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

“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

“Offer them peace” Rondelet

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.
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.

“Offer them peace” Rondelet by The Distracted Pastor, 2019

Taking a break with quadrilles

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.

My favorite warrior princess… The kid is pretty great too.

You pierce my heart dear.
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.

“Athena’s Rondelet,” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019. Written in honor of my wife.

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

My Snorlax is the best Snorlax… Well, he will be if he wakes up.

Five kilometers for just one candy.
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.

“Pokémon Quadrille” by the Distracted Pastor, 2019. Feel free to use this Niantic!

“Be as the Clay”

Be as the clay.
Mix living water with your dust:
Be as the clay.
Bend, mold, move, and flex as you must;
Be made in furnace fired by trust;
In joyful purpose with life thrust:
Be as the clay.

“Be as the Clay” Rondelet by The Distracted Pastor, 2019

This week in church we’re looking at Jeremiah 18:1-6 with our children during worship. In the passage, Jeremiah is called to walk down to a potter’s house to observe the potter at work.

With our children we will talk about how God can work in our lives. Clay itself can be nasty stuff when you dig a shovel into a yard and find the dense stuff below a thin layer of topsoil. It can be challenging work to move enough of the stuff to plant even the smallest of tree bulbs. Clay is difficult stuff; however, in the hands of a master potter clay can be wonderful for creating beautiful things. We will tell our kids they are being made into beautiful creations. Call it naive hope or call it prophecy, I believe each of the kids in our church have a bright future ahead of them as awesome people.

The clay cross I painted and fired years ago…

The challenge is that there’s a second side to this story. Jeremiah is a prophet called to a place that needs prophetic work done in their lives. The clay needs to be reworked in Israel. As their potter, God claims the right to rework what has been done.

I wrote the rondelet above to look at this reality. I wanted to lean into the concept of being clay. We work hard at building lives in this world and it can be difficult to trust even God to rework the clay of our lives when we become comfortable with the way things are in our lives.

We sometimes need to be reworked. We need to work that living water into our lives, to be flexible, and to even be fired in the oven. We might be tempted to look at this reworking as punishment, especially if we are comfortable. Sometimes, we will put up with a lot of cracks and chips to stay comfortable. Some of us would do anything to just be left alone.

The attitude that says “Just leave me be” does not necessarily help us. If I have a broken arm that has set poorly, it may need to be broken and set again. If I have a heart valve that is leaking, I may need to see my cardiologist if I want to live a longer life. When sick we need a doctor. When cracked, we may need to see our Potter.

This reworking is not necessarily pleasant. If you are struggling through a remaking, I want you to know that you are neither the first nor the last to face a challenge in your life of faith. You are more than likely surrounded by people who have faced their own challenges. You are not alone.