February 14, 2019 § Leave a comment
Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed following the trajectory of the cross-generational music partnership, Liturgical Folk. They’re the unexpected artistic pairing of a retired Anglican priest who writes remarkable religious poems and a young songwriter who composes unique folk songs. If you missed it a while back, I wrote about them for The Dallas Morning News.
This past week, I published a follow-up story about their latest albums and the success of their project overall for Christianity Today. As it turns out, Liturgical Folk is part of a broader trend within the Anglican community right now — revitalizing music in the church with liturgy, poetry, and personal response.
August 23, 2017 § Leave a comment
The Lord is a fly, black, fat, and buzzing. He bites. He is mean. I am in my bedroom, lying in bed, waiting for the fly. Will you come to me, fly? Bite me? Let the blood run thin? God is a baby, yes? But he is also a fly. A pesky nagger. A nuisance just out of reach. Go away, fly. Go bother someone else. Go find a pile of crap to land on. I’m not your garbage heap.
Fly, fly. You mean, vicious bug. Why do you love lights so? You hit them – bzt bzt bzt – and each time get a little shock. Can’t you see I’m trying to concentrate? Can’t you see I have real, practical things to address? My most recent bank statement. That email to a friend. Maybe even, a prayer.
You circle my head – Lord, why do you come at me as a fly? There are so many better, nobler, sweeter creatures you could have chosen. Maybe my cat, black and furry, purring on my bed. Or the dog, who, yes, barks in the mornings, but is otherwise docile. Fly away fly! You’re a bother! What do you want from me?
Only absolute attention. Only observation of what is small and annoying. Only the end of laziness and the beginning of quick action. You win Fly-God, okay? You’re under my skin.
October 23, 2016 § 2 Comments
Happy weekend, y’all! Here are a few links to things I’ve written lately.
Of all the things I ever thought I’d publish, poetry was not one of them. Which is why I’m glad I sometimes (okay, a lot of the times) get things wrong.
This month, one of my poems was published in the beautiful online literary magazine s/word! You can read the poem in the magazine or check it out here:
I’ve talked before about my work with The Well Community, a nonprofit that serves those who struggle with mental illness in Oak Cliff, a borough of Dallas. The Well is a super organization, and I recommend them to anyone in the Dallas area (or beyond) wanting to help those on the margins.
This month, I wrote several stories for their blog:
- I hung out with their members, those who struggle with mental illness, during their biannual spiritual retreat.
- I chatted with several volunteers about their experience helping The Well.
- And I hung out with a group of firefighters renovating The Well’s boarding house.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Well, please drop me a note! I’d love to answer any questions about them.
Also, I recently created a Facebook page where I post links to things I write. You can check it out here!
May 5, 2016 § 2 Comments
When you are shrouded, how does one go? Who am I, that which beget me? Love which holds the universe fastened together,
where do I pass and are you mindful? Why, if you are?
That such intricacies exist which we do not know: a caterpillar chewing a green leaf, a frog dying in a pond alone, baby chicks hatching in a needled nest, me by myself drinking coffee. Such personalities! Such extravagance, and I’m more interested in what’s for dinner.
Expand our hearts so that we might see — the universe within us, and without. Show us your radiance in it all, in an early morning sunbeam and the minuscule growth of a fingernail.
These images, pasted together, amount to a glimpse, but still you remain hidden behind layers and layers of starry black cloth. It doesn’t end here. There is more to be given, and received. Fold us into your shadowy veil.
*Photos from my recent trip to Texas Hill Country.
February 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
You promise to build us a highway over and through the mountains. You promise to feed us, to quench our thirst, to let us see. You promise that you are near, that our names are inked in dark blue and black scrawls on your wide hands, that the love of a mother for a baby might, improbably, fail, but yours will never for you are love itself and cannot not be what you are. When it appears you are far, let us know you are close so we do not grow bitter. Show us a sign so the mountains of our hearts and the earth of our bodies might shout, might sing. Remind us: our walls are your walls, and like a ghost you walk through them, carrying us along.
January 12, 2016 § 6 Comments
Lately, I’ve been enjoying reading and, on occasion, writing a bit of poetry. Right now, I’m smitten with the poems written by contemporary poets in Image Journal and Ruminate Magazine, two lovely quarterlies that explore the relationship between art and faith. I’m also flipping through Caroline Kennedy’s She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey through Poems, which is a wonderful anthology of poems about the joys and sorrows of being a woman.
Here’s a poem I wrote as a writing exercise several months ago. I discovered it on a crinkled piece of notebook paper while clearing out my closet, and thought I would share:
Sour, the taste of lemons,
Sweet, the taste of chocolate white,
Sacramental bread and wine is
something, but nothing you taste like.
Sorrowful, holy voices rising,
Sonorous, organ boom,
Saint-like, I kneel to listen, hearing only
silence from an empty tomb.
Soft, a child’s bare arm in summer,
Squishy, the wet sponge in my sink,
Sheep’s skin, dew-covered, a
sign nowhere near the brink.
Sunset, a golden-hued death.
Sunrise, a purple-streaked birth.
Son of God, haloed and holy-hands
standing, but a photo before the broken curse.
Steaming, bitter coffee in a cracked mug,
Scented, the candle on my porcelain tub,
Smell of blood and water flowing,
salient story, though crass.
December 27, 2015 § 2 Comments
Stop. Unless — can you bring it back?
Because thinking about it,
I’d rather suffer here in the dark than
stand in the light of an unknown sun.
Memories more vivid than present day
seared on my mind and waking nighttime
ghouls. Forgetting is hemlock and don’t
tell me Truth or whisper some cultural cliché.
The grief of goodness lost is a purple fire;
it’s forget or burn.
I’ve drunk cold water and learned to be content;
I’ve taken lessons from stoics, meditated cross-legged
on flat rocks, prayed to a dead god on a cross,
and yet — there, it rises, flickers again,
red-flamed and forgotten.
October 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
I will fold your heart gently in a white paper packet. I will crimp the edges to tuck you in. Like a child in bed, you’ll be safe, surrounded, encircled in smoothness, protected within.
With soft white sheets I will surround you, so fragile, in the palm of my hand. You’re my tiny walnut, my baby apple seed, my uncrackable lady, my Me more than Me.
I’ll open the cage of your heart oh so gently. I’ll hold your caked blood in the center of my hand. I’ll kiss it away sweetly, new warmth to be given. I’ll heal, I’ll straighten, every wrinkle within.
I’ll twine you up, like spun cotton candy. I’ll blow you away, like grass in the wind. I’ll fold you up in a white paper packet, set you inside, where no thing can get in.
March 12, 2015 § 4 Comments
I’ve been reading a bit of poetry lately so I thought, what the heck, I’ll try my hand at writing one of these things. For your enjoyment (or exasperation, whichever you like):
Broken, I stand;
Made small, subdued
to glow, polished corn kernel.
That which was within — aborted.
Something new swept in
to fill full, plump as
a ripe split tomato, pomegranate sweet.
Salted, not to eat
but to be consumed by the friendly lion.
Neither dead nor alive,
in the in-between land in the inner place
where Wisdom dwells.
Shafts of golden corn in sunlight flowing
in a Midwestern breeze.
Under blue skies, my bare feet on frozen ground,
You spoke, whispered, screamed! —
and what could I do but turn?
Water splashed and blood
dripped, poured off my face,
splattered on my feet.
You clean me with Your white rag.
You hold me in Your holed hands.
Father. Mother. Oh, my God.
You set me on an island in the sea.
You feed me coconuts beneath
You lead me on through
to a church pew
in a city;
in a square box;
in a guitar string.
You want me.
And I — oh, I! — I want You, too.
Not fully, but
turn me round and I’ll dance, barefooted
and holy on