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A Lenten Journal
Forty Days of Poems and Reflections
2010


Pastor Mark suggested we take on something for Lent for a change. So one of my commitments is to write a poem a day during Lent. This web page will be my daily journal.

Usually I would write poems during the St. Francis annual Silent Retreat and post them afterwards. (An index of these may be found here; the Good Friday Spirtual Retreat poems are here.) Unfortunately, the more than 20-year history of this Lenten retreat was broken this year. Changing venues proved too difficult and too late. I will miss it; part of me is in mourning --appropriate for Lent, no doubt-- and yet not without out hope and longing.

Someone asked Bill Stafford, who wrote early each morning, what he did on this days when he wasn't so good? He said he lowered his standards. That brings a smile and also a reminder than our gifts are something we just need to do.

As a daily journal of sorts, I invite you to return to the site often and read what is new. The latest poems and commentary will be at the bottom of the page. Also, please note that these poems are a work in progress; they are all early drafts, subject to change as I review them. Some will be "lower" than others. I will leave that to your judgment.

I hope you enjoy the poems and some speak to you. If you have thoughts or questions, please send me a note at mailto:ehapp@hpmd.com . While on the web site, please take a look at some of the writing of The Fairfield Review at http://www.fairfieldreview.org and consider supporting this work with your gifts.


--Ed Happ

For the latest poem in this series, click here.
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Copyright 2010, E.G. Happ, All rights reserved

Before the scream


She sees the tail
of the mouse
already gone.
If scurrying could be rewound,
would she hear the little feet of time
that taps in her ears,
see the blur of the white under-belly
sweeping along the polished oak floors
in her life?
Will she slow it down
before the scream
and give thanks?

31 Jan 10


Sharon Olds recently said “Poetry, as in therapy, is about backing up the mouse that just ran into the hole in the wall.” Stop! What just happened? Roll-back the tape and do an instant replay in your mind. Write down what you saw. This is often my thought process in writing a poem. The most important word in the sequence, however, is not “write” …it’s “stop!” When we pause, focus, stop the chatter, we are open to listening, to asking “what just happened?” The writing is then recording, like relating a dream after you wake up. That’s a kind of paying attention in reverse to what has just become “past” and a new openness to what may be coming around the corner. – from an Advent sermon November 30, 2008. (See http://www.fairfieldreview.org/fairfield/fairrevw.nsf/lnk/Advent08)

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Connecting the Dust


A cross of a thumb on the forehead
ends the beginning —
a squirming babe held still above the font
a shuffling grayed man pauses and shakes at the rail—
whether oil or ashes,
it is the same high priest,
it is the same remembering.

Wednesday, 17 Feb 10 (Lent I)
Ash Wednesday


I thought Lent was a time to reflect on the “things done and left undone.” Perhaps it is more about being “stilled,” stopped to listen. The affirmation of the Creator, of all of life, is coming.

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An End of Innocence


She has on a pink dress
with purple bow
and shiny shoes,
holding her Daddy’s finger.
She does that following-frolic of a dance step
that only five year-olds can do,
lost in her world,
going along for a stroll.
Her father approaches the altar
waiting his turn
leans in for the ashes.

Suddenly she is wide-eyed
with the where-am-I fear
as the priest leans down
to include her in the way
that even she must go.
“I don’t want that!”
she wails,
pulling on her father’s hand
as if a string to a kite
in a desperate retreat
avoiding the storm.

I too am stunned,
and though chuckling
when I see the priest’s face flush,
let the scene sink in slowly
with the serendipity
that only a child can bring,
and think about all the things to want
and those I cannot have.

Thursday, 18 Feb 10 (Lent II)

This was too good and too real not to retell. I mentioned to Mark how priceless it was. Yes, he said there are at least a few sermons there. And a few poems.

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Marking of the Innocent


The father brings the toddler forward
as if to a blessing
this doorway of midwinter circumspection
a rite of remembered passage.
He is rehearsing;
she watching;,
content from his strong right-arm cradle
she nods her head slightly
and the ashes cross
the milky white of unblemished skin—
she has no idea
she has been marked
as one of us
and looks back
at those of us
who have gone before her.

Friday, 19 Feb 10 (Lent III)

The sister of the toddler was the one in the pink dress who wanted no part in the Ash Wednesday ritual. In a sense, the younger one was like the older sister before she reached the rail of knowing, content to just be. Who of us does not ache for that time of carefree innocence? Ray Romano tells the story of his five year-old daughter looking blissfully out the window of the car he was driving. “What are you thinking about,” he asks? “Candy” she says. He stops the car and tells her not to forget this moment; it doesn’t get any better than this. He’s right: the blissful moments are often the simplicity of just being. Little glimpses of heaven perhaps, before we forget.

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Rings of years


On the High Woods trail
centered in winter
you can see farther,
with a piercing leafless gaze
into the soul of the forest
where subtle shades of gray
become distinct voices of the many;
they speak in hushed tones
of beech, hickory, maple, oak.
If you run your eyes along
the fallen trunk to the circles of the opened cut,
you will see truth so deep
it flows.

Sat., 20 Feb 10 (Lent IV)

During a hike in the woods, snow still on the ground, the trunks of barren hardwood trees dominate the view in all directions. We passed a fallen beech that had been cut to clear the way months ago. The rings of the stump stained with snow melt and sap sang of the years in which the tree had stood. I remembered counting the rings of a stump next to the old white church, abbot which I've written many poems. A section hung in the Meeting Room. It was truly a page of history, dating back when the church was first built. If we were a tree cut down, what history would our lives tell?

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Brunch


Thank you for gifts of Lent
she prays,
hands joined with this band
of merry friends
gathered for a mid-day feast.
And I'm reminded
that before the first word
of confession
is the "yes" of grace.
With the truffles dipped in spice
And profiteroles drizzled with orange curd
Now I can freely confess
I ate one too many choices
from the abundant table
of temptations.

Sunday, 21 Feb 10 (Lent V)

A group of ten had gathered for a brunch at one of our homes. This was the second gathering of the Foyer Group, a half dozen families who shared a meal each month or so. Each brought a different dish. Our hosts prepared the entree. The bounty was spread on a dining room table with excerpts from Shelly gracing the centerpiece, hopeful for spring. A feast day in the midst of Lent is a reminder of God's abundance and the "yes" of grace. It turns confession into comedy.

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Tiger


We are talking about the fall of Tiger,
how the gods of our desires
rarely survive the pedestals
on which we have them stand.
And we who occupy a lower ground
are surprised and disillusioned,
reminded anew
that falling and forgetting
are dancing hand in hand

Monday, 22 Feb 10 (Lent VI)


The conversation after the Foyer brunch turned to the fall of Tiger Woods and the fall of our heroes. This is no less than our own falls, some disillusionment, some tragic, some of our own choosing. Our heroes often are our hope of a stronger will, and accomplishments beyond our reach. But we are both human. We sometimes forget that. Even our heroes remind us.

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Tight Weave


A designer turned the corner of the rug
and counted the weave.
“Very tight,” she said,
“of the highest quality.”
To my untrained eye
the underside was rough
with bleach-bled colors,
the unseen negative of beauty—
appearances are not what they seem;

the hidden knots edge to the surface
a jumble of quips and adages
that has become as dense as jungle,
a twist of shoots and vines
each jousting for a postage stamp
of sun;

there is no silence
in the weave of things undone,
no retreat
from the tangle of this and that,
no putting
the snaking root under foot.

Tuesday, 23 Feb 10 (Lent VII)

A metaphor for our knotted psyches, the side we show is often our better side. I was reminded of this in the prayer of confession, asking for forgiveness for things "done and left undone." It is the undone that is often the more knotted. And the separation that is most common to us all.

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Week after Ash Wednesday


Seven days into as many weeks
and I’m wondering where
the journeys of the penitent faithful
reach the canyon floor.
I’m told the donkeys are more
sure-footed than their gawking cargo,
snapping photos
at each switchback,
twisting to each others
oooh… lookie here!
It’s gonna break—
armchair geology rising
to convince the rider
not to yank on it.
The burro-train ambles
down to the deeper conversation
at the bottom where
all my mean and nasty actions
cough up,
and serenity
lies beneath another winter.

Wednesday, 24 Feb 10 (Lent VIII)

I wrote this late a night after having woken from a dream. Even the scribble on the page was indecipherable. What was this about? Our dreams sometimes take us to deeper places, where the evils lie. That which troubles us has a way of popping up when deep in sleep, or near to waking. As Robert Bly once commented about a dream poem, "my job is not to explain it, but to write it down."

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No Retreat


No weekend of silence
No letting free the cacophony
of noises
No being still.
No year to begin the second dozen
No traveling to the large house
By the river
No river
Under the absent covered bridge
No mediation
No silence
No clink of the china
As cuisine de Cornwall
Is set out in its splendor
No reading
No feasting
Not even absence,
The void itself
Now silenced—
I retreat from all of this
And the abyss—a thinly veiled NO—
Is a thin sheet stretched between the beds
without a leg to stand on.

Thursday, 25 Feb 10 (Lent IX)

This is the first Lent among a dozen, where there is no silent retreat. Part of me is in mourning over the loss, feeling the abandonment as the "No" of separation from the familiar, and ultimately from the One who says the "Yes" in the midst of our estrangement.

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The snows trumpets

The snow trumpets
horizontally
as if shot from a fire hose
or canon—
either would do—
to announce that though nearly March
winter had no intention
of curling up
next to the shed
and allowing the beds
of early crocuses along the fence
to sing.
It’s as if Lent
were a holding of breath,
a shush,
not yet!
Don’t even think about it!
But do.

Friday, 26 Feb 10 (X)

A late winter snow storm became a blizzard as the winds howled. We were teased by the early crocuses in the garden, and then reminded that it is still winter in New England, and things can change within the hour. We cannot forget its winter, just as we are called to remember our own mortality. We need to think on this, even within our hope.

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To the Ocean


There was a stream
next to the house
where I spent half my childhood;
I was forever pulling leaves and limbs
from it
so the water that had backed up
behind the impromptu dam
could flow anew—
there was something about water
moving freely by
that called to my tending
as if downstream
was a place to go
without impediment.
When I can’t pray
I think about the wall of branches
that one by one needs to be pulled out
of the way;
And when I do pray,
I’m sailing to the ocean on the last golden leaf

Saturday, 27 Feb 10 (Lent XI)

This is a childhood memory. The simplicity of clearing the way to let the water run is a delight of play and solitude. Returning to this is often going to the place where I reconnect with the current of words in which writing dips its feet. And for me writing is prayer. This is a place of smooth running waters and deep oceans that once the things that block us are cleared away, we realize is inexhaustible. That is a message of grace to which I return like the rain.

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Advice to the ones I love


Be the leaf;

When there’s a beginning,
Unfold

In the toughest storm of summer
Hang on with equal relentlessness

Have guest
Even if a fleeting bird

Change color
Blow in the wind

At the right time
Let go

Make someone’s path
softer

Saturday, 27 Feb 10 (Lent XII)

Frederick Buechner suggested we write in 25 words or less the advice we want to leave those we love [1]. I thought of the leaf in yesterday's poem--that reconnecting with the deep parts of our lives that flow. There's a glib saying that became popular a few decades ago: "go with the flow." Letting go and knowing when to release the anchors--perhaps this is a life's work.

[1] Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life, Harper: San Francisco, 1992, p. 56. His book is my companion this Lent, and the muse for a number of these poems.

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Portal

"May all the doors
that are to be opened,
be opened"
she prays,
"and all the doors
to be closed,
be closed."
There is a simplicity
in my mother's prayer
that I remember
each Sunday after
dipping the wafer of bread
into the water and wine,
yielding to the Holy
and being known
in a way
that he who is to come
comes

Sunday, 28 Feb 10 (Lent XII)

Hoping for a new job opportunity to come to be, I asked my mother to remember me in her prayers. She asked if we could pray now. For many years, this would have been an awkward moment. But now I listened and was at peace.

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Listen

Listen to your life
he says;
I have gone back
to this passage
again and anew.
At times it seems
my life is shouting
from all corners
of the room
in which I sit,
trying to clear my head--
Stop, I say!
putting my hands up
as if to halt traffic
at this intersection
as everyone bears down
on the brake pedal
and lets the little boy
cross the street;
he is humming something familiar
and kicking a small stone
with a carefree boot of his shoe.
I need to hear the song.
I need to feel that shoe.

Monday, 1 Mar 10 (Lent XIII)

The words of Frederick Buechner (p. 2) became my traveling companion again. How many times do we hear a cacophony of demands speaking in our lives; how many times do we hear nothing? When the voices are silenced, sometimes we tap the carefree wonder in our lives anew. It's always there. We do well to walk in those shoes.

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Wrung

The damp shirt
Flung over the shower rod
Seems to have dripped its last
But that's before
Two hands in a twist
Wring a stream from its neck

Tuesday, 2 Mar 10 (Lent XIV)

After a day of dealing with lawyers in the late stages of divorce, reading the legal drafts and spreadsheets, even a hot bath does not bring solace and sleep. And just when I think there cannot be more wrung out of me, there is a new twist, and I bleed. In these valleys of death I reread the Psalmists words, "Thou art with me." Even in the worst of our abandonments, we are not alone.

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Yearning


I read pages
of daily meditations
for the weeks I have missed,
the yesterdays for which
I did not pause
and set the little paper boat
of my imagination adrift
on the water of wonder
and into the falls of minutes
washing over in their relentless
call to be immersed,
plunged into sensing
the fullness of yearning
that is the word
that stops me mid-page in January—
yearning for that far country
that is itself a taste of heaven,
a spring of truth.

Wednesday, 3 Mar 10(Lent XV)

Reading Buechner again (p. 8), I dive into the opening days, the ones about knowing. It is the season of Epiphany in which his editor has gathered some of his signature words, ones that gave the book its title: Listening to Your Life. That our lives speak in the voice of the Holy One is itself a scandal, but this is a foundation of the Gospel: God in His grace turning every expectation upside down. In learning to be silent He comes.

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Yes

“all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” --FB, p. 9

If ever there were
a stronger word of God,
it would be Yes!
All the history of No
cannot compare—
a teapot in an ocean;
I can as much push this Yes away
as hold my breath—
so the Saint suggests;
and when I’ve breathed my last
even this final No
becomes a Yes.

Thursday, 4 Mar 10 (Lent XVI)

Buechner's full sentence is worth repeating: "What's lost is nothing to what's found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” No one has written as movingly about the grace of God since Karl Barth's writing a century ago about the "Yes" of God. I want to bring these two together, especially in the midst of all the "No" of Lent--both as I'm experiencing it this year, and in the history of the penitent heart. The "Yes" of God is unfathomably greater. Think of that teapot bobbing in the Pacific.

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Ooothecae


In the fall
I tie an insect cage
in the lilac tree
and in its wire mesh
place four oothecae the mantis laid
in the hibiscus and hydrangea;
I read that these eggs
are a delicacy for the foragers
and I’m determined
to see the nymphs survive.

For many days
the cage is filled with snow
and though nothing moves,
the squirrel has been by
to test lid a dozen times—
sometimes hope is in a cage
of our own making.

Tonight
after I signed the papers
and the judge made the decree
that put an end to the winter
of a love long lost,
I sit and stare
at the cage
in the moon of the porch flood light
and think of spring
when a string of warm and humid days
will stir the cases of the mantis
and the ones with small pale wings
will learn to fly and feed—
and I swear
I saw the oothecae
in the early wind of March
dance.

Friday, 5 Mar 10 (Lent XVII)

It is so hard to find hope in the midst of despair, a beginning in an end, new life within a death. That Easter is within three days of Good Friday is, I think, not an accident. “That this cup may pass” is a prayer in which I participate. But it is not the final word.

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Tides


As a child
I stood in the surf
and felt the waves
tug my legs
again and again
until hours later,
dried and in an August sun,
I’d still feel the pull
standing still in the sand
as the water receded in its tide
and sway in the same place
nodding to the wind
and moon.

Saturday, 6 Mar 10 (Lent XVIII)

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First Day


The sun turned up a notch today
and warmed the yard
enough so green shoots edged up
and parted winter leaves
snowdrops and crocuses popped
and bowed,
children could be heard bounding in the yards
with glee.
Looking back at a long shadow of winter
it is as if all were forgiven
all were forgotten
in the flash of an afternoon.

Sunday, 7 Mar 10 (Lent XIX)


A late winter Sunday flirts with spring and all is awakened, remembered, forgotten. And here we have a foretaste of Easter. I sometimes wonder if Lent is both remembering and hoping, the valley and the mountaintop before the promised land.

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Fist


“The one thing a clenched fist cannot do is accept …a helping hand” --FB, pp 13-14.

I’m imaging all the things
that lead to a clenched fist:
determination,
anger,
righteous indignation,
camaraderie,
the recoil from a wound
to the center of the hand—
but none say
come,
let us begin
to speak as two
who need each other’s voice.

Sunday, 7 Mar 10 (Lent XX)

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I know you


“When you remember me, it means you have carried something of who I am with you …”
--FB, p. 14


The second time I met him
he said, “I know you!”
For a three year-old
this was stretching new wings
of remembering;
now he is learning o drive
and venture further out
into his world yet to be,
but when I drive back
to pick him up
where he last was,
he turns into me
and remembers what it was like
to be gathered in
and asks.
“how about a hug?”
And when I am so remembered
He creates me
and I him,
into the garden of belonging.

Monday, 8 Mar 10 (Lent XXI)

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These next series of poems are written during a ten day trip to Kenya for business (and an excursion to Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara Game parks.) I will let the poems speak for themselves without commentary, except to say that Frederick Buechner was close at hand. More will follow about them when I return on the 21st. --egh

Self check


“… the great power that language has to move and in some measure
even to transform the human heart.: --FB, p. 15

Self check-in
at the airline counter,
extra bags rolling up
beside me,
armed with the itinerary,
confirmation number,
passport
which I type and swipe in sequence:
yet the system does not
recognize me
the attendant comes quickly to help
and together we walk
though the screens
like pages in a book
I have not yet learned ti read
“Here,” she says,
Pointing cheerfully to the names—
“your reservation name does not exactly match
your passport name—
and then: “Why do parents do that,
decide to hyphenate their name?”
“I decided not to ask,” I say
knowing full well
I had chosen the change
and later undone it—
a drama I do not need to bring
as a correction to the kindness
in her voice.

Tuesday, 9 Mar 10 (Lent XXII)

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Prey

The only bar
in this part of the airport
overcharges me
for a small bottle of juice;
even waiving the menu
in front of the tender
is to no avail—
the charge has already
gone through.
What is left to do
but sip on the venom
as prey

Wednesday, 10 Mar 10 (Lent XXIII)

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Lake Nakuru


Perhaps Lent in Kenya
is the receding shoreline
of the drought starved lakes;
we drive across
the salt flats
of what was once
part of Lake Nakuru
to reach the flamingos
bent intently to the remaining shrimp;
three hyenas lounge among them
in the shallows,
cooling after
their morning feeding

Thursday, 11 Mar 10 (Lent XXIV)

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Lake Nakuru II


This could be Eden
in the verdant arms
of the Rift earth;
the yellow acacia radiate
in the late day sun,
and dotted here and there
are pools from the last
down spout of dark rains;
but today
there is a full blue sky
and each branch and rock
shouts only of the good.

Thursday, 11 Mar 10 (Lent XXV)

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Leopard


A half dozen vans
are stopped on the dirt road
in the verdant game park;
tourists stand in pop-tops
with cameras, binoculars, fingers
pointing across the thick grassy field.
“Leopard,” says one;
“Was in the tree,” says another;
now we all strain our sights
a hundred yards away
and wait.
“Do you see any movement?”
“No,” I whisper,
refocusing the lens,
scanning beneath the acacia tree.
Then,
a tail
snakes up as if to wave a finger
and sinks back down;
aching for redemption,
“come,” I mouth,
“walk toward us.”
As if on cue
the spotted cat arches up its head,
yawns,
and rises.

Friday, 12 Mar 10 (Lent XXVI)

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Chatter


The old CB radio
Crackles with bits
Of Swahili;
Our driver hears one word
Among a thousand
Picks up the mike
And says “co-man-da; co-ma-da;”
What, we ask, is the word.
His name, he says
And I imagine that is what we listen for
When we pray,
that we are heard
that we are known

Friday, 12 Mar 10 (Lent XXVII)
On the road to Masai Mara

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Simba


In the late morning sun
they look docile,
napping in the tall grass,
eyes open and close
with the breeze;
one rolls on his back
as if to have his belly scratched.
his paws appear as tufted pads in an easy chair--
all this is brought to an end
in a swift kill;
it is as hidden as an evil heart.

Sat 13 Mar 10 (Lent XXVIII)
In the Masai Mara game park

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Public Servant


In the midst of a vast and arid plain,
a lone man with a shovel
fills pot holes in the only road
to Masai Mara.
Does he do this for the highway department,” I ask?
No, he does it as a public service,” our driver replies.
On the return trip
he slows to push a single folded bill out the window,
and into the air;
the servant stops to watch
the wind bring it to him,
smiling more than the lilies
that are not here.

Sunday, 14 Mar 10 (Lent XXIX)
On the road to Nairobi

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Mosquito

On the cusp of sleep
after a demanding day
comes the elusive sound
of the mosquito,
trapped in the netting
about the bed,
she is hovering in search
of an exposed wrist
an ankle;
random swiping
is to no avail
as the tiny predator
goes silent
keeping me just on the edge
of restful abandon—
temptation
is ever at the corner
of sting
and soothing.

Monday, 15 Mar 10 (Lent XXX)

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A hiatus of sorts, as I turned my attention to the Summit in Nairobi, my writing shifted to a Blog to record the events, here.

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Bookmark

“…and it happened, as perhaps all such things do, as a gift.” --FB, p. 21

I read these words of gift
as I slip into a hot bath,
which itself has been given
like a muse
in which to read and write,
book held open by the thumb
of my left hand
and pen in my right,
fingers on a blank sheet
that has been a book mark
waiting to be opened.

23 Mar 10 (Lent XXXI)


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Bookmark II

“…like an old photograph preserved by accident between the pages of a book.”
--FB, p. 22

Cleaning out an old dresser drawer
before our guest arrived
I came upon old ticket stubs
torn in half,
wine corks with dates inked
on their side,
watchless watchbands, tarnished cufflinks,
unused shoelace,
and an empty jewelers box—
things not held for a decade;
they each speak out
from their place
where they were worn,
pocketed,
received at an auction,
as a gift;
they are each a bookmark
and when the page is turned
the words come back
not the same
but with the familiar cadence
of a greeting.

26 Mar 10 (Lent XXXII)

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In the smooth places

His whole manner softened,
eyes rounded,
words loosened around the vowels;
he exhaled
and entered his place of serenity
where even the waves
in the choppy turmoil of ideas
lined up.
That's where I need to go,
he said;
that's where you are,
I replied.

27 Mar 10 (Lent XXXIII)

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Prophet

"...he never merely taught the Old Testament but was the Old Testament." --FB, p. 33

Rereading his account of Muilenburg
striding down the aisles
of a packed lecture hall,
arms flailing,
voice booming;
I imagine Isaiah
standing on a small box
that held some bottles of table wine,
teetering on the edge
of foolishness,
speaking the one word
that awakens
the kindling in the heart
as a spark
from a flint.

28 Mar 10 (Lent XXXIV)

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Storm

"...of death and dark and despair as not the last reality but only the next to the last."
--FB, p. 40.

It is cold and raining tides,
even umbrellas yield;
pant legs sop up water
like the edge of paper towels
dipped in the spill--
this is the last hold of winter
and we are poured out, empty;
in the dreary despair of dark afternoons
it seems as if there is no end
to this story,
or worse, that this absence
is the final chapter.

Yet there are daffodil shoots
along the walk,
their yellow-green thumbs
say the trumpets
are about to be uncased
and what seems like an end
is the edge of prelude.

29 Mar 10 (Lent XXXV)

+ + + + + + +

Playing

"...the playing is itself the first fruits of the Kingdom's coming..." --FB p. 44

When I see that look of curiosity
in the tentative toddler's eyes,
nascent body turned into the familiar,
the safe,
holding tight with one hand,
the other pulling on curls
after a halfway point of thumb
and finger
as if to grasp,
at what the head has turned to look,
eyes widening to take in the strange
white bearded face;
I raise my eyebrows twice,
then twice more,
and she is captive to the wonder,
smiling in the delight of seeing
something new,
that just may be
something that happens
once again.

30 Mar 10 (Lent XXXVI)

Continuing reading Frederick Buechner's "Listening to Your Life," the passage about play and the Kingdom of God resonated. I was also reminded of Michael Schrage's phrase "serious play." Imagine the play of a child growing up not into something beyond play, as if it's to be put aside, but play in all seriousness as the first fruit of heaven-- wide-eyed wonder may be the golden spectacles through which the hints of that broader reality in which we are held is glimpsed.

+ + + + + + +

Dancing

She dreams of dancing
with a new child,
holding her,
singing whatever is playing,
and they are one with the music,
laughing this toddler tango;

and this dream
is somewhere between
the first light
and Eve,
a dreamer imagining,
aching
for it to be so.

31 Mar 09 (Lent XXXVII)

+ + + + + + +


Learning the Alphabet

“I am speaking of the humdrum events of our lives as an alphabet.”
--FB p. 83

“What’s that letter,” I ask her?
“A,” she says.
“Good,” I reply.
She is learning the letters,
first as pinpricks on the page
and later as flashes of light
that illumine new worlds.
So the arch of this line
and that
becomes a beginning,
a teetering step;
as the years clear the glass
and we race page by page,
we return to prick of punctuation,
the breath,
the sense,
the silent.

1 Apr 10 (Lent XXXVIII)

+ + + + + + +

Coin


For Good Friday

Dropped into a fountain
the coin sinks,
tipping in the still water
until it reaches bottom
and rests;
when the sun makes its noon
the silver grabs the light
and flings it back;
a little one asks,
“can I throw in another coin?”
“No,” her mother says;
you have one,
and your wish
now lies at the bottom
of your heart;
when you feel most alive
then you have your coin.

2 Apr 10 (Lent XXXIX)


+ + + + + + +



Between the times


He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." --Luke 19:40 (ESV)

When stunned
the color runs from the face
“you look like you’ve seen a ghost,” we say;
but the witness is speechless.

The brush fills in the blades of grass
the gray canvas bleeds in twenty shades of green
the easel sits in the southern window
wet with winter sun.

Despair and hope sing from the same page,
the same life;
who is to say which leads
and follows?

The rocks are crying out
from the midst of tulip trumpets:
this cold, hard way--
will it be at an end?

3 Apr 10 (Lent LX)

All the uncertainty of Holy Saturday sinks in as we wait and watch. Even the glorious celebration of the Great Easter Vigil from darkness to light on Easter Eve has not yet overcome the despair of the death on a Friday.

+ + + + + + +

Unwritten


In the dark
I reach the top
of the stairs
in the old familiar house,
reach for the white lace ribbon
tied to the lamp chain
and swipe at the air
as if knowing what I’m doing
and then becomes uncertain
as I swipe again
at the closest unknown
an eternity from now
before the light comes on.

11 Apr 10 (Lent LXI)

Written for Easter, a week after-- this was the poem that just would not come. It lay unwritten somewhere in my psyche until I reached for the stairwell lamp. Sometimes the rising of faith is abrupt, sometimes it is long in coming. Always it is nearer than we think.

* * *
All Poems Copyright 2010, E. G. Happ, All Rights Reserved.

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