Psalm #15 (Heartwood)

Sometimes we do poetry around here. Sometimes we do Psalms. Today felt like an either/or/and kind of day. Enjoy. (And head-nod to my friend Kelley Nikondeha who recently used the phrase "guts of the narrative," which instantly captured my imagination. It's weird how some phrases stick with you, yes?)




Pardon if you could, but between here and there, stable and steeple, might I reimagine divine language?


She came speaking of deliverance, it being mine for the taking, as if it were a thing to be seized, instead of some other great seizing, some unexpected tsunami or the crashing of Red Sea walls drowning death and dragging all refugees upward and into the light of all lights.


To lose yourself, he said, was the measure of mindfulness, (as if I were a coin, or a key, or a cigarette dropped somewhere to be forever fogotten); it is the escape to Heaven, to Nirvana, to Valhalla. Instead I find we’re in the newer, grand finding of the now, an exodus that first rose from the guts of all our narratives, and shot like the birth-star of Bethlehem straight into the eyes of the new charisma.


We can play pretend with the words of our fathers and the dresses of our mothers, apt we are with simple histories. We can play pretend, or strip it all naked, down past the platitudes and into the tender shoots, to the soft white heartwood, which is always and forever, good, and easy, and God.

A Genesis Story: No Picture Proof


For all I remember, I have loved words from the beginning.

When I was four, I sat in the lap of my mother's best friend as she sang, "humble thyself in the sight of The Lord," and played with my hair. At such an age, the words made little sense. Humble? Thyself? Even still, there was a sense of wonder in the words, of intrigue.

It might have been, of course, that the building dirge had something to do with the magic of the moment. The song is, after all, one of the all-time-greats as far as worship-ambiance goes. Or perhaps my enthrallment was spurred by the setting--exaggerated shadows dancing in the candlelit room; the slow breathing of the black lab sleeping quietly in my lap; the incense of Old Spice rising from the robust bearded man leading worship; the teenage girl with leg-warmers and bubblegum pink eyeshadow, the one whom I remember smelled of dime-store lip gloss.

Whatever the case may be, though, as the words rose, as they built up, I found myself captivated. That language could be used--really used--to usher in the presence of the living God? To conjur a spiritual world, or at least the dream of it? It was magic to me.

This was before the days of the internet, before Instagram and Facebook. There are no status updates to prove the validity of the moment, no nostalgically washed instaprints of it. You'll find no tweet about the gathering, no attempt to reduce it to unmercifully limiting character restraints. And because you weren't there, because you were living your own memories in places like Minnesota, or Manitoba, I'm limited in my ability to convey the meaning of the moment, left only with language. And you? You are limited by imagination and inference.

Maybe this is the way it should be more often than not.