Category Archives: Poem

Excuses for not being better at weeding

I gave myself a holiday today. Isn’t it sad that I feel a need to confess and explain this? I woke up feeling like I’d been run over by a truck (it’s been a big week even if not a bad one on a personal level). I had a coffee but I still felt wilted so I went back to bed at about 6:30 or 7. I said “Godde I may miss church if I fall asleep so I promise I will write my blog this week” – since I saw that people had been reading last weeks.

I slept like the dead. I woke up at 11:30 to see people uploading the sermon from church on Facebook. So I read it. And I thought “that’s better than what I was going to write” and I tried to saunter casually away with that comment. Because what faith do I have? I am full of an inner sort of desperation and confusion and now Deleuze and Guattari too (as if I was not bad enough before).

But “like a little child” she pesters us sometimes “you promised, you said we were going to do this together”. And I said “I’ve got nothing to give” so Godde reminded me that I am not here to get things right or lead people but only to play. So I tried to ignore that annoying voice, I said “mate, you’ve got me confused with Jonah” and Godde said “now you are on the right track” and laughed.

And here I am. But it is just play. Like it. Hate it. Ignore it. Or write your own better one. Or play with the ideas in my words or in the readings themselves.

The first reading tells us Godde gave us “good ground for hope”.

What shall we plant in our good ground?

I am still thinking about tubers and rhizomes, covering and uncovering,

having to touch the sweet rain-dark soil

but my hands are cold

everything is cold in July.

“Godde is good and forgiving”

says the psalm but we are fearful

about all the wrong things

and take all the wrong liberties.

We should be bolder, we should be more true.

I feel heavy and it is hard to hope.

“we do not know how to pray as we ought”,

write as we ought,

sing as we ought,

go to sleep as we ought,

stay asleep as we ought,

get up in time for church as we ought,

garden as we ought,

weed and plant as we ought,

we do not know how to work as we ought,

love as we ought,

live as we ought.

Holy Spirit,

you might put in a good word for us, as you do

but teach us,

draw us in

there is no joy unless we pray

as we were called.

But even the Spirit

searching our hearts

summons up only groans.

Is this what we have planted? Cold bones and deepest groans?

I do not know.

The good news tells us

that “an enemy” is responsible

for all the parts we do not like.

As a weed of a person all my life

bringing the not-wanted, the unproductive, the uncomfortable

into the nicely plown fields of life

yes I am a weed but it wasn’t an enemy

Godde, you yourself planted me

spiky as I am.

Tying them into bundles

faggots

for burning like a witch

like a woman who does not fit in

who speaks her terrible mind

out loud

(all women are secretly witches

but some have forgotten).

Jesus spoke in parables

but that is witch-talk also,

weed-talk,

unproductive,

takes root like a mustard seed

and you’ll never be free of it.

“birds of the sky” ha ha

Google what a mustard plant looks like

it’s a weed,

it’s a tenacious, incredibly persistent weed.

But the kindom of Godde will surely not burn

however little we look after

this dear, blue globe of ours.

The kindom of heaven is like yeast

because people don’t go for long

without their minds coming back to food

(and I wish all bellies on the planet

were filled).

My sister, like Godde

takes flour and yeast and throws it all

into a machine

in the dead of night

loving to work

alone.

Baking happens in the darkness

like sowing weeds in the wheat

“an enemy indeed!” it was the wind,

it was the dark

it was the same birds from the mustard bush

yeast in the whole batch of dough

you can’t unmix it once it’s in there.

What do you think of that explanation though

very convenient for a controlling church

very simple, very narrow

no longer parabolic.

I mean no longer a parable

not a parabola (I think).

What shape is a parable?

Not ever the shape

of the status quo

the kindom of Godde is “great and mighty” like a mustard plant,

it is pure as yeast,

it is grains and weeds and we cannot unpick it

the kindom of Godde may be ecosystem, family, dance, festival,

rather than an ordered thing in lines

with hierarchies and progressions

rhizomes not roots

an organism can only grow

(say my old friends D and G)

if it deterritorializes itself

otherwise

a fixed crystal

it cannot reproduce.

But what can reproduce?

weeds and yeast and mustard

the kindom of Godde

and the forbidden wisdom of witches

I poured menstrual blood on the pine needles

and a mushroom grew

and I ate it with spinach leaves

and a glass of wine.

Matthew redacted on that explanation

of the parable

but really

the kindom of heaven is messy,

unsolvable,

living, growing, admixture

“masters” and “barns” came later.

No grain here perhaps

but we are back to our

good, Godde-given ground

for hope.

Teaching as slow and immeasurable

Teaching is not planting a market garden,

the point is not speed or productivity.

Teaching is the patient work of planting

a rainforest of which you will only ever see

a tiny, hopeful part

if that.

It’s not “crops” and it’s not “result”

and it’s misleading to discuss “what works”.

Learning is an act of beauty

like the many coloured mushrooms that spring up in a day

and drop their spores making litter

to feed insects who are there for little birds

feeding birds of prey

meanwhile a seed becomes a slow, small, sapling,

reaches toward the light patiently and with endless hope,

branching out when ready to bear fruit

so that small mammals may eat and live and experience joy

and then die and cast their remnant flesh and bones

upon the roots of the trees feeding for more generations

of trees nurturing mammals and yearning for the light, the sky,

the canopy teeming with every type of creature

and all the time in the world

for flowers and butterflies.

Time wasted on beauty and fragrance and the soft trickle

of water over moss.

Noone can measure the life of a rainforest,

noone can measure what has been learnt or will be known.

We hold back from our wish to control and carve and mould

and we enable. We provide. We challenge. We are all

trees, moss, flowers, birds, beasts insects and mushrooms

caught up in the life-breath and soil of being.

We are no just woodchips, we are not just fuel,

we are not for harvesting

we are just for being.

Bread in Burnside

It was on an anti-poverty Facebook group

a comrade posted the picture of bread from the Burnside supermarket

very different from the suburbs

most of them live.

 

$6 a loaf for 30 hour sourdough,

brown and crustedly rounded, a sprinkle of seeds

but as someone remarked

“it still looks the same

when it comes out of the dumpster”

 

Someone sneered at fake-poverty-chic

and faker empathy

and someone is getting ready to go out

on a cold July night

to dumpster dive for the community.

 

Panis Angelicus: Corpus Christi

not just in Burnside

but in the solidarity of the starving

because we are the angels, the prophets

our message is Word and Bread

cold street word and dumpster bread

the body, the real presence

Amen.

“Prayer” of the once faithful

I wrote this almost a decade ago. I didn’t post it anywhere. It’s not properly speaking a “prayer” since it addresses and idol once held up as God and not Godde, Godself. Perhaps the idol is the church or perhaps it is the version of God/de I was given by the church. Anyway the thing I am addressing here is no Godde of mine.

When I was a child, I thought like a child

and you were always right,

while my role was to follow,

to punish myself with secret insults, self-harm, microaggressions.

I punished myself

for seeing your flaws.

 

Like a child I was powerless

and accepted that the fault was always mine

ever since the sin of Eve

the first (bar Lilith) to get above herself.

 

When I was a child I would have

jumped off even more cliffs than were on offer

to prove my faithfulness,

to deserve your protection,

and love.

 

When I was a child

so before I knew your history

or how you have always treated

little ones.

Lighting a fire

Well it’s happened. Recent events have taken their toll. the problem is that as usual I am behind myself, so people for the last couple of weeks have telling me I should be depressed, destroyed, etc and I have been quite strong in answering that on the contrary I am energised…angry, sad, scared but full of energy.

But today I am tired, I have been struggling for the last three days, each days finding excuses why it is “just hard today” and being very very unproductive but today I will call it. I am a Christian, I believe in hope at all costs, I believe in resurrections but I am sometimes tired and demoralised (the cold getting deep into my bones does not help).

I want to gather with people for mutual support, instead what ends up happening is people look to me for leadership and inspiration (or is it only that I imagine they do) and I must be a hope giver not someone who needs. I am sometimes tired and demoralised, I never asked to be a leader (save when I was very, very young) and when I ask people to see me as stupid, disengaged, lazy, etc to feel sorry for me, to carry me they tell me not to be silly they don’t see me that way at all. And then I try to shoulder the burden wondering how on earth they do it. HOW?

So then I remember that it has been too long since I danced/sparred with the lectionary apart from my last-minute attempt last week.  It’s Pentecost and I “ought” to be inspired (well perhaps I will be in two days time). At the moment I am tired and broken and cynical and irrational and wondering how to hold it all together which is certainly a good way to begin Pentecost. So instead of a sermon I will give you a tapestry, or maybe a patchwork of thoughs, with bits of the readings as well.

” they were all in one place together. ” (Acts 2)

Hincho mi corazón para que entre
como cascada ardiente el Universon.
El Nuevo día llega y su llegada
me deja sin aliento.
Canto como la gruta que es colmada
canto mi día Nuevo.

Gabriela Mistral

  “I open out my heart so the Universe
can enter like a cataract of fire.
The new day comes; its coming
takes my breath away.
I sing, a hollow filled to overflowing,

I sing my break of day.” (translation by Ursula K Le Guin.)

“I have told you this while I am with you.
… the Holy Spirit …
will teach you everything” (John)

Teach

teach you

teach you everything

“Education is not filling a bucket, it is lighting a fire” (various attributions).

We connect with each other. We sit together in our need for togetherness. We open our broken hearts. We forget to hide from the darkness we fear will devour us. We can smell its rancid breath, the future burning of the forests, the melting of the icecaps, the hunger of our own children.

Someone eleison.

A frightening world without the child’s notion of a divine ATM that will spew out graces in exchange for flattery and pleading. Lord, Lord, Lord, anyone have mercy we want all the answers, we want the burden of solving our own problems to be taken away.

My enemies all encompassed me (was that a psalm when I was a child?)

I could barely crush a fly in my current state.

What is this Universe that is coming? What is this new day? Do we want it? I barely had time to get my head around the old day.

Life-ful Spirit eleison. Something. Be a reason. Give me hope. Hold my hand I am so scared. I don’t like to suffer but I weep more for my children. Eleison, eleison. Are you listening? Do you know what I am talking about? All the trivial things- what will I eat today, who will love me, dare I check my email, who was I meant to respond to, are the bins out, will the cats fight if I leave them together? Eleison. Christe the ultimate resiliant one eleison. But you gave up the ghost didn’t you. Is despair the road to hope?

If I knew what to do I would do it.

 

 

“before she became fire, she was water,

quenching the thirst of every dying creature.

She gave and she gave

until she turned from sea to desert.

But instead of dying from the heat,

the sadness, the heartache,

she took all of her pain

and from her own ashes became fire” (Nikita Gill)

 

Well…it’s hardly comforting is it?

Gaia eleison

pray burning is only a metaphor.

Instead of a reflection, a poem

I felt like today’s readings were more or less a repeat of what we have already been doing. I know there must be new insights in them but I wasn’t feeling it this week- it just felt like “this again”. Any newness of life at the moment seems hard-won, though my garden more than likely appreciates the rain. Just about the only thing that made me pray this week, happened at karaoke while I was singing “Better man” by Robbie Williams so this is one of those weeks when I focus on an extra-canonical reading.

“…I fear the cold, feel I’m getting old before my time.

As my soul feels [it may have been “heals” but in my case definitely “feels”] the shame, I will grow through this pain, cause I’m doing all I can to be a better man”

Readers who know me well, will question the “man” but I leave it in as a provocation. And reflecting on positive shame and the dryness of my spiritual well this week, prompted a short piece from me:

Des(s)ert(ed)

 

All praise to the risk takers.

 

Capitalism gives us all the world

if only we kneel down

and worship

bread made from stone.

(See e.g. Luke 4:1-13) But God I’m doing all I can, to be a better “man”. Amen.

 

 

Absence

When love is gone… For Jesus but also Felikss.

 

Just me alone with my own thoughts

remembering every mistake I ever made,

every persistent flaw that dogs my life and relationships

mea culpa

 

Just me in the dark waiting for dragging seconds

that make up eternal minutes,

of hours.

Trying to slow my breathing

wondering why I bother.

 

The night is dark and empty

and yet noises come to frighten me.

What would it feel like to be dead?

To be trapped under earth suffocating…

don’t be silly he is already dead.

 

His body was so wracked and so used up

he never even made it to 40

and it was so still and wax and tortured

I wanted not to recognise him

not to wonder what it meant

the expression on his face.

 

So still.

So absent.

Under earth, he can’t get out and I am scared.

I will die too.

This is what being human is- losing and fearing and dying.

 

Kyrie eleison

 

But the dark night still stretches ahead.

The Body of Christ

I tried to write about the thoughts and random connections that come to me when I approach communion (Eucharist). I had planned to put in more biblical details and allusions so maybe at some point I will rewrite this, but as soon as I focus on bread, then the mundane stuff of continuing to live as well as the real work of mothering and nurture comes to me and so the real world got into my sense of sacrament (as usual). So it came out less mythical and mystical and more down-to-earth than I had thought…I hope it makes sense. Add your own in the comments if you like.

The bread of life. Amen

The labour of my mother’s hands. Amen

The buried grain arisen. Amen

Cord blood to the baby. Amen

The scent of the turned soil. Amen

The seed scattered. Amen

The birds feeding. Amen

Waybread for the journey. Amen

Loaves, flatbreads, rice, tortillas, sandwiches, pastries. Amen

Starving children while we glut. Amen

Crumbs from the table. Amen

Staling crust, dryly sticks in throat. Amen

Children should be seen and not heard. Amen

Where then is the sacrament? Amen

If all of this will lead to crucifixion. Amen

I threw my leftover lunch out of the train carriage. Mea culpa.

My mother had worked all night kneading and proving the bread. Amen

My grandparents starved in refugee camps. Amen

There are homeless in my own city. Amen

I was only a kid. Amen

Your vocation is to feed hungry souls. Amen

To wash feet, to change nappies. Amen

To break bread and model table manners. Amen

The body of Christ. Amen, amen.

A mother’s body torn to give life. Amen

A mother’s blood flowing through the cord. Amen

A mother’s milk swelling, or inadequate. Amen

The father waking in the night to help feed the baby. Amen

The blessing of grandparents. Amen

Solace to the elderly parent. Amen

This too is my body. Amen

The battery hen. Amen

The lives that go into the abattoir. Amen

The lives that are held in limbo, on Manus. Amen

The lives that are born but not nurtured. Amen

The loves that remain a source of shame and exclusion. Amen

The oceans full of oil and sewage. Amen

The rice crops failing because seeds become patented. Amen

Food is a business, water and investment. Oh Lamb of God have mercy.

I told you this is my body. Amen

We eat you, we eat each other, we are failing to love. Amen

Save us Lord, we can’t walk on water. Amen

I told you you would deny me, but now I will feed you. Amen.

Whenever you make food for your workmates. Amen

Whenever you give food to someone hungry. Amen

Whenever you celebrate your own child. Amen

Whenever you remember to visit your great aunt or grandmother. Amen

This is my body. This is the bread that feeds you. This is flesh and earth and physical joy and strength. This is soul and spirit and the ecstasy of connection. Break this, give this, do this in memory of me.

The pod of dolphins leap for joy. Amen

The chili from a colleague’s generous harvest. Amen

My sister gets up early to make bread– her vocation. Amen

Bread and sacrament, our life and our heritage. Amen, amen.

The body of Christ. Amen

Encountered at the well

After what I wrote about water in the service, this week, today’s gospel reading happened to be Jesus debating the feisty Samaritan woman at the well. I love this gospel because I wrote one of my earliest HD papers on it and because it was the second gospel I ever preached at. Shallow of me. I ought to love it for the message and the contents and instead I love it for the road it has travelled with me. As I listened to it today I had words in my head from one of my friends who had told me Jesus was just ordinary “like you” and I thought about and ordinary Jesus offering “living water” and being told he has nothing to draw it with and the well is deep. And isn’t that just how ordinary old us feel most days? That people need things from us but we have nothing to draw it with and the well is deep. And I burst into tears (everyone was either too deep in thought to notice or tactful and looked away). But this poem is my musing on the “ordinary” burdened Jesus meeting this woman who refreshed him with her honesty and her reluctance to let him get away with things. May we all meet such women!

 

Encountered at the well

 

You are right,

I have nothing to draw with and the well is deep,

nothing to draw with and the well…

yes well I hadn’t planned on being

any sort of a Messiah, had I?

I could have done without the early mornings,

the lonely roads

the misunderstandings

 

frankly

 

and it is not like I am trying

to force something down your throat

rightly cynical fellow-traveller

but I am thirsty and you should be also

for the transformation that makes meaningless

your previous life.

 

Yes, call them all

come…come…come to the freakshow.

Are you another one that will call me

“King” and “Lord” and “Master” even while

missing the point?

 

I like you when you argue,

as if we were simply determining

whether you will address me as “Comrade” or “Adversary”.

To tell you the truth

I struggle with the same question.

Ways of (not)Knowing

Is it good to bite into

the crusty, doughy wheatiness

of Word made Flesh made Bread;

to drink the cup- the complex bouquet

of birth and stars and long roads,

friends, stories, long roads,

betrayal, suffering, short road to death

but also hearth-fires and washed feet?

 

Is it good to remember

that love had courage

to speak out, stand tall,

stand with, be told;

learn and grow;

to hold firm and die?

Dare we shed a tear?

 

Is it “him” and is it even me?

Where is the place on earth

where love bakes, breaks bread

and wine is shared;

where suffering is acknowledged?

What does it mean

to have “life”?