My life before the face of God…
Not behind or hiding.
And without mask or covering,
Before the penetrating look
of this Sacred Presence.
Let me sink down into…
As though to stay planted,
In this garden dust,
Before this Face.
I place my dreams,
As though they were seeds.
I place my words and voice,
The things I’ve said, and should have said.
I place my identity and my dignity,
My humility and my pride,
And my laments,
My wounds, and scars,
And places still whole.
My faith, my unbelief and doubt,
My sin and regrets…
Laid bare in dust before this Face.
And with greatest trust, I place
Those I love
And things I like,
and the time I’m left,
As I look up, eye to Eye, I plant it all
Before this Face…
…This Face of Love.
Mar Herbert. February 2022
This poem comes from a meditation on a paragraph written by Madeline Delbrêl. In, We, the Ordinary People of the Streets she writes .
“To place our lives before the face of God,
to surrender our lives to the movements of God,
is to roam free in a space in which we have been given…
I shall write. Feeling the pen upon the paper.
And listening to the quiet hope of
the unspoken word.
by Tim Herbert
When my son shared this poem with me, something inside me shifted. Toward hope, toward Spring. I guess a person doesn’t need a lot of words to inspire hope.
How people gather in doorways
Their deepest conversations
in four inches of space?
Between one coming
and one going?
Four inches of intimacy,
four inches of knowing.
We see the people
in this space…
that is neither here nor there.
Holding onto a door that is open,
an opening with freedom to speak.
A threshold with invitation
to be heard and to move forward
…through four inches of intimacy.
A threshold to be gained.
Let us bless this common space
Made sacred by the stories.
Let us bless the greetings and the leavings
Made holy by the long good-byes.
Let us bless this open door
With its quiet words and listening.
This poem began in church with a very unholy attitude. Honestly it was the congestion I noticed first and inside I began to complain and rail against this problem. Then I noticed it happening when I visited others, lingering as I got ready to leave, finding myself doing what I had complained about. Now it is a holy place and time. An invitation to another visit maybe in a wider place.
A potter’s house,
…an earthy place
…clay and water in the air.
A place where sweat is mixed with earth
where hand and eye and wheel are one,
…and touch, the sense that forms the lump,
…the lump that turns and returns,
as it must.
Notice the hands
that form the pot,
look at them now, and
the centered self…
move the clay,
and gradually pull out the gift inside.
A potter sees the earth
with artist eyes,
attends the earth
within one’s hands,
loves the earth
and the gifts it gives.
Jeremiah 18:1-6 talks about a potter and I’ve always looked at that Scripture as telling us that a potter can do whatever they want with a pot. They are in control of the pot. Maybe that is what it is telling us. But, when I was writing this, I thought about the story of Adam, and God forming him from the earth. I thought of my own short experiences with using a potter’s wheel, and of watching others use a wheel, what it must feel like to be on a wheel and to turn and return to the same space only from a shifting spot, till center is found. I thought about the attention it takes, the work it takes to move and center the clay- getting it to the place it needs to be. I thought about hands working clay, hands covered in clay…Jesus’ hands. And in my mind I wandered with a potter and watched him look at earth, and I thought of God, and how much he loves his earth.
The intimacy of sitting in little chairs,
with your brother
at a little table set for two.
Having a little tea or cocoa,
in little tiny cups.
…imagining what it is like
to be another,
to be you at a different time.
Here, sitting with your brother
with just a taste
and just a taste of apple,
and just a taste
of an older life.
…and being real,
being both silly
and grown up.
Then looking out the window,
seeing the horizon in the distance,
the edge that is yet to be explored.
Sitting there with your older self,
tucked safely deep inside.
This communion, always with you
at a table set for two.
You are living now, as you will be living then.
Though, your view is sheltered,
this is who you are.
The courage it will take to leave,
But, the delight in coming back…
to this shelter,
to this tea,
to this brother, and
to this your centered self.
This poem came from seeing a picture of two grandsons having “tea”, a small snack to provide some nourishment but also to occupy them for a “little” while. It is a beautiful picture of two brothers having fun…the older looking out the window that he faced, past the younger. While the younger seemed to be chatting and engrossed in the setting.