Advent: Goodbye

Still I wait.
Still I listen.
Still there is only
disappointment.
We have waited.
We have hoped.
Perhaps now
at long last
God will answer
the generations
who have cried.
Perhaps.
But here —
here is a
shoulder
for comfort
until God
comes. Unless
God doesn’t come.
Unless the desert
never blooms.
Unless the streams
never bubble in song.
What if…?
What if never?
Cry, creation, cry
and say farewell.
Salvation isn’t
coming for you.

on Isaiah 35:1-7

What Will Destroy Us?

Ahab will come
armed with scripture
and swords and prophets
to say ‘you are wrong’
to say ‘your life
is anathema to mine’
to say ‘it is my
god-given task
to make your life hell’
and he’s right — not that he must
make your life hell but that he can, that he
can choose to destroy
without guilt or consequence.

The mountain too may threaten,
perhaps not with the same conscious intent but
with power and indiscretion
nevertheless:
roaring as a wind
that shouts to be heard
and does not stop
to listen;
breaking as an earthquake
that defies permanence
without regard for
safety;
consuming as a fire
that idolizes its own quick tongue
as the authority on all life
without noticing
the ashes drifting
in its wake.
All these too
will destroy without care.

But as we run from Ahab
as we tremble in the mountains
may hope be found, snatched,
held,
claimed and
proclaimed: that only One
will not destroy
only One will plant broom trees
for shade, only
One
will send angels
whispering “Get up again,”
only One will well up fresh water in
a toxic wilderness,
only One
will bind our hearts
for the long journey, only
One
will love our lives
when
kings and queens
and earthquakes and fires
otherwise rage to destroy life utterly.

What will destroy us? Too many things
but not
the Holy One.
Let mercy find & convict us
where we have lied to one another
in this regard. And may the One
forgive us when we
destroy.

on 1 Kings 19:1-13

Disbelief

It does not matter,
not now or in the end,
whether God means us well or ill,

For what wrath could God rain
that we have not already
poured on one another?

And what good could God wrest
from the clutches of the few
to bless the many?

Let the Savior spare Himself from the trouble
of coaxing and convincing — we are
already so long gone in the handbasket.

Let Wisdom save Her breath for that day
when the sun’s fires must be blown into a roar
to consume all that remains.

Why should we cling to hopes of a harvest
when the earth is yielding poison and
the springs overflow with toxins?

Is this your heart bleeding or is it mine,
and if we bleed out today or tomorrow —
why should God mind?

Take love for the bandaid that it is,
pretend that it makes things better,
and wait for God’s punishment.

on Zephaniah 1:12

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.

Pray Hard, White America

White God,
Right God,
How are you holding up?
So many people are giving you a hard time these days,
saying that you don’t embody enough diversity
that you’re too removed from the streets.
They don’t know how hard you work
to keep your name palatable
among white churches.
Stay strong — don’t
cave to pressure.

White God,
Might God,
Can your masculinity survive
all of these heretical associations and insinuations with
non-cis non-white non-male non-hetero folk?
Take care! They’ll drag your reputation,
compromise the ineffable credibility
of your most holy testosterone
by their proximity, and then
who will conquer
the world?

White God,
Bright God,
They are spreading rumors
that the nighttime is holy too, but you and I both know:
darkness teems with uncertainty and suspicion
while righteousness rivals the noonday sun.
So let us believe that absolute truth
is only for those who can shine
in reflection of your pale
countenance against
the shadows.

White God,
Spite God,
Don’t let them coax you
from your judgment seat or persuade you to lessen the power
of damnation with all of this “inclusive grace” nonsense.
That’s the devil’s doing, the whispers of a serpent
telling people that they know better than you.
Cast out those smooth-talking demons,
strike down the liars with wrath,
stand fast with your sword
lest all hell break loose.

White God,
Right God,
how are you holding up these days?

.
A satirical prayer (just to be clear), wrestling with the racialized subtext of current events and religious culture in the U.S., in an effort to illuminate the sins of our systems and doctrines.