The Sadness of the Heart

He saw something in the dune grass.
He walked over from the driveway,

looked down and saw what looked
like baby squirrels. It was two baby

bunnies. It’s Easter and two baby
bunnies, soft, brown and beige

bunnies were cuddled up against
each other in the cold, stillness of

death; it was as if they slept in
each other’s arms. He reached

down and picked up one. While
cold to the touch it was still soft,

not hard, not too stiff. Did they
belong to the bunny in the back

yard who the Chocolate Lab sniffs
out each morning and afternoon

and evening on outings? If so, would
momma be sad and, if so, for long?

They died but were not eaten. The
neighbor said that is is the way of

nature. They will be nourishment
for some creature. The man looked

out the window to the spot where
the two entwined bodies lay on the

grass. They were gone. It wasn’t a
resurrection even though it is Easter.

It is the way of all flesh. Maybe
hope is in the sadness of the heart.

He Stands At the Podium

He stands at the podium
and moves his hands in and
out like he is squeezing an

accordion and sings about
the virtues of some snake
oil because he is a snake

oil salesman. He moves
his hands round and round
like he is stirring the pot

of snake oil. It is what he
does; he sells snake oil; he
can’t help himself and we

listen because he is on TV
during prime time and during
this time, there is nothing

else to do. We say he can’t
be a snake oil salesperson
because he is speaking on

our behalf and this thing
that he is hawking will
save us. What we don’t

know is that he really is
a snake oil salesman
because he has interest

in some of the companies
making the snake oil and
he really doesn’t know if

the snake oil will help
us or not but that isn’t
his concern. His concern

is selling the product
and behind the snake oil
is the snake tempting

Adam and Eve. But none
of the fresh-faced jour-
nalists sitting six-feet

apart dare ask. And
the old-folks watching
look at each other and

ask “I’m not old enough
to know personally, but
wasn’t there a time snake

oil was really good for
what ails you? Hey, if
it was good then, it’s

got to be good now. Right?
Honey, did you hear me?
Honey?” “Yes.”

WHITE GLOVED AUNTY by Vicki Hill

 

Married seven times, her first was also her last
She touched up her make-up, who reflected in her mirrored past?
Then carefully seated her veil and hat
Then for a moment impatiently sat

Waiting for uncle whose actions were simpler
Always performed slower but without a whimper

She carefully pulled on crisp white gloves
As they drove to the country, home of her loves:
Her brother ‘s large family in a sardine-can house
Hardly room enough to add a mouse.

More children in daytime gathered there
Kissed good-bye by a working parent for all-day care

What she sought she discovered as tea was prepared
The white gloves skimmed each surface with precise care
Though 5 of 7 children had cleaned much the night before
They forgot dust atop pictures, lintels of doors.

With success achieved, she pulled gloves from fingers, hiding some glee
Ready to share “dirty” secrets with her man who gladly scanned the screen of TV.

The Feds Are Flying Blind

The Feds are flying blind
And our butts are in a Coronavirus bind.
Some keep kissing the Occupant’s big behind
All while flying blind.

Did I just see little Dr. Fauci try to be hard to find
At the press conference where Dr. Birx
Was referred to misogynistically by the Jerk?
Did he have Debbie Does Dallas in mind?

They all left without taking a question from the press.
Good Lord, we are in a nasty, deadly mess.

So now we have Cush and the Tush
Heading up the Fed’s task force push.
Could it be they have stock in the untested pill
That they push and that could make many ill?

We’re flying by the seat of our pants
As we listen to the Occupant’s third-grade vocabulary rants.
Good luck as we try to get through
What the Occupant has miss-termed the ordinary flu.

It’s the Music of Eternity

Hymns like “Abide with me,
fast falls the eventide.’
bring tears to my eyes.
It’s the music of eternity.

We fumble and stumble
our way through life.
It’s the music so rife
with spirituality so humble,

and yet so majestic
that lifts our souls
and calms the hectic
and tells us we are whole.

It’s the music of eternity.

Improper and Out of Order But Full of Grace

Recently, I read a blog post written by a very good writer about Holy Communion. In the article, there was a line that gave me pause: “Come for all things are now ready!” and “all who are baptized are welcome.” After all, if you’ve not been baptized, if you are not Christian, then…what’s the point?

It was the “…what’s the point?” part that gave me pause.

Years and years ago, while serving a Presbyterian church as the pastor, I gave the invitation to communion just as the words are printed above except for the “all who are baptized” part. I left that out.

After the service, an alert elder told me I forgot to qualify the invitation. I had intentionally if erroneously left out the requirement for baptism according to Presbyterian theology of the table. I knew better. My doctoral project was about baptism, communion and reconciliation. I knew that we wash before we sit for the meal, so to speak. But in all honesty, I had been moving to a different place in my understanding of Jesus’ invitation. And that is “to the point.”

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” And, perhaps all those male children had had circumcision (equivalent of child baptism) and, of course, Jewish females were considered to be born circumcised but maybe a non-Jewish kid or two were in the group. Hypothetically (just for the sake of consideration) had an uncircumcised kid, snuck into the group? Probably not, but in light of what we affirm about God’s unconditional love, do we really think Jesus would have asked that kid to step aside and stand back?

I had to ask myself, Would Jesus let circumcision be a condition for acceptance and fellowship? And baptism (the Christian equivalent of circumcision) is a requirement for being welcome at the table?

Of course, it is a statement of community belief and practice: we wash (believer baptism) or are bathed (infant baptism) before being allowed to sit for supper. That’s the proper order.

I’ve said yes to Jesus in innumerable ways for most of my days. Some say there has to be complete surrender (symbolized in emersion baptism). I don’t know that I have ever done anything spiritually completely in all those days. I’ve always held out a little bit of me.

My life is an accumulation of “partial.” I am completely partial. My hunch is that most people are like that — going partway down the trail and then retreating, then down the trail again and again. If not, why are there meditations ad infinitum aimed at the believers about “letting go and letting God” in one form or another? No, I don’t believe in spontaneous sanctification.

My parents affirmed that my infant baptism is completely about God’s love and action and not mine. That is good, covenantal theology. If so, if life is all about God’s love and action and not mine (even though at some point decisions have to be made), then wouldn’t Jesus be inviting all of us to dinner — all, the great unwashed, as we all are in one way or another?

And so, when the worship leader invites us to Jesus’ table, he or she does so in the name of Jesus and that invitation is unconditional.

“Everyone who seeks fellowship with Jesus is invited to the table.” That’s Jesus’ love, Jesus’ action and not even lack of baptism can stand in the way.

In a sense then, the family (Body of Christ) custom of dining becomes a vehicle of euangelion — a source of “good news” for everyone, those preparing, those serving and the guests.

Couldn’t the church model the sojourner law of the Old Testament where if some outside the tribe or clan wander into covenantal territory they are given the royal treatment? “Hey, come on in. We have a place for you to rest and shortly there will be a hot meal served.” I bet some of those sojourners switched tribes in the light of such graciousness. I’m pretty sure the host or hostess didn’t check first to see if the sojourners were circumcised.

Ironically, the love and fellowship around that table might lead to baptism for the unbaptized and then back to the table. I’m not sure Jesus would care which way that would happen; I’m not sure Jesus would care as much about the proper order of things as those of us from traditions that emphasize doing things “properly and in order.”

Those of us who insist on things being done properly and in order might be missing out on the “Grace” before the bread is passed.

And Then There Is the Whole Thing

Today, he read two poems
that featured flies —
house flies, disease carriers,
but the disease part
wasn’t mentioned. In one
poem the flies are
all over the poet’s face, on
the food. In the other,
the flies play a minor role as
a passage into
summer. He sits and thinks
about flies and
images of kids in Africa with
flies in their eyes
come to mind and then he
thinks about possible
purposes for flies beside
being used as
metaphors in poems and
while it is said
that every creation was
created with a
good purpose, kind of
like Adam and Eve
before the fall, he wonders.
Bees sting but
pollinate, bats bite but
eat mosquitoes and
snakes eat rodents but
flies stump him
kind of like rats and then
there is the
whole thing about viruses
which the flies carry.

The Coronavirus Beat

Regressing (or progressing) from palms to knuckles to elbows to six feet,
Don’t miss the Coronavirus beat.
From kisses to hugs to waves across the divide,
Just be sure to stay inside.
COVID-19 lurks with sinister purpose,
So make sure you clean on every surface.
Wash your hands, don’t touch your face (really?),
Realize we are all vulnerable, in this together and of one race.
Check your temperature. Is that a dry cough?
Stay away from others; just back-off.
As Garrison signs off, “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”
Er, figuratively speaking; right now, literally, not so much.

Campaign Rally Disguised As a White House News Briefing on the Pandemic — Not So Much Really But Mostly Geared at Helping the President’s Poll Numbers and Keeping the Base, April 1, 2020

At the news briefing, all the guys
(and it was all white boys) stood
shoulder to shoulder — way too
close together, by far — not
the recommended six-feet apart, not
practicing what’s preached. Do as
I say not what I do is the message.
They stood close enough to smell a
fart let alone suck in saliva droplets
emanating from facial orifices and
parts. The boys all bowed to the
Freak-in-Chief as they spoke about
things not at all related to the topic
at hand but related to calling out the
military to fight contraband. Say what,
Occupant? Earth to the Occupant.
Did you just say the wall is helping,
Occupant? And then one of the
boys said the military is practicing
recommended distancing. How can
they in those sardine can quarters
while one ship’s commander pleads
for help for his ship and crew and
why aren’t all the boys on stage prac-
ticing appropriate distancing, Occu-
pant? As an aside, the number of US
cases has gone up 4,000 and a hundred
deaths and counting just during this
part of the Occupant’s blow his horn
briefing. Earth to the Occupant!
And counting….