I Want to Close My Eyes

Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble?
– Habakkuk 1:3a

I will stand at my watchpost…
-Habakkuk 2:1a

It’s a station at a height, O Holy One.
From my watching post, I see far.
My eyes are aided by a global net
of eyes and ears and electronic tongues.

From my watching post, I see.

I see the separated children.
I see the freedom-seekers jailed.
I see the wealthy celebrating.
I see the wicked circle the righteous.

From my watching post, I see.

I want to close my eyes.
I want to stop my ears.
I want my skin to cease its clenching.
I want to taste no more of evil.

But judgment comes forth perverted,
And so I watch and weep.

A poem/prayer based on Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4, the Revised Common Lectionary First reading for Year C, Proper 26.

Self-portrait by Eric Anderson.

God, I Thank You

God, I thank you
I am not like those
who pray loud prayers in public,
proudly propping up their piety.

Oh. Er. Um.

God, I thank you
I am not like those
who so embrace their righteousness
they loudly judge the evils of the world.

Oh. Er. Um.

God, I thank you
I am not like those
who so approve their faithfulness
they leave no room for… you.

Oh. Er. Um.

God, I thank you
I am not like those
who so applaud their godliness
they ask no grace from you.

Oh. Er. Um.

Oh. Er. Um.

God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 18:9-14, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 25.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

Grant to Her

She just wants a home without gunfire.
She just wants a home without force.
She just wants a home without war at the door.
She just wants a home without war beneath the roof…

Grant to her justice, O God.
Grant to her justice
with the speed of the unjust judge.
Grant to her justice, O God,
for she waits.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 18:1-8, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 24.

The image is a section of a 19th century composition “The Parable of the Unjust Judge” found in the Palace of Facets, Moscow. Public Domain.

No Guilt

I feel no guilt, Redeemer, that I took
You at Your word, and took myself to see
the priests, to show Your manifested grace.
You spoke. I did. We did. Except for one.

I feel no guilt, Redeemer, that I ran
to show the priests the signs that would redeem
me to my home, my family, my life.
You spoke. I ran. We ran. Except for one.

I feel no guilt, Redeemer, that I chose
to follow what You said entirely to
the letter. Go. And show. And return home.
You spoke. I went. We went. Except for one.

I feel no guilt, Redeemer, for my acts,
but in my heart burns my regret I missed
the approbation of Your loving smile.
I went. I missed. We missed… except for one.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 17:11-19, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 23.

Image is by an unknown artist – Codex Aureus Epternacensis (ca. 1035-1040), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8480209.

11,317 Days

Should I not be like the experienced
apostle, offering encouragement
to the uncertain youth? Should I not be
the one to bless the faithfulness that they
received from mother and from grandmother,
to summon them to bear the shame and cost?

Should I not be the one to suffer for
the gospel as a herald, teacher, and
apostle, bearing up despite the shame
of disregard, dismissal, and distress?
Should I not be the one to offer truth
in sound and faithful speech to one and all?

Yet after thirty years, eleven months,
and four and twenty days since hands were laid
upon me, prayers proclaimed, and I was raised,
now set apart, a minister of Christ,
my heart still skips a beat to think that God
has given power, love, self-discipline…

To me.

A poem/prayer based on 2 Timothy 1:1-14, the Revised Common Lectionary Second reading for Year C, Proper 22.

Photo by Eric Anderson.

At the Gate

Can God forgive what I will not repent?

“And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores…” – Luke 16:20

Silently hungry, silently suffering,
there at the gate.
Silently sick, silently homeless,
there at the gate.

They are the gates of nations.
They are the gates of cities.
They are the gates of families.
They are the gates of… me.

Silently hungry, silently suffering,
there at the gate.
Silently sick, silently homeless,
there at the gate.

Lay there, Lazarus, lay there.
Hold your silence. Hold your peace.
Hold your hunger. Hold your illness.
Hold your need. I…

I will hold my greed.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 16:19-31, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Proper 21.

The painting is the Parable of Lazarus by Fyodor Bronnikov, ca. 1886 – http://etnaa.mylivepage.ru/image/411/12132_ПритчаоЛазаре._1886.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9882122.

More Shrewd

Photo by Mohamed Rasheed Ahmed, used by permission.

I saw a photo once, a photo of three children.
One grinned a happy grin.
One wore the neutral look of child before a camera.
One’s eyes gazed into my soul.

I saw a photo once, a photo of three children,
“And these,” the speaker said,
“are children who will be homeless.”
Their island home is flanked by rising seas.

I saw a photo once, a photo of three children,
and that picture should have been enough,
the smile, the uncertainty, the soulful gaze
should have stopped us cold.

I saw a photo once, a photo of three children,
children whose homes will vanish due
to greed, to others’ comfort, and to lies.
Their truth overwhelmed in a wave of falsehood.

I saw a photo once, a photo of three children,
and I heard the voice of Jesus ask,
“How is it that the children of this age are shrewder
than the children of the light?”

“I see this photo, too, this photo of three children,
and I ask you, people, will you guard the wealth
of some and wreck the homes of many?
Are you less shrewd than these deceivers?”

I saw a photo once, a photo of three children,
children who will lose their homes to lies.
And I said to Jesus, “Yes. I am less shrewd.”
And wept.

A poem/prayer based on Luke 16:1-13, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Proper 20.

The photo by Mohamed Rasheed Amed was shared by 350.org on their Flickr site under the Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA/2.0.