That Was a Lovely Sermon, Pastor

That Was a Lovely Sermon, Pastor

I’ve never minded the mowing of lawns on Sunday
afternoons in a well worn pair of pants,
line after line – this week vertical and the next opposite –
a summer checkered board of wandering
thoughts going in circles and yellow dandelion
smudges on boots, beer in hand to admire the green

lawn like the altar of Ordinary Time bathed in swaths of green
felt banners at the baptismal font this Sunday
as the pastor read the story of Daniel in the lion’s
den and I dozed off dreaming of their hungry pants
and dripping teeth waiting to tear into the boy’s lack of wandering
curiosity and fleshy figure at the opposite

end of the cave. I have a sideways, opposite,
uneasy sort of feeling when my wife elbows me and my green
eyes search the sanctuary, wandering
from face to face to face of faithful Sunday
people in their dresses, jackets, pressed pants,
toothy smiles and my laces yellowed by dandelions.

I’ve always thought that dandelions
were the loveliest of weeds like the opposite
of those nasty sticker weeds that pierce my pants
when I sit in the green
lawn to enjoy the afternoon sun. Days
like this were meant so your mind could wander

to whatever your mind will wander
to as you twist off the heads of dandelions
and try and remember what the pastor said Sunday
but only ever able to remember the opposite
of whatever he said, scratching at the green
stains on your pants.

“As the deer panteth
for the water” I sing as I wander
forward to the altar arrayed in greenery –
tulips, daisies, a thorny crown, but no dandelions –
I take the bread and juice and walk back to the opposite
end of the room where I sit every Sunday.

And pants worn well with life and my dandelion
soles wander in horizontal patterns opposite
of the green tracks from last Sunday.

 

Pine Trees and Dandelions in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital. April-May 1890. Vincent van Gogh.

 

That Was a Lovely Sermon, Pastor

Some Thoughts on Two Articles and a Poem I Read This Week

1. “A Life of Aching Beauty: VIncent van Gogh as Preacher, Failure, and Painter” by Michael Nicholson

Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Undergrowth_with_Two_Figures_F773

When I write – a poem, a letter to my wife, a prayer for my church – I’m hoping it’ll survive past me. Sometimes I think the creative impulse is a survival instinct.

Last week was Ash Wednesday and those who celebrated were reminded: “From dust you came, to dust you shall return.”

This stood out for me from the article:

We also need to be wary of seeing Vincent as the Romantic misunderstood genius whose art was an expression of knowledge that lesser mortals could not share. Art is not a mystic portal to secret knowledge known no other way. But great art does change us. In fact, that is one hallmark of great art, its capacity to make us see and hear and even feel things in different and more expansive ways.

I love Ash Wednesday and Lent because they remind me of my inevitable future and because of how much they prepare my heart for Good Friday and Easter – when my ineveitable future gets turned around completely. 


*** WARNING: Wayne Coyne uses strong language I wouldn’t use in front of Grandma Pearl ***

2. “The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne: All You Need Is Love” by Nina Corcoran

I love The Flaming Lips. Their music is strange, not easy listening. “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” is a flawless album. “Do You Realize??” is a perfect song and I would totally share it here but…

Anyways this interview with Wayne Coyne is sentimental and great. I think he scratches the surface on some gospel themes throughout his interview; although I think he misses the mark a bit.

“As much as the world has had knowledge of people like Gandhi and Jesus Christ, it doesn’t have an impact on you until you’re around someone in some situation where this patience, love, and kindness has proven to you that this is the way to live,” he says. “You can read and you can think and you can dream and you can have all of that, but until you have a true experience with that type of life, there’s nothing you can do. That doesn’t teach people. If that were true, everyone who claims to have read the Bible would be a great, loving, caring person.”

Right on, Wayne! For the most part… I think he falls short in that last sentence. I think many people – FINE! I can’t speak for many I can only speak for me – I think that I read the Bible precisely because I’m not a patient, loving, and kind person.

I agree with Wayne in that telling myself to be a patient, kind, and loving person through whatever discipline I do that – reading scripture, studying the lives of great men, giving it the ole college try – won’t suffice. I agree that to be holistically transformed one needs a true experience of love; a subjective experience of love isn’t enough. Good, warm, fuzzy feelings won’t do the trick. Having a sweetheart won’t cut it. Trying harder isn’t good enough.

Only an encounter with God, who is love, will transform awful people like me into the patient, kind, and loving person Wayne was talking about.

Although Wayne and I agree on a lot of stuff about love. We absolutely do not agree about this:

You shouldn’t ever be looking for it. It’s not out there in the world. It’s in us. It can only come from within. If you know what love is, you already know you have it and, you’re sponging it out of you and into this world because you find this great joy, purpose, and satisfaction with having your love be put into the world. Everybody in this world can give their love.

I think his origin of love is outrageous! It’s within us?! What?! I simply cannot agree with that. What I do agree with is the last bit though: “Everybody in this world can give their love.” We disagree on love’s origin, but not on it’s application.

Here’s what I think:

 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3.16 NIV


3. “A Little Lighting” by Aaron Belz

I read this poem two weeks ago if I’m being honest. Then I went and bought Aaron Belz’s newest book of poetry: “Glitter Bomb.” And I listened to two podcasts, one of him doing a reading and the other an interview.

Belz’s poetry is poignant and hilarious. The opening two couplets of “A Little Lightening” have stayed with me, and also made me want to stop checking twitter so much (I’m desperate to create something that’ll survive me! I need validation! Follow me!!!):

You think there’s more to this. Look:
When I look I see skeletons walking around.

I see ghosts of mammals gallivanting
with iPhones in and out of bookshops,

Some Thoughts on Two Articles and a Poem I Read This Week