Follow Me

Follow me,

it’s all they heard

Follow me,

and they stood up

dropping nets

as if they became hot

turning their backs

on the lake

turning faces

into the dust.

What did they expect?

Fame and fortune

a better life

an easier time

instead of hauling

wet, heavy nets

filled with fish

that needed selling.

Follow me,

hearing that voice

calling within

into another life.

Follow me,

into the woundedness

into those places

of disillusionment

Follow me,

to the tomb

to tread the path

carrying that cross

the heavy burden

of the pain you see

into the emptiness

of the human heart.

Follow me,

into abundant life. 

Writers Odyssey

I sit here staring at a blank page

who do I think I am, writing 

these bits and pieces of life

that have no real meaning.

Every sentence an agony

as I dig deep within the mine

seeking those few nuggets

of the journey I’ve been on.

It’s walking across hot coals

of broken dreams, an odyssey

where the Sirens call haunts

and the temptation of Circe awaits.

Troy is ever in my mind

the broken walls, the burned city

of relationships and loves lost

the scattered wastes littering

the path that I have taken.

It’s not the destination, they say

but damn, the journey is hard

it has to end I think, in the words

that I try to write as the cursor blinks

my own little Cyclops, taunting.

My Priestly Life

It’s early in the morning as I sit there in the darkened church, the only sound coming from the ceiling fans as they continuously stir the air. There, in the pew, I close my eyes concentrating on each breath that I take, a slow inhale, an even slower exhale, calming my body, as I empty myself of life’s distractions. Slowly, I feel my own heart slow down, my mind becoming less burdened by the myriad of thoughts that litter the mind scape. Here, in this place, at this early hour I am alone with God, seeking to find the words to write, the prose and poetry of my life.
 I am a Priest, an Episcopal Priest, to be more accurate. Prayer, meditation, time alone, is for me, the way in which I spiritually feed the dryness of my own soul. In this postmodern, post-Christian society that we live in, this may sound a bit crazy, or at the very least, some form of mental illness. Living in a world that is constantly on the move, constantly connected with various technology, the idea of just sitting in a darkened church, praying, seems eccentric. In many ways being a priest today seems to be a bit eccentric. As parishes of all denominations slowly shrink in terms of congregants and resources, in an era of increasing secularity and of the so-called “spiritual nones” being a priest, minister, rabbi, is slightly counterintuitive. Yet, here I am, praying to God, asking for guidance, seeking to live up to my ordination vows as I navigate the dangerous waters of today’s church. 

 Being a priest means entering into the very earthiness of life itself. Engaging people in all of the stages of life, from birth to death and all of the messiness in between. We are dust and in the dust is life itself, the very term human comes from the root word humus, the dark, rich soil where seeds lay buried to one day spring forth into life. It’s a life of deep intimacy, where we, as priests, are invited into the most private areas of human life. I’ve held newborns, some struggling to overcome great physical obstacles, and blessed them with Holy water as I baptized, young parents standing by with tears in their eyes. I’ve held the hand of older people, as they took their last few breaths asking God to watch over their souls as they passed through the portal of death. I have learned over the years that there is a sensuality to being a priest, where not only our intellect is engaged but also all of our senses. We touch, we see, we smell the incense as it rises to the rafters, our hands breaking the bread and touching the chalice, the gifts of God. I place the small piece of bread into hands, hands that are calloused from hard work, hands that have held a baby or wiped away the young child’s tears. In that moment, our hands touch and connection is made, that piece of bread God’s conduit of grace and love, through the Body of His Son.

Meditation

Sitting in the darkened church

all is silent the only sound my breath

flowing in and out from my body

my eyes are closed, as I kneel there.

In this silence I feel your presence

as I whisper prayers into the air.

I’m only a simple man, not a prophet

I only seek to write the poetry

that lives deep within my heart

the words placed there at creation

that yearn to be freed from the dark

to see the beauty of this world 

in the very simple things of life.

To smell the sweetness of the forest

as the wind passes through the trees

watching as the sun rises in the morning

the sky afire with the promise of a new day.

The world is full of fear and anger

there is a deep joylessness 

that infects the hearts and minds.

My poor poets words seek to pierce 

through the gloom and despair

to find hope and joy once again.

Here in this silence I seek your Word

here in the darkened church

I kneel before your altar

within my soul I hear your voice calling,

“Oh man, arise and see the light,

give voice to the words you hear

write with the heart of a poet,

be not afraid for I am with you.”

Autumnal Equinox

Summer lingers, holding out

as the Autumnal Equinox appears

like a spoiled child hanging on

summer refuses to give way.

Even as the leaves turn

from green to shades of red

even with the scent of decay

summers tentacles hold fast

refusing to acknowledge it’s death.

Like an old man, at the end of life

who clings tenaciously at the last

summer hangs on eyes wide open.

Yet, soon, it will yield to change

like we who live here must do

yielding to the seasons of life

as we live in the midst of death.

Dayton Airport

It doesn’t seem that long ago

when we first met at Dayton airport

passing each other along the way

as you walked toward the plane

at the time when we could still do that

walk down and see planes

watching as families waited for loved ones

as children played in the aisles

with the sound of the jets whining

as they went to and fro, tarmac to terminal.

There I saw you for the first time

no longer a picture, I carried in my wallet

no longer a face I dreamed about

it was you, in the flesh, warm and tender

your long hair flowing behind as you rushed

by me caught in the current of people

out of the peripheral vision we saw each other

as we turned to face that person

that just moments before were only words

on letters that were passed over the miles

now we were standing their, nervous

the flicker of love nurtured in letters

began to spark as eyes met and hands touched

we spoke each others name

then walked out of the terminal

into a future that held our hearts.

Basic

You’re left, You’re right

the Drill Sargent intones

yesterday we were civilians

today we’re soldiers

learning how to walk

how to obey orders

even when they seem insane

You’re left, You’re right

we march along trying

to understand what this is about

carrying our rifles, bayonets, canteens

in the heat of the day, through woods

we march, learning how to kill

that little yellow gook,

whom we never met before.

In the rain and in the mud

with red Georgia clay clinging

to our clothes and boots

we march, singing about her

that girl who waits at home

wearing that yellow ribbon 

we march for our mother’s

our families and country

we march to the beat of war drums

You’re left, You’re right

the Drill Sargent is relentless

the butt of our weapons dig in

backs are sore, feet hot

yet we march, for war is upon us

look to your right, look left

whose face will we not see again

the bloom of youth

another lost generation

with the look of ghosts.

You’re left, You’re right, You’re left.