Enough Is Enough

Enough is enough calls out the pastor again, again, again,
and the people respond in kind, round by round energy
rising, filling the sanctuary, layers of meaning
from shared history, older ones remembering Jim Crow,
younger ones feeling the endless string of indignities, living while Black,
all knowing that the latest brother gunned while down
could have been their son, their husband, their friend,
brother, neighbor, co-worker, and knowing it is not done,
that after seven years they are amazed the President
of the United States remains alive, while still victim of hate
that spreads across the web, doubting his religion,
even his birth, sure that a Black man cannot be trusted
to do more than loot or sit high in a hazy crack-filled
den or rape bodies of women the haters claim to own.

Alton Sterling
Alton Sterling youtube.com

Anger rises as tears flow, arms reach to heaven
a blend of righteous indignation and sacred supplication,
the preacher only pausing to catch her breath and renew
the claim on anger that can be turned not inward but out
in constructive action to change the world, undo old ways,
stand together even with white folk who love, care, and weep
in recognition of too long silence helping to create what is now
the crucible of death upon death, blood, more blood flowing,
urban rivers of mothers’ tears exposing like Jesus
on the cross the ugliness of humanity mocking God’s creation,
denying Her love that flows nonetheless with their tears.
Today is the day cries the pastor, today is the day
the people reply, we can do something to change this tortured world,
we have in us the power, God’s power since conception in our mothers’
wombs, and it is time to use it to stop the violence, to get the guns
off the streets, train the cops or remove them if they resist
the simple lesson that dark skin is not the enemy but friend,
neighbor, brother, sister, fellow child of the one and only God.

This has been going on a long time—whether we mean hate
or resistance to hate—and the tide keeps turning for love,
then falls back for hate, rolling to and fro, four hundred plus
years of enslavement first of African folk and now the
many descendants of slavers still chained to ugliness oozing
from every pore, spittle splattering what God intends to be hope,
while others use that hope to change direction, marching together
across the lines for justice, mercy, love.  We have had too much hate
and not enough love, so the pastor calls out, Love Is Love,
and the people respond in kind, in love for love, knowing,
believing in their depths, that it is the only power
to defeat hate. But this love must be more than sweet,
this love must overturn tables too, sometimes interrupting regular worship,
driving merchants of hate from sacred precincts, and back alleys and bayous,
by tidal wave upon tidal wave of love rising, cleansing sin
and the stain of sin from twisted white souls
yearning to be free, and bringing precious divine power
to the disinherited also yearning to be free.  
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom washing over me.  

Enough is enough. Love is love.
Love is enough.
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom washing over all.
Today. Now. Here.

 

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . .Following a week of agony and anger about the killing of two unarmed black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, as well as the killing of police officers in Dallas, and participation at a global church conference at which candidates for church office who are people of color did not generally fare well (with one exception), Rev. Cathy Alexander of Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C., chose to call congregants together Sunday morning to vent their frustration and anger and pain in order to begin a healing process leading to action. This is my take (and solely mine) on the powerful moments.
©Robin Gorsline 2016 faithfulpoetics.net
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

Holy Feet, Jesus!

Holy Thursday, Year C (click here for biblical texts)

Feet, the bottom of the human body,
 dirty, calloused, twisted, arthritic, gnarled,
even hard, but some are soft with pretty
nails painted, massaged with oil sweet scented
or maybe not, smelly sweaty feet common—
all sorts and conditions of human worldly feet.
Who knows about Peter’s feet, a disciple’s feet,
and the other feet in that upper room
when Jesus took off his outer robe revealing
perhaps more of himself than normal among the
band of holy land walkers  who have shared
so much already.  Now here is something
very strange:  the rabbi wants to wash our dirty
feet as he has already invited us to share our
dirty linen—the same Jesus who is ready
to receive and wash our feet and linen today—even Peter’s,
who, of course, objects as he often does.
Is there ever a time when there is not
at least one Peter in every group ,
the long ago one offended by the
very idea of his Lord stooping to wash
feet, like today’s recoiling at showing
the imperfection of feet, even more
at being asked to wash others’.
How far we have fallen back, afraid of showing
in faith just our feet, not our private parts,
to one another in a sacred act
of service, not to mention dipping hands
into warm water to bathe tired feet—
are not feet nearly always tired, they
carry us wherever we go and if we have
not feet we must ride on chair or human back
or hop with crutches, feet efficiently
carrying us wherever we want to go—these are
feet of our neighbors, fellow congregants,
feet which trod on the same church floor as ours,
not the feet of strangers but fellow worshippers,
like us, Friends of Jesus who says
love one another, even your dirty, smelly,
calloused, hard or soft, ugly or pretty
feet.
If we cannot wash these feet, how can we
care for, let alone love, any others?

@Robin Gorsline 2016 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . .As a pastor who loves the service of foot washing, not because I have a foot fetish but because it makes Jesus so clear, I was often amazed by parishioners who drew back, almost in horror, at the idea of exposing their feet or touching any others. It was a recurring annual moment when I understood how thorough has been the domestication of Jesus within the church.

 

Freed for Extravagance

(Lent 5, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

The poor we always have with us,
so God’s truth is:  reach out, feed, house,
clothe, care—but not in tightfisted
begrudging dutiful charity ways,
and certainly not to pretend
poor people alone are to blame
for their reality and we who are not poor
are innocent—embrace God’s beloved,
all of us siblings in the divine family.

Let’s follow Mary at table,  
pouring the gift of our soul—a gift from God—
like cheap wine at a block party
where no one has to worry about driving home,
a fountain of living loving liquid
to quench the dried out hearts
and weary bodies of neighbors in need
of laughter, joy, mountains of love
to feed children’s empty bellies,
to ease pains of living on edge,  
not sure when the next paycheck comes
if it will, or whether there even is a job.

Mary chose expensive ointment, showing
how to value those we love by stretching
beyond the comfortable to extravagance,
doing a new thing dazzling in simplicity,
grace and intimacy, using her own hair
as the agent of anointing, adoration,
and announcement of devotion to Lord Jesus
beyond the well-trod  ways.
Can you imagine presidential candidates
really hugging people, not photo ops,
really listening, not video opportunities,
telling whole truths in love, not advantage
against the other side?
That’s the revolution Mary began
and we are called to continue.

So when will you let your hair down
long enough to bathe your neighbor
and the world in endless pure love,
no conditions, no ugly boundaries
just love, more love still, an extravagance of love?

©Robin Gorsline 2016 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . The story in John 12 about Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with costly oil and her hair seems to stand in stark contrast to the last line about the inevitability of poor people—at least that is how it has often been interpreted. But what if her actions are the template by which we learn to care for each other, and perhaps especially for the poor?

 

Love Songs of Life

(2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C; click here for biblical texts)

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent
for my beloved I shall speak
love without end
my heart pouring out extravagantly
like wine at Cana when Jesus
called out by his mother
began to serve and lead.
Can we not understand
this metaphor God pours
the best from first to last
no holding back
no matter who you are
what you have done not done.
No accident that the first
miracle a wedding
what God wants all the time
a marriage made on earth
as in heaven uniting us
soul to soul brides and grooms
of Christ without borders
saying yes to living
trusting the One who loves
no end everyone invited
to the feast dance.
Don’t know the steps
does not matter
listen watch try
God will show you
Spirit will spin you
Jesus grabs your hand
asks may I have this dance
for life for love for joy
away you go heels high
heart higher groovin’ with the Lord
Glory Halleujah!
for Zion’s sake I will not keep silent
singing dancing
love songs of life
©Robin Gorsline 2016 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

Shall We Sing to God a New Song?

(Christmas, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

Shall we sing to God a new song
becoming angels making joyful noise
listening to hear those high above
hearts ears open to hear
divine music in our souls to tumble
from our holy lips heralds of new birth
in Bethlehem yes but closer to home
our very own manger in which to lay
gifts of ourselves to share hope peace
joy love by which we are marked as
God’s beloved not just one night but
for life giving ourselves away feeding
the world with the symphonic melody
beating coursing in sacred veins
cherub chorus that never ends
divine energy flowing in through around us
touching hardened ones opening once
closed minds making shepherds of all
to proclaim yet again God’s love
for a world too frightened to receive
without shame and preconditions
what is freely given in delirious joy
pondering in our hearts
the gift vibrating still in Holy Land
war zones where mothers continue
to ponder in their hearts the blood
of birth as the sign of heaven’s favor
and fathers look on awed to see
what wildest dreams cannot conceive
hope rising peace born yet again
singing a new song in God’s key
heaven’s harmonics heralding
the chance to start again
where all was lost and yet
is never gone when we listen
watch wait pray hope give thanks
trusting the One we cannot see
right in front of our eyes.
©RobinGorsline2015 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

It Takes a Real Woman

(Advent 4 Year C; please click here for a link to the biblical texts)

Believing God is different from believing in God
Mary teaches us the difference knowing the mercy
power help only God gives when we are open
trusting willing. It is not easy but can be simple
when we yield our need to be the sole agenda
and see in signs of our times what God asks
of us. The divine desire is what counts
We must listen and feel the thumps inside
our souls and bellies the word appearing
in unlikely ways times places
lemon vendors on the streets of Buenos Aires
men in a bathhouse whispering sweet love
trees in the woods sighing soft truth
protestors chanting hope
wounded communities living tough love.
We know what to do. Not to look away
not to pretend we do not hear
but listen as if our lives depended on it
as real lives do not the ones we put on
for sleepwalking jaywalking speedwalking
to get to the end
rather than enjoy a pilgrimage with our holy tour guide
seeing all the sites inviting us to sit a spell
for what comes next praying to see
the wisdom buried inside an ugly package
unlikely call or unplanned pregnancy.
Anyone can believe in God. It takes
a real woman to go all the way.

 

©RobinGorsline2015 lectionary poetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form