Grief

Death smears our race with pain, clogs our media, and follows us home. It seems to be around every corner. We face it unprepared.
 
In the story of Jesus and his friend Lazarus, we read about the pain Jesus felt from his loss of a close friend. What struck me this time as I remember this story is that the short verse, “Jesus wept,” is in isolation. He is alone with his grief in this moment, much as his name and this verb are alone. Nothing distracts or diminishes the hurt described here. Yet, this small sentence is part of a larger context, a story of resurrection. We must keep reading to see it.
 
This small sentence, though, is mourning. It is God’s pain and humanity’s pain, unfiltered. Jesus wept. We weep. That is what I capture in this poem.
 
To the grieving, God bless, and keep reading.
 
 
“Grief”
 
it is gut-wrenching, time-stopping phone calls.
it is not enough time, a last goodbye, or no goodbye at all.
it is numbness and it is yelling at the sky every question clawing up our throats.
it is photographs in shaking fingers and tears hidden in pillows.
it is a circle of hands and a lone, wavering voice saying prayers.
it is a long, heavy box carried on our shoulders.
at the end of the day it is the sound of a melancholy song loud on the stereo
while we sing along to the tune playing from our heart.
 
 
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Grief by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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Without words

This is a poem for when we don’t know what to pray, when the hurt is too much or we feel helpless.
 
God bless,
Morgan
 
“Without words”
 
I am without words for this moment.
They say the Spirit speaks for us at times like these,
and I wonder what it would say.
Maybe it is a poet: God, the terror confines him,
blinds him, binds him. Slip peace
onto the blisters of the unknown tomorrows
and soothe the heart that grieves for the easy days past
.
Maybe it is a chanting priest: Holy God, give peace. Holy God, give peace.
Holy God, give peace.

Maybe the Spirit sings, and maybe it clamors.
Maybe it shouts, maybe it whispers.
Maybe all it says is my name,
and God listens.
 
 
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Without words by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Breathe

Changes are always rolling our way. Some we know about, some we don’t. After Jesus had gone, the disciples waited for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence and power with them for all the times to come. They had gone through a lot of changes, and more were to come, but rather than ignoring or hiding from these changes, I noticed that they spent time praying (see Acts 1:12 – 2). This poem is about following the disciples’ example to pray about change and seek ways we can be transformed positively by it, as they were by the Holy Spirit when it arrived in wind and fire.
 
God bless,
Morgan
 
“Breathe”
 
we wait in the shadow
of the upper room.
We have been told that change
is coming again. I duck my head
and hold my breath.
 
pages from the past tell of
men who waited for change
in the upper room, but they
did not neglect the air they
needed. They
breathed
prayer.
 
I hear it coming now, a bellow
to rattle the fragile and the new
stones I assembled in the wake
of the last blow. At last I look up and
breathe
prayer.
 
It is here, a crash into my heart—
a shifting, a whirling, a pain.
I am not ready, but I am open now
to God’s Spirit, for when I learned to
breathe prayer in the waiting, I also learned
to speak in the wind. Standing in the blowing change,
I become a tongue of fire
and voice.
 
 
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Breathe by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Love

A poem of reflection and hope for God at work in my life.
 
God bless,
Morgan
 
“Love”
 
In the past, I found it in a circle of arms
of a changing family,
in clasped hands
of frightened sisters,
in silent standing
with the grieving,
in lung-bursting laughter
with the joyful,
in whispered prayer
in the hurricane hours.
 
Now, I keep finding it
in unbreakable words and
unshakable truths,
when I open my eyes to
storms or sunrises,
in the firm, steady presence
of soul-bound friends and kin.
 
Tomorrow, I will find it
in my days, years, breaths, and tears,
in sky and in flight.
 
 
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Love by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Offer of Prayer

May we embody prayer lives not only of saying words and requests to God, but also of action. This poem is dedicated to the amazing woman who has taught me what that looks like.
 
“Offer of Prayer”
 
She sees pain gnawing your heart
like a starving dog on a bone
without blood to give, just marrow
trying to hide from the teeth.
 
She offers you prayer
and you know she’s offered her heart.
She will spend moments saying words
to God for you but she will spend
as many and more holding your weeping
head in her arms, listening to your sorrow,
and speaking to you the poetry that is her wisdom.
 
She is the breath in the prayer,
living the words in a slow dance of love circling
around you in an embrace.
 
 
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Offer of Prayer by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The field

A prayer for unity and forgiveness.
God bless,
Morgan
 

“The field”
 
God, forgive us for the walls.
Forgive us for
     the bricks we’ve been laying.
We carry tension like marble
    backpacks as we bend over
to add new layers
to our masterpiece with
    no gates but many turrets.
Help us pull the bricks down
and reopen the field where
against all odds, the lamb and the lion
      could come to meet.

 
 
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The field by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Wings Will Come: Journey – Part 1 “Where did you go?”

I remember sitting across from a friend at a familiar pub, trying to explain the past few months to her. How my dad had taken a new job across the country in Arizona; how he, my mom, and my grandfather would all be moving out there; and how my little brother and I would be staying behind and renting the family home with some friends. Besides that framework, to my regret, I poured out all the bad stories. The stressors, the annoyances, the worst moments, and the conflicts. I hardly mentioned the good things, and I am pretty sure I didn’t mention God at all.

I needed perspective.

Though the change was still raw, I wanted to tackle my tangle of emotions and memories and go deeper. God was constantly at work in my life during this time, stitching blessings into a transforming tapestry. I recognized it, but I hadn’t claimed it as the greater truth yet. Sometimes we have to look backwards with a critical eye to see around the turmoil. My venue for this was poetry.

Every week for the next few months, I will be posting poems from the resulting collection, called Wings Will Come: Journey. In this collection, I tried to narrate the events and emotions of my closest family moving far away and to seek to see where God was working. I move (more or less) chronologically through the story, culminating with a poem that is a prayer of hope for continued growth, love, and peace for both myself and my family out there in the Wild West.

God bless,
Morgan

“Where did you go?”
The beginning

where did you go,
old days? better days,
rosy days, good days?
new days, stale days,
gray and cluttered days
pushed you away.
late at night I hear only
tension in your voice:
a strain of loss as you
buckle further under
the more, more, more.
as you stand sad and lonely
at the divide between
you and now.
those nights I prayed for
the joy that drove the beginning
to rise up again anew.
I prayed it for a long time:
save what is good here
before it is ash and
empty silver years.
God answered when
I wasn’t yet ready.

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Where did you go? by Morgan Prettyman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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