Is This the Time?

For some who wonder
now, “Where is life’s
boundary?” The one who
wakes, confused, with speech
no one can understand,
and moans in
sleep; the spouse who
watches (he once
watched) to guess the tide of
life; the son who’s near,
the son who’s far; the
grandson and
granddaughter who
have lost two grandparents they
knew, and one they
never knew; the sister,
nieces, nephews, cousins.

Beyond the Jordan, do they
know? Do they know, is this their
time for love’s reunion?
Mother, father, wife, and
sister: they await.

Here, in tears, we ask:
“Is this the time?”


Written on June 25, 2018, as we wondered whether my father was approaching his last days.

After the Funeral

IMG_0008The sun was setting well behind my back
(And well behind the mountain)
As I stood for just a moment
And looked up upon the sky
As mourners made their way
From sanctuary’s words of comfort
To the kitchen’s comfort foods.

And there, upon the gray-clad cloud,
A crystal band a-glow.

Too small, this sight, to capture with
The sensors of the pocket camera.
I doubt too many noticed it at all.
It lacked the hues of saffron or of crimson:
Just a top-lit arc of argent, glowing
With reflected sunlight, in a corner
Of the sky.

I thought: It is no wonder
We imagine heaven in the clouds.

Wherever it might be you gather souls, O God,
Wherever you have welcomed this dear man,
And others dear, women and men and everyone,
May it be as glorious, or even more,
As this fair gleaming, beaming from the cloud.
And thank you for this brief reflection
Of a glory promising your grace.

Thank you, God, for light on clouds.
Thank you, God, for light in hearts. Amen.

In memory of Kenneth Susumu Tanouye, after whose funeral I saw this light upon the clouds, and with love for all those who have gone from our care to God’s.

The photo does not particularly resemble the light reflected in this poem. It’s more dramatic — which is a virtue of its own, and so it won its place here.

Jesus Wept

Child and Tear croppedAuthor’s note: This poem was written as part of a sermon called “When Jesus Wept” preached on April 2, 2017, at Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo, Hawai’i.

Tears, come, and make your muddy traces
In the dust that yet adheres upon the visage
Of the Savior. Tears, come, as dust-caked voice
With muted tones inquires where he’s laid.
Tears, come, to join those springing from the eyes
Of friends most dear and of their comforters.
Tears, come, to stain the face of God.

Tears, come, because they do not understand.
Tears, come, because they fear when they need not.
Tears, come, because a few among them,
In just a little time,
May howl for your death.
Tears, come, because the road was long,
The body weary, spirit drained,
And who on Earth could hold themselves from weeping
In this sad community of tears?

Tears, come, because these are the depths of grief.
Tears, come, because the one you loved is gone.
Tears, come, because the resurrection has not happened yet,
Not the resurrection of the final day,
Nor the resurrection of today.

Tears, come, because we go to stand outside a tomb.
Tears, come, because we comprehend the paths of time.
Tears, come, because the grave of Lazarus,
Though opened, opens yet another tomb,
And they will carry you where you wish not to go.

Tears, come to testify to love.
Tears, come in solidarity with grief.
Tears, come to gather power for
A glorious resurrection.
Tears, come to anoint thee
For betrayal, for the trial,
For the torture, for the death,
For the tomb ahead.

Tears, come to Jesus’ eyes
And bathe his weary cheeks
With love, with grace, with awe.

Photo credit: The image is cropped from a photo by Giorgio Montersino, used by permission under Creative Commons license.