Collapsed

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Summit summer-shaken
Rocks now resting
Like tumbled tumuli
Buried in basalt.

Lava languishes
Column cobble-choked
Yet vapor venting
Exhaust ethereal.

Caldera collapsed:
Like a soul subsiding,
Deeply dismayed,
Grieving and groaning.

“Give up your gifts,”
Unwelcomely uttered,
“Present to the poor,”
Displeasing decree.

You discourage discipleship,
Demanding Deliverer,
Boost bar to barrier,
from fracture to fence.

You ask all my all,
My self and my substance –
So my character crumbles,
And my features fall.

Just one hope for the helpless,
To comfort your companions:
The preposterous for people
Is the greatness of God.

A poem/prayer based on Mark 10:17-31, the Revised Common Lectionary reading for Year B, Proper 23.

Photo of the Kilauea caldera – showing rockfalls from the earthquakes and collapses of the summer of 2018 – was taken by Eric Anderson on October 8, 2018.

Hardness of Heart

Heart_of_stone_Israel“Because of your hardness of heart
he wrote this commandment for you.”

Where is my heart hard, O God?
I know, to my shame, of my hardness
of heart to one who I loved. Love ends
in pain: pain I inflicted on myself.

“Because of your hardness of heart
he wrote this commandment for you.”

Where is my heart hard, O God?
Am I so conditioned to suffering
and sighs that I turn away? A hard heart
would break at the wails of caged children.

“Because of your hardness of heart
he wrote this commandment for you.”

Where is my heart hard, O God?
Must I shout “Not me!” when they cry,
“Me, too!” No fingers point my way…
Unless they point toward a frozen heart.

“Because of your hardness of heart
he wrote this commandment for you.”

Let the little children come to me, you said.
Let the women come to me, you said.
Let the suffering and the sick come to me, you said.
Let the broken, the poor, the unprivileged.

Now I come, my Savior, to offer my hard heart.

A poem/prayer based on Mark 10:2-16, the Revised Common Lectionary reading for Year B, Proper 22.

The photo is of a beach sculpture in Israel. Photo by Peter van der Sluijs. Used by permission under Creative Commons license.

The ‘Apapane’s Own Song

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This morning’s story is about a bird, and I imagine that you can guess which one. What bird do you think it is?

[Chorus of “‘Apapane!”]

That’s right. This story is about an ‘apapane. I don’t know why I like these birds so much – it wasn’t the first bird I saw after I moved to Hawai’i – but I know I like them a lot.

When she was first hatched, this ‘apapane didn’t sing. Neither did her brother or sister. In fact, they made a squawking noise to show that they were hungry, kind of like this: [Pastor makes squawking noise. One of the children makes a squawking noise in response.]

Mother? I think somebody’s hungry.

As they grew older, though, even when her brother and sister started to sing, she didn’t. She remained silent as their song echoed through the forest. Her brother and sister encouraged her to sing, and her mother and father encouraged her to sing, and all her aunties and her uncles encouraged her to sing, and she just wouldn’t do it.

She just wouldn’t sing.

Everybody was concerned, so they went to the grandmother – Tutu ‘Apapane – because that’s who you go to when there’s trouble, isn’t it? “Tutu,” they cried, “you must help. Our little one won’t sing!”

Tutu cocked her head to one side, and gazed thoughtfully at the sky through the branches. Then she said:

“Her song is her song to sing, or not to sing. It is her song, and she may sing it when or how she wishes.”

With that answer they had to be content.

To everyone’s surprise, one morning a new voice rang out through the ohi’a trees. She was singing with all her heart and soul.

What she sang, though, was as surprising as the fact she was singing at all. It was a new song. It didn’t sound like the ‘apapane song they all sang. It didn’t sound like the i’iwi song, or the ‘amakihi song, or the ‘omao song, or any other bird they could remember hearing.

They tried to get her to sing the ‘apapane song, but the only sound that rose from her beak was the new song, the one she sang alone.

They were all concerned – her brother and sister, her mother and father, her aunties and uncles – so they went to Tutu ‘Apapane and said, “Tutu, you must help. Our little one is singing, but she is singing the wrong song!”

Tutu cocked her head to one side, and gazed thoughtfully at the sky through the branches. Then she said:

“Her song is her song to sing, or not to sing. It is her song, and she may sing it when or how she wishes.”

With that answer they had to be content.

As time went on, her song became, well, rather popular. Other ‘apapane started to sing it when they thought nobody else could hear. A few of them caught themselves singing in harmony. Sometimes they tried a little counterpoint with her song. Before anybody was quite aware of it, the forest rang with variations on the new song. Despite themselves, the flock grew very pleased.

Until the day she stopped singing.

“Oh, no!” they cried. “We love your song. Sing it with us! Lead us!” But she remained silent.

They were all concerned – her brother and sister, her mother and father, her aunties and uncles – so they went to Tutu ‘Apapane and said, “Tutu, you must help. Our little one has stopped singing!”

Tutu cocked her head to one side, and gazed thoughtfully at the sky through the branches. Then she said:

“Her song is her song to sing, or not to sing. It is her song, and she may sing it when or how she wishes.”

With that answer they had to be content.

It seemed like a long time, but it probably wasn’t so long before a new song echoed through the ohi’a grove. She was singing again, and she had a brand new tune.

Fortunately, the flock had learned Tutu ‘Apapane’s wisdom. They rejoiced in her new song, and they didn’t worry. They sang along – with their classic ‘apapane song, and with her previous melody, and with variations on her new creation. They didn’t even worry when she broke into silence once more. They just waited to see when and how the next notes would fly.

We each have our own song. For some, it might be a song. For some, it might be something you make, or think, or do. There is something unique and special that is your song to sing, your story to tell, your wonder to create.

And that is yours. You choose when to share it, and how. Nobody else can tell you, except if it is causing trouble for others.

I am not telling you that it’s all right to make lots of crayon marks on the wall, OK?

I am telling you that your special creation is yours to share when you feel it’s ready, and as you feel you want to share it. It is your song, and you may sing it when and how you wish.

Photo by Eric Anderson. It has been digitally enhanced to bring out the ‘apapane colors.

In My Imagination

IMG_4582In my imagination…

Without a foot, I take each step
with care, deliberation,
sensitive to balance,
cautious of my pain.

Without a hand, I feel my pulse
within my elbow, feel the zephyr
lift the hairs upon my arm,
feel the power of each embrace.

Without an eye, I turn my head
to see the full horizon, move about
to see each side in fullness,
to see attentively.

In my imagination…

In reality, O Lord, I know
I’d be as careless of your wonders
deprived of eye, or hand, or foot,
as I am careless with them.

Help me become, O Lord,
as my imagination.

A poem/prayer based on Mark 9:38-50, the Revised Common Lectionary reading for Year B, Proper 21.

Forced perspective photo by Eric Anderson, who does have a left hand.

Holy Mountain

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“I lift my eyes unto the hills
from whence comes my help…”
Did Isaiah read those words
when he looked upon Mount Zion
envisioning a peace so great
it changed the natural world?

Did the ragged stones still linger
from the decades-old destruction
of Solomon’s Temple, David’s city?
Or had the walls begun to rise?
Did they crown the mountain’s peak,
bathed with Ezra’s tears?

Did the lions prowl
the fallen stones of yesteryear,
was Zion’s limestone face
turned to the azure sky?
Did grasses wave, or cedar planks
rise from the sacred mount?

For both these worlds exist
in company within the prophet’s words:
the temple shaped by nature,
and the temple raised by people.
Which was, I wonder now, the vision,
and which the visioner’s reality?

A poem/prayer based on Isaiah 65:17-25, the Season of Creation Hebrew Bible reading for Year B, Mountain Sunday. The opening quote is from Psalm 121.

Photo (of Mauna Kea, not Mount Zion) by Eric Anderson.

Decide

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Oh, it’s an easy choice, O God.

“Because of this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above grow black…”

Now that’s what I call an
unattractive option, and since
the alternative before me is:
“The heavens are telling
the glory of God…”
I’ll take Your glory
any day.

Unless, of course, I need
to get from here to there,
in which case I’ll just depart, a bit,
from careful handling of Creation,
gentle dwelling on the Earth.
No, I will swaddle myself in bucket seats
and give my not-so-weary feet a rest
to make that not-so-difficult,
not-so-necessary,
oh-so-arbitrary journey.

And so I will add carbon’s sable
to the sky.

Yes, it’s an easy choice, O God.
Give my Your glory!
Unless it’s inconvenient…

For me.

A poem/prayer based on Jeremiah 4:23-28 and Psalm 19:1-6, the Season of Creation Hebrew Bible and Psalm readings for Year B, Sky Sunday. 

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Do You Wear Glasses, Too?

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I am just ecstatic to
be shaped in form divine of You.
Just answer me one question, do:
Do You wear glasses, too?

I’m great with male and female, yes,
community that founds God-ness,
yet my eyes fail a driver’s test:
Do You wear glasses, too?

Imago Dei, that’s for me,
to bulwark pride at royal tea,
and laugh when threatened by the sea:
(but) Do You wear glasses, too?

I’ve seen Your figure’s flowing locks,
seen You nursing, playing with blocks,
seen You carved from ancient rocks:
Do You wear glasses, too?

I’m just an image, oh that’s true,
not a duplicate of You,
so my mistakes will all break through,
(but) Do You wear glasses, too?

The question, really, (and You knew),
is not about Your sight or view
but whether I am part of You

with sight bedimmed
or limbs belabored,
mind bewildered
or heart beset,
with irregularities
too many to name:

Do You wear glasses, too?

A poem/prayer based on Genesis 1:26-28, the Season of Creation Hebrew Bible reading for Year B, Humanity Sunday. For more consideration of what it means to consider disability in divinity, read “Lessons from a Deviation” by Rebekah Anderson.

Photo by Eric Anderson.