Afloat In Holy Black

in the silent frosty middle
you know the place, it dangles
from a frayed and rotted rope
by its twisted, broken neck

never climbing to the heavens
never rising, never sinking
finally to hell…suspended
still-born in the dead black moment
struck hard by fiery unjust suffering
lightening bolts of frozen mystery
electric silence of a God
who seems to become floaty-fog…

…and go missing in that moment…
that cold and lonely hour of greatest need.
And Defiance?
And Hope?
And Memory?
And Wrath?

Or Mercy?
God’s absence…ever-present metronome
clicking seconds tangible
but measured in life’s lurking horrors,
haunted concentration camps

shrieking dust-wreathed empty chairs
silent tables lacking breath
just one long open exhale
lasting always occupied

by aching absence of the Loved ones
gone…just gone…replaced by absence…
lurking pervert, shadow present
of God Absent in the hanging

in the hollow hanging black…
Or is it
Holy Black?  Yes.
Afloat in Holy Black.

In the times of Holy Black…
This Holy Black when God seems absent
in our need, we are too small,
inconsequential lost in mystery

I ask where is God? Where am I?
Where is Divine Mercy Sweet?
How can I (or anyone)
Slip that rough coarse choking rope?

I go forward
They are not there,
backward, but
I can’t perceive Them.
When They act on the left,
I cannot behold Them;
They turn on the right,
I cannot see Them.

And yet I find in anguished cries
against God’s absence, They are present!
Present in my blank assumption
that Their Silence equates absence

and tenacious faith in God
who seems so distant from our pain,
and silent to our acrid cries,
and absent from our acid world.
Цифровая репродукция находится в интернет-музее
In the face of certain suffering
how else can I affirm God’s presence
in my midst except by taking
issue with injustice in this moment

of God’s long apparent ringing absence
God’s abandonment in the midst of towering suffering?
My protest against God’s pressing pregnant silence
would be deprived of dignity and meaning

if there were no Presence behind the Silence.

mercy and justice are enthroned
in a higher heaven still
and in this Lenten season,
in our hungry self denial
as we blindly grope around

in that towering Spiraling Darkness
of our own imperfect vision
and our wakened apprehension
of our God, we will to wrestle
with God’s absence so we can come

to experience the presence
of God in a different way
not that hanging purgatory
twisting in the idiot wind…no
Us and God…Afloat in Holy Black

“I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye has seen you.”

Meditations On Suffering

The journey difficult and hard,
black and blue and bitter cold
upon the road thru long days old
and vales of death and darkness.

In hardship and travail we walk
and most of us will quit before
we reach the end, and yet that end
is still a mystery so vast…
It strikes me that of all the ways
to make appeal to human hearts
They chose to magnify the cost
and left rewards as afterthoughts.

What exactly is Their point?
What is promised with this pain
and sacrifice…and…what?  Comes next?
More mumble mumbo turbo trouble?
Fatigue and hardship hand in hand
in times of darkness shared in light?
Not the cheery words that humans
think they need and want, but turn from.

Jesus looked at His best friends
and told them that in this hard world
they could be promised suffering
and then He spoke a miracle:

“Have courage, My dearest friends,
faint not! For I have overcome
the world and all that is there in”
And pain’s denied sour last say!
Somehow the Son of God joins us
within it all and thru it all
So what exactly is success?
Is it simply winning? Tell me!

Because something shines beneath!
Something lurks Gold and Beyond!
I smell victory past defeat
and virtue is its own reward.


Here on this side? See our scars.
Our wounds (both bloody and bloodless),
slashes (from sword-edge and word),
stand here stark, and they testify
in agonized aching hushed voices
of terrified troubling stories…

we hear them tell extreme tales
of widespread violence, of rape
of torture, and we the lost subjects
imprisoned in darkness and sadness
bear these wounds in our bodies, how long?
Permanent markings of violence?

These black tattoos left by oppression,
calligrified by sorrow’s stylus
that’s gripped in grief’s bony cold hand
to engrave deep its ravenous history
on our lonely hearts, carved here for…how long?
we’re identified by these curt scars.tumblr_n9ivwxEsoW1rvi7nzo1_400

Standing so quiet and still,
solitary smack dab
in the middle
of all that was, is,
and will be

the broken body of Jesus
the gushing stink of His spilled blood
but present with us now (like scars)
in the bread and the wine understood
to be broken and shed for our Good.

Jesus bore wounds of violent oppression
in His very own body forever!
Even after that morning so wrenching
that tilted this world on its axis
Heaven’s ringing eternal endorsement!

In that glorious bright resurrection
He stood there…just bearing those scars
in His hands, in His feet, in His side
and He showed them to all who would look…
He identified with us…in Scars.crown_of_love_by_phatpuppyart_studios-d8mgo73

There, on that side?  New Creation
began with Resurrected Jesus
and included those scars that He suffered
by nail and by spear and by word
and the wounds of the Glad Risen Lord,
the reminders of the crucifixion
take on new light and meaning and joy.

They shout of the Power and Glory
Of God dirty with History’s story
and triumphing now and forever
over evil and death, over sorrow
and a work of redemption that’s reigning
now begun in us, marked by our scars
here with us now in our wounded world.

So the present time is streaked with mercy
acts of justice, creation of beauty,
celebration of truth kissing grace on the lips
deeds of love and forgiveness and kindness
and such generous Grace over all!
Resurrection gives us such relevance
and a future where meaning is possible!tumblr_nahvy3d0Lf1t091kco1_1280

meaning made possible in resurrection
of a torn body still marked by the scars
like diadems, medals
adorning the Sacred Heart
Faithful forever and ever…

That’s the reality of resurrection
as displayed by the scars that He bears
as our Hope, as our Joy and our Glory
that shines in our darkest lost places
giving us reason to live.

We work and we toil, perhaps
even pour out our blood, sweat, and tears
to tend woundings of others,
and our labor is far from in vain
for Christ has gone on ahead

and He beckons with smile that is glinting
with towering majesty cloaked
in such Kindness, such glad jubilation
He scarce can contain His good will
He is on His Throne, Alive and Well.tumblr_nlqo0aoI0k1thfeewo1_1280

Recognition: A Palm Sunday Psalm

I heard about that bitter little pill
tattooed on our musical skin.
That one pill, recognition.

Recognition of…what?  Of one’s humanity?
Of one’s fragility?  Of one’s impermanence…yeah?
It’s a pill laced with dread and despair.tumblr_ljch2w9OPs1qdm7nno1_1280What does a person swallow that with?
A shot of full consciousness?
A cocktail of imperfection shaken

(not stirred)
with disappointment
and homemade bitters?

I giggle in glee when those comics
called philosophers stand up
and passionately extol absurdity.tumblr_nlbnlqhvMy1r2zs3eo1_1280How could they even stand,
what would they stand on
if absurdity was really a thing?

Tragedy is more like it, and even that
only has meaning as a cloud outlined against
the suns of Triumph!

The songs, the drinks and the stings of each,
fears of failure, sieges of shame and selfishness
alternating with doubt and emptiness,

well please explain to me
what’s so absurd about that?
What does that word even mean?

Absurdity?tumblr_na0sxfgp8T1qczwklo1_1280No, give me a good solid word like Recognition.
Because that word contains confession and hope,
errors committed and errors atoned for.

And it makes a safe place for dread,
so it will curl up comfortable by your fire
and snooze in the glow of Recognition.

By the light of Recognition we just make out
that sacred paradox, that deep numinosity
glowing at the crux of our being.

We see that all that’s wrong descends from all that’s right
and the broken bread and the poured red wine
and remembrance and


Fly Away Home

Constance…if you have not ever seen this movie, and you have longings for something…beyond?  Something lost?  Something that was meant to be yours and yet somehow missed you?  Something that died and should have lived forever?

If that is you, then you simply must stop what you are doing, track down the movie “Fly Away Home”, and settle in with a box of tissues.  I watch this movie when I am particularly melancholy and aching inside…it provides such release and affirmation of a true and shining core that lays somewhere just beyond what I can touch, and yet strangely affirms the very fact that such a place exists or I wouldn’t know it to miss it, long for it, yearn for it with my very soul.

In the meantime, I post the theme here for you, performed by the inestimable Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Blessings, this night before Palm Sunday…you know that Sunday, right?  When every soul in the area recognized Who was amongst them and waved their palm fronds…oh right, I almost forgot…those fronds from last year made their appearance at the beginning of Lent in the form of ashes…I have written a bit about dust and ashes this season.

But this?  Ah, Constance…this is Beyond Dust and Ashes!

This Peculiar Gleaming Beauty

Events leading up to the cross,
they seem like something of a game
of push and shove or pull and push
in this cult of honor/shame
and I wonder and I ask

Does anything really stand a chance
here in this fatal tug of war?

And what about Him?  Jesus?
Clearly shamed 
and shamed profoundly,
publicly rejected and abandoned,
clothed in stark humiliation,
torn by jaws of victimization…

and willingly choosing
this broken ground

(this broken me).

What kinship does He speak of,
what kingship does He claim 
He dons my crown of thorns

and He takes my purple robe
and He lets Himself be branded

with my fetid Scarlet A?

What shame and ridicule
does He siphon
from our darkling hearts?

We are such a clouded vision
jockeying and jostling
for power and position,
trembling in our lust
for quick liberated feet.

We have occluded vision
caught between the blind that see
and priests and prefects that do not.

And then there is that copper matter
of His blood spilled shamefully and
His death sprawling shamelessly
across the breadth of history,
a kingly shepherd dying here
His life laid down so lovingly,
a risen savior reigning there…

At the intersection
of honor and of shame
can you see?
That Shining Ever Moment?

That Peculiar Gleaming Beauty?

It towers there, quiet, unobtrusive
and starkly interrupting
That Abandoned Empty Cross…

The sight that says it all.tumblr_nlczuq7G441tx7szbo1_1280

Quest or Invitation

A difficult quest.
Or is it invitation?
I guess it depends
on the mood
or the moment.

Deliberate.  Wearisome.tumblr_lynlllXXX21qb38x9o1_500The journey
of a christ with a cross,
and such a crushing burden we bear
when we try to decide if we will wear
it or witness it.

Either way (mood or moment)
we have to decide what we will do
in light of such a spectacle.

And some choose fasting,
and some kiss the dirt
and some just run the other way.

Hell, even that cross-carrier had to choose
which journey and whether
it was mood or moment.

It matters because one
leads to the human heart and one
leads to the heart of God
and each path must be travelled
but in its own good time.

Each day we must decide this,
we choose this, or if not
then we are chosen casually
by mood or moment,
by quest or invitation

and it all comes out
in the wash, if we have
gained our life
or lost it.tumblr_nldhi5rJoU1r7l28fo3_1280


A Disjointed Incomplete Meditation…

houses of grey blank walls decked out in smooth rich wood
panels and pictures of picnics and parties…
banal bacchanalia, all splattered in Blood.

Beds of spikes, hidden neath down comforters,
and wool knitted afghans of colorful,
threatening sinister pattern.

Houses in neighborhoods bereft of neighbors,
each one is serving themselves and alone
in community of this alienation…and all is
destroyed by their own bloody hands…

the work of rough hands…even rougher grave throats.

Our eyes are still bloodshot from staring at visions
of genocide done that we didn’t see coming
but now we continue to watch, in foreboding

but hoping in vain that the cute lil houses
are what’s really real and not all the horror,
lurking beneath in destruction and gore.

we are really in fear and wondering…
what happens when a killer comes home,
or (gulp) even worse

if that killer had never left home?

what then?

what happens when victims
*widows orphans*

and murderers

look each other in the eyes again?

what then, and who blinks first and looks away in shame?

What are these wounds on your chest?
The wounds I received in the house of my friends.

What is greater:  the pain of being violated
or the bitter agony of forgiving?

a valley of dry bones cannot be forgotten
even in the face of forgiveness so costly.

This impossible for me to try to describe
or even conceive of apart from the cross of Christ.

Because forgiveness is also
it’s own rare and exquisite
form of great suffering.

And so now we get down to it:
there is no exit, no escape from the agony,
no pitstop from pain…
all we can do is exchange suffering’s form and it’s face,
from our own for the pain of another…
and us become willing to be bashed and broken
by those very ones we so desperately want
to reach out to and reconcile and leave pain behind.

This is the agony of a tortured soul wrestling
and a wrecked body there…offered in prayer
on the altar of sorrow…for the forgiveness
of torturers’ torments in this dank dark world
of violence and victims, laboring heavy
beneath weights unspeakable and even greater,
the weight of the cross.

And Him?  The Reproached?
The Betrayed, Who was Broken?
Him The Despised and King of All Criminals,
King of All Victims, King of All Shame?

Perhaps He knows of the path thru this valley
of broken dry bones full of dust, full of death.

Perhaps He can see those small signs of life
that are hidden from eyes filled with blood, hate and rage
and only seen by the eyes washed clean with tears
of repentance and wonder to look for our Spring

and the signs there so gentle
of a coming glad day of Resurrection…tumblr_ni0sfjatWG1qzq0kvo1_1280

Dust and Ashes Redux

I fear
being able
to soundly navigate
through noisy choruses.

I fear
the blind spots
that I have—
and nurture.

The will of God
involves giving our lives
for the sake of others
on this downward path
this downward path of Jesus
that I follow
or try to.

She tears
my clenched fingers
from my own throat
She says
put others
before me
(interests, preferences, desires)
and this putting
endures beyond
stronger than death.

is there a resurrection
from this desperate

is there a life raised
where I can matter
to someone
and result in
a shared existence

She says
I will only find out
when I seek not to save
but to lose my life

as I have said before
it is the season
of dust and ashes20150222_121045

The Language of Lilies

After all this hurt and all this pain

(when would that be?  After?
When does that happen?)

I choose silences.
I choose to let myself be haunted by words
rather than speak those rivers
that would erode fabricated realities.tumblr_nkysbbiivV1thfeewo1_400Tonight the wind smells like memories…
oh nothing I can put my finger on,
mind you…just memories
blowing on winds fragrant
with nostalgia and neglect.

I am mindful in these memories
of the language of lilies
and I wonder if I have missed 
some great and vital means and end
in their present beauty,
some antidote for anxiety,
some prescription for preoccupation,
some long term cure contained
in short-lived beauty born?tumblr_neun01eNyf1sq3g2zo1_1280I am mindful of Mary
there in Bethany pouring out
perfume fragrant and pervading
with extravagance
permeating every pore present
and singing the liturgies of lilies
on the winds!

Sweetly, singly soaring over that rukus of disgust and anger
that puffed up, distracted religious men
righteously piled on in their
Canticle to Cacophony!tumblr_m6aywgZh0X1ro74x3o1_500They hated her…but they hated Him more
for His blindness to her there,
clinging in tears and wild hair

profligate waster
defiler and defiled!

They hated His stinky feet
smelling of humility and adoration,
perfumed in gratitude and broken beauty
and I think they would hate me, too
sitting silent and choosing
the haunting wind over the haughty story.tumblr_nkt7lsPymx1u6ehjeo2_500
I imagine the language of lilies
that day divinely appointed
and here this night now,
I look, listen midst ashes all around me
to catch a glimpse of life
in risk and recognition,
of rising up, above
the toiling, turning,
spinning and weaving…

life lived
simple and poured out
in haunting perfumed
adoration and beauty…
life as a lily,
and how it grows fleeting
and haunted by memories in the wind
and eternity in my heart.Image 002

In Hope of Dust and Ashes

We start this life filled with bright expectation,
each sunrise morn of discovery and eventide of hope,
our lifetime passes and time flows like tides constant in waves
that wash in over us, the same and ceaseless and yet we,
in ever-new anticipation of a new day different, something
yet to be discovered in the next bright shell-pink dawn,
we lift our hearts up cheery with bright song.tumblr_nkijfepxvE1s6fchho1_1280But there are ashes from the desperate fires
that we assemble in the long sloe nights
so cold upon those yawning yearning shores,
when stars hide behind black clouds of unknowing
and oceans hide in mists of dank despair,
and we are forced to burn all our Hosannas,
those palms fronds of our hopes so optimistic
waved innocent and arrogant and prideful
because we hadn’t seen the moon’s dark side.tumblr_njh7l88RC31tsumipo1_500We built frail fires from those brittle branches
and clutched at weak warmth, bathed in dim wan light
and marked ourselves with those imposéd ashes
and mourned those days we sang truimphantly
unknowing of the coming loss of all our innocence
in suffering and sorrowing and death and…

we all fall down…

and we are mindful
of our common crown,
our destiny of dust
wreathed round our foreheads,
that destiny of dust around our hearts,
that destiny of dust
from which we came
and thus departed,
that destiny of dust
and our return…to

dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
from dust departed, dust returned,
dust returned…tumblr_mvt5wq6eGf1suq7neo1_500And it is only at this place, in ashes
after our hopes and dreams have burned to ash
and we have lost our hope and optimism
that we can finally see that stoney path
and squinting, see the bloody foot-print outlines
left by the One who goes before our hearts,
the One who walks the Via Dolorosa
the One who, living, there lays down His Life,
the One who shows the way of self-denial
the way of sacrifice, relinquishment
entirely unnatural, the opposite
of every longing of our liquid hearts
that want to feast upon self-preservation
and turn from bitter cups of self-denial…tumblr_ne0li72EJb1qgk7mfo1_1280And we must choose the place that we will walk:
the ceaseless shores of our naked ambition
and never finding ending place or home?
Or…walk the path of ashes with this Shepherd
and lose our lives completely to His care
and thus spring from the ashes like a phoenix
leaps from the golden flames to live anew!

Ashes are the opposite of owning
the mirror image of self-preservation,
the sign-post of the way of life He offers,
the insignia of the lifestyle that He models,
the mark He makes forever on His own
writ large in His own blood mixed with the ashes
of hopes consumed and dreams become dry dust!
This is the downward journey to the highest place victorious,
the deeps of Sabbath Rest and Victory Won.tumblr_njn61sFcPS1tsumipo1_500Regardless of the gods you say you follow,
we all share in a common destiny:
“From dust you’ve come, to dust you shall return”.
Like Him, we too shall die, Life’s pressing question
thus becomes, how shall we live?  How shall our lives
this day respond to death’s reality,
and answer to Life’s strident invitation
to leave all of our privilege and status,
and turn from lives marked for success and promise,
and turn from some potential undefined,
and turn from false things that we think are true,
and let go of wealth and power and consumption,
and deny that false god of accomplishment
and dare to love our enemies with candor
and dare embrace the heady risk of peace
without one stray thought of self-preservation,
and take courage to live for the sake of others
and for the sake of Him who shows this way,
the way thru death, the way of blood and ashes,
will we walk in valiant hope in dust and ashes?

We can sing our songs
of life in dust and ashes
and thus return to God
our dust redeemed.tumblr_mujjr2KMSj1sohz2fo1_500


Into the Wilderness

In this Lent, Spring
threatens with her breakthru
of new life amidst showers,

but in these moments
I am mindful
of a different

turning…a journey.

a journey with Jesus
into the wilderness,
a place not unfamiliar

and yet each time I venture there
I am surprised by places that seem
so known to me and yet are not familiar

wilderness spaces never seen
despite my sojourns long and weary
oh, I know the dry topographytumblr_m016eoB7LQ1qai5yeo1_1280the landmarks’ names
(suffering, disappointment, doubt, sin)
caress my heart like tattoos

darted into my soul with ink invisible.

I want to rush thru the wilderness
to get to the other side and done
but am compelled to burrow deeper…

into deaths and deprivations
like the Shepherd did when He took nothing with Him
in that desiccated place.

in this wilderness of unmet needs,
what shall I do?
Where will I turn?

I dig deep for water but tap only the dust.
I seek to meet my howling needs in my own time and place
but all my clever methods only blow up in my face

and once again this journey ends
beneath that shadow long, that mark,
beneath the cross that stands so tall, so stark,
so still…

it can’t be circumvented or avoided,
it cannot be escaped, or null and voided
it’s the entrance and the exit all at once.

and once again anew I realize
that the suffering of the wilderness
transforms us, shapes, delivers us

into the resurrection
and the naming of our