Sacrifice

Coming to worship
in expectation
yet,
what is expected?
Fire in the soul?
Words of deep peace?
Solace for a troubled mind?
Coming to worship,
not to give wholly,
but seeking only to take.
Bread and Wine
remind us
that sacrifice
means
something has to die
even as we live

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Stories are Everywhere

I’ve been sitting here, staring at that blinking cursor and blank white screen trying to figure out what to write about. Do I write a piece of prose, a bit of nonfiction or fiction, do I write a poem about a tree? There are millions of ideas that float across my mind and like a school of fish they slip past quickly before I’ve had any chance to grab even one. Stories are out there and stories are within, the trick is to start digging away and just write what you see and damn the consequences.

Stories come from our everyday experiences, those seemingly small moments that we don't think are very important but when we begin to unpack them we see something of ourselves. Yesterday I had one such experience, a connection made with a man named George. George has been hanging out in our church yard, using the picnic table to have his breakfast and coffee. George is one of those characters that seem to gravitate toward the church. They are lost, lost in the world, lost in society and lost within themselves. He’s not a dangerous person, he’s not unintelligent, he’s just lost. That is something many people just can't wrap their heads around, that here is a man, who is educated, seems smart and yet can’t seem to find his way. Yet, here he is, struggling. In his mind, in his lostness, he is wrestling with God in his own wilderness. The spiritual struggle some of us go through as we seek our place in this craziness called life.

George and I have now spoken several times and with each conversation another layer of his complex personality is exposed. That he was married, that he was a lawyer, that he had gotten involved with a fundamentalist religious group, and with their blessing went over to Europe to begin a ministry of house churches. Along the way he lost his purpose, he lost his wife and children to divorce and he may have even lost his connection to family and friends.

I sit here, a conduit to God’s grace, a conduit that is in itself flawed by my humanity. I sit and listen, I can offer no quick fix, no special prayers, or some magical incantation, I’m not a Shaman or a mystic, I’m just the person God created me to be. There are stories to be told, to be written down and shared. Stories of our common humanity, of our need for one another, not just when things are going great, but also when we are traveling along a darkened path. Life is a struggle and for some, like George, it is a greater struggle. That is why we need to share these stories because if I were to I be honest, if we were to be honest, there is a bit of George in all of us, that small, scared child who fears what is under the bed or the monsters lurking in the dark closet. Our lives are connected in that mystery we Christians call the Incarnation, the Divine Presence of the Word which called us into being out of the dust.

Maybe that’s why I’m writing this piece, because there are moments when it is easy to get oneself lost. I know there have been those moments, when the darkness of my own mind has overwhelmed me and I found myself struggling to find the path. I don’t believe there is not one human being alive who has not faced their own dark night of the soul, who have wondered about the choices they made and the consequences of those choices.

I read something yesterday stating that what anyone writes is not something original, but mainly a reworking of age old stories. Stories of love, of death, of growing up and coming of age. We all have those stories in the deep well of our memories and it is my task to dip into that well and draw upon those deep waters. Some of the water will be sweet and fresh, and some will be brackish, but it all comes from the same well.

I can say with complete confidence that I am no genius. I struggle with my grammar, I’m unsure of punctuation and word usage, but at least I’m willing to expose these thoughts to the world. Creating anything, whether it is a piece of art, a poem, a story, even a life, requires taking a risk. It’s all too easy to sit on social media posting someone else’s words, it’s something else to post your own. Maybe it is because in taking a moment to try and see the world through the eyes of another, I have been granted a gift and that gift is these words that I write.

Bread

Bread,

it sits on the counter

wheat bread

cinnamon raisin

white rolls

gluten 

gluten free

low fat

high fiber

heart healthy,

Bread

the staff of life

feeding 

nourishing

slathered with butter

toasted golden 

jelly’s 

jams

strawberry

grape

cover the bread.

Bread

vast acres of wheat

swaying 

as the breeze passes

under the sun

kernels

ripen

machines reap

gathering 

into the barn

crushed

pulverized

mixed

baked

sold

into our bodies

feeding

Bread

broken and shared

Bread 

the gift of God

Bread

manna

life

in the desert

we inhabit.

The Paths We Pave

People can really hurt,

some get all oily and smile

just before plunging in the knife.

They will tell you anything

even invite you to dinner,

without you knowing

you’re the main course

to be carved up and served

consumed while they joke.

They claim to be holy,

good Christian folk,

who pray on Sunday’s

sacrificing nothing,

only to prey the other days

devouring the sacrificial gossip.

They carry their idol

in wallets thick with manna,

breaking hearts 

as well as bodies

to reach the heavenly heights,

only to find along the way

the paved path into hades.

At the Altar

I stand at the altar

hands upraised 

grasping the bread,

the snap as it breaks

causes me to gasp.

The fullness of sacrifice

in a brief moment

love so deep, so intimate

God’s gift to heal

that which is broken within

the longing heart

the jealousies we hold

our own darkened souls

Christ, our Passover

is now made complete

as the congregation evaporates

like the early morning dew.

The sacrifice has been made

the world cannot erase

what has been given

in the brevity of life.

These are the gifts

by them we are fed

with them we heal

in them we become one.

Our communion of souls

weighed down by sin

redeemed in body

in the shed blood

we paint over the lintels

of our hearts.