Friday, April 08, 2005

Lenten Gospels

I. The Temptation in the Wilderness
(Mark 4: 1-11)

After forty days
Of solitude and fasting
A man might gnaw at a stone
Thinking it was bread,

Or grow wings
And fly
Around the cities of his mind,

Or walk naked
He were clothed,
And perfumed.

A man might do these things
And people might say
He was possessed.

I would say
He was

II. The Transfiguration
(Mat 17: 1-13)

"A Matter of Fact"

Erie, Pennsylvania
Like every Starbucks
corporate living room
filled with strangers

Nat King Cole
on the sorta hip
always inoffensive
competing with
the grinding
and steaming
of coffee.

I’m pondering
a biblical summit meeting,
Christ transfigured,
locked in conversation
with Moses and Elijah,
But what they’re talking about –
I don’t know.

At the table
next to mine
A gray-haired
black man
Had made himself at home
with crossword puzzle, newspapers,
and a brown, leather bound bible – prominent.

I had a feeling
he’d know
and wouldn’t mind
my asking:

“Excuse me,
are you a student
of scripture?”


“Mathew 17
Jesus on the mountain
Peter, James, and Andrew.
Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah,
what were they talking about?”

“Mathew 17,” he said,
“Peter, James, and John,”
he corrected,
“Jesus was thanking them
for paving the way,
and he was promising them
he would continue the work.”

“The work? What work?”

“Redemption. It’s all about redemption.”

And that
was that,
Matter of fact,
even as Nat King Cole
lost his baby
and almost lost his mind…

Even at Starbucks,

It’s all about


III. The Woman at the Well
(John 4: 4-42)

In the long shadowed evening
In the first quiet of the day
He sat at the well’s edge
And brushed a pebble
That fell as lively as a star
Down to Jacob’s water.

Walked across the shadows
With her shadow
Clinging to her
Balancing a jar on her shoulder.

Who is this,
She wondered,
And as the pebble touched water
All her secrets
Rippled between them.

He asked for a drink
And she gave her eyes
He asked for food
She gave her heart
He told her everything
And she forgave him

And was never thirsty again.

But later,

He would cry,


IV. Sight to the Man Born Blind
(John 9: 1-41)

Left to his own devices
He would have perfected his blindness
And faded completely from sight.

The prophet packed his eyes with mud
And as he washed himself at the river
The world assaulted him.

He found himself answering questions
That had nothing to do with sky, or sun,
Or the astonishing and transparent water
He held in his hands,
And saw,
For the very first time.

V. The Raising of Lazarus
(John 11: 1-43)

Even Jesus
Must have been
as he wrenched
the spirit
from beyond
and forced it
his friend’s

Even He
Must have been
how nature roared
as Lazarus rose
from his stinking tomb.

And even He would weep.


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