Wednesday, April 30, 2014


It seems I must still practice making choices.  I know... I do it all the time.  Still, just like every single client I see as a priest, as a therapist, as a spiritual director, as a consultant, just like everyone else in the whole human family, I must practice making choices.  Even me.  Just like everyone else.

He wants to make sure
I know
This is all my choice,
My option to sit
Even dizzy
In the therapy chair.
My choice to sit.
My option
To close my eyes
Imagine what I need
To give words to,
Think of what I want
To keep to myself.
When I leave
It is even my option to see
The great blue heron
Or not
The great blue heron
Streaming just overhead
An exclamation point
In flight.
My option to receive the sign
Or not
My choice
To write
Even this.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Foggy frame of mind.  And me... with it.

I am grateful
For fog.
Somehow it allows my own
Frame of mind,
As if this is natural
Normal even,
This morning fog,
And me
With it.
I drive the daughter to school
We discuss morning things.
We discuss next year.
Headlights in the fog.
And then
She is out the door.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sleeping in

I have friends who refer to God as "The Universe."  My beloved and I, whenever something fortuitous happens, like being given the gift of an extra morning of sleep, we say we are "fans of the Universe."  Somehow this feels less blasphemous.  Somehow.

The week spreads out
Before me.
It is a week
Of early mornings.
Already I think about
How I might pare it down,
Add extra morning sleep           
I prioritize.
My daughter’s doctor
Calls in sick
This means the appointment
I rescheduled to Wednesday morning 8 AM.
Can move back
To this afternoon.
It is clear the Universe
Wants me to sleep in
On Wednesday.
I am a big fan
Of the Universe.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Upper room

Meditation before church on Thomas Sunday.

Without closed doors
The miracle might never
Have been noted.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


More Saturday morning dreams.  More church dreams for this girl who barely preaches anymore except from her counseling office under the altar.  I wish I could remember the words from the sermon.  But still... I woke up enfolded in hope.

I woke up enfolded
Like in a warm blanket
Like standing
In warm sun
With a spring breeze
Fresh air.
I woke up
From church dreams,
A sermon on hope,
The best sermon
I have heard in years.
I wish I remembered
The words
Oh I wish I remembered
The words
But still I woke up enfolded
Like in a warm blanket
Like standing in the sun
A spring breeze blowing
Fresh air.

Friday, April 25, 2014

All or nothing

I renewed my driver's license this year.  With my seizure history comes the medical form which asks the neurologist to check off a number of boxes, most of which he has no idea about.  He forgot to check yes or no next to mental illness.  If I'd seen it ahead of time, I would have done it for him.  Alas.  With the State of Illinois, all boxes must be definitively checked, whether the checker knows... or not.

The mental illness box
Was not checked
Yes or no
So the form
Was not complete.
How would the neurologist know
If I am sane?
Sometimes I doubt it
It seems this is not
A yes or no,
Rather a perhaps,
Maybe a probably.
The State does not have a box
For perhaps or probably.
With the State
It is all
Or nothing.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

High jump

Life has a way of placing hurdles, high jumps, long jumps, sometimes an endless series of stairs in our path.  I am grateful to have trainers (physical, mental, spiritual trainers).  I am also grateful to have learned, albeit in later years, to know and ask for such help.

We navigated
The first post-Easter hurdle,
Await number two.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Contemplating Easter

Life does not always carry with it what we expect.  The trick is to recognize Easter here... wherever here is.   Oh yes, we say, oh yes, even here the sun shines through the window, makes a puddle of light on the floor.  Even here the tomb is empty.

The blue and sun enter
Even such sterile places.
We have been here before
And know the life;
It permeates even here,
Maybe especially here.
The tomb is empty.
We have been here before.
We may be here again.
We practice Easter
Four days in
Hear the laughter.
It rolls like so many stones
Large and small,
from the empty tomb,
Even here.

Monday, April 21, 2014


On this second day of Easter I woke up thinking Hooray!  Once again, He is Risen!  This was the day, when my children were small, we would go out on a walk scouting signs of new life.  This is the day that life begins again, no matter how much life has gone over the dam, under the bridge. Now is the time to take a breath... and begin again.

I preach short.
I have always
Preached short.
Even thirty years in,
When I preach,
My sermons
Are short.
Years ago,
An associate,
I always thought
I was asked to preach
Christmas and Easter
Because I preached short.
Now I wonder if I was asked
To preach
Because I left room
For breathing.
Perhaps sometimes
There is more to brevity
Than mere brevity.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Vigil

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!!

I sang to the Light
Even as my eyes
Faded in and out
Even as I lost track
Once or twice
Lost the line then found it
Made up an interval
Or two.
Still I sang
It was mostly Mozarabic.
Then I sat with the family
Listened again
To all of Creation
And then some.
And then some more.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The dreams were grateful

Holy Saturday.  One of my favorite days of the year.  Love covers a multitude of sins.  Peter reminds us of this in the liturgy this morning.  Jesus is out emptying hell, even my private hell, even your private hell, breaking open hearts.  Jesus is out covering a multitude of sins.

The dreams were grateful 
I slept in 
This morning.
They supplied interesting things
To keep me in bed,
Add an hour or two
To the usual eight or nine.
The morning is bright
With sun.
Jesus is out
Harrowing Hell
Opening hearts to possibilities
Up until now.
The dreams were grateful
To add more sleep
To the picture.
Now my heart considers
The possibilities
For the rest of the day
And beyond.

Friday, April 18, 2014

As we all do

I find Synoptic Jesus, the Jesus of Matthew, Mark and Luke, more human, more believable.

Sure there was protest
In the Garden
Take this cup from me
He said
He tried to bargain
As we all do
But then He went
Finally willingly
Then He waited
To die.
He waited
As we all do
For what came next.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Window dressing

I have long felt it unnecessary to preach after we have read the Passion.  Instead I offered a few words before the reading, and offered a period of silence afterwards.  But really, as my friend offers, the Whole Week speaks for itself.

My friend says
There are so many sermons
In Holy Week:
The entire story
Of the donkey and palms,
The strewing of garments;
The Meal
The foot washing
The altar stripping;
The exchange in the Garden,
The Cross
Oh the Cross,
The tearing of the Veil
Between Heaven and Earth;
Then the Waiting
Oh the Waiting
For the Stone
Rolled away.
So many sermons
Anything more
Is window dressing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday in Holy Week

Continuing in Holy Week mode.

Nothing is scheduled
For today.
Most of the snow
Has disappeared
Only a small patch
Here and there
Under a bush where the sun
Hasn’t reached
Quite yet.
Another inch of rhubarb
Has emerged
Red and odd
Somewhat reminiscent
Of another world
While the grass sings
Its usual green.
Nothing is scheduled today
Except my daughter
Needs the car for work
After school.
I am home thinking
Of melting snow
Crowning rhubarb
Usual grass
The Triduum
Soon to begin.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holy Week

Every year I think Holy Week will be different.  And it is.  And it's not.

I like to think
This week will be different.
It began with a pony.
Today I sit
In a different place,
Tomorrow yet another
Different place.
And so it goes.
Holy Week is always different
Yet somehow still
The same.
Seven years out
Of running Holy Week
(as if anyone ever runs
Holy Week)
Seven years out
Again I slip into
Holy Week mode.
It began this year
With a pony.
I know the story,
How the story goes.
I know the ending.
Thank God I know
How it ends.

High wire walkers

The squirrels are back, wire-walking, a sure and certain sign of spring.

Finally spring.
The grass greens
Of course
The trees bud
Of course
The tulips
Are halfway up.
But today I know
It is finally spring
Not for the green and growing things,
But for the squirrels,
Now again
They traverse the telephone wires.
Again they know
Conditions are safe.
The high wire walkers
Are back.
Finally spring.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Palm Sunday and the donkey from the last couple years was rented to another church before we got to her.  So this year we had a pony named Duchess.  Our family consensus is that temperamentally Duchess had Molly the donkey beat, hands down. 

The week began
With a pony.
She was sold
As a donkey.
The donkey from last year
Made other arrangements.
So the week really began
With a pony,
Palms and a pony
Named Duchess;
A lovely pony
By the name of Duchess
And a parade.
The donkey will never know
What she missed.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Halfway through my internship I had seizure number two and was carted out on a stretcher.  Two weeks later I returned to finish the internship, a bit more slowly.  But I finished by Thanksgiving. I have a feeling they do not talk about my brilliant clinical skills.

I earned six units
Of continuing education
At the place I interned
Three years ago now.
The people with whom
I worked
Were all there.
We talk about you
A lot
Each one said.
Of course they did not say
What the talk
Was about.
I have my suspicions.
I am famous.
I am infamous.
I am probably
The only intern they had
Who seized,
Fell and hit my head,
Left by ambulance.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


St. Mark's didn't reserve Molly the donkey in time, so we will have a pony (or some sort of cross-breed) this year for Palm Sunday.  No worries... we have already reserved Molly for 2015.  At staff meeting I found myself asking about who would sing the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil.  Would you like to do it? came the question.  So the Palm Sunday procession will be led by a pony, and I will sing in the Light of Christ at the Easter Vigil.  A new kind of Holy Week.  We will see where it goes from there.

Lent this year
Has meant the recalibration
Of my brain,
The welcome
Of a new kind of spring.
It has meant
The recognition
That Jesus will ride
A pony this year
Rather than
The requisite donkey
In the Palm Sunday procession.
Lent this year
Has meant the practice
Includes the descent
To dark places,
The ascent to the final light.
This year
At the end of Lent
I will exalt the Light
In the Mozarabic tone.
I may figure
What Resurrection might mean
Even to the tone
Of riding in
On a pony.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Practice needs to be noticed

As I wrote this, I realized it is an illustration of the subject.  In itself, it is practice.  I'm sure something could be written which says it better.  Not today.  Today I remind myself, I listen to others and tell them what I notice.  Today I listen to Jesus saying: Like the tree, like the vine, give yourself more time.  Meanwhile: Great leaves.  

Another week
To remind my clients
And therefore,
To remind myself:
Needs to be noticed.
Is in the effort,
Not in the result.
The fruits of practice
Are not perfection.
The fruits of practice
Are found
Hung on the vine.
Sometimes they are
The expected grapes.
Of course
Sometimes little grows
For now.
Sometimes grape leaves
Are all we get.
Jesus famously said
Give it more time.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I have the best job in the world.  Sometimes, often, the people I encounter even speak in haiku which sets me into a reverie of possibilities for the rest of the day.

She says she will know
Life is back to normal
When the music returns.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Compact in the sun

It has been years since I have lived with a dog.  Still... I remember dogs asleep in the sun, sprawled to catch every ray.  The cat, at least my cat, does not sprawl.  Instead he sits... content, compact, a meditation in himself.

The cat
Compact in the sun
Eyes slit
Paws curled under
The picture of peace
In the one patch
Of living room sun
A meditation
In himself.
This is unlike
Dog meditation.
The cat
Compact in the sun
Shows a different
Sort of peace,
Intensely one
With himself.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


I have often felt that Lazarus was used a bit like a shill.  I know this is not the most faithful response to Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life.  Still... I see all the illustrations of a bound Lazarus coming out of the tomb, the strips of cloth hanging off of him, and I am irritated that John's Jesus deliberately waited until Lazarus was good and dead before appearing on the scene.  I do wonder how many folk were convinced by this that Jesus was who he said he was.  

Lazarus lay four days
In the tomb. Waited to prove
Jesus’ point.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Forcing forsythia

We had some moments of spring this week.  The grass is already greener, the snow gone.  There is still snow to the north and east of us.  My poet friend lives in Connecticut.  She resorts to bringing the forsythia indoors.

A distant poet friend,
She lives
Where snow continues,
Clips forsythia today
To force its blooms
Bright gold
She stands out
In the snow,
Cuts branches,
Reminds herself
Somewhere it is spring.
Like here
It is almost spring.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Rhythm on the side

Last night
I was invited on stage
To play
With the Rolling Stones.
I provided extra rhythm
Off to the side.
The Stones were all
My age
But men
Of course.
Somehow I knew them all
In my dreams.
Awake now,
I have no idea.
I’ve never been good
With the names
Of supposed
Famous people.
Last night
I could name them all
And offered rhythm
On the side.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Trying on possibilities

Spring rain... finally.  April showers... hooray!  My daughter's prom dress came in yesterday.  It is lovely and requires someone to help zip it up the back.  Today I try on more possibilities.

I try on possibilities
Like my daughter
Tries on dresses
For the prom,
Asks me to help
Zip it
Up the back.
These things
Absolutely require
I try on possibilities
Ask others
To take pictures
From the front
From the back
From the side
Look at pictures of others
In the same possibility
In the same dress
Figure out
Whether this one
Suits me
Or not.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


It is tough to pinpoint why I feel so much better.  Except I do.  I am on day 5 of an increased dose of an antidepressant... but then... there are the crocuses... and lunch yesterday with a friend... and the sun.

Is it the sun?
Is it my daughter
Claiming a college?
Is it the purple crocuses I saw
Is it lunch with a friend and
Chicken curry soup?
Is it driving again?
Is it the right dosage
Of medication?
What are the independent,
The dependent
I never did understand
Only got an A
At community college
Because the teacher was thrilled
With me.
So be it.
So be it.
Here I am
It is finally
Sort of
Is this the right dose?
Is it the sun?
Is it my daughter?
Is it ducks across the way?
Here I am
Such as it all
May be.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Almost missed them.

Teeny tiny purple crocuses
Almost out of sight
But still
Not quite.
They require a detour
From the usual path
Into the building,
Whisper their purple presence
From six feet away
(Here we are)
(Here we are)