The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “planted.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! The photo was taken on the Vestal Rail Trail.
Today, March 21, 2019, is World Poetry Day! Here’s a haibun with a picture of our good friend! Sorry beloved folks in the southern hemisphere! We’re really excited the sun is coming closer!
I was frightened you would come halfway around the world, see the state of things, and turn around. Snow and ice have covered lawns torn apart by plows and ground saturated with salt. The grass seems brown and dead.
Here we are on the day after the choice has been made. Here we are and you draw even closer. Here we are and your light shines on cold ground that I feared would be frozen forever. Birds have begun to sing, clouds have given way to deepest blues, and warmth fills our land little by little.
Soon the bees will bumble, the worms will wriggle, and the flies will buzz. Soon the mosquitos will awaken as bloodthirsty as ever. Soon summer storms will wash away the salt and grime of winter. Thank you for everything–even the mosquitos.
Welcome back old friend.“Haibun for the Sun” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019
Heat the soil of this good earth:
Bring growth from cold land.
Today, March 21, 2019, is World Poetry Day! Here’s a rondeau I wrote which grew out of a rondelet I wrote back in February called “You have a voice.”
We each have to make our own choice“Here You Remain” Rondeau by the Distracted Pastor, 2019
About how we will use our voice.
All choose to either make a stand
Or bury their head in the sand,
But each person has made a choice.
To speak out with your loudest voice
or to whisper if that’s your choice.
Each word is a line in the sand:
Here you remain.
To do nothing may be your choice
As you sit silent with still voice.
Remain still and hold your own hand
As others watch the flames you’ve fanned.
Silence is a deafening voice:
Here you remain.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “living.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! These love locks can be found (for now) on the Greenway trail in Vestal. I know they’ll likely be cut off following Paris’ lead, but I give credit to those who spit into the wind. Wasteful? Yeah. Still, they are a romantic gesture.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “repentance.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! The photo was taken off of the trails in Vestal. In particular, it is in the section labeled the “Greenway.” I will include an extra picture with the nearby placard if you wish a little context.
This pipeline runs through Vestal and travels through rivers where local folks catch fish. Probably not surprisingly, the number of people who catch fish where these pipes risk contaminating the waterways are often economically lower on the scale than the folks who get their fish imported from the local Wegmans.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “Sacrifice.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! You may not understand why this is the picture, but I am reusing today’s haibun from an earlier post.
The sardines my daughter is eating are sustainably harvested. Fish like sardines and anchovies can be a good source of protein but are often overlooked for more expensive (less sustainable) proteins like beef, chicken, lamb, and often less sustainable fish. Why do we look past them? Perhaps it is because we do not realize what a whole world spending a day or two a week sustainably eating might do for everyone.
Also, if you cook them well, it is not much of a sacrifice. They really do taste very good when cooked well! Just look at the photo!
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “present.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! The photo was taken in the wetlands by the Vestal Rail Trail.
Last night there was a meeting in the Upper New York Annual Conference. The bishop spoke, hearts broke, and certain people started talking about others. Opinions like mine were thrown to the side as people began speaking about how inevitable it was that the church would split. I was offering people my peace to people who stayed after to pray when I came across someone mocking people who believed the things I believed. I offered them peace.
I would love to say my poem isn’t inspired by Proverbs 25:21-22, but the reality is that we all have to choose how we live out our lives of faith. I try to be a person of integrity who prays with people, but sometimes you need to choose how to respond to people. I would rather respond with grace than with anger.
Offer them peace.“Offer them peace” Rondelet by The Distracted Pastor, 2019
When they do not know what they do
Offer them peace.
When all they offer is a kris
Which they offer to put in you
For trying to keep your heart true:
Offer them peace.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “rest.” Yes, the word “rest” is used multiple times throughout Lent. Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga!
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “chosen.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! When I was a child my dad asked what I wanted to play in the band. I said drums. I was told to choose again. I said trumpet or bugle. I joined the choir. When my eldest asked if she could do percussion, my heart smiled. She has chosen well and I am blessed to be chosen by God to be her dad.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “good.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I caught this huge flock of geese flying north! Spring is coming and that’s a really good thing!
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “weighed.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I saw this beautiful bald eagle on a walk the other day. The question I’m pondering is whether the weight of the bird is greater on the tree than the need for food is on the bird. This must not be an easy season for this noble bird.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “accomplish.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so below is a haiga!
A word of explanation: I have spent nearly five years living in the Binghamton area and I have driven down 26 to Vestal Parkway probably hundreds of times over the years. Almost every time I either drive over this bridge and exit to drive underneath it or take a back road which leads me to drive down the parkway under this bridge. In nearly five years, I never knew what was over the dirt embankment. It turns out it is the Vestal Rail Trail which I walked and prayed over on Sunday. This is several kilometers from where I started to walk. I saw something new while doing something healthy with my stress. That’s a great accomplishment for a pastor who usually spends Sunday afternoon napping!
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “dazzling.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I was walking with my toddler while praying through life yesterday when suddenly the sun burst out of the clouds. It has felt like forever since the sun struck my skin. It was glorious and reminded me of those first few verses of Genesis…
Tonight I had the first night of three evenings in a row with committee meetings. I found myself coming home and needing to let off some steam by thinking about something besides the church. I noticed that dVerse~Poets Pub was having another poetry challenge. Today’s is the quadrille or a 44 word poem with the word “Spike” involved in some way, shape, or form in the poem. I tried a pair of different poems for fun.
The first poem is inspired by my marvelous wife who sometimes forgets just how talented she happens to be. At the Father-Daughter dance at the school the other day, a friend remarked how the look my daughter gave her sister came straight from her mother. My wife is fierce, strong, and intelligent–Athena personified in my life. So, this first quadrille poem is for her. Also, it is a rondelet because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.
You pierce my heart dear.“Athena’s Rondelet,” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019. Written in honor of my wife.
My heart rate spikes as I stop to wonder.
You pierce my heart dear.
Athena questions her footing in fear
While I listen and hear ringing thunder
As heaven’s mold she does break asunder.
You pierce my heart dear.
My second poem is far less serious. It is entirely about a fictional video game character that I have been hanging out with off and on since July 13, 2016. We’ve been spending more time than usual lately as it turns out walking is the one exercise I can do well without throwing out my back. That comment is not an invitation for advice… The character is my Snorlax from Pokémon Go, which is totally not my intellectual property. Hey, free publicity though… I like your game. It is mindless and good motivation to keep on walking. The number of kilometers I have walked with this goon kinda shocks me. The poem’s form is ABABCC
Five kilometers for just one candy.“Pokémon Quadrille” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019. Feel free to use this Niantic!
My heart rate spikes as black ice makes me slip.
My Pokémon Snorlax will be handy
If I could only earn more on this trip.
I straighten up and continue walking.
No one loses weight sitting and talking.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “pray.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! My prayer today is for the United Methodist Church.
Watching her face glow.
Captain Marvel stands up as
She smiles with a tear.
Oh Thanos, you're in for it:
My daughter will have no less.
Kevin Feige, I’m not a DC guy. I grew up with the X-Men, Spiderman, and Iron Man, but I can learn if you disappoint my daughters!
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! Today’s Sabbath reflection comes from last Friday. I kept whispering sweet words to my youngest daughter as she napped. She kept smiling.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “test.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! This photo describes life with a furnace you don’t own, can’t replace, and just want to go all “A Christmas Story” on but can’t because the kids are home and you’re a pastor.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “given.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! This photo describes life with our two older children.
A few weeks ago I sat with a sick infant in the depths of night. Wet cloth cooling a fever from the now rare chicken pox. I rocked and contemplated what we would do if the fever spiked again. It was dark in that room in more ways that one.“Her Forehead” by The Distracted Pastor, 2019
A few weeks ago I sat with a parent in grief over an upcoming surgery. A sweet child in need of care. I contemplated her struggle and prayed for more than just the child. I prayed for my own forgiveness because I was grateful my child was not the one in need of that care.
A few weeks ago I sat and ate elementary school spaghetti. It was exactly how I remembered it. We sat, laughed, talked, and even danced as we tried to support some friends’ family in their hour of need. I could stomach school spaghetti far easier than letting my friends feel they were alone after caring for a baby who spent a lot of time in the NICU.
Yesterday I saw the ash on her forehead and I realized that she was mortal too. Today she is well but one day she will be in God’s hands. My heart broke as I realized a truth that had been walking through the edges of my soul.
On the day of ash
We contemplate our own path
Down through our life’s end.
Easier to see your own
Than on your daughter’s sweet face.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “tempted.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! I’m guessing most of you know how well this plan ended.
The word for the day for the #RethinkChurch Photo-A-Day challenge is “full.” Being myself, I can’t leave well enough alone, so here’s a haiga! This photo was taken at a spaghetti fundraiser for a family friend’s child (who happens to be probably as close to a best friend as my one year old has at this point).
Hear the deep sound of how my heart does pound.“Poem for General Conference” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019
Listen to the call of Your servant child.
Draw madly near to those with this task dear
To those who seek You in these times so wild.
Fill Your children full in ways which will pull
Our community through this way forward.
Give them a deep trust in the ways which must
Guide our ships from seas of chaos: shoreward.
We really don’t know how things will go
As we trust Your Spirit to guide us all.
Abba please lead our way on through this day
And be with all those whose faith may shrink small.
God give us the grace which we need to face
The way we seek by the light of Your Son.
Things may be rough; help those tender be tough
When all is done may we who pray be one.
I am currently entering into the final steps of preparing my second year project for the Academy for Spiritual Formation. I am thinking that I will have most of the project revolve around the usage of poetry and prayer. I was recently reading through a book I borrowed from the library called “The Art and Craft of Poetry” by Michael Bugeja. On the seventy third page of that tome, Mr. Bugeja quotes the poet Kevin Bezner as saying “All true poetry is religious poetry–all poems are prayers–but not in the sense of a belief in or worship of a god or a supernatural power.”
Given my particular approach to poetry, I found that statement to be intriguing. Mr. Bugeja paraphrases Mr. Bezner, saying “true or sincere poems, by their very nature, always reflect a poet’s faith, commitment, desire to commune, conscientiousness and devotion…”
If poetry does reflect and express the poet’s faith and commitment, then perhaps there is a sense at which heartfelt poetry is prayer. One of my greatest challenges with liturgy is the struggle to include the word “Amen” after every prayer. For a long time, hymns concluded with an amen. Nowadays, it seems as if almost every prayer needs and “Amen” in order to conclude.
Amen has a rich history and depth of meaning. The usage of the word for the congregation to enter into the depth of the prayer is helpful. When we say amen after someone prays, we become a part of that prayer orally. It is a wonderful act of inclusion in an act of worship, but often folks seem to believe that any prayer must have an amen. This is not true.
I thought I’d share a poem I recently wrote in an attitude of prayer after a saint invited me over to lunch. I wrote it for a thank you note, but I thought it was a perfect way of expressing how a prayer can be found in poetry.
Scents waft up from a warm bowl of chili rich yet faint.“Full” by The Distracted Pastor, 2019
As I sit to share a meal with an elder saint.
She has made special biscuits for us to share
And we break bread together with prayer.
With cheese and conversation our meal
Is filled with a depth you can feel.
I listen with quiet peace
As my inner cares cease.
I try to be here
With one so dear.
The form itself was fairly simple. I started with thirteen syllables a line and decreased a syllable each consecutive line. The rhyming pattern is a set of 5 couplets with a rhyming envoi creating one tercet at the end. It is clearly a poem.
It is also clearly a prayer. I intended to express care, gratitude, and thankfulness for the opportunity. Although God is not addressed by name, there is homage paid to communion in the mentioning of the breaking of the bread. The person I shared a meal with is a saint, there’s a stillness while listening that ties back to the idea of silence in contemplation and prayer. Even the mentioning of saints can draw our thoughts to God.
Psalm 19:14 says “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” It is my belief that poetry that seeks to live into this verse really is prayer.