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Death has no country.
Love has no name.

– Mary Oliver

How To Be A Poet by Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your work,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

//

Big thanks to Bill over at Practicing Resurrection for introducing me to this poem and to Wendell Berry in general.

Song for Autumn

by Mary Oliver

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

Bedtime for democracy, 1985
Junior high angst made me feel alive
We took our lumps and beatings
status quo did not add up through opened eyes now bleeding
And righteous anger to blatant lies, and sleepless nights and lonely cries
Of a hearts ideals now fleeting
And the fire that once burnt my eyes, left not blind but purged that vail o’er eyes now alive and seeing

It all used to mean so much more, like the letter of the law
Now, just an identity whore, red light on a door at a store in a suburban mall
It’s not who i have become or am going to be
But who I already am, but have yet the eyes to see
For what slumbered and doth insist myself doth not exist
Hath yet in youth an unkindly truth resist my metamorphosis

Yes, truth is cruel, the cardinal rule that honesty is unpleasant
Would let the fool impose the tool of internal self resentment
Shalt I yield and drop my shield of steadfast punk rock prose
To wife and child and life beguiled the paths of a tended rose
For in staunch ideals in the court of my peers I truly can not bother
The punkest move that I can make is to be a model model friend, husband and father

-Andrew Verdecchio

Lessons From the World on Following Jesus

by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Jim said to me when I first met him,
“Maybe the most faithful follower of Jesus
in the 20th century was a man who
did not call himself a Christian.”
Then he told the story
of Gandhi’s experiments in truth.
“Living Christ means a living cross;
without it life is a living death.”

We stood outside the hotel in Baghdad
saying goodbye, maybe forever.
Jim looked with laughter in his eyes and said,
“It’s going to be a wonderful day.”
At Rutba the Good Iraqi showed us
what God’s love looks like
in the middle of a war.
And we were changed.

My mama told me truth is a man
called Jesus, and life is knowing Him
a little more each day.
I’ve never doubted she was right,
but I’ve seen more of Jesus in
the life of a Hindu satyagrahi,
in the embrace of a Muslim doctor,
than in most Sunday morning meetings.

Maybe this troubles you, I don’t know.
(I’ll admit is has bothered me.)
But I think of the magi, following
their gods in the stars to the crib
of a child whose people did not know him
though their Scriptures had foretold his birth.

And I recall how I learned that story,
playing the part of a shepherd boy
in a Sunday morning program when I was six.
I remember my mama, smiling.
I remember Jim’s eyes, laughing.
I remember meeting Jesus in the desert,
being saved.

originally posted here.