Category Archives: Theological

Poems that speak openly of God or the Cosmos, the relationship with the Divine.

Christ

The cosmic Word in glorious light appears
To speak to Dust, awakened from its fears,
Innocence, Wholeness, Peace, Relief from Pain
Are offered all who lose all, all to gain.

He speaks to Nothing, Something to bring forth
Creating Value where there was No Worth.
No refuge can there be from such a Voice;
No silence, where the song cries out:  Rejoice!

How deep descending, Spirit into Form,
Angelic Presence, glorified in Worm!
How close He nestles to our very Breath.
This Life-Eternal victor over Death!

The world, and all the worlds, he loved, I see:
Sustaining all, for love of even me.

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A Mealtime Prayer

Lord, we thank you for this food
(We say this with no sorrow) —
May it bring strength for this day’s good,
Not storage for tomorrow.

Amen.

An Answered Prayer

“More like Christ, my Savior,
Let me be,” one morn I said.
Then along a rugged pathway
My steps the Savior led.
 
“Oh, that I might have money
And a help to others be!”
Praying thus, I soon was feeling
The pinch of poverty.
 
“Oh, might my tongue be ready
With floods of meling speech!”
But only in a lisping
Could I the message teach.
 
Then musing on my fortune,
I said, “Why is it so?
Why, could I not in these ways
For him unhindered go?”
 
Then long I knelt and lingered
In silent musing there.
When, like a voice I heard it,
“‘Tis the answer to your prayer.”
 
“It was in ways most humble
His path on earth was trod;
And you must choose that pathway
If you would please your God.”
 
And like the lowly Master
Who walked in Galilee,
Choose not, but just accept it,
The path he planned for thee.”
 
‘Tis not in might, nor power,
The Christian’s service lies;
He has said that through the humble
He will confound the wise.”
 
I thank him for this lesson
That he to me hath shown,
For now in humble service
Can I walk with him alone.
 
Content to do his bidding
Is now my aim, my goal,
And trust that through his blessing
I’ll save some precious soul.
 
——Elpha I. Clark [published in the Gospel Trumpet, January 14, 1926 page 3]
 
Elpha I. Clark was this blogger’s grandmother.

All in Christ

Bless me, O Lord; I need so much
Thy loving voice, thy loving touch.
Without thy blessing, lost am I;
To thy dear feet for help I fly.
Bless me, I pray.
 
Where thou dost lead me I would go
Tho by a path I do not know;
Seeking no better, shorter way,
Nearing my heavenly home each day.
So lead, I pray.
 
Where thou wouldst have me, I would be,
The shadows roundabout I see.
Light from the shining of thy face
Enters each dark and cloudy pace.
So shine, I pray.
 
Feed me, O Lord, tho barren be
Fields all around and barren tree.
Manna thou has in plenteous store;
Give me of this, I ask no more.
Feed me, I pray.
 

—Kate Philbrick

This is the last poem composed by Mother Philbrick (my great-grandmother) before she passed away May 11, 1928. She was noted for her love of souls and her fervent prayers.

Sympathy pains

I observe the world, watch and pray;
Sometimes that’s all I do all day.
A bombing here, a cancer there—
What can avail my feeble prayer?

With God, I, helpless, see the strife,
Feeling the bleeding, the ebbing of life.
In faith believing, despite the pain,
That healing Love will prevail again.

No anxious spouse by bedside waiting
Can match the Love I’m contemplating:
The tender care for planet earth,
The New Creation’s place of birth.

When I arise from contemplation,
I’ll seek the healing of my nation;
For God so loved, and loves us still
With love that seeks to heal, not kill.

The Hole

The veil between the worlds
of life and death
time and eternity
wears thin.  Sometimes, a hole appears
and someone we love
steps through.

That hole is our connection
because it is in our hearts
in that emptiness
that eternity calls to us
and invites us also
to step out of time.

A prayer, for those who grieve

God, Giver of Life
Lover of our souls, Savior
Open up for us in this hour (but not just for this hour), we pray,
 A window on eternity
A glimpse of glory.
Help us to celebrate the moments past
 And await in joyful hope 
the day of promise, 
when there will be no more death,
  nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain,
 because the former things are passed away.
Grant us grace, dear Lord, to release into your strong hand this one,
        beloved by you and by us,
  to be in your care in the promise of life forevermore. 
For those who feel most keenly the pain of separation,
  we seek the comfort of your Presence, 
  for in You all live,
  and in Your presence every moment partakes of eternity,
  and touches every other moment.
  In You, as we draw near,
  all that we love draws near to  us.
Sanctify the memories
  and may they sweeten the hearts of those who hold them.
  And may every prayer,
  even every tear,
 be transformed by your miraculous Presence
  into a gift of joy,
  every memory
   a blessing of gratitude.
In Christ, the victor over death, we pray.
  Amen.

Easter

Today is Holy Saturday in the Eastern and Western churches
a day of silence
of waiting
of mourning
and of selfless service
therefore, a day for women
who do, so it seems, a lot of the above.

The sacred time between the crucifixion and the resurrection
when all paradoxes are at their peak
all contradictions brought into the open
the God of Life participating in Death
Holiness punished for sin
The eternal Word, silent

but on Sunday morning, not with fanfare and blazing glory
but in the silence of an empty tomb
a witness to a life unstoppable is born.

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem

By James Henry Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?” The Vision raised its head,
And with a look made all of  sweet accord
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”

“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And, lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest!

What I do; a spin on spin

[First posted January 18, 2004 for a few friends. On the nature of preaching as performance art, and other things.]

Seemed I woke today with nerves of wool, combing through my thoughts
like through a tangle, needing to card and weave,
seeking a thread to spin so fine…

The wool is found, but all the threads are mine.
My fingers spin like magic, making cloth so warm and bright,
to cover all the blemishes that show in nature’s night.
I weave the stories of the past, with metaphors so fine
that all my hearers find today in every other line.
I weave and spin the clouds of heaven into earthly sand,
and bring the jewels of earth aloft to decorate my magic hand.

With threads of sacred song and prayer I spin the hope that wasn’t there;
the isolated souls who hear take hold the threads, release some fear,
and weave together, month and year, a new thread with both sigh and tear..

…so from a tangle old and new spin dreams as strong as oak and yew.
I merely spin, and weave, and give the threads of hope by which we live.

Easter

At the empty tomb,
In the upper room,
On the highway,
By the sea,
He will meet you there,
Meet your every care,
Give you peace,
And set you free.

rambling prayer

Foolishness and negligence remain the weary option of the sinner in his wallow.
O god you are my god early do I seek you
In the night you give me needed rest
And in the day the insight for my strength
You guide my feet into the right places
And save me from the destruction that my self-indulgence would abandon me to.
How o God can I praise you
And how can I honor you
I who am not better than the least of these in whom you place your likeness
Jesus in whose name I daily pray, the subject of my discourses,
How I need to find you where you are or where I am so that I do not trivialize your name. Read the rest of this entry

Detach me from the love of all things urgent

Detach me from the love of all things urgent
and find me importantly waiting for the dawn
in which the death, the hate, the crying anguish
of a million million souls at war
recede, reform, and reconfigure
into a lotus fantasy
a hazy, lazy
crazy heaven.

I am so close to you I cannot see you
nor feel the emptiness within
the vastness that is you. Go home, depart,
forsake me for the sake of our sweet love.

A wheelbarrow full of troubles, none of them my own, await me as a task.
To sift, to sort, to choose which now to polish, which to showcase,
in the presence of the God of dirt, the stone all have rejected, the troubler of mankind.

I need some holy mud upon my eyes. The men I see are trees, although they walk.
When I am healed
I will see each as I myself, a man. Behold the form and likeness, very God!

Poetic dance

The following series was written on a yellow legal pad in December of 2000 just a day or two after I had determined that in all likelihood my death was not immanent, after all, but before I had completely recovered from an intense period of personal re-orientation. I’m most interested in comments on the last three sections, though any and all are welcome. Read the rest of this entry

Poem 5-5-92

today 5 may, on a cloudy day, while the tulips are in bloom,
i sit alone with the god of heaven in a cluttered room.
An optimist they say i am; impractical, extreme,
telling to riot and hatred and distrust my honest theme,
which is that God (a funny word), who shirks not from disaster,
has named the vanquished Innocent his anointed and our Master.
Master – not as master to a fearful, thoughtless slave,
but one whose practice, skill, and patience let him pave
the way for us to learn from him what he both learned and taught;
to trust in God in everything.  This sickness i have caught,
And joyfully succumb, nor ever wish for healing,
because this trust brings forth the endless power of God revealing,
and revealing, and revealing, and revealing, and revealing, –
the power of hope that I am most ridiculously feeling:
the realm of absurd love, of concrete goodness, enfleshed spirit,
the word of truth proclaimed to all; if anyone will hear it.