Friday, May 09, 2008

Thousand Red Birds

Here is another poem that I think fits really well with Pentecost. The spirit calls us to proclamation! I was interested and glad to see that it made it into the new Mennonite hymnal supplement 'Sing the Journey' as a responsive reading.

Thousand Red Birds

We clutch our tiny bits of faith in tight fists
shoved firmly in our pockets.
We clutch it suspiciously, so unwilling to let it go -
we don't want to lose it.
We clutch is fearing that once it is spent,
we will be without hope,
cast adrift, out of luck.

Help us to loosen our grip.
Help us to pull our hand out of our pockets.
Help us to uncurl fingers stiffened over time.

to grow,
to shimmer,
to pulse,
to explode into the air

like a thousand red birds.

-Phil Porter

Friday, May 02, 2008

A comment about my last two posts...

Not that I have a whole lot of readers, but I want to qualify my last two entries and say that I am not obsessed with birth - just that 'tis the season. I didn't even look to see what my last entry had been about otherwise I might not have posted something so thematically similar. The most recent post was an article for the church newsletter.


It is a season of celebration and we have much to celebrate. One year ago I was given the gift of my daughter, after not a small amount of effort and labour. This season we celebrate another birthday much more significant than Naomi’s. Words from our new songbook Sing the Story speak this invocation: “Come, Holy Spirit. lamplighter, midwife of change, comforter, disturber, inspirer, and advocate.” God’s spirit midwifed the church into being that day. And though the Spirit Midwife gave the amazing gifts of comfort, inspiration and advocacy, she also accompanied change, pain and a labour into a new life in Christ.

I am learning as a parent that labour does not end in the birthing room and that it is mingled with love, great joy and celebration in one’s relationship with a child. As a child myself I know well that one’s relationship with parents too is often full of both joy and difficulty. We are children of the One who sent the Spirit to birth the church into being and we continue to struggle along with each other and in our growing relationship with God our parent. We need to continue to invite the Spirit to be present in this struggle. Because though we experience the pain, the unease with the new, She will always be our comforter, our advocate and inspirer.

As the same prayer quoted above continues we must invite the Spirit to come, “fill the church with the gifts [we] can neither produce nor afford.” We need the gifts that the Spirit Midwife has to offer. Today our children will invite us to identify one of these gifts that we feel an affinity with for this day or this season. But the Spirit’s gifts are many and she offers in abundance even as she both identifies and moves with us through the struggle.

Thematically unrelated, I found a poem about Pentecost that I like quite a bit...


In the upper room
Pentecostal wind
swirled like a tornado of grace
and fiery tongues
burned language into stutterers.
   O Spirit,
stir our passion again!
Light wildfires
and spin them past
our tame intentions.
   Huff and puff till you blow down
the shutters we hide in,
scarred by earlier zests,
more cowardly and cynical
than once upon a time
   when we inhaled your fire
and gulped your windstorms
like tap water
and laughed at those
who counseled
--Sr. Patricia Schnapp, RSM Adrian, Mich.