Never Certain

“We unknowingly live out this resistance to being known in much of our lives, not the least of which is in our religious practice, as demonstrated by our obsession with knowing and believing the right things about God, about Jesus, about our theology, and about ‘right behavior.’ This imbalanced way of being is often a defense against our feelings of insecurity and shame. …

We delude ourselves into thinking that we know God, but God as we believe him to be – in control and invulnerable – not God as Scripture describes him to be: risk-taking and able to be hurt badly. We no longer have to trust since we’ve got him all figured out.” Curt Thompson, M.D. from Anatomy of the Soul

I thought I did nothing.
I smiled when needed
Or kept myself pleasant.

I thought it was helping.
They said every sign shows
This goodness would win.

I thought I was equal.
I say what they say
And they make me their own.

But I must leave this church of lies;
the one that wants a bridge
to insecurity and shame.

Their god is sure.
He doesn’t know me and
And he can’t be badly hurt.

This church told me,
“You aren’t God.
You are weak.”

I bore the shame
and said I’m weak
Before the predator.

But what they meant was
That I was too weak
And I could not prey with them.

But I ache for love.

The love that didn’t need my agreeable smile.

The love that says my image is theirs.

The love that sought wholeness by my hurting it.

I think I am unequal;
uniquely separate from wholeness.

I think I am helped
By the signs of goodness.

I think I do something.
I smile when needed.

I was motivated to write this poem based on a quote from a book by Curt Thompson, MD that was used in a class at Wesley Seminary last semester.  I appreciate his insight in revealing to me this image of God.

Photo at Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy

The days

Trevi Fountain. Rome, Italy

If I bring new fruit
with arms full,
would past secede to dawning?

If I hide my form
in capricious tulle,
would you accept the conning?

If I bow my head
like strangers meet,
am I an untried Miss?

This trifle I’ll do,
but each day complete
we’ll encounter when we kiss.

Photo at Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

This Intimacy

Trevi Fountain. Rome, Italy

He said to him, “You can do this.”
So he then thought, “Well, if this has been done …”

He said to him, “I have done this.”
So then he thought, “I am allowed to try.”

He said to him, “This is my reason.”
So then he thought, “It is a way.”

There was kindness when he said this.
There was esteem when he replied.

Between them

Intimacy.

I am taking a Human Sexuality class at Wesley Seminary. Our guest speaker, Ann Wilson, MSN, talked about countries where men would share stories of using condoms so that other men would think about using birth control.

Photo at Trevi fountain in Rome, Italy.

Beyond

“They seek to tear down what is restrictive, corrupting and inhibiting in order to build a society in which men may work and live in harmony with nature and each other. They believe in man’s creative potential and the whole movement is dedicated to the proposition that if the Negro could but free himself of the frustrations of an unjust social order, the achievements of the human mind and heart would be limitless.” Martin Luther King, Jr., “After Desegregation–What”, 1961

The mind is my sanctuary
When I think my flesh couldn’t please God
Like some inalienable right.

The heart is my drive
To cast out controlling fear
That shames a sacred rite.

The potential is my hope
In what hangs the earth on nothing
So I see a way to write.

The right is less than I could be.
The rite is what will always be.
To write is to create beyond limited harmony.

Photo of Martin Luther King, Jr dedication in Washington, DC

Speaking

Flowers from event at Wesley United Methodist Church in Alexandria, VA

Two people were in a relationship when one was speaking.
Every choice was discussed; again one was speaking.

Actions present here created with a distant mind.
Control and freedom within one was speaking.

Happy and silence are cherished for love and reward.
Fearing thoughts since a word is din.  One was speaking.

A story continues, lagging with suppressed motivation.
But the story didn’t begin. One was speaking.

Candace unravelled. She pulled on strings to see if they were hers.
She wove the story of her intent. And then one was speaking.

 

I’ve been taking a Human Sexuality class at Wesley Seminary.  I was inspired to write this poem based on guest lecturers from the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA).

This is also my first time at trying to write a ghazal poem.

Photo at Wesley United Methodist Church in Alexandria, VA

Incorporated

from Letters and Papers from Prison By Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
“I will write to you in Italy about the Song of Solomon. I would in fact read it as a song about earthly love, and that is probably the best ‘christological’ interpretation.”

Rightly do they love.
They knew and they desired.
They did not shy to know so that they could desire more.
Knowledge came
and the self apart was full as if incorporated.
The hand outstretched
reckons
the pull
toward
each aspect of existence.
Involuntarily
what is said
speaks
to release pains of thought;
to collectively answer.
It is now
and will ever be.
They rightly loved;
they who moved from right to surrender
in ‘christological’ interpretation.

Photo in Alexandria, VA

In the thought of the marrows

Photo of log at Roux 61 in Baton Rouge, LA

“GOD guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;” – from A Prayer For Old Age – Poem by William Butler Yeats, 1935.

The completeness of being happy

did not have a supporting chance.

I dissected my anatomy

that the effort itself would be a merit,

in clarity

that this merit would give me favor,

though it is not certain from where,

over the simple

(with easier and more obvious indulgences).

Each thought could not contain itself,

though it could.

I was not an individual,

though I would.

I did not stand.

But assumption made each thought thicker.

So what was self was a dependence on selves

that could only hobble with conflicting histories.

I could not see in a marrow what I desire

if I could not see in the marrow

the completeness of the provision.

As if that thought was complete.

If others were to provide to me,

I could be master.

If I were to provide,

I could be slave.

The completeness of happiness

Was the tug of war

Of the composition of bodies

Choosing slaves;

Over the simple

(with easier and more obvious indulgences).

In clarity,

The merit was in

Not in the dissection,

But the mystery of the union of selves,

The uniting of anatomy,

So I could stand,

in the thought of the marrows.

Photo from Baton Rouge, LA.

 

Unclassifiable

“The ideal of every science is that of a closed and completed system of truth. … Phenomena unclassifiable within the system are therefore paradoxical absurdities, and must be held untrue.” – William James, The Will to Believe: And Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, 1912

“The absence of hybrid species in the Jewish diet is one of its major principles.  To belong to two categories is to be in no category or to be unclassifiable…Hebrew dietary laws are imbued with the Jewish idea of God; they convey major principles of holiness.” – Encyclopedia of Modern Jewish Culture, Vol 1, 2005

One word is ‘holiness’.

People seek it.

But end up seeking themselves.

People seek it.

But in the end it’s seeking self.

It’s exactly where they say it is.

But they were pointing at the same thing,

And speaking different realities.

Containment defined differently

What was visible sameness,

Where what was done outside the wall,

Could not determine what would fall.

Holiness was defined by those who ate heartily.

Their joy mocked the joy and defied the pain of the hungry.

But the full could be mocked?

The seekers and the avoiders

Were same and different

And arrived and overlooked

Like a math problem of permutations.

The system acts

And the act is its holiness.

It expands and walks away

by walking to what it sees in the other.

It says it is limitless, but says see me.

The system sought being known.

And the word holiness became classification.

The loosely coupled was known by mutuality.

The seekers and the avoiders

sought their own

And held on and in that they found their answer.

But I could be unclassifiable because I am untrue.

Photo of the Roman Forum in Italy