Friday, December 28, 2007

POEM - Wasp

who mourns the aphonic death of a wasp in sleepy autumn light?
who weeps at the resignation of sunflowers standing guard over a field at day’s end?

markings of change go mostly unnoticed, blankets of snow
like starched pressed linen surround me and want a surrender.

the tomatoes are rotting corpses, horrific and crucified to neglected stakes
in theatrical poses rooted as a headstone in my bleary garden.

mummified stalks of day lilies with spackled gray stems make for fine kindling,
so I gather them with open arms and anticipate the fire I shall make.

the stars are glad to see the night come in sneakers, entering on tiptoes,
for they have been waiting all day to perform.

in the haste of the fluttering heartbeats of seasons we no longer honor transition —
like the hardy mum that smiles at me with confidence

convinced that the Fall would never abandon it
that winter will never come. never.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

POEM - The Christmas Clementine

For Christmas, you gave me a clementine.
Not a full sized one, but rather a dwarf,
a vulnerable, lumpy, oblate fruit,
unnoticeable in my hand.

I marveled at the feel of it
then began to remove the peel, bit by bit
until the fruit was exposed flesh as tender as that Christmas Baby
shivering, naked in the Bethlehem evening.

I had the urge to wrap it tight
like a flower bud,
to place it in a manger
to keep it warm by my breath
while I absorbed its sweet orange whisper scent
And dreamed of April,
When the juices of living things flow again.

You are a clementine wrapped and small,
both the gift given by the magi on that first Christmas,
and the Baby Jesus wrapped up into one swaddled
piece of fruit,
one great Love, orange and surprising –
this Clementine that offers the forgiveness
which brings the winter to its knees.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Changing the World

The world will not be changed by do-gooders.
The world will not be changed by meetings or agendas, by marches or letters.
It will not be changed by good, stable jobs, or by sending our children to good schools.
Nor will it be changed by empathic social movements to share wealth, or even good deeds alone.

The world will be changed when we change our vision of who we think we are, what our place is; when we learn what our true voice is.
Discovering our one true voice will change the world.
Discovering the divine within us will change the world.

But discovering our one true voice is a scary thing.
It means forgetting the stories we have told ourselves over and over about who we think we are,
what we think we like, what we think we are good at, what we think will be good for us and what we think will harm us.

It is seeing first hand that we have a worth that can not be measured by our friends, by our money, or by our fame or recognition.
It is not conditioned on “success”, or on promotions at work,
by good grades, or even by the praise of our parents, our teachers or our bosses.

Sometimes it is in that quiet, unnoticed moment when we just keep our head down and burrow through thoughts that we are not worthy of any sort of love at all.
It is in that mustard seed of faith that whispers to us that we are stakeholders in creation,
even when we believe otherwise.

Even when we just can’t see it.
Even when we think it is not possible to be loveable.

It is when we take that kindness that we so often dole out to others and turn it inward on ourselves that radical change begins.

Forgiveness is the answer to every question.

When this happens, justice flourishes. It is not an "act"; it is not a "schtick". It is not like a garment we put on at the start of day, and take off before we go to bed.
It is the fruit of a loving life.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Perfect Christmas

Part of the problem with Christmas is the austere reverence with which we enshroud it. Usually when things are so serene and reflective and earnest, it simply begs for a joke to break the tension. This tendency to laugh during the most serious of times, psychologists tell us, is a mechanism to deal with the great social pressures being exerted on us to be solemn, or in the case of Christmas, the pressure to find serenity.

But what if that “perfect” Christmas always eludes us? What if we can’t find it? What if the joy of Christmas-time eludes me despite my best efforts? What if all those TV specials, and the music and muzzak are not enough to make me find that one thing, that one thing, that is the secret to everything.

Every year I tell myself, “This year will be the year to find that perfect Christmas” but every year, I seem to do less and less to get caught up in the froth of the season, finding it harder to find the brew of the season. First, the lights stop going up outside: too cold outside, wastes energy, hate keeping up with everyone else. Then the decorations get downsized: a few pictures, a wreath hastily hung up on the door.

As a family, we are at the point now where the tree is the extent of our decorating and I believe this is because it is not just for the showy effect of having a wonderfully decorated evergreen in the corner of my family room. The tree becomes a process for us, as we each plays our great Christmas role adding ornaments, the traditional swearing, the dragging of the tree into the house, tracking mud and felled pine needles everywhere, the butchery also know as “trimming” of the branches, the tinsel application, and of course the perfunctory “tree falling” that usually occurs sometime the week following its installation.

“Dad?” Kate calls me on my cell phone. “Are you coming home early tonight?”

“As a matter of fact I am sweetie, I am just coming into town now. Why do you ask?”

“Well, because the tree fell down and we need help.”

Ah, what is the holiday season without its seasonal drama, I ask you? Why it is as traditional as eggnog and caroling! As I enter the house I see my wife and daughter holding the tree. They turn and look at me with the look of a man on death row who just has been given a reprieve. How long, I wonder to myself, would they have stood there if I hadn’t been coming home early?