Wilderness

 

Reflection on Lent 1, Year A

Text focus: Genesis 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Matthew 4:1-11
Click here for biblical texts

 

I cherish wilderness camping in some way off place,
choosing to be alone to recharge,
to hear trees tell me new old things,
to learn from ducks swimming in a mountain lake.

But there is other wilderness, in the city,
in crowds at the mall, at work, at home, wherever,
when I see only myself,
my needs and desires, opinions, truths,
my rules, diet, hopes, prayers,
my God, gods, family,
none other,
when I am sure I am right or best
or scared to admit I’m not,
when I fail to hear knocking on the door
of my soul, when God is standing outside
the window waving Her arms to get my attention
and I keep playing video games, watching HGTV, drinking wine,
pretending, acting as if, temptation does not lurk
because I fail, refuse, to see it.  
Life is tough enough
without attending to messiness all around me,
even within myself.

I stop feeling pain that trails my brother
roaming Baltimore fearing he will be next in a pool of blood,
or fear in the Palestinian child
whose home is demolished by the IDF while he sits
in a school without supplies hearing ugly things
about Jews, or dread stalking the raped woman
not sure anyone will believe her or if they do
they also will believe she asked for it and tell her
she is a murderer if she chooses to abort,
or terror of the undocumented mother
who waits for ICE to pry her from her U.S.-born toddler—
when I cannot see these faces and many like them,
because it seems they are in wilderness,
it is me, I am lost. I am in wilderness,
I am the one who has forgotten
who and where God is
who God expects me to be,
where God asks me to be.
I have given in to the tempter,
I do whatever I want without God,
I think I can fix anything all by myself,
I am the one who lives, who worships, my way,
my country’s way, my party’s way, my company’s way,
even my church’s way,
more than God’s.

 

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . It is reassuring to focus on Jesus in the wilderness and how he overcame temptation, and perhaps to think he was only there once, but I suspect he was tempted more than this one time recounted in the Gospels.  And when I only pay attention to Jesus’ wilderness time I can forget mine.  But when I am honest, I know I spend a lot of time in wilderness  of my own making, aided by the world around me which lulls me into thinking it is only others who wander there.  Perhaps that is the ultimate temptation.
©Robin Gorsline 2017 FaithfulPoetics.net

Jesus Keeps Walking, God Keeps Moving

Reflection on the Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

Focus: Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
Click here for biblical texts
 

Jesus kept walking no matter what was happening around him
whether John was arrested or Lazarus needed him;
he walked to the wedding in Cana though he may not have
known what he would be asked to do. He set his face and feet
towards Jerusalem even when he knew that was the way
to trouble with a capital T. Paul kept moving too,
knowing that his mission was to proclaim the gospel,
so when Corinthians began to mess things up
he wrote to them while on the road.
Isaiah knows God sends joy to those once bereft of hope.

God is always on the move, and not just walking, but touching
and blessing and inspiring and jostling status quos with new life.
Pharaohs. presidents, generals, moguls, dictators, pass through
on their way to self-described greatness,
but they are not really moving so much as walking
on the treadmill called success and power and wealth,
while God and faithful ones God touches
really move, living where things count less than soul,
where hearts are eager and minds open to receive and share,
not grab,  the gifts freely available to all.  
These are ones Jesus calls, the ones who answer,
putting down nets in which they have loaded all they own,
to be captured, raised up and sent forth
by a power greater than themselves, greater than
all of us, all the world.

It seems easiest to move with the world,
not trusting in God or prophets or others
who ask us to move in holy, other ways,
not out of the world but deeper in it
because we move knowing the truth
of the psalmist and Jesus and Paul,
and Mohammed and Moses, too,
God is my guide and my salvation,
whom shall I fear? God is the stronghold
of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

Can we not be brave like the smallest seed
that pushes up from the soil into a world
it does not know, trusting in the rain, sunshine,
and nurture God provides and encourages us to offer, too?
Can we not become, like Simon and Andrew, and James and John,
mighty oaks of faith, the winds of God blowing in and through us,
gracing all around us , our roots going every deeper into earthy soul,
shedding leaves of faith, joy, hope, and love
wherever we stand, the never-ending melodies of God,
the ceaseless plea to care for the widow, orphan, immigrant,
divine prayer for us to love as God loves,
crossing our lips not just on Sunday mornings
but in every moment of every day?
 

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . . God so often gets locked up somewhere—a book, a temple, an idea—for safe keeping. But the prophets and even the psalmists, in their better moments, knew better, and surely Jesus did, and he helped Paul figure it out, too. One of the problems with churches may be that we are locked up in one place, too, and forget that God is on the move, everywhere, all the time. Of course, God comes to us all the time, but we can easily miss the visit because we do not expect it right where are.
 

©Robin Gorsline 2017 FaithfulPoetics.net