Harrowing

Harrowing experience !
There are some words you just want to roll around in your mind isn’t there? “Harrowing” did its work on me when I saw this poem by Parker Palmer, which he describes as “taking form” within him.

Harrowing

The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
last year’s growth demolished by the blade.
I have plowed my life this way
turned over a whole history
looking for the roots of what went wrong
until my face is ravaged, furrowed, scarred.

Enough. The job is done.
Whatever’s been uprooted, let it be
seedbed for the growing that’s to come.
I plowed to unearth last year’s reasons –
The farmer plows to plant a gleaning season.

This poem from Let your life speak by Parker J Palmer.

The photo is from Biltho’s photostream

Purple

Posted by http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/grace/


Christ’s piece is you,
Christ’s piece is me,
It is those that do,
And it is those that be,
Without one another we can’t cover 360 degrees,
Because we don’t need ‘I’s to see, we need We.

As every image that we see of ourselves is reflected,
Every image that we see of the world is subjective,
We need two points of view to gain some perspective,
And the ability and humility to accept this.

Because in our vision lies division,
A polarised view of action and pacifism,
But contradiction doesn’t mean fact and fiction,
more like discordant harmonies in the melody of wisdom.

I need you, like red needs blue,
You need me, like do needs be,
And life shouldn’t be binary,
Our eyes shouldn’t be primary,
We need to trade in reds and blues for indigos and violets see:
We need to try and be purple.

Not just protest march bruises as we go out and do,
Or blood filled cheeks as we hold our breath and be,
I mean purple.
Full circle.
The hares and the rabbits,
the tortoises and turtles,
Purple.

So let us be moved to be mauve,
Maroon and mulberry,
Lilac, plum and lavender,
May the red and blue poles of our souls and our minds combine to be magnets of magenta,
Purple.

May we take the opposites and make the composite,
As every image has its limits
And every picture could be richer,
If we have someone else to see that we are in it,
We need to be purple.

[by Harry Baker aka Dubb]

The Kingdom

>I have listened to two sermons from +Robert Atwell in two days. Today I get a day off!The first sermon was at the induction of friend Kathy Kirby as Vicar of St Paul’s Macclesfield. Kathy is a special person who is immensely generous in her appreciation of others. She will offer a very special ministry of affirmation and encouragement. The second sermon was to our Committee for Ministry in which he quoted “the Kingdom” by R.S.Thomas:

It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.
R.S. Thomas, Collected Poems 1945-1990

I am playing round with ideas on supervision at the moment. Where many minds are bent on specifying, my mind is bent on generalising. I am told that if supervision becomes too general it loses its meaning. I counter that if supervision is too specific it doesn’t mean so much. If the kingdom is “mirrors in which the blind look at themselves and love looks at them back” I dare the word to bear such meaning and defy those who say I go too far.

Borderlands

>

For the first time in a long time I have been having to stand my ground. This is because of an inter-personal, intra-departmental boundary dispute. In other words, we are not sure what we are each doing. This is not a major international incident, though there are significant tensions at the border. We don’t know where the boundaries are supposed to be, and because of that we haven’t worked out how we live together at the boundary.
The damage of borderlands is beautifully brought out in a poem I have just read by Gloria Anzaldua – who describes herself as a “chicana dyke-feminist, tejana patlache poet, writer, and cultural theorist” and “as a border woman [who] grew up between two cultures, the Mexican (with a heavy Indian influence) and the Anglo (as a member of a colonised people in our own territory). I have been straddling that tejas-mexican border, and others, all my life It’s not a comfortable place to live in, this place of contradictions. hatred, anger and exploitation are the prominent features of this landscape”. (The photo is by Brian Auer)
Here’s the poem – as I read it in Edward Soja’s book, Thirdspace:
                         I press my hand to the steel curtain – 
               chainlink fence crowned with rolled barbed wire –
        rippling from the sea where Tijuana touches San Diego
unrolling over mountains
     and plains
              and deserts,
this “Tortilla Curtain” turning into el rio Grande
      flowing down to the flatlands
           of the Magic Valley of South Texas
      its mouth emptying into the Gulf.
1,950 mile-long open wound
                     dividing a pueblo, a culture,
                     running down the length of my body,
                         staking fence rods in my flesh,
                         splits me   splits me
                         me raja   me raja
                                                                               This is my home
                                                                               this thin edge of
                                 barbwire.
                       But the skin of the earth is seamless.
                       The sea cannot be fenced,
             el mar does not stop at borders.
       To show the white man what she thought of his 
                           arrogance,
                   Yemaya blew that wire fence down.
                     The land was Mexican once,
                          was Indian always
                              and is.
                         And   will be again.

Nota Beans

>Nota bene from Rev Ruth’s blog about preaching:

The Church Times is talking about preaching this week. The College of Preachers (of which I am a paid-up member, don’t you know?) commissioned a study into preaching at various denominations.

17% said that they frequently heard sermons that made them change their lifestyles. In my humble experience, whenever one is tempted to have someone in mind when writing such a sermon they invariably don’t turn up that week.

97% said that they looked forward to the sermon each week and 84% agreed that they should be closely connected with the bible. 55% said their knowledge of Jesus was frequently improved by sermons. But only 16% said that sermons helped them to understand events in the news or controversial issues.

Looks like a case of great expectations to me – in spite of what we preachers are sometimes led to believe.

Nota Bene from Bishop Alan’s blog – this poem by Kaylin Haught:
God says Yes to Me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

which made me think who is right and who is wrong. God says “yes” to those who see him face to face, heart to heart and eye to eye. To others he says “look at me – through Jesus”. That’s the verdict we have to live with.

Ash Wednesday

According to our Eucharistic (thanksgiving prayer) today is the day when we are led “into the desert of repentance that through a pilgrimage of prayer and discipline we may grow in grace and learn to be your (God’s) people once again.” The Imposition of Ashes reminds us “that we are dust, and to dust we shall return”. On the face of it Ash Wednesday sounds pretty miserable – but wait a minute, for words by Herbert McCabe quoted by Timothy Radcliffe in “Why go to Church“:

If we go to confession, it is not to plead for forgiveness from God. It is to thank him for it … When God forgives our sins, he is not changiing his mind about us. He is changing our minds about him. He does not change; his mind is never anything but loving; he is love.” (from God, Christ and Us)

I came across this brilliant poem thanks to Jenee Woodard’s wonderful work with the Textweek website.

Marked by Ashes

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933)

Ash Wednesday

According to our Eucharistic (thanksgiving prayer) today is the day when we are led “into the desert of repentance that through a pilgrimage of prayer and discipline we may grow in grace and learn to be your (God’s) people once again.” The Imposition of Ashes reminds us “that we are dust, and to dust we shall return”. On the face of it Ash Wednesday sounds pretty miserable – but wait a minute, for words by Herbert McCabe quoted by Timothy Radcliffe in “Why go to Church“:

If we go to confession, it is not to plead for forgiveness from God. It is to thank him for it … When God forgives our sins, he is not changiing his mind about us. He is changing our minds about him. He does not change; his mind is never anything but loving; he is love.” (from God, Christ and Us)

I came across this brilliant poem thanks to Jenee Woodard’s wonderful work with the Textweek website.

Marked by Ashes

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933)

>Overwhelming silence

>How loud should we sing?
That was the question of a group of singers.
The reply: “so that you can hear the voice of your neighbour”.

How loud should we live?
Not so loud that we drown out the voice of our neighbour.

And who is my neighbour?

Everyone has a voice,
but not everyone’s voice is heard.

Children, gays, women, disabled, vanquished and victim
raise their voices, create disturbance.

Desparate voices breaking the silence
challenging the harmonies of the old song lines.

The sounds echo in controversy
as loud chatter decides to reject or accept the discord.

But I have not found a voice for the old lady fading away
unnoticed in a corner of a cul-de-sac,
nor heard the sound of Congolese children.
I dread to hear what they sound like
when the soldiers enter their village.