“Peace” Photo-A-Day Haiga

Today’s Rethink Church prompt is “Peace.” Being myself, I would prefer a Haiga to a simple photo. On March 31st, a Sunday, I fell asleep on the couch. At some point, a child grabbed my phone and took this photo. I was asleep, enjoying a heated blanket, and completely unaware that the photo was taking place. Peace is sometimes that moment when you let everything go and get some rest.

Sleep, dear child of God.
Rest under a warm blanket.
Find your own Sabbath.

“Blessed” Photo-A-Day Haiga

Today’s #RethinkChurch prompt is blessed. My daughter actually took the picture I am writing a haiga about today. We were visiting the zoo when an albino-peahen showed off her lack of colors. She felt blessed by the moment and even brought it up in church as something that she was thankful for in her life.

Zoos are controversial in some eyes, but this zoo reminded my daughter why we should protect the wild world in which we live. Our world is filled with amazing sights which deserve to be protected.

O, blessed vision fair:
You have shown my child to love
And protect your home.

“Needs” Photo-A-Day Haiga

Today’s prompt for the Rethink Church Photo-A-Day is “Needs.” I decided I would write a Haiga, but wanted to give some background. A lot of folks over the years have joked that ministers work “an hour a week.”

We work far more than that amount. I run to hospitals, go to Nursing Homes, write sermons, read books, counsel the troubled, plan outreach, visit the sick in their homes, and try to be peacekeeper in everything from committees to marriages. I have spent sleepless nights thinking about the needs of my church.

There really are nights that I have trouble even going to sleep because my church has needs that I cannot fulfill, but must rely on God to meet: such trust does not come easily even for clergy. There are nights I wake up with bad dreams as a result. Despite all the rumors, ministers often do not see God face to face. We, too, have to rely on faith.

An honest response to this prompt for me is to show an “empty” church. I do not show it because the seats are empty. I show it because the seats are full for me.

I see the folks looking for a word of life during a funeral, a word of acceptance during communion, and a word of joy during a wedding. I see folks in tears, folks with smiles, and folks laughing. I see folks in doubt on Christmas Eve who have been dragged in by their family and folks with a smirk on Easter morning who have been brought by their loved ones. I see those folks next to the hopeful. This space is a sacred space that encompasses all of those emotions, relationships, and more.

Holy space divine:
Please help me to do my best
And bless all the rest.

“Bring” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word of the day for the Rethink Church Lenten practice is “bring.” Being myself, here is a haiga. By the way, after nearly 32 of these, I am beginning to wear a little thin. Someone remind me to take a break from haiku after this is over.

Last Saturday we celebrated my wife’s birthday with a picnic at the local zoo. I caught this image which reminded me of Noah! Bring me two of every animal!

“Bring me two of each”
Says a voice over the years.
No, not you kiddo!

“Sent” Photo-A-Day Haiga

Today’s Rethink Church prompt for the Lenten journey is “Sent.” I wrote this haiga with the simple understanding that we try to share in church enough on a regular basis: that it is a blessing to have enough and enough to share. Maine Federated Church is collecting Easter baskets for our Chow Pantry, because most of our church members have enough to cover their basic needs and enough to put together an Easter basket for a family that may be struggling to cover medical bills, utilities, or rent. Similar to our participation in CHOW, we believe by taking care of simple things like food or Easter Baskets, we help community members free up resources for other bills. The picture is of the stack of buckets that is mightily diminished since they were first put out. I will try and take a picture of the completed baskets for next week.

God sends out neighbors
To share love with good people
Who need to pay bills.

“Rest” Photo-a-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “rest.” Yes, it is Sunday again! Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! Today’s post is inspired by H, the ever restless toddler… Oh, child who will not get out of bed without milk (like your father and coffee/tea), go to sleep when you obviously need rest…

Rest is part of life.
We all needed to find rest
Before any rules.

“Celebrate” Photo-A-Day

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “celebrate.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! Today I wanted to celebrate two things, so I am going to put in two haigas! The first is a haiga based on the “Live Wires” from Maine Federated Church. These ladies are amazing.

Blessed years of hard work:
Celebrated with coffee 
As more plans are born!

The second haiga is celebrating a very special person. Have a very special day today!

You parent with love;
which is one reason your kids
are very awesome.

“Worthy” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “worthy.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga!

For the last few months my family has been slowly stockpiling broth for our church‘s upcoming dinner on Holy Thursday. We have smelled the scent of leeks, chicken, carrots, onions, celery, vegetables, and (family secret (inspired but not limited by “Mastering Stocks and Broths” (Your work is pretty awesome Rachael Mamane and people should support your work))) and spices wafting through our house most weeks of the past few months. Between J.B. (not the music celebrity) and myself, we provide the broth for the matzoh ball soup for dozens of folks since our good friend Alice Hopkins passed onto the other shore.

Store bought broth is fine for most nights, but we love spending time learning about the intersections of faiths on Holy Thursday. Store bought is good, but not great! We work hard, but the end result is definitely enough. We love our church.

Chicken broth wafts up;
Our home is filled with the smells
Of community…

“Enough” Photo-A-Day

Today’s #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day prompt is enough. I couldn’t write a haiku to match a haiga that wasn’t too personal. I will say after years of dealing with depression, doubts, and everything else, it is great to just say that I am enough. Thank you to everyone who has stood with me through all of the ups and downs, especially my spouse and my best friend who has lived with me through all of the challenges. I am very thankful for you.

This picture was taken when I was near my heaviest. I was still #enough…

“Welcomes” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “welcomes.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga!

My middle child is super energetic and has ADHD. Maine Federated Church has been an awesome appointment as they have never said a mean word about her energetic nature. They are super supportive of our family. I love serving here if only because my whole family is welcome. I hope they understand how much I love them for loving her (and us) despite the interruptions.

I picked this photo because it shows the love of my youngest for my middle child. Our toddler doesn’t see a problem–she sees a sister who is always ready to play!

ADHD kid:
Welcome all my family.
You welcome us all.

“Near” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “near.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I keep thinking about how Easter is drawing nearer. Even as the darkness of Holy Week approaches, life already begins to spring forward in new ways!

Also, I wrote this post before it started to snow. Really funny April.

Ground breaks forth with growth.
Winter’s deadly cold gives way
As the spring draws near.

“Rest” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “rest.” Yes, it is Sunday again! Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! Everything you know about life should include things that you learn before kindergarten!

Some things you should learn
Before Kindergarten class
Tells you how to rest.

“Power” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “power.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! Here’s a picture of my eldest conquering her fear and flying down a hill on her rollerblades. She’s pretty powerful already!

“I feel like a bird!”
Grow strong, my eldest daughter:
Soar on through this life.

“Name” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “name.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! Today’s haiga is inspired partially by Ash Wednesday and the reality of mortality exposed by Lent.

One day I will sleep
Perhaps under a stone name
While I walk elsewhere

My daughter’s poem

My daughter wanted something to do tonight. Someone shared a challenge to use the word “fragrant” and an antonym in a challenge. I offered this challenge as an opportunity to my nine year old to share her talents. If you’re out there friend, please let me know where I should share her entry. Here is her poem:

The flower is fragrant.
A bell rings out very well.
A skunk is quite smelly.
At the beach I found this shell.

An Awesome Daughter’s Poem, 2019

By the way, as a father I need to ask: What shell? We live literally miles upon miles from the ocean…

Poem for a rough day

All people have rough days. Ministers are no exception. Today has been a difficult morning for me. I have wept, I have prayed, and I have reached out to friends. One friend recommended I read two psalms, so I did the natural thing: I turned to a completely different psalm. I am, if nothing else, predictable.

I spent time in Psalm 127 trying to get my head back on straight. The following poem is inspired by the first two verses. It is a rondelet, which is my favorite syllabic poetry form outside of the various forms of Japanese Haikai.

Find rest with God.
Anxious thoughts do not give life birth.
Find rest with God.
There will come no bread from poor sod:
Unless the Creator brings forth
There will come nothing of true worth.
Find rest with God.

“Find rest with God” Rondelet (inspired by Psalm 127:1-2) by the Distracted Pastor, 2019

“Hallow’s Eve”

Today the d’Verse Poetics challenge for today is hosted by anmol(alias HA) and is centered on the subject of geography. I wanted another try at the prompt as I found it quite intriguing.

People who know me know that I am a Whovian who adores Doctor Who. After Steven Moffat’s story entitled “Blink” was released I had a real problem. I am a minister and suddenly I was afraid of living statues. Actually, a nearby town had a statue with the weeping angel shape in their yard and I literally rushed past it in my car for months.

This past Halloween Night, I was on a retreat at the Malvern Retreat Center when a friend of mine from the past two years pointed out that there were lots of statues around. I had never taken a walk in the woods on Halloween. What better time than after the evening service when we were all required to remain silent until morning? In other words, no nervous humming, no music, and nothing but the sounds of the forest on Halloween.

I walked down into the grotto to the largest collection of statues. I would say that my heart was beating out of my chest, but I learned anxiety breathing techniques that kept me from having a conniption. I made it down all the way and refused to run back up the hill.

There was something terrifying about being surrounded by hills and darkness on every side. It was as if I was descending to my doom like some Greek hero descending into the underworld. I wrote this poem to explore the feeling of descending into the darkness down into the depths of a valley with the earth rising up around me on one of the scariest nights of the year.

By the way, the friend almost hid in the woods to scare me, but realized that I would probably have instinctively hit him hard enough that he would have woken up in the hospital. He was probably right.

Down dark paths I tread on Hallow’s Eve
After the silence has fallen on dark paths.
Statuary reminds me of teary-eyed angels
Creeping out through the nightmares of my own imagination.

My heart beats as I descend the path
Into the depths of darkened statued hollow.
Every footfall echoes off of the trees stripped barren
As lights spread themselves too far and too thin for my racing heart.

Leaves whirl across path and confuse sounds
As darkness fills imagination with fear.
I ponder dark cliffs and the path before and behind
I blink one eye at a time as I seek shapes hiding ahead.

In the deep hollow all ways lead up
Darkness falls around in every direction
The statues and I all stand breathless in the darkness.
Primal fear wars with grown mind as I turn, look up, and close eyes:
Curse Steven Moffat’s monsters.

“Wheels go around” Rondelet

Today the d’Verse Poetics challenge for today is hosted by anmol(alias HA) and is centered on the subject of geography. I pondered what to write about today and decided the best thing to do was to think about a bit of local geography that has been bugging my family for the last few days as we have sought to be outside walking, biking, and having a good time.

We live on a rectangular block. The one side of the block is up a hill and the other side of the hill goes downhill. Somewhere between the two roads there is a cresting place which always brings relief, especially on a bicycle. As the challenge was based on geography, I thought I would reflect on the weird geography around our block. My rondelet is called “Wheels go around.” Sometimes they go fast and sometimes they go slow, but they always go around when we are circling the block.

Wheels go around.
Quickly we roll down the far street.
Wheels go around.
We grunt: we climb up hilly ground.
As pedals almost stop and still.
We creep up towards downward thrill. 
Wheels go around.

“Wheels go around” Rondelet by the Distracted Pastor, 2019

“Pondered” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “pondered.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I found this chalk drawing on the Greenway trail in Vestal! Random person, I like the way you pondered spring while the ground was still frozen!

Flowers will grow soon.
Still, some souls know chalk’s power:
Spring is in the heart.

“Rest” Photo-A-Day Haiga

The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “rest.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! “Rest” is a weekly thing. I found this on the Vestal Greenway. Yes, I saw your message. Thank you!

Random walk signer:
I see chalk that you left here
And I celebrate!