God is on the side of the oppressed. God feeds the hungry. God provides amnesty for political prisoners. God’s justice is not the law of our land. God’s justice is merciful and his mercy is just. He lends a helping hand to those who are struggling. God reveals himself even to those who do not seek him. He appreciates those who try to do what is right, especially when their motive is to reflect God’s character and concerns.

God’s righteousness and justice are not self-centered, hypocritical, or capricious. God watches over the stranger, the alien, and the refugee. He supports and protects vulnerable people, the grieving, the homeless, the children.

God is certainly not on the side of corrupt and powerful, the malfeasant, the hateful, and the ruthless. In fact, God stands in their way. He frustrates their plans. God is not a tyrant. He is neither conqueror or terrorist. He is a liberator – one who rescues from danger, and makes all things new. He is the ice in the mountain crevice that will split the earth – and the human heart – to rescue his children from the consuming tumor and every invisible cancer.

So model yourself after God. Make room in your heart for both God and others. Do not succeed at your colleague’s expense; do not lie, do not cut corners. Rather, trust in the Lord. Care for others; avoid the temptation to gossip. Even if your destiny is to resist the monstrous evil of this world, you will not be defeated. He has better things in mind for you.

The Lord reigns forever. He is the rightful ruler and he is good. The Lord is my God and yours, the God of Every Generation.

Praise the Lord.

[Originally written on after Mel’s sermon on Ps. 146 on September 25 2016, Peace Hill Christian Fellowship.]

Clearing – Martha Postlethwaite

Do not try to serve
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is yours alone to sing
falls into your open cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to the world
so worthy of rescue.

When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted – Rudyard Kipling

When Earth’s last picture is painted
And the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded
And the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an aeon or two
‘Till the Master of all good workmen
Shall put us to work anew
And those that were good shall be happy
They’ll sit in a golden chair
They’ll splash at a ten league canvas
With brushes of comet’s hair
They’ll find real saints to draw from
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul
They’ll work for an age at a sitting
And never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us.
And only the Master shall blame.
And no one will work for the money.
No one will work for the fame.
But each for the joy of the working,
And each, in his separate star,
Will draw the thing as he sees it.
For the God of things as they are!

The Journey – Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Buddha in Glory by Rainer Maria Rilke

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet–
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

—Buddha in Glory
by Rainer Maria Rilke