Monday, October 10, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
"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
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."
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!"
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.
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
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
Wisdom's Spirit-Voice, crying from corners,
Friday, August 26, 2011
Perkins, Lewis, Highlander, Hill,
8-hour day, 40-hour week, fairer
Friday, August 5, 2011
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
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
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!