Cold

Must it always be silence?
Will you never love
through a slow smile
a warm hand
or even a whisper?
Of all the ways in the world
to be with us —
silence??

There are some who remember
your once-and-done grace,
that gift from the beginning
and it is enough for them.

There are those who hold on
to time, loving the hours
sitting waiting staying
in your invisible presence.

For crying out loud:
I’m a word person, God!
How can I grasp you
when you are speechless?

If you are angry: say so.
Heartbroken: roar at us.
On your way out, leaving us to
our own misery: extend the courtesy
of a warning … and then,
if there is still grace to be found,
offer your holy forgetfulness.
But talk to us, please.

I am not really one for
signs and symbols, not moved by
stirring spirituality or dramatic gestures.
But give me a word or else
I am cold and lost.
How long will you be silent?
How long will you hide your face?
How long will our prayers land like bricks?

O that you would sound a syllable!
Just the flick of your tongue, the mere
shaping of a beautiful holy vowel
and stars would trumpet
planets would boom their symphony
light would cascade as a carol
and the ears of our hearts
would be glad at your voice!

Must it always be silence?

on Isaiah 64:7 & 9

Square One

You promised me
the moon, the stars,
the sun and all beauty
with your best poetry.
You promised me
your hand, your word
full of signs and love.
You promised too:
breath and life,
mercy for generations,
seasons with purpose,
the hope of meaning…

…yet look where we are.

Where is your promise now
when the moon is waning,
the seas are raging,
love is dying,
and breath is forsaken?
Where is your surely-coming day
while the earth is in distress,
the people in despair?
You promised. To everyone.
To me.
We believed.
And now?

on Jeremiah 33:14

Waltz

step one
step two
toe touch
one
two
touch

with Your
fingertips
on my spine
one
two
touch

a path
two
touch

a prayer
two
touch

that Your
ways
one
two
Your
paths
two
touch
will be
as familiar
touch
one
as a dance

a rhythm
I can follow
in my sleep

a pattern
imprinted
on my spirit

one
two
touch

teach me
one
two
touch

lead me
one
two
touch

save me with
one
two
touch

and I will never
dance
two
touch
with another

step one
step two
toe touch

on Psalm 25:4-5

The Friar of Carcassonne

File this book under: There is nothing new under the sun.

Also file this book under: Must read.

Friar_CarcassonneWritten by historian Stephen O’Shea, The Friar of Carcassonne: Revolt Against the Inquisition in the Last Days of the Cathars is a fascinating and thorough dive into church history at the turn of the 14th century in medieval France, a world entirely foreign to the modern world and yet entirely the same: the use of incarceration to control wealth & resistance, the conflict of power between church & state, the push-and-pull between formal & informal movements of the church (“religious vs. spiritual,” if you will).

At the center of the drama is the dynamic friar of the southern French city of Carcassonne: Brother Bernard Délicieux, a Franciscan of great oratory & political skill, who challenges the abuses of the Church’s inquisition against heretics — from the accusations against wealthier citizens (with the accused’s property brought under the auspices of Rome and the man’s wife & children evicted) to the practices of torture and imprisonment (including the charging of fees to prisoners for their own keep — a practice continued today).

Author O’Shea is skilled at bringing history to life without politicized sensationalism. He even warns the modern reader against attempting to draw direct parallels in critique (or praise!) of the Church and its abuses, cautioning that “the irrevocable chasm carved by the passage of time should always be kept in mind” (204). And so we should keep it in mind … but for intrigue and as an encouragement to read The Friar of Carcassonne, I’ll share a few passages that prompted me to shake my head & wonder if we will ever learn our lesson and provoked me to consider that Brother Bernard may have something to teach us:

“Bernard’s contemporaries asked plaintively where their Church had gone in this time of spiritual need. … People were told again and again to be afraid: of God, of Jesus, of Hell, of Purgatory, of the Church, of the inquisitors. Of strangers. Of neighbors. Of their own humanity” (176).

“The ‘formation of a persecuting society’ was a deliberate, conscious choice driven by social change and the entry of new actors into the arena of power” (39).

“To a culture of increasing persecution, of a developing Christianity of fear … to a culture intent on demonizing dissent and difference, [the friar of Carcassonne] said no. Brother Bernard saw violent persecution as incompatible with his religion” (133).

The Friar of Carcassonne is a fascinating and recommended read!

Sunday Prayer (Reign of Christ)

O God of David and Esther, God too of Pontius Pilate,
Sovereign of kings and queens and politicians,
Most Holy Wonder and Ancient Wisdom,
you who are the beginning and end,

In prayer we collect our voices; in prayer
we raise our plea before you, saying:

Remember your love for us.
Do not forget us in all your grandeur,
as you ponder the great mountains
as you flirt with the twinkling stars.

Remember us.

Remember.

We remember you, O God,
in the ordinary and the extraordinary,
with every sunrise bringing a new day
with every heartbreak marking another season.

Our lives are so unlike your being:
we falter in love while you are unconditional
we tire before trying while you continue eternally.
It seems a poor spoof that we would
worship you in all your glory
using this dust and breath of humanity,
yet this is our praise and our testimony:
you are glorious and beyond compare.

We remember all that you have done,
the stories and works of your hand,
the memories of your grace.
We remember.

Remember us.

From your throne of eminence, remember us.
Around us and above us and so far beyond us,
nevertheless: remember us. Look and listen if you will
past the heavenly chorus: we are praising you too.

Remember us.

Though you are majestic and we are small,
though you are timeless and we are fading grass;
Remember us, though we are specks in the cosmos,
not even blinks between the Alpha and the Omega.

Yours is the glory forever and ever.
Ours is this breath, and not even that.
With our last and only breath, we will praise you
O LORD of life, Spirit of sanctity, Christ our cornerstone.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals