Song Of The Shepherds

You are my body,
I am counting on you.
I need you to do for me there what I cannot do here.

I need you to love, forgive, meet and at times reject who shows up.
You cannot imagine you are hearing me correctly,
but you are.
Separate the care I ask of you from the need of yours to save.
Do this by prayer in the fringes of day.
Do this by rest under the stars;
by the light and rhythm of my moon.

I am asking you to tend my flock.
My flock comes with willingness, and eagerness, hunger;
you will recognize by sense more than sight who I bring as they respond to my call, not yours.

I am guiding you to not lose your way.
Do not let others distort or define you,
or my message, by territorial rights.
This is a spiritual truth which means true for all;
personal yes, exclusive no.

I am entrusting to you the fields I have marked as yours.
They are circled by fences built with crossbars of love and respect;
anchored by posts dug deep into the earth.
They are not too big,
nor too small for what I am asking of you.
They are not fertile but for the grass that grows to nourish souls and the season.
They are not yours in deed but by lease there is plenty,
for now and for all of the days of your life.

You are my body.
I am counting on you to be shepherds,
and the lamb of my fields.
This is the song of the shepherds;
listen for the call of yours.
Listen for Me.

An Angel Song

She came in the early evening;
just after sunset but before the darkest of night.
She came unsolicited, never dreamed for or called;
un-bidden, un-beckoned,
not out of desire or belief,
she appeared.

To my left at my bedside
with soft and warm countenance;
gentle conveyance of details of a
dusty, dark diamond-patterned dress,
and gray hair curled close to her head;
withholding proof by a vagueness of terms
or earthly language.

In silence, we shared moments of gaze,
the one upon the other until I became afraid
of the woman beside my bed,
my fear prompting her to pull aside the veil yet further to say,
with cause, clarity and assurance in a language of love,
“Just look away and you won’t be afraid anymore.”

I did, and I wasn’t. And she was gone.

Weeks later, alone and together at the kitchen table,
drinking wine with my Mother while my father slept
at the top of the farmhouse stairs,
I tell her of the woman, the vision, the dream?
But before I am finished, she is weeping and completes
the description of the diamond-patterned dress
as the one they chose for her Grandmother’s burial,
ten years before my birth.

She takes another drag from her cigarette and says,
with eyes sparkling from a sentimental cocktail of Chardonnay and memories,
“That was your great-grandmother honey.
I am sure she just wanted to see what you looked like.”

And we never spoke of the visit again.

Sometimes in the deadest of night,
in the torture of recycled conversations and circular thoughts,
I feel a terror of certain death.
I get afraid.
I get scared that I have been wrong to believe in the eternal.
I question for panicky gray moments the meaning and extension of a tenuous life.
And sometimes what brings the calm to my soul
is remembering the silent soothing power of these words again,

“Just look away and you won’t be afraid anymore.”

My Grandma Summe’s courage and love-enough
to cross time and reason of man
is proof-enough for me of eternal things made good.
In the bleakest of my faith and loudest of doubts,
her angel-song sings me back with Love.

Song of Herod

I heard him shout:
Don’t you know that I am king?
Don’t you realize that I am ordained to power?
Pay attention to me!
Agree with me, like me!

Acknowledge and elevate me
above all others.
Rid me of any who oppose my will,
my opinions,
my slander,
my approval.
Defer all power and control to me,
unchecked, unquestioned,
because I am king;
I know what is better
and best for you.

And,
if you dare stand against me,
if you contest my throne,
I will cast a net to gather
and kill
all who resemble you and your kind.

I heard the Herod in me:
I want to be king.
I want you to pay attention to me.
I want you to agree with me;
I want to be right.
I want to manage and control
and get what I want;
to be comfortable and secured
by recognition and admiration.

And,
I will withhold or leave
if you remind me of others
who did these injustices to me,
for my memory is long,
my severing ax disguised
as a tool of protection.

I heard the King say:
I am Majesty.
Master and Servant,
compassionate King
of Herod and the Herod in you.

Remember,
false masters are created in
the shadows of your un-holy self,
your un-whole self,
your broken, wounded self
in need of denial or defense.

Remember,
only love of the inclusive, infinite kind
can return you to
the compassionate self as I made you,
the whole-self of trust,
the fullness of being.

As much as you grieve and resist,
hate from fear is no longer your option,
nor is withholding love
from the Herod out there
and the Herod within.

Love is the command of your King.

Remember,
I will never command you
without giving you strength.
I will never use up
what I use for good,
so go now.
Take up my mantle of love
and leave the how to me.

I am your King.

You will know me,
recognize me,
experience me
and be enlivened by
the compassionate tenor of my song,
the song of your King.

Inspired by today’s Contemplative Worship, The Center for Christian Spirituality, December 4, 2016. Thank you for this, with love.