Reflections

Table of Contents

<h3 id="god"“God’s Heart”

I was looking for God’s heart
But it couldn’t be found
So I hopped aboard a boat
To search the whole world round.
It wasn’t on the ocean
Or beneath the wide blue sea
So I got aboard a train
To find where else that it might be.
I never saw a glimpse
Though I rode through many lands
So I took a plane into the sky
God once shaped with His own hands.
But it wasn’t in the sky
Just as it wasn’t in the sea
And it wasn’t on the land
So where could His heart be?
I tried looking in the stars
And even other galaxies
But though I searched for many years
I couldn’t seem to see
The heart that I was seeking
That heart of the Holy King
But then I got to thinking
Why I’d never found a thing.
It wasn’t that God’s heart was hiding
Or that it wasn’t there
It was that it was so big
It held the universe in its care.
I couldn’t begin to see it
Because it’s too big to see.
It’s grander than the heavens
The stars, the land, the seas.
My own heart is so small
I never realized it could be
That God’s heart’s big enough for all:
The whole world and you and me.
 
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“Faith”

it’s burrowing snugly under my grandmother’s quilted
   blankets in a howling winter storm and it is
listening to the crescendo of an orchestra
     resounding with soaring melody out of every
         mouth and vibrating instrument.
it’s clinging to a cliff face with nails
       dug deep in the rock,
  as the wind pushes and pulls me,
    and it is the precious whisper
        of a child saying:
    can you see it?
it’s seeing the world from a mountaintop
   with eyes stretched wide open
      to seize every detail of the ancient
    stones and intricate, knotted trees,
and it is standing on that same mountaintop 
   to soak in the blurry landscapes
     still too far away to grasp,
  trusting that up close each leaf, blossom, 
      creature, path, and creek 
   will dazzle you with all the detail of a 
        stained glass window
      when you walk through those faraway lands
           someday soon.

 
Acknowledgment to Barbara Baker Scira, who provided feedback on this poem.
 
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“If I Had Walked the Dusty Roads”

If I’d walked the dusty roads with You,
would I have believed?
Would I have had the kind of faith
strong enough to see?
Would I have listened to Your words
and knew them true to be?
Would I have followed without fear
and trusted what You teach?

I wonder if I’d be strong enough
simple enough, like a child.
If I’d cling instead to the written laws
the rules, the books, the scribes.
I wonder if I’d be able to
leave it all behind,
to be a pioneer of faith
and still my doubting mind.

I marvel at Your first followers
with their stout hearts, changed and true.
I thank them for their bravery,
for listening to You.
For through their words and deeds,
I can know You today.
Your gospel carried across the world
through ages dark and gray,
so that tonight I can know
I am saved and free.

By Your grace I know this now,
by Your grace I’ll say
that no matter what time that I was born
I think I’d understand
that when I looked into Your eyes
I’d know I was in Your hands.
In that look, Your smile and laugh,
Your words, Your truth, Your grace,
I know no matter when I walked with You
I would find my place.
You move us in mysterious ways,
You speak right to our hearts.
Deep inside I know this truth:
You find us where we are.
So if I walked those dusty roads
of Israel long ago,
I’d give my heart and trust to You—
Just one look, and I’d know.
 
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“Graph paper”

This is a sheet of graph paper
with perfect crisscrossed lines
and hundreds of useful boxes.
Draw on it and see how neat and tidy everything is.
The world makes sense.

A child came and scribbled lopsided circles
and lumpy-looking hearts all over everything in crayon.
He looked up at me and said, Look, I drew God.
 
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“Green times”

Isaiah 11:6

A little boy with a red t-shirt and dark hair
climbs the gigantic old gun from the war,
fingers gripping bolts and sneakers squeaking on protruding metal corners
of this museum piece tucked in white concrete barracks
clustered inside a state park.
the boy swings from the long barrel back and forth,
curious and carefree, then drops into the grass and sprints away.
 
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“Walk to the Table”

footsteps across the old floor
of the sanctuary
engross me at this communion.
I watch the slow, practiced shuffle
of a man of many years and stories
pulling himself along on the backs
of chairs so he can walk
to this holy meal.

a minute later I see the opposite:
a tiny boy comes
carried in his father’s arms
to taste Christ’s grace.
his eyes are big, curious
just at the start of a journey.

I, too, walk in the line
to the bread and the cup.
I have been the little one led
by a parent,
and someday, I may be pulling
myself along on the backs of chairs
to get to the Table,
but I will come.
the determination I saw
in that church elder,
slow and steady,
shows me I will get there.
 
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gift (noun):

gift: willingly given without payment
    something you offer
                   in outstretched hands.
Each of us has gifts
    bestowed on us by God
to share with our
    broken, hungry planet.
our gifts 
      do not always reveal themselves
  wrapped in bright paper
          neat, with bows and ribbons
     and simple answers. 
sometimes we wonder 
     what they do, exactly? 
You stand here with yours and
        you want to give it,
    but it feels so intangible sometimes
       and does not seem to go far,
           does not seem to touch enough lives.
wise words: stop tallying up how many,
       how much, how often.
when you stand at the pearly gates
     Jesus will not have an abacus 
         to count off exactly how many people you fed
              or talked to or gave to,
     He will look at how you lived;
more wise words: live your life,
       period. live and be a silent witness;
   giving without counting, loving without bounds.

 
Acknowledgment: Thanks to my godmother who helped edit this poem, and to my brother for his wisdom.
 
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“A God Moment”

For Debbie and Duncan

we post it like a clipped newspaper ad
   on our hearts:  looking for a God Moment—
a flash in time when we are connected
    to the Majesty of the universe
        and feel that Someone bigger
     is speaking to us.
each note is written in 
      billions of uniquely formed letters, 
    characters, and symbols that ask 
              without knowing what the answer
        will be like.

Replies come to us 
    unique as the notes we scrawled 
at midnight in the lonely hour
       of the wondering and lost:

In the air trembling
   from the deep strike of drums
in a medley of passionate 
    gospel choirs
in triumphant organs 
     playing nineteenth century hymns and  
in bass guitars and shaking speakers
      in the whirling energy of a concert
in soft creek water running beneath
      canopies of sunny green leaves
in the whisper
    of a brushstroke over canvas
in the joyful bliss of giving
     and the crashing chorus of construction
in the spring of sneakers running over
    pavement or turf
in that click in the mind
     when all the logic of the puzzle lines up
in words brimming with stories
      and in the curling waves of ocean surf
in first and last breaths
       and the wonder of wide open eyes.

across the globe 
     to each reply
  our smiles broaden the same way
     at fresh encounters with joy.

 
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“The Fisherman”

Luke 5:1-11

at the word of a stranger
    I sail to the deep water
      that has done nothing for me all night
  but disappoint.
        my fine fishing nets hang empty, arms drag
     exhausted, shoulders sag.
 there is nothing here.  I will prove it
    to him. 

I do as he says and 
    cast the nets again.
but as I throw them over the side
   my heart
        plunges in shock at the weight
   of the unexpected catch,
      the unexpected understanding. 
I am in the net, flapping in and out
     of the water in surprise
         at my first breath of real air,
dying to my old world and
      rising up to the new.
hauling in the shaking nets,
   I turn to the stranger on my boat
and see the Fisherman 
     smiling at his catch.

 
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“Rabbi”

Rabbi, Rabbi,
     I listen to you from treetops,
          imagining myself a little closer
        to sky-soaring righteousness,
but my vantage point has made me
       the fool.
the classroom in the branches
        taught me desperation, how to cling to
twigs.
hundreds of hours of study and
       not a jot learned until
         You called me down to open
                   my home.
Rabbi, Rabbi,
      Your teaching is in the meal.

 
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“Reminders”

as you step onto the desert way,
you leave lessons
like painted handmade beads
I string into deepest memory.

They are reminders:
to love all the people around me,
no matter what they look like
or who they are,
to keep an open home,
dig deep roots of faith,
fear no doubts,
always ask questions
and know where
to look up the answers,
to ask forgiveness
and to give it,
find good stories
and live them,
be myself,
strive for my dreams,
seek adventure,
keep learning, and
to stand up,
stand strong.

The spun threads through each
reminder gleam timeless silver:
your pride in me
your welcoming arms
your overflowing love
 
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