Monday, February 28, 2011

sweet, like honey

the sound of scripture
read in the sanctuary
is sweet in my ear
while an infant's cry
interrupting worship and
drowning out the lector
is sweeter still

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


They say that Malcolm always sat with his back to the wall. I can understand that ~ since he made some controversial (is that strong enough?) statements, I'm sure he wanted to be able to see anyone coming in the room.

I'm the same way, but not for the same reasons. I'm not much of a public figure, and I don't think anyone has me on their assassination list, but I still get uncomfortable when I can't see the whole room. Maybe it's left over from when I was in middle & high school, and (like probably everyone in the world) I was worried about everyone talking about me, and felt like if I could see them, they wouldn't make fun of me. And it extends to leading worship. If I'm not in front (with my back to the wall, and able to see everyone), I'm in the back, still with everyone in front of me. On the flip side, though, when I am able to see and hear what's going on around me, I'm often distracted and not able to accomplish the task in front of me.

Beyond the visual, I also like to be aware aurally, and so I've never been a fan of wearing earphones in public. I don't have an issue with anyone else wearing them, but I don't like to because it means I'm not as aware of what's going on around me. Even if I'm somewhere where nothing around me matters and I'm completely anonymous (like in the airport), I like to be able to hear.

The other day, my regular spot in one of my regular coffee houses was occupied, and I was forced to sit in the middle of the room. For a moment, I felt out of my element. But then, without either warning or even really my own knowledge, the world I allowed myself to be exposed to shrunk considerably. I got out my portable music player and headphones, I focused on mundane computer-oriented tasks (tedious, but necessary), and drank my tea. Before long, I realized I'd been sitting there for over an hour, hadn't been distracted once, and had gotten a lot done.

I know about myself that I like for my focus to be wide, to be able to know what the big picture is, to be aware of what's going on around me. I've learned, though, that sometimes it's important to put on blinders & earplugs to block out all the distractions and to create a much smaller world even than the one wandering by a neighborhood coffee shop.


ode to an institution

high on a hill
buildings, rich with stories
shared by so many who have
passed through,
sets this place apart.
they stand, monastically removed,
looking over the world going by.
lofty subjects studied
in depth
perhaps will someday intersect
grocery bills and youth soccer
the not-as-lofty concerns
of those pass by
oblivious to the
hedged-off institution

Traveling Alone

a little time in a strange place
echoes of familiarity
creep into my periphery
though i'm still eluded by normal

without a companion, strange places
heighten my awareness of
everything around, even
as i retreat into myself

not wanting to lost my identity
rooted someplace else
i resist this new place, even while
i know, so many call it home

Monday, February 21, 2011

We Don't Know

you don't know,
when he picks up the edge of the rug
whether he's sweeping dirt under
or conscientiously collecting dust
hiding beneath the carpet edge

you don't know,
when they pray around the thanksgiving table
whether they're grateful to see each other
for the first time in a year
or because they don't have to again
until next November

you don't know,
when the tears stream down her face
as you ride the subway next to each other
whether her husband just died,
or the Bach on her ipod
leaves her weeping for joy

we don't know,
when they don't pray as we do
whether they hate us
or just experience the expansive
beauty and majesty of the divine

Sunday, February 13, 2011

we've lost the ability to socialize

in the elevator
on the train
after the meeting
walking down the street

no longer must we endure the

we retreat into our
phones and computers
where our friends wait
for our tweets and texts

but then, when virtual becomes
will we be able to speak aloud
more than one-hundred-forty characters

Friday, February 11, 2011


she's walking on water,
though not like Jesus
(or even Peter) did
today, she struggles over
what the snowplow
has moved from the street
into her path

it covers the sidewalk
her route to the store ~
made necessary by a hungry baby,
who now rides in a cheap stroller
purchased cheaper at the thrift store

of course, she could have
avoided her search for the sidewalk
by taking the bus
but in a contest between
transportation and sustenance
the baby's belly always wins

so she walks
pushing over and through the snow
until her path is blocked
by sludge, once melted by car tires
now re-frozen
obstructing her journey
and forcing her into the street
where the path is clearer
though traffic is nearer
passing within inches of her life
as their drivers curse the inconvenience
of her stroller forcing their lane change

Thursday, February 3, 2011

HardCore Cycling

Probably at least a couple of my seven readers know that I enjoy cycling. I enjoy road biking, mountain biking, and commuting on my fixie. I love riding around the neighborhood with my children, and I enjoy working on (and teaching my children to work on) bicycles.

Last week, when I got home from being gone for a full week to two conferences, I realized that (considering it was January in Colorado) the weather couldn't be any better for going for a bike ride. It was shorts/two shirts/full-finger-gloves weather. I rode my standard one-hour, quick workout route.

In January, most folks seem to have put their bikes away until March or April, when it's warmed up just a bit. Last Thursday, I only passed a handful of other cyclists, when I would have passed at least three dozen on a slow day in summer.

This ride made me start thinking about who's out riding a bike in nasty weather. Most cyclists are game for fair weather riding, and some - the 'hardcore' cyclists - will go out adverse weather. It could be early spring mornings when the frost is still covering the ground, or maybe through the autumn rain and mud. The hardcore go out into the desert through sand and searing heat, or even through snow falling over the singletrack that no one else has been on for a month.

I used to think these were the hardcore cyclists, until I paid closer attention over the past week. The real hardcore cyclists are those who ride through the snow, over the icy streets, and are not kept inside by temperatures that range from the negative teens to the positive single digits. Mostly, these hardcore cyclists ride helmet-less and without spandex. They're on bikes that come from garage sales and big-box discount stores. Often, the bikes have squeaking brakes, flat tires, and many don't shift out of the one rusty gear where the chain finds itself. By and large, it turns out that the real hardcore cyclists, the ones who ride every day no matter what, tend to be temp workers, immigrant laborers, and transients ~ the people who don't have any other choice.

I don't know about you, but that gives me a new outlook on my fair-weather cycling habits.