embodied

he gave himself

he gave himself fully
to this embodied life
life as an earthy animal
made of flesh and bones
with sweaty skin
and greasy hair
hunger pangs
friendships
and grief

he gave himself fully
to life in a particular human body
with its own personality
with its peculiar gifts
and quirks

he gave himself fully
to everyone he met

he didn’t ask them if
they were part of the right tribe
he didn’t ask them if
they were holy

he said
your faith has healed you
he said
come, let’s eat and drink together
he said
don’t you worry about tomorrow

he touched
the eyes of the blind man
he touched
the skin of the leper
he touched
the hand of the shunned woman

he touched his friends
and comforted them
and they touched
and comforted him in return

he embodied the source of all there is
so he knew in his bones
he knew in every cell of his body
that there is no separation
between him
and the least of these
made in the image of God

that there is no separation
between him
and any one of us

in his love
in his vulnerability
he showed us
incarnation
he showed us
embodiment

he showed us how to do
this impossible task
of showing up
fully
in our bodies
here and now

of being our own
wild, magnificent selves
and of giving those selves to others

thank you
Lord Jesus

thank you for being
a human being

thank you for showing us
how it’s done

disney dream vocation

it’s the newest attraction
at disney world
kermit the frog
and moana
teaching vacationers
about vocation

moana leads out:

“maybe it’s something
that’s been burning within you
since you were tiny
something you’ve tried to ignore
suppress
or fight
in order to live up
to expectations
but you cannot fight it
suppress it
or ignore it
it picks you up and carries you
irresistibly
like an ocean wave”

then kermit hops in:

“or maybe it’s something
you’ve never seen within you
in all your years
of stargazing and dreaming
something you’d never imagined
until a bewildered prophet
with the voice of god
rows up and lays on you
a vision
of people made happy
made happy by you
so you pick up
and pack up
and you get on your bike and ride”

“whatever you do”
they both implore us
(we the small kids
with our mickey-ear ice creams
we the exhausted parents
resplendent in our cargo shorts
we the young adventurers
plotting our fastpass strategies)

“whatever you do
when you do hear that call
you must stop what you’re doing
and listen”

apprentice

go
scour the hills and hollows
find yourself a master

when you meet her
you will know her

she could be an ancient monk
who exudes transcendence
one who studied for decades
in the stillness of cave or cell

or she might be a 12-year-old girl
who has closely observed
the ways of snails and garter snakes
and the laws of electrical power

it does not matter
you must find her

do not sit at her feet
(that’s a cliché
and besides
you need to clearly see her hands
and her face)

sit at the table beside her
as she eats and chats
and writes and designs
let her show you how
to work out the algorithms
of spirit

(don’t shudder at that word
“spirit” is just nature unclouded
which is to say
nature full of clouds
brimming with beauty
she will teach you this
if you let your shields fall down)

be patient
learn by example
and soon you will see
how the soul engines are made

one day you will invent your own
and the master will giggle
with gratitude and delight
for you have shown her
a new and marvelous thing

don’t make the error of thinking
you are a master now
no
you’re merely an apt pupil

(just like her)

essentialism

my guilty feelings
regarding some shortfall
conditioned by the context
of unlucky life circumstances
are transformed into shame

a self-hating conviction
that in my core
in my deepest identity
i’m fundamentally broken

this is wrong
essentialism is bullshit

a bad experience
with a particular person
conditioned by the context
of an unjust society
is transformed into racism

an other-hating conviction
that all who share
an irrelevant characteristic
are fundamentally inferior

this is wrong
essentialism is bullshit

form is emptiness
emptiness is form
essentialism is bullshit

say it with me now
essentialism is bullshit

one more time
essentialism is bullshit

it really goddamn is

body

so get this:

jesus died

they hung his body on a tree
and then he died
(dead is dead)

but now they say
he’s resurrected

they put his body
in a grave
and then
and then

the grave was empty!

so get this:

now they say
that we
are his body

that’s crazy, right?
how are we supposed to
rub some mud
in a blind dude’s eyes
and make him see?

that’s crazy
the only thing
that i know how to do
with mud
is make bodies dirty

dead is dead
and if you think otherwise
that’s crazy

but if you want to get
your body dirty
i can help you out

learning to play the banjo

there’s a lot to learn
about this twangy contraption
of mahogany and rosewood
mylar and steel
screwed together like an ikea end-table

i’m cramming my head
with musical knowledge
of strings and frets
chords and rolls
the gray matter’s working extra hard

but my fingers
my poor fumbling fingers
like beer-bellied sluggards
trying olympic gymnastics
scoff, you call what you’re doing learning?

brain, please

love ’em or leave ’em

you have two choices
said my master
when people and animals
objects and ideas
causes and conditions
drift into your life
like clouds on a breezy day

you may love them
and sit with them
listen to their story
and truly see their worth
embrace them
and share life with them

or you may let them go
and watch as they
drift out of your life
like storm clouds in a gale
or like dissipating mist

but master
i inquired with some anxiety
what of those clouds
which i cannot love
and which yet
refuse to leave?

ah, young one
for that kind of cloud
you will need this
said the master
as i was suddenly blasted
by the thunder and wind
of her carefully concealed
leaf blower

seen

do you want to know my superpower?
it’s a really awesome superpower
yep
i’m invisible

stop laughing at me
stop telling me you can see me just fine

you don’t see me

it’s ok though
i don’t want you to see me
that’s why i’m using my superpower

i can’t trust you enough to show you
i can’t trust you unless i know
you’re really here

i can’t trust you until you show me
that if you see me
you’ll see the real me
the deep me

not just these scars
and burns
and discolorations

so please stop
stop trying to see me
you can’t see me yet

not until i can see you

bird brain

the little grey bird
twittering on a branch
outside my window
as i sit to meditate
has ants in its pants

it can’t seem to stop
shaking its tail feathers

is it thinking about sex?
or does it literally have
bugs on its bottom?

maybe it’s boogie fever
i can’t say

eventually
it flutters to a higher place
and settles down

eventually
however briefly
i do the same