Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lord, teach me to number my words...

Another poem in response to Old Monk by Mary Lou Kownacki.  Obviously influenced by being on a silent retreat as I wrote it.  Opening is from Psalm 90:12.

(Warning: language not appropriate for all audiences.  Parental discretion advised)


Lord, teach me to number my days
       that I may turn my heart to wisdom.
The Cheyenne say
      each person at birth
      receives so many words.
When the words are finished,
      so, too, the person.
A girl,
      runs through the streets
      thousands upon millions of times
      shouting "F**k You!"
Until, with two words remaining,
      she falls to her knees,
      horrified and afraid.
Decade after silent decade
      she walks,
      seeking a heart still enough
            to keep closed
            her muted mouth.
Then, when an aged woman,
      alone, but not lonely,
      she whispers,
"Thank you,"
      her spirit leaves on
      her last breath
      as her silent lips mouth

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


On Friday night during my retreat, the staff served a delicious Japanese soup and sides.  All the food that week was interesting and delicious, and a Thank You Haiku came to me while eating in silence and listening to the chairs scrape along the dining room floor.  That evening, David and I took a walk in the rain, and encountered some of God's creatures on the Tennessee plateau.


On Japanese Night
      A Haiku of Thanks

Food: God's gifts we eat
Made by loving hands and hearts
The chairs squeak, "Amen!"


A Night's Walk With David

Rustling in the woods;
A shadow glides through dark fog.
The deer joins its friend.

A toad hops beneath.
Two earthworms straddle the road.
Two friends share the rain.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Confirmation Class Question

The confirmation teacher came to chastise me.
At coffee hour, her students ran to me,
      "Name three gifts from God!"
Apparently the right answers were
      prophecy, teaching, evangelism
      and the gifts of the Spirit.
I said popcorn, pretzels, and
      (striving to keep powdered sugar off
       my black suit as I took a bite)

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Rumination on Dancing

Who starts ballet at thirty-nine?
PliƩs, Rond de jambes, pirouettes, jumps,
      amid stretches that don't stretch so far.
But deep down somewhere
       inside is hidden
            beauty and grace
And I must find them
             I no more
                   am able.

With thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Abbey Alter, Jill Niess and everyone involved with Ballet Theatre Shenango Valley.  I am honored and blessed to have the privilege of working with you in the studio and on the stage.

Special thanks, of course, to Jane, who signed me up for Cinderella and encouraged me to take an adult ballet class.  You are always right. Again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two poetic musings on vocation

On a recent silent retreat at St. Mary's Retreat Center in Sewanee, Tennessee,  I started writing a bunch of poetry.  Part of the inspiration came from reading Old Monk, a collection of poetry written by Mary Lou Kownacki, a Benedictine Sister in Erie, PA.  (Old Monk can be ordered from Benetvision.)

Below are two poems in response to what Mary Lou had written.  The first jumps off a quote from her friend who says that it's not why you came to the monastery, but why you stayed that's important.  The second comes from asking myself where I stand.

If you like these, I've got some more that will be posted in the coming days.  Put your e-mail address in the subscription box to the right and they'll be sent to you.


I come into church
      Sunday after Sunday
      and almost every day in between.
Once I would have said I was called,
      holding ten talents I dared not bury.
      "Build a career in the Church -- ah, good,"
      as one nonagenarian said to me in seminary.
Really, though
      I feared the talents I held were tin,
            not gold,
      and I needed to hear
            someone say
                  they weren't wasted.
But now,
      why not come?
They let me sing
      and pray
            and dress in colorful capes
                  and bless with abandon.
While every week
      I stand up and lay bare
      how God touched my soul.


"Decide where you stand
      and stand there."
      So says Dan Berrigan
      and also, more or less, R.E.M.
I stand at the altar.
      Sometimes in a church;
      Sometimes in the city;
      Sometimes in my home.
Calling forth the Body of Christ
      in the gifts laid upon it
      and in the souls
            standing round it.