Monday, October 10, 2011

In the Gleaning (World Communion)

"In the Gleaning"

After the Harvest, the Gleaning,
gathering what's left out, behind,
overlooked, even blown, thrown away,
valuing something rejected,
making do with what's found,
rescued, salvaged along the way -
recycling, thrifting, yard-saleing,
dumpster-diving -- discipling?
Jesus calling on those in whom
little or nothing generally seen?
Himself gleaned from a dung-heap?
Think it's easy being gleaned?
Lowest on food chain, closest to Earth?
Anawin, animals, littlest of living things:
Elephants fighting, grass suffering --
Who thinks we're the Only Elephant now?

O LORD, what are we human beings?
That you are even mindful of us?
Much less that you who make
everything care pointedly for us?
What are we lacking that you
make us little less than yourself?
Waste image, dominion, communion on us?
Among all exquisiting works of your hands?

A spiritual seeker should carry
two stones in a pocket. On one it
should be inscribed, "I am but dust and
ashes." On the other, "For my sake was
the world created." And the seeker
should use each stone as needed.
(Rabbi Bunam)

Shofar sounds, Jubilee echoes, all is
forgiven, again and again! "Every morning
you wake up to something that in
all eternity never was before, and
never will be again. And the you
that wakes up was never the
same before, and will never be
the same either."
(Frederick Buechner)

"We all need somebody to glean on!"
Who is not born to sharing?
Borrowing future, inheriting past?
Paul exhorting Timothy: relish your
mother, your grandmother, three
generations of faithful already!
Holding our past with their hands!
Handing past off, and on, to us all!
"Not too far away and busy with
eternal things to take notice of
one small child . . . The line still holds."
(Marie Livingston Roy)

Tiniest faiths, tiniest seeds, made up
already of everything needed to grow,
mature, bud, bloom, burst forth in fruit;
humans alone among creatures unfinished?
Anything else in all creation not been here
since everything else created --
even as we now discover anew?
Seeds represent entire civilizations,
miniaturized to fit into palms of our hands.
When a venerable seed perishes, as with
the loss of a human manuscript,
human culture dies by degrees --
vanishing seeds, vanishing species,
forests, habitats, languages, cultures --
for ravenous sake of standardized trade,
excluding thousands heirloom varieties;
monocropping, maximizing every efficiency,
patenting modified seeds, unintended
crossbreeding, intended downsizing --

We're collapsing ownership of
the land into hands of very few people.
We're indenturing farmers in different
ways -- to land and to bankers owning
the land. (William Weaver)

"We cannot do great things, only
small things with great love."
(Mother Teresa)

Word, Law, Spirit tied up in
our very beings -- guts, throats,
laughters, tears, foods, drinks --
Universal Law: "Eat, and be eaten!"

Jesus no legally "strict constructionist,"
more like "judicial activist:"
You have heard it was said of old . . .
But I say unto you! Bearing my own
witness! "Liberating renovationist!"
From illusions of past to presumptions of
future! Shocking hearers and fearers
alike: "I am the Holy One, your God,
who brought you out of bondage!"

Law for remindering, who brings
who out of what, over and over again,
"Households of Freedom," living
ecologies, working economies, out-
reaching ecumenicities, room in
each for all peoples, traditions,
"House Rules," Commandments,
fleshed and souled out, everyone
partners, partying to one another,
none finally saved, freed, healed apart,
especially cast out, or never cast in,
else insiders never rest easy, tenants
no longer serving interests of
absentee landlords, laying their
law onto others -- "The law cannot
make you love me; it can make you
take your foot off my neck!" (Dr. King)

Manly Moses, numerically nimble,
calmly declaiming, Commandments
relating to "God."

One, Creating us all from One Source,
all persons, all peoples, thus equals!

Two, Creating each directly, no lesser
gods, religions, cultures between us!

Three, Creating Name's use, for
building up, not tearing down,
blessings of life, of love, never
vain violence, docile destruction.

Four, Creating life once and each day,
timelessly, spacelessly, treasuring
holiness, task to be freed.

Commandments relating us each to
other, interpersonally, intercommunally,
world risking each instance our existence --

Five, Connecting all generations,
descendants, ascendants, inheritors
all, less like landlords sending for
harvest, fomenting world fear, of
whose rightful reapings we
rip off, more like meek
mass-inheriting Earth.

Six, Connecting to all other lives,
taking any life act of self-violence.

Seven, Connecting by words --
promises, vows, covenants, commitments,
potentially living, lasting, forever.

Eight, Connecting through
plenty for all, Earth's resources
held in common, meant to be
shared, weakest fed first,
weapons stealing from
starvingest children.

Nine, Connecting, evolving,
unfixed, unfixing, answering above,
askings below, "experimenting in
truth," trusting true-given
witness in each, seeing, hearing for
selves, brightening with believing.

Ten, Connecting World House,
Many Rooms, for us all! Together!
Beloved, Beloving Community . . . .

How forlorn our cities would be,
absent thirds of their populations,
even more in work force and kids:

Singing Spanish in this Foreign Land!
Solidarity now, sustainability then,
what wars do they wage, what
weapons brandish, what in the
world but word, work, worship?
Life, labor, love -- undocumentable?
We, they, unavoidable, inescapable?
Nation-state's long, as we see it,
not altogether constructive,
historical contribution complete?
Dinosauric? Debauched? Displaceable?
Immigration not enforceable, only
embraceable? One birthplace as
meet as another? No foreign
lands left to sing in?

Commandable people, rekindled,
smoke above Sinai, stench below
Calvary, unallured, unalloyed, with
lyings like gods from high places,
sacraments pledging allegiance,
resistance, visibly signing
where we are standing,
whom we are standing with,
whose orders we're standing under,
God helping us do no other,
releasing fruits, abundance of
Jubilee Harvest, lest landlord
go looking, less troublesome lessees!

Commanded what we are to do,
reminded what is done for us,
everything asked of us also supplied:
Following orders of one liberating,
risking death for one giving life,
obeying law justing, gospel rejoicing,
confessing to one forgiving, hearing
No from one shouting Yes!

Take! Bless! Eat! Drink!
Wash! Serve! Love! Go forth!
Not to kill but, as need be, to die!
Re-member me! Render me
present again, and again!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fatigue of Seeing Things (September Ordinary)

"The Fatigue of Seeing Things"

Time to look up to whom we look down on,
stand over with those who have stood under us,
ground of our being deeper than
any appearance, any avoidance,
infectiously incognito as Jesus.

God, grieving god, weeping god,
"at love withheld, at strength misused,
at children's innocence abused;"
God, grieving god, bleeding god,
"at anger's fist, at trust betrayed,
at women battered and afraid;"
God, grieving god, crying god,
"at hungry mouths, at running sores,
at creatures dying without cause;"
God, grieving god, waiting god,
"for stones to melt, for peace to seed,
for hearts to hold each other's need."
(Shirley Erena Murray)

What other species grows so grievous,
randomizing, recidivizing, rampaging
harm at expense of Creation's intent:
Meaning to squander abundance on all,
Holy Spirit of Just Distribution,
gifts and graces, riches, resources,
Pentecost pivoting history's world wonder:
None gathering left living in needs unmet!

No matter that no office-holder or -runner
ventures revealing how fractured our world,
what deep-chasmed chaos --
countable wealthy, infinite poor,
so many Haitis, like Lazarus, washed
up on doorsteps, traversed everyday,
never seen, never known, "failed
nation states, world without winners --
our every adversity somebody's
"growth opportunity?"

We brought nothing into this world,
so that we can take nothing out of it.

Vineyards of unimpeached Promise,
Vineyarders welcoming last-comers first,
no one worth less, no one worth more,
Human Rightings, affirming actions --
full employment, livable wage, daily labor,
daily life, daily love -- passionate economics,
ecologics, ecumenics -- each leading to other --
Spirited Spiraling, out of control!

Abeyance of war one long conversation,
cosmic redundance, promising yes,
doing no; promising no, doing yes;
endless exchanging -- words, symbols, vows --
actions following fittingly from them?

Pausing, beginning again;
multiple covenants, at odds and loose ends,
ever legible, speakable, negotiable, changeable,
forgivable, even perfectible?

From reading minds to speaking hearts --
World, save the United Nations!

Wherever, whenever, two or three gather,
flowing forever, fantasy to and from Fate --

"You are contained in me. But how can we
contain you in ark or tabernacle or --
You cannot. Where, then?
In your heart. Come. Still?
I will be with thee. Who am I?
You are that I will be. Come."
(Madeleine L'Engle)

Troubled Talker, trapped in
trepadacious interpretation, God to people,
People to god; People forever searching a home,
perceiving all image as refuge:
Synagogue: "house of study, house of prayer,
house of assembly;" School: "house of books;"
Hospital: "house of sick people;" Cemetery:
"house of the buried;" All the Above: "House of Life!"
(Myra Soifer)

Biblically-wisdomed women, unconquerably
strong of spirit, free to choose, equal of any;
hardworking, undomesticated, organized,
skillfully buying land, greenly growing it,
outreaching, resourceful, entrepreneurial;
able to "laugh at the time to come," already
deep-grounded in common good, public life:
What benefits all belonging to all, increasing
sum over its parts, "gentleness born of wisdom,
steeping connection, abiding relation, unhaunted
by wondering what it was, would
have been, like to belong.

"What would people
look like if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
pinned against time?" (Ellen Bass)

We cannot be found without losing,
cannot come home without going away.
Where have we been? Who have we been?
Who have we been with? What have we done?
Paul's only credential: "invective, witch hunts,
arrogance" -- What more may we say of ourselves?
Does best in us even matter to Matter-Maker?
When worst in us always seems to suffice?

Jeremiah like day dead in summer,
globally warmed, hot brutal wind
scorching with hopeless exposure, on
barren heights of remotest desert,
encountering loose parts of ourselves,
forefacing with portents of dangerousness:

"Burning Man," Joan and John Baptists, putting on,
taking off, sackcloths, ashes, masks -- newly prophetic!
If catastrophe faces a people, a species, and sentinels
fail to warn those under their care . . . We live in
such a time: Global Warming. Ozone Depletion.
Overpopulation. Massive Starvation. Air and
Water Pollution. Topsoil Erosion. Deaths of
Coral Reefs and Oceans. Extermination of Species.
Continuing Threat of Nuclear Radiation from
Leaks, Dumps, Accidents . . . At a time when
every human resource should be trained on
surmounting these crises, torpor reigns.
(Walter Wink)

Where are our Jeremiahs, shitting, spitting
fire, saving matches, spilling out prayerful
guts for our wars; our sense of respect for failure,
that we can do nothing to stop them; our joy?
Grief overwhelming, hearts sickened with
cries of the poor, hopes shriveled by
misspent integrities.

Dare we incite, insight, ever darker interiors,
Mother Teresa, brightly surfaced for
charitable viewing enjoyment -- Yet,
"Who am I that You should forsake me?
The Child of your Love now become the most
hated one . . . thrown away as unwanted . . . ."
How much more water? How many more tears?
How much more lost are we able to be?

Jesus extending, perfecting prophecy, offering,
ransoming, once with his death, repeatedly with
resurrection, commending "dishonest wealth,"
surcharging self, canceling debt, building
relation, winnowing wealthy to healthier limits,
no longer gorging on greed out of
sore-gutted world: Steward of urgent shrewdness,
instant action, losing whole way of life off
those who owe him, whole way of warring,
all the wrong reasons, learning to live with
so little still left us to lose, looking, like Steward,
not upward but down, relieving, releasing
most desperate from debt.

What if Mother Teresa's darkness is a warning? . . .
What if she was just like us, saw problems,
responded, and got deeper and deeper into
the suffering of others because
there seemed to be no end to it? . . .
We suffer the fatigue of seeing
things we don't know how to
change without disturbing the world in
a way her wonderful works did not seem to do.
(National Catholic Reporter)

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Shocked and Awed" (September 11)

"Shocked and Awed"

Some folks born, and again, to surround
altar-towers of Table and Font?
Help us find Everyday Holiness,
positioned where we least expect?
No matter how cautious, bound to bump into?
Troubling waters, crumbling bread,
sloshing cup, up-and-down, side-to-side,
reaches of cross, extending, embracing,
arms everlasting, everyone's plea for A World:

"Make way for the Image of God!"
With every child born, another world ending.
What world is ending? Is it ours? . . .
Who breaks in upon our normalcy,
the illusion that we are safe, and
steals the ground beneath our feet,
the changed course that marks our fate
We will never be the same.
Going out like children under bright familiar skies,
we return changed, older, shock-eyed, trembling . . .
Whose time of anguish gives birth to new life,
the long sorrow that yields to new worlds . . . .

(Patrick Marrin)

Dare we suspend disbelief, presume a
New Word to be exhumed and uttered,
new "gift of tongues" inflamed and exhaled?
Tongue guiding body, like bit in horse mouth,
small rudder turning whole ship:

Language "most intimately physical of all
artistic means. We have it palpably in
our mouths; it is our langue, our tongue.
Writing it, we shape it with our hands.
Reading aloud what we have written . . .
our language passes in at the eye
out at the mouth, in at the ears;
words are immersed and steeped in
senses of body before they make
any sense in the mind." (Wendell Berry)

Are we even listening, hearing at all?
Wisdom's Spirit-Voice, crying from corners,
busiest streets; counsel, reproof, calamity,
panic, interrupt us, keep us interrupted;
refusing to force herself on us, free wills,
full hearts alone change, her offerings of
life beyond fear -- What else do we long
so to leave with our kids? Fear not!
Be not afraid! You are loved! Your
universe friendly, Listener Eternal!

"Perhaps then, if we listen attentively,
we shall hear amidst the uproar of
empires and nations a faint flutter of
wings, a gentle stirring of life, of hope."
(Albert Camus)

How can we, of this culture, help but be
taken for lost? Strayers from home,
ficklers toward friends, needers of rescue;
found by our losers -- sheep by sheep,
coin by coin -- whose feel for completeness,
wholeness so strong as to know in an instant
when single subtlest particle of us missing --
as Jesus detects any power escaping through
faintly-touched garment -- lost earring,
lost shoe, lost glasses, lost keys -- lost pet
bad enough, not to mention lost child,
even, in these days, searching through
rubble, through ashes, for lost ones,
for pieces of lost ones, pieces of us --
welcomed back, partied over, restored!

Jeremiah: All losing, all wasting away,
none of us, any tradition, acting as if we
"know God!" "Stupid children!" "No
understanding!" "Skilled in doing evil!"
Helpless in "how to do good!" Yet,
Good as News gets these days,
"I will not make a full end!" Like Potter,
reworking, reshaping, repairing, restoring:
Like One Who Never Gives Up!
Resurrecting from our executions:
"I have not relented nor will I turn back."

The human heart is the first home of
democracy. It is where we embrace our
questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be
generous? Can we listen with our
whole beings, not just our minds, and
offer our attention rather than our
opinions? And do we have enough
resolve in our hearts to act courageously,
relentlessly, without giving up -- ever
trusting in our fellow citizens to
join with us in determined pursuit of a
living democracy? (Terry Tempest Williams)

Questionings of a Relentless Asker . . . .
For we are all children of Israel now!
In need of New Exodus now! If waters of
troubling now may, even may, be
waters of Global Warming, why, in God's
name, on this one precious Earth,
would we gamble lives of all children?
Imagine Moses, organizing Exodus!
So accustomed to slavery's nobodiness!
How many never intended leaving at all?
Ready to turn back at slightest excuse?
We who have just changed our minds?
Ten plagues, and you're out!
What number are we up to now?

The women wept and I wept. I too
cried for the lost people, their ancestors
and mine. But I was also weeping with
curious joy. Despite murders, rapes,
suicides, we had survived. Middle passage
and auction block had not erased us.
Not humiliations nor lynchings,
individual cruelties nor collective
oppression had been able to eradicate us
from the earth. We had come through
despite our own ignorance and gullibility,
the ignorance and rapacious greed of
our assailants.

There was much to cry for, much to mourn,
but in my heart I felt exalted knowing there was
much to celebrate. Although separated from
our language, our families and customs,
we had dared to continue to live. We had
crossed the unknowable ocean in chains
and had written its mystery into "Deep
River, my home is over Jordan!" Through
centuries of despair and dislocation,
we had been creative because we had
faced down death by daring to hope.
(Maya Angelou)

Horrible as this crime is, we forgive you.
Forgive us as well, that we may make a
way past the ways we always have done
one another.

"Listen, only listen. Do not pursue me
as though you were God. The gift I need
is your hearing and your heart.
(Thomas John Carlisle)

Jesus: "Ephphatha! Be opened!"
Identify self with "others" of every kind!
Who and what are we deaf to? Dumb to?
Who do we need to see, who is not
visible to us now? To hear, who is not
audible to us now? To touch, who is not
tangible to us now? Whom do we need to
encounter -- embrace, engage, endure --
who is not even imaginable to us now?
Have we ourselves never felt unseen?
Unheard? Unspoken to? Unimagined?
Ignored? Irrelevant? Are there not
painfully others learning nothing of us?
Directly? Deeply? Urgently? As we fully are?

How vitally, viscerally, Jesus shares humanness,
attending to deaf man for man's sake, not crowd's,
slipping finger in deaf ear -- yuck! And spitting!!
Where? On whom? For what? Touching man's
tongue -- without rubber gloves! Only then speaking
a whole-making word, earning trust enough to open
a whole man to healing, discouraging any church
growthers, advising to silence about what he's doing,
knowing how well we keep secrets!

For Jesus, healing nothing but trouble? Nothing but
risk? Holding to same lowered profile crossing border --
illegally? -- sneaking to Tyre, to Sidon, never escaping
notice, those who need him, need healing, most;
tempted, attempting to talk mother out of healing her
daughter, preferring to leave her invisible, therefore
dismissible; no such luck, not about to let go,
desperately self-respecting enough to identify self with
dogs eating crumbs from the table, shaming Jesus to act,
catching him "with his compassion down," understandably
human, "like us" in every way, as we are "like him"
more ways than we care to confess. What a difference
made us who still issue from her by this woman, winning
for her child, all children, in Jesus' sight,
healing where there is no healing.

Every war wanted enough to begin? Good idea
seeming to someone at time? Jesus in earliest
glimpses, copious crowds encompassing, looking
like winner, recruitment trending straight up,
start of something big? In "Good Jesus, Bad Jesus"
kind of a way, soon saying what none wants, or can
bear, or knows how, to hear, subverting premises of
own encouragement, accomplishment, establishment,
attainment; masses now melting away, only hardcore
disciples to work with -- or not! Stunning us with
self-doubt, distraction, disappointment, despair:
How could Jesus be so wrong about us? We about him?
What happened to gameship, winners and losers?
Jesus playing deadly-games-only now.

How can Christians, Americans, disciples, citizens,
fixate on myths of winning? Bible all written by losers,
about losers, for losers, underside, underdog history;
America, invaded, occupied, losers, misfits, unable
to make it, or take it, where they had been, fleeing,
indenturing, selling soul to, one last best possible start;
always appearing to need taller tower, bigger
something or other showcasing superiority,
obsessing from Babel through World Trade,
and counting; always appearing to need a more
winnable war, fought "at all costs," we contend,
as we send kids of others, costfree to us, incalculably,
unconscionably, no one but victims left
every side, self-defeating, mass-destroying . . .

"None of you can become my disciples if
you do not give up all your possessions."
In line with Jesus, everything else on the line;
free of possessions, protections, what's left to
war for? Substitute true "Days of Awe,"
root-deep in bare self-reflection, nobody else
can do for us, changing direction, trying new way,
Days of Repentance through Day of At-one-ment,
returned, restored, perfecting arts of imperfection,
essential unfinishedness, we who possess most,
most to give up, winning through losing, finding.

"How do we celebrate what good we have wrought,
and turn from our misdoings into renewed joy and
dedication?" How do we observe, absorb, with
Cosmic, Comic, Eyes, Ears? Whole Vision, Voice,
Wit, and Wisdom? History "from just outside its
own boundaries?" "Not a closed circle to repeat
the past?" Not locked into vicious cycles: violence,
vengeance; domination, control; nor "a straight
line into the future," no "manifest destinies,"
inexorable progress and growth; but history as
spiral, "always going back, in order to go forward,"
remembered to be forgiven,
letting go without getting lost.

"Living in the midst of a great dance of God" --
"from greater Control to greater Community --
from greater Mastery over our planet and each
other to deeper sense of Mystery that calls us
to live together" -- These are the days to believe
there is hope for us all! Moving from Shock to
Wonder and Awe! Dancing from Warring,
Dancing from Warming! "The world has become
an earthquake!" Who's to win an earthquake?
"There is no way to stand still upon it! For the
earth is leaping! Our only hope is to join in
the dance . . . ." (Arthur Waskow)

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Living Wage" (Labor Sunday)

"Living Wage, Waging Life"

"Our life is more than our work.
And our work is more than our job." (Charlie King)
We are gifted, before anything else about us.
We are called, beyond anything we can be paid.

Do pickers, sorters, salvagers, packers
find Jesus in peaches? Jesus gritty,
under our nails? Jesus sticky,
all over our hands? Jesus shouldering
in on relentless routines on the line?

Job on the line, work on the line,
life on the line? Aching Jesus
invading our biceps? Sinking into
the smalls of our backs? Groaning out
from the balls of our feet? Jesus embodied
in peaches? In very slimmest of pickings?

Two hours' work buys a dozen eggs,
four hours a kilo of beans, eight hours
a kilo of beef, 12 hours a box of 30 diapers.

Work-dirty, wash-worthy, hands that defile?
Jesus' whole days touching, being touched,
open markets glutting, flaunted mortality,
teeming germs, diseases of deathly duration,
lying there waiting for, wailing for, him --
Defile no longer a drawer in the desk!
Desperate hearts trump dirty hands,
Purity Codes.

Moses the Sheep-Worker, Organizer of
Brick-Workers, Mentor, Model to
Prophetic Herd-and-Vine-Workers;

Paul the Tent-Worker, Truth-Worker,
could not be paid to preach, or to lie?

Jesus the Wood-Worker, Organizer of
Farm-Workers, Fish-Workers, the
Occasional Tax-and-Sex-Worker --
Working Class roots seeping deep among
Biblical Peoples -- Cursing of First Couple,
outsourced from Garden to Labor, Field-Work,
Home-Work, immeasurably marking
All Human Being.

Jesus, Rest from all Labors: Sabbath-
Worker? Jubilee-Worker? Curse-Reverser?
Unions, Churches, "Brothers," "Sisters,"
few places, few peoples remaining arenas,
Citizen-Work, Disciple-Work, picnicking,
plate-passing, singing, hearing-and-doing,
imitating of images in whom we're made --
"Those who hear and don't act are like
those who glance in the mirror and walk away,
and two minutes later have no idea
who they are, what they look like."

Equal rights, complete justice for all, in all
stations of life . . . principles of conciliation and
arbitration in industrial dissensions . . .
protection of the worker from dangerous machinery,
occupational diseases, injuries and mortality . . .
abolition of child labor . . . such regulation of labor
for women as shall safeguard the physical and
moral health of the community . . .
suppression of the "sweating system" . . .
gradual, reasonable reduction of hours of
labor to lowest practical point, with work for all;
and degree of leisure for all which is the
condition of highest human life . . . release from
employment one day in seven . . . living wage in
every industry . . . highest wage that each
industry can afford, and most equitable
division of products of industry that can
ultimately be devised . . . recognition of
Golden Rule and mind of Christ as
supreme law of society and sure remedy for
all social life. (First "Social Creed,"
Methodist Episcopal Church, 1908)

A Starting Place waiting to happen . . . .

Divine Shifts:
Cosmos: Six days on, one day off.
Creation: Six years on, one off.
Communion: Seven times seven years on,
Whatever It Takes off --
Rest, Restoration, Resource Renewal.

Once we were slaves in Egypt,
would have gone nowhere, become no one,
without Help, Who heard us in misery,
organized us, Direct-Action Plagues against
Pharaoh-Work, helped us escape and endure,
brought into land of fruits and good things,
as strangers, sojourners, aliens, exiles!

Who are we not to stay touched by this past?
Subject to visits, Stranger-Angels at any time?

"The stranger who dwells among you
shall be to you as one born among you,
and you shall love her or him as yourself,
for you were strangers in the land . . ."

Jesus simply ignoring distinctions,
who's legal, who's not -- any such
thing as "illegal" human, anyway?

Anything human "alien" to Who Makes Us?
Each in an Image, Images joined, Solidarity!
Walesa, Chavez, Huerta, Debs,
Mendes, Randolph, Ruether, Jones
Perkins, Lewis, Highlander, Hill,
Revs. Williams & Wyatt, Altgeld, Alinsky
Catholic Worker, Almanac Singers --

BeLaborous Legacy Lying on Line?
8-hour day, 40-hour week, fairer
wages, safer workplaces, child protection,
unemployment insurance, consumer boycotts,
pickets, Social Security, right to organize, bargain --
Participatory Democracy,
Practical Citizenship.

By piece, by hour, by job, by career,
every work, worker preciously co-creative --
Do I know who made this product?
Do I know who provided this service?
Do I see them make it or know they are there?
Do I know conditions of their lives and works?
Do I know if they are acknowledged, included?
Compensated in any progressive proportion to CEO pay?
Do they have any say, what they do, how they do it?
Do they feel any pride of achievement, investment of care?

What do I know about seedtime and harvest?
Assemblage and packaging? Transporting and
marketing? Selling and cleaning up safely after?

What do I know of damages products, services
do Common Good -- especially of children?!

Do I stop to consider insidious advertising?
Artificial stimulation, desire severed from need?

One thing to love a person -- even a working one!
But love a workplace? Employer? Huge corporation?

Burning Man meets Burning Bush,
Love on Fire with Justice, encountered, engaged --
Work of Witness: See people's sufferings;
Work of Attentiveness: Hear people's cries;
Work of Compassion: Move to people;
Work of Solidarity: Stand with people;
Works of Salvation, of Liberation:
Show people new-to-them Land,
nonetheless-promised others?

Moses now twice-removed --
rescued at birth, sisterhood of subversivity;
raised in privileged but flickering passion;
banished for exercised option of murder;
traceably glimmering, trackably glowing;
stammering, staggering, from place in
safe country home; from married and staked,
family business, shepherding patience,
persistence, endurance, resilience;
Imaginized improvisations!
Internalized oppressions!

Howard Zinn coaxingly calling us to
"revolt of the palace guard;" minimized,
muddled, middle and management classes,
keeping on track, sometimes on time,
all systems, structures, everyday life --
total cross-section, in towers, on planes:
like Peter, at once, Rock, Stumbling Block;
preaching 3000 to baptism first day;
40 years of it, have I reached 3000 yet?
To Peter, Jesus impossibly unsufferable;
yet, Rank-and-File, Peter, get back in line!
"Follow the Leader," bodies live ammo,
real lives burning, over, and over, not out.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Prophet-Making Moses (August Ordinary)

"Prophet-Making Moses"

No denying his destiny: Born to resisting unjust authority, redeeming unjust suffering, prophetically founding story shaping a people; echoed in Matthew's birth story: warning of parents, disobeying by magi, sneaking of baby past Herod to Egypt; everything else about us mere addition, comment, interpretation, to liberating, Exodusing, becoming archetypally a people; not yet, and never, quite, a nation, though at times we die trying, and even kill?
Are we sure we can handle being most feared? Within the nation, among the nations, we are trying to be and become?

Longtime covenanting one-by-one, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, sometimes their spouses; now all bound in Moses, Moses in all, assuming stiff-necked insistence, liberation's intentional discontent: Make us nation like any nation! Fraught tautly, with kings, with edicts, with armies, with war upon war!

Working-Class Origins, born into Slavery, only amusement making more love than war, even than bricks, belabored, belaboring, producing, reproducing, oppression breeding to proliferation, proliferation leading to infanticide: "hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor," contextualizing Mosaic beginnings; Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah, Puah, rebelling, refusing Pharaoh's commands, begetting us in disobedience, Hebrew mothers without spoiling, more than ready: "vigorous, giving birth before midwife comes to them."

My parents at first-birth time riffing on ease of Sacagawea, Birdwoman, Lewis and Clark Expedition, allegedly birthing so quickly, almost off-handedly, on open trail; my mother's doctor perplexed, her first words after unspeedy delivery: "To hell with the Birdwoman!"

Pharaoh breaks bodies, God of Moses makes souls? Subversiveness proving contagious? Sacraments of Sisterhood, Solidarity, transcending every conceivable difference; Moses' mother hiding him three months, trusting this god and this river, placing in basket to float amid very same reeds in time parting with first of walked-upon waters; conspiring, godlike example: Moses' sister strategically distanced to watch, to await, very daughter of Pharaoh, acutely surrounded, bathing alertly, spotting basket, summoning it, opening, seeing, embracing wholeheartedly; palace-based princess positioning status, attending, receiving, accepting advice of field-based slave; Moses' sister naming their mother his nurse for another mother, of whom there are never enough?

Raising Moses by cadre, revolutionary women, vesting in one here and now well-being of every child everywhere, hastening day, hosts of co-conspiring nurses and nurturers, refusing to order any one set of children off to harm any other, cooperating, communicating, crossing borders for saving a life, while their men and kings, even gods, play out vicious cycles of vengeance and grief.

"God" learning well from these women? I Will Be Who I Will Be adopting whole Children of Israel? Parenting through Moses, "the one who draws out,"
specializing in organized obstinacy, in whom divine fission, position, action betraying class interests, in spite of First World rank and privilege -- Do we not wonder whatever befalls this renegade daughter of Pharaoh, raising own child to be enemy leader, remaining protected, or extending self-risk? Possibly, "even though she drew child from the water, she could not draw connection between her life of safety and luxury, and his life of poverty and danger?" Probably, with support of her base, seeing in sisterly subterfuge new way of life, "critical moment in her long defection from courts of Pharaoh and Egyptian empire," defections we have yet to make? This "oldest record of civil disobedience in world literature," how does it end? How do we end it?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dead Dreams, Dreamers (August Ordinary)

"Dead Dreams, Dreamers, Walking -- on Water?

Caller ID, reducing risk? Softening surprise? Whom we'll find on the other end? Verification exactly who thinks we need speaking to? Suspicion caller might be divine? Pursuant to panic: Who is this? What do you want with me? How did you find my identity? Sure this is not a wrong number? Any way I can ID my way out of this call? Squeamish, Security-obsessed; next to Dictatorship, Police State, never so many means of Identity Check, fears of Identity Theft, Identity much an industry as Reality? Are we really who we say we are? Doing what we appear to be doing? Or are we just making it up to no good? Species ever such mystery to ourselves as today? Creator's last laughs, behalf of Creation? State Trooper to Stopped Driver: "You got any ID?" "'Bout what?"

Or is it Feminized Faces and Features we'd rather not recall? Woman Wisdom! Sophia! "Let us make Humankind in Our Image, according to Our Likeness."
To/Gether! Fe/Male! From everlasting I was firmly set, from the beginning, before Earth came into being . . . I was a alongside, a mythical mistress craftsperson, delighting day after day, ever playful everywhere in the world, fulfilled in my being with daughters and sons of the whole human race.

Questioning stoniest sources, external authorities, oppressive peer pressures; Sophia, Spirit, erasing, writing directly on hearts, assuring of cosmic belonging, relieving by dream of Solomon, born of David, out of and into blood-letting, no matter, "I am only a child!" Always about to be cut short at that! "No one like you has been before you! No one like you shall rise up after you!"

But circumstances helped me. To correct a natural indifference, I was placed halfway between poverty and the sun. Poverty kept me from thinking all was well under the sun and in history; the sun taught me that history was not everything. (Albert Camus) I can scarcely wait till tomorrow when a new life begins for me, as it does each day, as it does each day. (Stanley Kunitz)

We conquer, we preside, we secure, we tame, we quench. We are mocked, we are flagged, we are chained, we are imprisoned, we are stoned, we are sawn in two. Disciplines of dysfunction? "Five in one household divided, three against two . . . " Families forever falling, growing, apart -- remnants of lived faith? Pastimes of Patriarchy: Who are the brothers pissed at, really? Jacob, now Israel, nation-tainting, "loved Joseph more than any other of his children;" child of old age, pride of persistent prowess, parental pet, resplendent in "long coat with sleeves," unsuited for manual labor! Plenty of time on pristine hands, lolling, laxly, like royalty, even then dreaming? Committing poetry? Flagrantly, faultfully, feelinglessly, dispatching the favorite: Report on your brothers!

Some honor even among sibling rivals, beset, besaddled by Cain, Abel's blood crying out still, rupturing rest of Cain's restless existence; subservient sons discerning, Joseph's death likely compounded by Jacob's as well, selling, instead, for less than Judas does Jesus? Blood-soaking cloak, good as destroying, life lived as if dead to own brother, now chosen son good as dead to him, too -- How to curb penchants for perpetual, peevishly petulant pain? "There's a pale horse coming and I'm going to ride it, I'll rise in the morning my fate decided, I'm a dead man walking . . . It's just a dead man talking . . . Between our dreams and actions lies this world." (Bruce Springsteen)

Dead dreams, and dreamers, walking again? Crossing to other sides, changing equations? Sobered by blistering bloods of our century -- treading, at last, senseless slaughtering, unuttered dreading, of Hiroshima? ID-immolating?

If we refuse to speak truth to power, says the story, we will end up speaking lies or silence to the powerless -- and doing murder. If we refuse to see clearly, truthfully, the world our parents have bequeathed us, says the story, then we will be unable to make the world we want to make . . . It is almost as if God learns from the mistakes and failures of the earlier saga and starts over to work things out in another way. (Arthur Waskow)

One side of us Jewish, one Gentile? Going over to other side? Isn't that treason? Betraying every good reason to stay in the boat? Wading no waters? Making no waves? Unsuspecting how far our "little faith" carries? Dead dreams, dreamers, walking, talking, parting -- starting somewhere.

There was once a group of believers in nonviolence who gathered along a waterway in the Pacific Northwest. A giant submarine that could destroy all life on Earth was coming. The believers practiced in rowboats how they would blockade the submarine . . .

All the people in the rowboats, whatever our tactics, had the same faith in nonviolence that Peter has initially in walking to Jesus over the water . . .

On the day the submarine finally came, so did 99 Coast Guard boats, which the government had assigned to protect its world-destructive weapon . . . The Coast Guard sank some rowboats with water cannons, crushed others, boarded the mother ship with drawn guns, and tied up the believers in nonviolence like pigs waiting for a roast . . .

When Peter became aware of the wind he got frightened and began to sink. When we were confronted with the Coast Guard, we also experienced fear and got sunk quickly. So, a lack of faith? I remember, too, though, that when Peter began to sink he cried out in faith to the Lord, who reached out and saved him. I think the real alternatives were posed in our case, like Peter's, by the more enduring question of whether to surrender then to fear, or to realize how totally reliant on love we were to continue such experiments in faith. "Lord, save us!" was our way, like Peter's, to continue in future venturing out on the waters in the midst of great winds. (Jim Douglass)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Youthful Idealism -- Sundays nearest August 6 & 8

"Youthful Idealism"

People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle our skin, but to give up our enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. (Samuel Allman)

To whom can we be given up? What other hope is there for Earth? For Children? By what delusion dare we abandon, despair? Hosea from depths of own suffering able to hear and feel all: His God's heart splitting open, compassion metastasizing, no longer able, willing, to execute, carry out anger: "For I am God! I will not come in wrath!" Wrath-making not God, but choice-making, change-making are, disposing of angers, deploying of strengths; in Jesus deciding to die before killing -- again -- if God ever did? God gravitating toward Anne Frank, "ideals, and dreams, and cherished hopes," toward Sadako, flickering, trembling cranes:

The kind of God we choose to believe in the end makes all the difference . . . Until I discover the God in which I believe, I will never understand a thing about my own life . . . Made in the image of God, we grow in the image of God we make of ourselves. (Joan Chittister)
Grappling, goading, pleading for each others' blessings, like Jacob, just wanting to live to tell about it; even as Holocaust deniers, resenters, begin to outnumber survivors, endurers, ideological renderings replacing, crowding out eye-witness accounts: Who lives to tell about Death Camps? Atomic Bombs? Genocides and Ethnic Cleansings? Each of us living to tell about something? Own unrepeatable- and unforgettableness? Long-distance invincibleness? Joining in stories, faith-foolish salvation-struggles, even, especially, for soul of "One Who Acts Crookedly," one who deceives, who hustles, rustles, wrestles, "gets over," at points of crossing, of crisis, of kairos -- Still getting away with world as our plaything? Peoples as pawns in our power games? Resources as weapons at our commands? (Crusty, crunchy Aunt Jessie and I sneak from our beds to the TV in my grandmother's house late at night, cheering in mime, Vern Gagne against Dick the Bruiser!)

Jacob's whole world-wrestling way of life, waxing from womb, springing forth foothold on brother, announcing self serious contender; inveigling, untangling, extracting -- birthright from brother, blessing from father, two daughters, many servants, animals from father-in-law -- all merely preparing this crossing again, re-entering land of promise, now com-promised, justly expecting the worst -- anything wealth cannot sway his way out of? Fruits from procuring now fruits for securing? Alerting Esau to how much he possesses, sporting, comporting position to bargain for life, forgiveness, forgetfulness; Esau advancing, four hundred strong, reducing brother to pretense and bribe, still missing no tricks, even praying! Poised on promise, glorious destiny, countless progeny, about to be certified "Israel," who strive to be blessed, and be blessing, "Israel," from "Jacob," who never quit!

No matter how sorely wounded, refusing to be defeated, encountering all mysteries, power and grace, Creation herself, face-to-face -- yet telling about it! "Israel" for whom world even now waiting, aching, longing, corresponding to Jacob's own deepest soundings of self, years of work, sacrifice, exile, reckless inventiveness, restless evasiveness, nonetheless fearful, nonetheless fugitive, strangers, refugees -- In our own lands? To own peoples? Closest relations?

Elie Weisel: "God" of Hebrew Scripture loves being shown new things, new ways, by "God's (Many!) Children!" "Both were wounded: Jacob at the hip, the angel in his vanity. Yet they parted friends, or was it accomplices? Jacob accepted his aggressor's departure willingly; the latter, as if to thank him, made him a gift: a new name which for generations to come would symbolize eternal struggle and endurance in more than one land, during more than one night."

Much as "God" dealing and and from settings of power, postures of strength, doing so only in ways building up, redeeming, invoking, provoking: How big is our God? Big enough to lose a few skirmishes with us? Inducing, seducing our growing toward fitter partnership, fuller responsibility? God wins some, loses some, exhausts some to draw, "no decision" at best, inviting less fearfulness of our own weakness! Warring madness! Sublimate more addiction to dominate!
Reapproach, reappropriate Jabbock, River of Rockstacked Reckoning, our Jesus a Jew, the Christ, so we claim -- Jewish Messiah! Not charging Jews, nor anyone else, but Christians with coming, confessing, costing, to Jesus! Suffering sacraments, solidarities in, to, and through each generation . . .

All these replacement parts, dislocations, hip sockets wrenched out of joint with own bodies, exemplary excruciation! "While there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." (Eugene Debs) Then he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. They ate and were filled -- beyond measure!