Can I Get A BIg Amen and A Few Things Parenthetically

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Can I Get A Big Amen

The view changes
From way down here
I slipped and fell
On the egg shells
Horizontal view, perspective head in the dirt
Smells fresh
No longer  in the clouds
Splayed out on the floor
Floored
By the shift
Get down here
Lower still than you have gone before
Keep bending lower til
You drown in
Pools of grace
Puddled
Purposefully to soften the
Blow
Bubbles and have some
Fun, worry not
You borrow from the unknown
But stay awhile
The view is better than on high
How low can you go
Jesus stooped and bent and crouched
Washed the feet
Meet me here
The view is
What it is
The weather is beautiful
Low, cheek pressed to the cold earth
Wish you were here
We shall rise together, one day

But for now can I get a Hallelujah chorus
Can I get a big amen

A change is comin.

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And a few things parenthetically, thank you for being here. A journey into poetry and prose is most wonderful with one or two along for the journey. You can jump over to facebook and follow along there. There is a lot going on these days there and on twitter.

I am sharing words and poems and art of others and my own. Come along and join me. The view is poetic.

I think you have to like me on facebook to follow me on facebook. Sorry if that is too strong a term. It is the only choice you have on facebook these days. But wow if you do.

Elizabeth W. Marshall, viewing life through a lens of grace on facebook

and @graceappears on twitter

Jesus and The Barefooted Man

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Jesus and The Barefooted Man

In the sixties she sat on red-velvet and stared at dead mink eyes
Staring back at her while she listened to the sermon
Teased hair, hats and some white gloves, confetti sprinkled among the faithful
The South, the  Methodists,
The pearls, sprinkled on a few
Folks listening or planning lunch at the Country Club later
Prime rib or fried chicken, thousand island or blue cheese, sweet tea or sweet tea

And now she wonders about the man with no shoes

He told me the day he went to the Episcopal church without me
I cocked my head and tried to get a visual on the thought
We walked to church a few Sundays later, together down a tree- lined street dripping with moss
On more than a few, old oaks
Passed him, smiling big, he not us
You’re going the wrong way aren’t you?
Headed away from church
He not us
Yeah, going to teach Sunday school
Cheshire cat grin on the barefooted man

And that was the man with no shoes
Seen through the eyes of of the lady who wears the pearls, sometimes
And we sat and rocked and smacked some jaws and asked some questions
Later with folks on the porch
Because this is our sometime home
Who was that man in the barefeet
We asked

And there were opinions and there were things said
And it is still the South
And that is good not bad, but true
Really, we all have a story
And this was an old Episcopal church, after all

Suits and ties, after all

The more I thought
And wondered and took myself down to the deep soul places
I had to dream and cry out to myself
Come Lord Jesus and teach us
Now, how to love all the barefooted souls
Who  sit among the mink and pearls

Show us how to love like you
And smile like we are all barefoot
Walking in the wrong direction

Heck, I think every man Jesus touched
Back in the dusty sandal days was barefooted
Walking

I want to walk beside
And wash and love

All the feet
And know the name of the barefooted man

I loathe labels
But I do love a Cheshire cat grin on a barefooted- man running after Jesus
In the “wrong” direction.

Jesus, The Cross &Tofu Scrambles

It was Easter and we had not watched any of The Bible series on The History Channel. I had planned to sit with the conclusion, the final episode this Easter evening with my husband and maybe a teenage child or two if we could get them to sit down and stay still. More challenging than the toddler years, some days with all the moving around. I longed to experience the story on the screen and to honor Him in re-living the story of His suffering as the creators portrayed it through art. But I was hesitant too because this was the final night and this was the Cross.

And as we prepared dinner and snuggled by a Spring fire, burning wood, warming the room, I said to my husband, I hear this is really hard to watch.

His brilliant response to me was isn’t that the point. I meant what I said and so did he and we were both “right”. Yes, it was both hard to watch and the point of the Cross.

We watched and it was difficult and that sounds overly simplistic. But don’t we want to turn away from the suffering and the blood. We want to shield our eyes and our hearts from the slow painful walk to the cross, Jesus falling over, the cross, so heavy, so very tortuous in its weight on his back. The magnitude of the moments there on the screen so filled with the cruelty of man. The vinegar on the sponge, the mocking. And there was certainly an out for us, golf or basketball or even Duck Dynasty re-runs. But not truly. There had to be the cross. And there was no out for Jesus.

And in the days since Easter the discontent and pain right here, well its hard to watch too. A teenager struggling mightily, friends and strangers arguing about theology or discussing scripture and its truths. Its hard to live it out. The pain of this life, this side of glory. The disappointment this week is oppressive. And wasn’t it just Easter with all its glory and hope and new. The news through the phone, through the screen, through the mouthes of those I love. There is suffering here.

But this we know.

I stumble on a recipe for tofu scrambles. While the photography is beautiful and the ingredients are fresh I don’t choose this for myself. Or my family. But I am not going to throw tofu scrambles under the bus. Literally or otherwise. I may throw them down the drain if I have a chance. Or I may think twice before turning my head in visceral disgust. Tofu, not a big fan.

But more and more I am learning about life and God from people who do not see the world or faith the way I do.  And when I start to shut my ears and eyes and heart then I shut down my capacity to love, the different, the not quite like me, the others in this world. When I start closing myself with all my senses, my capacity to love my willingness to love, well it will be next. And I am called to love, maybe not agree, but love.

My faith, my world-view and my interpretation of scripture are all as they are for me, now. But I seek to love those who have a nuanced view of this life as believers, as Jesus followers. And those who are not believers. Because I am called to love like Jesus loved.

More and more I find refuge and beauty in poetry. More and more I run there to express my heart, to find my creative place to play, to delve deep into life through the framework of the poetic.

But I step out of that for this. These words here.

I must think about how Jesus loved,  to review all that He said of love. Review in my mind how beautifully diverse his followers were, especially the early ones, the inner-circle. And aren’t we called as followers of Jesus to love as best we can in our brokenness and sinfulness like he loves. Like he loved. And in and by His power we can love deeper and more tenderly than on our own.

I have seen so much fighting and disagreement in these recent days.  And though I am tucked into my little part of this world,  I know I  am not alone. I have seen it very close up, audibly in my world. And I have witnessed it from a distance too.

This is being human. This is the world this side of heaven.

But can we love as we disagree? And disagree as we  love. Can we honor those with whom we don’t agree on matters of faith and walking- out- life decisions. Can we wrap ourselves in the cloak of the greatest of these, the one that bears all, the banner over all – Love.

And you can have your tofu scrambles and I may have my cheeseburger. And as I play back in my mind’s eye my night in front of a warm Spring fire while watching Jesus walk bleeding and bent. Christ wearing a crown of thorns, a cross on his back covered in blood, carrying my sin in scripture and on the screen. I want to weep.

I have to ask myself now and daily, how would Jesus love. And then I must walk out the answer as I hear it, in my daily living.

My poetry awaits. It is sort of like a carriage waiting to carry me off to a place of beauty and peace. But I cannot hide. I must love like Jesus.

I want to live as a child of God and I want to love like Jesus. So can we sit at the table of fellowship with our tofu and our cheeseburgers, break bread together, love harder and better and more like him.

And remember the Cross.

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joining Emily, Jennifer, and Shellyimperfectprose

mt church

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Two Tear Types – A Week In The Life of A Mother and Daughter

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The stories of our lives. They are lovely in the living, lovely in the telling. And the re-telling sends them out to those who want to capture hope, redemption, love from the lives of co-travellers. We all walk into these story webs, hold on to some, shake some off, release their glistening parts to others.

Your story gives me hope and gives me pause. I gather fragments of redemption when you tell me where you were and where you are. How you love and how you live.

So when I tell you mine that is my hope unfurled before you. That you would hold a remnant of my life. Place it by your ear as a child cups a shell to hear the sea whisper a haunting call, the mystery of the sea of life, just held. Just hold.

We remember better when we record. There are fragile, tender moments that feel like water in our hands. They evaporate but we extend their living by freezing frames, holding on in a form that remains a little longer, life extension in remembering. And tears they hold and record the tender places, drop by salty drop. As they roll.

We sat in the pew on Friday, upright rigid waiting to mourn in harmony. The shoulders of our rock between us. We the mother daughter bookends. And she simply could not stop the tears from rolling fast and long, slow and steady, changing speeds as the funeral moved through stages of remembering. She wept and we could not catch her tears fast enough, her father and I. The stockpile of kleenex was no match for the arsenal of tears. The tears won today. As they should. This was the day for weeping and mourning. So she did. The cold air marched in as she wept. The winter battling spring can be a good companion for a crying girl. Weather matching moods.

The preacher preached of down here and up there, his words wrapped healing round the little chapel, old, historic holding all the mourning as day turned to dusk. But grief can heal. And people heal. And don’t we come together over loss in a way that only God could orchestrate. That though we break we break together and that begins the glueing back together. Maybe even stronger. A down here mystery. The up there realms are dancing in glory. Only if they like to dance. No forced marches there, after all. But yes, the broken whole and yes, the captives free, and yes the tears are dried.

And only hours later when a momma thinks that all the tears have been harvested in this season there are more. And they are rare as precious diamonds from her eyes, falling, running down her soft young cheek. A man may be of few words, she this girl, a lady of few tears.

So when they flow they are precious in their rarity. Infrequent, they send love notes, clues from her heart.

In the mother daughter mystery that started in the womb of reading clues and cracking codes of emotion sent out by child, morse-code tapping in the tears. I am there to translate.

Saturday’s tears are of a new variety. And each one drips like liquid gold. We nestle around to hear the man tell his Jesus story. Big and burly headed to the NFL. He now lives a different story refined by the tender touch of the Nazarene.

She sends out messages in her tears. Of how her heart is hearing life around her. Each one holds a wet penned-note. Some dry before I can break the seal, read the letters from her soul. But that she lets them roll, communicating in the dripping wet is golden. I’d catch each one if I could.

But up there is a tear catcher. And I trust Him to hold them because I am a leaky broken sieve.

And after all. He has been the parent of the crying chid. The Son of Man and Son of God has cried out from the cross-bars of a wooden cross. So I trust The Catcher of All Tears to catch hers and mine. To hold the ones born of joy and born of pain. Bearing clues to love and life and death. Of what can spring forth from the springs of joy and springs of sadness.

Each caught triumphantly by the Father of The Son of Man. Who captures by Him every tear. Not one is missed, not one slips by.

There are two times twenty types of tears, really or even more. Each wet one a clue to more of you and more of me. And I know well the holders back, the holding on who fight with every fiber not to let one roll. To remain high and dry, but cry heaving heavy deep inside.

Be a catcher of the tears down here with me. And leave the ones that we can’t catch to Him who reigns up there. The Comforter, The Healer, the dryer of all tears.

But mother, daughter, father, brother, look for the tears of joy, tears of sorrow in your day. Rejoice with those rejoicing, grieve with those grieving. And wipe the tears with me of those who remain with us down here.

And I shall weep when I survey the wondrous cross and look to it in times of hurt with gratitude. The Restorer of All Brokenness sacrificed for us.

Catch with me two types of tears.

joining sweet dear Laura.