Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +5, Yr B)

FRINGES OF THE GARMENT
(Mark 5: 21-43)

Thin as a delicate cloth, this thing called
hope.
Thin as blood that flows in unceasing
hemorrhages.
Thin as the useless remedies tried over years.
Thin as the remnants of strength being drained
from your bones.
Thin as your breath when you lie sleepless at night
with fear.
Thin, in your isolation, as the ragged memories
of touch.
Thin, increasingly, as prayer.
Thin and worn and fading, this thing called hope.

How to explain its sudden thickening strength,
as if the wick of a lamp had grown new breadth,
light increasing, shadow retreating,
when the news came of him of whom the people
were speaking,
by whom lepers are healed, the lame walking,
in whose presence and word the kingdom of God
seems near;
how to explain this strange sensation of something
nearing wholeness again
as the fabric of hope seems to glow with
freshened colour?

He is here.
Let others, whose hearts in undented plates of armour
have the leisure, search for cool exalted explanations.
Those whose hearts like yours have known the painful
failures,
have borne the desperate years with threadbare
courage,
will understand the way your feet are running,
the way your hand is reaching,
the way your touch is grasping for
even the fringes
of the garment that
he wears.

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Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +4, Yr B)

AFTER THE STORM
(Mark 4: 35-41)

Clenched the straining oars so hard our fingers almost bled.
Stomachs now can ease their knotted tension.
Coughed down slanting waves’ white foam, wind within our heads.
Now slowing lungs can rest in storm’s suspension.

Clouds slide back, the moonlight marks the stillness of the sea.
No shadow moves as water drips from faces.
Our widened eyes are fastened on the one upon his seat
whose words have changed the night: for now our places

in this world, once thought so fixed, have been upturned,
and now can happen things we never dreamed.
For if our fears can be undone, the storm we dread unchurned,
and fate prove quite more open than it seems

by trust in Jesus’ word, then many unchallenged powers
might be changed. Though injustice roil the sea,
let it be made to yield to love; though hard the hours
of pain, God’s care set healing free

and death itself be taught that life is master. So let
our cloaks’ wet cloth cling to our skin,
remind us that even this storm-filled world yet
can be changed by love. And let that day of peace at last begin.

Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Pentecost +3, Yr B)

PARABLE
(Mark 4: 26-34)
Dedicated to the United Church of Canada on its 90th Anniversary today, June 10th, 2015

The sower has pared
her hope down
to tiny seed.

Is it able
to grow?
she wonders:

Is there arable
soil? Rain enough?
The seed itself
is so small.

Small as a drop of joy
in a field of despair.
Small as a gesture
of love in a
hostile plain.

At night the sower
dreams of
a flowering shrub.

Sheltering there
are birds
of every kind.

Their songs have
wings, wings
the colours
of rainbows.

She wakes to find
the shrub begun,
life beginning
to blossom.

And as the days
roll into weeks and months
the shrub
grows green and strong.
The sheltering birds
lift up their songs
and the dream seems
brought to fruition.

But the rains dry up
and a harsh wind blows;
the green begins to fade,
and boughs of the shrub
are broken.

The sower’s heart
is stricken
for the life-giving plant.

But see – within
the surviving branches,
upon the battered boughs,
new seeds of life
still form.

Singing songs with wings
the colours of rainbows
the sower gathers
the precious fruit.

And the sower again
continues to sow
the small brilliant seed
of hope.