Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I'm so sorry

Amazing. It was really seventeen years ago that that happened. It was not the first or the last time. I was one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church. I do remember the particulars of her husband's death. It was particularly awful, for her, for the church. It was not the first such occasion for me. It was the first apology I have received. For that I am grateful.

We have moved
Into the world
Of funerals.
Two today.
I’m so sorry
For your loss.
We said.
The wedding helped
On Saturday.
A woman sat across a table
From me.
Seventeen years ago
She told me
I could not preside
At her husband’s funeral.
He did not believe
Women could be ordained.
I’m so sorry
She said.
I’m so sorry
For doing that.I’m so sorry.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Mauve toilet

Challenges appear in every pastoral visit.

Pastoral visits
Bring challenges,
Many challenges.
Years ago
A colleague
Made such a visit,
Had to use the bathroom
In the middle.
Usually we make sure
To find bathrooms
Before visits.
She politely asked
To excuse herself,
Found the bathroom upstairs
Relieved herself
Only to find
The toilet
Was not connected,
The mauve toilet
Was not connected.
It did not flush.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Me and Desmond

Campus ministry memories. There are many.

Years ago
Many many years ago
I served on a committee,
A steering committee
For college students
To gather in Colorado.
The snow was thick.
The bus broke down
In Nebraska.
We stayed in a motel
With red flocked wallpaper.
Upon arrival
We met with our speakers.
One speaker
Was Desmond Tutu.
He shivered his way
Through the conference.
We stuffed him
In an overly large
Down coat.
I will remember that picture
Me and Desmond
In the snow.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


When do possibilities turn into suggestions turn into advice? This does not mean I don't wish people to care about me, just that I would like people to ask what I need. I do not plan to apply for disability. I do not plan to get a three wheeled bike.

How much advice
Can one person take?
This week I have heard
At least two ways
For me
To be independent
Without asking
What independence means
To me.
I am not happy
Not happy
Is not the term
How about asking
What independence means
To me
Before naming
The solution?
How about it, guys?
How about it, gals?
How about it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Remembering different things, or not remembering at all.

She says
She does not remember
From childhood.
I am sad
Because we shared a room
For years
With cupboards
Between our beds.
I remember a lot
But what
Does it mean
When only one person
A shared experience?
Did it happen
By half?
Did it happen
At all?
Who is right?
Who is wrong?
Who is gracious?
Who is not?
What was shared
When nothing
Is remembered jointly
By both?

Monday, February 20, 2017


I am hopeful. I will work my way around the block in an hour. The sand hills may keep me company.

The sand hills wheel
We know north
Is the final destination
This time around.
We leave the front door
To hear the seasons turn.
It’s warm
My feet woke up hopeful
This morning
Cranes and feet
What a combination!
I will head out north
Around the block
Me and the cranes
Hopeful with spring

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Oh oh oh

Beginning the process of figuring out where to move. Retirement communities? A ranch home?

Oh oh oh
She says
There is so much to do here
We have twelve libraries
And art teachers
She points to the blind woman
Playing piano
In the lobby
So much to do
But before we let you in
We need a note
From your doctor.
Oh oh oh.
I’m not sure
We fit
The parameters.
Oh oh oh
Bible studies
Upon Bible studies
Don’t you know?
So much to do.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

More lady in red

Continuing to watch the lady in red or blue or green...oh, and the ducks, of course.

The lady in red
Now wears green.
We still watch her
Out the back
Call her
The lady in red
No matter what
She wears.
The ducks recognize her
No matter what
She wears:
It matters
No never mind.
The ducks know her
For her endless supply
Of corn
Even when
It hasn’t snowed.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dream home

Every year I enter once for the dream home. I have no idea what I would do with it once I got it. Still...I wonder. 

Today is the last day
To enter the contest
Whose dream house
Is it?
I have plenty
Of dreams
But usually someone else
Does not determine
Such things
The name will be drawn
Out of a hat
Picked by a computer
It will have nothing really
To do with real dreams
Just the luck
Of the draw
Then that someone
Will have to figure out
What to do with it
And what to do
With the non-dream home
Left behind.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I don't always catch them sharing.

I see cats
Out of the corners
Of my eyes
One has grabbed
The left one
The other the right
They share like that
Even without knowing

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Pollution...it's everywhere...even in the Mariana Trench

There’s a can of Spam
In the Mariana Trench.
Who decided
It needed
To be there?
Whoever decided Spam
Needs to be anywhere?
The epitome
Of pollution

Sunday, February 12, 2017


I know...what am I doing writing about groundhogs ten days after the official groundhog day. I don't know...The sun and blue and no snow got me thinking...

Sun and blue
No snow
I keep thinking
It will come so soon
But no
It seems
The groundhog
Saw her shadow
Went back to sleep
Winter she said
Now leave me alone.
He said
Now leave me alone.
Leave us

Saturday, February 11, 2017


One person's transparency is not the same as another's, I've noticed.

When is transparency
An insult
A compliment
Or maybe
In between?
I believe it depends
On the speaker
At least as much
As the listener.
Sometimes it hangs in the air
Until it lands
Or with a thud.
This may take days
Or weeks.
Thank you
For your transparency
She said.
I may wonder
Until weeks go by.
I will stop
Until of course
Next time.

Friday, February 10, 2017


My beloved teaches Congress and American Government at Northeastern IL University. We are watching the ripples together. We are both amazed. He is governmentally amazed. I am theologically amazed.

In my blue chair
On Mondays and Fridays
I watch the ripples move
Across the country
From a stone tossed
In our large
Country-sized pond.
First one judge
Now three
They decide to join
The movement
Of the waters
Skipping stones.
They land
Across the Potomac
Settle there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Have you noticed?

It's important to pay attention to small things.

Have you noticed?
This country is more
Than hell
In a hand basket?
People sit up
And notice
And speak.
Congress may not make
Individual decisions
We like
But there’s that one judge
On the West Coast
He made a decision
All by himself
The ripples have traveled
Across the country.
Have you noticed?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


With everything going on these days, I try to listen to everything. It is difficult. Of course, like everyone, I think my edge is dominant.

I listen
To the weather,
To my feet.
There is so much
To hear
On all sides
Even though
I would prefer
To choose three sides
Maybe two.
There is so much
To hear,
And I,
I think
I might have
Some edge
Over others.
Of course I don’t.
From time to time
I think the edge
Is mine.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Half-time priest

I am now receiving my pension. They have some understanding that the years I have put in as a priest are full-time years, no matter what I was paid. I am grateful.

There is no such thing
As a half-time priest.
She may be paid
The another half
Holding hands
With parishioners
In the hospital.
There is no such thing
As a half-time priest.
Hours never count
The same
From place to place
Time to time,
Behind the altar
Or under.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The next thing

I still wonder who I will be when I grow up. Being 61, I have had several conversations with many who have the same question. Here we all are, doing some version of daily writing, or painting, or thinking and tossing it out into the world to see what comes back. Sometimes something does. Sometimes not. Here we all are, figuring out the next thing.

When I write
The next thing
Send it out into the world
It does not matter
How many
How much
Who reads it.
I do not have
A publisher
To please,
To determine whether
The audience
Is large enough
For a run of 100.
I write for a run
Of one
Maybe two.
Is the next thing.
It is a reminder
To myself.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Bad things

Value judgments. Keep breathing.

She says
They come in threes:
Bad things.
I wonder
Who gets to name them
Bad or good.
Are good things numbered
As well?
Do good things
Come in sevens?
Do good things
Wait in the wings
To be named
Do we wait endlessly
Breathe again
Breathe breathe breathe.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


My beloved read Ibsen in college, unlike me. He told me the name of the dance in The Doll's House. I have always read a lot, but somehow missed Ibsen. I knew the squirrels were dancing a wild dance, converting the backyard into one massive dance floor.

Was never part
Of the literature I read
In college
Or after.
I watch the squirrels
Chase each other
In the backyard.
It is a wild dance
Across the lawn,
The jumps from tree
To tree,
Branch to branch.
Even though Ibsen
Was never part
Of what I read,
It strikes me
That the squirrels
Are involved
In the tarantella,
And I,
I get to watch.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Rules of Confession

Grateful. Grateful. Grateful,

Now more than ever
I do not receive insurance
For anything I do
Or say.
The privacy of my office
The privacy of my office.
I have never been
So grateful
To not have
A license,
Only continued training
And supervision.
My office remains
Under the altar
In a church.
The rules of confession
Apply here,
Just as they apply
When I hear a confession
In the chapel.
The rules of confession.
I do everything
As the priest I have been
For over thirty years.