Sermon

I have been forgiving you
Since the moment
I learned
But how can I respond
When you ask me for forgiveness now
Long after
I have cried my tears
Long after
I have stitched my heart
And coaxed it
To heal
How can I say
I forgive you
When the forgiveness I extended
For so long
Went unseen
How can you ask
“Forgive me”
When you never acknowledged
Your wrong?

I cannot be the one
To give you a badge
That says you have crossed
From that to this

I cannot be the one
To say,
Yes, now you are doing it right.

I did cry a river.
And then I moved my tent
And planted a new garden
New flowers
In new dirt
And I wait painstakingly
To see what grace will emerge
From my pain.

You hurt me.
Instead of speaking truth
You hid it
And when I found it
You ran away
And never looked back
Leaving me
To clear away the shrapnel,
My ears still ringing.

You slipped away slowly
Then quickly
As I grasped at ways to help
Ways to bring you back to life and love.
An honest parting of ways,
An honest confession that you did not love me
An honest word that,
Our time was good but it was over
Would have been a welcome balm.
I grieved that you did not count it worth your own pain
To tell me it was over,
Instead leaving me bewildered
Left to assume what must be true.

I forgive you and forgave you already,
But how can I be your priest
And absolve you of your wrong?
How can I forgive
What you never confessed?

Do not say to me,
“Forgive me, I have changed.”
Tell me the wrongs
That you now recognize
And tell me that you understand
Even a small bit
Of how I must have felt.
Tell me that at last
You feel a little bit
Of my pain
As I once felt yours
So deeply.
Tell me you are sorry.
You are so, so, sorry.

Sacred

 

Your skin
Pressing comfort
As i feel your weight and warmth
Reminding me
Like a gentle pinch
That I am real
Reminding me
That you are real too
That you see me
And I see you.

Beware,
Those who use others
For their own gain
Stealing their labor
As surely as stealing their house
For the ground on which you stand
Is sacred
And will not forever allow you
To desecrate its gentle soil
With your cruelty.

I do not miss
Ice cream cones or toys
Of childhood.
I do not long to curl
In my mother’s arms
Though I might
Miss that too.
I miss waking every morning
And immediately knowing
That today is sacred.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

On the importance of seeing beauty

IMG_4136
Breath-taking view from Highway 1, north of Big Sur, CA. I took this picture! I was there! And it is even more beautiful in person 🙂 

Today I was reflecting on my trip to California, and I was thinking about how beautiful the west coast was — and so easy to see and find the beauty — the mountains and nature and ocean were all around us. Here in Memphis it can be harder to see. I noticed how beautiful the clouds and sky are here– big fluffy whipped cream kind of clouds. I looked up and noticed how beautiful the trees are — we are literally living where a forest once lived, and pieces of the forest still survive today. I was thinking about how important it is to see beauty, because beauty — and I say beauty, not just attractiveness or aesthetically pleasing design — beauty, itself, is a physical representation of Joy. A retail store and parking lot might be ugly and grey and depressing — but inside, the cashiers, the customers, are living, breathing, beautiful souls. In their hopes and dreams and laughs and kindness there can be so much joy. And even in Memphis, which is so scarred with trauma and tragedy and violence, there is still joy pushing up through the cracks. I want to get better at seeing beauty and seeing joy. I want to get better at looking past the grey, and seeing what is there, pushing up through the pavement, struggling to thrive, struggling to look into the sun, struggling to turn the grey and brown into green, into red and gold and purple and blue. That is why writing is important for me. It helps me to see. It helps me to notice. It helps me to push back against the laziness of just taking in the noise and the grime and the cement, and see instead the traces of life that are thriving in spite of being bullied and poisoned every day.