Sunday, July 7, 2019

On Pride and Humility


Pride is radical autonomy, control,
     self-assertion, and self-reliance.

Humility is openness to the radical gift of another.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Exile


Inferno
עַ֥ל נַהֲר֨וֹת׀ בָּבֶ֗ל שָׁ֣ם יָ֭שַׁבְנוּ גַּם־בָּכִ֑ינוּ בְּ֝זָכְרֵ֗נוּ אֶת־צִיּֽוֹן׃

By the rivers of Babylon 
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.

Babylonian exile
Californian exile
Vale of tears

Betrayed
Rejected
Abandoned

Uprooted violently
Terrifying journey
Barren wilderness

Lost home
Aborted friendship
Broken love

Drifting away
Far from Israel
Far from the ones I love

Alienated
Confused
Discouraged

Rejected
Rejected
Rejected

My God, my God
Why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me?

Lost and alone
Longing to love
Longing to be loved

Sadness
Anger
Despair

Fear
Anguish
Nightmare

Silence
Darkness
Night

Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude;
she dwells now among the nations, but finds no resting place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.

Purgatorio

עָרֹ֨ם יָצָתִי מִבֶּ֣טֶן אִמִּ֗י וְעָרֹם֙ אָשׁ֣וּב שָׁ֔מָה יְהוָ֣ה נָתַ֔ן וַיהוָ֖ה לָקָ֑ח יְהִ֛י שֵׁ֥ם יְהוָ֖ה מְבֹרָֽךְ׃

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD.

I have sinned
I have trespassed
I have wounded

I have betrayed
I have rejected
I have abandoned

I have alienated
I have confused
I have discouraged

I have caused sadness
I have caused anger
I have caused despair

I have failed to believe
I have failed to hope
I have failed to love

You whom I have wounded
And betrayed
I ask for forgiveness

You who have wounded
And betrayed
I forgive

Redemptive wounds
Purifying fire
Dawn

I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 
Let your mercy be ready to comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.

Paradiso

New home
New friends
New mission

Forgiveness
Trust
Peace

I shall believe
I shall hope
I shall love

I shall be found
I shall be healed
I shall be loved

Joy reborn
Renewed light
Day

A Song of Ascents.
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb.
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy.
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
Shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

שִׁ֗יר הַֽמַּ֫עֲל֥וֹת בְּשׁ֣וּב יְ֭הוָה אֶת־שִׁיבַ֣ת צִיּ֑וֹן הָ֝יִ֗ינוּ כְּחֹלְמִֽים׃
אָ֤ז יִמָּלֵ֪א שְׂח֡וֹק פִּינוּ֮ וּלְשׁוֹנֵ֪נוּ רִ֫נָּ֥ה אָ֭ז יֹאמְר֣וּ בַגּוֹיִ֑ם הִגְדִּ֥יל יְ֝הוָ֗ה לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת עִם־אֵֽלֶּה׃
הִגְדִּ֣יל יְ֭הוָה לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת עִמָּ֗נוּ הָיִ֥ינוּ שְׂמֵחִֽים׃
שׁוּבָ֣ה יְ֭הוָה אֶת־שְׁבוּתֵנוּ כַּאֲפִיקִ֥ים בַּנֶּֽגֶב׃
הַזֹּרְעִ֥ים בְּדִמְעָ֗ה בְּרִנָּ֥ה יִקְצֹֽרוּ׃
הָ֘ל֤וֹךְ יֵלֵ֨ךְ׀ וּבָכֹה֮ נֹשֵׂ֪א מֶֽשֶׁךְ־הַ֫זָּ֥רַע בֹּֽא־יָב֥וֹא בְרִנָּ֑ה נֹ֝שֵׂ֗א אֲלֻמֹּתָֽיו׃



Monday, June 17, 2019

Broken Vessels

Every day that you neglect
To mend a broken friendship
Is a missed opportunity
That may be gone tomorrow
Forever

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Empty Steps

Empty steps
Empty heart
Heavy silence
Of abandonment

Place of courage
Place of trust
That only reaped
A broken heart

Painful memories
Of past journeys
Best abandoned
Best forgotten

Looking forward
Moving on
To better journeys
And a new start

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Lost Loves

Lost loves:

One was patient;
Another, restless.

One was kind;
Another, rude.

One was loyal;
Another, fickle.

One was sincere;
Another, misleading.

One was generous;
Another, stingy.

One was selfless;
Another, selfish.

One was available;
Another, unresponsive.

One was courageous;
Another, cowardly.

One brought healing;
Another, wounds.

One reflected Christ;
Another obscured Him.

One was love;
Another, not.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

On Courage


Courage is not changing the world
It is changing yourself

Courage is not transforming society
It is giving generously

Courage is not writing about responsibility
It is treating others kindly

Courage is not talking about charity
It is listening with humility

Courage is not crossing land and sea
It is living sacrificially

Courage is not chasing holy celebrities
It is healing a broken friendship

Courage is not working ceaselessly
It is risking vulnerability

Courage is not facing great adversity
It is saying "I'm sorry"

Friday, April 19, 2019

Pomegranate Juice and Rose Petals (On Gratitude)


Pomegranate juice
A small act of love
Covered with prayers
Drenched with tears

Cajoling a friend
To carry out urgently
In the hot Jerusalem sun
A vital mission and delivery

Seeking and finding
With care and anxiety
Calling you by proxy
Mission accomplished

Have you seen the one whom my soul loves?
I will rise now and go about the city...

A soft rose petal
Timid act of love
Covered with prayers
Drenched with tears

Frail as its message
Through a mysterious code
Carrying grace and devotion
Across mighty oceans

I sought her, but found her not,
I called her, but she gave no answer...

A long, ardent letter
A last act of love
Covered with prayers
Drenched with tears

Pouring one's heart
In a final attempt
To remember the story
And redeem a few moments

The deafening roar of icy silence
The clashing gong of a gate slammed shut
The throbbing echo of infinite distance
The clanging cymbal of a steely heart

Too occupied with God's language
To utter even a small 'thank you'
Into the dark, distant night
With the nine lepers she withdrew
Life is short. It is important to acknowledge, appreciate, and return the small acts of love and kindness that others extend to you.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Test of True Character

Your true character is revealed
Not in lofty ideas or eloquent words,
Not in relentless work or great accomplishments,
But in how you treat those who love you.


Friday, April 5, 2019

The End Makes the Story


Ending badly ruins everything.
Even the best memories
Become moments of pain.
A flirt turns into deception
Conversations to wounds
Sacrifices to bitterness
Ideals to hypocrisy
A kiss to betrayal
Silence to sadness
Love to death.

Ending well redeems everything.
Even the greatest hardships
Become moments of grace.
Deception turns to forgiveness
Wounds to healing
Bitterness to peace
Hypocrisy to authenticity
Betrayal to reconciliation
Sadness to joy
Death to life.



Saturday, February 23, 2019

On Unresponsiveness

...and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen,
and when I called you, you did not answer...
(Jer 7:13)

Unresponsiveness
Is anything more disrespectful
Is any act more selfish
Is any deed more hurtful
Than not to acknowledge
A friend reaching out to you?

Letters ignored
Calls unheeded
Gifts unacknowledged
Affection unreciprocated
Have turned to tears
And testify to a friendship that wasn't

Open your eyes and see
Open your ears and hear
Pay heed to your conscience
Soften your heart
Act with kindness
Acknowledge your friend
And all shall be well.