I’ve been cleaning out my desk at home this week. Found an old notebook in a drawer. I know just when I last wrote in it. I figure its been waiting for me; or I’ve been waiting for it. It was 2009. I was taking a poetry writing class on poetic forms. Curiously, the teacher wasn’t interested in lecturing us on sonnets or sestinas or ghazals or haikus or what have you. He, himself, thought our job as poets wasn’t to sit down and write a sonnet because we thought it would be fun to write a sonnet that day. No. He said out job was to decide what we wanted to say and then to find the best form in which to say it. He said poetic forms, received or invented, were merely ways to advocate for what we wanted to say. Form is necessary; yet, it is not sufficient. You have to have something you want to say. No sense having a lovely vessel with nothing inside. (more…)
Sometimes, I just don’t know what to say, and, at those times, anything I do say just sounds stupid. Perhaps there’s something somewhere inside my mind, something heavy, large, and pressing, which wants to be spoken about, and I’m afraid of it. It would be embarrassing to be direct, mortifying to be simple. Blocked and tongue-tied, I yearn for the freedom to speak, but lack the courage.
Courage is the thing, though, what it takes to be free, what it takes to speak or to write or to act in freedom. Yet, where do we find it? Where do we go to find the heart-strength to speak of whatever it is which presses in on us? (more…)
In just a few weeks, we will be celebrating the highest and holiest of holy days in the Christian calendar: Easter. We will shout our hallelujahs and raise the roof with our songs of praise to God for the amazing thing he has done in giving Jesus back to us, the community of his disciples, alive.
We come to Easter expecting things: our favorite Easter songs, to hear again the story of the women who come to the tomb and find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty, to re-imagine the women’s fright and to anticipate their delight when they discover the six delirious words which give voice to their testimony: Jesus is risen from the dead. We’ve been celebrating Easter for a long time, and none of this gets old. Even so, it is always good to remember that in the Gospels no one, no one, expected resurrection. (more…)
I’ve become bored with the snow, the snow and the cold, the snow and the cold and the wind. I read once that the world is eaten up with boredom, that it is like dust, accumulating on anything and anyone who is not in motion. I’ve grown to think the same comparison could be made with snow. It accumulates. Piles up. Anything still is soon covered over and buried under it. And we are left with a blankness to gaze out upon. The antidote to boredom, according to what I was reading, a quote from George Bernanos in The Diary of a Country Priest, is to be always on the go. I’m working on that.
Boredom is one of those toxic states of being which leads to self-destructive behaviors, to habits of mind and spirit which turn one in on oneself, cutting one off from any new learning and any new experience. In boredom, there is no uncertainty, no space between known things. Sometimes our faith can feel this way, covered over with the dust, of boredom, in which there is nothing new to learn and nothing new to experience. Boredom is toxic to the life of faith. (more…)
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” —Philippians 1:3-6
Nancy and I have a good friend who put herself through college waiting on tables at a drive-in. One of the reasons she got the job was because she was good on roller skates. Yes, roller skates. She had more than a few good stories about her days rolling around the restaurant serving her customers. Most of the time, these stories came up when we were out together at a restaurant and the issue of tipping came up. She wanted me to become a better tipper. I’m working on it. (more…)