March 22, 2010
About a year ago, I led a Transmission focused on prayer. The scripture from the Daily Office happened to be Psalm 23, so as part of the ritual we created our own versions of of the psalm. I was really moved by the personal psalms that came out of this activity, so
I thought I would share. Without introducing Psalm 23, ask participants to write down answers to the following questions:
- What is your metaphor for God? Do you think of God as a father? a friend? a rock? the color purple? What image makes sense for you when you think about God?
- Where does your soul find rest?
- Where does God lead you?
- What are you afraid of?
- How does God comfort and protect you?
- How does God bless you?
Then give participants a paper with lots of space between the following lines:
The Lord is [blank]
I shall not want.
God makes me [blank]
God leads me [blank]
God restores my soul.
God leads me in paths of righteousness for God’s name’s sake.
Yea though I walk [blank]
I will fear no evil, for You are with me.
Your [blank] comfort me.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Each blank corresponds with an answer to the question prompts in order. Give participants some time to craft their psalm. Invite people to share aloud. If you try this with your faith community, let us know how it turns out!
January 12, 2008
Illustrations originally presented as slides
projected during a live reading
at Easter at Avalon
April 8, 2007
There was not long ago or far away
A town where children played and sang all day
And once their folks had tucked them in at night
The kids hid under covers in their fright
Except one little lady, strong and feral
A wild, precocious child by name of Carol
Who‚Äôd lie in silence, with her eyes tight closed
And wait till all the town serenely dozed
Then up she‚Äôd jump and loudly she‚Äôd declare
‚ÄúIt takes more than the dark to get me scared!‚Äù
Outside her window, an old Oak-tree grew
Perhaps this tree‚Äôs who she was speaking to
Regardless, she continued ‚ÄúOh well sure
I‚Äôm frightened when the morning traffic roars
The hairs on my young neck do stand on ender
When mom throws fresh tomatoes in the blender
And last week on a class trip to the zoo
The tongue of a giraffe, it scared me too
There‚Äôs causes for concern both far and near
But one thing that I‚Äôll never, ever fear‚Ä¶‚Äù
‚ÄúIs England! Yeah, they once were some great power
But now are ‚Äòbout as fearful as a flower
Their royal navy bullied the whole world
Now they can‚Äôt frighten this six year old girl!
I fear the toxic waste dumped in the sea
I fear the slash and burn of every tree
I fear the monsters underneath my bed
I fear the spirits mumbling in my head
I fear the pit-bull readying to pounce
But I do not fear England ‚Äì not one ounce‚Äù
November 29, 2007
Fall into Night
by Bowie Snodgrass
Written last year for a time longer ago.
That Fall, I felt like I got thrown into the ocean ‚Äì
All waves, rocky cliffs, unknown chaos reigned,
But you were my great beacon of hope, my lighthouse.
When Christmas tide came, the days became short ‚Äì
You turned out your light, and turned me away,
Set me out to find my own way, row my way home.
And thus the metaphor began: when no wind, row ‚Äì
So I picked up my oar, enjoyed calm days, starry nights,
And made it through winter storms, waves, and hurricanes.
When the last waves washed me up, pummeled me into
The shore, I looked up and saw bright rays at night ‚Äì
Realized I was on dry land and there before me, Light.
October 7, 2007
Last night I saw Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 for the second time this year! This time it was the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez, at NYC’s own Carnegie Hall. This was only my second time there! and we sat in ‘limited legroom’ seats in the balcony, with wonderful sounds of 120 orchestra players, plus 30 women and 30 boy singers reverberating off the ceiling.
The first time I heard Mahler 3 was on July 14th at Tanglewood, MA with the James Levine conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During the intermission between the first movement and the last five… I got engaged! Yup, George asked me to marry him on the hillside above Ozawa Hall. So this piece has permanent special significance to me…. especially the 6th movement, “What love tells me”.
I was struck again by the text for the 4th and 5th movements again last night and wanted to share them as my Sabbath Poems for this week. Enjoy!
IV. “What Man Tells Me”
Text: Friedrich Nietzsche (1844‚Äì1900)
Translation: Larry Rothe
O Mensch! Gib Acht!
Oh man, take heed!
What does deep midnight say?
I have woken from a deep dream!
The world is deep‚Äî
Deeper than the day had thought!
Deep is the pain!
Joy deeper still than heart‚Äôs sorrow!
Pain says: Vanish!
Yet all joy aspires to eternity,
To deep, deep eternity.
V. “What the Angels Tell Me”
Text: from Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Translation: Larry Rothe
Three angels sang a sweet song.
It resounded throughout heaven;
They also rejoiced
That Peter was free of sin.
For as the Lord Jesus sat down at the table
And ate the evening meal with his twelve disciples,
The Lord Jesus said, ‚ÄúWhy are you standing here?
When I look at you, you cry.‚Äù
‚ÄúAnd shouldn‚Äôt I cry, you kind God?‚Äù
You shouldn‚Äôt cry!
‚ÄúI have broken the Ten Commandments;
I go and cry bitterly.‚Äù
You shouldn‚Äôt cry!
‚ÄúOh come, and have mercy on me!‚Äù
‚ÄúIf you‚Äôve broken the Ten Commandments,
Fall on your knees and pray to God.
Just love God always,
And you will have heavenly joy.‚Äù
Heavenly joy is a blessed city,
Heavenly joy, which has no end;
Heavenly joy was prepared for Peter
By Jesus, and for everyone‚Äôs salvation.
Translation copyright ¬© 2003 by the San Francisco Symphony
July 27, 2007
To the Foot from its Child
by Pablo Neruda; translated by Alastair Reid
The child‚Äôs foot is not yet aware it‚Äôs a foot,
and would like to be a butterfly or an apple.
But in time, stones and bits of glass,
and the paths in the rough earth
go on teaching the foot that it cannot fly,
cannot be a fruit bulging on the branch.
Then, the child‚Äôs foot
is defeated, falls
in the battle,
is a prisoner
condemned to live in a shoe.
Bit by bit, in that dark,
it grows to know the world in its own way,
out of touch with its fellow, enclosed,
feeling out life like a blind man.
These soft nails
of quartz, bunched together,
grow hard, and change themselves
into opaque substance, hard as horn,
and the tiny, petalled toes of the child
grow bunched and out of trim,
take on the form of eyeless reptiles
with triangular heads, like worms.
Later, they grow calloused
and are covered
with the faint volcanoes of death,
a coarsening hard to accept.
But this blind thing walks
without respite, never stopping
for hour after hour,
the one foot, the other,
now the man‚Äôs,
now the woman‚Äôs,
through fields, mines,
markets and ministries,
far afield, inward,
this foot toils in its shoe,
scarcely taking time
to bare itself in love or sleep;
it walks, they walk,
until the whole man chooses to stop.
And then it descended
for there, everything, everything was dark.
It never knew it had ceased to be a foot
or if they were burying it so that it could fly
or so that it could become
* One of my favorite poems in high school, from a volume I had (with Spanish on one side and English on the other) called A New Decade (Poems 1958-1967)
July 5, 2007
The small plot of ground
by Alla Renee Bozarth
The small plot of ground
on which you were born
cannot be expected
to stay forever
and home becomes different
You took flesh
but the clay
did not come
from just one place.
To feel alive,
important, and safe,
know your own waters
and hills, but know
You have stars in your bones
You have opposing
terrain in each eye
you belong to the land
and sky of your first cry,
you belong to infinity.
* from Earth Prayers, Edited by Elizabeth Roberts
* We had this book when I was growing up and I read this poem at a DEC hearing in Farmersville, New York (40 miles from where I grew up) regarding the proposed largest landfill in the Northeast. That hearing happened in March 1994. The has fight continued for more than ten years and now the dump is all but defeated!
* I saw this poem quoted today and googled the author, only to realize that she is an Episcopal priest who was part of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first crop of women “irregularly” ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1974, inlcuding Carter Hayard and Jeanette Piccard, whom we discussed at Transmission last night.
June 28, 2007
by Bowie Snodgrass
Featuring Genesis 2:24 and 3:24, JPS trans
the fine art
let it be so bountiful!
into dry dust, breathe breath
god made the food garden
a river with four branches
and declared that from
hence, a man leaves his father
and mother and clings to his wife
so that they become one flesh
the mother of all the living
listened for good and evil
ate apple after serpent
and caused the couple
to be expelled outside Eden where
the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning
sword wait to guard the way to the tree of life
May 31, 2007
I had thougth about posting this poem by Fanny Howe (who wrote a collection of essays that I included in a “Best Contemporary Theology” meme), but then hedged, doubted, waiting. Today, I checked into Faith House’s blog and saw their recent Sabbath Poem by Neruda and thought this must be a sign… these poems are cosmic kissing cousins.
Mad God, mad thought
Take me for a walk
Stalk me. Made God,
Wake me with your words.
Believe in what I said
Shadows on sheets
Grass, seed . . .
Push my anguish down‚Äï
Coffee, smokes & creams‚Äï
To scare compulsion away
Compulsion to die
from The Quietist (1992)
May 10, 2007
I Loved What I Could Love
I had a natural passion for fine clothes, excellent food, and
lively conversation about all matters that concern
the heart still alive. And even a passion
about my own
Vanities: they do not exist.
Have you ever walked across a stream stepping on
rocks so not to spoil a pair of shoes?
All we can touch, swallow, or say
aids in our crossing to God
and helps unveil the
Life smooths us, rounds, perfects, as does the river the stone,
and there is no place our Beloved is not flowing
though the current’s force you
may not always
Our passions help to lift us.
I loved what I could love until I held God,
for then‚Äîall things‚Äîevery world
* From Daniel Ladinsky’s Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West (New York: Penguin Compass, 2002), page 292.
* Read at May 8 Graduation Party / House Blessing Ritual for Katharine Lee
* More about St. Theresa of Avila (1515-1582)
April 30, 2007
I’m looking for one more Bible selection to go with the four readings below (from the Hebrew Bible a plus). these will be part of our Wed nite rite, whose working title is: How do we know God loves us?
i’m also looking for some tunes to put on a soundtrack while people are exploring the stations. with lyrics or without.
- Matthew 22:34-40
- Anne Carson, “My Religion”
- Hafiz, “The Sun Never Says”
- Peter Rollins, from How (Not) to Speak of God