I’ve been whispering it for years,
Sheltering in place:
God with us, God with us.
Immanuel has been my comfort
In dark places.

But this sign grows still greater:
Immanuel, Immanuel is a promise,
And a battle cry.
Is my sword and my shield.
Whom shall I fear?
God is with me.


Mandatum Novum

Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.
Exodus 13:7-10

Remember me, O my God, for good.
Nehemiah 13:31b

Act One:
Blood and darkness and small bread.
The narrative for centuries
Closes with a cry:
Remember us, Lord.
Don’t forget.

Six hundred years of silence.
Did you forget us? Will you remember?

Act Two:
Glorious in-breaking of light
As heaven comes to earth:
I remember you.
Now do this in remembrance of me,
(Oh my children who are bound in time,
Who are bound to forget so easily)
Remember me with wine and bread,
With small portions and shadows.
Eat and remember until the final act
When all is revealed and you will know forever
The table and the glory of the resurrected King.

And when the hour came, he reclined at the table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Luke 22:14-19


The new-white sheets billow on the clotheslines of my neighbors,
Gracefully proclaiming the dirt washed away
From a multitude of places.
My own line seems empty by comparison:
One sock and a pillowcase
Leaving everyone and mostly myself to wonder
Just how much laundry has been left undone.

The Smell of Friday

Coffee. Black.
Dew-watered grass breathing into the air.
Exhaust fumes from a truck labeled Rocket Rooter.

Fruit Loops in a plastic bag,
Birthday donuts,
Sneaky chocolate bar.

Afternoon sunshine,
Wind filled with leaves and grass.
Sweat. So much sweat.

Soccer cleats in sports bags falling from lockers.
Eraser dust,
Felt-tip pen: lime green.
Crumpled homework pages.

Sigh of relief.

Both at Once

I’ve been calling them my Attitude Class.
I named them for their hinge,
Which bends this one way for now,
But tantalizes me with the potential for a reversal.

The challenge of them crowds my mind.
I feel for the other classes;
The very joy they bring
Is what allows me to rest from them.

I wonder if God is God
Because he can hold Joy and Challenge
All at once,
And yet know Joy the most.

Clear, now.

Tell me, what is it
Which moves me,
Here, now.

If I were a photographer, I’d picture
The grasses and trees
Scenting the pitch night air,
And me:
Hair blown in eyes, nose, mouth,
Arms out and up,
Catching sticky, humid air,
Asking for a way to feel
Which does not lead to heart, chest, body
Bursting, with
Joy, Grace, Relief (truly, relief),

I have no pictures.
Only words, which reach to half
Of a moment which has happened
More than once.


I. If telling yourself this represents that
Helps you for having a picture for your feeling
Go ahead and do so:
Take the aches and moans and spatter them onto the world
Until you understand them properly.
Afterward you’ll have a story to tell yourself,
Because you found some truth
Previously hidden away in the mess.


II. You’re here because you needed to move
Closer to the ground,
Like a person about to faint breaking the fall,
You stoop down and pull at the first weed you see,
Breaking its head but not the roots.
Go back, pull out the rest.
Toss everything aside.
Step one, check. Move on.


III. This isn’t your mother’s garden.
Somehow you got clay and cicada shells
While she has black topsoil and earthworms.
She worked hard for her garden,
And you know, somewhere,
That perhaps you’ll get there too, someday.


IV. There are so many weeds.
Two weeks ago, they burst out in little purple flowers.
You aren’t supposed to like weeds,
But the blooms charmed your heart
Which is so easily led astray by temporary things.
Now, the consequences:
A garden choked by leafy invaders.


V. You realize you’re doing of all this
For the sake of the peppermint plant
And the snapdragons.
You doubted the mint would return in the wake of winter’s havoc;
The snapdragons were supposed to die.
One year later and both of them have reappeared,
Persevering through dead leaves and dandelions–
Reminding you that what you plant may truly thrive,
And even things you believe will leave forever
Can return when you least expect them.


VI. If it helps to tell yourself that this flower is that thing in your life, do so.
Make weeds and flowers transform into stories.
This garden is your fairy land–
Slay all the dragons
And traipse down even the scary, spider-ridden paths.
But when you’re ready, and only then,
Go home to your warm bed and your comfortable pajamas,
Slide between the covers, and rest.

Happy Now?

I’ve written the first lines
Of a million and one poems,
With time only for beginnings,
Half-finished thoughts and undeveloped dreams.

I chase fresh starts,
Looking for Perfect,
For This Is IT.
Instead I find Good For Now.

But here, the sun is shining;
The trees are shivering into salient green buds,
And I think that’s good,
So I’ll pause, here, for now.

Staying Awake

I’ve always had sympathy for the apostles who fell asleep while Jesus was praying in Gethsemane. I have even more sympathy these days, when a Friday night finds me, more often than not, passed out on my couch by 8pm. I wonder if they could have stayed awake better if they’d known why they had to wait so long. Waiting always seems easier when you know why, so perhaps they could have kept their eyes open if they’d understood what was really going on in that garden.

We’re just around the corner from the start of Advent. Every year I give a little nerdy spiel to my students about how the word “advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “arriving”. I tell them about why that matters, and that we use this time of year to think about two arrivals of Christ: the one already happened, and the one not yet here. I tell them we live in a time between, and that Advent gives us the space to reflect on that in a special way.

The problem is, outside of the Advent season, I’m often just killing time while waiting for that not-yet-arrived Jesus to show his face again. I’m tapping my toes and checking my watch as if I’m at the DMV, wondering why, for the love of all that’s holy, I am still stuck here. Just like the apostles, I am bad at waiting, and too often I fall asleep when I most need to be alert. However, I think I could be better at waiting if I had a deeper sense of what was around the corner and a greater purpose in what I ought to be doing in the meantime to help keep my soul awake. It’s one of the reasons I treasure the Advent season as a time to refocus and reorient my habits of waiting. It allows for a more natural rhythm of peace and reflection that can so easily elude me during the other months of the year.

My friend Becky shares my love for this season, and this year we teamed up and wrote a prayer journal specifically for Advent.  Check out by clicking here.  It’s full of different verses and creative exercises to facilitate a time of quiet reflection. In a season so easily overtaken by a flurry of activity, we hope it’s something that can bring peace and direction as you wait in Already-Not-Yet.



For the usual things
Made more special for their expectedness:

For things beautiful and strange:
Books with voices that strengthen my own;
An orange cat with winsome determination;
Crackling fires facilitating laughter and conversation.

And for things unusual:
Love beyond measure,
And grace that finds us
Even in the midst of our wanderings.