In the Aftermath

Creator of the wind and waves,

Keeper of the sea

though you did not land the blow,

the blow struck hard and deep.

May you descend upon the destruction.

May your hope and peace overwhelm the flood.

May your comfort and endurance strengthen people

who have lost their homes, loved ones, and livelihoods.

Provide food for hungry bellies

and shelter for those with none.

Provide time and space to grieve and mourn

what cannot be undone.

You not only see the brokenhearted,

you sit beside and catch each of their tears.

You do not abandon them amidst the wreckage;

you pull them close to breathe life where there is fear.

Pour out your spirit upon this situation.

Begin rebuilding hearts in the aftermath.

Use this disaster to reveal your loving kindness,

for it is the last thing the brokenhearted have.

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Little Moments

Tumbling toddler,

tipsy and tough –

tirelessly trying

to stand straight up.

Though weak knees wobble

and ankles give in,

each failure compels her

to try yet again.

As eyes monitor movement

smiles radiate pride,

but it isn’t for them

that she tries and she tries.

Something within her

prompts her to stand:

for she was created

to run, play, and dance.

Oxford

 

No matter where you are in the city —

you’ll find:

church bells can be heard upon the hour,

belting out their songs, each trying

to out chime the others.

 

You’ll find:

libraries of all shapes, sizes, and subjects

bustling with students on silent streets,

camouflaged amongst castle-like colleges

and spires that stretch above the rooftops.

 

You’ll find:

stone towers peering down, looming

above glass-fronted shops

and black iron fences buried beneath bicycles,

leaning layer upon layer;

forcing first arrivals, to leave last.

 

You’ll find:

the scent of coffee and fresh pastries

drifting out of the street corner bakeries and Prets,

summoning the rain-chilled students and tourists

to revive themselves on caffeine and sweets;

as they leave – satisfied – the aroma wafts out again,

enticing the next bunch passing by.

 

You’ll find:

scholars with loose black vests flapping at their waist

and polished shoes pattering against the cobblestone

as they hurry along to academic lectures.

They shake raindrops from tweed jackets and vanish

through gold-plated gates gaping open

and massive wooden doors built into lonely old walls

yellowed by time’s constant drizzle.

 

You’ll find:

cyclists who swerve in and out of double-decker buses,

avoiding pedestrians flowing like the Thames,

pooling in some places; the Sheldonian, the Ashmolean, and the Bodleian

steadily admit their eager guests as they attempt to separate

student from tourist.

The line in Blackwells winds up the stairs into the Costa Café on the second floor.

Customers shuffle along, struggling under the weight

of their thick, freshly printed books.

 

You’ll find:

the great privilege and heavy burden

of knowledge.

Sea of Galilee

On your stony shores

sit cities

who witnessed and worshiped

the wonders of His ministry.

Holy water

fed by the Jordan –

whose second son,

the Dead Sea,

is polluted with salt

so thick it forces floating.

You, however

welcome people

to dunk themselves

beneath your surface

swimming with life,

baptizing them

in a massive mikveh.

You broke nature

at the command

of your King creator:

you quieted

when he asked,

held him above your waves

as he wished,

and supplied fish

that ripped nets

because he knew

you could – you would

always obey.

You are the disciple

we all aspire to be,

a home, a heart

of mixing cultures

cultivating faith–

never full,

yet continually being

filled.

 

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Packing

I started with a list

bigger than my room

and that wasn’t even

including my shoes.

Who knows what I’ll need,

maybe this, maybe that.

Should I bring my umbrella

or my polka dot hat?

 

After cramming and smashing

in all that I own,

I yank at the zipper

busting seams, veins, and bone.

Yet the lips of my suitcase

inflexibly refuse to kiss,

pressuring me to rethink

packing all of it.

 

I pull everything out

to start over again,

piling precious possessions

to feed this hungry friend

mouth gaping open,

teeth ready to dig in,

to consume all I’ve collected

through Life’s many whens.

 

I rummage through sweaters

selecting my favorite few,

dwindling my scarf collection

in order to make room

for a crumpled drawing

from a long-distance friend

that did its own traveling

before reaching my hand.

 

A few favorite photos

of those I hold dear,

and the worn, yellowed T-shirt

from vacation one year,

with stained pits from sweat

and sweet memories

of a week spent with Grandpa

before cancer’s victory.

 

An old diary, reread

hundreds of times,

written at age 8

through sleep-heavy eyes,

hardly comprehensible from

profuse spelling errors,

yet pure in its portrayal

of my young heart’s prayers.

 

I am not my possessions –

but some possessions are me,

and I choose to make room

in my suitcase for these,

these precious piles

perfect and precise

in their disorganized

representation of life.

Walking the Halls of History

These walls witnessed a kingdom

pass from one generation to the next.

Standing in silent observation

at titles bought for the price of a neck.

Their shelves have held the jeweled crowns

that sat on royal heads,

and their hooks have held masterpieces

of famous artists now long dead.

These walls have attended marriages

and the celebration of male heirs.

 

Tracking gravely the orderly procession

of Henry’s wives by trail and error.

Their appearances have been altered

during the passage of so much time,

But the secrets that they protect

are buried safely, deep inside.

Goodbye and Good Luck

I’m sorry for chasing when you said no.

I’m sorry for being unable to let go.

It’s in my nature to fight for those

Who stood beside me as I faced foes.

Yet I cannot make or change your choice,

For you are free to express your voice.

 

The link that survived the initial flame

Has weakened in the cold silence of rain,

While cycles of disappointment and pain

Caused relentless heaving and unbearable strain.

Although the cord is not yet severed, I’ll let it fall slack,

For I recognize and accept that you aren’t coming back.

 

Despite the distance between us, I wish only the best,

For you on your journey through life’s endless tests.

I’m sure it’s mutual, this feeling of mine,

That our hopes for each other won’t fade over time.

The only thing I have left to offer isn’t much,

Just a simple saying, goodbye and good luck.

A Labyrinth Lit by Starlight

There is a labyrinth connecting my brain and my tongue,

Where fear gobbles up wandering words one by one.

Those that survive the treacherous journey are few

And upon reaching the exit, they appear beaten and bruised.

They come out all jumbled and in quite a mess,

And for this reason, they perch on my lips less and less.

To be honest, I’m terrified to find out what you’ll think

When I manage to gather enough gumption to speak.

So please pay attention, don’t tell me to shoo,

If I decide to expose my broken words to you.

For my words may seem little, but they’ve traveled as far

As the dimmest of light from the most distant stars.

Too Soon (For Gracie Lou)

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I don’t know if you remember

The day we came to pick you up.

The day four scrawny squeaky Fisher kids

Brought home a young excited pup.

I don’t know if you remember

The times we played out in the snow,

When you’d nip at our gloved fingers

And chase all the balls we could throw.

I don’t know if you remember

The times we bathed you outside,

When we’d get covered in more soap than you

No matter how hard we tried.

I don’t know if you remember

The way your tail wacked our legs

Whether we’d been gone for a few moments

Or for a long couple of days.

I don’t know if you remember

How much our lives improved after we met,

But I truly hope you realize

That we will never, ever forget.