Kneeling

“I am not God.”
It seems to hint of hubris
but in fact
this is my hardest, humblest confession:
I am not God.
Ask me outright if I really want to be
and I will deride the idea:
“Who in their right mind
would want to be God?!
Even God doesn’t want the job.”
But if my tongue is silent then
my life will betray itself loudly:
the desire to fix the world by my own
wisdom (questionable) and willpower;
the certainty that I should fix myself
to save God the trouble — if I could just
live on four hours of sleep;
the belief that I order my own time,
my own path,
my own growth.
My life speaks too candidly
for comfort
when my tongue
takes a break from
spinning its mask of a tale
about ability and control
and prowess —
all of my fondest idols
— but here with knees bent,
tongue and idols fail me.
There is only this to begin
and this to end:
“I am not God.”

Friendship

Let me look at you, hold your face in my hands.
There you are — the light of God
is in your eyes, the beauty
of the Word Made Flesh
is in your flesh.
What a gift you are
and what a grace to let me
love you — just the brokenness of
my heart and of yours
risking
friendship
and hands held
through the hell that is
this life. You have been through hell:
the trauma of dehumanization, the
constant battering against
your spirit.
In the face of hell,
love feels inadequate
but we will persist
because daring to love
is at least something that proves
we are still alive, still fighting
that wellspring
of evil,
still doggedly
declaring God incarnate.
Beloved friend, I see you and God within you.

The Collapse of Eden

I will not cry out to God today
who is otherwise occupied
in the corner
nursing his shame.
God knows he has failed
and I will not assuage his guilt
with prayers, although we might
eavesdrop on the Holy One
muttering to his triune self:
“We didn’t anticipate this,
we didn’t know,
we weren’t prepared
for the violence of Adam
upon discovering his nakedness
upon being told the truth that
Eden is not his own.”
Coax God with your lament
if it eases your soul, but
of what use are prayers to a God
who didn’t forecast
Adam’s fabrication of a
self-image…and then his rage
at the revelation that his invention of
whiteness is only and ultimately
nakedness, is only and ultimately
an ensemble of the emperor’s new clothes
not armor or godliness or prerogative?
Of what use
are prayers to a God
who didn’t see that coming,
who isn’t able to protect his people
from the violence of Adam’s vulnerability?
Tell God to keep his head
hidden in his hands
but for once
let us not do the same;
finally let us take Adam to task
as God has neglected to do
…but let us be clear:
we are Adam, Adam is us,
o my white brothers & sisters,
no matter our intentions, no matter
our liberal do-good-ness, our down-ness,
our degrees of self-righteous separation from
organized white supremacy,
because this garden
in which we live
*is*
white supremacy;
Eden’s very atmosphere
is inherently organized to sustain us.
So before we point fingers
at Adam as if
he is someone else,
we should be absolutely clear
that at stake in naming our white nakedness
is our necessary eviction from this lie called paradise,
a garden that we must desert and then burn
to prevent ourselves from returning;
at stake is our willingness to live
humbly as refugees with only
the hospitality of others
to cloak us;
at stake
is God’s abandonment
of the corner where he is brooding
where we have sent him
so he might not see
our desperate attempts
to prevent
the collapse
of Eden.

Ode to Soccer

Soccer

How to say thank you for this moment:
my girl, studiously rapt and proud to see
women contending on World Cup turf. And
never mind scandals — she is dreaming.

My girl: studiously rapt and proud to see
this image of unapologetic female strength
(never mind scandals). She is dreaming,
an adolescent trying on aspirations in cleats.

This image of unapologetic female strength:
women contending on World Cup turf and
an adolescent trying on aspirations in cleats.
How to say thank you for this moment?

.
a poor pantoum, with enthusiasm for soccer not limited by poetic form; posted with my daughter’s consent and an old picture

Psalm of the Trees

Thus says the Lord GOD: I will take a sprig from the top of a cedar; I will break off a tender twig from its uppermost branches and plant it on a high mountain. There it will grow into a noble cedar, producing branches and bearing fruit; under it the creatures will burrow and in its shade the birds will nest. Then all the trees from field to forest will know that I am the LORD, who makes low trees tall and who cuts low the highest tree, who withers the green trees and makes the dry trees flourish again. I am the LORD; I will do this. (Ezekiel 17:22-24, adapted)

Praise God
— let the dogwood sing it —
for the testimony of
the newly-planted cedar
digging deep with courage
and reaching wide with welcome.
.
Praise God
— let the redwood be humble —
for the youthful faith of the sprig
testing new ways of being
daring to be cut off and replanted
on a high mountaintop.
.
Praise God
— let the sycamore have hope —
for ever green trees
that bear life amidst winter
that do not drop their leaves, their bark
with the decline of seasons.
.
Praise God
— let the willow sigh in gratitude —
for the deep bold joy
of orange trees bearing fruit
of palm trees dancing and sashaying
of sugar maples stretching their hands in prayer.
.
Tree