He knew
He Knew

He knew who they were
The ones
Who blindfolded Him
Then slapped Him, saying
"Prophesy, King of the Jews!
Who was it that struck You?"
He knew, alright.
He knew their name
Their father's name
Their spo
Their children
He knew about the penny they stole
And hid in their possessions
So no one would know
He knew about the friend they loved
and then abandoned
Because he talked funny
He knew about the time
They back handed their mother
And then their wife
And then their children
He knew.
He knows 
today, O self righteous one
Who laughs at faith
And uses His Name to cuss with
And ends his sentences with "I'll be damned."
And now, as then,
He intercedes for you
He prays you will be shown wrong
All this time
Through eons of nameless days
He's heard each bleat of fear
That bursts from your arrogant soul
In the darkness
When you ar
e all alone
And although He knows it all
He loves you still.



The Pharisee

I voted for His death-
This ragged Galilean
The illegitimate son of God knows who
Spouting claims of divinity
And using every coincidence of healing
As a means to embarrass US,
The Pharisees, the Guardians of Israel.
What was I to do?
I admit he had a form of wisdom -
But instead of using it to teach,
He cloaked it all in stories -
Interminable stories! -
That always seemed to point at us.
I was present at his death
And laughed with the rest.
You must admit, it *
*was* a bit funny!
:This vagabond leader of publicans and fishermen,
Actually claiming he was God -
It didn't even bear thinking about!
But when the darkness began,
It was an eerie sort of darkness,
The laughing stopped.
Even a whisper seemed too loud.
The soldiers lit fires
And they, too, startled at every sound.
Their raucous questions and arguing
Over prisoner's posessions
Faded into the expectant darkness.
The flickering darkness cast shadows,
Long and tall and wavy -
Every crackle and spark made us jump,
Adding to the strange uneasiness we felt.

Into this darkness came his cry -
He actually asked his "father" to forgive us -
What audacity!
And yet
The words were neither sarcastic n
or condemning 
Not at all what you would expect.
But then,
He never was.

The ground began to tremble and shake
As if the earth itself
Felt the pain of the crosses
Plunged into its heart!

In an instant
All was still.
The light returned.
We blinked at each other and began to talk,
Forced at first,
Absorbed by what we'd witnessed,

I stumbled home, exhausted -
It had been a long night
And an even longer day.
But now the Passover had come.
It was time
To slay the sacrificial lamb.
Papa, teach me!

I want more than seeking You.
I  want to know Your heart -
To become so familiar
With Your ways and words
That I will never risk distance -
Never be farther than a bear hug
From You.

Let me learn
The secret Way
The desires and joys
The nuances of Love and Being
That make up each beat of Your heart
Each breath
Each move.

Show me how to step back
To let You live in me
Through me
I want to train my heart
To lie prostrate before Yours
To have Your will and mine
So mingled
That separating them
Becomes impossible.

Let me learn how
To recognize each impulse
To see no other path
But the one
That wears bloody footprints
And triumphal glory.

Teach me, my King
How to obey.

For Calvin Miller 1936-2012

The Singer was but newly born-
Yet other books had followed on its heels.
Your dance with words enchanted me -
I'd never seen them swirl or sing
With such endearing boldness.
We met twice
Once to parse my paltry poetry
And then as starstruck fan and humble author:
A stack of books stood by,
Eager to be signed
(And thus treasured).
We chatted as old friends -
Discussed the bones and sinews of the pen -
And of the Word
That fires, illuminates and paints
Our smaller words with winsomeness.
I thought about you
Now and then:
A soul draped in kindness-
Afire with immortal Light.
Newly aware of your presence There
(The most alive you've ever been)
The light seems somehow dimmer here
And I, still starstruck, am left
To treasure words you wrote
(And ones you scrawled)
In all these aging books.
You said God made us instant friends -
And some day, once again,
We'll meet
To share the dance of words
At Jesus' feet.

The struggle to obey never ends.
It is so much easier
To sink into the softness of sin
Excusing myself
With the gossamer ruse
Of rationalization
Than to stand and resist
On the hot glare of the battlefield.

The shimmering sword
Placed at my disposal
Wears cobwebs round its hilt
And lies
In its scabbard
While I fall before forces
That would run
At the first glimpse
Of its blade.
Forgive me, Lord,
Forgive me.

Clothed Upon

He wore spittle
With the crown of thorns
With the "royal" robe
Condescension with the blindfold
And the slapping
And the questions
He wore malice with each stripe
The jagged metal
Painted on His back
Hatred when Barabbas
Walked out of prison
(One more for whom His blood
Would purchase freedom)
He wore pity with His cross
When each step tore
The whip lines, newly clotted.
When the high-held mallet
Pierced and pinned and mounted Him
For all to see
He wore nothing.
For the next six
He wore sin and shame and separation.
As He bowed His head
And gave His Spirit into His Father's hands
He wore peace.
In three days' time He rose
And walked and talked
And laughed
Wearing triumph
And now, for all eternity to come
He wears the scars of love -
And a crown of glory.


My Father’s arms are always open
But sometimes
I am too grown up to walk into them –
A bad habit
Picked up in the world and its ways.
I keep forgetting I am not in charge.
Far too often
I try to wrestle the hard things into submission
When it is I
Who should submit.

You watched Your Son die
Inch by painful inch -
Watched the sin begin to weigh Him down
Until the moment came when Your stomach turned
And You could no longer watch .
You turned away
Taking the light with you
And the darkness surrounded Him.

He was completely
Utterly alone,
For the first time in all eternities past -
And the last time for all eternities to come –
Alone on the cross
Alone in the darkness
Alone in the cosmos.

And still the sin kept coming –
My sin -
One by one by one by one by one,
Being nailed to the cross above His head.
His cry rang throughout the Universe He had created
And echoed through the corridors of galaxies unknown:
“Why have You forsaken Me?”
The lonely Lamb of God,
Lost and bleating with a fear He’d never known
Your Lamb
Your Son
Your only Son.
And as the moment came
When my sin had been completely paid for,
He cried out with joy
“It is finished”
And then He died.

At that moment,
The Earth shook with sorrow and shame,
With anger and heartbreak.
As You rent Your clothes,
Tearing the veil from the top down
Tearing the veil that shielded Your heart
Showing to all the world
The broken-hearted Father
For the Son He loved
For the Son He gave
For the Son He gave for me.

A Commonplace God

We look for God
On the mountaintops,
In the midst of thunder and lightning,
In a sea parting to reveal dry land –
And, surely, He is there.

But He is also here –
On commonplace valley floors,
Deep in pits on snowy days,
In brown cocoons
And dry, papery flower bulbs.

He is here
In my ordinary routines,
In mountains of laundry,
In dishes to wash -

And He is here
In the endless hours
Of a night haunted by pain,
In the midst of the time-warp pain creates
That turns seconds into minutes,
And minutes into endless agony.

He is here,
Giving promised songs,
Singing over shredded souls,
Reaching out with nail-scarred hands -
Here in the ordinary world
Of everyday miracles


I am angry
at Adam.

With my mind
I am aware that he
Could not possibly have imagined
The far-reaching
Hot breath of evil
He released with that one
Seemingly tiny
Failure to obey.

With my heart
I rage against the darkness
That rips and tears
And macerates
The bodies and souls
Of uncountable, untold masses
Who have sickened
And suffered
And died
Because of that one
Act of disobedience.

In my spirit
I fall face down at Your feet
Pointing first at Adam
Then pointing at cancer
Pointing at murder
Pointing at all manner of evil
That slithers through the darkness -
Whispering in ears
Tormenting the innocent
Ravishing hearts
Killing children.
Even the tears
Falling from my eyes
Scream with anger and impotent rage

I lift my knotted fists
Raise my club
Against the injustice
And hatred
And power
That that one
"Tiny" act of disobedience
Continues to hold
Over the bodies, souls and spirits
Of mankind.

I rail against Adam's weakness
And pinpoint the source
Of the foul, rancid aroma
That rises from the pit of evil.
His act of weakness
Cost the Lamb of God
Immeasurable suffering and death.

I burn and point
And blame and scream
Until the moment
Exhausted by my fierce anger
My King comes to me.
In His presence
I look down
To find
I no longer hold a club
But a mirror.



I learned today
That I am to be like my Master:
Broken bread
   Poured out wine.

I learned
That when my dreams lie in the dust
Useless as I feel
And the pain shatters my heart
That I am being broken.

I learned
That when my meager hoard
Of fading energy
Trickles away
And I watch
The very last drop circling
   Circling the drain of my day
And I am tempted to whine
And snap
And pity my poor little self
That I am being poured out.

All this in ways He has chosen
All timed precisely
To the last second -
For I have also learned that -
As He promised -
His grace is sufficient for me:
Sufficient for endurance
Sufficient for survival
Even sufficient for joy in this journey

But only
If my eyes turn to Him
Even through curtains of pain
And only
When I have allowed
  Enough to be broken
  Enough to be poured out
To make room
For His grace to pour in...

People of the Book

Grant me, O LORD,
A vibrant, shimmering faith
That dances before You
Like David.
Gird it with strength enough
To sacrifice
My heart's desire
Without a second's hesitation
As did Abraham.
And may I be blessed to know
That the Friendship of God
Lingers in my tent
Like Job.
Enable me, too
To bear the pain
Hear songs in the night
And whisper
Through the shredded fibers of my soul
"Though He slay me
Yet shall I trust Him."

Songs in the Night

And so they come,

When the sounds of the world

With all the hustle and bustle

And pressures and past times

Have faded into the gentleness of night,

When the only sounds

Are of two heartbeats -

One of earth,

One of Heaven,

And there comes 

An infinitesimal glimpse 

Into the wonder-filled tenderness 

Of Your Being

My eyes begin to fill with tears,

The lump in my throat

Grows so large that I can scarcely breathe...

For it is then the music begins.

The night songs come,

Their brooding tenderness

Calms and comforts,

Restores and refreshes, 

Dropping me face down before You.

They flow so gently over me - 

A celestial lullaby that swirls into my spirit,

My soul,

My very DNA.

The trappings of earth fall away

Until only two remain:

King and servant,

Father and broken child,

My loving Papa and me.


The Bruised Reed

I, too would have been too slow

To enter waters stirred to life by passing angels.

I never could have summoned courage

Equal to the task

Of reaching for Your garment's hem,

Nor could I have boldly begged for table crumbs

Or had the where-with-all

To join ten ravaged lepers in their quest...

But I might have managed


To sit beside the blind,

Tin-cupped Bartimeus

On that dusty, rutted road,

And listened

To his heartfelt cries for mercy....

Then deep, deep within the pathless recesses

Of my timid soul

I might have whispered


"Me, too"


Times of the Signs

Talents. Abilities. Intellect.

We take them in our tainted hands

Using them to shine and polish

Endless halls of gleaming mirrors -

Then preen,

Enamored of our own reflections.

We put them in our worn down shoes,

Willing them to lift us up,

To make us taller than we know ourselves to be -

Then bristle when some Voice suggests

Such heights are mere illusions.

Our insignificant, audacity of being

Shakes its puny fist against an ageless sky

And stridently appropriates the living word, "Creator,"

For its own.


Every now and then,

We stand imprisoned in some silence

And catch the eerie distant sound of ingrate children

Crying, crying

For the half-remembered haven

They "outgrew."


Ancient of Days

O Lord!

Into Whose span of hand

All creation -

Universe, stars, a million suns,

Black holes and nebulae -

Fall as tiny marbles

How could You shrink


Distill Your Godhood

Into a fragile human shell?

One single cell

Pierced by the Holy Spirit

Dividing into two

Then four

Then eight,

Until the Baby form took shape -

And all of heaven held its breath

To see the beating of

That miniscule,



Heart of the Living God.


Remembering Fireflies

The evening

Eases over my shoulders

As the twilight fades.

The smell of summer barbeque lingers in the air

And quiet murmurs

Drift from someone's porch

To wander in the night's breezes.

Lights twinkle on in houses

And the fields come alive with wonder.

How did God think them up?

Did He ponder how to bring more delight

Into the hearts of His children, young and old?

Did He patiently form each tiny limb,

Each wing,

Each antenna

And then,

With a chuckle deep in His chest

Tack on that little light?

Did they semaphore their love

In quiet little displays

To the delight of Adam and his wife?

And when God walked in the garden

In the cool of the evening

To fellowship with His children,

Did they, too, come

To nestle in the folds of His cloak,

Twinkling with love for their Maker?


Starry, Starry Night

The quiet evening breeze

Settles round me like a shawl

It whispers secrets to the trees,

Tousling their heads with gentle fingers as it passes

As if adding a post-script to the day.

Other small sounds creep,

One by one,

Into the silence -

A single cricket's chirps,

A quiet converstation from a neighbor's back yard,

A lullaby slipping from a child's window.

Somewhere a screen door slams.

A canopy of stars glitters and gleams above,

Sparkling in glints of reds and greens and blues, and

Every now and then,

One loses its footing,

Skidding across the deep blue velvet of the night,

Exploding in cascades of sparks so brilliant

I catch my breath, hardly daring to breathe.


Placed each star, just so.


Know each one by name.

And all this ageless beauty that surrounds me,

So generously given and created for my delight,

Gilds with grace my one small speck of existence.

Alone in the darkness,

My spirit rises to meet You,

O Weaver of the Universe,

In a wistful,




Of praise.


Thy Kingdom Come

I'll tell a tale of respite sweet

I found in woods I know

Where lavender and ladybugs

And Queen Anne's Lace all grow.

The maples there were dressed in Spring

And dancing to the tune

Of bumblebees and ancient pines

And meadowlarks in June.

A flash of blue, a raucous cry

Announced the bold-face jay

Who squawked to build his courage up -

Then turned and flew away!

The lupines and the buttercups

Played ring-around-the-trees,

And swayed together, left or right,

Directed by the breeze...

And then a small, potbellied squirrel

Stood stern upon a stone

And scolded me for trespassing -

Intruding on his home!

He glared at me impatiently,

His hands upon his hips...

And though I turned to walk away

A smile played on my lips:

For this indignant, furry king

with regal sceptred sway

Unwittingly had gifted me -

And crowned a perfect day!


A few snatches of words about pain

The pain

That used to pop in and out of my life

Visiting once in awhile

Now owns it.

It swaggers and struts

Down my corridor of time

Owning my nights

Owning me -

Almost -

For I am learning

To flee to Your throne

Falling face down before You

Lost in worship and -

At least for the moment -
Owned only

by Your loving presence.


The suffering Adam bought

With that one


Taste of fruit

Haunts our days

Embroidering endless hours

With threads of torment.

But You

Tasted suffering instead of fruit

Draining to the dregs the vilest of mouthfuls

To bring me comfort

That walks beside the screaming pain

And whispers of Love.


In the trackless darkness

Just beyond my field of vision

Bringing songs to dance in my dreams

And set my spirit swirling



I land at Your feet and praise You

With adoring, tear-filled eyes.




Even the perfect bed

Hides nails

Just beneath the sheets.

Nights seem endless

As though extra hours of darkness

Are alloted to those who ache.

You know all about pain.

Your nails were literal




So that when I am swallowed

By the seven-times heated furnace

Another walks beside me

And I am not alone.

The pain was fierce today

Worse than the pain

Is the fear it carries in its hip pocket,

Wondering when it will end

Or if it will end

Wondering if it will,

At last,

Kill you -

And, when it gets bad enough,

Hoping it will.

How long, O Lord,

How long?

It is finding the unendurable


In fact

Be endured


Pain isolates


Sets one apart.

It can't be shared,

Can't even be described -

No words can convey

The brutal assault on nerve endings

That mass together

And finally overwhelm.

At those times

When I am most alone

Lost deep within my prison walls -

He comes to sit beside me -

This One Who is no stranger to pain

Or what it can do to the human body -

And He carries it with me.

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