We all know how hurried and busy life can be. We are consumed by our calendars and the drive to get to the next thing. As we observe the holiest week of the Christian year, I wonder what it might take to “slow our roll;” to pause long enough to let the passion of Jesus soak into our pores and touch our hearts.
Because we are busy folks, we prefer prose to poetry. (We actually prefer abbreviations to prose! LOL) Poetry takes too long to read. Digesting images, navigating the way the phrases connect and flow is time-consuming. Maybe then, poetry is precisely the means by which we can slow down our rush through this holy week to make at least a stroll, or a reflective walk.
First, from Mary Oliver comes a poem set in Gethsemane where Jesus prays and pleads with his followers to stay awake. They do not, but creation does!
Gethsemane by Mary Oliver
The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.
Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.
The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.
Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did,
maybe the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn’t move, maybe
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
lay still and waited, wild awake.
Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.
Second, a reflection on Judas and Peter by Luci Shaw that will not allow us to escape our own image in their stories.
because we are all
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves
but if we find grace
to cry and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me?
Finally, because Easter falls on April 9th, the remembrance day for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of his poems, written in July 1944 reminds us of the scope of God’s love on the cross.
Christians and Pagans
People turn to God when they’re in need,
plead for help, contentment, and for bread,
for rescue from their sickness, guilt, and death.
They all do so, both Christian and pagan.
People turn to God in God’s own need,
and find God poor, degraded, without roof or bread,
see God devoured by sin, weakness, and death.
Christians stand with God to share God’s pain.
God turns to all people in their need,
nourishes body and soul with God’s own bread,
takes up the cross for Christians and pagans, both,
and in forgiving both, is slain.
May you slow your life, mind, heart, and soul to think on these things and ponder the grace of God.
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor