A Lenten Success

I try to avoid patting myself on the back in public – but if I don’t, what is social media for?

For some years I have chosen to follow two parallel disciplines each Lent. One is a fairly straightforward decision to refrain from something during the forty-six days of the season (I include the Sundays for this). I’ve given up fast food, beer, soda, computer games, and similar kinds of things (though never coffee – never coffee). I have almost never been able to successfully repeat one of these, so I generally have to choose something new and different each year.

The second discipline, on the other hand, is to take something on. I’ve followed exercise programs and prayer cycles. Frequently I’ve done creative projects with photography or poetry. In fact, my weekly Lection Prayers are an outgrowth of one Lenten season. I simply kept going with them.

This year I set a goal I was not certain I could achieve. I decided to write a song each week of Lent.

Although my repertoire of compositions has expanded greatly over the years, the truth is that I don’t write songs all that often. I was astonished when I counted the songs I’d written in 2021 and came up with a dozen. For me, songwriting requires a good deal more time, concentration, and focus than most other writing projects. I have and do write to deadlines, but I generally prefer to follow some kind of inspiration when it comes to music. I usually am happier with the results.

To set a goal for songwriting which is half my output in the previous year – in six weeks – well. I wasn’t sure I could do it.

I did give myself some space. I did not insist that each song be composed within an assigned week. All I required was that there be six songs by the end of the season. Nor did I impose any subjects or themes on them. The songs would be what they were, and they could fit into the sacred or the secular as it came along. I also knew I’d write one anyway: I’ve made a habit for a few years now of writing something for Easter. Still. Six songs in six weeks?

Friends, I did it. And… all six have now been performed and are available on YouTube.

Wisdom, Feed Us

Premiere performance during the Community Concert of March 11, 2022.

Dream of Peace

Premiere performance during the Community Concert of March 25, 2022.

Come On, Guitar

Premiere performance as A Song from Church of the Holy Cross, March 23, 2022.

Creature of this World

Premiere performance as A Song from Church of the Holy Cross: April 6, 2022.

As We Bring Him Down

Premiere performance during Scripture and Poetry for Good Friday, April 15, 2022.

Walk, Mary, Walk

Premiere performance during What I’m Thinking #259, April 18, 2022.

Hold Still, Mary

Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. – John 20:10-11

Slow down, Mary.

You’ve made the trek three times this morn.
Once slowly, drawn reluctantly but certainly
to this one place, a garden you would water
with your tears.

Slow down, Mary.

The second trip you ran with panicked feet,
aghast with loss and injury.
What had they done with Jesus?
Death by torture – wasn’t that enough?

Slow down, Mary.

You might have beat the fisherman
in that footrace, except you’d run the race
before already, and the other one?
Who could outrun the one that Jesus loved?

Slow down, Mary.

You sought their help. You might have guessed –
I’m sure you did – that they’d no help
to give. Now, Joseph might have known,
and Nicodemus might have helped, but not these two.

Slow down, Mary.

Let them return, uncertain and afraid,
until they bring their friends together.
You: wait. Take one more look into
the empty tomb. Ignore the words of angels.

Slow down, Mary.

If his disciples cannot help, nor angels,
sweep your tear-swept eyes across the garden,
and see if there is one who says your name,
to whom you’d cling until the sunset comes.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:1-18, the Revised Common Lectionary Alternate Gospel Reading for Year C, Easter Sunday (Resurrection of the Lord). 

The image is Mary Magdalene, a digital Proundism image by Koorosh Orooj – http://profoundism.com/free_licenses.html http://profoundism.com/free_licenses_mary_magdalene.html, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=108033456. The original image has much more precise detail than the lesser resolution one displayed here.

For Easter 2021: How Could the Story End?

What I’m Thinking is a brief weekly reflection on the upcoming Scriptures – except when it becomes What I’m Singing.

How Could the Story End?

They stepped out in the morning’s shade
Bearing the spice mixture that they’d made.
How will we roll the stone away?
Is a question they don’t need to ask today.

[Chorus]

How could the story end?
Grieving/mourning/searching for a cherished friend?
No, the story goes on past the closing page:
Jesus Christ is risen!

They found that things were not as they had been.
The stone was rolled aside and they went in.
With startled face they heard the word
That Jesus’ resurrection had occurred.

[Chorus]

They left in fright and who could blame them
If they kept silent lest the story shame them.
But someone told and someone told and so we all know:
That Jesus Christ is risen!

[Chorus]

A poem/prayer based on Mark 16:1-8, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year B, Easter Sunday.

Untouched

[Thomas] said to them, “Unless I… put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” – John 20:25

I don’t want to make this a condition
of belief, my Friend. I don’t want
to make this a condition
of relationship; oh, no.

But.

While I don’t desire so to place
my finger on or in your wounds,
I crave in separation time your touch,
A hand, a breath, a deep embrace.

Just that.

So great a thing as that.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:19-31, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, second Sunday of Easter.

The image is The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio – http://www.christusrex.org/www2/art/images/carav10.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6804893.

Holy Week 2020: Easter Sunday

This is, perhaps, my way of emulating
your three days away, to let a silence
fall between a midday and a morn, to
wait and see if resurrection lifts the weary
bones once more, restores connections,
grants the boon of inspiration.

Perhaps.

But truth to tell, my risen friend,
I yearn much more that you would speak
to me and all the weary world
as you addressed your friends that night
behind the fast-closed door. Come wish me peace,
dear Jesus. Come and wish us peace.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:1-18 the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel Reading for Year A, Easter Sunday.

Image of Christ greeting his disciples by Duccio di Buoninsegna – http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/d/duccio/buoninse/index.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3925674.

In Shadow

In shadow I approach you, Lord.
Though other times, I would embrace the light
this morning I will seek the dark
avoiding watching hostile eyes.

An alleyway for shelter, then
moon shadow of an overhanging roof.
Step slowly, lest a watcher spot
the motion of my furtive form.

I make this journey into shadow, Lord,
as you embraced the darkness not three days
ago, and gasped that it was finished
to the broken beating of my heart.

And now, one shadow still remains,
a deeper blanker blackness that
should not be there. My heartbeat
hammers in my throat to see

an open tomb.

A poem/prayer based on John 20:1-18, the Revised Common Lectionary Gospel reading for Year C, Easter Sunday.

Photo of the lunar eclipse of January 31, 2018, by Eric Anderson.