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Poems from the edge of the world

by davesandel on July 26th, 2022

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

            (click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Poems from the edge of the world

Sometimes I get so tired of the poetry and want something real, physical, substantial. Words fly around and fly away. But usually I submit to the poet anyway …


On the tip of my tongue

But I drink to satisfy my thirst

And the poem drowns

Sure. Why not a poem about the death of a poem? I sense God’s gentle laughter, and am thankful for it. My ears perk up when God is laughing. I think he might be laughing all the time, if only I could hear.

Eugene Peterson retold Jesus’ story from Matthew 13 in the gospel text today:

The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father. Are you listening to this? Really listening?

Wasn’t Jesus just the best story-teller ever, if you listened, if you dug down with him into the deeper places of the story and sat there with him, wondering? Earlier in the chapter Peterson wrote,

All Jesus did that day was tell stories – a long, storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: “I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world’s first day.

Poems mimic parables, they both turn our attention inward, to our own lives, to our own hopes and dreams, successes and failures. Poems and parables challenge our ego’s insistence that we are doing just fine. Jeremiah’s poetry presses on my temples and gives me a headache, because I know he is writing about me and for me. But still, I want to keep listening.

If I walk out into the field, look! Those slain by the sword.

If I enter the city, look! Those consumed by hunger.

Even the prophet and the priest forage in a land they know not.

Jeremiah wept, I have the sense that he wept a lot. His anger is obscured within his grief.

Why have you struck us a blow that cannot be healed? We wait for peace, to no avail. We wait for a time of healing, but terror comes instead … among our idols, is there any that gives rain? Or can the mere heavens send showers? Is it not you alone, O Lord, our God, to whom we look? You alone have done all these things.

These prophecies of doom are never completed, but they are also never final. God chooses mercy over retribution and power. He always has. At Life Community Church on Sunday, Greg reminded us of a very bad decision made by Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:6.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and realized what she would get out of it – she’d know everything! – she took and ate the fruit and gave some to her husband, and he also ate.

But even then! Never think God will turn his back for long. Just nine verses later, speaking to the serpent, God makes his commitment clear with his first promise of a savior:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Look at the space between life and death, and resurrection, and learn simply to be still.

Can I wait just that long

In the stifling heat of the seventeenth week

Of ordinary time

Just sit and wait for God to rescue me?

Instead of striking out on my own

yet again

(Jeremiah 14, Psalm 79, Matthew 13)

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