Jesus, you are not a building

A good Friday psalm

You are not a building.
You are not songs, millennia old.
I am yours and you are mine
and that is my joy

Please don’t let me take that for granted
Or stop thanking you–
for you are not a building
or angry mobs, but you are there

You are not this hate-filled debate
but you see it–hear it–and know
what is true–not this circular argument
that breaks our hearts

You are not my race.
You are not my gender.
You are not my house.
But my body is your temple

I beg you to open my eyes
so I see all of the truth.
Is it enough to know that I need you?
I know myself

I am no better or worse
than anyone on my screen, or
on my street, or in that building
that you are not

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Not a painter

for my children

I.
Then.

I’ll tell you now what you want to know
only lay your head in my lap first
and I will brush my fingers through your hair
while I tell you the story of why we are
who we are and why you are who you are
born into a whirlwind, your mother
a bundle of cautions, and your father
still trying to wrap up his own childhood

I had always wanted to be a painter
or a rock-and-roll singer
someone like Janis Joplin, leaving
her heart on the floor every night
and I’d sing in the bathroom, with
a hairbrush for a microphone

II.
Now.

I wasn’t blessed with that talent
with a throat that could create a masterpiece
I’m no Kathleen Battle or Renée Fleming
I am not Billie Holiday
I am that songbird outside your window
that does not shut up when you first wake
the one that gets in the last word

Blessed with words in my mouth from day one
I’ve learned to give them away
give the world something back
that it gives to me every time I open a book
or turn on the radio
each time I sit in a concert hall
how often in the museum
do I sit down in awe

III.
Posterity.

We all are given something, and this is mine
to tell you about your Father in Heaven
though I am not worthy to truly paint Him
I have faith that I will see him when I am done here
I have a voice to express my love to you
fully and completely
and perhaps if I am really lucky
to spread some words across the land

I have gifts in hand
I must give them away

and if I am very lucky

and I pay attention to the wind
when it blows
I might just get some of them back

All the pieces

I have written
all of it
the pieces battered and bruised
from every time on the floor
rocking in the corner

Did you read the chapter
where I rose victorious
out of order because I want you to see it
out of place
I don’t know
what
her name is now

Hate was first
crushing soul defeat
grief kneaded with blood
but when forgiveness came in
there was hope
like miracles
like music

They were wrong
so wrong about love
not being enough
maybe they were never loved like that
(I wasn’t
for ever so long)
convinced
that
hate was bigger

But I was wrong
love
with the strength of millions
dealt a death blow
to fear
(and carelessness
and loathing)

All told
the scraps innumerable
in the thousands
sewn together one by one
with miles of unbreakable cord

heart’s rest

she came from very far
to seek perfect peace
in palaces
and in the shadows

but she sees God
in the rosy morn
in the waves
in the mountains
and she hears the nightingale
that sings

she woke from sleep
and vowed a vow
to God
she acknowledged
her secrets
and dared to tell it abroad

that she sees God
in the sky
in the land
in the ripening grain
she sees His hand
and she is in
perfect peace

If anyone asks

it wasn’t luck
that brought us together
or fate
and it might have been God
doing that
but so far I have received
no official word

all I know for certain
all I remember
are fireworks going off
food tasting better
and all the senses
heightened

and if you go
there will be no more
explosions
my meals plain
and without
any spice